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FamilySearch Insider Tips and Tricks - Syllabus


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There are many powerful tools available on Many features of these tools are not well documented in manuals or easily discovered in the products themselves. This is an outline of what will be part of the accompanying presentation to show some tips and tricks from a FamilySearch engineer to be more productive in using the resources on

Published in: Self Improvement, Spiritual
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FamilySearch Insider Tips and Tricks - Syllabus

  1. 1. FamilySearch Insider Tips and Tricks Ben Baker – Sr. Software Engineer on Family Tree This is an outline of the tips that will be in the presentation. To view or download the presentation slides go to For those reading the syllabus prior to the presentation, come prepared to make known which of the tips by number you would like to learn more about in depth because there will likely not be enough time to discuss them all. 1. Essential tips everyone should know 1.1. Goal of FamilySearch is to increase the percent of members submitting their families for LDS temple work 1.1.1. Ask about Stake Key Indicator Reports to see how your ward/stake are doing 1.1.2. Share your knowledge with others, particularly your family. You are a success if others want to learn more about their family. 1.1.3. Youth are especially needed – Elder Neal L. Anderson challenged the youth at RootsTech 2014 “to set a person goal to help prepare as many names for the temple as baptisms you perform in the temple.” 1.2. Understand a key paradigm for how historical records and Family Tree should work together 1.2.1. FamilySearch has lots of historical records – find your relatives in them 1.2.2. Link these records to persons in Family Tree, providing genealogical source evidence 1.2.3. Understand that the best way to find people who need LDS temple work is to find people who are NOT in the tree yet. The best way to find people not in the tree yet is to find them in a historical record with someone who is already in the tree. Each person in a record should be attached to a person in the tree as a separate source. 1.3. Embrace change, don’t be afraid of it. Click on new things to see what they do. I don’t think you can mess up anything in a single click, but be sure to read warnings. 1.4. Keep up to date by reading the FamilySearch blog at 1.4.1. You can subscribe to it via RSS 1.4.2. Use the categories and search for information you’re most interested in 2. Family Tree specific tips and tricks 2.1. Don’t forget Family Tree is a shared tree, “Our Tree”, even though you’re focusing on your piece of it. For more details on this topic, come to my presentation tomorrow or view it at 2.2. Attaching Record Hints is awesome! 2.2.1. Take advantage of the ability to attach all people in a record after attaching the first 2.2.2. The descendancy view makes it easy to see many people with pending hints at once 2.2.3. Don’t be confused on hints for a record where the person isn’t the primary person 2.3. Use the Search Records link as a jump off point for historical record searches 2.4. Learn to use other views besides the traditional pedigree view
  2. 2. 2.4.1. Descendancy view – My favorite view because it contains the most functionality to identify work to do on persons and it is often the best way to find relatives not already in the tree who need LDS temple work. Turn on/off icons and features as desired. 2.4.2. Portrait Pedigree view – Shows uploaded portrait photos of ancestors 2.4.3. Fan Chart view – Shows the most number of generations in a single view 2.5. Use the powerful features of the watch list 2.5.1. Use as a way to navigate to distant relatives you’ve been working on so you don’t have to remember their relation to you every time you log in 2.5.2. Filter watched persons to narrow down list by various criteria (Ex. persons with the same surname, born/died in same place or year and any deleted persons) 2.5.3. Sort the list by name, birth, death and more 2.5.4. View latest changes made on persons being watched over the past 30 days. You can hide changes you have made by clicking the Hide My Changes checkbox. 2.5.5. Changes on persons being watched also supports sorting and filtering. Some useful ways to use these include showing changes made to a particular person, by a specific user and all changes of a particular type. 2.6. Print directly from Family Tree for different purposes 2.6.1. Use the browser print functionality to print any page, including person detail pages, the descendancy view and the LDS temple reservation list 2.6.2. Save/print editable PDF forms of the official LDS pedigree chart and family group sheet 2.6.3. Print beautiful color fan charts and portrait pedigree charts for display 2.7. Use a desktop records manager to synchronize with Family Tree 2.7.1. Method to synchronize personal research with data in Family Tree 2.7.2. Often a good way to find people you’ve already researched who should be added to Family Tree 2.7.3. Many desktop records managers have features not available in Family Tree itself 2.7.4. Can be used to export data from Family Tree to a GEDCOM file 2.8. Believe that GEDCOM upload is not evil and can be very useful 2.8.1. No persons will automatically be added to the tree when uploading 2.8.2. Matching algorithms will check to see which persons in your file are already in the tree to avoid duplication 2.8.3. Recommend for researchers who have done significant research, even if it is very large, because it is a simple way to help your years of research live on beyond your life 2.9. Understand how to edit and delete couple and parent-child relationships 2.10. Contact and collaborate with others 2.11. Review your profile settings and use them to meet your needs 2.11.1.Make sure your e-mail is public so people can contact you 2.11.2.Set a starting PID if you’re interested in not always starting with yourself 2.11.3.You can turn off LDS temple ordinances if doing demos, etc. 2.11.4.Sign up for e-mail notifications, announcements and newsletters 2.12. Use the history list dropdown to revisit the 50 most recently viewed persons. You can also directly enter PIDs and filter your list based on the name text as you type.
