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

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Importance of Properly Recording Genealogy

Record keeping is an essential activity in the process of preserving our family history. In working with an online family tree such as FamilySearch.org's Family Tree, it is easy to become frustrated with the inaccurate records inherited from our ancestors. I was talking to a missionary at the Family History Library at Brigham Young University last night and she was spending most of her time merely correcting the existing records. In this regard, I found the following.

Quoting from a commentary on D&C 128:2–4 entitled, "What Happens If Ordinances Are Not Properly Recorded?" on LDS.org,
Elder Rudger Clawson explained the sacred obligation of keeping accurate temple records: “In the early days of the Church, some baptisms for the dead that were not properly witnessed and recorded, were rejected of the Lord, and the work had to be done over again. We know that great care and attention is given to this matter today in our Temples, and that efficient help must be secured to do this. … Truly it is a great and marvelous work, and not the least important thing about it is that these ordinances are all carefully recorded in the books and are filed away in the archives of the Temple, to be brought forth in due time. From these records the people who have gone to that house will be judged. Nothing that is done in that Temple will be accepted of the Lord, except it is properly witnessed and recorded.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1900, pp. 43–44.)
 Genealogical records should not be approached in a casual and negligent manner. Especially those records pertaining to Temple work are, as Elder Clawson states, a sacred obligation. Aren't we, in effect, violating that obligation when we fail to record the information accurately? Even more, aren't we ignoring the fundamental importance of the work when we needlessly duplicate the ordinances?

President Gordon B. Hinckley said:
One of the most troublesome aspects of our temple activity is that as we get more and more temples scattered across the earth there is duplication of effort in proxy work. People in various nations simultaneously work on the same family lines and come up with the same names. They do not know that those in other areas are doing the same thing. We, therefore, have been engaged for some time in a very difficult undertaking. To avoid such duplication, the solution lies in complex computer technology (“Opening Remarks,” Ensign, Nov. 2005, pp. 5–6).
The Users Guide to the now discontinued, New FamilySearch website dated December, 2012 urges users as follows:
Occasionally you may find that someone else has already performed or reserved ordinances that you would like to perform. Please honor the work being done by others. Do not add duplicate records into the system just so you can perform the ordinances. Duplication of ordinances, however well meaning, should be avoided.
As I have noted in previous posts, this is not a new problem, in 1934, President Joseph Fielding Smith said,
Temple work should not be done in a haphazard or disorderly way. Those who labor for the dead should endeavor to prepare their records in an orderly and systematic manner. Let each family do the work for their own kindred, and if they do work for others, it must be at the instance and with the consent of the living relatives who are immediately concerned. No person has a right to select names for other than their own family and go to the temple to perform the work for them. This cannot be tolerated, for it would lead to confusion and duplication of work. When names are copied in an improper way and incomplete records are sent to the temples. but one thing will be the result--confusion. The compilers of records should try to find the information so that records can be made in family groups with all the necessary data for correct identification. When names are taken out of books without any accompanying information that will identify them or show relationship to parents and other members of the family, little, if any, good can follow. If work in the temples is done with records that are incomplete and inaccurate it will more than likely have to be done over again. In this way the records are burdened with unnecessary matter which cannot be properly arranged.” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation Vol.2 pgs. 207-209, 1955)
Lack of careful entry of the information into FamilySearch Family Tree can raise the risk of duplication. Back on 12 November 2013, I wrote on this same subject in a blog post entitled, "The Challenge of Duplication of Temple Work -- Will FamilySearch Family Tree help?" With all of the changes to the Family Tree program since that time, I can safely say that the features of the program are now very much involved in reducing and attempting to eliminate duplication. In using the program today, now eight months after my initial post, you will have to consciously avoid the warnings not duplicate ordinances in order to enter duplicates into the program.




Monday, July 21, 2014

The Prophets Speak on Searching Out Our Dead -- Joseph Fielding Smith

President Joseph Fielding Smith was born in 1876 and became the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on 23 January 1970, at the age of 93. Although he was not President of the Church for a very long time, he wrote and spoke prolifically. He was known as a great scriptorian and scholar. Here are some of his teachings on the subject of genealogy, family history, Temple work and baptism for the dead.

