Saturday, February 4, 2012

Day 5 in SLC - RootsTech Day 3

All good things muct come to an end.  This is the last day of RootsTech and it seems like a blur to me.  I would love to slow time down so that I could talk to exhibitors, attend presentations, commune with my geneablogging colleagues, and have time to work on my genealogy research at the conference. 

Saturday opened with the Keynote panel with, moderated  by CEO Tim Sullivan, discussing "Making the Most of Technology to Further the Family History Industry."  Tim noted that has about 1.7 million subscribers, and that there are a few million genealogists actively researching online. He also said that they spent $21 million digitizing content last year.  His theme was that technology should help researchers make discoveries about their family history.  One question was how have their strategies changed over the years.  Eric Shoup said that they try to balance the needs of all customers, from beginner to expert, and try to understand all of the market segments.  That is why they have the different search engine capabilities and the tree hints. 

They discussed the mobile applications - there have been 2 million downloads of the app, and over 1 million photos have been attached using the mobile app.  60% of the app downloaders have subscribed to Ancestry.  They said that people want to use their mobile to do family history, and that Ancestry will start to build new products on mobile first.

The big news was two technology applications to the historical records, which were demonstrated live online.  The first is the indexing of the City Directories using their patented semantic extraction tool, (previously indexed by OCR).  The second is the new interactive browser that highlights lines in historical records (e.g., census records), and then explains field entries in the columns (e.g., "step-son of head of household), "born in Germany, etc.).

Watch the entire video when it becomes available on FamilySearch or RootsTech.

The exhibit hall opened, and I hightailed it over to the WikiTree booth and talked to Chris Whitten (WikiTree developer),  and Dallan Quass (of  Then it was over to the Flip-Pal booth to talk to Walt Grady and get a little demonstration.  I also went around taking pictures of some of the exhibits and talked to several more people.

Then it was back to the Media Hub to write the Saturday Night Genealogy Fun post.  I hope that you all will play this weekend!  At lunch, a number of geneabloggers sat around and talked about everything. 

I will spend the last two hours talking to geneabloggers, readers and exhibitors in hopes that I will gain more knowledge to pass on to my readers.  Lastly, I have an appointment with Gilad Japhet of MyHeritage to see their latest advances.

Tonight, Linda and I are going to the after-party at Janet and Kim Hovorka's home with a number of people.

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - The Genea-Bowl

Hey genea-philes, it's Saturday Night again, and time for more Genealogy Fun!

Since it's Super Bowl weekend, your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to:

1)  Score the Genea-Bowl between FamilySearch and Ancestry - how do these two sites match up for:

*  First Quarter:

** Historical Record Collections (20 points max) - consider content: digitized books, newspapers, census records, vital records, military records, immigration records, probate records, land records, etc.

*  Second Quarter:

**  Search Capability (20 points max.) - consider search features, name variations, use of wild cards, presentation of results, etc.

*  Third Quarter

**  Learning Center (20 points max.) - consider availability of articles, wikis, tutorials, videos, etc.

*  Fourth Quarter

**  Collaboration (10 points max.) - consider forums, message boards, email contacts, expert services, social media, conference presence, etc.
** Family Tree Building (10 points max.) - consider breadth, ease of use, accuracy of entries, collaboration aspects, integration with software, etc.

2)  Tell us why you assigned the points that you did, and sum up the numbers and tell us the winner of your 2012 Genea-Bowl.

3)  Post your results on your own blog, as a comment to this post, as a status on Facebook or a post on Google Plus.

Here's mine:

First quarter scoring :  Ancestry 12, FamilySearch 8

Analysis:  In the Historical Record Collections section, Ancestry has a large collection of census, immigration, military, books, newspapers and vital records, but not many probate and land record collections; some of Ancestry's indexes are poor.  FamilySearch has many of those same collections (they don't have all of the census, military and immigration  record images, and have few newspapers), has more vital records indexes and images online, and is adding probate and land records county by county.  Both have an active volunteer indexing activity, but FamilySearch's is larger.

Second quarter scoring:  Ancestry 13, FamilySearch 7

Analysis:  In the Search Capability section, While Ancestry's search engine is the most complex and sophisticated available for genealogy research, with plenty of name variation and wild card capabilities, it is difficult and confusing for beginners to use.  FamilySearch's search engine is not as complex or sophisticated, but it has better wild card capabilities.

Third quarter scoring:  Ancestry 7, FamilySearch 13

Analysis:  In the Learning Center section, Ancestry has a blog, research wiki (with two how-to books), video tutorials, webinars, and an article archive that does not work at present.   FamilySearch has several blogs (TechTips is great!), a research wiki with over 66,000 how-to and locality articles, over 250 video tutorials, and more.

Fourth quarter scoring:  Ancestry 13, Family Search 7.

Analysis:  In the Collaboration section, Ancestry has two sets of message boards, a mailing list archive, offers expert services for a price, has a social media presence, but doesn't collaborate much with other organizations.  FamilySearch has an under-utilized forum for expert advice, a social media presence, and is collaborating with a number of companies and societies.

In the Family Tree Building section, Ancestry has the largest online family tree, but they are isolated trees that are not interconnected.  FamilySearch is in the process of building  the largest interconnected family tree, but has not released it to the public yet.  Both trees, in their present state, have "junk" information in them and they are making little effort to weed the junk out.

FINAL SCORE in Randy's Genea-Bowl:  
Ancestry 45, 
FamilySearch 35.

This may be the last year that Ancestry is a clear winner over FamilySearch.  It all depends on FamilySearch adding more record collections, releasing the source-centric open family tree to the public,

I will do mine later...I'm at RootsTech as I type this and I need to return to my regular schedule.

Updated:  11 February to add my analysis and scoring.

I don't what happened to Geolover's comment with an excellent analysis.  I did not delete it, and he says he did not delete it.  'Tis a mystery who the "Blog Administrator" is!  As far as I know, I'm it, but I have no memory of deleting it.  I will look in my email archive to see if I can find it and add it to the comments.

I looked in my email archive, and I found Geolover's entry dated 5 February at 1:56 a.m. PST:
Here are my ratings:
Q1-Historical Records Collections: FamilySearch 6, 14

Q2-Search Capability: FamilySearch 6, 14

Q3-Learning Center: FamilySearch 15, 5

Q4-a) Collaboration: FamilySearch 2, 8
Q4-b) FamilyTreeBuilding: FamilySearch 4, 6

Q1-Reasons: FamilySearch's quantity of databases, while expanding at a far faster rate than, is still not a match (reserving opinion as to the newly uploaded books on FamilySearch, which I have not yet surveyed). FamilySearch's website is the slowest to load of any I ever visit. Some collections refuse to load at all. FamilySearch has QA/QC issues that are very difficult to get them to address, including a huge range of image file-size. E. g., there is no reason that some Ohio marriage records have to have 8MB filesize per image. FamilySearch needs to fix the layers of extract data displayed in search results. FamilySearch should stop giving only FHL Microfilm Numbers in the FHL Catalog listings for their copies of NARA films (to which they have merely spliced on a FHL film number). FamilySearch needs to stop listing only Digital Folder Numbers in pages that list browsable collections: these are not searchable, and the listings are completely unintelligible.

