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How to Use FamilySearch Person IDs

FamilySearch - Fri, 06/21/2019 - 13:40

While exploring your family tree, you may have noticed a combination of letters and numbers below each family member’s name.

These are person identification numbers (ID), and understanding what they are and how you can use them can be a great asset to you as you do your family history!

What Is a Person ID, and Where Can I Find It?

Each person in the FamilySearch Family Tree has an assigned person ID, which appears as a series of letters and numbers. These person IDs are unique to each deceased person.

You can find the identification number below a person’s name in your family tree or in the header of the person page.

How Can I Use a Person ID? Copying the Person ID

It can be helpful to know the person ID of an ancestor, especially if you plan on returning to that person’s information (more on this later). To quickly copy a person ID, follow these steps:

1. Click or tap the person ID, which you can find below the person’s name in the family tree or on an ancestor’s person page.

2. A pop-up window will appear that says “Copy ID.” To copy the person ID, click this link.

3. Paste the ID number into a document or wherever you keep a record of person IDs.


You can use the Recents feature in Family Tree and an ancestor’s person ID to quickly return to an ancestor’s page. It only takes a few simple steps.

1. On your family tree, click or tap the Recents tab on the top left side of the screen.

2. A drop-down menu will appear and give you the option to type or paste in a family member’s name or a person ID. Enter the person’s ID.

3. Click Go. If the ID number is correct, that ancestor’s page will open.


If you already know the person ID of a specific family member, you can also use the person ID to find the person’s page:

1. Tap or hover over Family Tree at the top left side of the screen, and select Find from the menu options.

2. Tap or click Find by ID, and enter the person’s ID number in the field provided. Then click Find. The name of the person who has been assigned that specific ID will appear on the next screen.

3. From this screen, you have the option of clicking any of the hyperlinked names, which will then take you to that ancestor’s page.


Sometimes, instead of relying on the Possible Duplicates tool, you can use a person ID to merge duplicate people in the tree. To do this, you will use the Merge by ID option from the Tools section on the right of the person page.

1. Copy or write down the person ID of the record that you don’t want to keep.

2. From the person page of the more correct record, scroll down, and in the menu options on the right, click or tap Merge by ID in the Tools section.

3. In the field provided, enter the person ID number you copied or wrote down. Again, this is the person ID of the record that had the least accurate information. Click or tap Continue.

4. At this point, you will see the profiles from both records side by side so you can compare the two, and copy over any information you wish to keep. Review all information.

5. Once you have reviewed both profiles thoroughly, click or tap Continue Merge at the bottom of the screen.

6. You will be prompted to explain the reason you believe these two records should be merged. When you have entered your reason statement, click or tap Finish Merge.

7. You have now completed the process of merging a duplicate person by person ID.

Explore Your Tree

Now that you know what person IDs are and what they can help you do, visit your family tree and find ways to put your ID knowledge to use!

Family Reunion Ideas That Celebrate Family History

FamilySearch - Mon, 06/17/2019 - 16:17

Family history is a great way to bring your loved ones together as you celebrate and explore your common roots. Here are some engaging activities and family reunion ideas you can use to fill your gatherings with family history fun!

Start with Something Simple

Need a quick activity for a party or something for your kids to do this summer? These activity ideas from FamilySearch work at any time of the year, in your home or with a larger group.

Eat What They Ate Touch What They Touched Walk Where They Walked Hear What They Heard How Others Have Used These Activities

Families who have tried these activities have had lots of fun! See how parents and their children have been using the activities to connect with their ancestors.

Find More Activities on FamilySearch Planning a Big Event

Need more family reunion ideas? We’ve gathered a list of our favorite family history games, crafts, and more from around the web to help you plan the perfect event for your family.

Games Family Trivia Game Fill in the Blanks Memory Game Crafts Handprint Family Tree

Grandparent Pyramid Family Photos Entertainment Heirloom Hunt Ancestor Skit Ancestor Puppet Show And More . . . Ideas for Children Family Traits Food Traditions Heritage Celebration #52Stories Virtual Family Reunions

Record Hints: A Quick Way to Add to Your Family History

FamilySearch - Fri, 06/14/2019 - 08:23

Whether you’re just getting started with family history or you’ve been doing it for years, the Record Hints feature on the FamilySearch Family Tree offers a quick way to add to your family history. Hints often lead to new information that will help you identify, document, and get to know your ancestors.

What Are Record Hints?

The FamilySearch system constantly searches digitized, indexed records to identify records that may match records in the FamilySearch Family Tree. When a possible match is found, FamilySearch creates a record hint.

Record hints that match your family can provide new, important information about your ancestors, including the following:

  • Additional relationships
  • Additional events and facts
  • More correct dates
  • Name variations
  • More complete place-names
Where Can I Find Record Hints?

You will know that there is a record hint when you see a small blue box or icon to the right of a person’s name in the Family Tree.

You can also find record hints in the Recommended Tasks section of the landing page when you sign in to FamilySearch.org or on the Family Tree mobile app when you click the checkmark at the bottom of the screen, which opens the Ancestors with Tasks page.

How Do I Use the Record Hints?

Record hints are easy to use. Just follow three simple steps:

1. Click or tap the blue icon to open a dialogue box. This box displays links to one or more indexed records that FamilySearch thinks may be associated with the person in the Family Tree.

2. Review the details and compare them to what you already know about your ancestor. You might ask these kinds of questions:

  • Is this person the same person as your family member?
  • Are the ages or dates correct or more correct?
  • Does the record show the right family relationships?
  • Are place-names what you would expect?

3. If the new source refers to your ancestor, you attach the record to the person page. The record source becomes a citation on the person page for the individual in the tree. If the record refers to multiple family members, you can attach the record to the other family members as well.

Important to Remember
  • Not every record hint is a match. Before you attach a record and change information, it is up to you to look carefully at the record and consider what you already know about your family.
  • Though record hints can jump-start your research, they aren’t the only resource for everything you need to know about everyone in your family tree. If a person in the tree lacks a record hint, you have other ways to find information in record sources.  

Have a few minutes right now? Head over to FamilySearch.org, and locate a blue record hint. Even a few short minutes using these hints could yield important results.

For additional resources on this and many other topics, please visit the online Help Center.

