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Jill Ball: Family History Blogger Downunder

FamilySearch - Thu, 04/08/2021 - 20:00

Anyone who knows Australian genealogist Jill Ball knows she emanates excitement for anything family and family history oriented. She blogs about family history and spearheads several online and local genealogy-related groups for Australians. She’s even flown halfway around the world several times to attend RootsTech, the world’s largest family history event, where she can be found gleefully handing out little stuffed koala bears (or some other proud Aussie memorabilia) and organizing meetups with Aussie attendees and other enthusiasts who have become good friends. She’s also a very staunch RootsTech ambassador, spreading the good word about the event and online resources within her sphere of influence Downunder. Her life and work have been filled with Australian history and genealogical tools that she continues to share with others with her signature cheerful and gregarious demeanor.

Jill’s Life before Genealogy

Jill Ball was born in Sydney and lived there until she recently relocated to Lake Macquarie, about 2 hours north of Sydney and close to Newcastle. She and her husband live right on this large saltwater lake. Of her ancestry, Jill says, “I’m a proud Australian with European ancestors reaching back to the early 1800s in Australia and aboriginal heritage many thousands of years.”

Jill was an only child and had few cousins, but she has very fond memories growing up as quite the focus of love in the “bosom of the family” with her parents, grandparents, and aunts and uncles.

She and her husband, Robert, have been married for 50 years. They have 4 children and 12 grandchildren.

After studying library science in college, Jill began working in public libraries. She eventually added a degree in education and switched to working in the school library so her schedule would match her school-aged children’s schedules. As technology entered the schools more fully, she took a few classes (a master’s degree) and became the technology director at the school. Jill retired from this position in 2008.

When Family History Took Root

Jill especially spent a lot of time with her maternal grandmother growing up. She laments in retrospect that she didn’t pay attention to or have a formal interest in family history until it was too late.

Her attitude changed in 1988. Her maternal grandmother died that year, which caused a lot of reflection. Of that time, she says, “I’m sorry I didn’t listen to Nanna Duncan telling her stories of growing up in the bush. I could kick myself.”

However, 1988 was also the bicentenary of the first European settlement in Australia. Almost everyone was interested in their heritage, and her family took advantage of lots of big celebratory events.

She remembers they watched from Sydney Harbor as the replica the First Fleet came in on 26 January 1988.

Her experiences in 1988 sparked a real interest in learning about her heritage, but she had to fit her new hobby around her work and family life. For a while she just “puddled along” in her research, keeping track of what she found on catalog cards, going to repositories, and looking things up on microfiche and microfilm until she got genealogy software in 1994.

When Jill retired in 2008, she suddenly had more time on her hands. She began using one of her favorite work-related skills—blogging—to start a new blog about her growing passion for family history: geniaus.blogspot.com. Her family history appetite and involvement grew from there.

An Indulgence, Not a Job

As Jill attended family history events with speakers, she realized she could present too; it fit with her background and experience. Because genealogy is a hobby for her (howbeit a serious one), she freely shares her genealogical research knowledge. She likes to share any proceeds she receives from speaking with her favorite charity, called Kiva, which gives microloans to help people in third-world countries set up small businesses or improve their life. She is part of a group called Genealogists for Families, which has several hundred members who support this charity.

Since genealogy is not her livelihood, Jill feels that as soon as the dollar comes into the picture, it adds such a sense of responsibility; it changes the whole experience for her personally. She leaves the paid research services up to the professionals and considers herself an eager amateur who does it because of her love of genealogy. She also likes to help those who want to learn how to do their own research.

You will also find Jill volunteering in local groups and with the Society of Australian Genealogists, where she is on the education committee. In this group, she teaches genealogy classes around the country. During the COVID-19 restrictions, these groups have been able to keep providing their services through virtual meeting technologies like Zoom. She believes when you help others, it comes back to you in the form of blessings as well, so she considers it “paying it forward.”

All Jill’s favorite interests seem to mesh nicely because they include family history, her living family, photography, and travel.

Her family travel plans now usually include a family history element. Her husband is fully supportive and happy to sometimes accompany her on her travels to ancestral homes, genealogy cruises, or big conferences like RootsTech!

Aussie Resources

Someone recently asked Jill when her family settled in Australia. She replied with a quick quip, “Did I tell you I had 10 convicts in my family tree? Ten of my direct ancestors got a ‘free passage’ to Australia. It wasn’t so much settling as being dumped.”

Her convict ancestors mostly committed small petty thefts during times of poverty and starvation. Despite their origins, Jill has found records that indicate her ancestors made a good life for themselves that was not available to them in England or Ireland, so it turned out to be an opportunity more than a punishment.

Jill also has ancestors who came as Irish famine orphans through programs to relocate them at the time. These orphaned girls acted as a sort of population balance since most of the population was male.

Most of her ancestors were ordinary people who made lives for themselves in a very different place. Some of her ancestors have quite famous descendants. One married the governor of New South Wales, one was Australia’s cricket captain, and others have been well educated.

There are colorful stories about these ancestors! Today Australians no longer see it as an embarrassment to have convict ancestors but instead see it as “a badge of honor.” They term convict ancestors as “Australian Royalty.” Australians also take pride in having Aborigines or First Australians in their trees.

Jill’s Family History Advice

Jill fills her home with family photos and artifacts. She lets her grandchildren enter records in her family tree. She has them enter their own yearly school records or ancestors’ records. She posts interesting spotlights on ancestors to Facebook to spark an interest in her children, cousins, and grandchildren. This organic approach can be more effective than a formal tactic. As Jill puts it, “Take it upon yourself to create an environment where genealogy and family history will be a process of osmosis, without them even knowing it, for children to get involved.”

As an amateur, she feels free to “go down a rabbit hole” hither and yon and not feel guilty about it. One thing always leads to another, and you never know where you might end up; Jill appreciates that freedom. There is no shortage of things to do, but she gets to choose to follow whatever lead interests her on a particular day.

Jill considers it important to be willing to move into the digital age. Sharing information online through something like a shared Google Drive or FamilySearch Family Tree will create a lot more involvement from all around the world. Jill is passionate about “not throwing the baby out with the bath water” by continually learning to use the latest tools that can encourage more people to get involved.

She suggests setting up a social media system or record-keeping system that fits each person’s unique needs as a group or family. There is no one size fits all. Each budding genealogist has to be prepared to adapt because tools and platforms come and go and develop and change. Jill is “keen on technology” and evaluating as she goes to see what works best now.

