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

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Challenge of Duplication of Temple Work -- A Very Brief History of the Efforts to Avoid Duplication

A more complete history of the efforts to avoid the duplication of Temple work by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can be found in the following book: 

Allen, James B., Jessie L. Embry, and Kahlile B. Mehr. Hearts Turned to the Fathers: A History of the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1894-1994. Provo, Utah: BYU Studies, Brigham Young University, 1995.

I have referred to this book in making the following summary.

Proxy baptisms for the dead began in the Church in December 1840, when Joseph Smith wrote to members of the Quorum of the Twelve and other priesthood leaders who were serving missions in Great Britain: 
I presume the doctrine of ‘baptism for the dead’ has ere this reached your ears, and may have raised some inquiries in your minds respecting the same. I cannot in this letter give you all the information you may desire on the subject; but … I would say that it was certainly practiced by the ancient churches; and St. Paul endeavors to prove the doctrine of the resurrection from the same, and says, ‘Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?’ [1 Corinthians 15:29.] 
“I first mentioned the doctrine in public when preaching the funeral sermon of Brother Seymour Brunson; and have since then given general instructions in the Church on the subject. The Saints have the privilege of being baptized for those of their relatives who are dead. … Without enlarging on the subject, you will undoubtedly see its consistency and reasonableness; and it presents the Gospel of Christ in probably a more enlarged scale than some have imagined it. 
See History of the Church, 4:231; paragraph divisions altered; from a letter from Joseph Smith to the Twelve, Dec. 15, 1840, Nauvoo, Illinois; this letter is incorrectly dated Oct. 19, 1840, in History of the Church.
This entire concept gave a new basis for investigating and recording family history. Although genealogical research had been done for a long period of time before Joseph Smith's revelations, the involvement of the members of the Church in genealogy would have far reaching effects. Original efforts to perform proxy ordinances took place in Nauvoo, Illinois. As the Saints moved west and became established in Utah, they almost immediately began to build Temples. It very soon became apparent that family members who were separated by both time and distance from each other were duplicating the ordinances performed for their common family members. This issue began to be a concern in the 1890s but was not adequately addressed until 1927 with the founding of the Temple Records Index Bureau (TIB).

In a "A chronology of society's historical development" dated 26 November 1994 in the Church News
the Temple Records Index Bureau was explained as follows:
1927 - Temple Records Index Bureau card index. The First Presidency authorized the checking of all name submissions against a card file index to all endowments. The index was maintained through 1969 when new endowments were recorded in Genealogical Information and Names Tabulation (GIANT). The TIB was still used to check submissions through 1990. It prevented duplicate ordinances for one in five names submitted for which work had been done.
After the establishment of the TIB, any names submitted for ordinance word were first compared against the records in the TIB to avoid duplication. Unfortunately, there were many privately kept Temple Books containing the dates of ordinances that were not incorporated into the TIB.

Again referring to the above cited Church News article:
1970 - GIANT. An acronym for Genealogical Information and Names Tabulation. This system automated names processing and introduced the automated storage of massive name files, primarily the International Genealogical Index. It functioned until 1990, when it was replaced by TempleReady.
The International Genealogical Index was first released on microfiche in 1973. Originally published as “the Computer File Index” it contained 20 million entries. About 80% were extracted. See International Genealogical Index. The subsequent development of the IGI was as follows:
  • 1975 Microfiche edition with 34 million names.
  • 1981 This, the 4th edition, was the first to be called the International Genealogical Index. Contained 81 million entries.
  • 1984 Record count was 108 million. Offered for sale to the public.
  • 1988 First published on compact disc (CD-ROM). Part of the FamilySearch DOS computer program. Contained 147 million names. Excluded some indexed entries from the 1984 edition.
  • 1992 Microfiche edition. Contained 187 million names. About 94.5% were indexed.
  • March 1993 The CD-ROM edition took longer. Contained over 200 million names from over 90 countries.
  • July 1994 CD-ROM release of the 1994 edition issued as an addendum with 42 million entries. Includes entries dropped from the 1988 edition. Duplication rate increased over previous editions.
  • 1997 CD-ROM addendum increased entries from 240 to 284 million, of which 100 million were from extraction.
  • 24 May 1999 FamilySearch website released. Not all 285 million IGI entries available immediately, but were released by region.
During this time, the Church began using a program called TempleReady in 1993. The following announcement was made in 1995:
Members in the United States and Canada are reminded that after 1 June 1995, all processing of names for temple ordinance work will occur in local stakes and wards. In its 8 November 1993 announcement of the new TempleReady™ computer program, the First Presidency advised that after 1 June 1995, the Church would no longer process names for temple work at Church headquarters. After this date, Church members in the United States and Canada will need to use TempleReady in their stake or district to prepare their ancestors’ names to be sent to the temple. Ensign, June 1995, 74
Each of these changes were implemented in response to the increase in the number of names being submitted and in an attempt to reduce the amount of duplication of effort. This effort culminated in the release of in 2007 which replaced TempleReady.

This brings us up to the present and the release of FamilySearch Family Tree to replace

To be continued.

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