Collaborative Family History

February 19, 2009

What’s In A Story?

Filed under: Genealogy, New Features — Tags: — becky @ 9:30 am

I have a GG Grandmother, Arminta Williams, on my maternal line that has always been an inspiration to me.  She labored with her husband, Thomas, and children to eek out an existence on a farm on the Western Frontier.  While the endurance and perseverance is awe-inspiring, she went above and beyond her circumstances.  The family story that has been passed on says that she never turned an orphan away, either for a meal or a home.

The family story also reported her to have lived to be 102yrs old.  However, I didn’t know where they lived or when she died.  Looking for a family that consistently had extra children in the house helped me identify them in censuses and unlock their genealogy.  She and Thomas took in the first foster child just 3 yrs in to their marriage.  At one point, they had 3 foster children living with them.  I have yet to locate any legal adoption papers, just children listed in their household as “servant” “laborer” or just “visitor”.  I learned that Thomas went blind at a rather young age and that Arminta died the same year my father was born – just a few months short of being 102 yrs old.

Family Pursuit now offers the ability to share this story as well as documentation with my entire family.  I have one photo of Arminta, sitting in a wheelchair with a corncob pipe between her lips, surrounded by numerous descendants and foster children.  I can attach this photo to Arminta’s story and her Individual profile in my Private Tree and provide a means for all her descendants to know of her generosity and love for others and her tenacity throughout life.

February 12, 2009

Visit Family Pursuit at the St. George Family History Expo

Filed under: Family Pursuit — Michael Martineau @ 6:29 pm

Come meet us at the St. George Family History Expo and be the first to learn how to connect to New FamilySearch through a Private Family Tree on Family Pursuit.  We will be teaching 2 classes on how to upload your research conclusions to new FamilySearch.

What:    Family Pursuit: Getting your Family Involved with new FamilySearch - Even in Utah

Where:    Entrada Room B

When:    Saturday February 28th, 1pm or 4pm

You can attend either class to learn more about how Family Pursuit involves your entire family, novice to expert, in family history research and connects you to New FamilySearch to add your family to the FamilySearch family tree database.

We also have vendor booths 213 and 215 in the free Exhibit Hall.  Stop by for demonstrations and more information.

About  the St. George Family History Expo:

Where:    5th Annual St. George, Utah, Family History Expo
The Dixie Center at 1835 Convention Center Dr
St. George, UT 84790

When:    Feb 27-28, 2009 – 8am to 6pm

Early registration is going on now for only $60, through Feb 14th.  Thereafter and at the door the price is $65.  Your registration allows you to attend two full days of classes from world-class genealogists and vendors of ground-breaking technology, like Family Pursuit.

For more information about the expo and to register, go to

February 9, 2009

Upload Photos and Documents on Family Pursuit

Filed under: Family Pursuit, New Features — Michael Martineau @ 4:45 pm

Family Pursuit is pleased to announce the release of the photo and document upload feature for Private Family Trees.  You can now upload photos and documents and attach them directly to individuals in your tree, allowing the entire family to view and download.  With photo and document upload you can:

  • Upload photos of family members and attach them to their record in the tree
  • Document your research with images of source documents
  • Upload scanned images of old photos, letters and other documents
  • Upload scanned images of research notes and logs and attach them to your research projects
  • Upload previously written histories and stories about your ancestors
  • Upload all file types including: PDF, DOC, audio and video files

All images are stored at full resolution making it easier for family members to read scanned documents such as birth, marriage or death certificates and census records.   Images and documents can also be attached to multiple individuals in the family tree as in the case of a family photo or census household record.

Uploading images and documents is only available in a Private Family Tree.

February 2, 2009

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Filed under: Genealogy, New Features, Research — becky @ 3:43 pm

When I first started researching my family’s genealogy, I took many classes to learn what resources were available, how to use them, and how reliable they were. In one of the classes, my husband and I were shown a photo of a gravestone and asked to interpret the information. The information seemed fairly straightforward and clear. I was taken aback when my husband thought it was equally clear, but had a completely different interpretation. Discussion of this photo lasted quite a while, and my husband and I continued discussing it afterwards. This really taught me how open to interpretation all documents and sources are.

While extractions are definitely needed and useful, nothing compares to the original source with all the info intact. It is invaluable to have a duplication to study for yourself and place in context of its time and history.

Coming soon, you will be able to upload any image to your Family Pursuit Private Family Tree and attach it as a source for others in your family to view and interpret. The advantage of sharing copies of original documents is invaluable to collaboration. Once the image is uploaded, anyone in your tree can view it and, through discussions, the ambiguity can be clarified. This is also another great way to help mentor the new genealogist. The image can be used for teaching, or a beginner can be assigned a task to get the image for the family to then analyze.

