Friday, October 26, 2007

A Tale of the Numbers...

First Things First

I have been tempted to wait a few more days to do another post, but blogging is addicting and I thought I would throw some numbers at me they are pretty interesting. I'm not one for math and numbers, I've hated them all my life, but these numbers are pretty exciting. It's almost like a response to my somewhat controversial review of the FHL Hispanic conference last weekend.

If you haven't stopped by for a few days (since the 24th), then please read the post titled: Hispanic Family History Conference Online. Please read through the post and leave comments...also, I've posted a poll on the same topic, please, please (I'm begging all of you) cast your vote!

The numbers

Visits and page views - Since my last two posts (see above) my blog visits and page views have more than doubled. Over the last five days the blog has averaged 43 visits and 2.6 page views per visit. The average visit length on the blog is just over 6 minutes. This shows me that the last two topics have been hot topics, and visitors want to learn more about Hispanic genealogy especially through online conferences. These numbers also tell me that my initial goal for the blog is being accomplished. The purpose of the blog is to educate others on the topic of Hispanic genealogy, and it appears that people are using it as a place to come and learn about different resources available to them. Thank you all for visiting and encouraging me to continue blogging, please let others know about it...and keep coming back!!

Visitor IP Address info - My site meter doesn't give any bank account numbers or other personal information, but is does tell me where visitors live. today's numbers were quite interesting to me, because 60% were from outside the United States (40 visits as of 9:00pm MST). This is pretty high given that I write all my articles in English. If you don't struggle reading English, then you can always use Google to help you out. I admit it's not the best way to have something translated, but it's probably just as good or better than my grammar. To view my blog in Spanish go to and do a search for "hispanic genealogy+Lynn Turner" then click on the link by my blog's URL that says: "Traduzca esta pagina" and the site and all it's contents will appear in Spanish. Here is the breakdown of the foreign visitors that visited the blog today.

  • Spain - 7 visitors
  • Puerto Rico - 4 visitors
  • Mexico, Chile, Venezuela, and Argentina - 2 visitors each
  • El Salvador, Costa Rica, Peru, Uruguay, and Liectenstein - 1 visitor each
My site meter isn't perfect. It is possible that the same person visited my blog 2 or more times through out the day, however, I think these viewers were mostly unique given that the site meter tells me where in each country the visitors were from, for example. The El Salvador visitor was from Atiquizaya, Ahuachapan. Thank you all again for visiting and using the blog it definitely encourages me to keep doing it.

Mexico IGI Batch Number Experiment - A little background. I teach part-time at Brigham Young University a class called: Computers in Family History. Part of the class on Wednesday, October 10th was on wikis. Since I asked the class to create or contribute to a genealogical wiki I decided that I would do the same. As part of my lecture that day I had the class watch a little video called: Wikis in Plain English. After the class I watched another video done by the same company (The Common Craft) called Wetpaint Wikis in Plain English. If you have 5-10 minutes you should watch these videos. Wetpaint seemed like an easy wiki to use, so the Mexico IGI batch number experiment was born.

Since October 13th I have had 3 other individuals join the wiki and 2 of them have contributed at least one batch number. Let me tell you what we have done in 2 weeks worth of work. Since October 13th 109 batches have been entered into the wiki. That is 109 batches for 31 towns/cities in Mexico. If you don't know what IGI batch numbers are or how they can help you in your research please read: IGI on FamilySearch and watch my meager attempt at a video version called My IGI Videoette. Hopefully my videos will get better! 109 batch numbers is a great start and I have a feeling that it is only going to get bigger. Please join the wiki and see how easy it is to add batch numbers to the pages. The more people contributing the better. Imagine if only one person was trying to undertake this kind of would take forever, but with the help of the community it will won't take as long. Just for your information the top 4 states with the most batch numbers up until today are:
Thank you OFRAME for joining and contributing all that you have!!

Well, the numbers probably aren't as interesting to you as they are to me, however, I think we can all learn from them. Thank you all again for coming to the site and encouraging me via your visits to keep blogging and keep contributing to the Hispanic genealogical community.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Hispanic Family History Conference Online

One of the emails that I received asking that the FHL transmit or record the classes from the recent Hispanic genealogy conference was from a passionate family historian from Mexico. The emailer couldn't understand why the conference was going to take place in Salt Lake City. It amused me when the emailer compared it having the Muslim pilgrimage to Mexico City instead to Mecca. It amused me, because Salt Lake City is often referred to the Mecca for family history / genealogy research. To me it makes sense having a conference at the largest genealogical library in the World, the same library that draws thousands from around the globe to research their ancestors.

