Security, SSL and HTTPS are three words that confuse many people. are ignored by many people. but are vital to the well-being of your family history data. They have always been mentioned in kiwitrees installation instructions but now might be the right time to act on the suggestions there. 2018 has already started out as the year we will all need to focus more on our family history web site’s security.
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When the original version of PhpGedView (PGV) was released in 2001 internet browsers were relatively basic compared to today’s standards. So it was common to use pop-up overlay screens for functions such as edit windows. PGV’s were commonly about 500 px wide by 600 px tall and positioned somewhere near the centre of the browser screen. They were, in most browsers, the only way to have both your original data and the edit window open at the same time easily. Read More

In my inbox this morning I found this offer and announcement from the British Newspaper Archive (a subsidiary of Find My past) about the 1939 Register

*** LATEST NEWS – 28 Jan 2016 8:00am (NZT)***

1939 register - BNA offer

This brief announcement, not repeated as far as I can see on any FMP web site or social media, tells us a number of important things:

  1. FMP are about to increase (all?) their prices. 🙁
  2. You can reduce the impact of that temporarily by using this 10% discount offer 🙂
  3. You’ve only got about two days to do so 🙁
  4. FMP are including the 1939 Register in their World and Britain subscriptions from February 16th 🙂

This last point (4) is by far the most interesting, but can be read in a number of different ways.

We could simply be grateful. It is after all what the majority (as far as I can tell) of people have been demanding since the 1939 was released in November.

But many of us will be annoyed that so soon after emphatically repeating that it was NOT going to be included in subscriptions they have again demonstrated poor communication skills (to be generous!). The phrase “milked for all they are worth” comes to mind and doesn’t leave me feeling good about FMP.

I’m sure we will all wonder WHY? Has the initial uptake and payments been so great that they have already covered their initial investment? Or has it been so poor, and caused so many people to cancel or (like me) not renew their subscription that an urgent and desperate u-turn is necessary?

I guess based on previous experiences we will never know. We must all simply make our own decisions on whether to take up the opportunity or not.

For myself, I decided weeks ago that for all but my closest ancestors “unlocking the household” simply wasn’t worth the expense. I discovered nothing new in 99.9% of cases. I have however found a number of new pieces of information from the freely available data, and will continue to do the same. I generally do not find FMPs other data sets of any great use over and above the alternatives I already subscribe to.

Well, hopefully that got your attention, but of course it’s not 100% true 🙁

However, I do want to explain how you really can get a lot, perhaps even all you need, from this new data set without having to pay anything.

The basic concept is that searching the database costs nothing. Charges only start if you want to “unlock the household” as FMP describe it, or in other words look at the full original document.

Searching for an individual is easy, just enter their surname, given name(s) and year of birth and you will get a list of possible records. If necessary narrow it done by details like county, district etc, until you have a manageable list.

But that only gets you one person. If you click the “Preview” button it might tell you there are others at the same address, some that are viewable and others that will be “closed”.  What you really want to know is who those others (apart from the ‘closed’ ones) are, without having to carry out multiple searches, which still might not tell you they are in the same house.

The answer is surprisingly simple. Here is an example of the “preview” you get for the first person you found:


The valuable information you need next is the “Ref: RG101/1858F/005/41” at bottom left, or to be precise you need just two parts of it, 1858F and 005. With these two numbers you can quickly get a list of ALL the (not closed) individuals on that entire page of the register!

With those numbers saved, go back to the search results and click “New search”. Don’t enter anything except, right near the bottom of the page, in the two boxes labelled “TNA REFERENCE”. Enter the first part (1858F in my case) into the “Piece Number” box, and the second (005 in my case) in the “Item number” box. Click search and you will get the full page list. That’s usually about 30 names, depending how many are “closed”. A full page looks like about 44 names, but most pages have at least some closed records.

As of 8th November FMP have removed the TNA Ref. from the preview display. Apparently, according to their FaceBook page they are “working on this area” and will be reinstating it. Time will tell! However all is not lost. When you click the “Preview” button look at the URL it creates. It will look like this:

The references you need are in there still if you strip out the “%2f” which are code for “/”. But to make it easier you can use this page which does all that work automatically for you: [span color=”hue”]1939 Register: TNA Reference finder [/span]

As of 18th November FMP have now encoded those URL’s!! But they havn’t beaten us yet 🙂  The TNA reference IS still there, you just need to look a little deeper. So now when you find an individual in the 1939 Register got to their “Preview screen (Click the “preview ” button). Then click Ctrl+U or right-click and select View page source or similar depending on your browser.  Search down the page for a phrase like this: “TNA/R39/0882/0882G/015/37”. Select and copy it.