Images are not the only file that can be uploaded. Video and audio files are also accepted and are a great way to help younger generations connect to their older relatives by hearing their voice or seeing them in action.

Technology has greatly enhanced the amateur’s ability to get quality files. For digital photos Dick Eastman’s Forum has a great discussion about techniques and devices to use to ensure high-quality images:,61.0.html. This discussion thread is contributed by other genealogists and is very interesting and helpful. It is relatively inexpensive to purchase an audio recorder that can be used to record interviews then plugged in to the computer to upload the files – no conversion necessary. Camcorders and webcams have facilitated recording home movies and interviews.

Sharing images, audio, and video will not only enhance the collaboration and mentoring ability available through Family Pursuit, but, more importantly, it will personalize your ancestors to help your entire family feel more connected to them.

January 21, 2009

The Beginning Genealogist

Filed under: Collaboration, Genealogy, Research — becky @ 1:40 pm

I am new to be writing on this blog, so I will introduce myself.  My name is Becky and I am Michael Martineau’s wife.  It was a few years ago that Mike became interested in genealogy and his family’s history.  So we went to some classes and dutifully filled out our pedigree charts and family group sheets.  We each contacted our respective families to gather information about ancestors.

Mike has very active family organizations for both sides of his family.  He contacted his father’s side and was given a family name to research then sent on his way (or something like that).  I have the exact opposite situation.  My mom sent me copies of what she had from her genealogy attempts some 30 years earlier.  There wasn’t much to go on.

So, we both ended up in the same boat – we each had a name to research and no clue what to do next.  And this brings me to the point of this blog – once a brand new genealogist has a name to research how do they know what to do next?  There is a whole new vocabulary to learn and resources to learn about – what is a GEDCOM?, why can’t I find the 1890 US federal census?, who cares about land records?  There are things in the genealogy culture that everyone seems to know, but must be learned by each person at some point.

This learning curve is a huge detriment to those who want to get involved but don’t have a lot of time to learn how to conduct research before they can even start researching.  I know many people who only have a few hours a week to spare for genealogy, but since they don’t know how to get started and don’t have anyone to really walk them through it, those precious few hours are given to an easier project with less learning curve.

I believe this is one of the most important problems that Family Pursuit addresses.  Research Projects was designed specifically to address and overcome the learning curve and lack of time.  Through a research project, someone who is more experienced can slowly teach a new genealogist by assigning them a single task instead of a single individual.  An example of that task could be: “Find John Doe in each federal census between 1860 and 1910”.  Specific instructions can then be written to explain how to do this.  For example, “Log on to HeritageQuest (free at most libraries) and search one census at a time.  The 1890 census was destroyed by fire, so don’t waste your time searching for it.  Create a separate extraction for each census.  I think John was living in New Jersey in 1860 and was about 25, so start there.”  In this way, a new researcher can make a meaningful contribution with his/her 2 hrs/wk that is available and also be learning how to do research.  The experienced researcher can get the help needed while not having to spend a great deal of time teaching.  Discussion posts are available for questions or additional instruction and every change can be rolled back and undone if it was a mistake.

This is actually my favorite part of the whole website.  I have used many Research Projects to get my mom and brother involved.  We are spread across the country and all very busy, but the research is slowly getting done and it is all recorded for those times when we have to leave it for a few months.  It is a great tool to help those in our family.  I would encourage anyone who is experienced to try to remember the learning curve and to utilize this tool to help out the beginners in their family.

January 14, 2009

Family Pursuit Announces the Release of Private Family Trees

Filed under: Family Pursuit, New Features — Michael Martineau @ 1:41 pm

All the major problems have been worked out, so now it’s time for a press release!  We announced the following today:

Provo, Utah, Jan. 14 - Family Pursuit, a leader in online collaborative genealogy research tools, today announced the release of Private Family Trees.  Designed specifically for collaboration, this unique wiki-based website is now available for private use for the genealogist who is looking for a better way to work with others. Family Pursuit’s private family trees allow researchers to share not only conclusions, but their ongoing research, sources, extractions and theories with those invited to join the trees.  They are the perfect solution for sharing research with the entire family, interacting with other family genealogists, or working within a family organization or one-name study.

Some of the collaborative tools available for private family trees include:

  • Inviting an unlimited number of family members to join a private tree
  • Organizing and sharing ongoing genealogy research
  • Creating and assigning tasks
  • Sharing research logs and extractions
  • Adding living individuals
  • Keeping all information about living and deceased individuals private
  • Involving and mentoring family members
  • Participating in family discussions
  • Receiving notifications of changes made by tree users
  • Rolling back and forth any change made by any user
  • Advanced merging and unmerging

Along with these new private trees, Family Pursuit continues to offer its Community Tree which has been created for genealogists to share research with the genealogy community to reduce duplicate efforts, accelerate research, and network and connect with distant relatives.

