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

RootsTech 2014 Official Blogger

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Genealogy in the Church

Among genealogists generally, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are known for their interest in genealogy based on religious beliefs. Many genealogists outside the Church recognize the sincerity of these beliefs, but others , mainly because of adverse anti-Church activities, not only question the beliefs but reject members participation in genealogy altogether. The surprising thing about this issue of Mormons' participation in genealogy is that so few of the members actually participate.

In the April, 2014 General Conference, Elder Quentin Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave a talk entitled, "Roots and Branches." In that talk, he noted,
In the worldwide membership of the Church, fifty-one percent of adults currently do not have both parents in the Family Tree section of the Church’s FamilySearch Internet site. Sixty-five percent of adults do not have all four grandparents listed. Remember, we without our roots and branches cannot be saved. Church members need to obtain and input this vital information.
These statistics provided by the Church's Family History Department illustrate the dichotomy. On one hand, the Church members are for good or bad, known for their participation in family history, while the reality is that only a very small percentage of the members are actually involved. As I previously quoted an article published in the Deseret News for 10 February 2014 entitled, "Help all Church members find their ancestors" by R. Scott Lloyd. (The article may no longer be online see now,
Family History Is about Hearts before Charts, Says Elder Packer) that states, quoting Elder Allan F. Packer of the Seventy and Chairman of the Board of Directors of FamilySearch,
"These numbers are a cry for change,” Elder Packer said regarding the statistics he cited, though he did say he was happy to report progress. “In the last year the number of members submitting names for temple ordinances is up 17 percent over last year. It has gone from 2.4 to 2.7 percent of the members,” he said. 
But he supported the call for improvement by noting that in the United States 25 percent of Church members do not have four generations of ancestors in the Family Tree section of the Church’s FamilySearch Internet site. Internationally, 70 percent of members don’t have both parents in Family Tree, 90 percent don’t have their grandparents in it, and 95 percent don’t have their great-grandparents included.
Why is this the situation? Why do members profess to believe in searching out their ancestors and yet so few actually participate? I have been thinking about this issue for some time now. One fact is now apparent. The technological changes now being implemented will provide a way for these numbers to change dramatically. But presently, only a vanishingly small percentage of the members know about the changes and understand the implications of those changes.

Here is what is happening. FamilySearch, the Church's genealogy company, has partnered with three huge online family history companies, Ancestry.com, MyHeritage.com and findmypast.com. Two of these companies, Ancetry.com and MyHeritage.com presently have technology that can potentially automate the process of identifying and adding at least four or more generations for the living members of the Church. The family trees on Ancestry.com are already linked to the FamilySearch Family Tree. MyHeritage.com is planning a link in the future. All Church members will get free access to these programs. So, the potential is now in place for a huge number of the existing members to add their four generations to FamilySearch Family Tree by simply letting the online programs do the searching and then synchronizing the information with Family Tree.

At this point, there is a massive need to educate millions of members about the advantages of putting their basic family information into these companion programs and allowing them to do a significant amount of research. Presently, I see the technology being made available, but I have yet to see the education effort begin. Looking at the programs being taught at the Church's FamilySearch Centers (Family History Centers), I still do not see Ancestry.com and MyHeritage.com or even findmypast.com, being scheduled to be taught. Who is going to teach the members how to do this massive amount of data entry and then teach them to transfer that information to Family Tree?

I expect to do my part, but there is a need for the genealogists of the Church to get busy and learn how to do this themselves and begin the process of teaching others what to do.

9 comments:

  1. What about https://www.findarecord.com/research/familysearch?

    I found your name on their homepage, recommending Find-A-Record, I assume, and the new research assistant does a fine job recommending actual records for the FS tree.

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    1. Thanks for the comment. Yes, I do like Find-A-Record.

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  2. Hi, I received my email invitation to the three partner sites. I registered through the email and on MyHeritage my account says Premium Plus, but I'm confused by what's free. When I click on an image to view it, money is being requested to see it. Is only the tree part free and only images from a site like findagrave free? Even Utah Death Certificates (which is free from FamilySearch and Utah.gov) I'm being asked for money to see the image.
    Thanks for helping to clear this up.
    Elaine

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    1. MyHeritage is free. You need to use the program to search for records but the best way to use it is to put your family tree on the program and let them do the searching. You might want to view my Webcast on the Mesa FamilySearch Library website. See http://mesafsl.org/Webcasts.html

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  3. Thanks for your Webcast. I'm planning on showing it to our Family History Stake staff next week. I've contacted MyHeritage as to why I'm not getting the images. I've had a family tree uploaded since March of 2013. The account has been dormant (the free 6 months Rootstech 2013 offer ran out) until registering through the FamilySearch email.

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  4. Please explain this statement: "The family trees on Ancestry.com are already linked to the FamilySearch Family Tree."

    Thank you.

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    1. I just got my free access today (yay!) and I've got lots of questions about this same thing. I see that if you go to the "family trees" tab at the top of Ancestry, you can click on "import tree from FamilySearch" and it will automatically import your 4 generations. But is there a way to get other people from FamilySearch too without having to type them each individually? It doesn't show my husband or any of his family (he doesn't have access yet). And if new info is entered, is it automatically transferred between my Ancestry tree and FamilySearch Family Tree? Are there instructions anywhere beyond just how to sign up?

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    2. The answer to the import question is no, there is no way to import more than 4 generations. The only way to add more people is to add them through searching records or typing them in. You are not related to your husband (likely) and therefore he has his own tree. No, new info is not automatically transferred although they say that this feature is coming. No, there are not any instructions that I can find. That is one of my major issues right now. I will write a blog post about your questions. Thanks for asking.

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    3. If you sign in to Ancestry.com with an LDS account and have a family tree on the program, you will see a link from each individual to Family Tree. In the future, you will be able to exchange data between the two programs. See my most recent post today, 14 May 2014.

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