I noticed the announcement tucked in the blog post of upcoming features to be released by FamilySearch this year. It was the second item on the list.

“The free FamilySearch Family Tree will give users the ability to record other relationships to an ancestor beyond immediate family members, when applicable, such as friends, associates, and neighbors (FAN). This function will aid research by allowing users to record information about other people living in an ancestor’s household as noted in a historical record, such as boarders or staff. ” 

You can find a link to the full article and other upcoming features here. https://www.familysearch.org/blog/en/familysearch-2019-whats-coming/

This announcement is huge.

It goes beyond finding my great-great grandfather John Derszin living as a boarder with other Eastern European workers in the steel industry.

African American Genealogy Application

With this soon to be released feature, I can do more than add the unlinked random dude, and possible Russian relative, Walter Schwintetzky to my tree. (He lived with Alice and Joe Miller in 1910.) This feature is a way for me, and any other family history researcher, to record, preserve, and document the names of the enslaved.

Fellow African American genealogy advocates and I have been asking for a solution from all of the major genealogy websites for years. We have wanted a way to record non-familial relationships of people at the same residence. I am so grateful that FamilySearch is the first major family tree website to offer this feature to users. I hope that other companies will join them.

Once this feature goes live, when I find an enslaved person recorded in a family document, such as a will, I can create and link the person to the household, and the record without having to make them a family member. This new feature will make it easier for those who may be researching enslaved ancestors to find the people they are looking for. My hope is that the search algorithm will adapt to allow more productive searches for these F.A.N. (friends, associates and neighbors) as well.

I’m looking forward to meeting and personally thanking the FamilySearch engineers in February when I attend RootsTech genealogy conference as an Ambassador. PS It’s not too late to register for the conference, and hang out with me, if you haven’t yet. There’s a link to learn more about the world’s largest genealogy conference, RootsTech here.

I’ll keep you posted when I hear an update about when this new FamilySearch feature will be going live. I just couldn’t wait to let you know. Partly, because I didn’t want to work on updating financial spreadsheets for the 2018 business taxes I am procrastinating. Mostly, because it made my heart full, and my eyes well up in tears thinking about all of the ancestors waiting to be named.

Genealogy Jen’s Challenge of the Week – Use social media to help you further your genealogy work. Join a Genealogy Facebook group for the place or people you are researching. (Or you can join a gazillion of them like I have.) Bonus points if you join us for #GenChat on Twitter.




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