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

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Understanding the Private Spaces on FamilySearch Family Tree

One of the ongoing concerns of the users of the FamilySearch Family Tree program is the privacy of the entries for living persons. Recently, FamilySearch.org has implemented a system of private spaces. You may have seen the following notice appear on a detail page for a living individual in the program:


It turns out, that each user of the Family Tree program is automatically given a "private space" to manage the privacy and confidentiality of the data in the program. All living people, i.e. people without death dates born within the last 110 years, are automatically given a private space. Any records created by the living person are included within the private space and are not visible to anyone other than the person who created the record. As stated in the Help Center document "Understanding Private Spaces," private spaces cannot be shared. This may change in the future.

Again quoting from the Helped Center document,
A living person can be represented in multiple private spaces as a different Family Tree person, and that person will have a different ID number in each private space.
Living people cannot be found by searching either by ID number or by name. However searching by the ID number will not find the person in any other account besides the one that uses the number being searched for. In other words, you can only see your own private space.

In addition you cannot add sources to living people. As explained by the help Center, Family Tree does not compute living people, even after they are older than 110 years. Users will need to mark their copy of the individuals his deceased and then search for any possible duplicates. I am speculating that this rule change because of the overwhelming number of people being created with separate ID numbers who are presently living. Imagine a situation where all of a living person's children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren include the person in their private space. There could be well over 100 copies of the same person needing to be merged. It would seem to me to be a good idea to Mark the living people as living and tie them into a common living person so that when the common living person was marked deceased all of the copies would automatically be merged.

The Help Center contains the following information for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:
  • Each living person will have a different ID number because each person is listed as a separate individual in each living record. Living records do not sync.
  • For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, membership information will be used to create certain people in their private space to help start their tree (mother, father, children, and so forth). Once created, these living people can be changed by the user, but such changes will not modify Church membership information.
  • Church members can modify their private space in Family Tree without having to ask the ward clerk.
  • Please contact the ward clerk if you feel the membership records are incorrect.
  • When a ward clerk records that a person is deceased, then Church membership will create a deceased person in Family Tree, making it public. The ordinances that the person had done while living will be recorded on that copy. This will not affect the copy in your private space, and you will need to add the information that shows the person is deceased in your private space. You will then need to search for Possible Duplicates and merge your copy with the membership version. If a person made his or her personal space copy show the person as deceased, that person should merge these two records together. This procedure will need to be done by each person who has created a living person in his or her own private space.
There is more information about the private space in the Help Center. Search for "private spaces."

Monday, September 29, 2014

Don't discount the benefits of the FamilySearch Partnerships

For the past couple of weeks, I have been teaching classes and helping both missionaries and patrons at the Brigham Young University Family History Library learn about Ancestry.com and MyHeritage.com. The classes have focused on the agreements between FamilySearch and these two online genealogy database websites. Many of the missionaries had received an invitation for a free subscription to these two programs as well as findmypast.com some time ago but had not taken advantage of the offer. I would like to share some of my thoughts and experiences from this process of both teaching about the programs and helping people, one-on-one, to begin using them.

In many instances, both the missionaries and patrons are finding ancestors they could not find previously. One patron, a very meticulous genealogical researcher with years of experience, ask for help in entering her family names into MyHeritage.com. As she entered the names, I helped her look at and evaluate the sources that appeared as a result of the MyHeritage.com Record Match and Record Detective programs. From time to time, while she continued to enter the names she had carefully researched and documented, I helped with specific questions. At one point, she indicated that she had come to the end of her line of research with a great-great-grandmother. She was entering the name and information she had on this ancestor as she explained to me that she had been searching for years for this particular ancestor's parents. As she typed in the information, a Record Match appeared with a marriage certificate for the ancestor that included her parents' names. The patron was overwhelmed.

This type of experience has happened frequently, sometimes not as dramatically, but I am receiving a constant flow of positive feedback from both patrons and missionaries. Almost all of these individuals have, more or less, experience with genealogical research. Those who are just starting out are sometimes overwhelmed and amazed at how quickly the sources come from both Ancestry.com and MyHeritage.com as they enter some of their known family information.