Now go to my conversion page:  [span color=”hue”]1939 Register: TNA Reference finder [/span] and paste that code into the box, click submit, then click the new link it will provide to get to the FMP page for that reference.

From that list you should be able to recognise your family either because you know their names, or simply because they will share a common surname. You will also know if there are more that you don’t recognise by comparing the number you do with the total number given on the earlier preview screen. In my example you will see that is two, one shown and “1 more person on this record”. I also have “5 more people who are officially closed”, which matches exactly the living children in this family (my mother and her siblings) at that time. You also have their full names, perhaps some alternative names (shown in brackets on the results list) and their year of birth.

As of 1st December FMP have finally removed ALL easily viewable sources of the TNA reference. They ARE still there, hidden in encrypted references such as “tnnco3qcnsmp ru2z4oekvkiqh sjug62cqkwjfe 5zld5yabyv4cwq”. This is the encrypted form of “R39 0882G 015 37″. If you are well versed in the black arts of hacking this is not particularly hard to decode. But it’s not an area I will make public, so have hidden my  [span color=”hue”]1939 Register: TNA Reference finder [/span] page from general public view, keeping it just for my own use. Sorry, but you’ll have to blame FMP for that. Clearly they are losing so much money from this over-hyped marketing exercise they need to ensure there are no ways to access anything vaguely useful without paying through the nose for it!!

So now you REALLY have to decide if it’s worth paying to see the rest of the information. Only you can answer that.  I certainly don’t think it is worth it from the ones I ahve “opened”. Are you a gambler? Do you think there “might” be more useful information. What you should get for your payment will be:

  • Exact dates of birth
  • Occupations
  • The exact address of the household

In most cases that is all. Are those things useful to you, or do you already know them?

You ‘might’ occasionally find some handwritten extra information. I found my Gt grandfather was noted as an “A R P Warden” in addition to his normal occupation, which is interesting but not an essential part of his genealogy record.

You will also find transcription errors. FMP are selling this (at a reasonably high price) as a special database they have worked hard to digitise on behalf of the nation. But in truth it is much like any other transcribed record and does inevitably have a fair number of transcription errors. No one should be surprised or upset by that. Transcribing is a hard and often boring task. Mistakes are inevitable. It’s just something we as genealogists need to accept and learn to work with. It applies to ALL record types, not just digitised ones.

Anyone researching ancestors living in England or Wales in 1939 will almost certainly be aware that yesterday (2nd November 2015) FindMyPast released their digitised version of the 1939 Register. For more details see 1939 Register

To help you with the initial search on their site I have created a new plugin for Kiwitree’s ‘simpl_research’ module. Download your copy now from

phpMyFAQ – No longer an alternative to kiwitrees’ FAQ module

Back in 2013 I published a series of articles here on the subject of using phpMyFAQ (pMF) as an alternative to webtrees’ FAQ module. It seemed to offer a more comprehensive solution to adding FAQ pages to a web site than the basic module available in kiwitrees.

Well, sadly it has now been necessary to remove those posts, and STRONGLY recommend that anyone who followed those directions remove the product from their website.

I must immediately explain that there is nothing wrong with pMF. It remains an excellent and highly popular product. The difficulty comes when using it within kiwitrees, in an iframe, as my original posts recommended. The issue is one of security, and is explained on the pMF web site here.

It should still be possible to use it outside of kiwitrees (perhaps linked via an “extra menu”), but that would then require your members to have a separate login to their kiwitrees one.

Last November kiwitrees user Roy Evans announced the publication of a new family history book about his Gohman(n) Family “Our Gohman Story, The Third Generation“. Now he has released the second instalment “Our Gohman Story, the First and Second Generations”. He was kind enough to provide the following endorsement for the role of kiwitrees in the book’s development.

[testimonial5 author=”Roy Evans” company=”Gohman(n) Genealogy” ]You asked me to let you know when my second book came out. Kiwitrees played a major role in the task of managing the huge amount of data involved; individuals, events, sources, images, and even story lines.[/testimonial5][clear]

The second genealogy book is about the Central Minnesota Gohmann family’s first and second generations. The original was about the third generation. The new book can be found at AuthorHouse: and Amazon: The eBook will be available shortly. The book will also be distributed by other on-line bookstores.

