Monday, September 1, 2014

Using the Research Assistant to Participate in the LDS Youth Temple Challenge

LDS youth were recently extended the temple challenge by Elder Neil L. Andersen. He challenged the youth to take their own names to the temple - every time they go. The hardest part of this challenge is finding names that are ready for temple work.

The Find-A-Record Research Assistant makes it easy to find names that are ready. Just sign in with your FamilySearch username and password. Once you're done signing in, the Research Assistant will immediately begin searching your tree for many types of genealogy research opportunities.

For the youth doing temple work, they're just interested in the LDS ordinances of baptism and confirmation. So we can turn off all of the other categories by clicking on the checkbox next to them.

Now the list will be filtered to only show us ancestors that are ready for their baptism and confirmation to be reserved. If you descend from LDS pioneers then it could take a few minutes to find someone.

Click on one of the results to see details about the ancestor and the ordinances that are ready to be reserved.

Click the blue "Reserve Ordinances" button to continue the reservation process at

Watch out for warnings about possible duplicates, such as in the image below. This means FamilySearch has detected a very similar person that already has their ordinances done. It's best to ignore these and leave them for more experienced genealogists to resolve.

Watch the demo below for further help using the Research Assistant to find LDS ordinances.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

View a List of Record Hints for Your Ancestors in FamilySearch

In the Find-A-Record Research Assistant, you can now see record hints for your ancestors. Record hints are generated by FamilySearch as a list of suggestions for records that match your ancestor. They help you quickly find your ancestor in the billions of records that FamilySearch has.

Record hints are in the green Sources category and are turned on by default. They will begin to appear in your list of research opportunities.

If you just want to see record hints, you can turn all other opportunity types off.

Click on one of the "Record Hints" cards to see a list of collections with matching records. In the example below, Reita Luvilla Thurman has three possible record matches in "Utah Marriage, 1887-1966", "Utah, County Marriages, 1887-1937", and "United States Census, 1940".

Click the "Review these matches" link to see review the list of matches in FamilySearch and attach the proper sources.

You can read more about Record Hints and how to properly review them on the FamilySearch blog.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Research Assistant Update: Disable Specific Opportunities

Last week we announced impending updates to the Research Assistant's opportunity list. Based on feedback, we made some changes to the design and released it over the weekend.

Our goal with this update was to allow users to turn off specific opportunity types. Previously, you could only turn off an entire category by clicking on the buttons at the top of the page.

Now the list of categories is on the left side of the page. When you click on a category bar it will expand to show you all available opportunity types in that category.

Click on one of the opportunity types in the category list to disable it. Click it again to re-enable it.

Click on the checkbox in the color bar to disable or enable all opportunity types in that category.

This update makes it easier to focus on the type of work that you are interested in. It also paves the way for adding many new types of opportunities, such as record hints.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Feedback Request: New Opportunities List Design

We are working on a new design for the Research Assistant opportunities list and would love to have your feedback about it.

The primary driver behind the new design is the ability to turn individual opportunities on or off. Right now you can turn off an entire category. If you just wanted to find Problems then you could turn Source, Person, Relationships, and Cleanup opportunities off. However, there is no way to turn off "Marriage with no Children" while keeping "Person Died Before They Were Born" turned on.

Here's the current list.

Here's the new design.

  • We moved the category buttons from the top over to the left and made them expandable so that you can turn off opportunities individually.
  • There are "All" and "None" buttons at the bottom of the categories so that you don't have to click 13 times to disable all of the Cleanup opportunities.
  • Your settings for which opportunities are enabled and disabled will be saved in the browser you're using. If you switch to a different browser or device then you'll lose your settings. We will sync the settings between browsers and devices once we've settled on the design.
  • Some people didn't realize that you can click on the cards to see more so we added a "Details" button that appears when the mouse hovers over the card.
  • We made the list one column instead of two which gave us more room to add content to the cards such as the person's photo, summary information, and relationship popup.
You can try this out now on our beta website at Just remember it's a beta site primarily used for development and testing; we make no guarantees about it's reliability or availability.

We would love to have your feedback on this. Is this an improvement? Does it make sense? What do you like about it? What do you wish was different? Leave a comment below or use the Feedback link at the top of

Friday, August 1, 2014

Find-A-Record Chrome Extension Update

The Find-A-Record Chrome Extension has been updated with a popup in the URL bar. The popup is revealed by clicking the Find-A-Record pin in the URL bar. This will be available on both and

This update created a more consistent experience and allowed us to bring back old functionality such as the Source Analyzer for FamilySearch. It will also make it easier for us to add support for more websites in the future.

The Find-A-Record Chrome Extension can be downloaded from the Chrome Web Store.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Viewing Relationship Paths in the Research Assistant

The Research Assistant tells you how you are related to people in your opportunities list. For example, it tells me that Femina Besella Stewart is my 2nd Great-Grandmother.

Now I can see who is in the relationship between me and Elisabeth. When viewing the details of that opportunity, there will be a "View Relationship" link next to the relationship.

When you click the "View Relationship" link it will open a popup that shows the relationship path.

It can also handle more complex relationships, such as detecting that Sarah Rebecca White is Mary Van Noski's Grandson's Wife's Great-Aunt.

This was inspired by the relationship popup in the Memories section of FamilySearch.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

More Research Opportunities and LDS Ordinances

We just updated the Find-A-Record Research Assistant to add new features and more research opportunities.

View Opportunities For An Ancestor

The list of opportunities is generated by scanning your tree starting with you and working out towards your ancestors. This makes the list of opportunities roughly ordered by how closely related someone is to you. But what if you wanted to view opportunities for your 4th-great-grandmother and her family? There are now two ways to do this.

When viewing the details of an opportunity, you can click the "Ancestor's Opportunities" button. This will reload the opportunities list with that ancestor as the starting point.

The Find-A-Record Chrome Extension was also updated to send users to the new Research Assistant from inside the FamilySearch Family Tree. The Find-A-Record pin appears in the address bar when viewing an ancestor profile in the Family Tree. Clicking it will send you to the Research Assistant opportunity list with that ancestor as the starting point.

More Research Opportunities

We added more research opportunities:
  • Children born before their parents marriage
  • A person that has no name
  • A person with poorly formatted names
  • A person with duplicate names
We create an open source library called fs-check which we use to generate the research opportunities. You can read it's documentation to see a list of all possible research opportunities.

Do you have any ideas for additional research opportunities? Leave a comment below or send use the feedback link at the top of every page on our main site.

LDS Ordinances

Another significant update is that LDS users will begin to see opportunities about LDS ordinances. An opportunity will appear when someone is found that has ordinances which are ready to be reserved.