FamilySearch: Microfilm order deadline extended

NOTE FROM DearMYRTLE: The following was received from our friends at and include the digitization priority request info Director of Patron Services Diane Loosle promised when she visited with us during the first hour of our Mondays with Myrt (hangout) 14 Aug 2017

UPDATE: FamilySearch Digital Records Access Replacing Microfilm

FamilySSearch digitization

IMAGE: Courtesy of

Thursday, September 7, 2017, marks the closing of an 80-year era of historic records access to usher in a new, digital model. FamilySearch is discontinuing its microfilm circulation services in concert with its commitment to make billions of the world’s historic records readily accessible digitally online. (See FamilySearch Digital Records Access Replacing Microfilm). As its remaining microfilms are digitized, FamilySearch has provided additional information to users of its historic microfilm program.

FamilySearch, a global leader in historic records preservation and access, began microfilming historic records in 1938. Advancements in technology have enabled it to be more efficient, making an unbelievable tide of digital images of historic records accessible much quicker online and to a far greater customer base.

FamilySearch released a list of helpful facts and tips to help patrons better navigate the transition from microfilm to digital.


  • Patrons can still order microfilms online until Thursday, September 7, 2017.
  • After film ordering ends, if customers need access to a particular film yet to be digitized, they can express interest to have it added to the priority digitization list by contacting FamilySearch Support (Toll Free: 1-866-406-1830).
  • All of the microfilm rented by patrons in the past 5 years have now been digitized by FamilySearch—over 1.5 million microfilms (ca. 1.5 billion images).
  • The remaining microfilms are being digitally scanned at a rate of 1,000 films per day and are projected to be complete by 2020.
  • New digital images are available as they are scanned in the Catalog.
  • Films currently on loan in family history centers and affiliate libraries are automatically granted extended loan status.
  • Affiliate libraries now have access to nearly all of the restricted image collections as family history centers.
  • Visitors to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City will still be able to order needed microfilms to use during their research visits.


Digital image collections can be accessed today in 3 places on, all under Search.

  • Catalog. Includes a description of all the microfilms and digital images in the FamilySearch collection. This is where all of FamilySearch’s digitized microfilm and new digital images from its global camera operations are being published. A camera icon appears in the Catalog adjacent to a microfilm listing when it is available digitally.
  • Records includes collections that have been indexed by name or published with additional waypoints to help browse the unindexed images.
  • Books include digital copies of books from the Family History Library and other libraries, including many books that were previously copied to microfilm.

For additional help, see Finding Digital Images of Records on, or watch this how-to video “Where are the digitized records on FamilySearch?

“FamilySearch is committed to meeting customers’ needs as much as possible during this transition to digital access,” said Diane Loosle, FamilySearch’s Director of Patron Services. “We really appreciate the wonderful feedback we have received since the initial announcement. It is helping us better facilitate customer experiences during this next phase.”

Loosle said FamilySearch’s over 5,000 family history centers will continue to provide access to relevant technology, premium subscription services, and digital records, including restricted content not available at home. Centers have the option to return microfilm that is available online or otherwise not needed. As more images are published online, centers may reevaluate whether to retain microfilm holdings.

See Frequently Asked Questions: Digital Access Replacing Microfilms for more information.

About FamilySearch

FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. FamilySearch is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch and its predecessors have been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources free online at or through over 5,000 family history centers in 129 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Family Nexus App while traveling? It’s easy & fun

Ol’ Myrt here has been getting a plethora of pings from her newly updated The Family Nexus app. It’s a good thing Mr. Myrt is driving!

We are rushing to get to the FGS Conference in Pittsburgh but now I’m looking at landscapes and putting my ancestors in topographical perspective.

I cannot imagine what giving birth would have been like for my 2nd great-grandmother Betsey (Oades) Player “under Lone Tree at Watch Creek, plains of Nebraska.” But today as we crossed the now more verdant plains of Nebraska I could begin to picture the scene.

The Family Nexus App gives me a ping on my iPhone and my Apple Watch whenever I am near an ancestral birth, marriage, death or burial location listed in my FamilySearch Family Tree. That tree integration means no extra typing or cumbersome data imports.

Looking at this screen shot from my Family Nexus app also helps us determine the route to take tomorrow. It’s looks like Ohio has 28 family history event locations. Pennsylvania has some 48 including the birthplace of my 4th great-grand uncle Daniel Shafer born in 1793.

It isn’t like Ol’ Myrt here doesn’t understand geography. I can name every state capitol in competition with my grandchildren.