“We have found that many genealogists feel more comfortable working privately with those they already know.  A Private Family Tree offers this security,” said Mike Martineau, founder of Family Pursuit.  “When genealogists feel confident in their research conclusions, they will be able to easily copy their conclusions to the Community Tree for others to view and add to. A Private Family Tree also allows the inexperienced genealogist to be privately mentored by more knowledgeable relatives.  We are excited to offer a bridge between those who are overwhelmed by the amount of research and those who want to help but don’t know how.  We look forward to continuing our progress in developing these important tools, and being a part of bringing more people into the work.”

About Family Pursuit

Started in 2004, Family Pursuit, a Provo, Utah company, provides web-based applications to accelerate family history work by providing a framework for genealogy researchers to work together in their efforts and to easily share their ideas, theories, research and conclusions. Family Pursuit enables genealogy enthusiasts to involve family members who have never engaged in family history work, bringing families together in sharing the rewarding experience of researching, exploring, and creating a personal understanding of their heritage. Visit for more information.

December 20, 2008

Family Pursuit now offers Private Family Trees

Filed under: Family Pursuit, New Features — Michael Martineau @ 12:59 pm

Some of you may have wondered what happened to us since we haven’t posted in a while.  We’ve been hard at work on the new private family trees.  Now that they are released, we’ll be posting more often on our blog.

The following is the announcement email sent to our current users and newsletter subscribers:

Good news! Family Pursuit now offers Private Family Trees.

Now you can apply Family Pursuit’s unique collaboration features within the privacy of your own family. Whether you are looking for new ways to share your research with the entire family, interact with other family genealogists, or work within a family organization or surname study, our Private Family Trees are the perfect solution for your collaborative needs.

A Private Family Tree has all of the features available in our Community Tree including:

  • organizing and sharing your ongoing genealogy research

  • involving and mentoring family members

  • creating and assigning tasks

  • sharing research logs and extractions

  • participating in family discussions

Features exclusively available in our Private Family Trees include:

  • adding living individuals

  • keeping all information about living and deceased individuals private

  • inviting an unlimited number of family members at no additional charge

Now you can have the best of both worlds – the security of a Private Tree and collaboration with distant relatives in the Community Tree – all using the same login.

Purchase a Private Family Tree for only $59.95/yr.

April 29, 2008

Early Success with GEDCOM Import

Filed under: Collaboration, Family Pursuit, Genealogy, New Features — Les Eldredge @ 9:59 am

In the process of building our GEDCOM Import, we have invited a few of our current users to a small, private testing website to help test our new features. These users have been extremely helpful in volunteering their time to test features and provide suggestions for improving the process. During the last round of tests, we encountered an exciting surprise. With a very small sample of users, we instantly began discovering numerous distant relationships with our users as we imported our GEDCOM files. Even more exciting, with the help of our watch lists we found new information from their research that we had not yet uncovered and offered new details for them as well.

Creating a collaborative genealogy community for family historians to connect to distant relatives and find new information through the process of sharing in our world tree has been one of our primary goals. GEDCOM import is an important part of achieving this goal and observing such an early success of its role has been very rewarding.

We have now released our current version of GEDCOM import to our public version of Family Pursuit. More collaborative features are soon to follow increasing your ability to connect and communicate with other genealogists, and share your research with close family.

February 6, 2008

Visit Family Pursuit in Saint George, Utah

Filed under: Family Pursuit — Les Eldredge @ 2:33 pm

Family Pursuit Conference SpecialWe will be demonstrating the Family Pursuit website at the Saint George Family History Expo on February 8-9 in booths 115 & 116. Drop by our booth to signup for a 50% off pre-release special. We will have computer stations set up for you to experiment first hand with some of our exciting new collaboration features. Also, founder Michael Martineau will be giving live demonstrations on using Family Pursuit to coordinate research efforts with others.

For more information about the conference, click here.

December 7, 2007

Exciting New Beta Updates

Filed under: Family Pursuit, New Features, Software, Technology — Les Eldredge @ 3:43 pm

Over the past couple of days, we have been busy releasing some incredible new updates to our Beta. The most notable change is opening the Beta to the public. That’s right, starting today, anyone may visit our website ( and sign on as a beta tester.

Another key feature just added is our new Watch List section. Within the Watch List section you can quickly glance through a list of individuals and research projects and view a history of all additions and modifications. When other users make changes, such as adding additional facts about an ancestor, posting responses to discussions, or completing a task, the change will be highlighted to notify you that the change has occurred.

In addition to our updates to the Family Pursuit Beta, we have also updated Our informational website now has a new design and more detailed information. We have also included video tutorials demonstrating many of our features in action.

Sign up or logon to the Beta today to try these exciting new features!

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