Resources Jill has used in her own family research include:

  • TROVE, the project of the Australian National Library and other institutions, to digitize newspapers, journals, photos, archived websites, and much more—free, fully searchable, and ever growing.
  • State archives, particularly the following:
    • New South Wales was the first convict settlement in Australia. Its convict records are nearly all digitized and freely available. These include interesting facts such as physical descriptions of the convicts!
    • Immigration records of free settlers are all online for free.
  • Birth, marriage, and death registrations that are maintained by state registries.
  • National archives since 1901 when Australia became a nation. These include the following resources:
    • World War II records are currently being digitized.
  • Some city directories from the 20th century that are available online from a range of websites.
  • DNA testing. This can be a great way to connect with living relatives or overcome ancestral dead ends. Jill has done tests with 5 different companies, hoping to make as many connections as possible. She has discovered she has English, Irish, and Scottish heritage, along with her Aboriginal connections.
  • National and local genealogical societies and groups with regular meetings, some with scheduled topics and speakers and some with a looser format to talk all things family history on a monthly or weekly basis. These have traditionally been face-to-face meetups, and many have been made available online recently.
Where to Find and Contact Jill

If you want to contact Jill, she’s easy to find! She has a large online presence and several methods of communication.

Monthly Record Update for March 2021

FamilySearch - Thu, 04/01/2021 - 15:00

FamilySearch expanded its free online archives in March of 2021 with over 32 million new indexed family history records from all over the world. New historical records were added from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Denmark, the Dominican Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, El Salvador, England, Finland, France, French Polynesia, Germany, Guatemala, Liberia, Mexico, Micronesia, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Samoa, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Uruguay, Venezuela, Zambia, and the United States, which includes  Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

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.

Don’t see what you’re looking for? Check back next month and, in the meantime, search existing records on FamilySearch. And if you want more exciting genealogy content, peruse over 1,000 free, on-demand sessions from RootsTech Connect 2021.

