Document Analysis

Although this topic may be considered a bit more advanced, serious beginning genealogists would be so much further ahead if they knew this information starting out! When we run up against brick walls or just want to know more about a certain part of our ancestor's lives we need to revisit what we have already found. Often a thorough analysis of a document can give us more information or give us ideas about where to look for more information in other records.

Document Analysis PowerPoint PDF Document Analysis Handout
The GPS or Genealogical Proof Standard guides us to properly collect sources, cite them, analyze them, resolve conflicts we might find in them, and then make accurate conclusions based on them. When done properly any documentation found thereafter will not disagree with or change the conclusion.

To begin, we need to focus our research into a single question. Then search for records that are relevant to that question. Next, we evaluate each document to determine:

Source T…


What hidden treasure will YOU find once you explore the FamilySearch CATALOG?

The FamilySearch CATALOG is where ALL of the records that FamilySearch has are located. Including books. After they have been added to the Catalog the records will eventually migrate to Historical Records and the FamilySearch Wiki. If you want access to EVERYTHING, then you need to search the CATALOG.

This PowerPoint will show you how to search the CATALOG with various types of searches and then show you how to get creative in that search process. There are neat shortcuts and tips and tricks to help you find more things faster. Your research treasure chest will overflow with new and precious gems! It's time to start digging!


The HIDDEN GOLDMINE: The FamilySearch CATALOG PDF-Handout Version


Now that we no longer have help from the Mesa FamilySearch Library we can find our own help on genealogical topics by turning to the AMAZING FamilySearch WIKI.

The FamilySearch Wiki is where you can begin to become an EXPERT in genealogical topics and places. Wonder what records are available for a certain time period in a certain place? Look in the Wiki. Want to know more about a certain record collection? Look in the Wiki. Want to learn more about research in a foreign country? Look in the Wiki. Need some genealogy forms? Look in the Wiki.

With the new GUIDED RESEARCH, it couldn't be easier! Now is the time to give it a try! That brick wall may find itself crumbling with the tools that you find available.

I became a convert over ten years ago. After one of James Tanner's classes at the old Mesa FamilySearch Library, I approached him with a difficult genealogical conundrum. One that had perplexed many others. James didn't know the answer so he sat down at the Wiki and wi…

Beginning Searches with the FamilySearch Person Page and Partners

It is always exciting to be able to explore original records left behind by our ancestors. It validates their existence and also validates us and who we are as individuals as we connect to them.

When we have a tree on FamilySearch or it's partner websites we are given hints for records that the database thinks apply to our ancestors. We can look at these records, evaluate them, and when we are convinced that they are relevant to the individual or individuals in our tree we can attach them to those individuals. However, these hints are just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more! But to find more we will have to embark on a search.

Searches can be done as a scattershot approach where we just take anything the search results give us or we can specifically focus our search to achieve a goal. The goal all family historians should undertake is to make sure their ancestors, within the first four generations, have as many vital records and censuses as it is possible to find withi…

Finding FamilySearch Source List Images

The image on the upper left is a typical example of the Memories tab on a FamilySearch person page that has not been enriched with the images available in the list of Sources. The image on the lower left is that same Memories page once the Sources list's images have been located and added.

Finding FamilySearch Source List Images PowerPoint PDF

Finding FamilySearch Source List Images PowerPoint PDF Handout Version

Someone new to family history will view Memories long before they will view, understand, or utilize the Sources tab. Original documents speak to hearts. They validate a person's life and give us a peek through the window of time. When documents are made readily viewable in Memories novices may see a census or vital record for the first time. When these documents are about people that are meaningful to them they engage more fully in family history. Because of this, there is great value in enriching Memories pages with images of original documents. 
Without doing any rese…

Beginning Family History Step 8-Organizing Digitizing and Preserving Photos

The flood of photos in this digital age can be overwhelming. How do we keep up? Well, the good news is that digital photos on a computer or cell phone are quick and easy to view. You can view hundreds if not thousands in minutes.