Last week, FamilySearch formally announced the availability of the free subscriptions to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. See Help spread the word about the free subscriptions. I made a brief announcement in a class on Sunday about the announcement and was amazed at the lack of real interest and the negative comments. I had a conversation after the class with several people, one of whom was quite upset with the offer because of a lack of understanding about what was involved. Despite the fact that the offer has been available to many members for some months now, most had not heard anything about the offer and were not really interested.

The contrast between the lack of interest on the part of some of the members and the experiences I have been having in helping others get involved in the programs is dramatic.

One issue we have been having over and over again at the BYU Family History Library is the registration procedure. Many of the potential users of the programs have been unable to complete their registration for the free subscriptions, usually because of failure to click the tiny check boxes required during the subscription process. Some of that may have been solved with the addition of the subscription to a page in the Help Center of FamilySearch.org. But the page is buried down a couple of levels and is quite hard to find. There is a direct link, but unless you have a way to find a reference to the link, you have no way of knowing how to subscribe. Here is the direct link:

https://familysearch.org/ask/#/partners/

On my FamilySearch.org startup page there is also a link when I sign in. Here is a screenshot of the link:


Sunday, September 28, 2014

New BYU Family History Library Video on FamilySearch.org goes on YouTube.com



This is the first in the videos of a a class on FamilySearch.org at the Brigham Young University Family History Library. The remaining sections of this video will be uploaded shortly. We are working on the quality of the videos and in the future, hopefully, they will get better. Remember that the class schedule is published regularly on the BYU Family History Library Facebook Page.

Help spread the word about the free subscriptions

On September 27, 2014, I received the following notice from FamilySearch:
As of today, free subscriptions to the FamilySearch partner sites Ancestry.com, findmypast.com, and MyHeritage.com will be available to ALL Latter-day Saints. 
These subscriptions provide access to the premium tools, features, and resources available on each website and can be used in the comfort of home. This free benefit is a $900 annual value and is a recognition of the investment of time and tithes members of the Church have made in the shared records. Free subscriptions are available here:

http://familysearch.org/partneraccess 
Open New Doors of DiscoverySubscriptions to these commercial family history sites provide Latter-day Saints with about 3.5 times the online content (more than 17.8 billion records) to help them find and bring temple blessings to their ancestors. Currently, Church members can submit names to the temple through FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com; similar functionality is being developed on findmypast.com and MyHeritage.com.

Spread the WordWe encourage you to share the good news with family, friends, and neighbors — and, of course, those you serve in your family history calling. Forward this email, post it on your Facebook timeline, and print this informational flyer and share it at church on Sunday.

Learn MoreVisit http://familysearch.org/partneraccess to register for free accounts (youth ages 13–17 require parental permission). For additional information about free LDS subscriptions to partner websites, contact FamilySearch Support at support@familysearch.org or 1-866- 406-1830. 
Gaining access to the programs is only the first step. There are lots of us out here who have already been on all three of these programs for years. Please ask around for help and visit your local Family History Center to ask questions.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Finding a Cousin Who Needs Temple Work on FamilySearch Family Tree

A new link appeared on my FamilySearch.org startup page today. Here is a screenshot of the link:


I must admit that I feel a sense of trepidation when I seen this kind of invitation. It harks back to the days of the green arrows on New.FamilySearch.org when there were hundreds of duplicate names created and submitted for Temple work from my family alone. The idea has somehow gotten ingrained in the family history community that FamilySearch Family Tree is somehow an endless source of names to take to the Temple.

You might not see the same links because these links are contextual and show up depending on your particular circumstances and ancestry.

