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

Thursday, June 21, 2018

A Family History Mission: The Long Stretch

No. 67

Note: You can do a Google search for "A Family History Mission James Tanner" to see all the previous posts in this ongoing series. You can also search for "James Tanner genealogy" and find them or click back through all the posts.

Work this week was interrupted with a visit to a dermatologist and the removal of a relatively large squamous cell cancer from my arm. These types of interruptions in our digitization work don't seem to consider that we are Senior Missionaries. Fortunately, we are living in a major metropolitan area and finding a good doctor is not difficult. Most of the other missionaries serving with us here in Annapolis, Maryland have had their own visits to local doctors.

Physical condition and health is a major concern not only of the missionaries themselves but also from the Missionary Department of the Church. Before our mission, we had a complete physical and filled out a long questionnaire about any medical concerns or issues we had. My interaction with dermatologists has been going on for years and years, so the need for a visit here in Maryland was not much of a surprise. 

Some of the Senior Missionaries serving here in the Washington, D.C. North Mission are older than we are and some are younger, but all have seem to have some medical concern or another simply because of our age. The important thing is that we do not use our age as an excuse not to serve. If we had something that was very limiting, we could always serve while living at home or even from our home as telephone support missionaries. 

I am reminded of 2 Timothy 1:6-7 that says, 
6 Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.
7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
We have been set apart to serve and even though there may be some difficulties, we can still keep serving. As Paul, the Apostle goes on to say in Chapter 2 of 2nd Timothy:
1 Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
We can do hard things.  

Monday, June 18, 2018

Church Hymnbook and Children's Songbook Being Revised

Here is the announcement from an email notice:
Under the direction of the First Presidency, committees have been assembled to recommend revisions to the current hymnbook and children's songbook. When the revisions are complete, there will only be one hymnbook and one children's songbook, offering the same hymns and songs in all languages. The new collections will be created over the next several years to reflect the needs of members around the world. 

Visit to learn more about this effort. You can give feedback about the current music and submit new original hymns, children's songs, and lyrics to be considered for inclusion in the revised collections.
Here is a screenshot of the website:

I remember the last revision and was surprised to see some the hymns that did not "make the cut."  So, if you have any favorites, you should probably give suggestions and if you have any original hymns, by all means, submit them for consideration.

The Family History Guide Continues to Grow
When people get stuck with a researching their family history, I always try to remind them of The Family History Guide. I had a Temple and Family History Consultant ask me for assistance in helping two of the members of her Ward. She needed help with Polish research and research in Korea. Both of these places are not the easiest places to do genealogical research. I showed her the Countries research pages and she was on her way to helping the people get started.

Here is the Poland research page.
And here is the one for Korea.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

A Survival Guide for the FamilySearch Family Tree: Part Six

The Family Tree is the solution, not the problem. 

One of the most valuable recent technological innovations is the incorporation of GPS coordinates into online mapping programs. Further incorporation of the GPS into smartphones makes navigating a big city or finding your way out in the desert much easier than it was in the past. After using the GPS directions linked to a mapping program such as Google Maps for a while, you can become almost dependent on the assistance of audio instructions.

On the other hand, there are no audio directions embedded in the Family Tree. There is really nothing even comparable to a map. The best set of directions to the program is a companion website that is not even acknowledged or linked from the Family Tree at all. That website is The Family History Guide or I could just repeat what is completely organized and explained in The Family History Guide, but that is not the purpose of this post series. The idea here is to directly address as many of the issues with the program as possible. Even those who are fairly advanced in using the Family Tree have issues and problems with the program.

Time to start into the issues. Let's begin at the beginning. Here is a screenshot of one variation of the current start-up screen for

If I scroll down, I will get an invitation to start using the Family Tree program.

This is a major step up for the website. Previously, the startup screen was harder to navigate. But if you register for the website or sign in if you are already registered, you will get a different screen. These screens are personalized and custom created for each user.

You may or may not find these features to be useful. If you click on the link in the top menu bar, you can go directly to the Family Tree. You can go directly to the Family Tree and begin entering your own name and those of your ancestors and other relatives or you can use the Family Booklet to get started, either online or on paper. The link to the Family Booklet is in the Family Tree pull-down menu item.

For many users, this may be a better option for beginning a family tree. What I have found is that many users, even those who have some experience, do not realize that there is an easy and somewhat less complicated way to begin adding information to the Family Tree. What I occasionally find is that the "standard" landscape pedigree view that is basic to genealogy is not easily understood or as obvious as it may seem to those who have grown up looking at pedigree charts. It is important to understand that there are alternatives. There are several different views and many people prefer looking at their part of the Family Tree in a fan chart format.

One of the popular complaints about the Family Tree on the support website, (See is the format of the Family Tree. Specifically, the amount of "white space" in the landscape view or the number of details shown for each person. Here is a screenshot of what you might see today for reference.