Again, I would like to thank all those that emailed me (and Ruth) asking that something be done so that those that couldn't make it to 'Mecca' could participate. The same emailer suggested that we hold the conference in different countries each year, which is a wonderful idea, however, it's probably not the most cost effective way to do it, and it would take us more than 15 years to cover every country. So, what's the best way to reach out to the potentially thousands of people desiring to drink from the genealogical well? THE INTERNET!!

About a week or so ago I had a phone conversation with Jonathan Walker, who works with offering one class per week on Hispanic genealogy. We decided that we would like to do an online family history fair/conference in January. We are hoping for Saturday, January 12th, however that may change by a week or so...stay tuned.

Jonathan and I feel that there is a need to reach out to those around the world so that we can learn from one another and try to get more people interested in discovering their Hispanic roots. We think that starting small and proving to others that there is a need is the best way to start. We have decided to hold 4 classes (2 classes be presented simultaneously).

First things first...what are you interested in? What topics would you like to hear us discuss in our first online fair/conference? This is a chance for you to recommend a class on a topic that you have always needed or wanted. We will take the 4 highest recommended topics and prepare the classes. Did I mention that the classes can be in Spanish or English?

So, how do you make your recommendations? Leave a comment at the end of this blog post, or participate in the poll that will be made available in the near future. I will propose a few topics to get the ball rolling, but it will be up to you guys to determine which topics are presented. You can also email Jonathan (I'll post his email once I have his permission). If people would like to contact me to make their recommendations I would prefer it be done via the blog (comments section and or via the poll)

Mark 12 Jan 2008 on your calendar (keep in mind that this date is subject to change). You will see several announcements in a handful of mailing lists and online newsletters over the next couple of months. Please let others know...some may not have believed me that the more noise you make the more attention you'll get, but in this case it is true. If the first online fair/conference is successful, then it will only result in more frequent and larger ones in the future.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Hispanic Family History Conference Review

I think the announcement that Roots Television was going to record several of the classes, and the rain/snow showers kept a lot of people away from the conference. I'm guessing that we had about 75 registered attendees, which is not good if you want more classes on the topic of Hispanic genealogy. As most of you know when the demand isn't high for a particular product, then those producing that product aren't too anxious to continue producing it. I'm not saying that there isn't a need, nor am I saying that the interest level isn't there, but I was disappointed to see small class sizes.

Understanding that there was more of a world wide interest lessens the blow for me. Receiving about 50 emails from individuals requesting that the conference be recorded or transmitted via the web was great (it was a huge determining factor for getting classes recorded) . I think that those of you that sent the emails represented hundreds or even possibly thousands through out Latin America and Spain. You 'emailers' should be happy to know that 8 total classes were video taped by Roots Television, which turned out to be one half of all the Saturday classes. Roots TV was incredible to work with, and I believe we will be seeing the classes on their site in the near future...which brings me back to supply and demand. If we want to see more Hispanic classes (and other material for Hispanic countries) videotaped by Roots TV, then we need to prove to them that there is a need. If only the 50 people that emailed me visit their site to view the Hispanic conference material, then they probably won't add more stuff on the topic. Roots TV did tell me that they thought that this would merely be the tip of the iceberg, however, if no one comes to their site to use it, the iceberg just might melt away...THIS IS A CALL TO ACTION: MAKE YOUR VOICES HEARD IN THE GENEALOGICAL COMMUNITY. TELL EVERYONE - USE THE ONLINE CLASSES, MAKE YOUR PRESENCE FELT ON THE ROOTS TELEVISION SITE!! Just like you guys made this videotaping happen you can make Hispanic genealogy the hottest niche in the industry/community.

Since I told everyone in my classes not to take notes, I thought I would let everyone know where I have posted the slides from my presentations. Hopefully those of you that weren't at the classes will benefit from them as well. You can find them by visiting the 'Hispanic Genealogy' google group ( you can also find a link to the group on the bottom right side of the screen of this blog under the section titled: 'Groups'). If you have a genealogy / family history question you can also ask it on the google group in the discussions section. You can also check out the different Mexico websites (we only scratched the surface in the class) that I wrote about back in June by clicking here.

Thanks again for all the made this happen, now let's raise the bar! Let's make sure that the Hispanic community gets as much attention genealogically speaking as does the United States and Europe.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Mexico IGI Batch Number Experiment

I am probably the worst genealogist in the world when it comes to research logs and keeping track of where I have searched, especially when it comes to recording IGI batch numbers. Luckily groups like Nuestros Ranchos and the Asociación de Genealogía Hispana have done a wonderful job in parts of Mexico (thank you Nuestros Ranchos), and other Latin American countries (thank you AGH) to record batch information.

