Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Register for FGS2015 and get a RootsTech pass for $39!

Guys, guys, GUYS! I'm still at FGS2014, but I received this press release about FGS2015. Registration is open! But it gets better. Register for FGS2015 and get a pass to RootsTech for only $39! Both conferences will be going at the same time. This price for an add-on RootsTech pass is a steal. Take advantage of it! Will I see you there?  -Amy

Connect.Explore.Refresh — A Conference for the Nation’s Genealogists

August 27, 2014 – Austin, TX. The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) opened registration today for their 2015 conference scheduled for February 11–14 in Salt Lake City, Utah. This highly anticipated genealogy event puts the FGS and RootsTech conferences under one roof at the Salt Palace Convention Center (SPCC).

Registration opened with a special early bird price of $139 for a full FGS conference registration. That pricing is available throughSeptember 12, 2014. Attend only FGS or add-on a full RootsTech pass for an additional $39. Register now at

FGS President, D. Joshua Taylor, shared "FGS 2015 will undoubtedly be part of the largest family history event in North America. We are delighted to partner with RootsTech to bring the best of tradition and innovation to the family history community."

Conference Highlights
·       Conference Sessions: The program features lectures for genealogists of all experience levels. Attendees will learn from a variety of tracks including Tried and True Methods, The Most Useful Records Hidden in Plain Sight, Compiling Singular Records into Lively Stories, A Retro Look at Organizing and Planning, and Modern Access to Vintage Resources. See the full program and list of speakers at
·       General Sessions: ThursdayFriday, and Saturday mornings will kick off with a joint general session for all FGS and RootsTech attendees.  
·       Expo Hall: Both conferences will share an expo hall covering more than 120,000 square feet, which will offer at least 240 booth spaces and a Demo Theater featuring special vendor presentations.
·       Research Opportunity: The Family History Library is the reason that Salt Lake City is the dream destination of genealogists everywhere. The library is a located in walking distance of the Salt Palace Convention Center and the four conference hotels.  
·       Focus on Societies: Sessions on Wednesday, February 11, 2015 will give society leaders and volunteers ideas and tools to help societies promote themselves, increase membership, and develop sources of revenue.
·       Librarians’ Day: On Tuesday, February 10, 2015, ProQuest will sponsor a full pre-conference day of sessions designed for librarians, archivists, and other information professionals serving family history researchers.

Visit the FGS conference website at for additional details including links to the conference hotels. Watch for future announcements about general session speakers, special activities and more on the FGS Voice Blog at and through FGS social media channels (links available on the conference website).  

See you in Salt Lake City in February.  

About the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS)

The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) was founded in 1976 and represents the members of hundreds of genealogical societies. FGS links the genealogical community by helping genealogical societies strengthen and grow through resources available online, FGS Forum magazine (filled with articles pertaining to society management and genealogical news), and Society Strategy Series papers, covering topics about effectively operating a genealogical society. FGS also links the genealogical community through its annual conference -- four days of excellent lectures, including one full day devoted to society management topics. To learn more visit

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

FamilySearch Media Dinner Recap for FGS2014

I had the pleasure of attending the FamilySearch media dinner on Tuesday evening. This is an event usually held at major genealogy conferences where they invite bloggers and other media types to learn about the latest news and developments with FamilySearch.

This evening was no exception. The event started with an update from Chief Genealogical Officer David Rencher. He spoke briefly about FamilySearch Family Tree and how they're trying to improve metrics. He gave an example of a person in Family Tree having multiple people linked as parents, and the steps being taken to omit that.

Next up Dan Call spoke about RootsTech 2014. He showed a video and gave the attendance numbers. I wasn't able to write them all down, but paid attendance was 5,250. That didn't include special events like kid's day, LDS training, etc.

Call then turned his attention to RootsTech 2015, being held February 12-14, 2015. He did apologize for it being Valentine's Day, but I can't think of a better present than genealogy. Innovator Summit will be February 11. They must have got some mixed feedback from the last one because the 2015 version will be retooled. Another thing Call mentioned was more intermediate and advanced classes. I don't know what that entails. We'll have to wait and see when the schedule comes out.

