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

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The FamilySearch Partner Tracks on The Family History Guide

The Family History Guide has undergone a major expansion. Learning Tracks for each of the three major FamilySearch.org Partner Programs have been added to the website. These Partner Tracks include Ancestry.com, MyHeritage.com, and Findmypast.com. When you choose your Learning Track, the instructions in The Family History Guide are then adapted to the chosen website.

The idea here is that by choosing a different track, the Projects change and all the Goals and Choices reflect the chosen website. For example, by choosing the Ancestry.com track, I get the following screen:


The red arrows indicate the logos that show you that you are working in the Ancestry.com track of the website. If I change to a different track, such as MyHeritage.com, then the instructions change to reflect that website.


In case you get lost, just click on The Family History Guide logo or the link to the Home page and you will get back to the beginning.

This new set of instructions, added to an already valuable website, makes The Family History Guide the "go-to" place to learn about all four of these valuable genealogy websites.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Where Are the Digitized Records on FamilySearch.org


Where are the Digitized Records on FamilySearch.org

A suggestion from FamilySearch got me started in making a short video showing where all the digitized microfilm records are going on the FamilySearch.org website. For some time now, I have been writing about the FamilySearch.org Catalog and its importance in the online research process. I guess my message is not getting much traction. I still find many people in my classes who do not use the FamilySearch.org Catalog to assist them and many more who have never even looked at it.

I will be writing more about the Catalog in the near future.

Monday, August 14, 2017

FamilySearch Facebook Post: Family History Centers are Now in the Home


The above graphic appeared on Facebook on August 13, 2017. It refers to a talk entitled, "Roots and Branches" given by Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in General Conference in April of 2014. Recent technological developments have underscored the fact that the "traditional" model of a FamilySearch Family History Center is undergoing a revolutionary change.

The most recent development, the discontinuance by FamilySearch of microfilm rentals to Family History Centers, removes one of the staple reasons for visiting and using the resources of the Family History Centers around the world. In reality, here in the United States, many of the smaller Family History Centers had very limited microfilm involvement in any event. Removing microfilm rentals from the Family History Centers will have an impact on the use of some centers by "serious" researchers. This result will be even more marked as the existing FamilySearch microfilm collection is finally completely (as possible) digitized and available for free online.

For the average person, living in a well-developed country, with access to the internet and who has previously done little or no family history research, online and home-based sources are perfectly adequate to find the first four generations or so. But, any attempt to extend a pedigree beyond the first few generations requires resources that are not readily available or even reliable without additional effort.

For example, a child born into my Tanner family lines and who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will automatically have six or seven generations of extensively documented ancestry on the FamilySearch.org Family Tree. For that child to do any reliable extensions of any of the Tanner family lines would require intense and involved research. However, that may not be the case for the non-Tanner family lines. To support this changing situation, the U.S. Family History Centers will need to move to a support and training mode.

When we had a large yard and many fruit trees, the "low hanging" fruit was the first picked and the first depleted. It usually did not take very long before we had to spend considerably more effort to find ripe fruit using chairs and ladders. The same thing will inevitably happen with those working on the Family Tree. The "low hanging" fruit, i.e. those people who are easily found with readily available resources will soon be found. The only real way that progress will ultimately be made after this first gathering, will be to have people who are prepared and trained in finding and resolving the more difficult research issues.

Let me give an example. Let's suppose I was just starting out doing my own genealogical research today as opposed to 35 or so years ago. I could go onto FamilySearch.org and I would see thousands of the names of my ancestors on all my family lines. How long would it take me to figure out which of these thousands of entries were correct and which were wrong? Would I even suspect that what was showing in the Family Tree was both incomplete and in many cases inaccurate? True, I would have a huge reservoir of resources, but how would I know where to start and how to find additional opportunities to add to what was already there?

The answer, in part, is the new paradigm of the "Consultant Planner." However, this model also assumes that the "trainers" have been and are trained. For many years after I began doing my own genealogical research, I had to puzzle out the way to proceed on my own. I had no trainers or mentors. I am also guessing that most, perhaps nearly all, of the current involved genealogical researchers went through a similar process. Today, I would have access to The Family History Guide. But how would I know it existed? Last night, I taught a class to approximately 30 Temple and Family History Consultants and from the reaction of those present, very few were aware of any of the resources I talked about during the class.

I agree that much of the genealogical research that has been traditionally done in Family History Centers can now be done in the home. But how will those sitting in their homes know about the resources that are available? How will the Ward and Stake Temple and Family History Consultants know enough to teach them?

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Impact of the Microfilm Issue


People continue to express concern over the recent announcement about the discontinuance of microfilm shipments from FamilySearch. See "FamilySearch Digital Records Access Replacing Microfilm." So, during the past week, I started taking an informal poll of those attending the classes that I taught. I probably asked about 100 people who were interested enough in genealogy to come to a class on the subject. Many of these people were experienced researchers. My question was simple: how many had viewed microfilm during the past six months? I then extended the question to a year or more. What was the response? I am guessing that there were fewer than five people who responded positively to my questions.