CountryCollection Indexed Records CommentArgentinaArgentina, Salta, Civil Registration, 1880-2000             1,269Expanded collectionAustraliaAustralia, South Australia, Immigrants Ship Papers, 1849-1940             2,652Expanded collectionAustriaAustria, Carinthia, Gurk Diocese, Catholic Church Records, 1527-1986           16,700Expanded collectionAustriaAustria, Vienna, Jewish Registers of Births, Marriages, and Deaths, 1784-1911                374Expanded collectionBoliviaBolivia Catholic Church Records, 1566-1996         454,372Expanded collectionBrazilBrazil, Cemetery Records, 1850-2021         164,849Expanded collectionBrazilBrazil, Minas Gerais, Civil Registration, 1879-1949           65,610Expanded collectionBrazilBrazil, Paraná, Civil Registration, 1852-1996           42,431Expanded collectionBrazilBrazil, Santa Catarina, Civil Registration, 1850-1999           12,443Expanded collectionCanadaCanada, Ontario Tax Assessment Rolls, 1834-1899         499,842Expanded CollectionCanadaCanada, Ontario Tax Assessment Rolls, 1834-1899           37,960New collectionCanadaNova Scotia Church Records, 1720-2001           28,075Expanded collectionCape VerdeCape Verde, Catholic Church Records, 1787-1957             4,123Expanded CollectionChileChile, Catholic Church Records, 1710-1928         902,444Expanded collectionCosta RicaCosta Rica, Catholic Church Records, 1595-1992           63,674New collectionCroatiaCroatia, Delnice Deanery Catholic Church Books, 1571-1926             5,661Expanded collectionDenmarkDenmark, Århus Municipal Census, 1918           21,330Expanded collectionDenmarkDenmark, Military Conscription Rolls, 1789-1792             1,694Expanded collectionDominican RepublicDominican Republic Miscellaneous Records, 1921-1980           14,168Expanded collectionDominican RepublicDominican Republic, Catholic Church Records, 1590-1955         342,776Expanded collectionDR CongoDemocratic Republic of the Congo, Census, 1984         125,373Expanded collectionEcuadorEcuador, Catholic Church Records, 1565-2011             4,043Expanded collectionEl SalvadorEl Salvador Catholic Church Records, 1655-1977           78,729Expanded collectionEnglandEngland, Cambridgeshire Bishop’s Transcripts, 1538-1983         579,187Expanded collectionEnglandEngland, Essex Non-Conformist Church Records, 1613-1971             4,066Expanded collectionEnglandEngland, Gloucestershire Non-Conformist Church Records, 1642-1996                647Expanded collectionEnglandEngland, Herefordshire Bishop’s Transcripts, 1583-1898           48,682Expanded collectionEnglandEngland, Middlesex Parish Registers, 1539-1988         160,170Expanded collectionEnglandEngland, Northumberland Non-Conformist Church Records, 1613-1920           20,803Expanded collectionFinlandFinland, Tax Lists, 1809-1915           34,670Expanded collectionFranceFrance, Insee Social Security Death Index, 1970-2019         228,397Expanded collectionFranceFrance, Mayenne, Parish and Civil Registration, 1427-1897     2,972,770New collectionFranceFrance, Rhône, Military Registration Cards, 1865-1932           34,627Expanded collectionFranceFrance, Saône-et-Loire, Parish and Civil Registration, 1530-1892             2,756Expanded collectionGermanyGermany, Bavaria, Catholic Church Records, 1650-1875     1,140,810New collectionGermanyGermany, North Rhine-Westphalia, Diocese of Münster, Catholic Church Records, 1580-1975         380,146Expanded collectionGermanyGermany, Prussia, East Prussia, Catholic and Lutheran Church Records, 1551-1992         392,435Expanded collectionGermanyGermany, Prussia, Pomerania, Catholic and Lutheran Church Records, 1544-1966         261,714New collectionGermanyGermany, Prussia, Saxony, Census Lists, 1770-1934           40,981Expanded collectionGermanyGermany, Prussia, West Prussia, Catholic and Lutheran Church Records, 1537-1981     3,239,926Expanded collectionGermanyGermany, Saxony, Church Book Indexes, 1500-1900           15,012Expanded collectionGuatemalaGuatemala, Catholic Church Records, 1581-1977     1,197,479Expanded collectionGuatemalaGuatemala, Chimaltenango, Civil Registration, 1877-1994                 173Expanded collectionHungaryHungary, Jewish Vital Records Index, 1800-1945             5,001Expanded collectionJamaicaJamaica, Church of England Parish Register Transcripts, 1664-1880           36,957Expanded collectionKiribatiKiribati, Vital Records, 1890-1991             1,185Expanded CollectionMexicoMexico, Sinaloa, Civil Registration, 1861-1929           26,167Expanded collectionMicronesiaMicronesia, Death Records, 1970-1986                    8Expanded CollectionNew ZealandNew Zealand, Electoral Rolls, 1865-1957         635,361Expanded collectionNicaraguaNicaragua, Catholic Church Records, 1740-1960             1,239Expanded collectionNorwayNorway, Oslo Census, 1901           27,189Expanded collectionOtherFind A Grave Index     4,690,041Expanded collectionPapua New GuineaPapua New Guinea, Vital Records, 1867-2000             2,057Expanded CollectionParaguayParaguay, Military Records, 1870-1965           14,925Expanded collectionPeruPeru, Catholic Church Records, 1603-1992     1,312,352Expanded collectionPeruPeru, Diocese of Huacho, Catholic Church Records, 1560-1952           18,372Expanded collectionPeruPeru, Junín, Civil Registration, 1881-2005                  29Expanded collectionPeruPeru, Piura, Civil Registration, 1874-1996                  31Expanded collectionPeruPeru, Prelature of Yauyos-Cañete-Huarochirí, Catholic Church Records, 1665-2018           72,134Expanded collectionPhilippinesPhilippines Civil Registration (Archives Division), 1902-1945           15,990Expanded collectionPolandPoland, Lublin Roman Catholic Church Books, 1784-1964             5,056Expanded collectionPuerto RicoPuerto Rico, Catholic Church Records, 1645-1969         362,848Expanded collectionPuerto RicoPuerto Rico, Civil Registration, 1805-2001                  14Expanded collectionSamoaSamoa, Vital Records, 1846-1996             5,384Expanded collectionSouth AfricaSouth Africa, Church of the Province of South Africa, Parish Registers, 1801-2004                439Expanded collectionSouth AfricaSouth Africa, Civil Death Registration, 1955-1966         133,517Expanded collectionSouth AfricaSouth Africa, Civil Marriage Records, 1840-1973     1,831,189Expanded collectionSouth AfricaSouth Africa, Dutch Reformed Church Registers (Cape Town Archives), 1660-1970           57,615Expanded collectionSouth AfricaSouth Africa, KwaZulu Natal, Vital Records, 1868-1976           30,537Expanded collectionSpainSpain, Province of La Coruña, Municipal Records, 1648-1941           23,802Expanded collectionSwedenSweden, Örebro Church Records, 1613-1918; index 1635-1860           10,375Expanded collectionSwedenSweden, Västerbotten Church Records, 1619-1896; index, 1688-1860           21,080Expanded collectionTuvaluTuvalu, Vital Records, 1866-1979             2,037Expanded CollectionUnited KingdomEngland, Hertfordshire, Marriage Bonds, 1682-1837             1,242Expanded collectionUnited KingdomEngland, Lancashire, Marriage Bonds and Allegations, 1746-1799                602Expanded collectionUnited KingdomEngland, Lincolnshire, Marriage Bonds and Allegations, 1574-1885           51,425Expanded collectionUnited StatesAlabama County Marriages, 1809-1950                    1Expanded collectionUnited StatesAlabama Voter Registration and Poll Tax Cards, 1834-1981         184,571Expanded collectionUnited StatesAlabama, Military Discharge Records, ca.1918 – ca.1962                34Expanded collectionUnited StatesAlaska, WWII Statement of Service Records, 1948-1949             8,524New collectionUnited StatesArizona, Navajo County, Voting Records, 1895-1954             3,908Expanded collectionUnited StatesArizona, Various County Divorce Records, 1877-1937           41,828Expanded collectionUnited StatesCalifornia Great Registers, 1850-1920           27,571Expanded collectionUnited StatesCalifornia, County Birth and Death Records, 1800-1994                    4Expanded CollectionUnited StatesCalifornia, Los Angeles, Angelus-Rosedale Cemetery/Crematory Records, 1884-2002             5,918Expanded collectionUnited StatesColorado, Military Discharge Records, ca.1919-1972             1,390Expanded collectionUnited StatesGeorgia, County Voter Registrations, 1856-1941             1,308Expanded collectionUnited StatesGeorgia, Military Discharge Records, ca.1890 – ca.1966             7,015Expanded collectionUnited StatesGeorgia, Tax Digests, 1787-1900         390,253Expanded CollectionUnited StatesHawaii, Hawaii State Archives, Probate Packet Records, 1814-1917             1,910New collectionUnited StatesHawaii, Various Islands, Circuit Court Divorce Records, 1849-1915             4,213Expanded collectionUnited StatesIdaho, Military Discharge Records, ca.1917 – ca.1960             1,258New collectionUnited StatesIllinois, Cook County Deaths, 1871-1998         173,225Expanded CollectionUnited StatesIllinois, Cook County, Birth Certificates, 1871-1949           34,876Expanded collectionUnited StatesIndiana, Voter Registers, 1850-1931           14,178Expanded collectionUnited StatesIowa, Iowa City, Voter Registers, 1897-1904           16,199New collectionUnited StatesIowa, Military Discharge Records, ca.1862 – ca.1976           96,398Expanded collectionUnited StatesLouisiana, Orleans and St. Tammany Parish, Voter Registration Records, 1867-1905     1,440,931Expanded collectionUnited StatesMaine, County Naturalization Records, 1800-1990         107,432Expanded collectionUnited StatesMassachusetts, Births, 1636-1924           45,574Expanded collectionUnited StatesMassachusetts, Boston Tax Records, 1822-1918         604,595Expanded collectionUnited StatesMichigan, Saginaw County, Biographical Card File, ca. 1830-2000                529Expanded collectionUnited StatesMontana, County Voting Records, 1884-1992           52,376Expanded collectionUnited StatesNew Jersey, County Naturalization Records, 1749-1986           90,302Expanded collectionUnited StatesNew Jersey, Death Index, 1901-1903; 1916-1929                916Expanded collectionUnited StatesPennsylvania Delayed Birth Records, 1941-1976             3,288Expanded collectionUnited StatesSouth Carolina, Charleston District, Bill of sales of Negro slaves, 1774-1872             1,412Expanded collectionUnited StatesSouth Dakota, County Naturalization Records, 1865-1972             1,045Expanded CollectionUnited StatesTexas, Grimes County, Marriage Records, 1951-1966                  69Expanded collectionUnited StatesTexas, Various Counties, Military Discharge Records, 1916-1990             6,956Expanded collectionUnited StatesTexas, Voter Records, 1867-1918                319Expanded collectionUnited StatesUnited States Bureau of Land Management Tract Books, 1800-c. 1955           50,404Expanded collectionUnited StatesUnited States City and Business Directories, ca. 1749 – ca. 1990     2,947,081Expanded collectionUnited StatesUnited States, New York Land Records, 1630-1975     1,736,246Expanded collectionUnited StatesUtah, Salt Lake City Cemetery Records, 1847-1976                    2Expanded collectionUnited StatesUtah, Tooele County Records, 1855-1956           62,513Expanded collectionUnited StatesVermont Vital Records, 1760-1954                    1Expanded collectionUnited StatesVirginia Voter Registration, 1902-1970                282Expanded collectionUnited StatesVirginia, County Marriage Records, 1771-1943         382,384Expanded collectionUnited StatesVirginia, Marriage Certificates, 1936-1988                    2Expanded collectionUnited StatesWashington Voting Records, 1876-1940           47,815Expanded collectionUnited StatesWashington, County Birth Registers, 1873-1965                  41Expanded CollectionUnited StatesWashington, County Death Registers, 1881-1979           11,958Expanded collectionUnited StatesWashington, County Divorce Records, 1852-1950           13,911Expanded collectionUnited StatesWashington, Seattle, Passenger Lists, 1890-1957                228Expanded collectionUnited StatesWest Virginia Voter Registers, 1866-1890                  11Expanded collectionUnited StatesWisconsin, County Naturalization Records, 1807-1992           14,183Expanded collectionUruguayUruguay Civil Registration, 1879-1930             5,292Expanded collectionUruguayUruguay, Catholic Church Records, 1726-2000         114,006Expanded collectionUruguayUruguay, Civil Registration Index Card, 1900-1937           16,564Expanded CollectionVanuatuVanuatu, Vital Records, 1900-2001                  3New CollectionVenezuelaVenezuela, Archdiocese of Valencia, Catholic Church Records, 1760, 1905-2013                39Expanded collectionVenezuelaVenezuela, Catholic Church Records, 1577-1995       774,605Expanded collectionZambiaZambia, Archdiocese of Lusaka, Church Records, 1950-2015         14,971Expanded collection