How to Start a Family Tree on FamilySearch: Adding the First Four Generations

FamilySearch - Wed, 06/12/2019 - 18:53

If you’re ready to get started learning about your family tree, then FamilySearch.org is the perfect place to do it. Opening your own free account is a cinch. Once you have your account set up, you might find yourself wondering, “Now what?”

The best way to get started is to add first four generations of your family. Building your own tree will help you find where you connect to FamilySearch’s global family tree. With one link, your small family tree could suddenly stretch back hundreds of years!

Gathering your family information into a family tree can also help you preserve memories and information about your living family. Besides just entering dates and places into your family tree, you can also upload precious family documents, store photos, or even preserve audio clips.

Creating your own family tree couldn’t be simpler! Here are some steps you can take right now to get started.

Start with Yourself

In the menu at the top of the FamilySearch home page, hover your mouse pointer over Family Tree, and, in the drop-down menu, click Tree. Your family tree will show on the screen. Your name, just as you entered it when you signed up for your account, should appear in the center spot. Remember that FamilySearch protects the privacy of living people. Nobody else will be able to see what you enter about yourself or other living family members. You also won’t be able to find yourself anywhere else on the tree—even if other relatives entered information about you. Information about living people must be entered into each family tree.

Click your name to go to the person page. From there, you can add more information to your page, including dates and places as well as notes and memories (such as photos, documents, and stories).

Add What You Know about Your Family

With yourself in the center spot on your tree, you are ready to start adding family relationships. To add your mother, for example, simply click Add Mother. A box like this one will appear:

Enter as much information into the form as you know.

You can add information about other family members—spouses, children, and parents—in the same way. The goal is to reach a deceased ancestor. When you add a deceased ancestor to your tree, FamilySearch will automatically search its vast tree to link you to the FamilySearch global tree.

Ask Relatives for New Information

As you move further back on your tree, chances are you won’t be able to fill in every blank. Don’t let a little missing information stop you! Enter everything you know, leaving parts of your tree blank if necessary. Once you’ve exhausted what you know, you are ready to move to the next phase—searching for new information.

The best way to start your search for new information is to reach out to your family members. If you’re missing information about living people, the obvious solution is to ask them! To find missing information about deceased ancestors, ask older living relatives or relatives who may have known those people.

Once you have collected what your family knows, it is time to search FamilySearch’s vast collections of records to learn even more about your family. Be sure to let others know where your information came from by adding sources. Learn more about how to add sources here.

Link to Other People in Family Tree

Once you move from entering information about living people in your tree to entering information about deceased ancestors, it is possible to connect with people already entered in the FamilySearch Family Tree. Making this sort of connection can be a huge timesaver. Instead of having to enter in all the information yourself, you can take advantage of information that others have entered.

Ready to get started? Follow these suggestions to add the first four generations of your family into Family Tree. But why stop with four generations? You might find that building your tree is so fun that adding four generations is only the beginning of your family history journey!

Different Family Tree Views Provide Perspective

FamilySearch - Wed, 06/12/2019 - 18:45

When you are trying to make sense of family connections, seeing is believing. Each of the four FamilySearch Family Tree pedigree views reveals a panorama of ancestors. By clicking on a specific name, you can discover personal details, and family history comes to life.

The various Family Tree views help beginners see how ancestral lines fit together. They also provide experts with a broader vision of where to go next.

How to Get Started

Once you have signed in to FamilySearch.org, click Family Tree. In the far left corner is a drop-down that will allow you to switch between views. Each view has similar information but different layouts.

Before you take a look at the various views, here is how to navigate each of the four views:

  • To close all your expanded lines and return to yourself, click the Home icon.
  • To read details about a person on the tree, click the person’s name. A summary box will open. (To see the person’s page, click the highlighted name in the box.)
  • To expand a family line another 2 generations, click the arrow at the end of that line.
  • To move a different person to the main position, click his or her name, and then in the summary box, click Tree.
  • To keep all the expanded lines open and return to the starting person, click the re-center icon under the home button.
The Options Panel

The Options panel in the top right of the screen gives you several ways to customize what you see in your tree. Its options vary depending on which tree view you are using.

  • Select icons that indicate record hints, research suggestions, and data problems to see this information reflected on the tree.
  • To display or hide portraits, select Portraits.
  • To change the color scheme from light to dark, click Invert Colors.
  • To print a pedigree, click Options, and then click Print
Family Tree Views  Fan Chart View

The fan chart is a colorful, fascinating tool for young and old alike. It shows up to 7 generations. To the right of the chart view drop-down, you can choose how many generations you would like to see.

Many useful features in the fan chart provide hints and helps that make it easy to identify where your line ends. This view also includes a chart-view option list. Using this list, you can select from multiple, color-coded views that illuminate different kinds of information in your tree. This information includes the following:

  • Your family lines.
  • The birth countries of your ancestors.
  • The number of sources attached to each relative.
  • The number of stories attached to each relative.
  • The number of photos attached to each relative.

Your name appears at the center bottom of the fan chart, with your spouse and children underneath. Maternal ancestors appear on the right, and paternal ancestors appear on the left. Your spouse’s ancestors will not show up in this view unless you are looking at your spouse’s fan chart.

Descendancy View

The descendancy view can help you find the descendants of your ancestors. It is especially useful if you have a very full family tree. This view shows more than parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents; with the descendancy view, you may also find distant aunts, uncles, and cousins as well!

Landscape View

The landscape view is displayed horizontally. You are in the center, descendants are on the left, and ancestors are on the right. In this view, you can see the children of a couple by clicking Children at the bottom of the couple box. Click the arrow again to return to the previous view.

Portrait View

The portrait view displays the family tree in a vertical position, with you and your descendants at the bottom and your ancestors above you.

Family Tree Views Help Us See the Past

The visual effect of grouping families in a family tree may spark a greater interest in research and hopefully create a heart-turning desire to learn more about those loved ones—your heritage—that will lead to connections of the past, present, and even the future.

View your tree

FamilySearch Person Pages: Summaries of Your Ancestors’ Lives

FamilySearch - Wed, 06/12/2019 - 18:09

FamilySearch.org is home to the world’s largest online family tree, and it contains records for over one billion people. Discover more about your own relatives—or add to what is already known about them—by exploring their individual pages.

What Is a FamilySearch Person Page?

A person page is a summary of all known biographical and genealogical information about one person. Pages for deceased persons are public and can be viewed or altered by anyone; however, the pages of living people are private to the user who created them.