I was teaching my students this last week about wikis, and we talked about the FamilySearch Wiki and all the good it's doing, but it also got me thinking. Wikis are designed for mass authoring or contributors. Depending on the wiki and how it's set up anyone coming to your site or anyone that creates an account can help build content, or facilitate a group of people working on a specific project.

The wheels started turning; I have always been troubled by the fact that there isn't one good repository/website that lists IGI batch numbers for all of I created an IGI Mexico batch lab /experiment. I created a wiki for anyone can use and/or contribute to; it's found at:

All you have to do to contribute a batch number is to create an account, which is free, then you can add batch numbers to your heart's content. The more people that contribute the better and more complete the batch number collection will be. For those of you new to wikis and/or to wetpaint, I recommend going through the video tour, which is made available once you create your account. You will be amazed at how easy it is to add stuff to the wiki.

For more information about IGI batch numbers and why they are so important in Mexican (and Hispanic genealogy in general) genealogy / family history please read my blog post:

Friday, October 12, 2007

FHL Hispanic Conference and Roots Television

Thanks to some faithful and diligent genealogy / family history enthusiasts out there I have some good news to report. About two weeks ago my email contact information was posted in a mailing list. The message said that if there was enough interest I might be able to find a way to get the Hispanic family history conference to more people than just those that are able to attend in Salt Lake City.

I was inundated with emails (nearly 50), which would make up at least 1/4 to 1/3 of the number that will most likely attend in person. I made some phone calls and sent out some emails, and about a week ago I was contacted by LDS Public Affairs asking for my permission to let Roots Television to tape one (maybe more) of my classes. I only had one request, that the classes be made available via the internet, not just television. Today I just learned that the taped classes will be posted online for all to use. I hope that you all pass the word along, because the more interest Roots Television sees in Hispanic genealogy could very easily influence them to gather and/or produce more classes on the subject.

Thanks everyone that made this wish come true...I hope that you all benefit from the conference regardless whether you can attend the conference in person or not.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Central America Genealogy

I was sifting through my posts today and realized that I really haven't posted anything specific to Central America. Understanding that I won't be able to include all resources for all countries in one post I thought I would start small and add new information over time.


A fairly new website is available for those of you with ancestros from the Zacapa region. The site can be found at: The site claims to have a 95, 000 name database that they will search for you, however, they want to add to it so they are asking for an interchange of information. For more details check out the Objetivo page on the site. This brings up the topic of family reconstitution/One-place studies or prosopography, but we'll leave that for another day.


Some of you may be aware, but for those of you that aren't the latest upcoming FamilySearch Indexing project for Hispanic countries is Managua civil registration records. This is exciting for those with Nicaraguan ancestry, because until recently there hasn't been many records available to use. Now in time (hopefully everyone will help no matter where their ancestry is from in Latin America) Nicaragua will have a nice collection indexed online.

As I mentioned above...this is only the beginning of hopefully many posts on Central America. There are many resource out there...stay tuned, I'll write about more shortly.

Friday, October 5, 2007

FamilySearch Press Release - 4 Oct 2007

I just received this news release via email this morning. I hope you find it as interesting as I do...hopefully those of you that use family history centers as your 'research centers' will take advantage of this!

Not Sure Which Genealogy Management Software to Use?

Select vendors allow free use of products through local family history centers.

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH─FamilySearch announced that many popular desktop genealogy products can now be used for free in its family history centers in North America. Patrons who already own or use any of the products to manage their personal family histories at home will be able to conveniently update personal files through flash drives while working at the research centers. FamilySearch’s popular genealogy management software (Personal Ancestral File) is available as a free download at

FamilySearch’s family history centers are frequented by millions of genealogy enthusiasts. Patrons use the centers’ computers, Internet, and microfilm readers to do genealogy research. “Once you start moving beyond your parents and grandparents in your personal research, I cannot imagine keeping track of your family tree and research efforts completely by hand or in paper files anymore,” said Paul Nauta, manager of Public Affairs for FamilySearch. “Great software programs are available that make it easy to build, organize, manage, share, and view your family history,” Nauta added.

The challenge is deciding which software programs might be best for the user’s needs. People who want to purchase a commercial program for home use can sample software applications in centers to help decide which to purchase for home use. FamilySearch is working with software developers to make relevant desktop applications available for free for use in family history centers. Some of the products are genealogy management software, while others provide advanced tools for editing and searching personal or online databases, or expanded options for printing or viewing family tree data.

