Sunday, June 29, 2014

Passport Applications

If your ancestors ever traveled abroad, they may have applied for a passport. Before the 1940’s, passports were not required for international travel except during times of war (Civil War and WW I, particularly). However, many Americans applied for passports even when they were not required to do so. More than a half million passports were issued between 1810 and 1909.

Passport applications generally included the birth date and birth place of the applicant (with a sworn affidavit from someone who knew them personally), plus a physical description (height, weight, hair color, etc.). Later passports included photos. An entire family might be listed on a single passport. A woman might be listed on her husband’s passport. Missionaries who served abroad often applied for passports.

Fold3 and both have indexed collections of US passports.  FamilySearch has unindexed passport collections from Portugal and Spain. To see a list of passport collections, type "passport" in the [Filter by collection name] box in the upper left corner.

To learn more about using Passport Applications in your family history research, stop by the Family History Center.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

California Digital Newspaper Collection

Los Angeles Herald, Volume 37, Number 270, 28 June 1910 - California Digital Newspaper Collection, Center for Bibliographic Studies and Research, University of California, Riverside, .
If your ancestors lived in California, you may find information about them in the California Digital Newspaper Collection at  Hosted by the University of California, Riverside, the website contains more than 500,000 digitized and text-searchable pages from California newspapers dating from 1846 to 1922.

Official birth and death records for California don't begin until 1905, so newspapers are an important resource for documenting lives before the 20th century. To learn more about the California Digital Newspaper Collection, stop by the Family History Center.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The faith of our fathers

Search Screen - Trinity Lutheran Church, Sangamon County, Illinois
Father's Day may find you humming "Faith of our fathers, holy faith, We will be true to thee till death!"  Knowing the faith of your fathers can be very helpful in understanding their stories, as well as finding their records.  Church records can be a rich source of family information: births, baptisms, confirmations, marriages, transfers to other parishes/locations, deaths and burials.

Journal of the ... Session, Northwest Indiana
Annual Conference, the ...

 By Methodist Church (U.S.). Northwest Indiana Conference, 1909
Some denominations centralize their records, while others may be kept by individual congregations. Older records might be housed in a local public library or private archive. Church records that have been published into books (annual church directories, quarterly conference reports) may be available digitally on Google Books.

Some churches have websites that provide easy access to their records (particularly burial indexes). To find out if there are church records that might be useful to you, read the FamilySearch wiki article for the county where your ancestor lived, search the Family History Library Catalog, call the local public library reference desk, and/or try a Google search for the church (location + denomination +  church records). 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Super simple scanning to the FamilySearch Family Tree!

Click on the FamilySearch logo on the printer to get started!
Have you got a photo or document that helps tell your family story?  Have you got a login and two minutes?

Bring that photo or document (or a stack of them) to the Williamsburg Family History Center, log into your account on the Lexmark printer (yes, THE PRINTER!), place your document face down on the glass and press [Scan]. 

That's it! Your irreplaceable item is scanned directly to your Memories tab on  No cables to connect, scanner software to navigate, thumb drives to fumble, or file types to puzzle over. Just follow the prompts, and whatever you scan lands in your Memories collection on FamilySearch.

When you're finished scanning, log into FamilySearch on a computer (from home or while you're still at the FHC), tag those photos or documents, and attach them to people in the Family Tree.  For step-by-step instructions, see How to Scan Documents to Family Tree.

Preserve and share a precious memory this week. Stop by the Family History Center.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Using Find-A-Record to clean up the FamilySearch Family Tree

If a lot of information about your ancestors has been added to the FamilySearch Family Tree by others or comes from merged records from other systems, you may have difficulty figuring out where you can begin.  Find-A-Record Research Assistant is a free tool that evaluates your FamilySearch Family Tree and provides a list of opportunities:

  • records that have missing information (birth or death facts)
  • records with missing relationships (parents or spouses)
  • information not supported by a record
  • information that is obviously incorrect, duplicate, or non-standard (meaning that the date or name of a place isn't in the correct format).  

Find-A-Record is a great tool whether you're a beginner or an experienced researcher.  To get started, go to and click on [Start]. Simply log in using your user name and password, then click on each Opportunity to see what you can do!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Remembering our ancestors who died in the service of our nation

When Gen. John Logan gave orders for the decoration of soldiers' graves on that first Decoration Day in 1868, he said:
"We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. ... Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic."  

To help ensure we don't forget, take time this Memorial Day to learn more about your ancestors who served in the military. has more than 100 collections of military records. Also try the National Archives' Access to Archival Databases (AAD).