In the PowerPoint below are presented some ideas to help manage and preserve your multitude of contemporary photos. Number one: Get them all in one place!

Labeling can be tedious and time-consuming unless you know the shortcuts. Being able to batch label and batch metadata photographic images can be a time saver. If you have photo editing programs you can use them. If you don't you can easily do it in Windows File Explorer or use the free program called Adobe Bridge. Mac users would best be served by using Adobe Bridge.

Nondigital photos can be scanned to make them digital. This PowerPoint covers the basics of scanning photos with suggestions for the necessary resolution as well as file formats and what they mean: tif vs jpeg. The basics of how to proper…

Beginning Family History Step 7-Family History and Digital Management of Historical Items

Digital management is a hot topic in many fields but because of the uniqueness of everyone's personal genealogy and style, it can become a bit complex in the subject of family history.  There are many classes, books, webinars, etc. on the subject in relation to genealogy. I have watched, studied, and read many. What I have discovered is that there is no perfect system. Some I like better than others and you will too.

What I have included in this PowerPoint are examples of some of the better methods and ideas. You can choose what suits you.
Metadata is introduced with various free methods of adding metadata to your image files. This allows you to add source citations to your images that stick with them wherever they go, as well as a variety of other options.
Hopefully, you will be able to make some more informed decisions in the future.
Family History and Digital Management PowerPoint PDF

Family History and Digital Management PowerPoint PDF-HANDOUT VERSION

Batch Renaming on Mac Using…

Creative Iterative Searches on FamilySearch and Ancestry

Why doesn't my ancestor show up in the census? Well, maybe he did! When a record doesn't immediately pop up in search results it doesn't mean that it isn't available. It may just take a bit more creativity to find.

What is an "iterative" search? It is a search where you vary the parameters of repeated searches to improve the results. Thus you evaluate the results and then determine what new search parameters might be used to improve the results.

FamilySearch and Ancestry have very different search engines. FamilySearch uses a tightly filtered search while Ancestry uses a fuzzy search. One is not better than the other, they are just different. When you understand how they work you can make both systems work to your advantage.

If you don't have all of the birth, marriage, death, and census records for your first 4-5 generations, it is time to start getting creative in your hunt for them!

This PowerPoint will give you tools you need to start making your sear…

Family History Educational Resources

With the closing of our local Mesa FamilySearch Library, those of us here in Mesa are left without access to the MFSL conferences, classes, and resources we have had in the past. We look forward to the opening of our new Discovery Center and renovated temple in 2020.

During the interim, I thought I would share the wealth of resources that are available elsewhere. I am providing a list of links to resources that I am aware of, and although somewhat comprehensive, there are many more opportunities available for those who keep searching. New learning opportunities are continually arising. It is a popular market!

My advice would be to not pay for anything until you have exhausted the free material first and have a good feel for what else you want to learn. Then if you have more interest you can start paying.

The FamilySearch Learning Center-Articlesand Lessons
The FamilySearchWiki Ancestry Academy Riverton Family History Center
YOUTUBE TryanyTopic! Subscribe to you…

Beginning Family History Step 3-HIDDEN DUPLICATES in FamilySearch-How to FIND and RESOLVE

In 2017 I conducted a hidden duplicate experiment on my first five generations to see how many hidden duplicates I could find in FamilySearch.

This project began because of a failed attempt to help my husband find a new family to add to his FamilySearch tree. I spent some time pre-finding a person for him to research that was without a spouse or children. I did a "Possible Duplicates" search on the individual before I started looking for family and trusted it when it said there were none. I pre-found the family in records and then spent 2.5 hours helping my husband "find" them. 
It wasn't until we added the third child to FamilySearch that the system found a duplicate which was attached to the whole family. It was very discouraging. All that research time was wasted and the temple work was already completed. 

San Tan Valley North Family History Fair

Beginning Family History Step 6-The FamilySearch Updated Person Page

Beginning Family History Step 6-The FamilySearch Person Page

Peggy Ash

Now that we have a tree and record hints attached we need to take a closer look at what FamilySearch calls the "Person Page". When a new individual is added to the FamilySearch Family Tree they are assigned an identification number and a Person Page is created for them.