I was pleasantly surprised that this particular link led to a page that expanded the simplistic view that mining Family Tree was the way to produce "names." Here is a screenshot of the next page in this series:

These options showed different aspects of the new descendancy view in the Family Tree program. Although the introduction emphasized how "easy" this process could be, otherwise, the concepts were sound and a refreshing change from the idea that the Family Tree program is an endless source of names. There still seems to be a fear that telling people they may actually have to do something besides click green icons will somehow drive them away from genealogy and family history, but all in all, this approach is a very positive step towards helping members with families that have belonged to the Church for years to find available research opportunities. However, there is still very, very little support for those who need to "add missing family members to Family Tree." This is especially true if we are talking about family members who lived in the 1800s or before.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Official Announcement of Free Access to Commercial Family History Websites

Deseret News, 26 September 2014
If you have been using the free partnership accounts from FamilySearch.org the past few weeks or months, you are probably wondering what the fuss is about. But a news release, blog post and newspaper article here in Utah are all announcing the general availability of Ancestry.com, MyHeritage.com and findmypast.com to the general membership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Here is the official announcement:
SALT LAKE CITY (September 26, 2014)—FamilySearch, the family history arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, today announced that Church members can now receive free personal subscriptions to Ancestry.com, findmypast.com, and MyHeritage.com. Access to these services is provided at no cost for Latter-day Saints as part of individual agreements between FamilySearch and these commercial family history websites. These subscriptions provide access to the tools, features, and resources available on each website, and can be used in the comfort of home. To sign up for a free subscription, visit familysearch.org/partneraccess
Used in tandem with the latest FamilySearch tools, these commercial family history websites can open new doors of discovery and enhance members’ ability to identify more ancestors and make more family connections.  
“Free subscriptions to the three major family history websites provide Latter-day Saints about 3.5 times the online content to help them identify their ancestors. This is possible because of the great relationship we have with these companies, their generosity, and a recognition of the investment in time and tithes members of the Church have invested in the shared records,” said Dennis Brimhall, FamilySearch CEO.   
Brimhall emphasized this collaboration benefits everyone. Through technology sharing, patrons of these commercial websites will now have access to FamilySearch content, and the general public will have free access to these websites when they visit one of the 4,800 LDS family history centers worldwide.  
Members of the Church (youth ages 13-17 require parental permission) now have access to more than 17.8 billion records through FamilySearch.org and these commercial family history websites—a free benefit that would otherwise be a significant investment for members.  
To sign up for a free subscription, visit familysearch.org/partneraccess.
I wonder how many of the members know what these programs are or what they do? At the BYU Family History Library the past few weeks, I have been spending a considerable amount of time helping people register for these three programs and then showing them how they work. The registration process does not always result in getting free access to the programs if it is not done completely right. Correcting the problems of registration is simple except for issues with logins and passwords. I would say that almost half of the FamilySearch Church Service missionaries and volunteers working here in the Library had some kind of trouble completing the process.  I will try to address those issues with explanations of the workarounds in future posts. If you have a question, please leave a comment.

All the Links in the Chain must be Strong

By Toni Lozano [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The Leader's Guide to Temple and Family History Work, To Turn the Hearts clearly outlines the responsibilities of each of the links in the leadership chain that extends from the Area Leadership to the individual member of each Ward. Quoting from the Leader's Guide:
Priesthood leaders provide doctrinal and administrative direction to temple and family history work. Their direction is essential to lead members to the temple through family history efforts. They teach members and encourage them to attend the temple and participate in family history work. See page 3
Starting from the Area Leadership each of the links in this chain of responsibility should be involved in this important work. As the Leader's Guide states:
Area family history advisers work closely with the Area Seventies and coordinating councils. Generally, priesthood holders or couples are called to serve as area family history advisers. The Church’s Family History Department provides orientation and training for the new advisers. See page 22
However, the Area Advisers cannot do their job without the support and cooperation of the Stake Presidents. Here is an outline of the Stake Presidents' responsibility:
The stake president presides over the work of salvation in the stake, which includes temple and family history work. Stake presidents can use temple and family history work as a way to strengthen members and their families. Stake presidents consider ways to use family history to help with missionary work, convert retention, member activation, and teaching the gospel.  See page 6.
This chain of responsibility extends to the High Councilor, each High Priest Group Leader, the Bishops, Family History Consultants and ultimately, each member of the Church.

