Some tech tips on the workings of Familysearch.org.
By V Hubbard, Updated July 10 2018
1. Don’t be afraid to use the help resources.
There are 1200+ people available 6 ˝ days a week. It is Monday in Australia when it is Sunday in the U.S., that is how we get ˝ day coverage. Family search functions are being updated constantly. This is great, but sometimes confusing.
2. Most family history work done on the web needs to be done from a PC or laptop is my recommendation.
3. After extended period of non-use, Familysearch will require you to log back in
When nothing seems to work after you have been away from the PC, try logging in to Familysearch again. Reloading the page may log you in if you have the web browser Auto-login enabled for familysearch.
4. Familysearch is not always “fast”, but you will get a feel for its speed
System may overload with Sunday afternoon genealogists.
5. Source linker, do one at a time
Don’t try to have multiple pages open. It can cause confusion linking to the correct people. I have done thousands or source links and patience is required at times. Wait for it to finish once you have selected the “Attach” button. Attach is a little confusing since it may call up another page or menu with another “Attach” option until you get to the final one. Be aware.
6. Opening a name in a new tab/window
You must first select the name with the Left mouse button and a brief description pops up. Then select “Person” with the Right mouse button to open another tab/window. Selecting the name directly with the RMB does not work. It acts like it will, but it never opens.
When you first create a memory, you attach a Tag name.
The Tag name is in your data, not seen by everyone else. You must attach
the tag name to a person in your family tree for the memories attached to the
tag name to show in the persons Memory area. Linking to a person in
the tree needs to be done once, after that the tag name will be linked to the
person in the tree each time it is used. Why is it done this
way? For me I have ancestors, cousins etc. with similar
names. Calling one Tag name Grandpa David Calder vs Cousin David Calder
Jr makes it easier for me to find the correct tag when adding more memories.
When you start typing a tag name, the system will show "matching" names in a list. Pick from the list to use an existing name.
When you select “people” under the Memories menu, you see all the tag names you have created. You can also see tag names others have created that are linked to people in your tree. It also shows the record number it is linked to.
What is the difference between Pictures, documents and Stories?
All can have multiple tags, but:
The picture file is uploaded to family search. A .jpg type file is best. (I haven't tried .gif, .png etc).
Multiple tags can be added to a picture. When a picture is added to the first person, the tag is made covering the complete picture and may need to be edited to fit the person.
From then on when adding a tag you pick on the picture and add a frame around each person/face in the picture and add the Tag name to each frame. Set the frame size and location first then add the tag name. This example shows I have typed in “bate” and it found 2 of the existing tags that matched.
A title can be added at the top in the picture page and comments at the bottom of the picture page are available. Comments are where you can enter the notes you find on the backs of pictures.
Documents are similar to pictures, some scanned document in some picture format. Tags can be added and now you can set a frame on a document, just as you can with the pictures, but the frame is rectangular, not oval. Here when I picked James’ tag, it showed where it had been framed on the document.
Stories are typed into the system. I prefer to copy from a document I have on the PC and paste on the web site when in edit mode. There is a spell checker this way. Function is similar to word pad. Multiple tag names can be added. When you are tagging people in the story, it may seem obscure to some people why Teddy James is tagged to a story about Grandpa Calder. In some cases, I put an index to the names in the story and their relationship to the primary person in the story. I do this at the top of the story. Teddy James, cousin to Grandpa Calder. Jane Smith, transcribed this story, etc. Father, mother, son, daughter, cousin, friend and so on.
8. Searching on familysearch.org
There are 2 search areas in Family search. One in the top menus. This is for general searches.
When you have a specific person called up, there is another search area on the right of the page. “Searching” with the Familysearch link on the right of the record. There are some things you can do to make the search work better. Below shows the search option being discussed, the one available when looking at the detailed data of a person in your tree. There are other Search methods on Family Search and they act similar, but this is the one you may use heavily.
When the search window opens a search has been done. See below. The problem is it is often too narrow or it wont find the records you need. Areas I ofen change and then re-do the search.
Search example and fields below.
Passwords. Familysearch.org and LDS.org use the same login. Passwords some general rules on the internet.
9. What is the difference between .jpg, .bmp, .png, .gif for pictures and how do I tell what I have?
These are all file formats for pictures. .bmp is raw pixels, usually the largest size for the same picture. .png, and .gif are “compressed” formats. .gif is an older format, .png is pushed by Microsoft. .jpg or .jpeg is a compressed format and it can store text data in the data file. IE tags, stories etc but special software is needed to see it. .jpeg /.jpg is preferred currently.
How can you tell what you picture on the computer is? You have to turn on the display of file extensions. Windows has it turned off by default. In file explorer select tools, from the list pick Folder Options….. When the window pops up, select the View options. From the list find and UNCHECK “Hide extensions for known file types.” This will let you see the complete name of files, with the suffix. The suffix tells windows what kind of file it is and what software will work with it. (Changing the suffix name does not automatically re-define the file. It usually just becomes junk since the system no longer knows what it really is anymore.)
10. Getting the right age.
Finding the right birth year for a person is important. Family search by default will use a +-2 year search range. Often this must be made a bigger range. Use multiple records to validate age where possible. Some examples.
A. One ancestor when his information was initially entered, they estimated his birth the same as his wife. No records could be found. I opened up his age +- 10 years and found him. The stumbling block was he was 6 years younger than his wife. Similar ages showed up in the census continually. Often a matter of embarrassment if husband was much younger. One census showed age at marriage and it confirmed he was married at 18 when she was 24.
B. Who is answering the Census? Mother, child or father? It makes a difference. As parents get older and live with the children, ages often get rounded. 70,75, 80 etc. Along with this birth place may not be as accurate either. Imagine family with 6-10 kids, answering all their ages. Sometimes things are off a little. Parents or the Census taker gets confused.
C. Census/indexer miscalculation. Many records show age, year was a calculation in indexing or when the record was created. Check the math! Sometimes the year entered doesn’t match the age entered.
D. White lies. Marriage records are the most prone to this. A 18-20 year old may end up being 21 on the marriage record. Or if you told a date you were younger than you were, the age may follow thru on marriage, census etc later on. I have one extreme example where I documented one of my distant cousins through her life. As she grew older she got younger. When married a second time in her mid 40s she became 11 years younger. Initial birth record and census show one year, her birth certificate she had made when she was in her 70s shows a birth date 11 years younger, counter signed by her sister, who was younger, but by the “new” date was now her older sister. Yes it took a lot of work comparing records, siblings, families to be sure, but this was well documented. I have even had rare cases when parents attested that their 13 ˝ year old daughter was 16 when married.