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Family History Information Standards Organisation
An open, international organisation developing and promoting the use of standards in the exchange of genealogical and family history data.
An open, international organisation developing and promoting the use of standards in the exchange of genealogical and family history data.

Family History Information Standards Organisation's posts

First Draft Standards Released for Public Comment

When the tsc-public mailing list was last active, in May 2016, the consensus of the technical discussion was that there was a need for a citation element vocabulary for encoding the information about genealogical sources that normally appears in citations, complete with bindings to both GEDCOM and GEDCOM-X. Various issues faced the implementation of these ideas, including:

* The difficulty of presenting structured information in a flat dictionary of key:value pairs, which GEDCOM-X appeared to require.
* The unmaintained character of GEDCOM and its ad hoc extension mechanisms.
* Limited people interested in the nitty-gritty details of drafting potential policy documents.
* Easy distractions when ideas were floated without grounding in potential standards.

In the intervening year, the Technical Standing Committee began working on hammering out these issues and creating drafts that might encourage more focused public comment. The drafting process went on in the open on <> but without extensive email conversation outside of those working on the drafts.

We are happy to announce that several drafts have reached the point where we would like broader comments, similar to the creator name draft we circulated a little over a year ago.

Citation Elements: General Concepts

Presents the relationship between formatted citations and citation elements; presents a model for layered citations; presents a solution for replicated data in different languages or scripts; discusses subtyping, extensions, constraints, and cardinality; describes preservation of structure in list-flattening formats; provides all needed information for creating serialization formats and data model bindings.

Citation Elements: Bindings for RDFa

Presents a data model binding and serialization as RDFa attributes in HTML or XML, and thus for semantic markup of a formatted citation in HTML. An example of a list-flattening format and proof of concept that the concepts document is sufficient to define a data model binding.

A list of current drafts can be accessed at <>. We welcome any and all comments on these on the tsc-public mailing list <>, and as always invite anyone who would like to be more directly involved in writing and revising documents to let the TSC know.

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The FHISO Board met by Google Hangout on 13 June 2017 at 1800 UTC. Subjects covered include their legal status, finances, extending existing memberships, technical project team, and publication of imminent draft standards.

The minutes of this meeting are available here:

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A number of posts are available on FHISO's facebook page that describe their new strategy and their current work-in-progress. A number of draft standards are expected to be published soon for public comment.

Strategy document - (11 Jan 2017)

Vocabularies document - (17 Jan 2017)

Citation elements - (7 Mar 2017)

FHISO ELF - (19 Mar 2017)

Mark-up approach to citations - (19 May 2017)

RDFa mark-up - (24 May 2017)

Imminent draft standards - (18 Jun 2017)

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The FHISO Board met by Google Hangout on 16 March 2017 at 2000 UTC. Amendments of the Bylaws were proposed: (A) to remove references to the Membership Standing Committee (MSC) from the Bylaws; (B) to rename the Technical Standing Committee officers to be consistent with the newly renamed Membership Coordinators; and (C) to make various other minor editorial changes to the Bylaws. A revised Appeals Process Policy was circulated, including changes discussed in the earlier Board Meeting.

The minutes of this meeting are available here:
Previous Board minutes may be found here: http:

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Technical Priorities and Work Process

Richard Smith : February 17, 2016 6:12 pm : Announcements
The TSC have agreed on a new set of priorities for technical work, which are discussed in more detail in our strategy paper. In preparation for this work, the TSC have drafted a policy on the use of vocabularies. We would welcome discussion of these on the tsc-public mailing list.

The Board and TSC have recognised that FHISO’s by-laws, the TSC charter, and the TSC operations and policy manual were designed with a large organization in mind and are impeding work with the present number of volunteers. We plan to adopt a much less structured, more volunteer-based interim process until our governance structure is overhauled, and technical work towards our priorities will occur in a “committee of the whole” on the tsc-public mailing list.

The minutes of the last board meeting are also now available.

FHISO Board Meeting held 19 January 2016 at 1400 UTC
The meeting was held by private Google Hangout.