We have a common saying that refers to the "weak link." If you find yourself in one of these leadership positions, do you want to become the weak link?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Challenge of Multiple Family Trees Online

For the past couple of years, I have been constantly talking about and teaching about the large online genealogy database companies (among many other things). Recently, I have been presenting a series of classes at the Brigham Young University (BYU) Family History Library about these programs. I am part-way through the first round of classes. As I teach the classes, the BYU Family History Library has been putting videos of the classes online on their YouTube.com Channel. By the way, they are working on improving the quality of the videos. There have been several challenges to overcome.

What I see as the underlying issue for the users with the agreements between FamilySearch and the other three companies is the concept of maintaining multiple family trees online. Many users have their own genealogical data on a desktop computer-based genealogy program. Many of those who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have also been caught up in ongoing challenge of learning to use and maintain the FamilySearch.org Family Tree. Now these same users are confronted with learning three new (to them) programs and putting three more family trees online. Many people have expressed sincere concerns about the need for such "extra" family trees and difficult of synchronizing trees on all the different programs. There are many other concerns and issues. Each of the companies have unique features and the implementation of the features are an additional challenge.

Some of the users' concerns are valid and some are illusory. From a practical standpoint, the main challenges have involved the mechanics of learning new programs. But before the users are willing to become involved in multiple programs, they must confront the conceptual issue of maintaining multiple online databases in addition to their own genealogy program. From the standpoint of members of the Church, the issue is compounded because of the difficulties experienced with the Family Tree program. Many users are frustrated by the appearance of random changes and the overwhelming challenge of correcting multiple layers of inaccurate ancestry due to the pre-existing database inherited from New.FamilySearch.org. Frankly, the promise of being able to share sources and information between the three partner programs and FamilySearch Family Tree is not much of a motivation. This is especially true with users who have not yet been converted to the concept of supporting their entries with adequate sources.

In addition, explanations such as having multiple backups, are not awfully convincing. Resistance to becoming involved with three additional programs is lessened somewhat for those who are already familiar with the other three online database programs. But for new users, the task of learning the new programs and understanding the concepts is overwhelming. The benefits of having the automated or semi-automated record hints and the ability to attach sources directly to an individual or family are impressive but not completely persuasive. In almost every case, I have found that involvement with the three other programs by members of the Church revolves around an explanation of the overall function of the system. Telling people that the programs are "free" is not much of a motivation, especially when the concepts of adding sources, maintaining databases and the mechanics of doing genealogical research are missing.

Before there is general acceptance of the use of these programs and pending the implementation of the ability to transfer information between the programs more completely than it presently exists, I do not see that the programs will be extensively used. Those individuals who are actively involved in genealogical research will see the value of having access to the three programs that those who have yet to become involved will not see this as an incentive.

In individual cases, when I had an opportunity to sit down and worked with members who are reasonably familiar with genealogy and even some members who are just starting out, I have been able to help them understand the advantages of using the partner programs. But I am concerned, that this process involves a substantial amount of time and effort on the part of those who have familiarity with each of the three other programs and in addition understand the complex issues faced by users of the FamilySearch Family Tree program.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Research Hints in FamilySearch Family Tree

The Descendancy View in FamilySearch.org's Family Tree opens up a new world of adding sources and correcting entries. For example, here is a screenshot of my much documented Great-grandfather, Henry Martin Tanner, and his family:


The arrows point to three different types of icons that provide additional information about the individuals in the family. The explanation for the icons is in the pull-down menu on the extreme right-hand side of the screen:


Here is a screenshot of the menu items:


You can see that most of the icons for this particular family are for Record Hints. This emphasis on adding source records to the Family Tree is extremely valuable and more than welcome. This screenshot shows the Record Hints for my Great-grandmother, Eliza Ellen Parkinson Tanner.


The other colored icons suggest additional research, or in the case of the blue Temple icon, confirmation of previously done Temple Ordinances or the history of the present attempts to re-do the ordinances. This is crucial information in the attempt to limit or eliminate duplication of the ordinances.

Each of the levels of the Descendancy View can be expanded to show more members of the descendant family and therefore more opportunities to add sources and expand or correct data problems.