Generation Z—Birth Years and Characteristics

FamilySearch - Wed, 03/31/2021 - 15:18

Generation Z will someday be known as the generation that came of age during the COVID-19 pandemic. With that said, the generation is still relatively young—so young that that sociologists sometimes disagree on what to call them. Homelanders? Post-Millennials? The iGeneration? Gen Wii?

For now, Generation Z is the most widely-used term. If you want to sound cool, you can shorten it to Gen Z. You can also call them zoomers, a play on the term baby boomers—which refers to the generation of people born immediately after World War II.

When Did Gen Z Begin?

Anyone born after the year 1996 or so belongs to Generation Z. People in the generation before Gen Z are called millennials, which is sometimes referred to as Generation Y (hence the “z” in Gen Z).

No one quite agrees yet on the ending year of Generation Z— perhaps sometime in the early 2010s. And who—or what—comes after Generation Z? That too is currently up for debate. But we will write an article about them when we know!

What Is Generation Z Known For?

Zoomers have limited memory and experience of the world before the internet, before Google Maps, or before Facebook or smart phones. With a touch, swipe, or tap of the finger, zoomers can communicate with almost anyone, almost anywhere in the world.

Generation Z Characteristics

Some researchers claim that members of Generation Z have all the same characteristics as millennials, only that the characteristics are more extreme. Of course, this claim isn’t entirely true. Every generation has unique tendencies and perspectives. A typical description of zoomers includes the following characteristics:

  • Members of Gen Z are digital natives. When it comes to apps and devices, they don’t need instructions, and they don’t ask for them.  
  • Members of Gen Z are highly educated. According to Pew Research Center, zoomers are less likely to drop out of high school and more likely to enroll in college than previous generations. This characteristic could be because zoomers are also more likely to have parents who attended college.
  • Generation Z make good entrepreneurs. In today’s world, all it takes to start a business is a phone, an internet connection, and a good idea. Maybe just a funny idea. Zoomers aren’t afraid to try. 
Generation Z and Current Events

When COVID-19 first struck, some members of Generation Z were in elementary school. Some were in high school, and some were just starting jobs or trying to navigate their way through college. Month by month, the virus turned the world of Generation Z upside down. If young people had never heard the word “quarantine” before, now they were using it on a daily basis.

The full impact of COVID-19 on zoomers won’t be known for years, maybe even decades. But doctors trying to measure the effects of the pandemic on children and adolescents have unfortunately noted higher rates of anxiety and depression.

FamilySearch—An Easy Way to Document Your Life

Whatever your age now, you’re part of a unique generation. Time to start documenting it! The people who come after you will thank you. And, to be honest, you’ll enjoy reading and reliving your most important memories too.

With FamilySearch, building your family history is as easy as uploading a photo or recording yourself talking. Our tools are simple to use. You can start right now if you want to.  

An Inspired Project Broadens Connections to Family

FamilySearch - Tue, 03/30/2021 - 16:00

Perhaps you have records and memorabilia you would like to know will be preserved for future generations. Have you wondered what you can do so these treasures are not casually set aside by someone who doesn’t recognize their value? Here is what one daughter did to honor a family legacy.

Like many who are interested in family history, Rebecca Mitchell had valuable records at home gathering dust in a closet. Those records related to her father’s military service and the time she had spent with him some years after World War II.   

A Family History of Military Service

Rebecca’s father, Lieutenant Colonel Russell Kelch, was an officer in the 951st Field Artillery Battalion. Many in Colonel Kelch’s unit had enlisted around the same time and followed each other from one duty assignment to the next, through the war and beyond. Rebecca had met many of them at reunions and knew that 613 men in the battalion had been among Allied forces who landed on Utah Beach in Normandy six days after the D-Day invasion in 1944. She also knew a few had spent time together as prisoners of war.

In 1994, Rebecca had made a promise to her father to “be there” (for the unit) until the last man was down. She kept this promise dutifully and gathered the records for her father’s military unit as the official archivist. For a time, she had published a newsletter entitled Fire Mission that kept the men in touch with one another.

Providential Meetings Set the Stage

In 1994, Rebecca went with her father to a reunion for the 183rd battalion—a sister battalion to the 951st. There, her father became reacquainted with an old buddy, Lieutenant Leo McCollum from Texas, whom he had not seen for over 50 years, and they also met McCollum’s son. The four of them connected immediately. They later went back to Europe and retraced the battalion’s steps from Utah Beach to Nordhausen in Germany, the site of a Nazi labor camp. As they traveled, Rebecca’s father and Lieutenant McCollum recounted stories about their experiences.

