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

RootsTech 2014 Official Blogger

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Key to Using FamilySearch Family Tree

For some considerable time, there has been a vast instructional aid to learning's Family Tree program. Unfortunately, very few of the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who have been struggling with learning the new program are aware of this resource. The set of lessons, both video and written, is called the Family Tree Training Lessons and Videos. Here is how to find this resource on

The first step is to login. Then click on the Get Help link on the startup page:

There is a pull-down menu.

You will want to click on the link to the Learning Center. Here is a screenshot of the Learning Center. Remember that these webpages may change at any time. The Learning Center contains hundreds of videos on various subjects. You will do well to explore its offerings. Presently, the Family Tree Training Lessons and Videos are on this startup page.

Here is the introductory page to the Family Tree Training Lessons and Videos:

Here is a quote from the explanation of this collection of instructional materials:
This curriculum is a set of individualized lessons designed to give the user an extensive understanding of Family Tree. Level One has 28 short lessons that are done on your own account and 21 short lessons that are done on a fake or sandbox account. This level is designed for the very beginner. Level Two is an intermediate course with 35 lessons that are done in your own account and 57 lessons that are done in a fake or sandbox account. Level Three is an advanced problem-solving curriculum designed for those who need to understand how to fix the big problems encountered in the tree. Level three has 30 lessons done in a fake or sandbox account. 
Additional Information
Language English
Lesson Owner Leland Moon
Lesson Creation Date 9 July 2013
Presenter Leland Moon
Although this collection has a date in 2013, it is really up-to-date. That was likely the initial date the collection was created. You need to seriously consider taking the written portions of the instruction.

New FamilySearch Indexing Website in Beta

For some time now, the new FamilySearch Indexing program has been released for Beta testing. You can see and use the Beta test at If you are involved in's Indexing, you need to be aware that the program will change very soon. The new website moves the entire Indexing program to the Internet. There will be no need to download a program to your own computer to participate in Indexing. It seems that no matter how many times this is announced, there are still people who are disoriented and surprised when the change comes.

There is already an extensive help center on for Indexing. Here is a screenshot:

You might also want to be aware of the latest version of the Guide. Here is a screenshot of the cover:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Time to think about your ancestors

A common excuse for ignoring getting involved in family history is a lack of time. The easy, but not very helpful, answer is that we spend time on those things we value. The truth usually is we spend time on routine, daily responsibilities that we create for ourselves. We manage to be "busy" even if our activities are trivial and non-productive. We fill our "free time" with diversions. An example is monitoring the news. I remember my Grandfather coming home each day from work and sitting in his overstuffed chair and "reading the newspaper." He was a lifetime newspaper man, reporter and editor, and relaxed after a day's work by reading the paper. I am sure he spent more than an hour a day at this one activity. The activity itself was in no way negative. He kept reasonably well informed and had time to relax.

This example, however, illustrates a principle. That principle can be very well illustrated by reference to a well-known hymn:
Improve the shining moments;
Don't let them pass you by.
Work while the sun is radiant;
Work, for the night draws nigh.
We cannot bid the sunbeams
To lengthen out their stay,
Nor can we ask the shadow
To ever stay away.
The rest of the lyrics express this important principle; we accomplish what we spend our time doing. Often those things we spend our time on are those that really matter the least. As the scripture states:
But behold, your days of probation are past; ye have procrastinated the day of your salvation until it is everlastingly too late... Helaman 13:38
 Quoting from Brigham Young (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 18, pp. 303 to 305):
What do you suppose the fathers would say if they could speak from the dead? Would they not say, “We have lain here thousands of years, here in this prison house, waiting for this dispensation to come? Here we are, bound and fettered, in the association of those who are filthy?” What would they whisper in our ears? Why, if they had the power the very thunders of heaven would be in our ears, if we could but realize the importance of the work we are engaged in. All the angels in heaven are looking at this little handful of people, and stimulating them to the salvation of the human family.
One thing that has happened since Brigham Young made this statement is that we have a lot more excuses for not being involved in searching out our ancestors. I wonder what he would say to us today? Fortunately, we do not have to speculate. We have the words of our current prophets to remind us what we have to do. Here is an example of what I mean from a recent General Conference talk by Elder David A. Bednar:
The Spirit of Elijah affects people inside and outside of the Church. However, as members of Christ’s restored Church, we have the covenant responsibility to search out our ancestors and provide for them the saving ordinances of the gospel. “They without us should not be made perfect” (Hebrews 11:40; see also Teachings: Joseph Smith, 475). And “neither can we without our dead be made perfect” (D&C 128:15). 
For these reasons we do family history research, build temples, and perform vicarious ordinances. For these reasons Elijah was sent to restore the sealing authority that binds on earth and in heaven. We are the Lord’s agents in the work of salvation and exaltation that will prevent “the whole earth [from being] smitten with a curse” (D&C 110:15) when He returns again. This is our duty and great blessing.
The words may not be exactly the same as those used by President Young, but the message is the same. Perhaps we need to audit the time we are spending on trivial pursuits and focus some of our valuable time on family history.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Everything you need to know about findmypast's Parish Records is one of the three huge, online, genealogical subscription database programs that are now free to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is an extremely valuable program for anyone whose ancestors came from England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Australia or New Zealand or even the United States. The website regularly adds millions of new records. In addition, has a valuable blog. The latest post is entitled, "Everything you need to know about our Parish Records." As the post explains:
Parish records are those made by the church after a law passed in 1538 in England and Wales that required all baptisms, marriages and burials to be recorded in the parish register. With religion being such an integral part of daily life during this period, they can offer a fascinating window into British life from the Tudor period onwards.
Their website contains a number of helpful suggestions and tips from "Get started with your family history" to "20 Things to Do When You Are Stumped."

