Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Sharing Record Hints and Sources: Part One: An Overview

The reality of today's family history research for those who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that involves partner programs with,, and, all of which, including FamilySearch, provide a constant stream of record hints. Many of these record hints translate directly into sources supporting events in the lives of our ancestors.

If you have a lot of ancestors and relatives in the United States going back generations, you will probably have hundreds of record hints from all four programs. Of course, this depends on whether or not you have a family tree in each of the four programs. Conceptually, having four different copies of your pedigree, i.e. family tree, in four different programs can seem to be overwhelming. The FamilySearch Family Tree creates another conceptual problem by being a shared family tree program where registered users can make changes to any of the entries. I have written about the subject many times recently and done YouTube videos for the BYU Family History Library YouTube Channel.

So there are several questions that come about because of this situation such as the following:
  • Do I keep all my information in one or all of the four partner programs?
  • If I choose to have four copies of my family tree, how do I keep the copies synchronized?
  • If I am concerned about changes made to the Family Tree, do I maintain a separate, personal family tree on another program?
  • Should I use an online program, such as or one of the other partner programs or a separate desktop based program?
  • How do I handle suggested record hints that are duplicates of existing record hints?
  • Do I have all the record hints from all the programs to the Family Tree?
  • How do I know whether or not a suggested record is actually valid?
  • What if I find two record hints for the same person but they disagree?
  • How do I handle an excessive number of record hints?
  • What if I am getting conflicting opinions from different people concerning record hints, sources, and multiple family trees?
  • Isn't adding record hints to people whose temple ordinances have already been done, really just busy work?
  • How do I move sources from one of the online programs to another?
  • Should I add sources from two different programs that are essentially the same source?
  • If I spend my time adding record hints to existing people how will I ever have enough time to do research to add people to my family tree?
  • What do I do with record hints to other user's family trees?
  • How do I tell if a record hint actually refers to my ancestor?
  • How many sources are enough?
  • Should I subscribe to all four partner programs?
There are probably quite a few more questions similar to these that I have heard recently. You might notice that this is part one with series. What I intend to do is answer each of those questions. It might take a few blog posts to do so. So cheer up, I'll keep writing as fast as I can. If you can think of any other questions you would like to have added to the list, you can make comments to this post.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Update on the DescendancyExplorer

The DescendancyExplorer has now been running on my computer for approximately seven hours and as you can see above it has processed through 3501 records of the total of 13,422 records and has still yet to find one available ordinance. However, as I mentioned in my initial post on the subject, the search would take a long time. Unless you have spent as much time working on your portion of the Family Tree, and am certain that you will find more opportunities that are available in my family lines. So matter of fact, by doing some research and working through the merges, we have found hundreds of names of people who are not already in the Family Tree.

Note: I let the program continue to run until well into the evening and finally had to quit without finding any available ordinances. This is likely an affirmation of my efforts and those of my family and finding all of the available ordinances in our particular part of the Family Tree.

DescendencyExplorer, a new look
The Family History Technology Lab at Brigham Young University keeps busy turning out new programs related to family history for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Of course, those who do not happen to be members are benefited by the programs also, but most of them have a decided Church-oriented theme and are based on the Family Tree. The DescendancyExplorer is designed to work specifically with the Family Tree so it is necessary to have your family information in the Family Tree for the program to function. The program is still in the developmental stage and is not yet featured on the Family History Technology Lab's homepage.

The idea of the program is that you sign in to and the DescendancyExplorer then does all the work of searching through multiple generations of your family and looks for names of your relatives and ancestors who are ready to take to the temple. Hmm. You say. Isn't this just like a number of other programs that are already available? Well, yes and no. First of all this program does all the work and secondly, it "qualifies" the people it finds. Here is the very simple start page:

Yep, that's it. By the way, when you click on the "Search My Tree" button, you may have to leave the program running for a few hours or overnight before you see any results depending on how complete your previous searches have been. What is different about the program is that it filters out any related people who have no sources attached, who have possible duplicates or who are not completely identified. So the people it finds are "usually" qualified for ordinance work.

I started the program searching while I was writing and it had gathered well over 13,000 records on my portion of the Family Tree without finding even one qualified person. I continued to let the program run and it kept looking. I have had some feedback from others who have used the program and they have found into the hundreds of people needing ordinances.

When the program does find a possible record, it is a good idea to check the "How you are related" link on the person's detail page to see if you are related. I will let the program run until it finishes searching and report back in another post about the results.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Registration is now open for #RootsTech 2018

#RootsTech 2018 will be held on February 28 through March 3, 2018 at the Salt Palace in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. If you are a skier, you can always take advantage of the fabulous skiing in the resorts surrounding Salt Lake City. But for most of us, we are well past our skiing years. If you need accommodations for the conference, there are links on the website to local hotels making special offers. You might want to make your reservations early as the available rooms fill up quickly.

The conference will have over 200 breakout sessions.

A highlight of the conference will be the Family Discovery Day for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

This free, 1-day event will inspire you to discover, celebrate, and cherish your family relationships—past, present, and future. Enjoy devotionals from Latter-day Saint General Authorities, inspirational breakout sessions, and hands-on activities.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Getting Started with Research

There are many aspects of the umbrella term "research." Research can be directed at finding out about things we do not know and have yet to be discovered or research can investigate information about our past. Basically, the word "research" is polysemous, i.e. it has more than one meaning.

