Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Why I use the "FamilySearch Matches" tool at WikiTree

My family history research and some of my One Name Study has been on WikiTree for years. It's my only online public tree. For reasons why I use WikiTree, please read my earlier article: Zen & the Art of Genealogical Maintenance

WikiTree released a new tool last month. It's called the FAMILYSEARCH MATCHES tool. What it does is matches all your WikiTree profiles to the FamilySearch records or FamilySearch Tree. I was also a beta tester when FamilySearch Tree first started testing their product. When Chris Whitten, the master developer behind WikiTree, created the "FamilySearch Matches" tool, I was, at first, skeptical but now very excited about how it works for my research. To access the FamilySearch Tool, one needs to get to it from their own MY WIKITREE MENU from FIND; slide down to FamilySearch Matches. A window will open up; You will see that it is FamilySearch certified and you need to put in your WikiTree login information as well as your FamilySearch login information.

Next, your WikiTree WATCHLIST will be displayed with potential matches at FamilySearch. In this example, I have one match at the FamilySearch Tree so I clicked that it was a "certain match". If I want to remove the match, I can always do so. You also have the option to check that a match is "uncertain". Now here is the REAL reason why this tool is very exciting ! If you look at where I placed a YELLOW STAR, this is a baptismal record that I did not know that was indexed in FamilySearch under "New York Births and Christenings". I have been finding records, left and right, for all the people in my WikiTree Watchlist !
When this tool finds the record matches, it does not transfer the records automatically to your WikiTree profiles. What I do is copy the source citation from the new record at FamilySearch and paste it in the WikiTree profile (I always work with two windows open). Chris Whitten explains at length about FamilySearch Matches in this document: You can also click on the "more info" link which is at the top of the FamilySearch Matches list.

The great thing that WikiTree DOES DO is add a MATCH LINK automatically on the WikiTree profile that looks like this:

It's important to note that the WikiTree FamilySearch Matches, like the FamilySearch Tree and records, is user-generated. Therefore, the information may be incorrect and needs to be verified by the researcher (that's you !). I actually have not had one wrong match and I have 1662 profiles. I think a lot depends on how much data entry are in your WikiTree profiles to get the closer matches but I have had so many surprises, especially for my One Name Study profiles. The great thing about this RESEARCH section is that you can quickly check from your WikiTree profiles if new matches or records have been located.

By the way, in terms of navigating the FamilySearch Matches Watchlist, there is a pagination tool on the bottom that's very handy.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Looking in Michigan Marriages


       My Great-Grandparents lived in Michigan, specifically the Hungarian neighborhood of Del Ray. They married in 1899. I have been looking for their marriage record since 1980. Over a cup of coffee and coffeecake one morning at her kitchen table, my Grandmother suddenly brought out a slip of paper from her dresser with the family dates on it that were copied from a book from my Great-Grandparent's house. It was not a family Bible like most Hungarians kept in their homes. It was either a lexicon, geography or encyclopedia, probably published in Hungary, as my Great-Grandfather was not Catholic. He supposedly eschewed all manners of institutionalized religions.

I have never seen the original data or the "book" so I was looking at secondary evidence, copied by my Grandmother. I did not weigh that date too heavily until I saw the same marriage date for them in his naturalization records. TIP : Naturalization records for immigrants MAY CONTAIN their marriage date and place.

With that marriage data in hand, letters flew back and fourth to many government levels of Michigan looking for a marriage registration with no results. Simultaneously, there were many years of letter-writing with various ecclesiastical locations trying to pinpoint their marriage record. They did not marry in Hungary either.

So imagine my delight when Ancestry released the Michigan marriage database ! See Michigan Marriage Records, 1867-1952
The original images are wonderfully preserved and detailed. They have couples' birthplaces, parents, occupations and the name of the pastor/minister who registered the marriage ( which one can cross index with city directories to locate the actual parish to receive more marriage data).
There is an index but with Eastern European searches, I heavily use the side panel BROWSE THIS COLLECTION.
1) Click a record type group ( Certificates or Registers)
2) Decide on a range of dates
3) Under the Description label, choose a location.
Happy Hunting !