New Video from the BYU Family History Library



Part One of the MyHeritage.com video prepared by the BYU Family History Library has been uploaded to the Library's YouTube.com Channel. The videos are recorded live in the classrooms surrounding the Family History Library in the underground portion of the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. The lighting isn't optimal (not because it is underground) but because the presentations have to balance between an ability to see the screen and also see the presenter. We will likely have quite a few more of these "classroom" videos in the upcoming weeks and months. At the time of this post, the rest of this class had yet to be uploaded, but I expect that will happen in the near future.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Free FamilySearch Partner Programs Problem with Registration

If you think you have registered for one of the free partnership programs from FamilySearch.org, you may find that the programs are asking for money to sign up. This is almost always caused by an incomplete registration. You may think you have gone through the registration process, but you have not completed the registration and must go through the process again, until you actually have registered for the free programs.

During the past month or so, I have been helping dozens of people "re-register" in order to obtain the free access to Ancestry.com, MyHeritage.com and/or findmypast.com. The trouble lies in some tiny check boxes that must be checked during the registration process. Failure to check the boxes and accept the conditions results in an incomplete registration.

The answer to the problem is:

CHECK EACH SCREEN CAREFULLY TO MAKE SURE YOU HAVE CHECKED OFF ALL THE LITTLE BOXES

I would like to give you a screenshot of the problem, but I am already signed into all three programs and cannot duplicate the screens. This problem may disappear as they continue to develop the method for signing into all three programs. You might like to read my previous post about the newly added links in the Get Help/Help Center menu. See Rejoice, and be exceeding glad...

The Prophets Speak on Searching Out Our Dead -- Harold B. Lee

President Harold B. Lee was born on 28 March 1899 in Clifton, Idaho. He became president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on 7 July 1972 and died a little more than a year later on 26 December 1973. He is best known for his involvement in the Welfare Program and Church Correlation. 

Here are some of the quotes from President Lee about Temples, Temple work and the salvation of the dead.
If the acceptance of the gospel is so essential to the welfare of man’s eternal soul, you may well ask what is to become of the millions who have died without a knowledge of the gospel or the Lord’s plan, by which the full effect of his atonement might be realized. If missionary work were to have been limited only to mortality, many souls would have been condemned without a hearing. Every one, good or bad, because of the atonement, will be resurrected, for “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:22.) But only those who repent and are baptized for the remission of their sins will lay full claim to the redeeming blood of his atonement. … Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, the only means by which man can accept the gospel, is an earthly ordinance, and so in the Plan of Salvation, our Father, with equal consideration for all his children, has provided a way for all members of his Church and Kingdom on the earth to be “saviors on Mt. Zion” by performing a vicarious work in behalf of those in the world of spirits, “the prison house,” that they could not perform for themselves. 
This work for the dead performed in holy temples by members of the Church does in reality make of them who do this work “saviors” to those who have died without a knowledge of the gospel, for thereby they may claim the complete gift of the Savior promised to all mankind through his atonement. Reference to that service that may be rendered for those in the spirit world, as it was undoubtedly being performed by the saints in the days of the Apostle Paul and which we can now perform for our own dead, was given by him as an argument in proof of the resurrection. Said he: “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.) Temples in this day have been built in which this work so essential to the work of salvation might again be performed. Decisions for Successful Living (1973), 118–19; paragraphing added.
President Lee had this to say about our genealogical work;
[In our genealogical research] the Lord is not going to open any doors until we get as far as we can on our own. We have to go toward that blank wall and then we have to have enough faith to ask the Lord to help to make an opening so that we can take the next step. And there can be information given to you from sources that reveal the fact that heaven and earth are not far away. 
Many of you have lived to a time in life where you have had loved ones who have gone on. You have had certainty of the nearness, sometimes, of those who have drawn very near to you. And sometimes they have brought to you information that you could not have otherwise had. The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, ed. Clyde J. Williams (1996), 584.
I have a conviction born of a little experience to which I bear testimony that there are forces beyond this life that are working with us. … 
I have the simple faith that when you do everything you can, researching to the last of your opportunity, the Lord will help you to open doors to go further with your genealogies, and heaven will cooperate, I am sure. The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, ed. Clyde J. Williams (1996), 585.
President Lee's comments continued about genealogy (family history):
If we were united in our temple work and in our genealogical research work, we would not be satisfied with the present temples only, but we would have sufficient work for temples yet to come, to the unlocking of the doors of opportunity to those beyond who are our own kin, and thus would ourselves become saviors on Mount Zion. Our failure to be united will be our failure to perpetuate our family homes in the eternity. The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, ed. Clyde J. Williams (1996), 584.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

