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James Tanner's Blog (321)

Upcoming RootsTech Conference in February, 2011

Early sponsors of the upcoming FamilySearch RootsTech Conference

in Salt Lake City, Utah on February 10th through the 12th, 2011 include

Brigham Young University, the New England Historic Genealogical

Society,, the National Genealogical Society and the

Federation of Genealogical Societies. The conference with bring together

the resources of three other conferences, the Conference on

Computerized Family… Continue

Added by James Tanner on October 24, 2010 at 9:33pm — No Comments

Entertainment or Education -- the genealogy conference experience

As soon as I got back from Utah and my visit to FamilySearch, I taught

two classes at the Fall Genealogy Workshop of the Family History Society

of Arizona. The conference seemed very well attended but being at a

genealogy conference raises some issues, including whether or not

attending a genealogy class is more entertainment than education. The

classes I taught were on specific software products and it was

interesting that more than a few of the attendees had… Continue

Added by James Tanner on October 23, 2010 at 8:21pm — No Comments

New Blog Posts recently

I have made a number of new Blog posts recently while I am here in Utah for the first ever FamilySearch Bloggers Day. Here are a few of the newer ones:

More to Salt Lake than Family History Library
Feedback and Community Support on the Beta
Updated version of FamilySearch Indexing

and a few others


Added by James Tanner on October 20, 2010 at 9:44am — No Comments

A very selective New FamilySearch Beta test?

We had an interesting occurrence this past week or so. On October 5, I

received an E-mail from the New Beta Test Team, as


Dear Member, We are looking for individuals who can participate in evaluating before each quarterly update.
We need individuals with different levels of computer skills, family history backgrounds, languages, and experience.
We try…

Added by James Tanner on October 17, 2010 at 8:54am — No Comments

A lost art -- writing in cursive

I had a very well prepared and attentive group of teenage boys in a

genealogy class recently. They all had a Spanish speaking heritage. They

all came prepared to the class with information about their

grandparents who were born in Mexico. With the new records on

FamilySearch's Record Search, we were able to find some of their family

records right online. As I showed them the records we had found, one of

the boys raised his hand and said, "Mr. Tanner, we can't read… Continue

Added by James Tanner on October 11, 2010 at 8:51am — 2 Comments

What is a FamilySearch Center?

The very recent additions to the Beta website prominently features a search link to "FamilySearch Centers." Here is a screen shot showing the link:…


Added by James Tanner on October 8, 2010 at 8:48am — No Comments

How do I know what's new in the genealogy world today?

There are a number of programs called aggregators. These aggregator

programs do all the work for you of going out onto the Internet and

gathering any changes in posts to websites and blogs. Google Reader and

other similar programs are also known as feed aggregators. They may also

be referred to as feed readers, news readers, or rss readers. (RSS

stands for really simple syndication). Aggregators reduce the effort

needed to check a number of blogs or websites for… Continue

Added by James Tanner on October 4, 2010 at 8:57am — 1 Comment

Isn't genealogy supposed to be fun?

Fun is a serious topic. I would hesitate to even do a Google search on

fun with anything else, there would be so many responses. If our society

was judged by our advertisements, fun would be judged to be one of our

most sought after goals. Here are some of the titles of the hits found

by a search on "fun genealogy." (6,470,000 results)

A just for fun genealogy quiz

Fun stuff for genealogists

Genealogy fun time

Genealogy fun

Some favorite fun… Continue

Added by James Tanner on October 3, 2010 at 12:40pm — 2 Comments

Seeing through the screen -- the truth about your genealogy

When I was young I was often fascinated with the visual effect of

staring through a window screen. If you focused your eyes just right,

the screen could appear to be a solid surface. But if you looked beyond

the screen, the outside world became visible. Sometimes in research,

especially in genealogy, we need to see through the screen to the larger

world outside of our family. Once we have seen the world, we can then

refocus on the screen (our family) with renewed… Continue

Added by James Tanner on September 25, 2010 at 4:02pm — No Comments

Some common mistakes in genealogy

I tend to look at an awful lot of genealogy and some of it is really

awful. Here is a compilation of a few of the most obvious and easily

rectified errors:

