RootsTech 2015 Presentation: The Future of Genealogy – Indexed Obituaries

Are you attending the RootsTech 2015 genealogy conference this upcoming Thursday-Saturday, February 12-14? GenealogyBank.com and FamilySearch International are teaming together to present a class on the power of indexed obituaries, and we’d like to invite you to join us!

The one-hour presentation, intended for all audience levels, will be this Thursday, February 12, at 4:30 p.m. in Ballroom B at the Salt Palace Convention Center, Salt Lake City, Utah. The co-presenters will be Ross Allred, GenealogyBank Director, and John Alexander, FamilySearch Manager.

photo of the RootsTech genealogy conference

Credit: mormonnewsroom.org

Whether you are going to RootsTech in person or following along at home, there’s an important first step you can take to get the most out of this important family history event: download the free RootsTech 2015 App. With the RootsTech conference app you can create your class schedule, learn more about the presenters and exhibitors, follow the conference via social media channels, and network with others. The RootsTech conference app is available for Apple, Android, and other mobile devices.

The Future of Genealogy – Indexed Obituaries

The presentation Ross and John will be making is Session ID RT1913 and entitled “The Future of Genealogy – Indexed Obituaries: Learn How FamilySearch and GenealogyBank Have Partnered in Creating an Indexed Obituary Collection.” You can download the class syllabus here: http://bit.ly/1DATW5B.

Attendees will learn about the massive collection of obituaries (projected 500+ million obituaries in the U.S.) that are currently being indexed and published through the partnership of GenealogyBank and FamilySearch.

Enter Last Name

Obituaries tell the stories of people’s lives with a “treasure trove” of precious family information “locked away” in newspapers. Obituaries, unlike any other resource, have the ability to add incredible dimensions to an individual’s family history research. The unique life stories written, dates documented, and generations of family members mentioned are often only found within an obituary. The average obituary can contain the names of over 10 family members of the deceased – parents, spouse, siblings, children, grandchildren, and other relatives and friends.

Ross and John will present actual obituaries and show the number of familial relationships they contain, examine the multi-generational family tree information, and illustrate the life stories behind the names. They will demonstrate that through the power of obituaries, genealogists can find clues to help overcome the brick walls they encounter in their genealogical research. Examples will be taken from GenealogyBank and FamilySearch Current and Historical Obituary collections.

Speaker Bios

photo of Ross Allred, Director of GenealogyBank.com

Photo: Ross Allred, Director of GenealogyBank.com

Ross L. Allred is currently serving as Director of GenealogyBank.com at NewsBank, inc. Ross currently manages Content Enhancement and Business Development at GenealogyBank and is Director over ObitsArchive.com. Ross has also served in additional roles in Marketing and Product since joining NewsBank in 2010. Prior to joining NewsBank, Ross was Interactive Marketing Director at WorldVitalRecords.com, a FamilyLink.com company, and held multiple positions at Ancestry.com including Self-Publishing Sr. Marketing Manager, Sr. Cross-Sell Manager and E-Marketing Campaign Manager. Ross holds an Interactive Marketing Communications Certificate from the University of Utah and B.S. in Accounting from Brigham Young University.

John K. Alexander heads the Newspaper and Obituary Publication efforts for FamilySearch. John has been with FamilySearch for over four years working as a Project Manager on Records Publication. John received an MA in History from the University of Utah in 2009 and a MLIS from the University of Washington in 2013. He is also a certified PMP. John worked at the University of Utah’s Marriott Library from 2006-2009.

Company Overviews

GenealogyBank.com, a division of NewsBank inc., is one of the largest and fastest growing exclusive searchable newspaper archives online for genealogy research. GenealogyBank.com is home to over 6,700+ fully-searchable U.S. newspapers from 1690-today and more than 1.5+ billion genealogy records. Our online newspaper archive is one of the most comprehensive genealogy websites in the United States helping people discover, preserve and share their family history. It provides information on millions of American families, with newspaper articles that provide first-hand accounts of your ancestors’ lives that simply can’t be found in other genealogy resources: obituaries, birth and marriage notices, photographs, hometown news and more. In addition to its newspapers, GenealogyBank features more than 380,000 historical books and documents from 1749-1994 that include military records, widow claims, orphan petitions, land grants, casualty lists, funeral sermons, biographies and much more. Discover the stories, names, dates, places and events that have shaped your family story at GenealogyBank.com.

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 FamilySearch.org or through over 4,600 family history centers in 132 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Come Join Us!

Whether you’re able to attend in person, or will be following presentations online from your home, we hope you can join Ross and John for their presentation this Thursday. Come see for yourself the power of indexed obituaries!

Also make sure you drop by booth #1129 and say hello to our friendly staff. See you there – or online!

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Records Lost in Typhoon Haiyan Are Replaced by Digital Copies

When Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines last year, it destroyed everything in its path including the local civil registration offices containing the area birth, marriage and death records.