Fold3, and MyHeritage, all h ave military collections, as well.  Many "premium content" web sites offer free access to military records over the Memorial Day weekend.  

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Preparing a family name for the temple

Getting names ready for the temple? Make sure that you have collected enough information to uniquely identify the individual for whom you wish to provide sacred ordinances.  The best way to do that is to complete birth, marriage and death information in the Family Tree, including complete dates and places.  Attach several sources that confirm the accuracy of the information.  Sources can include official vital records, census records, cemetery or obituary transcriptions, military draft cards, ship manifests, etc.

Once you have as complete a record as possible, check for duplicate records. Then create the ordinance request with confidence that you are helping create the "book containing the records of our dead, which shall be worthy of all acceptation." (D&C 128:24)

For help merging duplicates, attaching sources, or creating an ordinance request, stop by the Family History Center!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Honoring Mothers on Mothers Day by Finding Female Ancestors

Do you have a woman in your pedigree who is known only by her first name, or worse yet, as "Mrs. [husband's name]"?  Honor motherhood by getting to know that woman!  Look first to see if you can find record of her marriage, the best way to determine a woman's maiden name. Since you don't know her name, search for her husband's name, plus her first name (if you know it). If you find a record, look to see if she is listed as "Miss" or "Mrs".  You may find her marriage, but discover a prior married name. Keep looking!
Unnamed woman in FamilySearch Family Tree
If you don't know when and where the nameless woman married, start looking for a marriage in the place where the first child was born, a year or two before the birth.  Other records to check include the marriage licenses and death certificates of each of her children, even the children who are not your direct line ancestor. Sometimes you can learn her maiden name by noting the surname of a mother-in-law listed in the same household in a census record.  Be sure to attach each record you find to the FamilySearch Family Tree to create a permanent record of the woman's life.

For help finding your female ancestors, stop by the Family History Center!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Getting Help with FamilySearch - 24x7 support

Do you have questions about the FamilySearch Family Tree?  Confused about merging duplicate records, or deleting incorrect relationships?  Have you forgotten your password? Call FamilySearch Support!  With the help of volunteers and church service missionaries all over the world, FamilySearch offers help 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.  No matter the time of day or night, if you have a question, you can get an answer. "Get Help" screen

When you call, the person who answers first will ask you a few brief questions in order to determine which team can best assist you. Some teams help with FamilySearch Family Tree. Others help new users set up an account or browser questions. Genealogical society volunteers might address research questions.  

Figure out where you're getting stuck and see if FamilySearch Support can help!
Call 866-406-1830

Just remember, 866 + (month and date church was founded) +  (year church was founded)

Sunday, March 30, 2014

MacFamily Tree for OS X

If you are a Mac user and have long wished for a program that would share information with the FamilySearch Family Tree, you are in luck!  MacFamily Tree 7.0 by Synium Software has attained full FamilySearch "Tree Share" status.  MacFamily Tree syncs to iCloud, so you can access your database from multiple OS X computers.  Their MobileFamilyTree app works with iPad and iPhone. To learn more, or to download a free trial version, go to

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Making your email address "public" on Settings detail
One major purpose of the FamilySearch Family Tree is to facilitation collaboration - working with people we may not even know to document the lives of our ancestors.  Anything you add or change in the tree is associated with your contact name so that we all know who made what changes.

Your contact name may (or may not) be recognizable to others, but if you haven't made your email address "public" in your FamilySearch user settings, no one can contact you through FamilySearch.

Take a moment today to ensure your email address is set to "public".  Log in to, then click on your name (upper right corner, just under "Get Help") and then click the down arrow.  Select [Settings] and scroll down to find your email address and other contact information.  Click in the box at the end of each line to mark that item "Public".

While you can opt to show your full name, home address, phone and email address, at a minimum you should make your email address public. For help updating your FamilySearch privacy and contact settings, stop by the Family History Center!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Free access to, findmypast, and MyHeritge

In February, FamilySearch announced major new agreements with, findmypast, and MyHeritage. In addition to accelerating the publication of new indexed collections on, the agreements give free home access to all three of these great sites for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! Log-in access will be rolled out in phases over the coming months, so watch for updates.

The Family History Center will continue to offer all patrons free access to and findmypast from FHC computers. 

For more information about this announcement, see the FamilySearch Blog post for 8 February 2014, "Details on Free Account Access to FamilySearch Partner Websites".

