The Beyond Kin Project and FamilySearch

We created the Beyond Kin Project (BKP) method with the idea that it would be portable to most online trees and desktop genealogical software environments. So far that has been true in all environments but one: FamilySearch.

FamilySearch is a vital resource for us all, and we honor that. But it presents conflicts with the method for at least two reasons. First of all, it is a collaborative environment, with people sharing their ancestors and the facts and sources associated with them. Because others can simply delete your work, we have a problem with those who do not want the slaveholding status of their ancestors to be noted. There are also purists — and we honor their motives — who do not want “virtual people” in their tree and do not want a spouse showing up with the name “The Beyond Kin Project.” So they delete what they don’t like or don’t understand.

We thought we had a viable workaround by encouraging BKP researchers in FamilySearch to keep their “Beyond Kin Project” record disconnected from the slaveholder (SH). We would use the comments fields to direct people from the SH to our work.

And that might have worked, but …

FamilySearch personnel can deactivate records that they consider non-people or records with names containing uncommon name characters . Since we deal with people who records often left  them nameless, we get creative with naming conventions, which apparently flags problems for FamilySearch.

FamilySearch has also attributed our use of a logo as a profile image to an intent to sell something — another violation of FamilySearch protocol. They deactivated the logo on some records. But the logo is our way of flagging virtual people and explaining to people why. The BKP is purely nonprofit, by the way, and so far has never taken a dime from anyone. We only borrow on the Golden Egg Genealogist for server space.

Due to these issues, one of our researchers, who had documented the enslaved persons (EPs) for her entire county found her work disabled overnight. FamilySearch has not responded to our appeals on this, so we must assume it will not work for them.

This places us in the position of having to declare FamilySearch a noncompatible environment for the Beyond Kin Project. Regretfully, we must encourage all BKP researchers who have been using the FamilySearch environment to move your work to another venue — and do it quickly. We do not know when FamilySearch will disable other BKP records.

Thank you for your continued efforts, and do notify us if you experience conflicts with any other software programs or environments.

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Frazine Taylor on the Beyond Kin Project

I have helped people of all ethnic backgrounds to research their family history for over 25 years. However I have witnessed firsthand the frustration and disappointment of African-Americans when the research gets to the year of 1870, and for some, 1866, where they hit the predictable “brick wall.” You can’t go around it, get under it, or go through it, because there is no hope or help! Continue reading Frazine Taylor on the Beyond Kin Project

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Donna Baker on the Beyond Kin Project

We gravitate to genealogy by its promise to reveal our family’s story. In pursuing my own story, I have noticed with sympathy that my African American friends had a much harder time of it. I was encountering my own brick walls, but nothing compared to theirs. It was unfortunate, but it never crossed my mind that I could do anything about it. Continue reading Donna Baker on the Beyond Kin Project

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For every soul a story, a family, a name