Public person pages are a wealth of collaborative knowledge for a person’s descendants. FamilySearch users add what they know, attach historical records as evidence, and connect these pages to the pages of that person’s parents, spouses, siblings, and children.

For example, let’s say that a descendant created a person page for her second-great-grandfather Charles William Dalby Clark, but only knew his name and christening details. Later on, another descendant found this page, uploaded a photo, and connected William to his spouse, Elizabeth Warrick. A third person entered death data transcribed from a tombstone and created person pages for several of their children.

As FamilySearch users pool their knowledge, these pages reveal the stories of our ancestors’ lives and their family relationships. This collaborative effort helps everyone share, discover, and preserve their interconnected family history.

How to Find a Relative’s Person Page

The FamilySearch Family Tree doesn’t contain person pages for every deceased person, but it’s worth searching the more than 1.2 billion person pages that have been created.

If you are already connected to the FamilySearch Family Tree, you may find a relative in the tree view. Sign in with your free user account, and choose the Tree tab. Then navigate through your ancestry until you know where your relative’s information should be. If you find the person’s name, click it, then click Person to go to the page about that person.

If you can’t easily find a certain relative in the tree, or you’re not yet connected to someone in the tree, you mayalso run a search for existing person pages. In the menu at the top of the page, click Family Tree, and then click Find. In the search boxes, enter what you know about the person. Then click Find.

You may see multiple search results for person pages with information similar to what you entered. Carefully review potential matches . It’s possible that more than one person page has been created for your relative. (If you are confident that there are duplicates, you may merge the pages). It’s also possible that a page has not been created for your relative. If that’s the case, you may want to add one.

What You Can Do on a FamilySearch Person Page

Your deceased relatives’ person pages are your portal to learning more about them and to contributing what you may know. The top part of a person page looks like this:

  1. In the name banner, you can do the following:
    • Add or change the portrait photo.
    • View the full name and birth and death dates (if known).
    • See the unique person ID attached to this person’s page.
  2. On the right side of the banner, you can click to view the person within the tree, choose to watch this page for updates, and see how you’re related to this person.
  3. The details view appears when you first open a person page.
    • Open the Life Sketch section to see if someone has written a sketch (or to write one yourself).
    • In the Vitals section, view or edit the person’s name, sex, and birth and death details.
    • Open the Other Information section to see additional details, such as where the person lived.
    • Along the right side, you may see research help suggestions to guide your next discoveries. Below these, you can search for records on FamilySearch.org and other websites.
    • The Latest Changes section summarizes updates to this person page by other FamilySearch users.
  4. Below the banner, four additional tabs give you opportunities to discover or add more information about this person’s life:
    • Time Line—See how this person’s life unfolded chronologically, or view the person’s movements on a map. Use this view to write a biographical sketch of an ancestor. Read more ideas for using the timeline.
    • Sources—Explore records that have been attached to this ancestor. Verify genealogical details, and look for additional clues.
    • Collaborate—Read notes from other FamilySearch users (or write your own notes for others).
    • Memories—View or contribute photos, documents, stories, or audio files about this person’s life.

Here’s what the bottom part of a person’s page looks like:

  1. The Family Members section lets you view and edit this person’s family relationships. Use this section to navigate to person pages for other relatives or to help you write this person’s life story. (For example, this view might lead you to write, “Over the course of 20 years, Charles and Elizabeth had seven children, six of whom lived to adulthood.”)
  2. On the right side, additional tools help you merge duplicate person pages, report abuse of the FamilySearch user code of conduct, and print family tree data.

Explore the person pages of your own ancestors. If you are already connected to the FamilySearch Family Tree, begin exploring the tree view. Otherwise, search the tree for a deceased relative’s name.

Stories from the Washington State Archives—Debbie Bahn at RootsTech 2019

FamilySearch - Wed, 06/12/2019 - 14:58

Every record tells a story, as Debbie Bahn, an archivist, knows firsthand.

Bahn, the first electronic records archivist at the Washington State Archives, spoke at Access and Preservation Day at RootsTech 2019. In her presentation titled “The Washington State Archives Online Patron Experience,” Bahn shared a few of the stories discovered in digital records, as well as how patrons can find their own stories in this archive.

The Washington State Archives Mission

The mission of the Washington State Archives is to preserve and provide access to born-digital and digitized records created by the state government. It takes great partnerships and great volunteers to make a digital archive successful. It also takes government agencies that are willing to transfer their records to the archives.

The digital archives website of the Washington State Archives opened in 2004. The searchable records online now number over 73 million, and another 183 million records have been preserved but are not yet online. From these records emerge millions of stories waiting to be discovered.

Every Record Tells a Story

The first story Bahn shared came from the earliest marriage record in their collection. “It is an imposter,” Bahn said. The marriage date of Laura Shaw and Evin Morgan is recorded as “Xmas 1843.” However, according to the license and certificate, the marriage didn’t actually occur until 1899.

Bahn shared another intriguing marriage record: the 1913 marriage certificate of King Corn and Queen Alfalfa. This wasn’t the marriage of two people with unique names, but an actual marriage between the two agricultural products corn and alfalfa. In the marriage certificate, the corn’s color or race was written as “white dent” (a type of field corn) and alfalfa as “green.”

Upon further inquiry, it was discovered that the marriage was meant to promote crop rotation. Planting alfalfa was a way to replenish the soil of corn farmers, which is why alfalfa’s occupation on the marriage certificate was listed as “Helping King Corn.” (Corn’s occupation was “Building up the Community.”)

Discovering Your Own Stories

People can find their own family history stories in the Washington State Archives. A first step is to visit the archive website and search records by name, keyword, or detail. Each collection has a unique set of fields that can be specified using the detail search.

On the website, you can also look at a record series. Hover the mouse pointer over Collections, and in the drop-down, click Record Series, which will take you to a page where you can select the series or collection on the left and the titles in the collection on the right. To read a description of a collection, select the About This Collection tab.

At the end of her presentation, Bahn encouraged attendees to “play around on our website.” Then let them know what you think. Contact the digital archives at digitalarchives@sos.wa.gov.

Debbie Bahn joined Washington State Archives in 2008 as the repository’s first electronic records archivist. She leads a team of archivists who acquire, preserve, and provide online access to scanned and born-digital records of Washington’s state and local government agencies. Debbie is also an adjunct instructor for the graduate program in history at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Washington, where she teaches the digital archives graduate seminar.