Q2-Reasons: FamilySearch has made recent improvements, but persists in keeping search-box fields' purpose ambiguous: whether person-identifiers ~or~ record-type-to-search. FamilySearch typically gives many Census entries as results for what the user wanted to be a birth-record search. FamilySearch keeps secret the existence of the possibility of using wild cards in a search. On the plus side, FamilySearch's search engine does pay attention to date-bracketing, which is much easier than on's allowing specifying a large database sector to search (such as military records or newspapers) is a major plus. Such differences will become much more crucial as FamilySearch's quantity of databases grows - it should take seriously the major need to refine searches in meaningful ways, lest it become as unwieldy as InternetArchive. On the other hand, in's NewSearch mode it has needlessly eliminated extremely single-page scrollable lists of database groups, such as military records and births-marriages-deaths.

Q3-Reasons: FamilySearch Wiki is hands-down superior, and improvements are being made in access and intellibility of arrangement. While has added useful information to many pages for single databases, its helpful information for database groups is greatly lacking and group search pages are misleading.'s Learning Center is nearly useless - the articles cannot be meaningfully searched, there is no subject outline, and the dissection of _The Source_ in the so-called Wiki has errors and stupidly omitted the footnotes; another project left incomplete.

a)'s and Rootsweb's message boards are vastly superior, and technical support via email and telephone is better than FamilySearch's. FamilySearch has two different message board systems, both of which are hard to find if you do not know they exist.
b) FamilySearch for the general public has only orphan tree stuff left over from the projects commenced more than 20 years ago. Including the few-year-old "Our Tree," FamilySearch and have tree systems that are equally around 95% junk.'s integration of ability to add citations to its present Member Tree system is superior, as is the ability to download one's own tree as a GEDCOM file.

Summation: 14+14+5+(8+6) = 47
FamilySearch 6+6+15+(2+4) = 33

Surname Saturday - HAWKINS (England to Rhode Island)

It's Surname Saturday, and I'm "counting down" my Ancestral Name List each week.  I am now up to number 361, who is Ruth Hawkins (1711-1789), one of my 6th-great-grandparents. [Note: The 6th great-grandfathers have been covered in earlier posts] 

My ancestral line back through four generations of HAWKINS ancestors is:

1. Randall J. Seaver

2. Frederick Walton Seaver (1911-1983)
3. Betty Virginia Carringer (1919-2002)

4. Frederick Walton Seaver (1876-1942)
5. Alma Bessie Richmond (1882-1962)

10. Thomas Richmond (1848-1917)
11. Julia White (1848-1913)

22. Henry Arnold White ((1824-1885)
23. Amy Frances Oatley (1826-before 1870)

44. Jonathan White (1806-1850)
45. Miranda Wade (1806-1850)

90.  Simon Wade (1767-1857)
91.  Phebe Horton (1772-????)

180.  Simon Wade (1731-1790)
181.  Deborah Tracy (1731-????)

360.  Nathaniel Wade, born 27 January 1709 in Charlestown, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States; died 29 June 1754 in Scituate, Providence, Rhode Island, United States.  He was the son of 720. Jonathan Wade and 721. Mary Dolbear.  He married 26 June 1731 in Scituate, Providence, Rhode Island, United States.

361.  Ruth Hawkins, born 14 March 1711 in Providence, Providence, Rhode Island, United States; died 07 December 1789 in Glocester, Providence, Rhode Island, United States.  

Children of Nathaniel Wade and Ruth Hawkins are:  Simon Wade (1731-1790); Dudley Wade (1734-1803); Mercy Wade (1736-1779); Ruth Wade (1740-????); Deborah Wade (1744-????); John Wade (1746-1804).

722.  William Hawkins, born about 1679 in Providence, Providence, Rhode Island, United States; died 08 October 1712 in Providence, Providence, Rhode Island, United States.  He married 14 December 1704 in Providence, Providence, Rhode Island, United States.
723.  Elizabeth Arnold, born about 1685 in Providence, Providence, Rhode Island, United States; died 11 July 1758 in Glocester, Providence, Rhode Island, United States.  She was the daughter of 1446. Eleazer Arnold and 1447. Eleanor Smith.

Children of William Hawkins and Elizabeth Arnold are:  Elijah Hawkins (1705-1754); Uriah Hawkins (1707-????); Joseph Hawkins (1709-1754); Ruth Hawkins (1711-1789); Deborah Hawkins (1713-1802).

1444.  William Hawkins, born about 1647 in Providence, Providence, Rhode Island, United States; died 06 July 1723 in Providence, Providence, Rhode Island, United States.  He married 14 June 1678 in Providence, Providence, Rhode Island, United States.
1445.  Lydia Ballou, born about 1649 in Providence, Providence, Rhode Island, United States; died before 17 March 1722 in Providence, Providence, Rhode Island, United States.  She was the daughter of 2890. Robert Ballou and 2891. Susannah.

Children of William Hawkins and Lydia Ballou are:  William Hawkins (1679-1712); Sarah Hawkins (1680-1722); Stephen Hawkins (1683-1711); John Hawkins (1685-1755).

2888.  William Hawkins, born 1609 in Exeter, Devon, England; died 1699 in Providence, Providence, Rhode Island, United States.  He married before 1639.
2889.  Margaret Harwood, born about 1612 in Stoke Gabriel, Devon, England.

Children of William Hawkins and Margaret Harwood are:  Edward Hawkins (1639-1726); Mary Hawkins (1641-1724); John Hawkins (1643-1727); Madeleine Hawkins (1645-????); William Hawkins (1647-1723).

Biographical and vital data was obtained from:

John Osborne Austin, "The genealogical dictionary of Rhode Island : comprising three generations of settlers who came before 1690 : with many families carried to the fourth generation (Albany, N.Y., J. Munsell & Sons, 1887).

Friday, February 3, 2012

Day 4 in SLC - RootsTech Day 2 Afternoon/Evening

I had a nice lunch with Lou Szucs and Matthew Deighton of to talk about Ancestry initiatives and my blog.  I look forward to seeing them again at the next event.

On my way back to the Media Hub, I stopped at the Mocavo booth and talked to cliff Shaw for awhile.  They have major plans to add free images from the Mocavo app (coming soon) that will then be OCRed and indexed.  Think of what individuals or societies could image from their collections, and then curate them, and have them freely available on the Interweb.  This sounds like a great opportunity for people and societies to share information.  The caution I had for Cliff was about copyright issues. and that's why they need to be curated by the person/society or by a Mocavo person. 