According to a recent article in the Deseret News:

“By the time the storm got to Tacloban, there was a storm surge behind it with 10-foot waves that went inland for about two miles,” said Derek B. Dobson, FamilySearch senior program manager for Asia and the Pacific, in describing the Nov. 8, 2013, devastation. “So anything that was right there on the oceanfront just got hammered and devastated by these waves.”

picture of the destruction caused by Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines, Deseret News newspaper article 14 November 2014

Deseret News (Salt Lake City, Utah), 14 November 2014

The destruction left in Typhoon Haiyan’s wake was clear and total.

The local governments began the process of rebuilding, setting up offices in tents and mobile homes. Fortunately for these communities, ten years earlier they had worked with FamilySearch to have all of their records digitized.

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From the Deseret News article:

Having digitally captured the records, FamilySearch recently donated copies back to the cities where the records had been copied: Tacloban and the smaller municipalities of Guiuan, Hernani and Marabut, located on the island of Samar.

picture of officials recovering from destruction caused by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, Deseret News newspaper article 14 November 2014

Deseret News (Salt Lake City, Utah), 14 November 2014

Click here to read the complete story from the Deseret News (Salt Lake City, Utah), 14 November 2014.

Wow. A clear reminder of how important it is for each of us to make secure backup copies of our own personal family history records, photographs and documents.

Do it now.
Start today to add your family history to online sites. Start scanning and putting your family photos online. Don’t try to do it all at once; set aside time each week and keep at it.

Let us know what you are doing. Share your tips.
We can do this.

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Massive Online U.S. Obituaries Project Will Make It Easier to Find Your Ancestors

announcement of a partnership between FamilySearch and GenealogyBank to index obituaries

FamilySearch International (FamilySearch.org) and GenealogyBank (GenealogyBank.com) today announced an agreement to make over a billion records from historical obituaries searchable online. It will be the largest—and perhaps most significant—online U.S. historical records access initiative yet. Find out more at: http://www.genealogybank.com/family-search/

The tremendous undertaking will make a billion records from over 100 million U.S. newspaper obituaries readily searchable online. The newspapers are from all 50 states and cover the period 1730 to the present. The completed online index will be fairly comprehensive; for example, it will cover 85% of U.S. deaths from the last decade. The indexed death records collection will easily become one of the most popular online databases ever.

Obituaries Provide Information—and Stories

Obituaries can solve family puzzles, tell stories, dispel myths, and provide tremendous help with family history research.

Finding your ancestors’ names in obituaries has never been easier. Through the FamilySearch and GenealogyBank partnership, the valuable information contained in obituaries—including the name of the deceased, surviving family members’ names, their family relationships, locations, and dates—will be indexed, making it easier for genealogists to discover new relatives and gain a deeper understanding of their family’s past.

A single obituary can include the names and relationships of dozens of family members. For example, this obituary for James Thayer Geddes sheds light on where he lived during his lifespan, his education, his career choices and his personal interests, as well as providing information connecting five generations of ancestors and descendants in his family tree.

obituary for James T. Geddes, Rutland Herald newspaper article 9 October 2006

Rutland Herald (Rutland, Vermont), 9 October 2006

Dennis Brimhall, CEO of FamilySearch, explained that obituaries are extremely valuable because they tell the stories of our ancestors’ lives long after they are deceased. He invites online volunteers to help unlock the “treasure trove” of precious family information locked away in newspaper obituaries.

“Billions of records exist in U.S. obituaries alone,” Brimhall said. “The average obituary contains the names of about ten family members of the deceased—parents, spouse, children, and other relatives. Some include much more. Making them easily searchable online creates an enormously important source for compiling our family histories. The number of people who will benefit from this joint initiative is incalculable.”

GenealogyBank’s growing collection currently has over 7,100 historical U.S. newspapers, spanning more than 200 years. The death notices in these publications go beyond names and dates. They can provide insightful firsthand accounts about an ancestor that simply are not available from censuses or vital records alone.

“Obituaries, unlike any other genealogy resource, have the ability to add incredible dimensions to an individual’s family history research. They contain a wealth of information including facts and details that help capture the legacy of those who have passed on,” said Dan V. Jones, GenealogyBank Vice President. “The unique life stories written, dates documented, and generations of family members mentioned are often only found within an obituary, which makes them such an invaluable resource. Obituaries have the unique power to tell a story and enable individuals to learn more about their family relationships. GenealogyBank is proud and excited to partner with FamilySearch in bringing these obituaries to researchers all over the world.”

Volunteers Are Key to Project’s Success

The success of the massive U.S. obituary indexing campaign will depend on online volunteers. The obituaries are fairly simple to read, since they are digital images of the typeset, printed originals that appeared in the newspaper, but require human judgment to sort through the rich historical data and family relationships recorded about each person. Information about online volunteering is available at FamilySearch.org/indexing. A training video, indexing guide, detailed instructions, as well as telephone and online support, are available to help new volunteer indexers if needed.

Work has already begun by tens of thousands of volunteers to transcribe the information from GenealogyBank’s vast U.S. obituary collection to make it quickly searchable online. Find out more at: http://www.genealogybank.com/family-search/

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 FamilySearch.org or by using over 4,600 family history centers in 132 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.


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