Registration for RootsTech opens August 29. The early-bird price is $139, and I believe that price will be held for two weeks.

Remember, RootsTech will be running concurrently with the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference. I've been told that you will be able to register for FGS2015 and add a pass to RootsTech for $39. I do not know if the same is the case if you register for RootsTech and want a pass to FGS. This is all so new and I think everyone is a little confused.

Bryce Roper is the product manager for Family Tree. He talked about available apps. They are FamilySearch Tree and FamilySearch Memories. More information can be found at the FamilySearch Mobile App Landing Page.

Did you know FamilySearch Family Tree has hints now? They're like that other site's shaky leaves, but it is a different symbol. In fact, Family Tree shows record hints, research suggestions and confirms data quality. (I think "data quality" means they point out when you have a mother whose death date is before a child was supposedly born.) My takeaway from this segment was that FamilySearch is trying to clean up trees and increase accuracy and growth.

Robert Kehrer was a brave soul who did a live presentation. He showed the different types of hints on FamilyTree and how to add sources, people. etc. Bloggers asked good questions about privacy regarding living people in the FamilyTree, ability for others to change information and copyright. FamilySearch is pretty confident that there isn't much fighting over family tree information. Seems like there is, but what do I know?

All in all it was a great event and I'm thrilled to be up to date with all that's going on with FamilySearch.

If you want to keep up with the latest FamilySearch news, follow their blog.

Librarians' Day Re-Cap at FGS2014

Today was Librarians' Day at FGS2014, which is before Society Day, which is before the actual FGS conference.

The event was sponsored by ProQuest, which I must add because they gave us lunch among other things.

David Rencher, Chief Genealogist at FamilySearch, gave a presentation on the War of 1812 pension collection. See Preserve the Pensions for the public effort to get funding to digitize and care for this collection. He shared some of the incredible things one can find in a pension file.

Three takeaways you must know about this presentation:

1. The War of 1812 pension collection is available for free at Fold3. Yes, Fold3 is a subscription database, but these items will be free.

2. You say you don't have any ancestors that served? War of 1812 pensions have lots of names and information about others who were related to or knew the pensioner. Take the time to examine the collection. You never know what you'll find.

3. These pension documents are falling apart. We need to help digitize them before it is too late. Donate to Preserve the Pensions today.

Craig Scott of Heritage Books discussed "Building a Core Genealogical Collection for our Library" in the next segment. Libraries often serve many different audiences. This session stressed the importance of having an acquisitions plan to ensure you have the genealogy collection your users want. Communication between departments was stressed, as well as sharing with city government the importance and dollars brought in by genealogy tourism.

Lunch was great. William "Bill" Forsyth gave some minor updates with regard to ProQuest. He said Heritage Quest will be updated. After that he shared a case history from his own family and how he utilized military records for genealogy. It was a very interesting presentation.

The biggest takeaway you need to know from lunch is that Critical Path exists. Forsyth used it to see film of where his grandfather served in World War I.

Frank Faulkner of the San Antonio Public Library Texana and Genealogy Collection was the after-lunch speaker. There are two takeaways you need to know from this session:

1. The word "genealogy" in the collection title often scares people away. Texana means anything having to do with Texas or its history.

2. This collection is HUGE. It covers all 50 states, so do not ignore it.

James Harkins of the Texas General Land Office was the final speaker. He gave a brief history of the GLO, then a brief example of what they have. This is such a neat repository with so much historical information in Texas and even pre-statehood.

Takeaway from this session: check out their website. They have things online.

I ended up winning a prize! It's a very cool historical map.

All in all, I call Librarians' Day a success. Special thanks to Sue Kaufman, Queen Bee at Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research, for planning it all.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Greetings from San Antonio for #FGS2014

Today I drove away from Houston and aimed my car toward San Antonio. My goal and intent was to be there for the Federation of Genealogical Societies 2014 Annual Conference.