The Person Page has only as much or as little information as users have entered. Most Person Page's could benefit from a little TLC.

TLC comes in the form of verifying, standardizing, correcting, adding, and organizing information. A Person Page can become a work of art when well crafted. Make your 4 generations a valuable masterpiece!

This PowerPoint will give you some tips and hints:

Beginning Family History Step 6-The FamilySearch Updated Person Page PowerPoint PDF

Beginning Family History Step 5-Magical World of Record Hints

The miracle of modern technology meets genealogy with the magical world of record hints!

Add an individual to a tree in one of the major online genealogy sites like FamilySearch, Ancestry, Find My Past, or My Heritage and within seconds record hints have been generated. The websites use the information from your tree to search their databases to find records that pertain to your individual. Hints are produced for records that the systems have found and with a high degree of confidence believe apply to your individual.

Even though the systems are often quite good at bringing us valid hints, each hint still needs to be evaluated and the record analyzed. Even when there seems to be very little information, each piece of information can be a clue that leads us to more information and can be used as evidence to support or contradict what we already know.

As new information is identified it needs to be added to the tree. FamilySearch does not automatically correct or transfer vital informa…

Beginning Family History Step 4-Adding Your 4 Generations to the FamilySearch Tree

We have discovered our family in Ancestry but now we want to make sure that the information is in FamilySearch. Before we add any new individuals to the FamilySearch Tree we want to make sure that they are not already in FamilySearch.

There are three ways of doing this:

1. Check for Duplicates on the FamilySearch Person Page
2. Use the FamilySearch synch feature in Ancestry
3. Use the FIND feature in FamilySearch

When you have checked FamilySearch and most of the individuals being added to the FamilySearch tree are not in FamilySearch or your individuals contain much more information than what may be in FamilySearch, then you have the option of uploading a GEDCOM file to FamilySearch.

A GEDCOM file is a Data Communication file specifically designed by the LDS Church to transmit genealogical information. It has become the standard file format in the genealogical community. A GEDCOM can be exported from Ancestry and uploaded to FamilySearch. On FamilySearch, these files are read-only to…

Beginning Family History Step 2b-Find Your 4 Generations When There are No Online Trees

When the tree hints run dry and you no longer have trees to extend your family tree what do you do? Search for information in records.

The best records to identify other family members are census, marriage, birth, and death records. When you initiate a search you want to focus on those records.

As you find records you can attach them to your Ancestry tree along with those individuals mentioned in the record. Ancestry is nice because, unlike FamilySearch, you can also add information from the record to the information in your tree or replace information in your tree with better information from the record.

This is where things start to get FUN!

Beginning Family History Step 3-Find Your 4 Generations When There are No Online Trees PDF

Beginning Family History Step 2-Jump Start Your First 4 Generations with Ancestry Trees

Online trees are a wonderful source for quickly extending your personal pedigree. These trees have been placed online by an individual who did some or a considerable amount of family history work and shared it for public access. The original trees may have then been copied, often many times, by others and then reposted online and shared so there could be many trees on any given family line that are quite similar.

FamilySearch has tried to create one combined family tree from all of the trees posted to their website with the hope of eliminating or at least reducing the amount of duplication of effort.

Ancestry, on the other hand, has kept their individual trees in the private space of the creator and given the owner the option of sharing their tree/trees. Because sharing is the default, most people share their trees. At last count, Ancestry says it has 100 million family trees.

The odds are pretty good someone has started a tree on Ancestry with some of your family members in it and t…

Ancestry DNA 101

Ancestry DNA 101 PowerPoint PDF

Ancestry DNA 101 Handout

In April of 2018, I completed the semester-long Boston University Genealogy Course and received their genealogy certificate. It is a well respected and wonderful course but it was intense. I loved it, although the pressure around the weekly due date was not fun. Being graded on my work was a long forgotten stress. I did well but not without immense effort. Lots of writing!