Center patrons that use any of the featured products at home will now have the convenience of using the same product in their local family history center. FamilySearch also offers its own genealogy management software (Personal Ancestral File 5.2) for free through Following are the new products available for use in centers:

Genealogy Management Software

  • Ancestral Quest 12 (By Incline Software).
  • Roots Magic (formerly Family Origins)
  • Legacy Family Tree (By Milennia Corporation)

- more -

Family History Software Utilities

  • Personal Historian (Roots Magic). Writes and preserves personal life stories.
  • PAFWiz 2.0 (Incline Software). Add-on tools and report utility for PAF 5.2.
  • PAF Insight (Ohana Software). Performs advanced functions for LDS patrons. Provides improved merging, place editing, and other data cleanup tools.
  • PAF Companion 5.2 (Progeny Software). Add-on utility that prints a variety of quality charts and reports in different formats.
  • Family Atlas (Roots Magic). Creates and publishes custom maps directly from personal genealogy data.
  • Pedigree Analysis (Generation Maps). Patrons can submit any genealogy computer file for a free pedigree analysis.
  • Genelines (Progeny Software). Depicts an ancestor's life in the context of time by bringing together elements of time, history, and family relationships on visual time line charts.
  • Map My Family Tree (Progeny Software). Automatically “geocodes” a family tree from any popular genealogy file format and illustrates where ancestors were born, were married, and died on a navigable geographic map. It also prints customized maps.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Somos Primos Newsletter

If you haven't subscribed to the monthly Somos Primos Newsletter (online...subscription is free), then you are missing out. The newsletter encompasses all things Hispanic heritage, and always has something for the family historian/genealogist.

This morning I was just browsing through October's are a couple of topics that caught my eye (keeping in mind that there are too many to mention).
You can also visit the Somos Primos website and search or browse all the back issues of the newsletter. Check it out...the newsletter will point you to new resources, books, compiled family histories, and other historical information for Mexico, Spain, Caribbean/Cuba, Southwest U.S., Sephardic heritage and many other's by far my favorite online newsletter for Hispanic heritage, history, and family history.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

PARES - Portal de Archivos Españoles

Hands down the best website for Spanish genealogy is The website has great genealogical information and online records for the entire country of Spain. If you haven't visited the site yet, you are missing out on some great stuff. Granted it doesn't have every Spaniard that ever lived, but it is a great place to start.

A couple of weeks ago I was in Austin, Texas presenting a couple of classes at the Nosotros Los Tejanos confernece. One of my classes focused on finding immigrant ancestors from Spain. I quickly found myself adjusting my class to the can really divide Spanish emigration into two time periods 1) Early to 1821 2) 1821 to Present-more or less. Of the fifity plus that were in the class not one had ancestors that arrived after the Colonial period ended. The class that I had hard time preparing actually became fairly easy to teach, thanks to Pares.

I am not claiming that all Spaniards will be in the database, however, Spanish law before 1821 'forced' all those leaving to go through the port in Sevilla. How many actually followed that law compared to how many actually emigrated is another topic. The Archivo General de Indias maintains a collection called: Libros de Asientos: Pasajeros a Indias, and has published a series of books called Catálogos de Pasajeros a Indias, which is basically an extraction of the libros and the petitions to emigrate from the Sevilla port. Both of these are available through Pares (up to 1700 at least). The Catálogos de Pasajeros a Indias is important in this case, because it makes searching the libros de asientos possible. The libros de asientos on the site are the actual images listing the emigrants, which are not in the best shape, and for anyone trying to read Spanish handwriting from before the early 1600s knows how difficult it can be.

The best way to access the collections is to do a Búsqueda Simple or Avanzada. To narrow your search make sure that you specify a time period and select the appropriate this case that would be the Archivo General de Indias. You can browse the collection by selecting the Inventario Dinámico de Archivos and selecting Archivo General de Indias. To see the original images you will need to enter the Casa de la Contratación the extracted entries can be browsed by going to The Catálogos de Pasajeros a Indias.

Before you search you will want the least the name of your immigrant ancestor and a fairly narrow date range of when he left Spain for the New World. Without at least this information you search might be in vain. Please keep in mind that I am not advocating that everyone that emigrated to the New World between the mid 1500s thru about 1821 will be found on the site. I am suggesting that you begin your search here though...searching the internet from home is a lot cheaper and faster than most other methods. Give the site a chance, I think you will be surprised how much genealogical and historical information the Ministerio de Cultura has added to the site. The site is free to use, and it has become a lot easier to use too.