Present: Drew Smith — Chair; Tony Proctor — Vice Chair; Roger Moffat — Secretary; Andrew Hatchett — Membership Standing Committee Coordinator; Luther Tychonievich — Technical Standing Committee Coordinator; Richard Smith — Technical Standing Committee Co-Coordinator.

Absent: Greg Lamberson — Treasurer; Brett McPhee — Membership Standing Committee Co-Coordinator.

FHISO’s legal status. Drew Smith has contacted Robert Burkhead who has agreed to send any legal and financial paperwork (including the cheque book) to Roger Moffat.

Treasurer. Drew Smith has contacted Greg Lamberson who has no time to devote to FHISO business for at least the next few weeks. Resolved: Roger will temporarily assume the duties of Treasurer in addition to Secretary.

Technical work. The TSC presented three draft documents to the Board: our priorities, a more detailed strategy paper, and a policy on vocabularies. Resolved: the TSC will release these (modulo a little cleanup) to tsc-public for comment and to begin work on citations.

Administrative structure. Drew Smith reported on the process for rewriting the by-laws. Article 24 of the by-laws allows the Board to change the by-laws as needed, so no vote by the members is needed. Drew Smith and Roger Moffat will review the current by-laws and work towards a proposal to amend them.

RootsTech. Luther Tychonievich will be there from Wednesday onwards giving two presentations. Tony Proctor, Drew Smith and Roger Moffat will also be there.

PayPal. Tony Proctor reported a problem making a donation via PayPal. Resolved: Roger Moffat will liaise with Andy Hatchett to investigate.

Membership. All memberships have been extended to 2016-12-31.
BetterGEDCOM. The BetterGEDCOM wiki had been archived to the Board’s Google drive, and a notice placed on the wiki not to post to it.
Meeting concluded at 1510 UTC.

Submitted by Roger Moffat — Secretary

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FHISO were pleased to welcome Tony Proctor, recently appointed Vice Chair of FHISO, to his first board meeting on Friday, 27 November, 2015.  The minutes can be found online at

Tony is a Genealogist with considerable experience in software design and development. He graduated in physics but entered computing in late 1970′s. Born in Nottingham, England, Tony is currently working from rural Ireland.

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FHISO is happy to announce the formation of the Sources and Citations Exploratory Group.

The Sources and Citations Exploratory Group (or S&CEG) is tasked with carrying out exploratory work into the data representation of
information about and information contained within individual documents, monuments, artifacts, interviews, and other sources of data of interest to family history.  The Technical Standing Committee have appointed Sue Adams to be Coordinator of this group and provided the group with directives governing its operation.  Contributions from both experts and the wider genealogical community are welcome and necessary for the work.  Areas of expertise needed include archival standards and genealogical research processes.

A repository in GitHub has been provided to contain the ongoing research and analysis of the group:

To follow the work of the S&CEG, you can subscribe to their mailing list:

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FHISO at RootsTech 2015

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FHISO Board Announced
FHISO : September 15, 2014 7:05 am : Announcements
The following individuals are presently serving as members of the Executive Committee of Family History Information Standards Organisation.


Drew Smith – Chair
Drew Smith is an Assistant Librarian with the Academic Services unit of the University of South Florida (USF) Tampa Library, and serves as the liaison librarian to the USF School of Information and to the Florida Center for Cybersecurity. He has taught graduate-level courses in genealogical librarianship and indexing/abstracting, and undergraduate-level courses in web design. Drew earlier worked for academic computing departments at USF and at Clemson University (South Carolina).He is a past Director of FGS (2008-2013), past chair of its Technology Committee, and currently the “Rootsmithing with Technology” columnist for its FORUM magazine. He is past Secretary of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG). Drew is President of the Florida Genealogical Society of Tampa and has
served on the board of the Florida State Genealogical Society. He administers the GENEALIB electronic mailing list with over 1200 genealogy librarians as subscribers, a list he founded in 1996.Drew has been the co-host of The Genealogy Guys Podcast since September 2005, and together with George G. Morgan has produced over 270 one-hour episodes. Drew is author of the book Social Networking for Genealogists, published in 2009 by Genealogical Publishing Company, and with George is co-author of the book Advanced Genealogy Research Techniques, published in 2013 by McGraw-Hill. Drew has written extensively for NGS NewsMagazine (now NGS Magazine), Genealogical Computing, and Digital Genealogist.