From Church History and Modern Revelation, 2:332:
The Lord has placed the baptismal font in our temples below the foundation, or the surface of the earth. This is symbolical, since the dead are in their graves, and we are working for the dead when we are baptized for them. Moreover, baptism is also symbolical of death and the resurrection, in fact, is virtually a resurrection from the life of sin, or from spiritual death, to the life of spiritual life. (See D. & C. 29:41–45.) Therefore when the dead have had this ordinance performed in their behalf they are considered to have been brought back into the presence of God, just as this doctrine is applied to the living.
From Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 2:323–27:
The symbolism of baptism applies also to the living. When we are baptized, it is as though we are buried and resurrected with Christ. Our old, sinful natures die and we become a new person (see Romans 6:1–7). Baptism also symbolizes the physical process of being born, so that when we emerge from the waters, it is as though we have been born a second time (see John 3:5; Moses 6:59–60). For further discussion of the symbolism of baptism.
Again from Doctrines of Salvation,2:121–22:
If Elijah had not come, we are led to believe that all the work of past ages would have been of little avail, for the Lord said the whole earth, under such conditions, would be utterly wasted at his coming. Therefore his mission was of vast importance to the world. It is not the question of baptism for the dead alone, but also the sealing of parents and children to parents, so that there should be a ‘whole and complete and perfect union, and welding together of dispensations, and keys, and powers, and glories,’ from the beginning down to the end of time.  
If this sealing power were not on the earth, then confusion would reign and disorder would take the place of order in that day when the Lord shall come, and, of course, this could not be, for all things are governed and controlled by perfect law in the kingdom of God. 
Why would the earth be wasted? Simply because if there is not a welding link between the fathers and the children—which is the work for the dead—then we will all stand rejected; the whole work of God will fail and be utterly wasted. Such a condition, of course, shall not be.
Quoted in The Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, Volumes 12-13, Idaho Falls Genealogical Convention, April, 1922.
My brethren and sisters, keep in mind this thing; that as was expressed yesterday, we without our dead cannot receive the fulness of salvation. We must understand that those who have died without a knowledge of the Gospel are just as much entitled to receive the privileges of salvation as are we who are living now when the Gospel is restored. And the Lord has arranged it so that they shall not be overlooked, but that every soul shall have the opportunity of salvation. And in order that the family chain shall not be broken it becomes necessary for us to perform labors for our dead, and ward workers must keep these things constantly in mind and give them to the people in their visits among them. 
Joseph Fielding Smith, "The Keys of the Priesthood Restored," Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, July 1936, 100-101.
I think sometimes we look at this work for the salvation of the dead rather narrowly. It is a wrong conception to think of the people for whom we are doing work in the temple of the Lord as being dead. We should think of them as living: and the living proxy but represents them in receiving the blessings which they should have received and would have received in this life had they been living in a gospel dispensation. Therefore every dead person for whom work is done in the temple is considered to be living at the time the ordinance is given.
Quoted in Hearts Turned to the Fathers: A History of the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1894-1994 (1995), 184.
It doesn't matter whether your computer is able to compile all the family group sheets for everyone that every lived on the earth, it remains the responsibility of each individual to know his kindred dead... Even if the work is done, then it is still each person's responsibility to study and become acquainted with his ancestors.
 See Sealing Power and Salvation, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year (January 12, 1971) 2-3. Italics removed.
The doctrine of salvation for the dead is one of the most glorious principles ever revealed to man. It is the way in which the gospel shall be offered to all men. It establishes the fact that God is no respecter of persons [see Acts 10:34] that every soul is precious in His sight; and that all men will, in fact and in reality, be judged according to their works.
Now, I thank the Lord that He has restored His everlasting gospel to us in this day. I thank Him for the sealing power returned to earth by the Prophet Elijah, I thank Him for the eternal family unit, for the privilege we have of being sealed ourselves in his holy temples, and for then making available these sealing blessings to be given to our ancestors who died without a knowledge of the gospel.
 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Today's Worldwide Indexing Event

Quoting from the Church News for 10 July 2014,
Beginning July 20, 2014, at 6:00 p.m. (mountain daylight time), volunteers worldwide are encouraged to participate in the Family Search indexing challenge by submitting at least one batch of records within the following 24 hours.
Continuing the quote:
Our stated goal is 50,000 volunteers participating in a single day, though we think the potential exists to surpass that mark by a considerable amount,” said Mike Judson, indexing workforce manager for FamilySearch. “All it takes to be counted in the record is to submit one batch. With hundreds of thousands of past indexing volunteers and thousands more joining weekly, breaking the record won’t take much if people will commit to spend the 30 minutes or so required to finish and submit a batch.
The event begins at 00:00 coordinated universal time (UTC) on July 21, which is 6:00 p.m. mountain daylight time (MDT or Utah time) on Sunday, July 20. It ends 24 hours later, at 23:59 UTC (or 5:59 p.m. MDT) on Monday, July 21. Local start times and status updates can be found on the FamilySearch Facebook event page.
Here is a screenshot of the Worldwide Indexing Event Facebook page:


To see an introduction to Indexing see the video at http://bcove.me/v3nmffo4

Saturday, July 19, 2014

FamilySearch Consultant Webinar Series

LDS.org hosts an ongoing Family History Consultant Webinar series. Many of the past presentations are available online and future webinar are announced regularly. Here is a screenshot of the page announcing the series;


The webinars are presented by experienced representatives of FamilySearch and will continue into the future. You do not have to be registered or even sign in to LDS.org to view past webinars. If you click on the image above, you can see the current topics available.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Update on Mobile Apps for FamilySearch: Tree and Memories

There are some surprises in the new FamilySearch apps, Tree and Memories, for both iOS and Android. I was able to find both apps in the Apple App Store, but I was only able to find the Tree app in Google Play's Apps, so far. The big news in addition to the introduction of the apps themselves, is the addition of sound recordings to both apps. The Apps will allow sound recordings of up to 15 minutes in length. However, although the recordings are preserved, they are not yet available, as of the date of this post, on FamilySearch.org's Memories program.

So far, the Details for individuals in FamilySearch.org's Family Tree are not yet editable by using the apps, but I assume that will be forthcoming.

If you are aware of the restrictions on photos and documents uploaded to Family Tree's Memories, you will realize that every item uploaded is actually reviewed by a live person at FamilySearch. It will be unlikely that this will be the case with the recordings, so if there is a recording that is not acceptable because of content (not just because you disagree with the genealogy or whatever), you can use the "Report Abuse" link to report the unacceptable content. The change to user edited content from the FamilySearch review only applies to audio files.

When you try to view sources using the Tree app, you might find that opening the source refers you to the Web location referenced. There does not seem to be a way to see the same information recorded in the sources on the Details pages of the individuals. The Tree app does allow you to upload photos, stories and audio files directly to the online Family Tree, but there is no mention of documents.

There is a link to view your "History List" of people you have viewed and visited since you reset the list.

As you get into the apps, you will likely find other features I have not yet discovered. I might also note that the Get Help menu in FamilySearch.org has changed. There are a number of help topics if you search in the Help Center for the Tree app or the Memories app. It appears that many of the functions of the apps require a live connection to the Internet or the option of downloading six generations of your ancestry on Family Tree.

Here is a screenshot of the new listings in the Get Help link:


I suggest clicking on the Help Center link and then searching for "Tree app" and "Memories app." Here is a screenshot of the results of the search for Tree app:


You can click to enlarge the image. As I get time to get into the Help Center topics, I will provide more information about specific features of the apps.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Move information between your FamilySearch and Ancestry trees now available

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who have been invited to sign up for a free Ancestry.com account now have the ability to move information directly between their Ancestry.com account and FamilySearch.org's Family Tree. Here is a screen shot showing the new feature;


The note at the bottom of the page indicates that "The ability to compare and transfer relationship and sources information is coming." In this particular case, the comparison pointed out a long-standing issue. On the FamilySearch Family Tree side (the left side in the screenshot) there is a date listed for a "Christening." Christening is not an ordinance performed in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. So this is an invitation to me to correct my ancestor's record on Family Tree.

I personally am looking forward to begin the process of moving sources from Ancestry.com to Family Tree.

In order to make these comparisons, it is necessary to have an Ancestry.com Family Tree. Presently, you can move a family at a time from FamilySearch.org Family Tree to Ancestry.com to start the process of doing research for sources on Ancestry.com.

Free FamilySearch Family Tree and Memories Apps released

FamilySearch has released two new apps for iOS and Android devices. They are available in the app store from the devices such as iPhones, iPads and Android devices. I wrote a brief overview of the apps on Genealogy's Star. The apps are called FamilySearch - Tree and FamilySearch - Memories. There is another app available also called Turn Hearts.

Here is a screenshot from my iPad of the Tree app:


This seems to be the only view supported so far, but this is a brand new app and will likely change in the near future. The app appears to be only a viewer because I could not edit any of the entries.

The Memories program is also a viewer, but you can add photos directly to the online FamilySearch Family Tree from your device's camera or from the images stored on your device. Here is a screenshot, again, from my iPad:


Here is a screen shot of the Turn Hearts app also:


I am sure I will have more about these apps later.