I stopped by the brightsolid booth to ask about my Find My Past family tree and how to navigate it, and Amy told me that they were having trouble with the trees and to contact support services, which I will when I get home.

A visit with FamilySearch provided more information about the GEDCOM X initiative, found at  That's interesting - after 8 months of going it alone, FamilySearch now wants the community to be involved.  More of this later.

Doing all of the above, I missed Jill, Amy and Audrey's presentation on Genealogy 2.0, drat. 

We had a bit of a hullabaloo before 4 p.m. at the Media Hub when Nick Barratt came along and Paul asked us if we wanted to interview him.  Jill said yes, and quickly pulled some questions together and did a short interview with him.  Here is a picture of Nick and Jill in the glass cage:

Caroline Pointer and Lisa Louise Cooke were also supposed to interview Nick.

I went off at 4:15 p.m. for the UnConference panel discussion on Metadata, GEDCOM and Source Citations hosted by the Ancestry Insider.  There were seven panelists including Dallan Quass (, Ryan Heaton (FamilySearch GEDCOM X ), Robert Godfrey (Google and Genealogy), John Vilburn (Ohana Software), Louis Lessler (Behold! software), Robert Burkhead (FHISO/BetterGEDCOM) and Bruce Buzbee (RootsMagic).  After an hour of talking about metadata, the questions finally turned to GEDCOM and sources.  Ryan summed up the GEDCOM X initiative saying FamilySearch has developed a model and now wants community involvement.  Robert summed up the BetterGEDCOM effort saying they had good community involvement but had no model work done.  Everyone wants to collaborate ...  I asked if they thought that the historical collection providers, the family tree systems, and the genealogy software companies will all collaborate?  Bruce and John said their companies would, and said that once a standard was announced that they could implement it within one month.  That's a start.  I also asked if had been approached and Ryan and Robert said yes, but could divulge no information.  Louis said that if the genealogy community wanted the new GEDCOM standard then Ancestry would lose market share and influence if they did not implement it.  Hopefully, someone with better note taking ability will summarize the whole thing. 

My day was over at 5:30, so I went back to the Plaza Hotel and we ate dinner at JBs with the Maness's from the Bay area.  Then it was off to the Family History Library for the Night at the Library.  We managed to squeeze into seats for Who Do You Think You Are? on the main floor at 7 p.m., then went upstairs to the glassed room where the Geneabloggers Radio show had just ended, with Thomas and DearMyrtle hosting.  After the show, there was a one-year birthday cake for the show, which was provided by Myrt and was delicious.  We all talked for awhile, and then Linda and I went back to our room.

One more day, and there are people to talk to and presentations to attend, and blog posts to write.  It's been a fun four days, but exhausting.  Day 5 promises to be more fun and information filled.  I wish I was a better note taker.  I hope that you are also reading the other geneabloggers here that are making frequent reports, like James Tanner on the Genealogy's Star blog; Susan Bankhead on Susan's Genealogy Blog; Jill Ball on the Geniaus blog;  Missy Corley's Bayside Blog; and others.

Day 4 in SLC - RootsTech Day 2 morning

So I neglected to write something for this morning.  By the way, I found my iPhone stylus in my pants pocket.  Duh!

It's been a busy morning, starting with a breakfast meeting sponsored by FamilySearch.  There were a number of tables with bloggers, sponsors and genealogy community people.  At my table were Lisa Louise Cooke, Paul Nauta and Ian Tester, and several others.  We had a lively discussion about family stories, Google Earth, house histories, and much more.  There was no formal program. 

Josh Coates was the keynote speaker for Friday, on the topic of Exabytes, Social Clouds, and Other Monstrosities.  Josh was high energy, high vision, and very funny.  Watch his talk about the history of data storage and social networks and more on the video channel when it's available. 

The exhibit hall was open so I scored my usual spot at the Media hub blogger table and tried to get on the Internet but the blogger paparazzi wanted photos.  I watched DearMyrtle and Drew Smith interviewing people in the video and podcast booths.  Rather than go to a speaker presentation, I read my email and then wandered over to the booth.  Michelle Pfister of Family Tree Maker, Russ Worthington and I had a great conversation about data entry methods, source citations, GEDCOM, TreeSync, and much more.  I appreciate Michelle taking the time to listen.  Then Tony Macklin of Ancestry Search came along and we talked about many of the same subjects, plus he showed me how Ancestry will be improving the search capabilities of census records, city directories and voter registers (the latter two will have an index search instead of the current OCR search, plus more indexed information like street addresses and occupations).

It's lunch time, so I will write more tonight after the afternoon session and the Night at the Library.

Two reminders:

1)  The Geneabloggers Radio show is on tonight at 9 p.m. EST (8 CST, 7 MST, 6 PST) with Thomas MacEntee and DearMyrtle hosting from the third floor of the Family History Library with guests from the genealogy community.  Tune in at  If you register and sign in, you can participate in the chat board too.

2)  The first episode of the Who Do You Think You Are? season is tonight on NBC television.  I think the times are 8 p.m. EST and PST, and 7 p.m. CST and MST.  Check your local listings!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Day 3 at SLC - RootsTech Day 1 Continues

After lunch, and writing Day 3 in SLC - RootsTech Starts, I toddled off to the Genealogy Idol competition in Room 255B, the hottest place in Salt Lake City.  Geoff Rasmussen of Legacy Family Tree hosted a webinar featuring a competition between four genealogists for the title of Genealogy Idol.  The four contestants were Elyse Doerflinger (at RootsTech), Elizabeth Clark (at RootsTech), Marian Pierre-Louis (at home in Massachusetts) and Michael Hait (at home in Delaware).  They each made three three-minute presentations on a Technology Tip, a Genealogy Serendipity experience, and a Favorite Genealogy Website.  The audience in the room at RootsTech could vote (if they had a laptop, not smart phones or tablets) and the audience at home could vote for their choice for Genealogy Idol.  Marian Pierre-Louis was voted the Genealogy Idol in this competition.  Legacy Family Tree should have this webinar available for viewing for free for ten days at

I took this picture of Elizabeth, Geoff and Elyse:

I went back to the Media Hub and several bloggers and readers and vendors came by to talk.  I missed the 4:15 p.m. start of the Galaxy Girls presentation in 255B with Jill Ball - I wish that I had attended, although Jill's syllabus was great with a nice list of Android apps useful for genealogy and social media. 