I timed my trip so I would arrive in Luling, Texas around lunch time. I went to City Market.

This was the quintessential Texas BBQ joint. You walk through the store to the smoke room where they cook the meat and order there. They give it to you on butcher paper.

I ordered brisket and sausage. There are no forks. The bread is for moppin'. Should you want sides, you will get a fork with those, but they are sold in the store, not the smoke room.

My Diet Coke invited me to share it with a Go-Getter. I did just drive to an unfamiliar town and eat new stuff. Then I was driving to San Antonio to be part of a big conference. It doesn't get and more go-getter than that.

After I arrived in San Antonio, I spent some time resting, then went to the mall. I ran into Linda McCauley, who then led me to Marian Pierre-Louis, Paula Stuart Warren, Caroline Pointer and Polly Kimmitt.

On our way back to dinner, we stopped by The Alamo. It sure is pretty at night.

This was a good day, even though it was a travel day.

Tomorrow is Librarians' Day. I am very excited.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

MyCanvas Finds a New Home in Alexander’s

MyCanvas users will be happy to know that the service that is on's chopping block has found a new home at Alexander's.

Find out more at the blog.

I'm glad was able to ensure the service continued. I haven't used MyCanvas yet,* but I know many people who have. I've heard good things about MyCanvas in the past and hope to use it in the future.

*I'm still in the process of gathering enough ancestral information and photos to fill a book. Plus, my family is small and not in love with genealogy so I'm still figuring out my audience. In time....

Monday, August 18, 2014

Online Registration for FGS 2014 Ends August 19!

“Gone to Texas” – A Conference for the Nation’s Genealogists

August 15, 2014 – Austin, TX.  Online registration for the 2014 Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) Conference, scheduled 27-30 August 2014 in San Antonio, Texas, ends Tuesday, August 19. Register at  This year’s conference theme is “Gone to Texas,” and the local hosts are the San Antonio Genealogical and Historical Society (SAGHS) and the Texas State Genealogical Society (TSGS).
Pre-registering for the conference gives you access to some great benefits. Those who have already registered for the conference still have time to purchase tickets to the conference "extras."

Only attendees who preregister for the conference can:

  • Access the conference syllabus online prior to the conference.
  • Guarantee a spot in the "extra" conference events (on-site tickets may be available to events if they have not sold out):
  • ​Add on ​
    13 luncheons over the 4 conference days.
  • ​Register for ​
      workshops over 3 days.   
    Workshops are filling up quickly but there are still a few spaces remaining.
  • Wednesday Night at the Institute of Texan Cultures on August 27
    , hosted by the the San Antonio Genealogical and Historical Society and the Texas State Genealogical Society.
  • Friday evening's "Night in Old San Antonio" at La Villita is sold out.​

You can also purchase extra tickets (except for workshops) for your non-genealogy spouses or friends who traveled with you to the conference.

Visit to register or add "extras" today. We hope to see you in San Antonio, August 27-30.
Learn More and Stay Connected
Follow FGS on Twitter at and hashtag #FGS2014.
Visit San Antonio at

About the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS)
The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) was founded in 1976 and represents the members of hundreds of genealogical societies. FGS links the genealogical community by helping genealogical societies strengthen and grow through resources available online, FGS FORUM magazine (filled with articles for the family history community), and Society Strategy Series papers, covering topics about effectively operating a genealogical society. FGS also links the genealogical community through its annual conference -- four days of excellent lectures, including one full day devoted to society management topics. To learn more visit

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Do's and Don'ts for FGS 2014

It's almost time for the 2014 Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference! This time it's in my neck of the woods, and I'm excited to have all these genealogy folks come to Texas. If this is your first trip to San Antonio, here are some tips to make your trip memorable:

DO try new things. Attend a class in something about which you know nothing, play with the databases in the vendor hall, make friends in the chairs around you while we're all waiting for sessions to start.

