“Game Changer”: FamilySearch’s new full-text search function

by California Genealogical Society (3/7/2024)

cartoon hand holding megaphone with text bubble reading "Game Change" RootsTech, the world’s biggest genealogy conference, has just wrapped up its 2024 session, and one thing that’s got the genealogy world buzzing is the unveiling of a new experimental search function on FamilySearch.org that can search every word of text in handwritten documents that haven’t yet been indexed. The program operates using AI, and the word everyone seems to be using is “game changer” (or game-changer or gamechanger, depending on your preference). What’s got people most excited is that you can type in a name and instantly get the return of numerous documents–they might include wills, deeds, or more. You can filter by state or county, or search using other keywords.

Right now the technology only applies to two collections: US Land and Probate Records and Mexico Notary Records. But what an abundance is to be found in these two collections! Genealogist Lisa Hork Gorrell, CGⓒ, a longtime CGS member, tried it out and reported her experience in her blog, Mam-ma’s Southern Family. A search for the surname “Coor” quickly turned up a document she’d never seen before that pertained to her fourth-great-grandfather John Coor (1785-1838), documenting his plan to build a sawmill with his neighbor Joel Hoggatt. She has since followed up on that with a post at her other blog, showing how to copy the information and cite it.

In the words of “The Legal Genealogist,” Judy G. Russell, “This is what we’ve all been hoping artificial intelligence could do for us.”

To learn more details of Lisa Gorrell’s search, see her blog posts here and here.

To try out the search function for yourself, log in to your FamilySearch account, or create an account (it’s free). Then go to https://www.familysearch.org/en/labs/, where you’ll find a link to the new Full Text Search, as well as links to several other experimental programs you can try out. Have fun!

This week at CGS (March 4-10, 2024)

by California Genealogical Society (3/3/2024)

To register or for more information, click the link for any event. All times are Pacific Time.

We’ve got two stellar presentations coming up this week as part of the “Tips & Talk” series at the Oakland FamilySearch Library. And you can attend them either in person or via Zoom!

Smiling woman in patterned shirtWed., March 6, 11:00 AM –  “Overview of Irish Records and Research” with Maureen Hanlon. Maureen’s class focuses on finding the homeland of your immigrant ancestor using Irish records of the 19th century. Maureen, is a CGS member and a volunteer at OFSC . She became interested in her Irish families after discovering her GG grandfather was from Cork not Northern Ireland. Maureen is generous with her time helping others find their Irish Heritage. She has created a Facebook page and a SIG group to help others with their Irish roots.

 

Wed., March 6, 6:30 PM – “On the Road Again: Tips for Planning On-site Research” by Pam Brett. A research trip to one’s ancestral home can be extremely rewarding, but also may present many challenges. Pam will share practical tips on how to plan an on-site research trip to achieve your research goals and to bring home a new understanding of the lives of your ancestors. Pam is a long time member of the California Genealogical Society . She has taught many classes at CGS and takes annual research trips to find unique information for her ancestors.

Ship image inside white circle on blue background Sat., March 9, 10 AM-noon: CGS Monthly Board Meeting. Hybrid (in person and via Zoom). On the agenda: Focus 2025, 10 Million Names Project, Board Nominations, update on the Ancestry Digitization Project. Also: Grouper affiliation, shared calendar, Life Member report, and “CGS as a Digital Archiving Hub.”

 

 

And don’t forget: Recording available through March 24: How to Leave Your Genealogy: Don’t Let It Get Thrown Away!   Lisa Gorrell’s presentation will discuss tasks you can do now so you will leave your genealogy in good shape for your heirs.

Library hours: Thursday and Friday 10 AM-2 PM and Saturday 10 AM-4 PM

Helpful Links
Events: https://www.californiaancestors.org/events-and-education/
Special Interest Groups: https://www.californiaancestors.org/special-interest-groups-for-members/
Calendar: Google calendar

This month at CGS: March 2024

by California Genealogical Society (2/28/2024)

To register or for more information, click the hyperlink for any event. All times are Pacific Time.

