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

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Introduction of The Family History Guide

The Family History Guide was formally introduced as a App in the App Gallery recently. The image above is the info page for the new App. Here is the explanation of the App from the page:
The Family History Guide helps you get started - and get farther - with your family history. There are links to over 1,000 videos and articles, all integrated into a step-by-step learning plan for learners of all levels. Projects include Family Tree, Memories, Descendants or Ordinances, Discover (research for over 35 countries), Indexing, Help, and Technology. Classroom materials are also available for instructors who want to teach using The Family History Guide.
I also wrote a post on this event for Genealogy's Star.

The Family History Guide is a comprehensive, structured introduction to the website and to doing family history research. Here is a summary from the website:
About The Family History Guide
The Family History Guide is a website that represents a best-in-class learning environment for family history. Its scope is broad, but its focus is narrow enough to help you achieve your goals, step by step. Whether you're brand new to family history or a seasoned researcher - or somewhere in between - The Family History Guide can be your difference maker.

Here are some of the unique features you'll find on the site:
  • Over 350 Goals for learning, supported by over 600 flexible Choices
  • Step-by-step instructions to make learning easier
  • Links to over 1,000 videos and articles from FamilySearch, Ancestry, and more
  • Quick-links to search records from multiple sources
  • Project Tracker sheets and Classroom materials for self-study or group instruction
Like any worthwhile pursuit, family history has two essential elements: Learning and Doing. Let's see how The Family History Guide helps you do both, to help you gain that important sense of connection with your family tree.
I will be teaching a series of classes at the Brigham Young University Family History Library about this new product in September.

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Honeymoon Trail

"Lee's Ferry" by Gonzo fan2007 - Own work. Licensed under GFDL via Wikimedia Commons -
After the construction of the Temple in St. George, Utah, many of the young couples (and older ones also) traveled from the Mormon settlements in Arizona to St. George to get married. The route they traveled became known as the "Honeymoon Trail" from an article written by historian and Arizona newspaper writer, Will C. Barnes in the Arizona Highways magazine. The "trail" ran roughly from St. George to Hurricane, Utah and then up the Hurricane Cliff and along the base of the cliffs to Fredonia in Arizona. The parties then generally stopped in Kanab and then to Lee's Ferry on the Colorado River. The very rough trail then led south to the Little Colorado River and then followed the Little Colorado into the colonies in Northern Arizona. The trails varied in Arizona but had to all cross the Colorado River at Lee's Ferry or further west at Pearce's Ferry. The northern route was preferred as shorter and more populated. Using a satellite view, most of the trail from Lee's Ferry to the Little Colorado River can still be seen.

Many of my own relatives traveled the "Honeymoon Trail." Here is a photo of my Grandfather, Leroy Parkinson Tanner, and his mother, Margaret Godfrey Jarvis Overson, probably taken while they were traveling from St. Johns, Arizona to St. George, Utah. I am guessing that this was taken by my grandmother, Eva Margaret Overson Tanner. From the time of the photo and the age of the people, it was also likely around the time that my grandfather and grandmother got married in 1923.

They would have had to have crossed the Colorado River at Lee's Ferry because the bridge over the river was not built until 1929. I do not know the identify of the lady on the left in the photo.

Here is a selection of books and documents about the Honeymoon Trail.

Barnes, Will C. “The Honeymoon Trail to Utah...” Arizona Highways, 1934, 6–7.

Byrkit, James W. “Honeymoon Trial.” [Medford, Ore.]: Benchmark Maps, 1998.

Elkins, Richard Ira, and Laura Lee Smith. The Honeymoon Trail: [a Pioneer Story for Young People]. Salt Lake City, UT: Speciality Press, 1987.

Garret, H. Dean, Clark V Johnson, Brigham Young University, and Department of Church History and Doctrine. Regional Studies in Latter-Day Saint Church History, Arizona. Provo, Utah: Dept. of Church History and Doctrine, Brigham Young University, 1989.

Pauley, Jane, and Bob Dotson. Mormon Newlyweds Reenact Honeymoon Trail. New York: NBCUniversal Media, LLC., 1982.

Ricketts, Norma B. Northern Arizona Mormon Pioneers Collection, 1735.

Ricketts, Norma B, David B Haight, Marshall Trimble, James W Byrkit, and International Society Daughters of Utah Pioneers. Arizona’s Honeymoon Trail and Mormon Wagon Roads. Mesa, Ariz.: Maricopa East Co., International Society, Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 2001.