The book description.

“Some fifty years apart, two itinerant men wander into two adjacent German towns. Two of their descendants, a man and a woman, eventually meet and, after traveling nearly a fourth of the way around the world to a new land, are married. In story form, this book covers the German roots of the couple, reasons for leaving their homeland, ending up in the Minnesota Territory, and the effort of becoming successful homesteaders. Following the in-depth exploration of the lives of the first generation couple, individual stories about the second generation of the family are presented. Generally engaged as farmers, the two generations of Gohmans had very diverse personalities but adapted to the world around them uniformly with strength and character. The family members’ experienced and adapted to great changes in their lives—moving from a German Heuerling environment to working in early Cincinnati industries and finally moving on to homesteading in the wilderness of the Minnesota Territory.”

Next release of kiwitrees

The next release of kiwitrees will be designated “3.0.0”. I decided to use the next major number sequence this time as there are a significant number of new features in this release.

I hope to be able to release it in about two weeks – but no guarantees. It really depends what else crops up  between now and then.

I have recently accepted the role of “web master” for the Guild of One-Name Studies. They need a stalled attempt to redesign their very complex web site taken to completion, a job I fully expect to take at least 12 months! So time is a little limited just now.

But back to kiwitrees. Here is a brief summary of the main changes:

  1. The revised format for the “family” page has been taken further, and includes simple one-click “add new” options for all missing immediate relatives (parents, grand-parents etc.)
  2. The popular webtrees add-on “Fancy Tree View by JustCarmen is now a core part of kiwitrees. At present it remains a module, but eventually I aim to include it simply as one of the standard reports, and for it to become the first of many replacements for the old reporting system. Probably won’t get that part into this release though.
  3. When adding new media objects the default “highlight image” option will now be ‘no’ rather than blank. This ensures you and your users make a positive decision on which object will be the highlighted one. See this FAQ for more details:
  4. Sending HTML-based mail is now a configurable option, and if you do choose it some basic wysiwyg options will be available.
  5. Some new admin features:
    1. Update place names. This allows you to modify place names across your whole family tree very easily.
    2. Append trees. The long awaited ability to append (add) one tree to another. But note, this is “append” and NOT “merge”. There is no attempt made to match or merge any records that might be the same. you will need to do that later, but you do have “find duplicated individuals” and “Merge records” to help you.
    3. Renumber family tree. This is an essential preliminary step before you use “Append trees”. It ensures there is no possibility of re-using an existing xref number for any type of record.
  6. The early changes to the style of the administration pages has been taken further. In common with updates to the default “kiwitrees” theme it uses more modern looking styles, actions, and fonts.
  7. All the main menu items can now have access (viewing) levels set and be positioned anywhere along the menu display.
    1. I still want to do something similar with their sub-menus but not in this release.
    2. I do want to include the themes/languages/favourites menu group in this as well. Hopefully in this release but not 100% sure yet.
  8. The removal of “My page” will be part of this release. I currently have that working on the “kiwitrees” theme, so just need to copy the code across to the others.
    1. Because there is no My page, when you login from the Home page you will now be taken to your ‘individual record’. That is usually (but not necessarily) yourself.
    2. It’s replacement is a pop-out “widget” bar on the left side of all pages. It can accept pretty much the same “blocks” that could be used on “My page” in it’s narrower right-hand column.
    3. As a result of this change access to pages like administration, my account, my individual record, etc. have also been moved and will be in a drop-down under your user name at the top of the page.
  9. A “check for possible duplicates” has been added to each of the “add new person” edit windows. This will give you the choice of checking of your new person might already exist in your tree before you click ‘save’. It simply searches for matching given name / surname matches in the “names” table. It will stop at 10 matches to save processing time. That seems like more than enough to suggest you might do some checking before you add that person.

I think that covers all the main items. There are of course the usual minor ‘tweaks’ and bug fixes as well.

If you would like to preview and test any of these features I will have a “beta demo” site up and running in the next 24 hours. Just drop me an email if you would like access. As a number of the changes are in the administration area I will need to give you full access to the site. So you must be a member here, and known to me.

Nigel Osborne