Friday, August 1, 2014

Checking My Watch List on FamilySearch Family Tree

One of the features of FamilySearch Family Tree, the "universal" family tree that is "our tree" and not "my tree" - meaning anyone can contribute to it - is the Watch List.  A user can specify which persons in the Family Tree they want to "watch" to see if changes are made.

Several weeks ago, I decided to watch the first six generations of my ancestors on the FamilySearch Family Tree.  I went through and selected the persons one at a time, and chose 100 persons.  Then waited to see what might happen.

To "Watch" a person in the FamilySearch Family Tree, you click on the star icon just below the birth and death dates for the person in their profile.  The screen below shows the top of the profile for Nathan Gates (1767-1830) - the "Watch" star icon is not filled:

If I click the star icon, then this person is added to my Watch list.

I received an email on Friday, July 25, 2014 from FamilySearch that provided a list of "What's new in your family tree?" added between July 18-25, 2014.  Here's the top of the list:

I scrolled down the list from the email, and saw that most of the changes were my own.

I recalled that I could check the "Watch List" on the Family Tree system, and I found it under "Lists" in the Family Tree:

 There are two tabs at the top of this page - for "People I'm Watching (100)" and "Changes to People I'm Watching."  Every person on the screen above is someone I'm watching, and I can go to their person profile and see what was added, changed or deleted.

When I clicked on the "Changes to People I'm Watching" on the screen above, I was able to click the box to "Hide Changes I've Made."  I checked that, and saw that I had 74 changes made by other contributors for persons on my Watch List:

That is really helpful, I think.  The list above provides the person profile name and ID number, the date of the change, and the type of change.

The first one on the list is the most recent - in this case user PaulineJKnight attached a source to Frederick Sovereign (ID KG43-YGX), my 4th great-grandfather, whom I had "Watched."

I went to Frederick Sovereign's person profile, scrolled down to the Sources, expanded the source, and saw:

The source information for the death and burial for this person is:

Legacy NFS Source: Frederick Sovereign - Government record: Death record or certificate: burial: 16 June 1875; Windham, Norfolk, Ontario, Canada
Obit, , Collection rolls of Windham Twp, Norfolk, held by Eva Donley Brook Museum Simcoe, Norfolk, Ontario, Canada
Government record: Death record or certificate: burial: 16 June 1875; Windham, Norfolk, Ontario, Canada

Reason This Source Is Attached|Edit
Migrated from user-supplied source citation: urn:familysearch:source:3247875081
Originally Created:
31 July 2014byPaulineJKnight

This is labeled as a "Legacy NFS Source" which apparently was attached earlier to this person in New FamilySearch.  This source citation actually provides enough information to find it - but at a local repository, not in an online database.  If I wanted to see this record, I could correspond with the repository and see if I could obtain a document image of the record.  apparently, not every "Legacy NFS Source" provides a useful source citation.

The "user-supplied source citation: urn:familysearch:source3247875081" noted is not a website - it apparently is an internal FamilySearch thing.  The Ancestry Insider addressed it and how it was generated in the blog post FamilySearch Migrates New FamilySearch Sources on 2 April 2014.

So this "Watch" feature appears to be useful - and using it may help me find information, records and sources for persons on my Watch list that I don't have or may have missed.

I expect another email from FamilySearch today - it will be interesting to see what changes have been made to persons on my Watch list.

This appears to work so well that I'm going to add more of my ancestors (I'm not doing siblings of my ancestors) to the list.

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver


Grandma Cantrell said...

I like this feature and use it also. I like that not only can it give me additional information, but it can allow me to make sure that the changes made are correct. If I disagree with the change, I can do my research to support my opinion and then change it again, adding all my documentation and logic.

I click the watch button for every person that I go in and do some work on. That way, I know if someone adds something more.

Amy T said...

I've also found this to be a useful feature. I mostly use it like Grandma C mentions, and additionally have found it helpful in prompting new collaborations.

For example, just this week someone emailed me after getting notification of some changes I made. He agreed with a major change, wanted to discuss another, provided some further evidence on something I had a question about, and we had a nice chat about what needs to be done on the family.

If you want to go through and add everyone in your immediate ancestry to your watch list, you can also go into the Traditional family tree view. Click on each person, and you can choose "Watch" on each little pop-up box.

Jana Iverson Last said...


I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

Have a great weekend!