I went back to the hotel at 5 p.m., and we went down to dinner at JB's, and then back to the Salt Palace by 5:50 p.m. to look for my iPhone stylus (still lost somewhere...) and for Linda to see the Exhibit Hall.  We then attended the Ryan Hamilton humor show sponsored by Brightsolid in Room 155.  This room took the crown of being the hottest place in Salt Lake City tonight.  Hamilton was funny at times, but the only thing that kept me awake was the cackling laughter in back of me.  I'm tired after two nights of not enough sleep.  I know, there's no rest for the genea-weary...

Then it was back to the hotel, some email reading, some blog posting, and I'm off to bed early tonight.

TNG Version 9 Software Now Available

I received this information from Darrin Lythgoes, the creator of this software::

TNG version 9, a major upgrade for The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding, is now available from Next Generation Software ( The new release will be on sale exclusively at the RootsTech Family History and Technology Conference in Salt Lake City until Feb. 6, after which it will be available to the general public as well.

This new version includes many style upgrades for a more elegant and modern appearance, plus three new template designs. The Template Settings page has also been improved, allowing users to more easily customize the images and messages used on their sites.

Other new features include social media sharing icons, an improved timeline page, better media sorting, enhanced user rights, and the incorporation of the latest Google Maps API. Along with the new maps also comes the ability to geocode place records in bulk, and to have all new places automatically geocoded at the time of entry.

Sites running the new version should also notice a decrease in download times for most pages, due to the introduction of image sprites and the elimination of deprecated functions. For example, where before each public page was loading about 30 images for the icons used there, that number has now been reduced to only three.

About a hundred other new features, improvements and fixes are documented on the TNG web site. A 20-minute demonstration on the changes will be given at RootsTech on Thursday, Feb. 2 at 2pm in the Exhibit Hall.

TNG makes it easy to put your genealogy on your web site in dynamic fashion.  Instead of forcing you to create and upload thousands of pages each time you publish your family tree, TNG uses a database to store your information and create the pages only as they're needed. When you want to make a change, you only need to upload your GEDCOM file again, or enter the new facts directly online. TNG also allows you to link photos and other media to the people in your tree.

TNG is commercial software ($32.99 USD one-time license fee). In order to run TNG, your web site must support PHP (a programming language) and MySQL (the database). Existing users may upgrade to the latest version online for $14.99 or $16.99, depending on their currently installed version.

If you are planning to attend the RootsTech Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah on Feb. 2-4, 2012, you may stop by the Next Generation Software booth (#130) to learn more, or to purchase the new version for the special price of $28.

TNG was created in 2001 and can now be seen on more than 12,000 genealogy web sites world wide. For more information, please see, or contact the author directly at

FamilySearch adds 1790-1840 and 1890 U.S. Census images and indexes

Paul Nauta of FamilySearch just informed me that the U.S. Census population schedules for these census years were added to day to the Historical Record collections page:

*  1790
*  1800
*  1810
*  1820
*  1830
*  1840
*  1890 (what is available)

Here is the screen shot for the newest records added today:

This screen shows that the 1840 U.S. Census index is loaded, but the index for the other years are not loaded yet.  Paul assured me that they will be available later today.

With this set of indexes, the complete U.S. Census population schedules are now available with the double-blind and arbitrated indexing system used by FamilySearch.  The FamilySearch site still does not have images for these years:

*  1860 - links to images on Fold3 (a subscription site)
*  1880
*  1930

Day 3 in SLC - RootsTech Starts

I woke up early and still couldn't blog on the Plaza wireless...frustration!  Went down at 6:30 a.m. and had breakfast, and met Emily, a Genea-Musings reader.  They're all over, it seems.  Wandered over to the Salt Palace at 7 dodging the hail piles, went to the registration desk and got my ticket for tonight.  Sat with Lisa Alzo and Becky Jamison, and then a number of others came, for the Blogger tour of the Exhibit Hall at 7:30.  Was able to dump the laptop case in the Media Hub, so took only my small notebook and the iPhone to the Keynote talk by Jay Verkler.

The Official bloggers got front row seats, along with many notable genealogy people.  I was talking with Dan Lynch and Steve Morse, and a FamilySearch employee came over and started to talk to us about the 1940 Census (I had the shirt on).  He went on about how great it will be to use their website to find an Enumeration District number before the index is available, and it will only take an hour or two.  Steve started asking questions about the website and the process using Wikipedia and ten pages of tables, and we were chuckling at the discussion.  Finally, we asked the FamilySearch guy if he knew who Steve was and what he has already available for the 1940 Census.  Steve gave him the URL for his One-Step 1940 Census Tool.

Jay's talk on "Inventing the Future, As a Community" was inspirational and visionary - if you have a chance to watch it on video later in February I encourage you to watch it.  I had a front row seat but had to watch a small screen nearby and not one of the four large screens.  I didn't take notes on the talk but was amazed at the scope of the vision of connecting the historical data with the family tree information with the family members using social media.  Jay is stepping down from the FamilySearch helm after ten years of development and tremendous progress in building a 21st century organization and website with broad capabilities and scope.

I did get a picture of DearMYRTLE with her new-fangled iPhone accessory - it's available at amazon, she said:

The Exhibit Hall doors opened and about 4,000 people spilled into the hall.  The Media Hub filled up quickly - I'm typing this at a table with a cable connection, along with 14 other Official bloggers.  My table has Amy Coffin, Thomas MacEntee, DearMyrtle, Lynn Palermo, Nancy Shively and Jill Ball.  Thomas was handing out blogger beads for over an hour as many bloggers came by to say hello.  I've lost count, I hope Amy is keeping track!  The interview booths were booked pretty solid - Lisa Louise Cooke had the first interview with Dennis Brimhall, the new FamilySearch CEO.  A camera crew came by and interviewed Thomas MacEntee about being a genealogy rock star, er,  blogger.

I got to talk to Dennis about his previous work and the challenge he has to succeed Jay.  I'm sure he's up to the task!  The Exhibit Hall crowd died down a bit as 11 a.m. approached and may people wandered off to the first class sessions.  I decided to stay in the Exhibit Hall and made my first tour of the place, and talked to several exhibitors.  Then I had lunch, and met geneablogger Michael McCormick, who just graduated from BYU-Idaho and is looking for a family history position.

Back to the Media Hub to read, then write this post.  I'm off to the Genealogy Idol competition in about 15 minutes and hope to have some pictures in tonight's post. 

Treasure Chest Thursday - Death Index Record of Isaac Buck (1757-1846)

It's Treasure Chest Thursday - a time to reveal another gem in my treasure chest of family history.

I have quite a few index records from the Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841 to 1910 database, I have not collected Death certificates for all of them.  In almost all cases, the information on the indexed records are exactly the same that are available from the town records or on a death certificate obtained from the specific Massachusetts town.