How to Contact Other Users—Working Together on the Family Tree

FamilySearch - Wed, 06/12/2019 - 14:42

Have you ever messaged someone on FamilySearch.org or had a discussion about an ancestor on their person page? Contacting other FamilySearch users can be a key part of building the Family Tree and connecting with your family—past and present.

The FamilySearch Family Tree empowers families around the world to work together and build a family tree. Descendants from various branches of a family often have different family photographs, documents, and memories. Those researching in a particular language, region, archive, or on different websites may discover unique information.

When descendants contribute what they know to the shared Family Tree and work together to find new information, their collective knowledge becomes more powerful. They can learn more than they might have found on their own and can save time by leaving notes and messaging other users.

Three Easy Ways to Communicate with other FamilySearch.org Users

Communicating with other FamilySearch.org users can be both inspiring and helpful. Perhaps you want to thank someone for uploading photos or sharing a meaningful story. You may want to know the source of another person’s data if it hasn’t been posted. You might reach out to ask questions if another user has introduced errors. Or you may simply want to connect with someone who shares your interest in a particular relative.

Here are three simple ways to communicate with other FamilySearch users when you use the Family Tree.

1. Explain Your Work

By far, your most important form of communication on the Family Tree is to record why you think the information you have added is correct. Whenever you enter or edit information, you’ll see a box that says “Reason This Information Is Correct.” Take the time to explain the sources and reasoning that led you to enter this piece of information. Your reason statements become part of an ancestor’s profile and can help other descendants understand why a change was made and help them in their research.

Not sure what to say? Here’s how to write an effective reason statement. (Remember to attach historical sources that support what you’re saying too!) 

2. Use the Collaboration Tab

On the profile pages of each of your ancestors is a Collaborate tab. Here, you have a place to add notes and have discussions.

In the notes section, you can post messages for others who may be researching the ancestor.  Use notes to coordinate research, tell others where you have or haven’t been able to find records, or make notes about specific records. (See an example of a note below.) Notes in this section can be viewed and edited by anyone using the Family Tree.

Important Note: The notes tab isn’t the place to put specific relationship or event details, such as birth and death dates. These details go under the Details tab for your ancestor. Stories and memories also have their own place, under Memories.

In the Discussion section, you can start or join a discussion about your ancestor (Example: “Did Charles marry someone other than Valeria?”). Responses are public and remain visible unless the person who started the discussion deletes it. This feature is a good way to have a conversation with multiple descendants.

3. Contact an Individual User

Every user-contributed piece of information in the Family Tree is tagged with the screen name of the user who submitted the information. To see the tagged names, look for the Detail View toggle at the top of each section and click it to view the information.

You can also see a summary list of the most recent changes to an ancestor’s profile (and who made the changes) under the Details tab, where it says Latest Changes; click Show All to see a full history.

Contact a user by clicking on that person’s screen name, wherever it may appear. As shown here, a new window will pop up that allows you to send a message. (To check your own messages, sign in, and click the Messages link at the top right of the FamilySearch.org screen. You might also receive an email notification when another FamilySearch.org user messages you.)

Occasionally, you may notice that a user has submitted multiple errors. Some users aren’t as experienced or knowledgeable as others. Some may not have complete or accurate information. FamilySearch welcomes everyone who wants to help grow the Family Tree and hopes that more experienced researchers can help willing learners improve their contributions.

To get started or to improve your current collaboration with fellow descendants, click here to go to the FamilySearch Family Tree!

The World’s Largest Shared Family Tree

Celebrate Juneteenth by searching Freedmen’s Bureau Records

FamilySearch - Wed, 06/12/2019 - 13:00

Juneteenth is an important historical and joyous holiday that celebrates the abolition of slavery. It begins June 19 and lasts at least that day, a week, or an entire month.

What is Juneteenth?

The Juneteenth celebration commemorates June 19, 1865, when General Gordon Granger and 2,000 troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to enforce the freeing of slaves. The celebration of Juneteenth (Emancipation Day) began in the streets of Galveston by the former slaves. Today, Juneteenth is celebrated by millions of people throughout the nation.

General Gordon Granger (right).What are the Freedmen’s Bureau Records?

In March of 1865, the Federal Government created the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, later renamed the Freedmen’s Bureau. The goal of the Bureau was to help 4 million slaves make the transition to freedom.

The Freedmen’s Bureau had vast responsibilities. It provided needful services including rations, medical care, employment assistance, and support for education. Two hundred hospitals were built and 4,000 schools were established.

And of course, where such orchestrated government support services were offered, and abundance of records were required. This can be a great resource for those researching their African American roots during this time period.

The Freedmen’s Bureau records include:

  • Documentation of the legalization of marriages entered during slavery
  • Labor contracts (the beginning of share cropping)
  • Military payment registers
  • Hospital logs
  • Former slave owners
  • The number of children an enslaved person had
Search the Freedmen’s Bureau Records Searching the Freedmen’s Bureau Records

Robin Foster, a National Genealogy Examiner and a member of the South Carolina Genealogical Society suggests the Freedman Bureau records are crucial to tracing your African American genealogy back past 1870. Before the growing number of helpful historical record collections online today, a researcher had to travel to national, state, or local archives to have any hope of finding records.

Records from the Slave Era in the U.S. are so valuable because they create the bridge from before the Civil War—when few records existed that mention identifying information about individual slaves—to the 1870s where former slaves began appearing. Records give names, dates of birth, marriage, and death. Additionally, records provide clues to past slave owners and locations.

The value of a single Bureau record to your family tree can be very exciting. Janis Forté, a lecturer, author, and publisher, and Recording Secretary of the Afro-American Genealogical and Historical Society of Chicago, was able to trace back three generations from one record. It even mentioned his slave ancestor’s daughters’ names and their married names. He discovered a great-great uncle had two marriages, one he didn’t know about.

Their records can bridge the genealogical gap from slavery to freedom.

Discovering Your Norwegian Heritage

FamilySearch - Mon, 06/10/2019 - 12:23

Norway—it’s the land of midnight sun and skies lit with brilliant bands of color from the northern lights, of stunningly beautiful fjords and majestic mountains, of bunads, brunost, and joik. Maybe it’s the land of your ancestors too!