Ricketts, Norma B, Beatrice B Malouf, and Daughters of Utah Pioneers. Pioneer Potpourri. [Salt Lake City, Utah]: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1994.

Wiggins, Lou Jean S, and Daughters of Utah Pioneers. Utah Pioneers in Southern Arizona: Gila River River Valley and San Pedro River Valley. [Salt Lake City, Utah]: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 2008.

Young, Valerie P. “The ‘Honeymoon Trail’: Link to Community and a Sense of Place in the Little Colorado River Settlements of Arizona, 1877-1927,” 2005.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Find, Take, Teach

On October 8, 2012, the First Presidency letter contained, among other things, this very important clarifying statement, “When members of the Church find the names of their ancestors and take those names to the temple for ordinance work, the temple experience can be greatly enriched.” This counsel was augmented by Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his family on the stage during Family Discovery Day at RootsTech, February 14, 2015.

This process is summarized by the statement to "Find, Take, Teach." The finding process is augmented by the new tools in and other websites. The taking process is the most enjoyable part but also the most important. The last step, to teach what you have learned, is just getting some traction. It is time to remember to teach what you know. Help another person (or lots of people) to understand and learn the process of finding their ancestors.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Waking up to technology

The diffusion of innovations according to Rogers (1962). With successive groups of consumers adopting the new technology (shown in blue), its market share (yellow) will eventually reach the saturation level. Based on Rogers, E. (1962) Diffusion of innovations. Free Press, London, NY, USA
I recently read the following:
For years there has been a theory that millions of monkeys typing at random on millions of typewriters would reproduce the entire works of Shakespeare. The Internet has proven this theory to be untrue. 
I guess I would paraphrase that old saying into the following:
There is a theory (my own) that millions of genealogists typing at random on millions of computers will eventually produce a unified family tree. The real Family Tree has proven my theory to be untrue.  
In reality, since the input to the Family Tree is not random, and further, given the fact that all of the entries in the Family Tree can be edited and corrected, the production of a unified Family Tree is certain. Another certainty is that technology will continue to evolve and that there will always be some individuals who will be late adopters or laggards. This is not a theoretical issue. One of the most repetitious issues that I face in helping people with their family history research is a lack of computer (i.e. technological) skills.

If I seem to address this topic regularly, it is because I am reminded of the issue almost every time I start working with a new patron at the Brigham Young University Family History Library. If you study the graph at the beginning of this post, you will see that the yellow line measures the % of market share of a given technology. What is interesting from my own observations from working with patrons is that the nice symmetrical bell curve of the diffusion theory simply does not apply to the adoption of technological innovations in the area of family history and the use of the new technology (such as the website and the Family Tree program) never gets past the early adopters. To illustrate this, here is another quote from Benjamin Franklin:
To get the bad customs of a country changed and new ones, though better, introduced, it is necessary first to remove the prejudices of the people, enlighten their ignorance, and convince them that their interests will be promoted by the proposed changes; and this is not the work of a day.
We have over a hundred years of doing "family history" as certain way and changing the attitudes and prejudices of the people will take much longer than "a day." I am reminded of the Children of Israel who wandered in the wilderness for forty years. I certainly hope it will not take that long for the majority of the members to adopt the Family Tree as a completely new way to do family history.

In this regard, I suggest that diffusion theory, or the theory of how an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among the members of a social system, (See Rogers, Everett M. Diffusion of Innovations. New York: Free Press, 1983) is highly applicable.

Let me propose a hypothetical situation (any resemblance to reality is intentional). Let's suppose that only a certain small number of people in any given society will be interested in or pursue with any consistency serious historical investigation of their ancestral lines. Let's further suppose that doing family history research is moderately to very difficult. In addition, let's suppose that the entire field of family history research is in an accelerated state of technological change. If I assumed these conditions, I would expect that only a very small number of people would ever adapt to those technological changes. The main reason for this is that the motivation to make the effort to adopt the new technology would only be present in the small number of researchers who were interested enough in family history to make the effort and the number interested in family history is already very small.

The question is, can this change? I believe that it can, but it will take a readjustment of a culture that is presently not in a position to see the need to adapt to technological change. The way to overcome this societal inertia is through the program presently under way in the Church: Find, Take and Teach. The key here is the last element of the process, that is, to have those who do overcome the societal inertia and do learn the process, to teach others. See Our Father's Plan is About Families.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Happy Pioneer Day 2015

Pioneer Day is all about family history. My daughter Amy has posted an interesting story about an encounter with a bear called, "Sidney's Little White Cur Dog Saves a Life" you might want to read. But better yet, you might want to find a story about your own pioneer ancestors. As Amy's post mentions, this story and many others are on the Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel website.