The following year, another reunion of the 951st brought Captain Ernest Chamberlain into the life of Rebecca and her father. Captain Chamberlain felt impressed to have a monument built to soldiers of the 951st at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. They joined efforts to work on the project. Within a year, enough donations were gathered to have a monument erected to honor all 613 members who fought together. That monument was inscribed with soldier names and the states where each of the men came from, adding valuable insight into the soldiers of the 951st.

Rebecca’s Dream Leads to an Inspired Project

When her father’s veterans’ group was disbanded in 2007, Rebecca thought most of the men had died and only one survivor remained. She considered her work in preserving her father’s legacy to be completed. Then something remarkable happened toward the end of 2019. Rebecca had a dream in which she thought of herself as dead. In her dream, many strangers were in her home going through her belongings. These strangers took many of her possessions outside to a dumpster that sat in her front yard.

She saw people she did not recognize going to the closet where she kept records for the 951st and 183rd Battalions. The strangers began picking through things, briefly looking at old photos, cards, letters, reunion announcements, and copies of Fire Mission, taking only enough time to glance at them before bringing them out and adding them to the dumpster.

Rebecca awoke with a firm resolve to preserve those records. She realized that Fire Mission wasn’t the fulfillment of her promise and that there were things she yet needed to do.

As she began to formulate a plan, Rebecca thought of FamilySearch. Earlier experiences with her father also came to mind, along with recollections of people her father had known. Soon, she had a solid plan about how she could preserve the records and fulfill the promise she had made to her father and his unit!

Plans Take Shape and Pieces Come Together

In 2020, Rebecca began to add to her father’s profile on FamilySearch.org and Lieutenant McCollum’s, the friend from the 183rd Battalion. Another individual from the past, Captain Chamberlain, already had many of his own records in Family Tree. His profile was easy to add information to, as were the profiles of many other members of the 951st.

The rest of the men had no dates for life events and needed to be researched to find what happened to them so photos and stories or other information could be uploaded to the right profile. She discovered a few more surviving battalion members. The last man died in 2017—ten years after her initial assumption that all had passed on.

So far, Rebecca has entered information for 175 men, which points her to a bigger project than what she anticipated. As Rebecca tracks down the missing pieces of these men’s lives, she describes the project as a large jigsaw puzzle that will one day fill out a bigger picture.

When she can confirm that she has found a battalion member in the FamilySearch Family Tree, she adds what she knows and then messages that person’s relatives who have also added information in FamilySearch. She tells them what she has found and that there is a monument with the name of their ancestor at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. She also tells them that her father knew the person during the war. She has been gratified by overwhelming responses from people who remark that they never knew the things she shares and how much they appreciate the work she is doing.

Making Connections and Finding Unexpected Rewards

With the COVID-19 pandemic keeping Rebecca and her husband at home, she has had time to work in earnest on the project. At age 74, Rebecca feels an urgency to get all the information she knows about battalion members into the FamilySearch Family Tree. She has continued adding information the tree and to Memories as soon as she is able to positively identify a battalion member.

Some battalion members have common surnames, so it has been difficult to find the correct person to match battalion records. Sometimes she is readily rewarded, and other times she has had to struggle, but she has been helped along the way.

She says that there were not nearly so many sources for records in 2007, but in the intervening years many more records have been indexed and are available to search, and more archives are also available about the men who fought in World War II. She keeps an eye on new records and on research helps so she can fit more pieces into her genealogical puzzle. She only hopes she has enough time to complete the project.

In her work she has found that members of the 951st are bound together by more than friendship. The term “band of brothers” commonly used in military circles has led her to some men who were actual brothers who served together, but even among men who were not blood relatives, she has sensed a special bond in the way battalion members would refer to one another years later as “my brother” or “my bosom buddy.”

More recently she has realized that of the 175 men she has completed adding records for, 127, or about 73 percent, are her distant cousins in Family Tree and are literally family. This fact has broadened her perspective and definition of what families are all about!

Records Gathering Dust in Your Closet

You might have records you have not looked at in years. Perhaps you are the family archivist or have inherited the records from a relative who has entrusted you to preserve them. Consider creating your own family history project on how you can preserve those records.

Some things to think about might include the following:

  • Use your smartphone to scan and digitize photos in albums. Several free photo scanning programs are available to help you preserve documents and put them online.
  • Learn about Google’s image search capabilities to identify people or places in unidentified photos. Someone may have a match for the same photo or can identify where or when it was taken.
  • Join a group in the FamilySearch Community, and ask for help. Turn on permissions that allow others to see your relationship in the FamilySearch Family Tree, and message other contributors. Be willing to share what you have and what you know.
  • Get help in the FamilySearch wiki in organizing your files.
  • Talk to relatives, and enlist their participation. Ask them to share with you what they know, and incorporate in your project what you learn.

If you start with something simple and achievable, your family history project need not take years or full-time dedication, but your appreciation for your ancestors will grow as you find relationships and connect with more of your family.

Other Projects

A Family Volunteers from Home—and Reaps Surprising Benefits

The Millennial Generation—Birth Years, Characteristics, and History

FamilySearch - Fri, 03/26/2021 - 15:03

The Millennial generation refers to people who were born during the last two decades of the 20th century. It always takes sociologists and other social scientists a few years to settle on a name. For a while, millennials were known as Generation Y, since they are the generation that follows Generation X. 

When Were Millennials Born?

The starting year for the Millennial generation is anywhere from 1977 to 1981. Scholars seem to be more in agreement about the ending year, however, which is almost always identified as 1995 or 1996. If you want to play it safe, you would say that a millennial is anyone born during the period 1980–1995.

If you’re an older millennial, your parents were probably baby boomers (1946–1964). If you’re a younger millennial, on the other hand, your parents might be from Generation X (1965–1976).

What Are Millennials Known For?

As their name suggests, millennials are known for being born near the very end of the last millennium. It was during the millennials’ childhoods and teenage years that technological advancements revolutionized the world we live in. Think of all the many aspects of life affected or even controlled by the internet—millennials came of age at the same time all these changes were happening.