As an example of one of these indexed records, here is a death index page from 1846 for Sterling, Worcester County, Massachusetts:  

This image was obtained from the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) database on  The source citation for this entry is:

"Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841-1910," online database, New England Historic Genealogical Society, American Ancestors (, citing original data at Massachusetts State Archives, Deaths, 1846, Worcester County, Sterling town, Volume 21, Page 121, Isaac Buck entry.

The entry for my fourth great-grandfather, Isaac Buck (1757-1846) is the fifth from the bottom of the page.  The column headings and the entries for Isaac are:

No.:  26
When Registered: Feby. 10th
Name and Surname:  Isaac Buck
Sex and Condition:  Male. Widower
Age, Years, Months, Days: 93 - 11 - 20
Occupation:  Revolutionary Pensioner
Date of Death:  February 7th
Disease or Cause of Death: Old Age
Place of birth:  Southboro
Name and surname of Parents - if a Married Female, the Name of her Husband:  Illegitimate

The Sterling town record book, which I extracted back in 1995 when I visited the town hall, has this same information, as does the published book:

Frances Pratt Tapley, Vital Records of Sterling, Massachusetts (Sterling, Mass.: Sterling, Mass. Historical Commission, 1976).

I've always thought that it was very sad that the parents of this Revolutionary War soldier were not named in this record.  The Southborough, Massachusetts town records not that they are Isaac Buck and Mary Richards, who were apparently not married.  I guess that the informant of Isaac's death did not know this. 

The one error I see is his age - his birth date calculated from the age at death (93-11-20) works out to be 18 February 1752 for a death date of 7 February 1846.  However, he was born on 27 September 1757 in Southborough.  Therefore he was 88 years, 4 months and 11 days old at death.  I wonder where the informant obtained his information?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Day 2 of Randy's Salt Lake City Adventure

My second day in Salt Lake City was eventful and fun.  This was my library day.  I got to the Family History Library by 8:30 a.m. carrying only my iPhone and my thin folder of paper (to-do list, blank sheets, etc.), plus two flash drives.  I had identified the microfilms I wanted to visit on the to-do list. 

My first task was to find the probate records for Alpheus B. Smith (1801-1840) that I had not copied previously.  I found them easily on microfilm, but the adventure started when I went to use the microfilm scanner and put the images on my flash drive.  The same 94-year-old woman who helped me last time came around when she saw that I was hopelessly lost.  She'[s a great teacher, very patient, and we had some laughs too.  I hope I'm that alert when I'm 94!

On the way back to my microfilm carrel, I ran across Michael Leclerc, and we talked for awhile.  My next task was to find Norfolk County (MA) Land records for my Smith, Seaver and Plimpton families.  I went through the Grantee and Grantor indexes, and photographed the pages with my iPhone.  There were no Dill deeds before 1849, but there were three Alpheus Smith deeds, including one for the estate where they sold the real estate to pay the debts.  I made microfilm scans of those on the flash drive.

I checked Facebook and Twitter and saw that Jill Ball was on B2, so I wandered down there and found her, and met her husband.  Turns out they've been to Chula Vista as part of Robert's job.  Banai Feldstein was on the other side of the table. 

Then Russ Worthington came along and handed me some Knapp treasures that he had copied.  We talked for awhile, then went up to the main floor and had lunch in the vending area.  It was packed, and two of the four machines, and the changemaking machine, were out of order.  We talked about software and databases much to the amusement of a couple from Idaho at our table.

The microfilm were calling me, and Russ wanted to go over to the Radisson to find his BetterGEDCOM Colleagues.  As I was walking back to my carrel in the dark, there was Elyse Doerflinger, awestruck on her first visit to the FHL.  I hope she found some good research information on her to-do list.  

My next research task was the early Plymouth probate records, and the pages available on the film are really difficult to read between the secretary hand, the page blotting, and page damage.  I photoed nothing and copied nothing.

That was discouraging, so I moved on to the early Barnstable County (MA) probate records, and I retrieved three films with indexes and the first four volumes.  The first volume had transcriptions of the early records (done in the 19th century), so I copied several of them.  The second and third volumes had a lot of indexes, and the original wills in secretary hand were difficult to read, and the page numbering was messed up and difficult to find on the pages.  I ended up copying one ancestor's will and inventory.  I never got to the fourth volume with later records.  The microfilm scanning area was busy, and there was usually a line, and a 15 minute time limit when there was a line. 

I packed up, and went to the 3rd floor and looked for the New Jersey Archives books.  I found them, but they stop at 1817, so I need to find the 1823 will of Stephen Cutter (Middlesex County NJ) on microfilm somewhere.  There's an item for next year's to-do list!  Finally, I used the computer on the 3rd floor and copied the list of commercial databases available on the FHL Computers, and collected quite a few historical maps from the commercial Historic Map Works site. 

It was 5 p.m., and time to rest up for the Official Bloggers dinner at 6:30 p.m. at the Joseph Smith Building.  There were 15 bloggers, many FamilySearch people, a number of birghtsolid and people, and other invited guests.  I received my registration tag, bag and brochure.  The buffet dinner was good, the table conversation was lively, and then we had several presentations by Dennis Brimhall, the Archives team and the birghtsolid team, all focusing on the 1940 Census project.  There will be much more about this in the near future.  The main message was that the indexing for this census will rely on volunteers, and if you want it sooner, then help index it.  David Rencher discussed the SSDI challenge and the vital record closure problems  There will be much more about these in the coming days.

Thank you to FamilySearch, and brightsolid for their hospitality and information, and I look forward to the next few months - it should be exciting!  It was fun to see many geneablogging firends, and meeting several that I had not met before, including Kerry Scott, Nancy Shively and Lynn Palermo.  I also got to meet most of the and brightsolid personnel, and talk at some length with Jay Verkler of FamilySearch.  He's giving the keynote talk on Thursday to open the RootsTech 2012 conference.  I'm looking forward to it, so I need to sign off now and get some sleep. 

The challenge on Thursday will be to find some time to blog while not missing the keynote, the presentations, and the exhibit hall. 

Family History Information Standards Organization (FHISO) Formed

I received this email from the BetterGEDCOM Project:

Family History Information Standards Organisation (FHISO)
New standards-setting organisation formed to support Family History and Genealogy

Salt Lake City, Utah, USA — Wednesday, February 1, 2012 — FHISO ( is a newly-formed international organisation created to develop standards for the digital representation and sharing of family history and genealogical information. The standards will solve today’s interoperability issues independently of technology platforms, genealogy products or services. They will provide opportunities for innovation and will address robust user requirements such as search, capture and research administration.

In the fall of 2010, a group of dedicated technologists and users formed the “Build a BetterGEDCOM Project” to improve data exchange standards and to facilitate sharing between researchers. This grassroots effort has grown into a dynamic, open forum for the exchange of ideas, and a substantial body of work has been produced. In order to realise the project goals, a more structured, organised environment was needed. FHISO will provide this environment.