There are dozens of other options that could be added through icons or links. But in every case, there needs to be a balance between readability and functionality. Just adding functions to a program does not necessarily make the program "better." In some cases, adding more features to a program may end up defeating the original reason for developing the program in the first place. The Family Tree has more information in this landscape view than appears in my own screenshot. The reason is that I have worked over my entries and some of the offerings from FamilySearch are not presently available for this section of my part of the Family Tree. Here is a view with more information in the form of record hints and data warnings.

I am certain that the look of the Family Tree will evolve over time, but I am also hopeful that the screens, such as this one, will not get loaded down with features. There is a balance that must be achieved between the "need" for additional features and the usability of the program. For example, one of the programs with the most features is Adobe Photoshop. The program has hundreds of features and is extremely complex with detailed screens. A person can be considered to be a Photoshop expert if the person knows about 100 of the features. We don't need FamilySearch to keep adding features to the Family Tree unless those features have a general appeal and add real functionality. Of course, Photoshop would not be Photoshop if it was simple and had fewer features. It is aimed at highly motivated and trained professionals. Let's not turn the Family Tree into a professional's program.

Here are the previous posts in this series

Part One:
Part Two:
Part Three:
Part Four:
Part Five:

Saturday, June 16, 2018

A Family History Mission: The Oddities and Unusual

1 July 1776 Probate file from Charles County, Maryland
No. 66

Note: You can do a Google search for "A Family History Mission James Tanner" to see all the previous posts in this ongoing series. You can also search for "James Tanner genealogy" and find them or click back through all the posts.

Ome of the most interesting parts of digitizing records at the Maryland State Archives is finding old, unusual, or strange records. This past week, I began digitizing a Probate Record beginning the 1760s and found this record that was dated 1 July 1776. While monumental things were going on in some parts of the world, the courts in Charles County, Maryland were chugging away with their usual calendar of court cases. For me, this was interesting because the documents in the National Archives from 1776 are behind glass, but I get to see the documents close up and digitize them. But this also reminds me of the immense value of these document and so we want to be as careful as possible in handling them.

Here is an image of the two-page spread with the entry from 1776.

If you look closely, you can see the cover that is used to protect the books from some types of harm while on the shelves. The cover wraps around the book and is fastened velcro.

Here is a closeup of the earliest record I have digitized so far from 1764.

Here is the entire page.

These Probate Inventory books were very skinny but long.

I am going to do a post about the strange terms and names I find in old probate documents.

Here's an example of the lovely endpaper in some of the books. The older books have beautiful and very readable handwriting for the most part.

I have plenty more to write about, so stay tuned.

Friday, June 15, 2018

FamilySearch to Add Same-Sex Marriages to Family Tree

Headlines in the Deseret News report the following in an article dated June 13, 2018:
SALT LAKE CITY — The world's largest genealogy organization is redesigning so the LDS Church-sponsored database can store and provide records of same-sex families. 
FamilySearch first said in 2015 it would add a feature for same-sex relationships in the future. The major overhaul to the website's system should be ready by 2019, according to a statement on the website updated in April. 
The statement said's goal is to capture accurate genealogy "that represents past, present and future families of the world." 
"To support this goal," the release continued, "same-sex relationships, including same-sex parents and same-sex couples, will be provided in FamilySearch Family Tree. Several systems that surround Family Tree, such as tree and record searching, must be significantly redesigned to support same-sex relationships before Family Tree can release this capability." 
FamilySearch International is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 
The leader of a group that seeks equal rights and protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Utahns and their families hailed the changes to FamilySearch.
As pointed out in the statement, this is not really "new" news.  Some of the online family tree programs have designated all marital relationships as "marital partners" for some years now. The Family Tree program already allows entering relationships without requiring a formal marriage date.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Are you aware of the changes in the records on the FamilySearch website?

On the website, if you sign in and then click on your name in the upper-right-hand corner of the screen, you can see the "Settings" link. One of the settings lets you subscribe to a variety of blog posts and newsletters from FamilySearch. I just subscribe to everything so I can sort-of keep up with what is going on. The image above is a weekly newsletter I get telling me about the new historical records on the website. There mostly appears to be a column of numbers and another column of zeros.

What is happening with FamilySearch's online records?

Some time ago, I wrote a series of posts telling about where all the records were located on the website. I also did a popular video for the Brigham Young University Family History Library.

Where are the Digitized Records on - James Tanner

The report that comes out each week from FamilySearch lists the records in the Historical Record Collections section of the website that have been indexed. Very few new images are being added to that section.

The new images are being added to the website but are only available through a listing in the Catalog. The video explains where these are and how to find these new records. The number of records in Catalog is currently over 800 million and rising fairly consistently.

Searching for a name on the website will only search Indexed records. You have to look through the records in the Catalog for the locations where events occurred in your ancestors' lives to find the rest or the records.

This is an excellent reason to become involved in Indexing.

See The Family History Guide ( indexing instructions.