DON'T bring your horse or cowboy hat. Downtown San Antonio is a very busy place. Take all your visions of ranches and prairies out of your head and replace them with buses and tall buildings. Leave your boots at home too, unless they're super comfortable and worthy of long walks through the convention center.

DO take advantage of local food and drink. When it comes to after-hours conference entertainment, San Antonio is one of the better FGS settings in recent memory. There are so many choices! Here is a list of nearby restaurants and bars.

DON'T spend all your time in the convention center. I realize genealogy is the reason we're all coming to San Antonio, but take some time to explore the city surrounding the conference. Check out these downtown San Antonio maps for ideas.

DO realize The Alamo is only a short walk from the convention center.This conference offers you a great chance to see it (and realize how small it is). There's even an early-morning Fun Walk supporting the Preserve the Pensions cause. Why not sign up?

DON'T ask where the basement is at The Alamo:

DO come find me at the conference. I love making new genealogy friends!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Long time, no blog

I'm here! I promise.

The good news is that I've been so busy that blogging took a back seat. I went on vacation:

Isn't that pretty? What you don't know is 1. I'm moving there once the nest is empty and 2. I took this photo while my car was stuck in the sand. Prince Charming with silver teeth driving an Escalade helped set me free.

Recently, I've been hired on several genealogy projects large and small. I just finished some research that I think is going to be used for a book. I didn't ask. I was given a specific task so I delivered without questions. It was a fun project.

My most recent project has me attempting to connect a one adult to another, a child to a parent. It's quite complicated as key records are missing and people sort of vanish. This is right up my alley, as I'm becoming an expert in dealing with my own difficult ancestors.

I've also started working more on my family tree. It's pretty boring but necessary stuff. Lots of adding census records and city directories to my RootsMagic database. I need to get all these online discoveries in the database so I can start getting back into the deep research. I want to go on some road trips! But before I do that I need my facts in a row. I started alphabetically with the first person in my database, and now I'm up to Ezekiel Cloyd.

Another reason I've been gone is that I'm deep cleaning the house. I call it Hurricane Amy. I need to get rid of stuff, donate stuff, and fix stuff. I was not kidding about moving to that beach in the photo, people. I have 2 years to get this house lookin' purdy.

Blogging should get more frequent as I make a priority to get it in my schedule.

FGS 2014 in San Antonio is coming up in August, so you'll get some conference posts from me there. Who is going? Will I see you there?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

See you in San Antonio!

Good news! I get to go to the Federation of Genealogical Societies 2014 conference in San Antonio!

Even though I only live 3 hours away, it wasn't a done deal. I have a husband who works out of state and a child without a driver's license. Someone had to play taxi that week. My husband will be working from home so I can make this trip.

I signed up for Librarians' Day and I'm really looking forward to it. I really want to stay current on collection development, especially for genealogy resources. 

I did not sign up for any ticketed lunches. I realize that's the figurative bread and butter for many genealogy groups, but I think I'll use lunch time to explore the city. I also didn't sign up for the big ticketed events. I know, I'm sorry. It's just that I'm not a big fan of....people. There, now you know.

There are many conference sessions that look so good to me:

"Have You Really Done the Dawes?" by Linda Woodward Geiger
Well, I thought so....but maybe not? My Chickasaw ancestors are all up in those records, but maybe I don't know what I don't know.

"Davy Crockett: Following the Trail From Limestone to Texas" by J. Mark Lowe
This session discusses Southern families who migrated to the Republic of Texas. I have those. I love hearing Mark speak. Win/win.

"Finding Your Ancestors in the Republic of Texas" by Teri E. Flack
I have a few documents for my Bourlands in the Republic of Texas. I want more. Hopefully this session shows me how to get more.

Ugh, there are so many good sessions. Some at the same time of others. This will be a difficult choice.

Since I am attending Librarians' Day, I'll arrive in San Antonio Monday afternoon. Anyone else getting there that early?

San Antonio is a wonderful setting for a conference. Walking distance to the Alamo (it's small!), Riverwalk and numerous restaurants. The convention center is nice, too. You'll like it.