The FHISO process will identify practices and trends that require standardisation. It will provide a transparent, collaborative environment promoting innovation and consensus-building for the development of open standards. Following publication, the organisation will provide education and other support to encourage standards adoption and use. The FHISO standards will be publicly available at zero or minimal cost on a non-discriminatory basis. Anyone will be able to implement the standards for any purpose without royalty or license fees.

FHISO will be community-owned. Membership is available to all who participate in the global family history and genealogical community.

The success of FHISO depends on the voluntary participation of its members representing all the global stakeholder groups. In the standards-setting process, there is no substitute for the active involvement of vendors, developers, technologists, users and family history or genealogy organisations.

For more information, visit FHISO on the Web at Follow us on twitter @fhisorg ; ; on Google+.

Anthony C. Proctor, FHISO Media Relations (
Robert M. Burkhead, FHISO Acting Chair (
Andrew G. Hatchett III, FHISO Acting Secretary (


I'm looknig forward to speaking to Robert Burkhead about this BetterGEDCOM project at RootsTech 2012.  FamilySearch will be presenting their GEDCOM X project also at RootsTech.

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday - Post 190: Grace (Richmond) Shaw

 I am posting photographs from my family collections for (Not So) Wordless Wednesday (you know me, I can't go wordless!).  

This is a photograph of my great-aunt, Grace L. (Richmond) Shaw (1876-1963), daughter of Thomas and Juliet (White) Richmond, and a sister to my grandmother, Alma Bessie (Richmond) Seaver (1882-1962).

My guess is that the photograph was taken in the 1900 to 1910 period.  It was included in the Seaver/Richmond photos obtained from my parents' home in the 1988 to 2002 time frame.  

Grace married Fred Shaw (1884-1917) in 1907 in Leominster, Massachusetts.  They had one son, Fred Richmond Shaw (1909-1967).  

Because of my blog and website, I have been in email communication with one of Grace's great-granddaughters, Laura, who has shared quite a few photos of the Shaw family with me.  

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Mocavo Unveils New Products and Genealogy Content

I received this email about Mocavo:

Historical Record Storage and Sharing, iPhone and Android Apps, Discovery Stream

Boulder, Colo., February 1, 2012

"With these new features, Mocavo has evolved into a primary resource for genealogists and family historians to research and share their stories," said Cliff Shaw, CEO of Mocavo. "Our goal is to host all of the world's free genealogy content, to make new discoveries an everyday occurrence and to put more research tools into the hands of family historians."

Curt Witcher of the Allen County Public Library, one of the largest genealogy libraries in the world, said, "The Allen County Public Library is thrilled to have our digitized Genealogy Center materials at Mocavo. For 21st century genealogists, it’s all about the experience—and Mocavo provides a fresh, exciting search experience that returns remarkable numbers of relevant results.  And it’s only going to get better from here."

Historical Record Storage and Sharing Platform

For the first time ever, genealogists have a platform to self-publish high-resolution documents that are automatically digitized using OCR and made searchable – all for free. Mocavo users will be able to upload historical records like photos, books and documents to their accounts. Records can be uploaded several different ways: via a Web browser, Mocavo’s new smartphone apps, by email, or through the popular Dropbox service. Mocavo users retain full ownership of their records, can delete them at any time, and control whether or not their records are shared with the public.

iPhone and Android Apps

Mocavo’s new iPhone and Android smartphone applications enable users to take pictures of historical records, photographs – even entire books – and have them automatically uploaded to Mocavo’s historical record storage and sharing service. Users can also perform Mocavo searches and access their Mocavo accounts through the smartphone apps. Mocavo’s apps are in the process of being approved and will soon be available for download; demonstrations are available at RootsTech. Mocavo expects the apps to be available for download within the next 30 days.

Discovery Stream

 In addition to creating a powerful search engine for family history, Mocavo wants to connect and empower the social discoveries made by genealogists every day. The stream will deliver a constant source of new user-generated content in a fashion similar to the Facebook newsfeed or Pinterest. Whether users are uploading family trees and documents, or finding positive matches on the search engine, Mocavo wants to bring these interactions to light and begin a truly social moment for genealogy.

New Content Additions

In addition to these important new capabilities, Mocavo announced three new additions that will add important family history collections to its vast index. New collections include the Allen County Public Library’s Internet Archive records, the US Social Security Administration’s Social Security Death Index, and the World Family Tree developed by the popular Geni family tree service.

“Our mission is to find the world’s family history records and make them easily accessible to the growing legions of genealogists and family historians,” said Shaw. “The Allen County Public Library data, SSDI, and Geni are only the beginning – we want to work with every genealogy content creator, be they big or small, to help them bring their content online and make it searchable for free.”

Visit Mocavo at the RootsTech Conference in Booth 440 in Salt Lake City February 2-4.

About Mocavo

Mocavo operates the world’s largest free genealogy search and seeks to index and make searchable all of the world’s free genealogy information. While discovers new sites every day, some of the existing sites searchable on include genealogy message boards, state and local historical societies, the Library of Congress, National Archives, Ellis Island, Find A Grave, the Internet Archive, various U.S. state archives, and thousands of genealogy sites built by individuals.

For more information, visit or


These are significant announcements, and I look forward to testing them out when they are available.  I look forward to speaking to Cliff Shaw and the Mocavo team at RootsTech this week. 
– Mocavo, the world’s largest free genealogy search engine, today announced several new product capabilities and content additions that will be demonstrated at this week’s RootsTech Family History and Technology conference in Salt Lake City. New product capabilities include: free storage and sharing for historical records, iPhone and Android applications, and the new Discovery Stream.

Day 1 of Randy's Adventure in Salt Lake City

We were bright and early to get to the airport to take our 9 a.m. flight from San Diego to Phoenix to connect to the 12:15 flight to Salt Lake City.  Our bags made it on those flights but we changed our SLC flight when the first plane was an hour late.  So we got here at 3:30 instead of 1:50 p.m.  55F when we got here...warmer than I expected!  We checked in at the Salt Lake Plaza Hotel and I took off to walk around the Family History Library looking for familiar faces.  Janelle waved at me, and Craig Scott was losing his battle to the microfilm scanning machine. 

Back at the Plaza lobby, I saw Paula Hinkel, Leo Myers and Jane Vantour (all from the Southern California Genealogical Society) checking in, so we talked for awhile, and arranged to meet for dinner at JBs next door.

Audrey Collins came along, and then Jan Gow, and many more.  Julie Tarr, Linda McCauley and Jane Haldeman came in and we talked, and then Paula Stuart-Warren and a host of others came off the elevators to go out together.  I know I've forgotten some names apologies.