It is time to get busy and take advantage of this and other online resources.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Decide now to do your family history

At the recent October, 2014 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder Allan F. Packer of the Seventy said, in part:
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. What ever 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 the joy 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."
Elder Packer explains his reference to "the book" earlier in his talk:
From the Doctrine and Covenants we read: “The great day of the Lord is at hand. … Let us, therefore, as a church and a people, and as Latter-day Saints, offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness; and let us present in his holy temple, … a book containing the records of our dead, which shall be worthy of all acceptation.” See Doctrine and Covenants, Section 128:24.
One of the great tragedies that impedes the salvation of the dead, is when the individual hesitation referred to by Elder Packer involves a leader in the Ward or Stake with responsibilities to inspire, train or help the members. The printed version of Elder Packer's Conference talk from gives a footnote citation to the following statement:
There has been a renewed emphasis on family history and temple work from the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve.
The footnote gives us a list of the recent statements from the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve:
See Thomas S. Monson, “Hastening the Work,” Ensign or Liahona,June 2014, 4–5; Henry B. Eyring, “The Promise of Hearts Turning,”Ensign or Liahona, July 2014, 4–5; Russell M. Nelson, “It All Starts with Love” (video),; Russell M. Nelson, “Adding ‘Family’ to Family History Work” (video),; Russell M. Nelson, “Generations Linked in Love,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2010, 91–94; Richard G. Scott, “The Joy of Redeeming the Dead,” Ensign or Liahona,Nov. 2012, 93–95; Quentin L. Cook, “Roots and Branches,” Ensign orLiahona, May 2014, 44–48; David A. Bednar, “The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 24–27; Neil L. Andersen, “A Classroom of Faith, Hope, and Charity” (address to Church Educational System religious educators),; Neil L. Andersen, “Find Our Cousins!” (address at RootsTech Family History Conference, Feb. 8, 2014),
I am disappointed when I observe Ward and Stake Leaders that have apparently not yet gotten the message about the importance of hastening the work of salvation in their respective congregations. It seems to go back to Elder Packer's statement that "there is one obstacle the Church cannot remove. It is an individual’s hesitation to do the work."

What's New on

In addition to the changes in the Memories section of the website, there have been a number of other changes over the past month or so. Here is a list of the new features:
  • More Ordinance Information on the Traditional and Descendancy Views
  • Changes to Memories Are Included in the List of Latest Changes
  • Members Can Edit Their Own Name and Birth Information
  • You Can Filter Names in the History List
  • Getting a Free Partner Account for 13-17 Year Olds
  • Single Sign-In for and
  • Learning Center Pages
  • Add a Person: Improved Wording for a Found Match
  • View Image From the Record Details Popup
  • Location Information in Search Map
These changes are explained in detail in a blog post by Steve Anderson entitled, appropriately enough, "What's New -- September, 2014". If you thought that the changes in FamilySearch Family Tree were slowing down, I guess you will still have to wait a while. I'm sorry for not getting this out sooner. I get almost 100 emails a day and sometimes things get pushed down on the list really fast. 

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 In fact, in my experience, few people even know that it is sitting there in the Get Help link from the startup page.