  3. 3. 2.13. Learn to understand the change history 2.13.1.Use the History link to view changes of the same type (Ex. changes to birth conclusions) 2.13.2.All hyperlinks will go to more details about a change 2.13.3.You can expend/collapse groups of changes for multi-change operations like merges 2.14. Merging/unmerging/restoring persons – I gave an extensive presentation on this at the 2013 conference. Go to family-tree-presentation and search-family-tree-syllabus to see the presentation and handout for tips on this topic. 2.14.1.Understand the difference between restore and unmerge and how to do them 2.14.2.Merge the person with less data into the person with more data if possible, using Switch Positions if necessary. 2.14.3.Copy all data unique to the right hand side, unless you know it is not correct 2.15. Use arrows or drag and drop to sort sources to make them easier to follow 2.16. Use the Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel site at to learn more about your pioneer ancestors. Don’t forget you can attach sources to any URL. 3. Use Memories to add depth to your relatives and turn hearts (including yours) to them 3.1. Scan, upload and attach photos of your relatives. Get your family, including youth, to help you. 3.2. View photos and other memories uploaded by others. The system is showing you persons four generations above you along with their spouses and children. You can click View My Relationship to see how they are related to you. 3.3. Contact others if you find memories that are incorrect. Memories are not “open edit” like Family Tree. 3.4. Scan, upload and attach documents of original records to your relatives. Can add as sources. 3.5. Share with others on Facebook/Google+/Pinterest/Twitter. Remember the photos, stories and documents will be preserved forever with FamilySearch 3.6. Organize memories into albums and use the Find tab to search for memories of your relatives. 4. Remember the Search in FamilySearch originally meant searching historical records 4.1. Learn to use the fabulous resources provided for free to LDS church members by Ancestry, FindMyPast and MyHeritage. Go to to sign up. 4.2. Don’t forget to look in unindexed collections. Only a small fraction of digitized records have been indexed. FamilySearch adds roughly 1 million images of historical records every day. 4.3. Take advantage of the ability to attach all people in a record after attaching the first 4.4. Narrow down search results by using ‘facets’ 4.5. Learn to use collection specific searches 4.6. Learn techniques for searches involving families and couples across different records. For example, how to search for a family across different censuses 4.7. Realize that you may get more search results when logged in than not due to partnerships allowing visibility to LDS church members or patrons visiting a FamilySearch center 4.8. You can see what materials are available at various Family History Centers by using the catalog at 4.9. Digitized family history books are maintained separately at 5. Learn to manage your temple reservation list in powerful ways
  4. 4. 5.1. Use sorting and filtering on the reservation list similar to the watch list 5.1.1. Some useful sorts are by surname, ordinance type, family groups and date reserved 5.1.2. Secondary sorting provides the ability to sort by multiple columns. For example, it allows you to easily find female baptisms that still need to be done. Hold down the Shift key after sorting by one field to enable this hidden feature. 5.2. You can print the reservation list using browser print 5.3. Share with the temple or family and friends when you can’t do all the work. More fine- grained sharing features will be available in the future. 6. Indexing historical records is still very important 6.1. Be aware of the upcoming improvements to indexing, including support for tablet devices 6.2. Don’t be afraid to do intermediate or even advanced projects if you index a lot. There is especially a need for more non-English indexed records. 7. Continue to develop your skills 7.1. Contribute to and use the research wiki containing thousands of articles with research advice at 7.2. Learn to use the vast resources in the Help Center (videos, lessons, manuals, etc.) 7.3. Visit to download course materials and view select presentations at this annual FamilySearch sponsored conference even if you’re unable to attend 8. Provide feedback on FamilySearch products and services 8.1. Track cases you’ve submitted at 8.2. Report problems and submit ideas to improve at 9. Be familiar with resources on and 9.1. View the main page for family history at 9.2. Get help for family history callings at 9.3. Explain to non-LDS people why we do family history at 10. Other useful tips you may not be familiar with 10.1. There is now a site map for at I gave a presentation at the 2013 conference that while getting out of date is also a decent site map. See syllabus and resources-presentation for the list of URLs and presentation. 10.2. Use more than one tab when doing work to keep context more easily. Using your mouse to middle click will open something in new tab 10.3. Use to try out things and see previews of coming features 10.4. Use to help find descendants not in already in Family Tree 10.5. Most things work better (sometimes even at all) in newer browsers. Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox generally work the best. Installing a browser that isn’t Internet Explorer is easy. 10.6. Order microfilms online at 10.7. View interactive England 1851 parish/district maps at 10.8. Use Standard Finder for finding alternate spellings/variants of names, dates and places by going to 10.9. Take a look at the community trees project at