Mark your calendars now for some great educational opportunities, including a special class featuring well-known genealogist Thomas MacEntee. If you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day (or even if you don’t), don’t miss Maureen Hanlon‘s March 6 talk on Irish Records and Research. We’ve also got the monthly first-Saturday Intro to Genealogy, All events are completely free of charge, but please do preregister.

Sat., March 2, 10 AM: Intro to Genealogy. A free series of 4 rotating classes covering the basics of genealogical research. This month: “Vital Records (birth, marriage, and death).” Via Zoom.

Head shot of balding man in tuxedoSat., March 30, 10 AM: “You Can Do This: Photo Organizing and Preservation.” Participants will learn the best ways to organize and preserve family photos including outsourcing as well as the DIY approach. Starting with quick and easy inventory and organizing tips, we’ll move on to creating a strategic plan to finally get this photo project done! Thomas MacEntee, creator of “Genealogy Bargains,” is a popular speaker and educator. His current focus is changing the way genealogists acquire new research skills, motivating researchers to take a chance on new technologies, and improving how family stories and heirlooms are preserved and passed on to the next generations. Online via Zoom.

“Tips & Talk” series at the Oakland FamilySearch Library:

  • Wed., March 6, 11:00 AM –  “Overview of Irish Records and Research” with Maureen Hanlon.
  • Wed., March 6, 6:30 PM – “On the Road Again: Tips for Planning On-site Research” by Pam Brett.
  • Tue., March 12, 11 AM: “How-to Series: Snipping, Clipping, Infraview, and More!” with Robert and Portia Neville.
  • Wed., March 13, 6:30 PM: “Part I: German Research” by Robert Jackson. First in a 3-part series.
  • Wed., March 20, 11 AM: “History Geo” with Debbie Hunt.
  • Wed., March 20, 6:30 PM: “Part II: German Research” by Robert Jackson. See March 13.
  • Tue., March 26, 11:00 AM: “How To Series: Simple Photo enhancements for Novices” with Robert Leitao.
  • Wed., March 27, 6:30 PM: “Part III: German Research” by Robert Jackson. See March 13.

The following Special Interest Groups (SIGs) meet in March:

Sat., March 9, 10 AM. Monthly Board Meeting. Hybrid; in person and via Zoom.

Wed., March 13, 6:30 PM: Members’ Roundtable. A forum for asking questions about one another’s genealogical research, to learn from others, share research successes, and enjoy a collegial group of individuals interested in learning together. Particularly for new and remote members, this is an opportunity to meet and feel part of the CGS community. Led by Lisa Gorrell and Jacqueline Henderson.

Fri., March 15, 10:30 AM: Mayflower Descendants SIG. Led by Robert Trapp. Focus on Mayflower ancestry and how to join The Society of California Mayflower Descendants. Discussion of ongoing research.

Sat., March 16, 10 AM: San Francisco SIG. Sandra Huber leads this group for those interested in finding San Francisco ancestors, with discussion of where to look for records both pre and post the 1906 earthquake.

Sat., March 16, 12 noon: Irish Ancestry Network/Family Tree Maker: Please join our “live” special Potluck and Celebration of both groups in the CGS Library on the March 16th, beginning at 12:00 noon. Bring your Scones, soda bread and other Irish goodies to share!

Mon., March 25, 7 PM: Advanced DNA SIG. Mark McLaren leads this group where members can further develop their understanding of DNA techniques, review new developments in DNA testing and tools, and discuss members’ research problems and case studies.

Wed., March 27, 6:30 PM: RootsMagic Special Interest Group. Keith Montgomery leads a discussion of helpful hints for users of this popular genealogy platform. Via Zoom.

Recording available through March 24:

How to Leave Your Genealogy: Don’t Let It Get Thrown Away!   Lisa Gorrell’s presentation will discuss tasks you can do now so you will leave your genealogy in good shape for your heirs.

Library hours: Thursday and Friday 10 AM-2 PM and Saturday 10 AM-4 PM

Helpful Links:
Events: https://www.californiaancestors.org/events-and-education/
Special Interest Groups: https://www.californiaancestors.org/special-interest-groups-for-members/
Calendar: Google calendar