Saturday, June 25, 2016

FamilySearch Down for Technical Upgrade on Monday, June 27th 2016

Across the top of the website you may have noticed a banner this week that states: "The FamilySearch website will be undergoing a technical update Monday, June 27th starting at 12:00 am MDT (6:00 am UTC) and may be down for up to 24 hours as we test the system."

Here are some details about what is happening.

  • 12:30 am MDT the outage will officially begin. FamilySearch will migrate data and conduct performance tests.
  • 5:30 am MDT the outage should be over. Users should see FamilySearch back online.
  • If the update is not successful another attempt will occur on July 11th, 2016. In this event users will see FamilySearch back online at the 5:30 mark but the new tree foundation will not be in place.

How will you know if the upgrade happened?
The best way to tell is by looking at the Person's Detail tab. If the box on the right marked "Latest Changes", shows the last three changes for the individual, instead of just a link "Show All Changes", then you know the upgrade took place. This is what the box currently looks like.

Some users will remember the "Latest Changes" boxes used to show a list of the past three changes. This was removed a couple months ago to save resources. With the new tree foundation in place it will be supported again. It's also a great visual indicator to the lay person if the upgrade happened.

So why the 24 hours window for the upgrade?
That's because things happen. FamilySearch will be failing forward. If the change over happens and it goes live at the 5:30 mark there is no going back. They will test and resolve any new issues throughout the day. If you get online and see issues you need to report them to FamilySearch Support. This really shouldn't be a time frame you try to have FamilySearch work on any other issues with people or records. This is performance issues they are looking at. Things that used to work and don't now.

How ready is FamilySearch for this upgrade?
They have rehearsed the change over from the Oracle database foundation to the new Cassandra tree foundation nine times on the website. Everything looks great and its a go. The only thing that can happen is the unknown.

What should I do if I'm using a Third-Party product like RootsMagic and I have issues?
The Third-Parties will be monitoring the FT API for issues throughout the day on Monday and reporting them to FamilySearch. It is best to let the dust settle before inundating their support staff with issues. The best thing to do is NOT expect to use any Third-Party product's FamilySearch features on Monday. If you see issues give it a couple of days to "shake out" before reporting it.

This is a major upgrade to the FamilySearch back end. Not only are they moving from an Oracle database to Cassandra, they are also moving to the Amazon servers. The connection to the (old) "new FamilySearch" website and its servers will be severed. This move will allow scalability. So instead of cruising on the highway at 55 MPH with occasional traffic jams, it will increase to 65 MPH with more lanes opening up as traffic increases. It's not going to be much faster, but the performance will be consistent. The bottle-neck on Sundays should be a thing of the past.

Moving to the new "Tree Foundation" is just that a foundation. Once that is in place the ability to build greater things into Family Tree become possible. Older issues can now be resolved, like merging IOUS (Individuals of Unusual Size).

Here are some of the new system limits for an individual after the upgrade.
Note length 10,752 characters
Person notes: 50, characters 215,040
Relationship notes 12, characters 129,024
All person and relationship notes characters: 386,320
Conclusions: 200
Person source: 200
Relationship source: 50
Memories: 1000
Person not a match: 400
Discussions: 20
Couple relationships: 200
Sets of parents: 50
Number of children: 400

If you have some people already in Family Tree that exceed these limits the excess items will remain. You will not be able to add more memories or notes, etc. until you are below the threshold for that item.

When merging IOUS, which many will start to do after this upgrade, these system limits may prevent them from happening. Clearing notes or merging duplicate spouses or children so you are below the combined record threshold will allow the merge to take place.

I'm excited for the upgrade to happen. The whole process is fascinating to me. The benefits of what this new "Tree Foundation" will bring us is totally worth a 24 hour down time period. My prayers will be with the FamilySearch team that all will go well, that their minds will be quick and alert in those wee hours of the morning, able to resolve any sticky issues that may rear its head.

See ya tomorrow, for tomorrow is always another genealogy day!

Friday, June 24, 2016

RootsTech Presentation Proposal Deadline Approaching

The following is from RootsTech.

The deadline for submitting RootsTech and Innovator Summit 2017 presentation proposals is Thursday, June 30th - days away!

Now Accepting Presentation Proposals

The RootsTech planning committee is calling for dynamic presentations for the RootsTech and Innovator Summit 2017 events that will be held February 8–11, 2017, at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.
If you have a desire to define, shape, and influence the family history industry with an innovative and interesting presentation idea, click on the link below to learn more and to submit proposals.
The submission portal will be open through June 30, 2016.

Do you know a great presenter?
Do you know someone who would be a great presenter for RootsTech or Innovator Summit 2016? If so, we invite you to share this email with him or her.