 It’s just that in the hustle and bustle of traveling, it’s easy to focus on rest stops instead of super cool family history spots.

And speaking of grandchildren – they’d get a kick out of this cool app. It certainly is more fun to explore family history ‘on site’ instead of ‘on paper.’

To find out more about this neat 21st century genea-tool visit:


Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt 🙂
Your friend in genealogy.



Oops! There was no “mother” field in the 1900 census despite field label

NOTE FROM DearMYRTLE: This is a detailed commentary composed with the hope will take immediate action to remedy this situation.

Is Ancestry “dreaming up” new census fields for the 1900 US federal population abstracts associated with its collection of census images? Maybe Ancestry is interpreting what an enumerator meant he made notations in various fields on his census form?

We look to evidence of abstract screen shots shared by Russ Worthington in his blog post Observations of the new Ancestry .api posted on his FTMUser blog today.

Russ viewed indexed entries and accompanying digital image of original census pages through his Family Tree Maker 2017 software. The problem has little if anything to do with FTM or RootsMagic, but instead reveals a problem with how presents the indexed entries on its website.

Here are Ol’ Myrt’s concerns.


Why has Ancestry chosen to rename the “relationship to head of family” field to “mother”?

It sounds like a database manager, rather than a genealogist, has become overly creative but incorrect with labels for indexed data. This problem will lead less experienced researchers to incorrect relationship conclusions.

Using Ancestry’s iOS app, I ran into this same problem. When reviewing a census image, the abstract assumed the wife was mother to all children in the household. Luckily I knew about a first wife who died. I had to go to my desktop and update my Ancestry Member Tree to assign children in the census to the correct parents and attach the census image manually.

This begs the question – what if I didn’t know about the first wife and her several children?

How does this happen?

In Russ’ example and mine, Ancestry’s census abstracts assume a woman listed as a wife to head of family is the mother to those listed as sons and daughters of the head of family, when in fact she may not be.(1)


Cousin Russ correctly noticed there was no field labeled “Ethnicity” though the 1900 population schedule does have a tiny column “Race or Color.” WHY has Ancestry chosen to rename the field “ethnicity”?

Why is Ancestry interpreting abbreviations?

There is no ethnicity known as “American” nor is there room to write that in the tiny box. (2) Only these abbreviations are found in “126. Column 5 Color or Race” description.

  • “W  white
  • B = black (negro or of negro descent)
  • Ch = Chinese
  • Jp = Japanese
  • In = Indian
  • As the cas=e may be.” (3)

I’m thinking an unspecified abbreviation “A” written by the enumerator could represent “Asian” (different from Chinese or Japanese) but it certainly could not be “American” since there is no such race or color. Either way, only the letter “A” should appear in Ancestry’s abstract.

In Russ’ example the letter “W” for white has been entered as “American” in Ancestry’s abstract.


It appears Ancestry database managers have incorrectly and inappropriately chosen to interpret what an enumerator wrote in a column of abbreviations? (Sigh)

In the US we consider a transcript a word-for-word printed or typed version of a document.

In the US we consider an abstract a selection of text from a document considered important for the purposes of the abstractor. This make take the form on an index.

 Myrt’s Musings

In no way should a transcript, abstract or index depart from original spelling, abbreviations or labels in a document; nor should the compiler of a transcript, abstract or index interpret the original text.

Anything less increases the possibility that those reading the transcript, abstract or index may draw the wrong conclusion.

 This is is a case for “get the original.”

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt 🙂
Your friend in genealogy.

1) “125. Column 4 Relationship to head of family”, 12th Census of the United States Instructions to Enumerators (Washington DC: Census Bureau, 1900) p 28. ( / viewed 27 Aug 2017). Note the scanned images in .PDF format are linked here: :

(2) “126. Column 5 Color or Race”, 12th Census of the United States Instructions to Enumerators (Washington DC: Census Bureau, 1900) p 29. ( / viewed 27 Aug 2017). Note the scanned image in .PDF format linked here:

(3) I.B.I.D.


Food: a matter of perspective

Fellow GeneaBlogger Gena Philibert-Ortega’s post The Politics of Tweeting Your Lunch prompted me to recall an incident with my once very young niece.

Leilani’s mother had a beautifully appointed gourmet kitchen in their recently remodeled home. The thing is – my sister rarely cooks.

One morning while visiting, little 4-year-old Leilani and I were the first ones up and decided we’d like some piping hot oatmeal for breakfast. Because of the new kitchen, we had to open nearly every cupboard to find the cereal.