As an example, here are some of the resources taken from the entries for my Great-great-grandfather Sidney Tanner:
Here is a quote from the Caroline Barnes Crosby Journal for a further example:
Saturday June 17th arrived at the ferry[.] had to wait untill Sunday morn [Nelson] Merkl[e]y and [Solomon] Conly gave over[.] our turn comes next. Found Samuel Richards and wife just came over from the other side[.] going down 60 miles in Mo to live on a farm, he has lat[e]ly returned from Europe on a 2 years mission, had the small pox[.] is quite disfigured with it, her health very poor[.] had the chills and fever for sometime. The wind rises[.] begins to rain[.] feer it will be bad eroding, went into the stor this morn in co with sis [Sarah] Merkl[e]y, found nothing that I wanted.
Sunday evening arrived safely at winter quarters[.] called at br Hewitts, staid, till towards night, came up to the camping ground, stoped near an old chimney where they told us John Parker formerly lived.
Monday washed
Tuesday commenced braiding a hat.
Wednesday made crackers.
Thursday rainy day, cold and unpleasant, felt sick all day in consequence of the hard days work the day before,
friday finished my hat, sis Merkl[e]y and I took a walk about town[.] Called at Phinehas [Phineas] Richards[.] saw P. Johnsons, Also called at Nathan Tanners[.] had quite an agreeable time.
On the same page here is a list of the related people:
[Brother] Lucas
Homer Duncan
You just might want to have a story or two to tell this 24th of July. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Resources about our pioneer heritage

As part of the celebration of the 24th of July, 2015, I wanted to focus on the pioneer experience both historic and modern. If you have pioneer ancestors, you may or may not know some of their stories. I decided to list just a few of the resources available to find the histories of your own ancestors that may have been pioneers. Here is that list:
  • Christensen, T. C, Ron Tanner, Darin Southam, Katherine Nelson, James Gaisford, Mia Selway, Travis Eberhard, et al. Ephraim’s rescue, 2013.
  • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Family History Department. LDS Reference Unit. Early Church Information File. Salt Lake City, Utah: Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1991.
  • Clayton, William, and LDS Archive Publishers. The Latter-Day Saints’ Emigrants’ Guide: Being a Table of Distances, Showing All the Springs, Creeks, Rivers, Hills, Mountains, Camping Places, and All Other Notable Places, from Council Bluffs, to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake : Also, the Latitudes, Longitudes and Altitudes of the Prominent Points on the Route : Together with Remarks on the Nature of the Land Timber, Grass, &c. : The Whole Route Having Been Carefully Measured by a Roadometer, and the Distance from Point to Point, in English Miles, Accurately Shown. [Grantsville, Utah]: [LDS Archive Publishers].
  • Crockett, David Romney. Saints Find the Place: A Day-by-Day Pioneer Experience. Tucson, Ariz.: LDS-Gems Press, 1997.
  • Daughters of Utah Pioneers, and Lesson Committee. Museum Memories. Vol. 1 Vol. 1. Salt Lake City, Utah: International Society, Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 2009.
  • International Society Daughters of Utah Pioneers. Pioneer Pathways. Salt Lake City, Utah: International Society Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1998.
  • International Society Daughters of Utah Pioneers, and Lesson Committee. Museum Memories. Volume 2 Volume 2, 2010.
  • Jenson, Andrew. Day by Day with Utah Pioneers, 1847.
  • Nibley, Preston. L.D.S. Stories of Faith and Courage. Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1957.
  • Thompson, Vickie. LDS Pioneer Companies of 1847 to Utah. Salt Lake City, Utah: [s.n.]., ///.
  • Utah Immigration Card Index, 1847-1868. Salt Lake City, Utah: Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1963.
Here are some further resources online:
Here is a list of libraries from that have significant collections of LDS history materials:
There are a huge number of individual biographies of early pioneers. If you search in for the name of the pioneer, you may find a book about your ancestor.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015 Beta Site demos Direct Messaging

The Beta website has recently been demoing a Direct Messaging feature. This is valuable when a user makes an addition or change that causes you some concern but the user has no contact information in the program. The Direct Messaging will allow you to send a message to the user directly through the program with or without an email.

For a more complete explanation with screenshots see my Genealogy's Star blog post.