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

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Blogging and the LDS Genealogical Community

Because of the religious doctrinal connection between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and genealogy, most of the membership have a general awareness of the need to seek out their ancestors. However, there is a basic disconnect between the general Church population and the genealogical community at large. I have written about this several times in my other blog, Genealogy's Star. Estimates of the active participation of members of the Church in genealogy vary from a very low 2 or 3 percent up to as high as 8 percent. Part of the problem in determining an accurate figure is the lack of a definition of genealogy and a definite threshold for measuring participation.

As I travel across the United States, I find varying degrees of genealogical activity in the Wards I visit. Some Wards seem to have an active program, but those are few and far between. Most commonly, I find that there is a Ward Family History Consultant, but that "there is no class going on at the time." It is as if genealogy is viewed as a Sunday School Class that is only taught once or so a year instead of an ongoing activity. One thing I do find is that there is an almost uniform lack of contact with the greater genealogical community including awareness of the online community and further awareness of local genealogical societies and their activities.

It is my experience that blogging, especially genealogy blogging, is an area of rather limited awareness in the general LDS community. It seems that most people know about blogs and may have read a blog, but have no concept of the specialized or special interest blogs such as genealogy. Because of the nature of the blogging community, bloggers themselves are very much aware of the blogging community. But as with any special interest group, awareness of the group's activities by outsiders is very low.

Because of the nature of blogging, it is difficult to judge how many of the active genealogy bloggers are LDS. But it is my impression that the number is perhaps only slightly higher than the percentage of Church membership compared to the overall population.

As a result of the low percentage of members of the Church involved in genealogy, it is the stated goal of FamilySearch to attract more genealogical adherents, especially younger people, and to also raise the percentage of participation among Church members. I see an initial and temporary increase coming from the current emphasis on stories and photos, but the increase will only be sustained if there is a corresponding increase in the number of dedicated genealogical researchers. The pool of stories and photos will dry up without the active involvement of the active genealogical research community.

A key component to sustained interest in genealogy is an increased awareness of the blogging community and a greater involvement in the local genealogical societies and history groups around the country. The LDS genealogical community needs to recognize and participate in the larger genealogical community. Why does the community need bloggers and especially why does the LDS genealogical community need to relate to the blogging community? This is an interesting question. Bloggers have become the "news channel" for the greater genealogical community. The primary outlet for promotions about conferences, society meetings and other genealogical events now come through the blogs. Unless the genealogy blogs achieve a greater degree of acceptance and awareness in the greater LDS genealogical community, there is virtually no way for them to become more aware of the surrounding greater genealogical community of conferences, classes, webinars, and society meetings.

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