Will I see you there?

Researching Public Records Class, July 24 in Missouri City, Texas


Whether researching property for purchase or tracing family histories, one can find many public records online that are available to the public, free of charge. Fort Bend County Libraries' Sienna Branch Library will present the program, "Public Records at Your Fingertips," on July 24, beginning at 10:00 a.m., in the Computer Lab of the library, located at 8411 Sienna Springs Blvd in Missouri City.

Learn how to search online for public records such as property records, court records, property-tax records, and much more, with minimal effort.

The program is free and open to the public. Seating is limited, however, and reservations are required. To register online at the library's website (, click on "Calendar," select "Sienna Branch," and find the program. Participants may also register by calling the library at 281-238-2952, or by visiting the library.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

July 2014 Genealogy Classes in Fort Bend County, Texas


Have you ever wondered where your ancestors came from? Are you curious about their military service or medical history? Begin your family-history research at Fort Bend County Libraries' Local History and Genealogy Department at George Memorial Library, 1001 Golfview in Richmond. Library staff will present two programs in July to help the family-history researcher begin their genealogy search.

On Tuesday, July 22, learn how to use U.S. Census Records for family-history research. Library staff will demonstrate how to trace family history by using census records from 1790 to 1940, which may contain such information as family members' names, birthplace of parents, professions, military service, and other details that were significant during different periods. Learn how and where to search for these records using databases and microfilm. Special census records such as the 1890 Veteran Census, Slave, Mortality, and Indian schedules will also be discussed. This class will begin at 10:00 a.m., in the Computer Lab.

Researching African-American family histories may present special challenges for the genealogical researcher. An introductory program, "African-American Genealogy 101," will take place on Saturday, July 26, beginning at 10:00 a.m., in the Computer Lab. Those attending will receive a basic introduction to many of the resources that are available to the beginning family-history researcher, with special focus on tools to help individuals who are researching African-American family histories. Learn about online resources, such as the and Heritage Quest USA databases, items that are available on microfilm, and print resources.

The programs are free and open to the public. Seating is limited, however, and reservations are required. To register online at the library's website (, click on "Calendar," select "George Memorial," and find the program. Participants may also register by calling the library's Local History and Genealogy Department at 281-341-2608, or by visiting the department at the library.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


Today would have been my paternal grandfather's 100th birthday.

He was born in Oklahoma City on June 18, 1914.

Jack was an only child. He grew up in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, where his father was a lawyer for an oil company. His father must have traveled a lot for his job, because I have several photos of my grandpa as a child posing in front of courthouses.

Jack and his mother in front of a courthouse.

Jack and his father in front of a courthouse.

Jack, his mother (r), aunt (l) and grandmother (top) at a courthouse.

By the photos in my possession, it appears my grandpa had a good childhood.

He played sports...
Shorty on the right. YMCA Tumbling 1924
...and went to camp.
Bottom right

This is a photo of my grandpa in 1932. He went from Oklahoma to Los Angeles with his mom to visit his aunt and grandmother. The Olympics were going on in Los Angeles then and my grandpa told me how he found his way into the Coliseum to watch them. This photo came from that summer.

Los Angeles, 1932

As the Depression set in, Jack's parents' took a financial hit. I don't know if that played a factor in the early deaths of both of his parents. Jack lost his mother when he was 21 and lost his father when he was 23. Since he was an only child, he was pretty much alone. He had a grandmother and aunt in California, and another aunt elsewhere.

Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State) in Stillwater

My grandparents got married in Duncan, Oklahoma in 1937. My grandma's family was also affected by the Depression. I think this may have been the motivation for them to move to Los Angeles, which they did shortly after marriage.

Jack and family built a house on 117th street in Los Angeles. The neighborhood is a little rough now, but back then it was filled with new families.

My grandpa owned and operated South Vermont Feed and Seed in the area surrounding the University of Southern California. At some point he left the store in preparation for World War II, but he was never drafted.

Now a man without a feed store, he moved the family to Pomona where he spent time as a chicken rancher and a realtor.

