Thursday, July 17, 2014

Making the Connection: Billiongraves to FamilySearch

One of the things you don’t think about when you volunteer time with FamilySearch and Billiongraves (via FamilySearch Tree Connect), is that the families on the receiving end have no idea that you are a volunteer.  

I began my volunteer work with Billiongraves (BG) back in December 2013, and in 2014 I started volunteering to connect Billiongraves images with the FamilySearch Tree Connect records suggested to match the BG images.  As my volunteer hours increased, so did the number of sources I matched with FamilySearch records.  In my mind I thought, “How great is this? People researching their families will now have a source linked to their file that may lead them to further information regarding their ancestors.”  What didn’t dawn on me was that the people seeing the sources added would assume that I am their relative.

For the most part, the emails I have received have been rather friendly and appreciative.  Each email has inquired as to my connection to the family and if I have any more documented information – or better yet, photographs.  I have had to reply with a standard email I put together given below:

Good morning.  I am thinking that the reason you reached out to me was in regard to a Billiongraves source attached to a FamilySearch file connected with your family line.  I am a volunteer with both Billiongraves and FamilySearch.  The FamilyConnect link with both sites allows for images from Billiongraves to be attached to files already in existence on FamilySearch.  Thousands of volunteers daily connect these source images with matching records.  Unfortunately, I am not related to the ___ family, but hope that the source attached to your tree was something your family was able to use.  Good luck in your family research efforts!

So far, the response to my email has been positive:

You are right that is why I reached out to you! Bless your heart for replying AND for your service. I love the new “record hints” on Family Search and I have attached sources to people who are not my line either, so I understand!  Thank you for responding!

I’m not certain if in the future FamilySearch will change their matching policy to merely indicate that the source was connected via FamilySearch and not show the name of the volunteer.  For now, I will continue to respond to these inquiries, as well as address what the FamilySearch Tree Connect feature is to those who attend my Family History Workshops and other Family History groups to which I belong.  

The partnership that BillionGraves and FamilySearch has made is a boon to many researchers, and I am excited to one day see that someone has attached a source previously unknown to me on my own tree!

To learn more about BillionGraves and FamilySearch, check out their sites at and