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Sharing is great, but not for FamilySearch accounts!

Did you know that husbands and wives each need their own (FamilySearch) login and password? Teenagers need their own, too! Family Tree relationship connections are tied to individual church membership records. When you log in to the FamilySearch Family Tree using your account, you should see the names of your parents, grandparents, spouse, and children. Dates, places, events, sources, and photos are displayed for deceased individuals recorded in the Family Tree. For privacy reasons, you will not see details for living relatives (except birth dates for your children under 18), and will not see a married child's spouse or children, or your spouse's living parents or grandparents. 

If you don't see your parents' names when you log in to your own account, see the ward clerk for a copy of your church membership record to make sure the information is recorded correctly there.  If you don't see your grandparents and they are also members of the LDS church and still living, have your parents check their own church membership records.  

For help untangling your Tree, stop by the Williamsburg (VA) Family History Center!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Watch RootsTech 2014 Sessions Online

Watch sessions of last week's Global RootsTech Conference online for free! This is the world's largest family history and technology conference. It's for anyone from a beginner to an expert. So whether you are looking for tips and ideas, or a little extra motivation, check it out online at

Hear from internationally known bloggers Ree Drummond (Pioneer Woman) and Stephanie Nielson. See the Legal Genealogist, Judy Russell, assemble and dismantle her family tree in her fantastic lecture about purposely and accurately telling our family stories.  Learn "What's New and What's Next" in the FamilySearch Family Tree from FamilySearch's own Ron Tanner. 

If you're an iPad user, check out Lisa Louise Cook's excellent session, "Become an iPad Power User".  Interested in Going Paperless? Watch "The Beginners Guide to Going Paperless". Or "Do it Yourself Photo Restoration" by the Ancestry Insider (without his mask!).  

There are 19 separate videos, and some of them contain multiple lectures.  World-class family history learning from the comfort of home!  

Sunday, February 2, 2014

FamilySearch Memories - much more than photos

FamilySearch Memories Landing Page
Memories are much more than photos! The Photos feature on is now called Memories. Upload photos and documents, record stories, and create albums about your ancestors. It's simple to do and lets you share your precious memories with all of your family.

So upload a photo, type a quick story, or create an album and save a little memory this week!

(And as always, come visit the Family History Center if you'd like some help or a quick demonstration. We love sharing memories!)

FamilySearch Memories -Documents page

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Italian Civil Registration Records

List of most recently added Italian records on
(Current as of March, 2014)
Find an Indexing Project at
You're in luck if your ancestors were Italian! Under an agreement with the Italian state archives (Direzione Generale per gli Archivi) signed in 2011, FamilySearch has been microfilming and publishing civil registration records from Italy. When the project is complete, all birth, marriage, and death records from 1802 to 1940 will be available online at 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Canadian Records on

Do you have Canadians in your family tree?  Check out the resources for Canada at Collections currently include birth, marriage and death; church, census, cemetery, military, land, court, and ship passenger records, and the list is growing. Records for some parts of Canada date to the early 1700's.

While you can search all of those collections simultaneously by entering basic criteria (first name, last name, birth and/or death information) on the main search screen at, you will get more useful results by searching collections individually.  To see the list of collections for Canada, go to and click on the Search tab.  Scroll down until you see the map of the world, then click on the link for Canada in the list of geographies.  Narrow the list of results to a specific province by clicking on the link (Ontario, for example).  Keep in mind that any Canada-wide collections (like the 1901 Canada census) will not be included in the province-specific list, even though that province was included in that census.

For more information about researching your ancestors from Canada, see the FamilySearch wiki article on Canada, or stop by the Family History Center.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Where to begin?

Has it been a few months (or years?!) since you did anything with your family history?  Wondering where to begin?  Take just five minutes today to log in to to see your Family Tree.  (Your account login and password are also your login and password.)  Once you're logged in and viewing the tree, click one of the small right arrows to display additional generations.  

FamilySearch Record in need of help!
This one needs death dates and places,
marriage date and place.
Each generation should list the full name of both father and mother and should display both birth and death years.  If there are blanks where years should be, or if the word "deceased" is there instead of a year, begin by finding and recording that information.

Depending on where and when your ancestor lived, FamilySearch may have records available to help you fill in those blanks, and document (prove) that information.

Don't wait until you "have time."  Next time you're on the computer to check email, update your facebook status, or browse Pinterest, start by looking at your family tree first!  If you find a blank you can't quickly fill, stop by the Family History Center for help.