You may see traits of your Norwegian ancestors in your life—for example, a strong sense of family and national identity, a love of nature, a desire to help those in need, and a willingness to work with others to reach a worthwhile goal. These traits are an integral part of Norwegian culture.

Your Norwegian heritage makes you part of a worldwide family that’s over 10 million strong, with over 5 million in Norway and the rest living in countries around the globe. To help you connect with your Norwegian roots, you can explore FamilySearch’s Norwegian records.

Search for your Norwegian Ancestors Norway Ancestry Records Your Norwegian Genealogy Life in Norway

For centuries, many Norwegians earned their livelihood through farming, fishing, or timber. The indigenous Sámi peoples also herded reindeer. With the industrial revolution came textile mills and banks, followed by factories and hydroelectric power. In the late 1960s, rich oil and gas reserves were discovered, giving rise to a strong energy industry. Today, technology jobs are becoming more common.

Norwegians work hard, but they also value a balance between work and life. They place a high priority on family relationships. In addition, many Norwegians feel close ties to nature and enjoy spending time outdoors. Favorite pastimes include skiing, hiking, and boating.

Norway has a unique tradition known as “dugnad” (literally, “help” or “support”). At a dugnad, neighbors and friends gather to work, unpaid, on anything from a community garden to a playground. It’s a way of improving the community while strengthening friendships.

Norway’s Rich Past

The known history of Norway starts around the 800s with the Vikings, who settled Norway and engaged in trade, travel, and conquest in surrounding areas. Conficts between Viking factions were frequent until, according to tradition, they were united by King Harald Fairhair in 872.

Christianity was introduced in Norway starting in the 1000s. After initial resistance from local leaders, it gained a firmer hold and was the dominant religion by the 1100s.

One of the great tragedies in Norwegian history was the Black Death or Great Plague, which devastated Europe and Asia in the 1300s. A year after it reached Norway in 1349, a third of the population had succumbed.

The Kalmar Union in 1397 unified Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. Sweden left the union in 1523, leaving Denmark and Norway under a single monarch. A series of wars ensued over the years, with Denmark ceding Norway to Sweden in January 1814. Later that year, on May 17, 1814, Norway sought independence by adopting a new constitution. However, they remained under Swedish rule until 1905, when Norway finally gained independence. Norwegians celebrate their independence each year on May 17, called “syttende mai” or Constitution Day.

Leaving Norway for a New Home

The earliest recorded Norwegian emigration—and perhaps the best known—took place under the leadership of Leif Erikson. His crew settled in what we know today as Newfoundland in Canada.

Emigration continued in the 1600s, with Norwegians joining Dutch colonists in New Amsterdam (present-day Manhattan Island in the United States), and in the 1700s as Norwegian Moravians came to Pennsylvania in the United States.

In 1825, 52 people left Norway aboard the ship Restaurationen to escape religious persecution. Their courageous journey across the Atlantic earned the respect of their new compatriots as well as those back home.

Emigration started in earnest 11 years later, as people were drawn to other lands by promises of opportunity, prosperity, and religious freedom. From 1836 to 1920, an estimated 900,000 people left Norway. They settled mainly in the United States and Canada, although significant numbers made new homes in Brazil, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

Do you want to learn more about your Norwegian heritage?

Your Norwegian family is waiting to be discovered!

FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries

FamilySearch - Fri, 06/07/2019 - 15:03

Hundreds of FamilySearch affiliate libraries are helping extend FamilySearch’s services to millions of patrons worldwide. Although FamilySearch manages the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, and over 5,000 family history centers throughout the world, it recognizes the invaluable need for library affiliates to help more patrons make personal family history connections. 

Affiliate libraries (whether public, special, or university) have access to FamilySearch’s digital genealogical collections that are otherwise accessible only through a FamilySearch family history center. FamilySearch also provides its affiliates with the latest tools and tips for genealogy reference librarians. 

Become an Affiliate Library How to Become an Affiliate

Frequently Asked Questions

Resources for Helping Patrons

Resources for FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries

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Reference librarians like to stay in the know so they can effectively answer their patrons’ questions. However, sometimes family history patrons have particularly challenging queries, and you may feel that you need 100 genealogy research specialists on your quick-dial or in your reference network to help them successfully. 

That’s where FamilySearch can help. FamilySearch provides a variety of tools to help you and your library’s genealogy patrons navigate even the most daunting family history questions. Learn more about these resources below.

FamilySearch Wiki

The FamilySearch Research Wiki is a free online genealogy and family history guide that lists the most useful websites and research strategies. It also suggests record collections and resources to help individuals find their ancestors anywhere in the world.

The FamilySearch Wiki currently has over 80,000 articles and is maintained by the FamilySearch Family History Library’s staff of research specialists and hundreds of professional researchers in the online community.

FamilySearch Catalog

FamilySearch has the largest repository of global genealogical records. Some of the best of these resources are located in the FamilySearch catalog.

FamilySearch’s catalog provides access to literally billions of genealogical materials (digital images, books, indexed collections, and other publications), and every year over 300 million images of historical records worldwide are published in the catalog, just waiting to help individuals break through their family history brick walls.

FamilySearch Genealogy Research Groups     

The FamilySearch Genealogy Research Groups on Facebook give your patrons access to a community of experienced volunteers who can help answer difficult reference questions.

Each community or group is made up of online volunteers with interest and experience in family research for a geographic region. You can direct your patrons to this resource or use it yourself to ask reference questions or receive help interpreting a genealogy document in another language.

Family History Library Webinar Archives

Hundreds of thousands of people travel yearly to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, to research their family trees. The Family History Library staff conducts free weekly classes onsite and online throughout the year to help teach individuals how to discover their ancestors. The classes address popular how-to topics and geographically centered research.

Check out current and archived Family History Library classes and webinars

Learn More About FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries

How to Become a FamilySearch Affiliate Library 

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There are over 500 FamilySearch affiliate libraries worldwide today. These affiliates help FamilySearch create broader access to historical record collections, more personalized patron assistance locally, and more personal family history discovery experiences. And what’s more, it’s free to be an affiliate!

