24 September 2014


By Ancestry Worship Genealogy
Have a seat in a comfortable chair to read this one!

Since I've heard about this "war" between the Latter Day Saints, who have the currently free genealogy research database called FamilySearch.org, and the popular Ancestry.com databases, which are generally paid subscriptions, but offered free at many libraries that pay the fees involved, including Family History Centers owned by the Latter Day Saints Church, and genealogy societies and clubs, and including a couple of the city public libraries I use, I thought I'd make some commentary.

According to one LDS missionary I spoke to, Bishops throughout the country have been and are organizing church members to read and input data into the FamilySearch databases, and that this effort has the air of both competition between Stakes and cooperation.  Some of the individual volunteers have personally imputed a hundred thousand names from census records, for example. The LDS Church members historically have pulled together and been as busy as bees and this is the latest project they are working on, you could say collectively and as a Church. 

To understand the LDS's great on-going and eternal interest in genealogy information, you must understand their religion, something I won't get into here at length.  The need to know the identity of ancestors is tied in with Temple Ordinances as well as the emphasis on family life.  As I understand it members must submit to the church their family tree back to the great-grandparents but many go far beyond that.  Since the Church sends missionaries out all over the earth and have many converts, while older historical members of the church are up to date, new converts have genealogy research and Temple Ordinances ahead of them.

Considering the vast amount of documents currently on microfilm and books, and the vast amount of documents that are yet to be microfilmed or published or even found, it's difficult for me to believe that in my lifetime such a project will ever be complete.  Also, I have to emphasize that I periodically try to duplicate some of my personal research on these and other databases, and have yet to be able to do it, even when trying popular misspellings to pull up information.  My  personal research, going back over a decade, was and would still be dependent on the use of microfilms provided by LDS for rent.  I simply love to get to as original a resource I can and I hope and pray that LDS does not stop renting the films after they are turned into text databases when the text databases do not suffice.

Ancestry.com has been, no doubt, a business, and a profitable one. They are a com - commercial. FamilySearch.org is an organization.  Currently it aims to provide the same, more, and better information, including better organized information, than Ancestry.com.

Meanwhile Ancestry.com has always had competitors in the genealogy information business.  There have been many upstarts.  All of these databases that you pay to use also pay employees. I don't know how well.  So is the focus by the LDS Church only to compete with Ancestry.com or all of the paid databases?  (Or is the aim to put the professional genealogists out of business with all the hobbyists doing the work themselves?  I can say that many hobbyists need coaching.)

I find this difficult to say, know, or find out. 

One question would be, has the LDS Church found genealogy information profitable or do they want it to be?

While the cost of renting film has generally been low, if you need to use the same film for several weeks or continually, or you find yourself ordering many films over time, it can get pricy.   But probably not as pricey as hiring a professional or traveling the old fashioned way to archives and so on all over the country or world.  (That said, genealogy as a hobby is not for everyone.  It requires certain character as well as skills and talents.  There are very good reason to hire someone who charges for research, interviewing, and creating a book for a client.)

I can't say the rental of films has always been or is not for profit.  Family History Centers have many resources that are entirely free to use while there, including some microfilms, many books and maps, but lately a few databases including Ancestry, Fold3, and others.  I researched for years without ever walking into a Family History Center, went through a period where I was at one weekly, and currently find less need to go to one than before unless I am ordering in and using microfilms.


According to some missionaries I spoke with, originally there was an agreement that all such genealogy information would be SHARED and FREE.  Thus, some feel that Ancestry.com is becoming a monopoly for profit, gobbling up everything it can, and that the LDS church does not feel they have been sharing with the Church - playing fair.

Now, I use Ancestry.com and many other resources, including FamilySearch.org. I've reached out for help to volunteers at the LDS Church locally and at Salt Lake and I've also donated some books they didn't have at the time to the library and Church as a way of giving back. 

I hear complaints that the Family History Centers missionaries are so preoccupied with entering information into databases that the research assistance one used to count on is no longer available.

Sometimes I switch between the two databases, back and forth, in a quest for information and I research often enough that I sometimes notice that FamilySearch has something up that Ancestry.com does not and visa versa.  But Ancestry seems to have something new frequently.

At the same time, I have been frustrated with both sites because I think they have both gotten to the point where the amount of information they are hosting has become unwieldy, if not disorganized.  I've heard a lot of grumbling about how many more clicks it takes to get to so called "Advanced Search" on Ancestry.com than it used to be. 


 * On FamilySearch.org I've found that some online collections with what I'll call Grand Titles need to be retitled and referenced on their start pages rather than clicking around to find that information because THE TITLE IS INCORRECT FOR WHAT THE COLLECTION ACTUALLY CONTAINS.  You really have to hunt to find out that there are huge gaps in the information and what those gaps are.  Rather than a Grand Title, instead I think the online information needs to be akin to the original microfilm in title and in organization.  If I failed to find out what was really in a collection by clicking, calling local or Salt Lake volunteers did not provide me the answers.  They were as confused as I was and simply wanted to follow my moves on a computer long distance as if that would take them somewhere different than where I went.

