Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

RootsTech 2014 Official Blogger

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

New Online FamilySearch Training Now Available—October

From a blog post from FamilySearch:
Several new classes have been added to the FamilySearch Learning Center. These new classes include:
  • A class on descendancy research
  • A class on how to separate names that were incorrectly combined in Family Tree
  • Four classes on using Spanish records in Spain, Latin America, and Mexico. These classes are presented in Spanish
I don't think too many people realize the huge number of online classes available in the Learning Center on FamilySearch.org. In fact, in my experience, few people even know that it is sitting there in the Get Help link from the startup page.

Monday, October 20, 2014

FamilySearch Memories Pages Updated

FamilySearch.org has implemented some addition features to the Memories Page primarily dealing with changes to the Photos. The announcement was featured in a blog post by Jeff Hawkins on the FamilySearch Blog, entitled, "Updated Features on the Memories Page." The post explains:
When you attach or detach a memory (photo, story, document, or audio file) for a person in Family Tree, you can add a reason statement to whatever you’ve added. A reason statement helps explain why you are attaching or detaching the item. Sometimes this helps provide a useful historical perspective to the memory being added.
In looking at the program, I see that additional information has been added to the tagging view page. Here is a screenshot with an arrow showing the new information:


The post explains this new function as follows:
When you view a page that shows a photograph and the names of the people in the photo are attached to people in Family Tree, more than just the names of the people are displayed. Now some of the personal information from Family Tree is also displayed for each person in the photo.
The post presents two more changes. The first is the ability to include a "reason statement" when attaching or detaching an item that are tracked in the change log. I find this to be helpful, but what would be more helpful is the ability to edit or remove photos, such as wrong identifications or duplicate photos, from other users. The last change is the addition of a verification screen when you add a link by using the PID (identification number) rather than a name.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Temple Garments

In a dramatic break with tradition, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, through its official Newsroom, has issued a post about Temple Garments. The post is introduced by the following statement:
From ancient times, men and women have embraced sacred music, different forms of prayer, religious vestments full of symbolism, gestures and rituals to express their innermost feelings of devotion to God. 
The variety of these forms of expression is as wide and diverse as the human family. Yet all have the same ultimate purpose: to connect the believer with the object of their devotion in the most personal way—to draw close to God.
The post concludes with the following statement:
Because of the personal and religious nature of the temple garment, the Church asks all media to report on the subject with respect, treating Latter-day Saint temple garments as they would religious vestments of other faiths. Ridiculing or making light of sacred clothing is highly offensive to Latter-day Saints.
I am sure that, like most members of the Church, I have had some interesting and sometimes embarrassing experiences with this topic. I will close this post with one more quote from the Newsroom article:
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there are no outer religious vestments in ordinary worship services. 
However, many faithful Latter-day Saints wear a garment under their clothing that has deep religious significance. Similar in design to ordinary modest underclothing, it comes in two pieces and is usually referred to as the “temple garment.” 
Some people incorrectly refer to temple garments as magical or “magic underwear.” These words are not only inaccurate but also offensive to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There is nothing magical or mystical about temple garments, and Church members ask for the same degree of respect and sensitivity that would be afforded to any other faith by people of goodwill. 
Temple garments are worn by adult members of the Church who have made sacred promises of fidelity to God’s commandments and the gospel of Jesus Christ in temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 
To Church members, the modest temple garment, worn under normal clothing, along with the symbolic vestments worn during temple worship, represent the sacred and personal aspect of their relationship with God and their commitment to live good, honorable lives.
I assume if you are interested in this topic you will read the entire article. See the link above.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Plan now to attend RootsTech 2015


RootsTech 2015 is coming up fast. All of the member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints should be aware of the planned Family Discovery Day, described as a fun and informative day for LDS Church members, including families, to discover and share their family stories across generations. Here is a quote from the RootsTech.org website describing the activities of this special day:
Families and members of The Church of Jesus of Christ of Latter-day Saints are invited to attend FDD at RT on Saturday, February 14, 2015. This free one day event is a day of inspirational messages, instructional classes, interactive activities, and exciting entertainment to help LDS members to discover and connect with their families across generations. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced family historian, there's something at Family Discovery Day for everyone.
 The activities planned for the day include:
Inspirational Messages
General Authorities and other well-known LDS speakers share their thoughts, feelings, and experiences that will inspire you to:
  • Discovery your family connections
  • Offer ancestors the blessings of the temple
  • Share your experience in family history with friends and family
Interactive Activities
Family Discovery Day includes access to the huge expo hall where hundreds of exhibitors are available to help you with things such as:
  • Recording your personal and family stories
  • Creating a visual family tree to print and share
  • Taking photos with family and friends
  • Calling and recording your conversation with grandma
Family Discovery Day Classes
Choose several classes each hour designed to teach you how to:
  • Find and prepare family names for temple work
  • record, preserve and share family stories
  • Utilize FamilySearch.org and My Family booklet
  • Share your experience with others and teach them how to get started
Youth Participation
In 2015, we are encouraging members of the Church to attend Family Discovery Day on Saturday, February 14th as families where possible. Everyone is welcome to attend Family Discovery Day at RootsTech and all classes and activities will be geared to all ages and experience levels (ages 8+). Ideally, the youth who experienced the excitement at RootsTech in 2014 will invite their parents and siblings to join in the fun next February. As we make this transition, however, we anticipate there will still be some youth groups who attend together.
There will also be a Special Closing Event featuring the the cast of Studio C from BYUtv and other popular entertainers to be announced soon.