The course is designed to prepare you to become a professional. My intent was not to become a professional but to acquire the knowledge of a professional. I feel that I did, but there is always so much more to learn! Part of this course was on Forensic Genealogy which included a study of DNA. In this day and age, a true genealogist must have a working knowledge of DNA. The course spurred me into learning even more.

Understanding how confusing it was, not long ago, when I took my first DNA test, I realized that there was a lack of beginning DNA resources in our …

Beginning Family History-Step 1: Adding and Fixing My FamilySearch Tree

Step 1 in my Beginning Family History Series is starting a tree in the FamilySearch Tree and finding the missing parts of your FamilySearch Tree.

It will show how to register a child who is under the age of thirteen which requires parental consent and added information.

Once you have registered this PowerPoint will take you through different scenarios in which you may find your tree. For those who don't have a tree it walks you through how to start one with the new FamilySearch "Are You New?" feature. It also shows how to leaf out a full tree for those who think they should have one and don't. You will also learn how to add spouses trees and center your tree for a better view.

Starting and Finding Trees in FamilySearch PDF

These 5 different scenarios are covered:

Scenario 1-You have NO TREE and your family members are probably not in the FamilySearch Tree

Scenario 2-You have a partial tree showing, but a tree that you know should be in FamilySearch doesn't extend be…

Moving a Tree from Ancestry to FamilySearch

For those who love using Ancestry for research and find that they have built their trees there but would like to add them to FamilySearch, this post is for you.

One way is to go to the Profile Page of an individual. In the upper right hand corner you can find the little FamilySearch Tree. Click on this and you will be able to select a person to match it to in FamilySearch or if no one is in the FamilySearch Tree to match to you can add the individual to FamilySearch.

Another way is to Download a GEDCOM of your Ancestry Tree then upload it to FamilySearch. This is also a good way to preserve your data. The GEDCOM stays in your complete control. You may choose to share it with the FamilySearch Tree, compare data with what is already there, or delete it. Living individuals will not be added to the FamilySearch Tree. The trick is finding the tree after you have uploaded it. It is a little hidden.

The Steps for this method are outlined in this PowerPoint:

FamilySearch Genealogies: Preserving…


I so enjoy finding newspaper articles that include my ancestors! It makes their lives come to life in a way that no other item does. You never know what you might find but it all tells a story. Sometimes they are simply visiting family or attending a party, other times they may be going to prison. Another time it may be an obituary or a death notice that finally connects you to those missing links. You just never know! Newspaper articles always seem miraculous to find and are very exciting to read.

Newspapers and Family History PowerPoint

Newspapers and Family History Handout

Remember to include the name of the newspaper, date, place, and repository in the title or metadata of the file you have downloaded. If the file is a PDF and doesn't allow metadata information you can change it to an image file for free at If the quality of the download is poor but the image on your screen is good then use a clipping tool and save it as an image file.

Stanford Data Visu…

FamilySearch Image Only Records

FamilySearch is in the process of digitizing records which means that they are scanning or using a digital camera to capture a digital copy of records which can then be viewed like a picture on a computer screen.

Indexing an image means transcribing the information or data from the image of the record into a data base. The database can then be searched by name or any other set of useful parameters depending on the record and what was indexed.

FamilySearch quickly realized that the indexing of the records was going to take far longer than the digitizing of the records. They asked the genealogical community if they would like access to the digital records even if they were not indexed. They answer was a resounding YES!

FamilySearch thus has given the public access to the digital records that have not been indexed. Finding them may be a little bit tricky however. In my class and the accompanying PowerPoint I show threedifferent ways to access these records. These records can be a hidden G…

FamilySearch MEMORIES-With Go-Arounds for the LIVING

The FamilySearch Tree memories features have great tools for storing, organizing, and sharing our precious memories. Those memories added to the tree are stored in the Granite Mountain Records Vault. Much better than your home, which could be subject to all sorts of disaster, as current events attest.

LIVING people are unique to your account so other people will not see what you have added to them. This creates unique issues. For this reason, several go-arounds for the LIVING are presented.