We went to dinner with the SCGS folks, and Vicky Hilb joined us.  The food was forgettable, but the conversation was great!  Then it was up to the room to check email and Blogger. 

The wireless internet at the hotel was really fast for me in the lobby on my iPhone, and in the room also.  However, the wireless in the room for the laptop was really slow to start with - I wonder why?  It took minutes for Gmail to load, and for Blogger to load.  I didn't try Reader or Facebook!  I noticed that the Calendar on my iPhone has reset to MST and all of my appointments are now an hour later than they really are.  Drat. 

On Wednesday, I'm off to the Family History Library in the morning, with a long to-do list, my iPhone, the camera and two flash drives.  My priority list is:

1)  Find four items that were in Alpheus Smith's (1802-1840) probate packet in Norfolk County, Mass.  Hopefully, they will provide more evidence that Elizabeth Dill Smith was the sister of James H. Dill, who purchased the estate at auction.

2)  Find Norfolk County, Mass. Land Records for the Smith and Dill families.  Plus Plimpton and Seaver while I'm at it. 

3)  Find Plymouth County, Mass. Probates for 1633-1686 - I need Snow, Chandler, Howland, Bangs, Hopkins and probably other probate records.

4)  Find Barnstable County, Mass. Probates for 1636-1894 - I have many names for which I'm sure there are probate records.

5)  That's probably enough to do in the morning... or perhaps all day! 

I have several other things on my To-Do list, but those are the most important ones.  Who knows, I may browse a bit and find something really interesting just before I have to leave. 

Blogging is going to be pretty light all week.  I will try to write a highlight post every night, but doubt that I will post pictures to the blog.  I may post pictures from the iPhone to Facebook.  I anticipate that the RootsTech Conference will take all of my time with events, presentations, the exhibit hall, and the Media Hub.  I'm looking forward to the Genealogy Idol competition, the Galaxy Girls talk and the Three Genea-girls presentation. 

Stay tuned for Day 2 of Randy's Great Adventure in Salt Lake City.

Searching in - Post 2: Wild Cards

I described the basic search features iFirst Look at Results - Post 1: Searches and Transcriptions, and the limitations found on the transcriptions.

In this post, I'm going to go explore some of the Wild Card search features and results.

1)  Starting with only the 1840 U.S. Census, I entered a last name = "seaver" and saw:

There were 173 matches for the last name of "seaver" (exact spelling) in the 1840 census.

2)  I added a wild card in the last name = "sea*r":

There were 287 matches for that spelling.  The matches received looked like they matched the search request.

3)  I changed the last name = "?ea*r" and saw:

Now there are 5,803 matches.  I didn't look at all of these, but the pages I looked at the results matched the search field.

4)  I added a wild card at the end to make the last name = "?sea*r*":

Now I have 17,258 matches, and the limited number of pages I looked at matched the search field request.

5)  I added the first name = "john" to the above search request and saw:

Uh oh.  It says that there are no persons named "John ?ea*r*" in the 1840 census.  I know that's not right.  I worked for about ten minutes starting over and doing the sequence above again and again.  It found results once out of five tries.  I don't know what it's doing, or why, but it's doing it.

6)  I went back to the Home Page, and started a search again in the 1840 census with first name = "robert" and last name = "seaver":

Again, it failed, but I know that there is a Robert Seaver or two in the database in 1840.

7)  I logged out, then logged in, and tried the last name = "seaver" search again:

There is a "Robert Seaver" listed as the third one down on the list.

I don't know why the search engine is not finding what I request in the search field.  It may have to do with specifying the 1840 census specifically.  However, that's how I usually search - one census year at a time.

I wondered about searching with fewer than three letters in the surname (no first name).  That worked:

*  With a last name = 's*r*" I got 105,191 matches
*  With a last name = "s*" I got 256,384 matches
*  With a last name = "*r*" I got 1,230,848 matches (it took several seconds, but it did it!

This appears to be the most powerful last name search engine available.  However, it is useless without a first name search capability in a specific census to go along with it.

I hope that other researchers, and the team, can duplicate my search problem with the first name as demonstrated above (and not just once here in the Genea-Cave!).  I will be discussing this with them, I hope, at RootsTech 2012.

Tuesday's Tip - Watch the FamilySearch Research Courses Videos

This week's Tuesday's Tip is to:  Watch and Use the FamilySearch Research Courses on video to add to your knowledge and skills.

The FamilySearch Learning Center has a set of over 300 Research Courses at

On the left margin are finding aids to help the user select a Research Course by Place, Skill Level, Subject, Format, or Language.  The page above has links for selected courses, such as:

*  Most Popular Courses
*  New Courses
*  Research Tracks (for Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced users).

There are at least 96 "5 Minute Genealogy" courses in several languages (English, Spanish, French, German, Russian, Dutch, Portuguese, Chinese, Italian, Japanese, Korean)

The easiest way to find a course on a specific topic is to use the search field at the top of the page.  However, be aware that it will not find presenter's names...which was the first thing I tried!

These Research Courses are free to watch online, many can be downloaded to your computer, and many have syllabus materials in PDF format that can be downloaded and printed.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The iGene Awards for 2011 for Genea-Musings Posts

The call for nominations for the iGene Awards is on Jasia's Creative Gene blog:

" The topic for the 114th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy is: The 5th Annual iGene Awards! For those not familiar with the iGene Awards, you can see the previous years hereherehere, and here. We'll announce our best blog posts from the previous year (in this case, 2011) in the following 5 categories: Best Picture (that would be a photograph), Best Screen Play (story you would make into a movie including the cast), Best Documentary (investigative research), Best Biography, Best Comedy. Write up a blog post with links to your best articles in these categories and submit it to the COG! The deadline for submissions is February 1st."

Here are the winners that I've selected from 1,037 Genea-Musings posts during 2011:

1)  Best Picture:  The iGene Award goes to:  The Ranslow Smith Four-Mile Inn at Old World Wisconsin (see story in Day 13 on the Seaver Family History Mystery Tour):

This "Dear Photograph" picture was taken by myself at Old World Wisconsin in front of the restored Ranslow Smith Four-Mile Inn (built in 1853).  I am holding a 1930-era photograph of the Inn when it stood on its original site in Rolling Prairie, Dodge County, Wisconsin.

2)  Best Screenplay:  The iGene Award goes to:  The William Seaver Murder Mystery, and Family History Compendium.  This starts with your intrepid researcher getting a request on an Ancestry message asking if he knew the ancestry of William Seaver, who was murdered near Alexandria, Virginia in 1821.  It turns out that he did, but it took awhile to research the event, the ancestry of William and his wife, and the descendants.  This could easily be a Who Do You Think You Are? episode, I think (with the murder shown in vintage film).