Drew holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering and a Master of Science in Industrial Management from Clemson University, and a Master of Arts in Library and Information Science from USF.

Roger Moffat – Secretary
Roger Moffat is a transplant from New Zealand, where he last worked as the Manager of the New Zealand Research Station in Antarctica. He has been been involved in FHISO from its start and BetterGEDCOM as well. Roger studied Agricultural Engineering in New Zealand in the 1970s, and became interested in genealogy when he bought his first Macintosh computer in 1988.Serving as Genealogist for the Clan Moffat Society and DataMaster for the Western Michigan Genealogical Society, Roger is well versed in the challenges associated with moving genealogical data between different applications and formats. He’s looking forward to a standards-driven environment where things “just work”.

Greg Lamberson – Treasurer
Greg Lamberson, longtime genealogist, who runs the genealogy website at . Also an organizing member of FHISO ( ). Greg has extensive experience managing an organization’s technological growth and long-range plan in conjunction with its business goals. His specialties are IT management, Network architecture, cross-platform integration, and strategic planning. He is presently employed as Chief Information Officer- Egypt by VSE Corporation.

Luther Tychonievich – Technical Standing Committee Coordinator
Luther Tychonievich earned his doctorate in computer science in 2013 and now teaches in the computer science department at the University of Virginia. He became involved with FHISO in early 2013, becoming its secretary in August 2013 and the coordinator of the technical standing committee in June 2014. He is fascinated by the technical challenges that family history data present and human-computer interaction that the underlying data models inspire, particularly as it relates to collaborative research.

Richard Smith – Technical Standing Committee Co-Coordinator
Richard Smith has been interested in genealogy for more than 20 years, and joined FHISO in April 2013. He has been an active contributor to FHISO’s Call for Papers and since July 2013 has served as the co-coordinator of FHISO’s Technical Standing Committee. Richard lives in Cambridge, England and works for Mythic Beasts, an internet hosting company he co-founded in 2000.He previously spent seven years working as a C++ developer in a knowledge management start-up, and holds Master of Arts and Master of Natural Science degrees from Cambridge University where he studied physics. He is familiar with a wide range of open standards in the field of data representation and exchange, and is looking forward to putting this experience to use as FHISO develop new genealogical standards.

Andrew Hatchett – Membership Standing Committee Coordinator
An amateur genealogist for more than 50 years, Andrew Hatchett served in the United States Air Force and has experience in business, office management, sales and quality control. He retired from Laboratory Corporation of America in 2001 and has since been a beta tester for several software companies.He joined BetterGEDCOM in February 2011; in November of that year, he became Moderator of the BetterGEDCOM Wiki and part of the group organizing FHISO. Andrew previously served as Vice-President/Secretary of Family History Information Standards Organisation from March 2012 thru August 2013. He presently serves as Membership Standing Committee Coordinator of FHISO and Moderator of the BetterGEDCOM Wiki.

Brett McPhee – Membership Standing Committee Co-Coordinator
Brett McPhee has worked across several fields including banking, retail, manufacturing, government and education. Roles include clerical, farming, assembly, payroll, policy development, style and standards setting, accreditation, web development, IT support, software development, book editing, research and reporting.After researching the history of a heritage listed house he was living in, Brett began researching his own family history in 2006. He has helped many with research and recording their work but often found conflict in how this history data was shared across various programs and platforms. After finding the BetterGEDCOM group, Brett assisted in the initial establishment of FHISO and currently sits as a Board member.

FHISO is also pleased to announce that expiration dates for all memberships purchased before August 1, 2014 are being extended by an additional year.
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