Affiliate Benefits
  • Access to the FamilySearch website resources, which remain FREE.
  • Patron access to restricted historical record image collections.
  • A monthly e-newsletter detailing what’s new at FamilySearch.org, including the latest tips and tricks for reference helpers.
  • Special offers to products and services that may be of interest.
FamilySearch Affiliate Requirements
  • At least one web-enabled computer workstation in a public area for patron access to FamilySearch.org (Note: This computer does not need to be a dedicated workstation for FamilySearch use only).
  • A static IP address for the library and contact information for the person who will provide it.
  • Ability to monitor usage of designated FamilySearch computers.
  • A prominent link on the designated computer or library’s desktop menu to access FamilySearch.org. The link should be FamilySearch’s approved logo.
  • A posted, visible certificate designating your library as a FamilySearch affiliate.
How to Apply
  • Simply sign and return the FamilySearch Affiliate Library Agreement, which you can request by emailing support@familysearch.
  • Include the static IP address for the library and IT support person’s contact information.
  • If you have additional questions, email support@familysearch.org and put “Affiliate Libraries” as the subject.
Frequently Asked Questions

Check out our FamilySearch Frequently Asked Questions for additional information.

Learn More About FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries

Frequently Asked Questions: FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries 

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What is a FamilySearch affiliate library? 

An affiliate library cooperates with FamilySearch International to help patrons have fun personal family history discoveries. This outcome is accomplished by affiliate libraries sharing FamilySearch’s digital record collections with patrons locally.

This partnership requires a signed contract and a shared static IP address with FamilySearch, which enables access to additional digital record collections.

What are the benefits of being an affiliate library?

A major benefit of being an affiliate library is access to additional digital records not available outside a family history center or an affiliate library. These digital records include images and names indexes. Currently, there are about 400 million original records available in a digital format that affiliate libraries have access to.

Affiliate libraries also receive a monthly e-newsletter subscription for reference staff to stay abreast of what’s new and the latest tips and tricks for supporting family history patrons.

What does it cost to be an affiliate library?

There is no cost to be an affiliate library.

What is a partner library?

A partner library is a library (whether public, special, or university) that participates in FamilySearch’s Family History Book Scanning initiative to preserve local genealogical collections digitally.

FamilySearch provides all the equipment and resources to digitize the books, and the partner libraries help provide content to be preserved digitally, such as books that are in the public domain and have a genealogical or local historical value.

Some partner libraries host a FamilySearch scan center. Others may send books to a center to be scanned.

The contributing library for all books on the website is clearly identified. We also provide monthly statistics on usage for books from a partner library.

Is an affiliate library also a book scanning partner library?

It is possible to be both an affiliate library and a partner library. If you are interested in becoming an affiliate library or a partner library, email support@familysearch.org.

What is controlled digital lending?

Controlled digital lending is an option for some libraries and companies to circulate books digitally that are still under copyright. Currently, FamilySearch does not participate in controlled digital lending.

Does the Family History Library participate in interlibrary loan?

FamilySearch does not participate in interlibrary loans. Visit here to find libraries and organizations that participate in interlibrary loans.

What do the different icons in the FamilySearch catalog mean?

The FamilySearch catalog uses icons to quickly tell the patron the accessibility of the records they are seeking.  

  A document icon means that the resource is only an indexed record or transcription of the document.  

  A camera icon means you can view the image of the original document from any web-enabled portable device.

A camera with a key icon indicates that access to an image is restricted, such as an image that can be seen only at an affiliate library or a family history center. 

Why are some images restricted to family history centers and not included for affiliate libraries?

FamilySearch publishes copies of records only after gaining permission from the original record custodian (generally a government agency) and faithfully abiding by all the stipulated conditions and applicable laws. To remain in compliance with these agreements and standards, FamilySearch occasionally needs to adjust access to specific records. If you cannot find a record that was previously accessible, it is likely due to stipulations from the record custodians. 

New Records on FamilySearch from May 2019

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FamilySearch expanded its free online archives in May of 2019 with almost 14 million new indexed family history records from all over the world. Over 387,000 new digital images were added as well. New historical records were added from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Cape Verde, England, France, Italy, Nicaragua, Peru, Poland, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, the Ukraine,  and the United States, which includes Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, and Washington. United States records also include Confederate Officers Card Indexes, Native American Eastern Cherokee Indian Reservation Rolls, and Obituaries from the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia. FamilySearch also added digital images from Alaska, BillionGraves, and Spain.

Find your ancestors using these free archives online, including birth, marriage, death, and church records. Millions of new genealogy records are added each month to make your search easier.