3)  Best Documentary:  The iGene Award goes to:  Treasure Chest Thursday - Isaac Seaver's Civil War Pension File: Compendium of Posts.    There are 20 posts in this series documenting and discussing Isaac Seaver's (1823-1901) Civil War Pension File.

4)  Best Biography:  The iGene Award goes to:  Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Write Your Own Obituary.  In one of the least participated SNGF's in history, I managed to write my own autobiography.  Shorter than it should be, and too costly for a real newspaper obituary (at 75 cents per line of 30 characters in agate type).

5)  Best Comedy:  The iGene Award goes to:  The Genealogism Blog Collection.   Another SNGF compendium, linking to my own and six other blogs with creative genealogy-related words.  alas, the Genealogisms Dictionary is still in writing and editing mode. 

I would like to thank the Academy for accepting my nominations and for making the awards!

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) Randall J. Seaver, 2012

First Look at Results - Post 1: Searches and Transcriptions

brightsolid has announced the United States management team for their website - see Brightsolid Hires Top Genealogist D. Joshua Taylor To Support Move Into US Market.

I highlgihted the site yesterday in Is the new brightsolid USA Venture? and Tamura Jones did the same in Brightsolid Introduces the night before.

The United States Census records available on the website are listed on

I took a quick look at the search capability on the site with the current set of census transcriptions (1790 to 1840, 1850, 1880, 1910 and 1930).  Unfortunately, since I don't have a subscription yet, I cannot access the 1850 and later transcriptions.  So we'll make do with the 1790 to 1840 transcriptions for this exercise.

1)  Here is the home page of, with my search fields filled in:

Because I was looking for census records for 1790 to 1840, I entered firstname = "benjamin" lastname = "seaver" and a state =  "massachusetts" (selected from a dropdown list).  I kept the two boxes to the right of the name fields unchecked, so I received "exact matches."  Checking the boxes results in a search for the name with variations (the site says "Selecting this option will include variations of names, as sometimes spelling mistakes or nicknames are included in the census.").  That is different from every other site, which requires users to check the box to obtain exact matches.  The description of the name variations does not say it includes sound-like names that might use a Soundex algorithm.

2)  I clicked on the "Search" button (I could have pressed "Return" on my keyboard too) and obtained 11 matches:

If I had put checks in the box, I would have received 22 matches.  There were no variations on Benjamin.  However, the variation in last names for Seaver were Heaver, Leaver, Deaver, Feaver, Weaver, and Seavey.

I expanded the search to look for Seaver (no first name, not exact) in the 1830 census and received 80 matches.  The last name variations included Seaver, Feaver, Heaver, Seavers, Leaver, Searer, Seager, Staver, Seavey, Beaver, Sever, Shaver, and Weaver.  So it appears that the search algorithm lists the exact matches first (which is good), then systematically checks for changes in each letter in the name.  It also removes one letter at a time, and adds the plural also.  That list of names found is significantly different from what searches on finds - it finds the sound-alike names but not the "one letter off" names - a user must use a wild card for that.

3)  What about a wild card on We'll look at them in another post.

4)  An 1830 U.s. Census record transcription looks like this (two screens):

The transcription of the 1830 census record includes only the first and last name of the head of household, the census year, the state, county, and city/township for the record.  There is no listing of the number of males or females in each age group.  The user will be able to see the additional tick marks when the images are available.

I like the presence of the Bing map on the transcription page.  However, the stickpin is located in Middlesex County, not in Suffolk County, Massachusetts for that particular match.  Clicking on several other matches on the list, the map showed several street names in Boston rather than the towns outside of Boston.  Some towns were found on the map, but many were not, and some were in the wrong place (e.g., Roxbury in 1830 was in Suffolk County, but the map puts it in Norfolk County southwest of Dedham).  This feature needs to be improved.

Since I cannot access the 1850 to 1930 census record transcriptions because I don't have a subscription, I can't comment on the transcription format.  I hope that the transcriptions for those years will include every member of the household and not just the target person.  A pay-per-view feature that shows only the person searched for would be cheating the customer, in my opinion.  The only way to find a census record for many  persons is to find the person included in a family group.

At this point in time, I'm going to take a "wait-and-see" attitude towards the website.  I see no point in subscribing until all of the transcriptions are available, until all of the images are available, and the map feature is fixed.

Frankly, if the site provides only the U.S. census records that FamilySearch has, I don't see a reason to subscribe at all.  At this time, FamilySearch does not offer the 1790 to 1840 U.S. census, but they have claimed that they will add it.  They offer 1850 to 1930 (not 1890, of course) with images for 1850, 1860 (on, 1870, 1900, 1910, and 1920 at this time.  All for Free. also searches the FamilySearch records behind their subscription wall.

Where is the discriminator for  What makes them different from FamilySearch or  I don't see it yet!  hopefully, brightsolid will make a convincing case for U.S. subscribers.

Questions for brightsolid at RootsTech 2012

I am compiling questions that I want to ask of the developers whom I hope to meet at the RootsTech 2012 conference. 

Here's my list so far for brightsolid  developers (for,,  I will probably update it before and during the conference as I think of more questions.  I will try to post a summary of the answers, probably after the conference):


*  When do you anticipate having all U.S. Census records available in transcription form and In image form?

*  Have you created new transcriptions for the U.S. census records, or are you using another organization's transcriptions?

*  Will the transcriptions show all of the household members (the tick marks on 1790 to 1840), the others listed in the dwelling/family for 1850 to 1940)?

*  Have you created a unique search engine for the U.S. census records, or are you using another organization's search engine?

*  Are you hosting a unique set of images for the U.S. census pages, or are you using another organization's images?

*  Will the 1940 U.S. census records and images be added to the site?  If so, will there be an increase in the subscription rates?

*  Will users be able to browse the images - meaning selecting a state, county, and ED and then reading one page to the next - with a subscription account?  If not, why not?

*  What other U.S. historical record collections will be added to this site (or to another brightsolid site)?

*  Will brightsolid be adding a Family Tree option to the U.S. operation?

*  Will there be some sort of combined or bundled subscription for users to access all of brightsolid's databases and sites?

I don't know what questions to ask about the British and Scottish record sites that are also owned by brightsolid.  If readers have questions, please list them!

What other questions should be asked of the brightsolid website developers?  Please add them to comments to this post, or on Facebook or on Google Plus so that every reader can see them.  I will add them to the list above as they come in.

If personnel wish to answer the questions, I hope that they will comment also, and I will highlight their responses.

I hope to do this type of Question post for several other developers of genealogy databases, software and services.  If readers have suggestions for other websites, please forward them to me as comments on this blog, or on Facebook or Google Plus.  I will give credit to those who provide questions.

The URL for this post is:
copyright (c) Randall J. Seaver, 2012.