The reality of genealogical research today is that almost all of what is passing for "research" is being conducted online using primarily the basic records, such as census records, vital records, and cemetery records. Most of my classes this week, included looking at entries in the FamilySearch.org Family Tree and analyzing the content. With very few exceptions, the sources supporting the entries looked essentially like this list:


In short, the entries were confined to the three categories I outlined above. None of these entries require even thinking about microfilm. Here, in this example, there are no records at all substantiating the birth, marriage or death of this individual.

In my recent trips to Salt Lake City to visit the Family History Library to use their microfilm collections, I see the same trend. In years past, the microfilm readers were the center of activity in the Library. In recent years, when I have been viewing microfilm, I hardly see anyone else using the machines. The reality is that much of the information that had to be extracted from microfilm in the past is now freely available online in digitized format. Unless the researcher is highly experienced and looking for an extensive variety of records, there is no longer and need to resort to microfilmed records.

Personally, I am still very much involved in microfilmed records. But then again, I clearly realize that I am part of a vanishingly small minority of researchers. As shown by my very limited and informal poll, very few people involved in family history today will even notice the change in the availability of microfilm. Now, before you write and tell me about your own particular need for microfilm, please take the time to search and see if your own needed microfilm has not already been digitized and is available online in one or the other of the large genealogy programs.

Friday, August 11, 2017

New Developments Coming in The Family History Guide


New Developments in the Family History Guide - Bob Taylor

In a rather short video, Developer Bob Taylor of The Family History Guide has outlined the new features that are currently being added to the website. Essentially, the website is being expanded to add different Learning Tracks for the FamilySearch.org Partner Programs: Ancestry.com, Findmypast.com, and MyHeritage.com.

If you have been waiting to use these valuable programs because you didn't know where to start, I suggest you take a few minutes to see what is now available on The Family History Guide website.


Thursday, August 10, 2017

If Family History Work is Hastening, What Happened to You?

Quoting from the Foundations of the Restoration Teacher Manual, Lesson 28: Hastening the Work of Salvation, Introduction:
In recent years, Church leaders have emphasized the Lord’s prophecy that He will “hasten [His] work” (D&C 88:73). The work of salvation includes member missionary work, convert retention, activation of less-active members, temple and family history work, and teaching the gospel.
As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we hear more and more about a hastening of the work. This "hastening" process involves developments and processes that affect the entire world. However, we may personally be missing out on the entire process. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency in an April 2014 General Conference address entitled, "Are You Sleeping through the Restoration?" as follows:
When our time in mortality is complete, what experiences will we be able to share about our own contribution to this significant period of our lives and to the furthering of the Lord’s work? Will we be able to say that we rolled up our sleeves and labored with all our heart, might, mind, and strength? Or will we have to admit that our role was mostly that of an observer?
 The Lord is the one hastening the work. Quoting Doctrine and Covenants, Section 88: 73,
73 Behold, I will hasten my work in its time.
It is up to us to choose to be bystanders or participants. Temple and family history work is clearly part of the work that is being hastened. What is the evidence that the work is being hastened? Perhaps I can list a few examples:
  • The number of global smartphone shipments is forecast to increase in 2018 to over 1.5 billion units a year. See Statistica: Global smartphone shipments forecast from 2010 to 2021 (in million units)*
  • FamilySearch.org has now released three different versions of the Family Tree program with one especially written for people using smartphones and tablets. See Three Ways to Use Family Tree by Ann Tanner
  • Microfilm shipments from FamilySearch.org are being discontinued as of September 1, 2017.
  • FamilySearch.org is predicting that all of the available existing microfilm rolls will be digitized by 2020. 
  • MyHeritage.com, a FamilySearch partner website, announced that their record collections just went over 8 billion records worldwide. 
  • Findmypast.com, another FamilySearch partner website, just added 4.3 million U.S. marriage records on its way to adding 100 million marriage records containing 450 million names from 2,800 counties across the U.S.
The list could go on and on. Don't sit on the sidelines and watch the game. Get involved. If you don't know where to start, look at The Family History Guide for help in learning what you can do. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Using the Consultant Planner to Help Others


The Consultant Planner on FamilySearch.org has become one of the most useful tools we have ever had to assist others with their family history research. We have two excellent videos from the Brigham Young University Library about using the Consultant Planner.


FamilySearch Consultant Planner by Judy Sharp


The FamilySearch Consultant Planner For: Find, Take, Teach, and Beyond - Kathryn Grant

My own experience has been nothing but positive in helping people with their family history using the Consultant Planner.