Millennial Characteristics

It’s hard to pick a characteristic that all the millions of people born between 1980 and 1995 share. Still, researchers and sociologists have fun trying. Here are a few of the characteristics and quirks they’ve noticed:

  • Millennials are good at accepting change. Millennials have witnessed a massive shift in technologies, the economy, and business throughout their lifetime. If life has taught them anything, it’s that things don’t stay the same for long.
  • Millennials are curious. If there is a faster, better way of doing something, millennials want to know. They’ll take advantage of the tools available to them to be more effective. Researchers say that this quality makes them valuable employees.
  • Millennials value teamwork. This generation tends to enjoy collaborative work environments where they can seek out alternate viewpoints and input from others.
  • Millennials like feedback. Millennials recognize the importance of valuable, regular feedback, especially when it comes to the workplace. In additional to seeking out constructive criticism and mentorship, this generation also appreciates positive feedback and recognition for a job well-done.
  • Millennials visit public libraries more regularly than other age groups. The reason for this characteristic is a bit of a mystery. Maybe they get tired of tapping screens. Maybe they’re nostalgic, and the feel of a book reminds them of their childhoods. Who knows for sure? If you’re a millennial and like going to the library, maybe you can leave a comment at the bottom of this article and explain why!
History from a Millennial’s Point of View

Most millennials remember the terrorist attacks of 9/11. This event is an important intersection with history that distinguishes them from the generation that came after.

Most millennials were teenagers or young adults when the first social media platforms became available, technologies that changed the way people communicate with each other and interact with the world around them. Millennials may be able to remember the world before social media. But they have a hard time imagining a future without it!

Millennials entered the economic recession of 2008 shortly after college or even during college. Many of them may have lost a job on account of this crisis or were compelled to change or study a different career.

Documenting Your Generation

FamilySearch.org is an easy way to document your generation—and anything else about your life you think is interesting.

Learning what generation you belong to isn’t like having your fortune told. It doesn’t dictate your personality or reveal what your true talents are. But it does situate you within a group of people who have lived through similar historical experiences and have a similar relationship to technology, education, politics, and other aspects of life.  

Whatever your age now, you’re part of a unique generation. Time to start documenting it! The people who come after you will thank you. And, to be honest, you’ll enjoy reading and reliving your most important memories too.

With FamilySearch, building your family history is as easy as uploading a photo or recording yourself talking. Our tools are so simple to use. You can start right now if you want to.  

FamilySearch Updates Enhance your Experience

FamilySearch - Fri, 03/26/2021 - 10:00

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!

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In the family tree, you can follow the profiles of deceased individuals and add labels to the profiles, sort them, and get updates about changes made to them. A recent update now lets you view a list of FamilySearch users who follow the same profiles that you follow in the tree.

These other followers are often relatives or people who have been researching about the same people or profiles you follow. They may have insight or information to share. Using FamilySearch messages, you can start up a conversation and connect with these living individuals on FamilySearch.org. Here’s how you can get started:

  1. Navigate to your following list by clicking the Family Tree tab and selecting Following in the drop-down menu. (If you haven’t followed anyone in the tree yet, here’s how you can get started.)
  2. To see who is following the same profiles you are following, click the three dots beside the name of a person you are following and select the People Following option in the drop-down menu.

3. Connect with others who are following the same people by sending them a message. In the People Following list, click a user’s name, and then select Send a Message in the pop-up option.

Update March 15, 2021—FamilySearch Community Receives New Look and Improvements

The FamilySearch Community is an online resource that helps people interested in family history connect with each other worldwide. Recently, the community has been updated with a new look and additional functionality. These changes include a more visible site navigation (now on the left sidebar of the page) and a more prominent search bar, making it easier to find what you need in the community. You can also explore some of the new and improved community sections like the Events page and Community Hub. Learn more about changes to the FamilySearch Community.

Explore the FamilySearch Community Update March 2, 2021—New Getting Started Page

The new Getting Started page provides a variety of simple family history activities and FamilySearch resources that both beginners and genealogy veterans can appreciate. These pages also show how family history is any activity that connects us to our family stories.

You can find the Getting Started page by going to the FamilySearch homepage, clicking the question mark icon in the top right corner of the page, and selecting Getting Started in the drop-down menu. You can also visit the new page by clicking the button below!

Get Started with Your Family History Update January 11, 2021—Updated Ancestor Discovery Pages

You can now find some of the best experiences FamilySearch has to offer all gathered in one place—ancestor discovery pages. With FamilySearch’s updated ancestor discovery pages, you can do everything from viewing photos and timelines of your ancestors’ lives to exploring their heritage with fun interactive online activities. Learn more about the update and how to find your ancestor’s discovery page.

Explore Ancestor Discovery Pages

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More Updates from 2020

More Updates from 2019 All about the FamilySearch Family Tree

Diane C. Loosle—Transforming Learning at FamilySearch

FamilySearch - Sat, 03/20/2021 - 16:00

When Diane Loosle’s grandmother passed away, 13-year-old Diane offered to help her mother go through her grandmother’s things. Diane’s curiosity was piqued when she pulled a German Nazi flag out of her grandma’s old cedar chest. She knew there had to be a story behind that flag. Were there possible skeletons or a black sheep within her own family that she didn’t know about?

The discovery of the flag intrigued Diane and was the influencing force that interested her in her family’s history. Diane has been discovering captivating stories ever since.

Diane Loosle’s Early Life

Diane grew up in Springville, Utah as one of 8 siblings. She attended Brigham Young University and majored in family history. Diane then took a job with the FamilySearch Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. It was not an easy position to land. It took Diane 3 years of volunteer work as a service missionary and long hours of temp employee work.

Diane began her career helping library patrons with their personal research. Eventually she became director of the ­world-renowned Family History Library, a position she held from 2013–2018. Diane has great leadership experience and strong genealogical knowledge as a certified genealogist and accredited genealogist (England research emphasis).

Along the way she also obtained her MBA. Because FamilySearch is an international nonprofit operation, Diane thought it important to understand business objectives and knowhow along with her genealogical acumen.

A major influence in Diane’s life was a foreign exchange student from France whom her family hosted. She loved learning about the culture of France and studied French in high school and in college. As she grew, her aspirations were to live abroad, possibly working in the US French Embassy. That’s where Diane was headed her first few years in college, but she changed her major to family history when she met her husband. He was an accounting major, and Diane knew his accounting career would serve them best in the United States. 

Diane’s Hobbies and Interests

Diane believes she may not be a typical genealogist. As a child she loved gymnastics and dreamed of performing choreographed routines. She has a love for adventure and learning about cultures.

Diane has additional loves that might be uncommon to most genealogists and surprising to fellow research professionals who think they might know her. She is fanatic about travel—both international and cross country in an RV. Although she is a whiz in the library, Diane craves her time in the outdoors and in the water, particularly scuba diving (her favorite dive spots so far are Cozumel, Mexico, and Kona, Hawaii).