CountryCollectionIndexed RecordsDigital ImagesCommentsArgentinaArgentina, Corrientes, Civil Registration, 1880-193037,7530Added indexed records to an existing collectionArgentinaArgentina, Corrientes, Catholic Church Records, 1734-1977720Added indexed records to an existing collectionAustraliaAustralia, South Australia, School Admission Registers, 1873-19851,7170Added indexed records to an existing collectionAustraliaAustralia, South Australia, Will and Probate Records3,2290Added indexed records to an existing collectionBrazilBrazil, São Paulo, Civil Registration, 1925-1995207,7540Added indexed records to an existing collectionBrazilBrazil, São Paulo, Civil Registration, 1925-19951,848,6850New indexed records collectionCanadaCanadian Headstones1,882,9160Added indexed records to an existing collectionCanadaCanada, Nova Scotia, Records of Aliens pre-examined at Halifax, 1923-193316,1750New indexed records collectionCape VerdeCape Verde, Catholic Church Records, 1787-19579,6310Added indexed records to an existing collectionEnglandEngland, Hampshire Parish Registers, 1538-1980400Added indexed records to an existing collectionEnglandEngland, Northamptonshire, Non-conformist Records, 1840-18943,0200Added indexed records to an existing collectionFranceFrance, Vienne, Census, 18363,3620New indexed records collectionItalyItaly, Trento, Diocesi di Trento, Catholic Church Records, 1548-193733,1970Added indexed records to an existing collectionNicaraguaNicaragua Civil Registration, 1809-201359,2660Added indexed records to an existing collectionOtherBillionGraves Index338,467338,467Added indexed records and images to an existing collectionPeruPeru, Amazonas, Civil Registration, 1935-19995,6180Added indexed records to an existing collectionPeruPeru, Lima, Civil Registration, 1874-1996123,3770Added indexed records to an existing collectionPolandPoland, Radom Roman Catholic Church Books, 1587-196613,8350Added indexed records to an existing collectionScotlandScotland Census, 19014,437,9870New indexed records collectionSouth AfricaSouth Africa, Pietermaritzburg Estate Files 1846-19501,5470Added indexed records to an existing collectionSpainSpain, Soldier Personal Service Files, 1835-1940048,650Added images to an existing collectionUkraineUkraine, Kyiv Orthodox Consistory Church Book Duplicates, 1734-1930438,1960Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited KingdomGreat Britain, War Office Registers, 1772-1935309,8020Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesAlabama, Southern Claims Commission Approved Claims, 1871-18805,2480New indexed records collectionUnited StatesAlabama, World War I Service Cards, 1917-19191,0580Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesAlaska, Pioneer Home discharge index, 1913-19583,9730New indexed records collectionUnited StatesAlaska, Vital Records, 1816-1959092Added images to an existing collectionUnited StatesArizona, Mesa LDS Family History Center, Obituary Index, 1959-2014852,4460New indexed records collectionUnited StatesCalifornia, Pioneer Migration Index, Compiled 1906-19352410Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesDelaware, World War I Servicemen Records, 1917-191950Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesIllinois, Cook County Marriages, 1871-1920100Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesKansas, Gove County Enumeration Books and List of Residents, 1909-19501,7030Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesMississippi, World War I Service Cards, 1917-19195280Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesMissouri, Confederate Pension Applications and Soldiers Home Applications, 1911-19383680Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesMontana, Rosebud County Records, 1878-20111080Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesMontana, Sanders County Records, 1866-2010100Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesNew Jersey, Jersey City, Holy Name Cemetery, Card Index of Interment, 1849-198442,7360New indexed records collectionUnited StatesNew York State Census, 190530,5560Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesOhio Tax Records, 1800-18501,670,4290Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesOhio, Columbus, Union Cemetery, Burial Records, ca. 1878-198054,0810New indexed records collectionUnited StatesOhio, County Naturalization Records, 1800-19771450Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesOhio, World War I Statement of Service Cards, 1914-19191,4200Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesOhio, World War I, Enrollment Cards, 1914-1918230,7840New indexed records collectionUnited StatesOklahoma, School Records, 1895-1936165,5660Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesOregon, Yamhill County Records, 1857-1963820Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesPennsylvania, Philadelphia, Board of Health Birth Return Records, 1908-19119,1980New indexed records collectionUnited StatesTexas, Cooke County, Deeds, 1895-19241,7380Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesTexas, El Paso Alien Arrivals, 1909-19246,7220Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesTexas, Gonzales County, Birth Records, 1878-194574,4660New indexed records collectionUnited StatesTexas, Gonzales County, School Records, 1910-1970447,0430New indexed records collectionUnited StatesTexas, Swisher County Records, 1879-2012700Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesUnited States Confederate Officers Card Index, 1861-1865104,5630Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesUnited States, Florida, Index to Alien Arrivals by Airplane at Miami, 1930-19421830Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesUnited States, Native American, Eastern Cherokee Indian Reservation Rolls, 1848-197090Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesUnited States, Obituaries, American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, 1899-2012374,3800Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesUtah, Salt Lake County, Enrolled Militia, 18958,9010New indexed records collectionUnited StatesUtah, World War I Army Servicemen Records Abstracts, 1914-191818,8840New indexed records collectionUnited StatesUtah, World War II Index to Army Veterans of Utah, 1939-194542,3170New indexed records collectionUnited StatesWashington, Pierce County Marriage Returns, 1891-19383780Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesWashington, World War I Veteran’s Compensation Fund Application Records, 1921-19252580Added indexed records to an existing collection

Fun Facts About Donny Osmond

FamilySearch - Thu, 05/30/2019 - 19:17

Attention, Osmond Fans: Donny Osmond will be joining RootsTech London! Osmond will grace the stage on Saturday, 26 October, at 11 a.m. To help you get to know this exciting guest, here are 3 facts about Donny Osmond.

Branches of the Osmond family tree can be traced back to the early 1100s

Osmond and his family are very proud of their family tree. In fact, they have published an entire websiteThe Osmond Family Organization—dedicated to their family history.  

The majority of the Osmond family tree originates in the United Kingdom. In fact, Osmond calls the UK his second home. BBC ONE Wales premiered a two-part special called Donny Osmond Coming Home where local genealogists traced his Merthyr Tydfil ancestors and Welsh roots clear back to 1585.

He and his brothers also performed for the Queen of England at the Royal Variety Performance in 2003.

Osmond’s music career spans over 5 decades

During his time in the entertainment industry, specifically the music industry, Osmond has earned 33 gold records, recorded 61 albums, and sold well over 100 million albums worldwide. In fact, Osmond is currently working on his 62nd album.

Throughout his illustrious music career, Osmond has shared the stage with a wide variety of artists all across the globe. In 2007 Osmond performed alongside the likes of Elton John, Rod Stewart, Josh Groban, Andrea Bocelli, Kanye West, and Fergie at the Concert for Diana at the then-newly-built Wembley Stadium in London in honor of the late Diana, Princess of Wales.

The concert was broadcast to 140 different countries, reaching an audience of approximately 500 million. When tickets went on sale in late 2006, all 22,500 tickets sold out in just 17 minutes. An additional 63,000 people showed up the day of. Osmond also collaborated with rapper Lil Yachty in August of 2018 to record a jingle and music video for Chef Boyardee.

Osmond has also performed onstage with Cher (with the Osmond Brothers), Susan Boyle, The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square, Stevie Wonder, Glen Campbell, and Jim Brickman. The Osmonds were also featured on the UK album Ultimate Boy Bands alongside *NSYNC, The Monkees, The Jackson 5, Backstreet Boys, and Boyz II Men.

Osmond also took his musical skills to the stage. He starred in Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, which ran for 6 years—during which time Osmond headlined more than 2,000 performances. Osmond also starred on Broadway as Gaston in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.

Alongside his music career, Osmond has also had quite the TV and movie career

Osmond’s first TV appearance was on The Andy Williams Show when he was just 5 years old! This launched his career in the entertainment industry. Since then, Osmond has appeared on a number of television shows, including headlining a variety show with his sister Marie. 

The Donny and Marie Show made the siblings the youngest stars to host their own variety show. The show premiered on January 23, 1976, and saw guests such as Chuck Norris, David Copperfield, Andy Griffith, Charo, Dick Van Dyke, Tina Turner, and Merle Haggard. In 1977 the Osmonds hosted the television debut of the first Star Wars characters.

