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

Thursday, March 13, 2014

What exactly is Puzzilla.org and how does it work?

I was talking to one of my friends last night and she made some comments about a recent Church meeting she had attended where the visiting Church leader from Salt Lake City mentioned some of the new developments in family history including trying to tell about the Puzzilla.org program. The comments made showed that the speaker really did not understand what the program was or what it did.  In fact, he could not even get the name of the program down correctly. 

If you go to the program and watch the introductory videos, you will have a basic understanding of the program, but you also need to know something about how the FamilySearch.org Family Tree program works also. This blog post is probably just one of many I will write on this subject. The reason for this is that Puzzilla.org solves several very common problems members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have with genealogy in general. 

Here is the explanation.

Why does the Puzzilla.org program exist?
During the past 150 years or so, members of the Church have been encouraged to research their ancestry and compile information to enable Temple ordinances to be performed for their dead ancestors. If you need an explanation of why this is necessary, please see LDS.org Gospel Topics, particularly Baptism for the Dead. Suffice it to say, we have accumulated a huge amount of information about our families. Many of the members of the Church find themselves in the position of looking at the work that has already been completed about their families and have concluded that their genealogy is "all done." This is not the case. In some cases, the work has been done over and over again, sometimes hundreds of times, but in every single family there are whole genealogical lines that have been ignored. This is generally the case with the descendants of remote ancestors who did not join the Church. 

The challenge has been how to find and identify these people who have been ignored by researchers. Puzzilla.org exists because there is a need to identify those lines of the our ancestors where Temple work has not been completed because the research to identify these "cousins" has not been done and is not entered into the FamilySearch Family Tree program. 

How does Puzilla.org work?
Puzzilla.org examines the data in FamilySearch.org Family Tree and extracts a pedigree in the form of a fan chart, showing the information in the Family Tree. here is an example of such a pedigree chart;


Each node or dot on the chart represents an ancestor in the FamilySearch Family Tree program and moving your mouse cursor over the dots will show a pop-up that identifies the ancestor. You can then choose anyone who is already in the program and show a descendancy graphic of all of their descendants. Here is an example of such a chart for my Great-grandfather.


Obviously, many of the Henry Martin Tanner family members are already in FamilySearch Family Tree. If you spot a place where the lines end, you need to investigate further to see if this is, in fact, someone's line that has been overlooked. The further you go back in time or generations, the more successful you will be in finding lines that have not been researched. 


What will Puzzilla.org not do?
First of all, Puzzilla.org does not show anything that is not already in FamilySearch Family Tree. It cannot find your missing relatives. The program is billed as a way to find your cousins. It does exactly that, but because FamilySearch Family Tree does not display living people, the Puzzilla.org program will not show the identity of living cousins. Also, Puzzilla.org is not designed to tell you whether the Temple work has or has not been done for any of the individuals in FamilySearch Family Tree. In all cases, you must go back to to the FamilySearch Family Tree program by clicking on the individuals involved to find additional information about their status. 

In addition, Puzzilla.org is not designed to answer specific questions about individual ancestors. It cannot tell you birth dates or whatever unless the information is already in the FamilySearch Family Tree program. Remember, FamilySearch Family Tree will not show living people. If you do a descendancy search for a recently born ancestor, the ends of the line are likely to be people who are currently living and not missing from the program. 

Puzzilla.org will only work well if the information in Family Tree is correct
One of the results of inheriting a hundred and fifty year's accumulation of genealogy is that some of it is inaccurate or otherwise defective. As time passes and more work is done on the data in FamilySearch Family Tree this problem will become less serious. Right now, it is a monumental problem with relying on the information in FamilySearch Family Tree for accuracy. To have valid results from Puzzilla.org, you must verify your ancestry in FamilySearch Family Tree. If you assume that the information is correct, you will probably be wrong. 

Puzzilla.org is a marvelous tool but it is limited by the accuracy of the information in FamilySearch Family Tree. Before assuming that all is well, I would strongly suggest doing some basic checking of the data in the FamilySearch Family Tree program. 

1 comment:

  1. thank you james tanner. It clarified the "correct data" question in my mind.

    ReplyDelete