About RootsTech and Innovator Summit
RootsTech is a global family history event where people of all ages learn to discover, preserve, and share their family connections through technology. RootsTech offers something for everyone, regardless of experience or skill level—from expert genealogy researchers to beginners just starting their family trees.
Innovator Summit is a one-day conference event for developers, entrepreneurs, and business leaders offering the latest content and resources to inspire innovation, impact current and future technologies, and create business opportunities within family history and adjacent industries.

Contact Information
If you have questions regarding the submission process or speaking at RootsTech 2017, please contact us at

Internet Archive: Browsing the Archive

The following is from the Internet Archive.



Among the three million books we’ve scanned, some pretty amazing things have fallen out from between the pages--bits of history, long forgotten by the iconic figures who left them there. Jeff Sharpe, Coordinator for our Midwest Regional Digitization Center, recounts the treasures his team has found--and left in digital form--between the pages, including this survey report from 1797 penned by Daniel Boone. You can read the notes by Abe Lincoln, Aaron Burr and more here. And take a behind-the-scenes tour of the Digitization Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana below. 


Historic Freedmen's Bureau Project Completed

The following is from the Mormon Newsroom.

Historic Freedmen's Bureau Project Completed

Nearly 2 million Civil War-era records indexed

Mormon Newsroom

"Now that the names are indexed, we will focus our efforts on teaching African Americans how to search the new digital records to discover and reunite with their families,” said Thom Reed, marketing manager of FamilySearch, the largest genealogy organization in the world, which is sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. FamilySearch has announced completion of the Freedmen’s Bureau Project, indexing the names of millions of African Americans collected directly following emancipation.
The unprecedented indexing effort will allow African Americans to digitally search for their ancestors who were previously lost to history. The project was completed almost a year to the day after it was announced in a nationwide news conference at the California African American Museum on the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth, the celebration of Emancipation Day.
Over the past year, about 19,000 volunteers participated in the project across the U.S. and Canada to extract nearly 1.8 million names of former slaves and immigrants from Civil War-era records.
Key to the project’s success were the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society’s(AAHGS) nationwide chapters, the Smithsonian and local Mormon congregations who partnered in over 100 indexing events to bring the project to a successful conclusion.
FamilySearch also partnered with HISTORY® in May to give the project a final push through a social media campaign to coincide with the premiere of the television series “Roots.”
“In addition to our valuable partners, the project was embraced by dedicated genealogists, religious groups, universities and even was the focus of Eagle Scout projects,” added Reed. “We all sensed an urgency to bring this important chapter in history to life and shine a light on this courageous generation of African Americans.”
William Durant from the AAHGS Metro Atlanta Chapter said, "Indexing Freedmen's Bureau records puts you 'up close and personal' with ancestors and their struggles to begin life anew after slavery. It helps prepare you for your own research and saves time because you become familiar with the records, their format and wording, and [you] already know where to look for names."

The project’s completion coincides with the September 2016 opening of the SmithsonianNational Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington, D.C. A symbolic handover of the records will take place later this year. At that time, all of the records will also be available to the public to search online at no cost.
“The genealogical community is fully embracing these records,” said Hollis Gentry, genealogy specialist at NMAAHC. “You’ll find African American genealogists are quite excited about the Freedmen’s Bureau Project. It offers a tremendous potential for them to find their ancestors in this large group of federal records that may bridge the gap between freedom and slavery in the records.”
“The Freedmen's Bureau Project will change the very fabric of genealogy for African Americans," said Sherri Camp, president of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society. 
The Freedmen’s Bureau, organized under an 1865 Congressional order at the conclusion of the Civil War, offered assistance to freed slaves. Handwritten records of these transactions include records such as marriage registers, hospital or patient registers, educational efforts, census lists, labor contracts and indenture or apprenticeship papers and others. The records were compiled in 15 states and the District of Columbia.
Although the project is completed, it will be few more months before all of the records will be available to the public because they still need to go through an arbitration process.
“To ensure the accuracy of the indexed information, two volunteers index each document. Any differences between the entries of these two volunteers is reviewed by a third, experienced volunteer called an arbitrator,” explained Michael Judson of FamilySearch. “The arbitrator chooses the correct indexed data or adds their own information when neither appears to be correct.”
Project organizers report that even more records have been discovered as a result of the original indexing project. The additional records will be available for indexing Once completed, they too will be added to the collection at the Smithsonian and will be available online.
“One of our key beliefs is that our families can be linked forever and that knowing the sacrifices, the joys and the paths our ancestors trod helps us to know who we are and what we can accomplish,” said Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who spoke a year ago at a news conference in Los Angeles to launch the Freedmen’s Bureau Project.