In addition to The Donny and Marie Show, Osmond has been seen on Sesame StreetThe Love BoatJohnny BravoThe King of QueensHannah Montana, and Friends. Osmond has also made multiple appearances on Dancing with the Stars. His first appearance was as a contestant in 2009 where he, along with professional Kym Johnson, won the mirror ball trophy. Since 2009 Osmond has been back as both a guest performer and a guest judge.

More recently Osmond shocked the internet when it was revealed that he was the man behind the Peacock on the hit US TV show The Masked Singer’s  inaugural season.

Osmond’s movie career started in 1978 with Goin’ Coconuts alongside his sister Marie. Both appeared as themselves. Just 20 years later Osmond lent his voice to the Disney hit, Mulan. Osmond became the singing voice of Captain Li Shang for the now classic song “I’ll Make a Man Out Of You,” which has been viewed on the official Disney YouTube channel well over 44 million times and listened to on Spotify alone over 118 million times.

Since the success of Mulan, Osmond has been seen in the movie adaptation of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Bob the Builder: Built to be Wild, and College Road Trip.

Osmond was last seen on the RootsTech stage in 2015, and we are thrilled that he will be joining London RootsTech as well. Check out Rootstech London to register today or for travel and accommodations information.

Report Changes for Temple and Family History Callings

FamilySearch - Thu, 05/30/2019 - 16:54

As temple and family history consultants and leaders, you help bless thousands of lives on both sides of the veil, and family trees are flourishing.

In the past two years, adjustments have been made to temple and family history callings that affect reports. Know that the continued service you do, including making historical records searchable online through indexing, creates opportunities for others to discover their ancestors and is essential to the work of salvation.

Adjustments to Temple and Family History Callings

On October 6, 2018, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve announced adjustments to the temple and family history leadership on the ward level. (See the October 6, 2018, notice starting with “Responsibilities of Elders Quorum and Relief Society…” in the Official Communication Library.) Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve further explained the organization of this new leadership in the 2019 Temple and Family History Leadership Instruction meeting on February 28, 2019.

As we implement these adjustments, there will be some modifications in access and administrative rights to reports that show family history activity and ward indexing.

Family History Activity Report

Ward and stake councils and the temple and family history leader of the ward will have access to the family history activity report, which is found in Leader and Clerk Resources on churchofjesuschrist.org.

Indexing Group Administrators

The elders quorum president and the temple and family history leader of each ward will have administrative rights for the ward indexing group. The bishop will also be able to view the group indexing reports. Stake consultants will continue to manage stake indexing groups.

If you need information from the family history activity or indexing reports, please contact your ward temple and family history leader. These adjustments create an opportunity for ward leaders and consultants to work closely together in helping ward members with temple and family history.

The Influence of a Consultant

A consultant serving under the direction of the elders quorum presidency or a temple and family history leader can greatly affect the excitement in a ward for temple and family history efforts, including indexing.

In the 2019 Temple and Family History Leadership Instruction meeting, Elder Renlund said, “Having a group of dedicated people come together generates enthusiasm for the work, and it keeps temple and family history work on the mind of ward leaders as they serve ward members.” Your expertise in and passion for temple and family history work blesses those you help in your ward and others beyond the veil.

The Impact of Indexing

In 2018, hundreds of thousands of indexers helped make 122.2 million additional searchable records available online. Over the years, they have indexed 3.98 billion records. Many people have been able to discover and connect with their families thanks to the work of volunteer indexers.

FamilySearch Updates Enhance your Experience

FamilySearch - Wed, 05/29/2019 - 16:26

FamilySearch is proud to have the world’s largest online family tree and thrilled to provide free family history experiences to millions. In order to give users the best experience possible, we are constantly working on updates and improvements to our online experience.

To keep you up to date on the latest FamilySearch experience changes, we will be listing them here chronologically. Check back often to see how your FamilySearch experience has improved!

Update: May 30, 2019—Standardized Dates and Places

A system-wide update will standardize many dates and locations in the FamilySearch Family Tree. In the View Details section, these changes will appear with the contributor listed as “FamilySearch” and the date change starting on May 30, 2019. This will occur for vital and couple relationship conclusions only and will not trigger users’ Watch Ancestor notifications.

This update will help users by removing the data problem “Missing Standardized Date,” and “Missing Standardized Location”, saving the user time. It will also assist the site in providing more accurate record hints and creating more reliable data. Standardized dates will help you find ancestors more easily when you search the entire site.

This update will be applied to 15 percent of the dates and locations that are currently missing a standardized value. We will make the update only in cases where the standardized value very closely matches the value being replaced.

Stories of Overseas Chinese: How they connected with their families

FamilySearch - Wed, 05/29/2019 - 12:10

Nearly 46 million people are overseas Chinese—people with Chinese origins who live outside of Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau. Many overseas Chinese feel ties to their homeland and ancestors but know little about their heritage.

Finding records outside a person’s present country presents a serious challenge. The difficulty is often compounded by language barriers and unfamiliarity with local record-keeping practices. However, research and dedication can help overcome these hurdles.

Wars, neglect, political turmoil, and natural calamities destroy old documents. In some cases, official records were not kept or were scattered. In China, political upheavals destroyed many records, but some escaped or were re-created. In some cases, excellent alternative records may exist.

Many families, such as the family of Sannie Phaik San Lewis of American Fork Utah, kept jiapu, or Chinese compiled genealogies. These compiled genealogies go back generations and represent vast numbers of family members. Even if a family’s own jaipu was destroyed, another family’s records may include a wide range of descendants of original families.

Finding these records and reading them can be difficult, but FamilySearch and partner genealogical organizations are making it easier. They have been gathering China genealogies into their collections and translating and indexing them to make them searchable online.

Help is also available from China. At the end of the 1800s, the Chinese government realized that they needed to build a bridge to overseas knowledge by connecting with others of Chinese descent.  They established the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office to reach out. As part of that outreach, they helped people locate and make connections with their ancestral homes.

Through jiapu research, many overseas Chinese families have come to know their heritage. Some have found family members they might otherwise never have known. Their stories, found below, are inspirational and uplifting.

Discovering your heritage helps fill a universal human desire to know where you came from. By reading the stories of others who have found their families, you can learn how to start connecting with your family—whether through your family’s records or your own research.

Finding her Chinese Family: Sannie Phaik San Lewis Paula Williams Madison: My Chinese-Jamaican Legacy