People who know my grandpa remember him at the proprietor of the Western Home & Auto in Rubidoux, California. He worked there until he retired and handed the store over to his sons. Some of my earliest memories are of that store. 

My grandpa died May 28, 2001 while eating a bowl of blackberries he'd just picked out of his garden. After the initial shock, I decided that's the best way to go. We should all die that quickly, eating something we love. 

Jack never talked about his parents. There is suspicion that his mother committed suicide (she died on Christmas Eve). His dad remarried 3 months later. I started researching them after he died. I wonder if he would have approved of my research abilities and uncovering some of the mystery of his parents. I doubt it, but I have no regrets.

So happy birthday, grandpa. I hope there are plenty of fresh blackberries where you are.

My dad, my son and my grandpa. Mother's Day 2001.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Hotel Reservations Now Open for FGS2015 and RootsTech

Below is a press release regarding the availability of hotel rooms for FGS 2015 and RootsTech 2015.

In case you haven't heard, both of these conferences are being held concurrently in Salt Lake City in February 2015.

I have no idea how this 2-conference thing is going to go. Do we need to register for both conferences? Will they be in different parts of the convention center? So many questions...

If you're planning on attending FGS2015 and/or RootsTech, you probably shouldn't wait for answers before reserving your hotel room. These will be well-attended conferences and the hotel rooms will be reserved quickly.

Are you planning to attend? Will I see you there? I can't answer questions about either conference, but I may be able to answer questions about the hotels. All are within walking distance to the convention center and Family History Library.

Anyway, here's the press release:

HOTEL RESERVATIONS OPEN FOR 2015 FGS and RootsTech Conferences
Book Your Room Today

Four Salt Lake City hotels are now taking reservations for the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) and RootsTech conferences, which will be held February 11–14, 2015 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City.
The Radisson Hotel Salt Lake City Downtown, Salt Lake Marriott Downtown at City Creek, Salt Lake Plaza Hotel, and Hilton Salt Lake City Center will offer reduced rates to attendees of both conferences. Each hotel is conveniently located near the Salt Palace Convention Center.Conference rates will be honored for reservation dates February 7 – 19, 2015. Reservations must be made by January 13, 2015 to receive the conference rates.
Rooms will be in high demand. Reserve yours now through the FGS conference website at

Registration for both conferences will open in late August 2014. For additional information about the FGS conference visit

About the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS)
The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) was founded in 1976 and represents the members of hundreds of genealogical societies. FGS links the genealogical community by helping genealogical societies strengthen and grow through resources available online, FGS Forummagazine (filled with articles pertaining to society management and genealogical news), and Society Strategy Series papers, covering topics about effectively operating a genealogical society. FGS also links the genealogical community through its annual conference -- four days of excellent lectures, including one full day devoted to society management topics. To learn more visit

Monday, June 2, 2014

RootsTech 2015 Content Committee Now Accepting Presentation Proposals

The RootsTech Content Committee is calling for dynamic presentations for RootsTech 2015 that inform and educate both those seeking to begin and those continuing to discover their family story through technology.  

The presentation portal on will be open from June 2 to June 27, 2014.

Presentations will be accepted for both RootsTech and Innovator Summit.  

  • RootsTech is a three day family history conference offering over two hundred classes for beginners, avid hobbyists and experienced researchers.
  • Innovator Summit starts with a pre-RootsTech event onWednesday, February 11, and is a unique opportunity for software developers, entrepreneurs and technology business leaders to explore and influence technology solutions in the family history industry.  Classes will continue throughout the RootsTech conference.
In 2015, RootsTech and The Federation of Genealogical Societies are teaming up to offer two great conferences in one venue. Speakers interested in presenting at FGS can visit their website for more information about the FGS National Conference and their call for presentations. 
Youth Header

Presentations submissions are requested for all family history and technology skill levels in the following categories:

  • Finding and Organizing: search tactics, resources, specialized tools, methodologies, solutions, metadata, apps and software 
  • Preserving Your Work And Legacy: family trees, digital migration, audio and video solutions 
  • Sharing: social media, tools for collaboration, wikis, crowd sourcing, community building, blogs
  • Stories and Photos: storytelling and interviewing, capturing stories, preserving stories, enhancing stories with photos, photo restoration, movies and presentations, photo editing, oral histories
  • Tools: technology introductions, gadgets, genetic research, DNA, breaking down barriers, 
  • General:  family history topics in general including geographic research, time-period research, inspirations, market trends, research trends, adjacent industries, record types. (Please note, there is still an expectation in this category that technology is a part of the presented topic.)
  • Family Traditions And Lifestyle: cultural arts, handicrafts, food, influential historical events, everyday living standards, social customs, pastimes, artifacts. (Please note there is still an expectation in this category that this knowledge assists the learner in family history and that technology is a part of the presented topic.) 
RootsTech Innovator Summit
  • Developer: standards and API's, mobile app development, social applications, record imaging and visualizations, apps for youth, software and tools that enable the work of family history.
  • Business: funding and investment, startups- success stories and tips, opportunities and market trends, networking and partnerships, insights and entertainment 
For more information, download the complete Call for Presentations document. It includes presentation and evaluation criteria, the submission timeline, and process details.

Questions regarding the RootsTech 2015 call for presentations can be emailed to the Content Committee at

Do you know someone who would be a great presenter for RootsTech 2015? Please share this message with them. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

50 Ways to Index Your Ancestors or Why You Can't Find Them in the Census

The simplest surnames are sometimes the hardest to find.

I learned this as I was working on my MENOU collateral lines. My great-great grandmother was Emelie Menou. Her brother was Jules Menou. They, their siblings and parents came to Louisiana from France in the 1880s. They lived in what is now Iota in Acadia Parish.

Today I did some research on Jules Menou and his family. It wasn't hard stuff. I just wanted to get their census enumerations into my RootsMagic database.

I did a quick and dirty census search for Jules Menou at and no results were returned. I did the same search by limiting the record pool to just those in Iota, Acadia, Louisiana. Zero hits.

Well I knew they were in Iota, so it was time for a page-by-page search of the 1920 census. Luckily for me, there are only 16 images in the set for Iota.

I found the Jules Menou family on image 5, but they were indexed as MERSON.

Does that look like MERSON to you? I can see MENON. That's a common transcription error, but Merson? Look at the small "r" in Marcelle. Look at the closed "s" in Rosa. These are different than what the indexer thought he/she saw in the surname. I don't know, these are the things I notice when I'm indexing.

Anyway, I decided to do a page-by-page search of the 1900-1940 censuses for the Jules Menou family. I found them in Iota in each census, their name incorrectly indexed in every single one.

1900 - Manow
1910 - Manne
1920 - Merson
1930 - Menon
1940 - Menoce

Then I got curious. How was the Jules Menou crew indexed at FamilySearch?

1900 - Menow
1910 - Manne
1920 - Menon
1930 - Menon
1940 - Mansee

Now to be fair, MENON is a common misspelling for MENOU, so it's one I always search. A cursive "u" often looks like a cursive "n." The same can be said for mixing up "u" and "w" in MENOW. Some of the others though, I just don't see it.

This isn't a complaint about indexing. It's more of a pause for thought if you can't find someone in a census.

Search page-by-page if you can. Lucky for me, the Iota section was tiny so it was an easy task on Some census districts make this difficult. I feel your pain as I've done this task in Los Angeles.

Search for the family using the most unusual name in the group. At FamilySearch, it's not easy to browse page-by-page like I did at Ancestry. Instead, I searched for everyone named Jules in Iota, Acadia, Louisiana who was also born in France. My man Jules was always in the first few names.

Look at the neighbors. If you find a family in one census but not another and you're sure they're there, search for the neighbors' names and see if you can find them that way.

Thanks for listening. I just wanted to point out the large differences in indexing the same name. If you can't find someone in a census, maybe they're just hiding in plain sight.