It is probably a good idea to remember that the rest of the RootsTech schedule will be going on at the same time along with the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference (FGS). You may want to look into the schedule of classes for these other events and make a choice of where you want to be.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Identify, Document and Cherish our Ancestors

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said in a General Conference talk in October of 2011
Elder Russell M. Nelson has taught that the Spirit of Elijah is “a manifestation ofthe Holy Ghost bearing witness of the divine nature of the family” (“A NewHarvest Time,” Ensign, May 1998, 34). This distinctive influence of the HolyGhost draws people to identify, document, and cherish their ancestors and family members—both past and present.
 It is through this process of identifying and documenting our ancestors that we can fully begin to cherish them. What does it mean to cherish our ancestors?

One attempt at defining the idea of cherishing our family was expressed by Lucy Mack Smith, the mother of the Prophet Joseph Smith,
Service rendered and received by God’s children comes with an eternal blessing described by the Prophet Joseph Smith’s mother, Lucy Mack Smith: “We must cherish one another, watch over one another, comfort one another, and gain instruction, that we may all sit down in heaven together” (in Daughters In My Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society [2011], 25).
The word cherish is associated with the terms protect, care for, hold dear and keep in one's mind. If these terms apply to the act of cherishing your ancestors, do you cherish them? Have you even thought about them individually as members of your family? It would seem to me that the end product of searching out our ancestors is just as Elder Bednar taught, we begin to have this personal relationship with them and learn to cherish them.

If we merely search through an online database, such as FamilySearch.org's Family Tree for the sole purpose of "taking a name to the Temple" without even knowing our relationship to the person we find in the Family Tree and in some cases, without even knowing if we are related to the person we find, how can we then ever come to cherish that ancestor or relative?

Even more fundamentally, what if we ignore the first two of Elder Bednar's injunctions? What if we fail to identify and document our ancestors? How then can we claim to move on to the last step of cherishing them?  The people documented in the FamilySearch.org Family Tree have been identified by others. Many, if not most of them, lack any documentation. I believe we can only cherish what we love and we can only get to know our ancestors through searching them out and documenting (i.e. learning about and recording) their lives.

We have been blest by such marvelous tools to hasten our work in family history. It is a shame to ignore those tools and use them for the purpose of creating a superficial relationship with and lacking the ability to cherish, our ancestors. Quoting from Elder Allan F. Packer in his talk in General Conference in October 2014:
To assist members, the Church has gathered records and provided tools so that much of the work can be done in our own homes or in the ward buildings and the temple. Most obstacles have been removed. Whatever your past perception, it is different now! 
However, there is one obstacle the Church cannot remove. It is an individual’s hesitation to do the work. All it requires is a decision and a little effort. It does not require a large block of time. Just a little time on a consistent basis will yield thejoy of the work. Make the decision to take a step, to learn and ask others to help you. They will! The names you find and take to the temple will become the records for “the book."
As do many of my fellow genealogists, I stand ready to help all those around me with their family history. Now is the time to get involved and start learning to cherish your ancestors.

Monday, October 13, 2014

A Look at Descendancy Research

Both researching ancestors and researching the descendants of ancestors have a long tradition among family historians. I grew up with several books detailing the descendants of prominent ancestors, usually the first in my family line to join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. However, it is predominant among beginning researchers to focus on establishing an ancestral line rather than jumping back in time to begin research on a remote ancestor.

Fortunately, recent developments in software for family research have emphasized examining descendancy lines rather than focusing on extending ancestral pedigrees. Two of the prominent programs in this regard are the recently introduced Descendancy View in FamilySearch.org and the independent program called Puzzilla.org. Both of these programs prove valuable in establishing a beginning point for descendancy research. But it is important to realize that there are fundamental and inherent differences between investigating backwards in time as opposed to finding the descendants of any person in coming forward in time.

In all cases, when starting with a remote ancestor with the objective of identifying his or her descendants, it is imperative that we are reasonably sure that we have a verifiable relationship with the remote ancestor. Merely picking a name and assuming a relationship is not sufficient. Many members of the Church are confronted with extensive pedigrees in the FamilySearch.org Family Tree program which are completely unsupported by sources. In these cases, careful examination of the ancestral lines is necessary even when the remote ancestor is commonly accepted as a progenitor.

When working backward along family lines we are used to investigating documents in a progression showing parentage. Reversing the process and discovering children involves a more expansive examination of documents with which most family historians may have little or no familiarity. One factor in doing this type of research is the fact that you will inevitably encounter people who are living if you are successful in your research. You may find that the living people object to their inclusion in your genealogy and even object to your whole project of creating a descending pedigree.

Many Church members today are becoming involved in descendancy research with the objective of finding additional family members eligible for Temple ordinances. It is important to realize that the same considerations concerning careful research and verification of sources applies to investigating a family's descendants, as applying to ascendancy research. I have been hearing recently a number of comments concerning individuals who have used the descendancy features of both FamilySearch.org and Puzzilla.org to arbitrarily choose an ancestor and merely click on descendancy links until a possible candidate is identified. No thought is given to the actual relationships and certainly no thought is given to whether or not the information is well-founded.

Before attempting to find the descendants of any particular individual it is very important to establish a clear ancestral relationship with the individual selected. It is also equally as important to identify and document the descendants before making the assumption that there is a "cousin" relationship.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

BYU Family History Library Class on FamilySearch Family Tree



This is another in the series of classes being presented at the Brigham Young University Family History Library. This particular presentation talks about the history of the FamilySearch.org Family Tree and discusses where the program is presently in its development. If you have a question about the changes going on in the program, this would be a helpful source for additional information.