Diane’s projects with FamilySearch

Diane understands the importance of her work at FamilySearch, where she is currently the director of business development. In this capacity, she leads a team that explores new growth initiatives for FamilySearch.

One of Diane’s current projects is the “Transforming Learning Initiative.” She says, “We are working to help more people learn how to discover and connect with their family from the past, in the present, and in the future.” She adds there is usually a learning curve for making that happen.

The goal is to experiment with methods, tools, and experiences that help people learn organically without realizing they are learning. In other words, she takes complex research methods necessary to make new family history discoveries and makes them simple, intuitive experiences for beginners.  That way, they don’t know they are actually doing something that could otherwise be considered a very daunting task. And it keeps them coming back.

Special Experiences Make Family History Work Rewarding

Of her job, Diane says, “It has been an incredible journey to work for FamilySearch. I get to work with amazing people. I also have many opportunities to interact with the public. I love my job.” While there is much Diane loves about her work, one of the best parts is the miracles that she sees daily. “We call it the genealogical serendipity of family history—the tiny miracles or gifts that occur…things that happen that you can’t explain.” Diane hopes to one day compile all of these vast experiences in a book.

Here are just a few of the experiences Diane has had.

On one occasion, a couple came into the library looking for a book, which Diane could not find. Diane knew she had seen it there earlier in the week. The couple had to return home to Idaho early the next morning. Diane could not get the book they were looking for out of her mind all night. First thing the next morning she checked the shelf again. It was there.

She was frustrated, because she realized she did not have the couple’s contact information to let them know she had found the book they were earnestly seeking. She suddenly remembered she had a group coming that morning and hurried to the lobby of the library to meet her group. They were delayed, so she took a seat in the lobby to wait. While seated, in came the Idaho couple. Diane jumped up to greet them and tell them she had found the book.

That morning this sweet couple had driven all the way to the Idaho border (a 3-hour drive) and had a strong impression they needed to return to the library. Had Diane’s group arrived on time, she would have missed this couple and never been able to tell them she had found the book. Diane was able to give them the book which contained the information they had been searching for.

Often, patrons who visit the FamilySearch Family History Library will request information or books with little or no information. In one instance a young woman came to Diane and asked, “I was here a few years back and was looking at a red book.” She had no descriptive information on the author, the title, or the section of the library she had been in. All she remembered was that it was red, and she needed to find that book.

Diane began with, “Tell me about the book….” The girl passionately explained the book and its contents as she remembered. Diane was able to locate the book and give it to the girl. Diane smiled saying, “Experiences like this happen all the time at FamilySearch. It is a miracle that I was able to find her red book out of the 300,000+ books in the library.”

Not all days in Diane’s life are easy. Some days she faces tasks that seem insurmountable. “I like to call the forces of evil gremlins!” Diane laughs. “But the forces of good always seem to win. All of us at FamilySearch know we can do hard things and eventually solutions and the answers do come.”

Diane’s passion makes the work rewarding

Diane feels it is an incredible journey to work for FamilySearch. “There is a special power when people come together with their ancestors and realize we are all a family. You and I are not as different as the world might want us to think we are. I have found when people find out they are related…barriers come down.”

Diane says that FamilySearch’s goal is to introduce as many people as possible to their genealogy. It is important for all ages—young children to the elderly. “FamilySearch blesses everyone’s life. It strengthens us and unifies us.”

With Diane’s dedication, she could have been a successful gymnast or an effective ambassador to France. Fortunately, she knew her passion, and with a bit of destiny, Diane is where she needs to be. Her compassion, love for people, leadership, and dedication are ever present as she looks for new ways to grow FamilySearch patron discovery and connection opportunities.

Oh…and that German flag that helped trigger Diane’s fascination with her family history as a young child? Turns out it wasn’t a skeleton in the family history closet after all. Diane discovered her great uncle (her grandmother’s brother-in-law) served in a US tank platoon during WWII that liberated a French community from the Nazi occupation. He sent the flag home to his family as a token reminder of the success of their military campaign.

Our Quest for Connection

FamilySearch - Fri, 03/19/2021 - 16:37

Welcome to Our Quest for Connection—a RootsTech experience designed for youth and young adults to connect with each other, relatives, friends and their ancestors! Read on to learn what Our Quest for Connection is and how you can participate.

Challenges

We’ve created a series of 10 challenges—each with a different theme—that participants are invited to complete in a way that makes sense for their circumstances and schedule. Each challenge has multiple ideas on how to participate. There is something for everyone—no matter age, technology access, interests, etc. Participants can expect to find ideas like cooking a favorite family meal, reconnecting with an old friend, and recreating family photos.

Learn More

Social Media

We also encourage youth and young adults to share their experiences completing challenges by publicly posting about them on social media using #QuestforConnection. This is a great opportunity to connect with other youth and young adults around the world participating in the challenges!

Wrap-Up

As part of the experience we have the Our Quest for Connection wrap-up broadcast, featuring youth and young adults around the world along with Sister Bonnie H. Cordon, Brother Steven J. Lund, and Elder David A. Bednar.

Ideas for Leaders

Parents and leaders are invited to use the challenges and wrap-up broadcast for use in youth activities, family home evenings, ward activities, or however they best see fit. Here are some ideas:

  • Invite your youth or young adult groups to individually participate in a challenge of their choice and then come together to discuss their experiences at a day/time that you see fit.
  • Invite your youth or young adults to come together to complete the same challenge virtually or in person, as permitted locally.
  • You could start with the wrap-up broadcast as a kick-off to completing challenges or wrap-up your experience with the broadcast!
  • Encourage sharing – whether with their families, friends, youth/young adult groups, or even on social media to connect with other youth and young adults around the world also participating in the challenges!

Challenge accepted? Let’s go!

View Completed Temple Ordinances with New FamilySearch Update

FamilySearch - Fri, 03/19/2021 - 11:27

The new completed ordinances list makes it easier than ever to keep track of the temple ordinances you perform for your ancestors.

Your completed ordinances list shows the most recent 3,000 items of temple ordinances that you reserved and completed in the last 25 months, plus the current month. The list includes both the names you reserved and printed yourself and the names you shared with the temple.

The update provides a more efficient way to store, sort, and refer back to the ordinances you have performed, without using paper to do so.  However, if you a prefer a hard copy, you can also select and print a list of the completed ordinances.