1. Failing to look for and record the correct full name of an ancestor.

One of the side benefits of looking at a large collection of user

submitted family trees is that it is fairly easy to compare the

submissions of any one individual and see the variations. In this case, I

have used… Continue

Added by James Tanner on September 22, 2010 at 9:13am — No Comments

No absolutes in genealogy

People's lives are inherently messy, no matter how short or how long and

trying to completely quantify a life is probably unattainable. Even

huge biographies, like Carl Sandburg's Abraham Lincoln do not do justice

to a life. So what can we hope to accomplish as genealogists? How much

information is enough? Where do we stop? Or do we ever stop in

collecting information? If you are like me, you will always believe that

there is one more document and one more place to… Continue

Added by James Tanner on September 17, 2010 at 10:13pm — 1 Comment

Library of Congress Newspapers on Microfilm

Interlibrary Loan is one of the most underused resources for

genealogists. As I teach classes at the Mesa Arizona Regional Family

History Center I frequently ask the class participants if they are aware

of the interlibrary loan process. Usually, only one or two out of

twenty or more have even heard of borrowing books from remote libraries.

In our own Mesa Public Library, the Interlibrary Loan selection appears

on the individual login screen for registered users… Continue

Added by James Tanner on September 16, 2010 at 8:43am — No Comments

What place controversy?

In a recent post, DearMyrtle asked the question "Being Politically Correct: What should we do as historians?"

I think this question falls into the category of the inclusion of

controversial information into our genealogies. Should we "edit" history

to take out all the undesirable and difficult subjects? What about the

criminals, the illegitimate children and the poor and… Continue

Added by James Tanner on September 15, 2010 at 10:30pm — No Comments status and update

Indications are that FamilySearch must be getting closer to releasing the new version of their

website. This last week or so, a banner appeared on the original site

inviting users to try the new beta version. There is also an invitation

on the FamilyHistory Library startup page to try the beta version of the

Family History Library Catalog which is incorporated in the beta site.

The beta site for… Continue

Added by James Tanner on September 12, 2010 at 10:05am — No Comments

Connecting the Research to the Genealogist

A while back, I wrote a post about connecting the genealogist to the

research. Now, I am going to turn that around and talk about another

side of the issue, connecting the research to the genealogist. In other

words, how do we get the information we find out to the genealogical

community without being lost in the background noise of the Internet?

A article from Ancestry Magazine from November/December 2000 called

"Share and Beware -- Sharing Genealogy in the… Continue

Added by James Tanner on September 10, 2010 at 8:15am — No Comments

Looking for the ideal lineage linked database program

There have been a rash of Blog posts about the release of Family Tree Maker 2011. It looks like I last visited the subject of lineage linked database programs

back in January of 2009. For those of you who are not used to that

name, a lineage linked database program is software that stores your

family information such as Personal Ancestral File, RootsMagic,

Ancestral Quest, Legacy… Continue

Added by James Tanner on August 31, 2010 at 8:00pm — No Comments

Connecting the Genealogist to the Research -- an online conundrum

In the title to this post, I use for the definition of "conundrum" that

of an intricate and difficult problem. The question was raised by Martin

Hollick, author of

Hollick, Martin E. New Englanders in the 1600s: A Guide to Genealogical Research Published between 1980 and 2005. Boston, Mass: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2006.

in his post, "Shepardizing… Continue

Added by James Tanner on August 30, 2010 at 8:18am — No Comments

Following links from Google Books, WorldCat and

When I was working at the University of Utah Library a million years ago

(maybe only half a million), my past-time on break was to walk the

stacks, it was exercise and I also became acquainted with all of the

different sections of that huge library. I would also find books of

interest from time to time. Whenever I go to a library, I essentially do

the same thing, walk up and down the shelves looking for relevant

material. I have learned that no index (card catalog)… Continue

Added by James Tanner on August 29, 2010 at 5:12pm — No Comments

My rules for buying a new computer for genealogy

In my recent post

on buying a new computer I talked about some of the factors that go

into choosing a system for home (or small business) use. Here are my

rules or at least the ones I have adapted over the years in purchasing

dozens of computers:

Rule No. 1: Always buy the fastest computer you can reasonably afford.

This is a pretty simple rule.… Continue

Added by James Tanner on August 28, 2010 at 5:39pm — No Comments

On publishing genealogy -- still a viable option?

The hallmark of the published genealogy is a thick book of names, reported relationships, brief narratives and NO

sources. I have a number of these books on my own shelves at home. Most

are treasured as family heirlooms, written by someone's great

grandmother or aunt, long since passed away and unavailable to make

corrections or even defend their work. In a past post, out of a sense of

self preservation, I have declined to identify any particular book.

Now,… Continue

Added by James Tanner on August 28, 2010 at 5:39pm — No Comments




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