This is the PowerPoint :  FamilySearch MEMORIES

ALL THE STORIES Web App-Pulls all the story memories from your tree into one place for your perusal.

ANCESTOR CHALLENGE-The new DISCOVERY experience on FamilySearch drawing from the photos added to your ancestors.

LITTLE FAMILY TREE Mobile App-Lots of fun games using your photo memories, Available in your App Store/Play Store.

Prepare your images for uploading by adding good titles and metadata. If the photos are hard-copy then digitize them properly. T…

FamilySearch Tree APP for Android and iPhone

Your life is about to change! I LOVE THIS APP! It is a game changer!

This PowerPoint shows the App features on the iPhone and Android side-by-side. Tap and follow along on whatever device you have.

There are three ways for LDS to find Temple names with the App shown in this PDF which includes the new ORDINANCE READY feature.

Family Tree App for LDS

Family Tree App for Non-LDS

At BYU Education Week 2017, Jim Green from FamilySearch spoke about the emphasis FamilySearch has put into this app. He reported that 65% of individuals in Latin America have cell phones with 50% of those being smartphones. People in developing countries have skipped desktop computers and have gone straight to cell phones and tablets. The trend in the US is going there also. With this in mind, I believe FamilySearch has put their brightest minds on App development.

The younger generation uses their cell phones for everything including casting to their TVs, interacting with Alexa, and turning on and off their house…

Online Detecting 201

While I was attending the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) in January of 2017,  I attended this class that was sponsored by FamilySearch . The class was pretty basic but the in class exercises were a bit challenging. There were two people in the class that could find the records fairly easily but the rest of us had to work at it. They gave us this paper to do at home. It is much harder.
It challenged me to really learn how to manipulate the FamilySearch and Ancestry data base searches. I learned both of their advantages and disadvantages. They both have effective search engines, but they are different. 
At the bottom of the second page you will see a FamilySearch Copyright. To use the material in ANY WAY you must receive permission in writing. It wasn't easy to do but I was able to accomplish that task and have permission to use it in any of my teaching and to post it on my blog. You would have to do the same to share it in any way.
When you attempt this exercise, go direc…

FINDMYPAST for UK, Ireland, and US Research

Here is my PowerPoint for FINDMYPAST:


It is known one of the premier British research websites and is a wonderful resource for Irish research. It also has US and British colony records.

LDS users get a free version of this website that is a mix of its Premier and Starter subscriptions. Unfortunately, the Family History Library Portal has the same version as LDS users. Some records can't be accessed. One of these primary records that can't be accessed is their US newspapers collection. However, you can still see the articles that are available on the person. PERSI is also exclusively available at FINDMYPAST.


This PowerPoint PDF gives you instructions on how to access the FamilySearch Family Tree COUNTRIES OF ORIGIN VIEW. Plus at the end it includes the bonus material I gleaned from FamilySearch at Education Week at Provo.

You can use this view to help other members of the LDS church when they are doing Temple and Family History Work. I feel it is such a useful and fun view that everyone should be able to access it!

It is one of the first things I show when I work with someone. The first visit I show them this view and then look at any opportunities that may show. Then we can move on to FIND TAKE TEACH from this view and/or explore their family history goals, interests, and desires.


Youth Temple and Family History Consultants

I have been looking for training material for Youth Consultants and found these links that might be useful for youth and those working with youth. I think training youth consists of helping them incorporate family history into their youth activities as well as assisting them in acquiring the skills necessary to implement FIND TAKE TEACH 1 and 2. Further training would be based on their ability and desire to learn. They could practice what they learn with their family and youth leaders before helping other youth and ward members.

Youth and Family History
Temple and Family History ConsultantCalling Information
Six Principle for Helping others
The "Teach" Part of Find-Take-Teach:Teaching Others Effectively - Kathryn Grant

The FamilySearch ConsultantPlanner For: Find, Take, Teach, and Beyond - Kathryn Grant
Youth Activity Ideas:
Ancestor Show and Tell- Have youth bring an object that belonged to an ancestor or reminds them of an ancestor. (Nothing val…