Three Ways to See Your Completed Ordinances List

You can find your completed ordinances list in three ways:

  • On the FamilySearch website, click the Temple tab (viewable only if you are signed in), and select Completed in the drop-down menu.
  • In the Family Tree mobile app, view the completed ordinances list under the Temple tab, found at the bottom of the screen, and then select Completed.
  • View completed ordinances in the temple notifications list. To view temple notifications, click the bell icon in the top right corner of the FamilySearch website, and sort by Temple.
Simplified Temple Notifications

Temple notifications about completed ordinances are also simpler. Instead of naming the person and providing ordinance details in the message, notifications link to your completed ordinances list, where you can see and print details.

Temple notifications about completed ordinances now disappear after 7 days. Even after the notification expires, the completed ordinance information does not. It remains on your completed ordinances list.

Learn More

For more information about your completed ordinances list, see “How do I see and print my completed ordinances list?” (You must be signed in to FamilySearch.org to view this link.)

How Bunads Helped Revive Norway’s National Identity and Heritage

FamilySearch - Wed, 03/17/2021 - 10:41

Bunad is the beloved traditional Norwegian dress that many Norwegians own and wear for special occasions. Each bunad colorfully and uniquely tells the story of Norway’s history and plays a special role in tying Norwegians to their heritage.

What Is a Bunad?

The term bunad is best understood as referring to Norwegian traditional clothing, and it includes a variety of regional styles. In general, bunads are colorful garments made of wool and adorned with embroidery, buckles, shawls,  scarfs, and traditional, handmade Norwegian jewelry known as solje.

Despite these unifying elements, there isn’t one official style of bunad—and that’s on purpose. Bunads are meant to uniquely represent the regions they come from. Although bunads may look similar across various regions, each bunad is meant to incorporate the unique traditions and designs of the community it represents.

For example, when tasked with creating a bunad for Østfold, one designer incorporated the rosmaling designs he saw on the cupboard of a local farm in the region. Other bunad designs may be based off surviving jewelry, embroidery, or clothing of a region’s history. You can view a gallery of the various bunad styles below.

The Unique History of Traditional Norwegian Dress

Although aspects of the bunad take after Norway’s preindustrial rural clothing, bunads are a relatively modern phenomenon. Its recent origin doesn’t make the bunad any less symbolic of Norwegian heritage and tradition, however. In fact, the modern bunad has played a significant role in reclaiming Norwegian tradition and values.

Recovering Norwegian Heritage

For centuries, Norway was under Danish rule. After Norway obtained independence on 17 May 1814, the Norwegian people sought to revive the unique identity and heritage of Norway. This effort led to developing a new written Norwegian language, publishing Norwegian folktales, and—you guessed it—recovering Norwegian traditional clothing.

Developing Regional Bunads

Originally, the 18th- and 19th-century focus on traditional Norwegian clothing was to create a single national costume. However, around the early 1900s, author and national activist Hulda Garbog popularized the idea of developing several regional bunads. This movement led to the diversity of bunad designs that we see today, each representing the traditions and customs of the community where it originated.

The historicity of the bunad varies between regions. Some styles date back to the Middle Ages (Setesdal’s bunad is a good example), and other bunads take more creative license, with designs only loosely based on local traditional styles. Whether a bunad’s design dates to the 14th century or the 20th century, Norwegians still take great pride in the unique designs and heritage of their region.

Modern Bunad Traditions

The tradition of the bunad is alive and well in Norway. Norwegian traditional clothing is most on display on 17 May, the day Norway celebrates its independence, but it is also worn during special occasions such as weddings and holidays.

Many Norwegians receive their first bunad—often a family heirloom—as teenagers. A quality new bunad can cost between $2,000 and $10,000, which is one reason the outfit is designed to be altered easily for lifetime use. Although women are more likely to wear the traditional outfit, recent years have seen a resurgence in men wearing bunads.

Norwegians are quite passionate about their national clothing, and with that passion comes lively debate about bunad traditions. However, the most widely agreed upon rule is that the bunad people wear should represent a region that is significant to them. Most often, this unwritten rule means wearing the bunad of the region you or your ancestors came from.

Do you have Norwegian heritage? Do you own a bunad or have photos of family wearing a bunad? Preserve your Norwegian heritage by uploading these images to FamilySearch Memories!

Upload Photos to FamilySearch Memories

FamilySearch Community Receives New Look and Improvements

FamilySearch - Mon, 03/15/2021 - 13:24

The FamilySearch Community is an online resource that helps people interested in family history connect with each other worldwide. In the community, you can learn research strategies, view genealogy events, join various groups that have the similar interests, and connect with specialized research experts.

Members of the FamilySearch Community can answer questions you may have—and on the flipside, you can help others by sharing what you know. Whether you have questions, need expert help, or want to connect with others who share your passion for family history, the FamilySearch Community is a great place to be!

Check Out the Community What’s New

The FamilySearch Community was recently updated with a new look, additional functionality, and navigation enhancements. The community is now better than ever! Here is a short list of what is new:

  1. Site navigation is now more visible and located on the left sidebar of the page.
  2. Searching the community is easier because of the prominent search bar on the home page.
  3. The Community Hub section announces changes and updates.
  4. A questions and answers section can be found in the navigation. Each question is sorted into a category (similar to how the Help Center categorizes content) so you can find answers to your questions about specific topics.
  5. A new Events section allows you to see upcoming events, send an RSVP, and even view recordings of some past events!
  6. Notification settings have been added. You control the notifications you want to receive. Do you want an email when someone answers your question? You get to choose!
  7. The update includes an improved mobile experience for easier navigation and greater usability.
  8. The community has breadcrumbs to show you where you are on the site and help you navigate quickly.
  Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How do I get to the new community?
A. You can get to the new community by signing into FamilySearch.org, clicking the Help icon (a question mark in a circle), and selecting Community. Or you can click here.

Q. If I was a FamilySearch Community member before, will I be a member of the new community?
A. Yes! This update will not change your access to the community and the groups you participate in.

Q. With the update, will all my previous activities, questions, answers, and other community contributions be lost?
A. No. FamilySearch will migrate all the current data in the old community to the new platform.

Q. Can I still send messages directly to other community members?
A. Yes! You will still be able to communicate directly with other community members.

Q. Why did the community need to be updated?
A. The FamilySearch Community was updated to accommodate a better experience for all community members. The new platform is more flexible and more user friendly, and it has been designed to allow for quicker and easier updates. Community members can also choose from a wider range of notification options, get support in a fast and timely manner, send an RSVP for events, and even watch event recordings.

Check Out the FamilySearch Community