Knox County Ohio Project

We are currently working to reconstruct the entire population of Knox County, Ohio on the Family Tree. We are focusing on the 28,000 individuals that were living in the county in the 1900 census and are adding these individuals to the tree and linking them to their vital records (birth, marriage, and death) and each of the censuses that occurred while they were alive. We are using this data to develop a set of measures to evaluate the coverage, quality, and duplication rates on the Family Tree. We are using the duplicates we find to develop alternative search algorithms to identify duplicates in the future. We currently need volunteers to help us find death dates and attach a death record source for part of our Knox County sample. The work is split into small tasks so any amount of time you can provide is helpful.

Maiden Names Project

One of the biggest challenges with linking families together across generations is that women in the US generally adopt the surname of their husband when they marry. Identifying a woman’s maiden name is crucial for expanding and linking together the Family Tree. Luckily, many states include a woman’s maiden name on the vital records (birth, marriage, death) of each of her children. The names of a woman’s parents also appear on marriage and death certificates and parents often end up living with a daughter at some point and show up in the census. We are creating a list of women from the US on the Family Tree who have no surname listed or have the same surname as their husband. We are creating algorithms to identify the maiden name of these women and also enlisting volunteers to find and add these women’s maiden names on the Family Tree.

FamilySearch Coverage Project

There has been considerable recent interest among academic researchers to link individuals and families across time to answer research questions related to geographic and economic mobility. What many researchers don’t realize is that many of those linkages already exist among the user-created linkages on the Family Tree. We are developing some approaches to measure the fraction of the US population that is already on the Family Tree. We are focusing on the 76 million people who were enumerated in the 1900 census and identifying the fraction of those people who are already on the Family Tree by state and county. Our initial estimates indicate that at least 37% of these people are already on the Family Tree. If you haven’t put your own family on the Family Tree yet, you might want to try it out. There is a good chance that several of your great-great grandparents are already there.

Academic Partner Projects

We are currently working on projects for several academic partners. The students in our lab are currently helping Martha Bailey (University of Michigan) with the LIFEM project, Adriana Lleras-Muney (UCLA) and Anna Aizer (Brown) with the Mother’s Pension project, Rick Hornbeck (Chicago) with a project to digitize and index the US manufacturing census, and Ran Abramitzky (Stanford) and Leah Boustan (UCLA) with the Ellis Island project. We will help with any projects that can directly benefit FamilySearch either by improving the Family Tree or expanding their indexed data collections. Our main motivation for these projects is to provide research experiences to BYU students that are directly related to family history work since BYU is rather unique in having such a large number of students with lots of experience doing family history work. Contact Joe Price ( if you would like the Record Linking Lab to help with a project.