* I've noticed, being a member of JewishGen.org for research purposes, that JewishGen.org information that was compiled by volunteers, is now appearing on Ancestry.com, but meanwhile the begging for money by JewishGen.org has become so unending and guilt tripping I would say the word "pathetic" is spot on.  I'm annoyed by the constant e-mails and the assumption that I'm Jewish and celebrate all those Jewish holidays just because I'm a member.  Did JewishGen.org just fork over the information to Ancestry.com at no charge or sell information that was also supposed to be done by volunteers for free use? (Donations were to be used only for the purposes of keeping the web site and databases up on the Internet, as I remember it, the original idea.)  

If JewishGen.org or any other database that is the work of volunteers and for free use did sell out like that, then they deserve, in my opinion, to be vamoosh!  (Your word to your volunteers should count.)

* SEEMS TO ME NO "ORG" should be providing a "COM" with free information.

* I do not know if LDS plans to start charging to use their databases as they have their micro-films and the issue is FREE INFORMATION FOR EVERYONE AS PROVIDED FREE VIA VOLUNTEERS OF THE LDS CHRCH, if the "war" is economic.   Obviously if the Church succeeded in dominating the genealogy information business and providing it free to everyone, that would put Ancestry.com and all other paid subscriptions out of business.

* Genealogy associates tell me that Ancestry.com is owned by Latter Day Saints and that they tithe the Church with their income.

* National Archives of the United States information is appearing in collaboration with both sites.  I have no idea if this sharing was free or there is a financial transaction going on.

* We as researches must not forget that we can still go to original sources such as County, State, and City, as well as National Archives for information.  That stamps and envelopes still work so long as the U.S. Mail Service is in operation, though some of these allow you to order on line and use PayPal type electronic money transfers.

C 2014 Ancestry Worship Genealogy BlogSpot.com  AKA Ancestry Worship Genealogy
 All Rights Reserved Including International and Internet Rights.  Please contact me for permissions prior to use.

10 September 2014


Soon Thanksgiving will be here, and then the Holidays.  Of course, your best time to interview relatives may be when you go on a visit to them and life isn't overly busy.  Still, I find that visiting people during the holidays is a good time to talk about Old Days.

Some people respond to formal interviews better than others.


1) Contact the person and tell them that you want to interview them about the family history or focus on a specific aspect of family history.  Although this can be on the phone, in person is best.  Other people in this person's life need to give you both time and space and not interrupt.

2) Set up a time to focus on just that in advance that's good for both people, and be there.

3) Be prepared with a list of questions (at least to get you started) and a recording device.
(Whatever works for you.  Some people are still using cassette machines.  Some people are settling up more than one machine at a time "just in case" one of them fails."  Recording is sometimes a more natural process as taking notes can also be distracting or stop the process.  You want to make eye contact, be comfortable, and listen too!)

The recording device sometimes intimidates people.  It may make the interview feel too important or heavy. You should tell them you intend to use one before hand, but it may help to put it out of the sight line.  Test your recorder to be sure it will pick up a voice from a few feet away.  Preserving the voice of a relative as they tell their story or give information can be very valuable, if you can keep doing technology updates with original recordings.  Our voices tell so much about us!

4) Set up water or tea or other beverages before you begin.  Avoid breaking the interview with eating food or other activities.  Get into the flow.

5) If, however, it's going to be a long interview or a series of interviews, try to do the interview first before taking a meal or long break or wait until after the meal.  You and your interviewee will probably respond best to knowing how it's going to go.


1) Show up and seize the moment.  (It's good to have that recording equipment close.)

2) Let the other person pick the topic or gently guide them to what you want to know.

3) Lends itself more than a formal interview to including more than one person.

04 September 2014


Recently I found myself dealing with home flooding.  It has set me back a couple weeks so far.

Luckily, I was home when this occurred and was able to take emergency action.  If it had happened when I was gone, it could have been much more of a disaster than it is and believe me when I say that it could be weeks before I'm back to sleeping in my bedroom and in my bed.  I've lost at least a week staying home for various repair and work people, few who showed up on time or cleaned up after themselves, and am frustrated and upset.

I had recently been sorting through research and was moving some of it into new binders and documents into folders as that research had expanded.  What had been a binder dedicated to one family is now several binders as I follow the children of that family.

I would work on it and then leave it on a desk or near my bed for the next opportunity to devote time to this.

In the flooding, I had at least three paper file boxes that were effected as well as bookcases that are warped.  Although I may not know the full extent of damage until I'm at the point of actually putting everything back in place, it appears that I managed to save just about everything without it becoming so damp or wet that it would grow mold or need to be thrown out.

I know that some of you are thinking that long ago I should have uploaded all family photos and all my research to some electronic/Internet holding area incase such a disaster happened. 

Actually, I have started doing that more than once, only to find myself unhappy with the whole process which is expensive, time consuming, and sadly requires upgrading for it to be consistently useful. It feels good sometimes to be so organized that you can imput pictures, names and dates and attach documents, until you try to access it months later and run into problems.

In other words, it is not time to give up on having paper copies of everything anyway, and you can still loose your memory devices, your hard-drive, give up a membership; even if you do have a "complete" book you should be printing copies and give them to those who they are written for so that there is always a copy somewhere.

Perhaps the worst thing about using the Internet these days via accounts that use e-mail or other password log ins, like this one, IS THAT YOUR PRIVACY IS JUST NOT SECURE.  All the hacking scandals of recent years have proven that to us, and as someone who has been hacked multiple times and has lost personal and private information to hackers, I'm not ready to give up on paper.  To rob me of information on paper you have to physically break into my home, knowing where I live.