I failed to find the familiar cardboard cylinder of Quaker Oats and was considering a rush to the supermarket. Leilani triumphantly shouted “I found it!” as she held several microwave packets produced by the same company.

It dawned on me – my niece had never known life before microwave ovens.

I thought of my grandmother Myrtle who was raised on a farm. She never knew microwaves. In fact in her youth, if her parent’s farm didn’t produce enough, she was likely sent to the general store to have the shopkeeper scoop out a pound from a big wooden barrel of rolled oats and package it on the spot in a brown paper bag.

DearMYRTLE's Profile PicMyrt’s Musings

It’s easy to see how differently 21st century folk like my niece Leilani and I view a simple thing like oatmeal for breakfast. Let’s be sure we aren’t thinking of microwaves when our ancestors lived in an oak barrel time frame.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt     :)
Your friend in genealogy.

Image credits:

  • Oatmeal box and microwavable oatmeal packets courtesy of the Quaker Oats company.
  • The  old timey general store pic courtesy of WikiPedia Commons.



Genealogical Flat-Lining

Flat line graphic
Looking to produce a high quality, well documented family history? After a while, its more about the place than a name. Online quick click genealogists look for a possible name match without studying the culture and history of an ancestral locality.

This causes genealogical flat-lining where it's just names and dates with no contextual understanding. They completely bypass unusual extant record sets that add dimension to an ancestral family's profile.

Elizabeth Shown Mills of responded to my Facebook comment with "And, Pat Richley-Erickson, worse than flat-lining, it causes genealogical misidentifications because they don't have enough context about the place and time to properly identify the person.(1)

In my early days as a fledgling genealogist, Ol' Myrt innocently committed genealogical flat-lining. Enthralled by others who put flesh on the bones using record sets I'd never considered, it slowly dawned on me that

genealogy is more than names and dates.

Studying history and the law, I began to see why my early Palatines left their beloved homeland in the small village of Affstätt in Herrenberg, in the Duchy of Württemberg in 1709 after decades of wars, crop failures and a winter so cold "birds froze on the wing."(2)

Expanding research beyond birth, marriage and death records, Ol' Myrt here learned about variations in William Henry A. Phillips name from his wife's affidavit in their US Civil War Pension file. Thank the Lord for this tidbit of information: "In regard to the correct name of my husband William Phillips, deceased, I have to say that his full name was William Henry Phillips, but he only used William Phillips when he enlisted so by mistake just W. H. has been used. After the war, he used for business purposes just his initials W. H. Phillips." (3)

Sadly, I had to chop off a limb of my initial family tree because my genealogical flat-lining led to a false assumption of a lineage match. It was a matter of guessing an older man in the vicinity with the same given and surnames had to be my 2nd great-grandfather.

Thorough research, covering 93 years of everyone by the surname in the vicinity, turned up surprising results. Using wills, probate packets and land records proved the man I misidentified as the father was in fact an uncle. Apparently, both had been named for my 3rd great-grandfather.

DearMYRTLE's Profile PicMyrt's Musings

Why not breathe new life into your family history? Review previous conclusions to see if you've committed genealogical flat-lining. The best remedy is throrough research. See: The Genealogical Proof Standard briefly defined at the Board for Certification of Genealogists website here

Happy family tree climbing!
Your friend in genealogy.

(1) From an 8 Aug 2017 Facebook posting by Blaine T. Bettinger to friends only located here: Mills quote used with permission.

(2) Capt. H. M. M. Richards, Litt.D. writes " [the] Thirty Years' War making of Germany almost a wilderness; when, following upon its heels, came the cruel French Invasion of 1693, with its utter devastation of the Palatinate, bringing pestilence and famine; when, as if that were not sufficient, occurred the terrible winter of 1709 when birds perished on the wing, beasts in their lairs, and mortals fell dead in the way…" p9, The Weiser Family by Henry Melchoir Muhlenberg Richards, Litt. D. (Lancaster: The Pennsylvania-German Society, 1924.) Digitally imaged at the Internet Archive, ( : viewed 8 Aug 2017.)

(3) 2 Sept 1921 Louisa Phillips affidavit, United States, Civil War Widows Pension Files, filed with Louisa Phillips' pension application no. 907389 co-filed with husband William Henry A. Phillips pension no. 243,464 (Private, Co K 19th Indiana Volunteer Infantry); Record Group 15, National Archives, Washington, D.C., photocopy in possession of the author.