From time to time, I have written about this subject on my other blog, Genealogy's Star, but it has been some time since I have written directly about this particular subject here. Since this blog is specifically aimed at treating genealogy and genealogical research from the point of view of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (hereinafter referred to as "the Church"), I think there are some aspects of genealogical research from an LDS viewpoint that should be considered.

It might be a good idea to remind my readers of my Disclosures and Disclaimers that reside on a tab at the top of the title to this blog.

Now back to the concept of research. Genealogy is a narrow branch of history. As I have noted previously, genealogical research consists primarily of identifying information about people who lived in the past from historical records. This is in contrast to "scientific" research that has as its main objective discovering things about the physical world that are not yet known. Genealogical research assumes that the information being sought was recorded at some time and place and that by following a certain methodology, this historical information can be "discovered." But the doctine of the Church expands on this viewpoint.

In the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 88, we are admonished as follows:
118 And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.
According to the Prophet Joseph Smith, “The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us is to seek after our dead” (History of the Church, 6:313). Because of this statement and many others, the Church has become extensively involved in genealogy (family history). So the question that immediately arises, is how is this "seeking after our dead" accomplished? It is evident from the first quote that the process involves both study (I would say research) and by faith. Essentially, we go to the record books of the world and find our ancestors "by study and also by faith." 

In this regard, the statement in the Bible in James 2:20 that states, in part, "that faith without works is dead." So we have to work, i.e. do the research, and exercise our faith. Evidently, the idea of doing genealogical research from this perspective is fundamentally different from what is commonly thought of as research. This idea is expressed by President James E. Faust (1920-2007) of the First Presidency who stated:
The process of finding our ancestors one by one can be challenging but also exciting and rewarding. We often feel spiritual guidance as we go to the sources that identify them. Because this is a very spiritual work, we can expect help from the other side of the veil. We feel a pull from our relatives who are waiting for us to find them so their ordinance work can be done” (in Conference Report, Oct. 2003, 59; or Ensign, Nov. 2003, 55).
As President Faust stated, this process of finding our ancestors one by one can be challenging. But as members of the Church, we cannot assume that we can skip the "study" part of the process. We have a duty to learn how to do the research as well as a duty to do the research.

In today's world, the process of doing genealogical research has been rapidly evolving from the traditional methodology. Powerful computers using online digitized records and global search engines such as Google are revolutionizing research in general and despite the resistance from "traditional" genealogists, genealogical research is also being swept up in the changes.

One of the ways I have personally been involved in helping people understand genealogical research as it is done today on computers is to help with The Family History Guide. This website is starting to play a major part in helping to educate and train people how to do genealogical research. Of course, there are many other websites and resources for learning about how to do genealogical research, but right now, this is the most effective way I have found.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Sharing the Family History Report

Many of the records kept by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints about their living members contain personal and private information. However, the recently released Family History Activity Report contains no information that is either personal or private. The report is merely a compilation of statistics obtained from the usage of the website. However, the information is very useful for planning purposes and for gauging the effectiveness of the family history activities in the wards and stakes. The report is widely available through to ward and stake leaders and Temple and Family History Consultants on both a ward and stake level.

Because the report is relatively new and has only been made available recently, many of the members who because of their callings would have access to the report are not aware of its existence. Temple and Family History Consultants who are designated as such in the Members and Leaders Support (MLS) program should be able to receive copies of the report on If they do not receive a copy, it is usually because they are not correctly identified in the MLS program.

Because of its lack of private or personal information, the report can be shared where appropriate.

The report can be obtained by signing into and clicking on your name and then selecting Leaders and Clerks Reports from the pulldown menu.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Mesa FamilySearch Library 2017 Family History Conference

The Mesa, Arizona FamilySearch Library has gone through some rocky times. But it is now up and running with classes and activities.  I have a strong interest in and attachment to the Mesa, Arizona FamilySearch Library because of the many years I spent there volunteering in teaching classes. For many years, the Mesa FamilySearch Library has them holding a Family History Conference. Here is the announcement of the upcoming conference. Both my wife and I have already been invited to teach classes at the upcoming conference in October. We are looking forward to seeing all of our old friends and spending some time in Mesa.
ANNOUNCING THE 2017 Family History Conference sponsored by the Mesa FamilySearch Library on Saturday, October 21, 2017, at the Tempe Institute of Religion on the ASU Campus, 1000 South McAllister Avenue in Tempe, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:20 p.m. 
This year’s conference will feature a keynote address by Lisa McBride of FamilySearch, an Accredited Genealogist, who works with area family history centers and serves on the FamilySearch Wiki Governance Council. 
Our theme is “Bridging Generations” and provides a wide variety of over 50 class choices for all types of learners, from beginners to the most advanced genealogists. Come and learn how to be more effective and efficient when doing your research. Learn to trace your roots with DNA. Learn to find and document your sources. Get specific information on various ways to research in specific states and countries. If you are new to family history, come learn the basics. Some of the most popular classes are repeated in an effort to accommodate everyone. Spend all day or come for a single class or two; you may attend a maximum of five classes. 
Detailed conference information will become available and registration will begin online at on Thursday, September 21, 2017. At the time of registration, registrants will be given the opportunity to purchase lunch from Jason’s Deli. Otherwise, the conference is FREE. Parking is also free and convenient but registrants are reminded that cars are parked in a public facility and are urged to be cautious with their valuables. 
See you in October!