26 Classes Taught in Two Weeks

During the past two weeks, I have taught 26 one-hour or longer classes. Along with all the support before and after the classes, that is a lot of talking. More importantly, this experience has re-emphasized the need for basic genealogical instruction. Most of this time was spent helping individuals get started with Ancestry.com and MyHeritage.com. Most of the people attending, with a few notable exceptions, were only slightly acquainted with MyHeritage.com. A few more of the people had been using Ancestry.com. In some cases the participants, all of whom were directly involved in genealogy, described the experience as "life changing."

The main reason for this reaction is the effect both of these online programs are having on the way genealogy is approached. From their respective websites, it is very likely that neither company is aware of the effect their programs are having on genealogical research. They both promote their products as innovations but if they do understand the impact of their technology, they have not communicated the impact in their promotional material.

To understand what is going on, it is necessary to describe the "traditional" method of genealogical research as exemplified by the "Research Cycle." For an example, see the Research Process. As this is translated into common practice among genealogists; the process involves obtaining the names of ancestors and then searching a variety of records to "find the ancestor." The main task is trying to find the names.

What if this process were just redirected 180 degrees? What if genealogical research became more about finding sources and extracting the information and less about names? The transition from name-based to source-based genealogical research began with the creation of indexes to collections of different types of records that could be searched all at the same time. The next step in this process of revolutionizing the way genealogical research is conducted was when programs began doing the searches automatically.This was followed by the important step of automating the search process with a high degree of accuracy, first introduced by MyHeritage.com about two years ago.

In order for this new way of approaching genealogical research to work, it was also necessary for the programs to acquire a sufficiently large number of source records to make the automated searches useful to a huge number of people. Presently, most of these records are focused on Western European countries, English-speaking countries and the United States, but millions of additional records are being added almost daily. The results of this accumulation of records, coupled with the automated search techniques, has eliminated most of the steps of the Research Cycle for those involved in these programs.

For example, MyHeritage.com's revolutionary Record Search and Record Detective programs can examine billions of records and match the records to individuals in a family tree with more than 97% accuracy. The average person with ancestors that match the MyHeritage.com record set, can expect to have the program supply records (sources) with the claimed high degree of accuracy after entering only a very minimal amount of information about his or her family. During the past week or so, I have seen MyHeritage.com's Record Detective program find almost 100 source records for one family after just a few minutes of entering known names and dates.

Rather than spending time searching for available records, the programs themselves, Ancestry.com's Shaky Leaves and MyHeritage.com's Record Match and Record Detective technologies provide many, if not most, of the more common records for any beginning family tree, but may also provide some records that would remain entirely unknown to most researchers. In both cases, the researcher's pedigree is built by reference to sources rather than hearsay from family members. Both programs add newly discovered individuals by making a few clicks.

FamilySearch.org's Family Tree is also working its way into the automated search arena by adding Research Hints and semi-automatic searches for records based on the individual's details.

The process is simple and anyone with access to either Ancesry.com or MyHeritage.com (or both) can experience the benefits of this change in the way research is accomplished. Here are the steps involved in getting started:

  1. Sign in to either program.
  2. Start a new empty family tree and avoid the temptation to upload an pre-existing GEDCOM file.
  3. Enter some basic information about two or three generations
  4. Watch the programs find research hints
  5. Click on the hints and evaluate the information to make sure the right person has been selected
  6. Attach copies of the sources to each individual found
  7. Continue following the chains of suggested sources adding in any new individuals found in the records
  8. Continue until all of the research hints have been applied to your family tree
  9. Watch your pedigree grow from sources
Make sure you examine each source to determine if it is correct. Extract only those facts that are correct and complete. Keep building your pedigree. You will soon realize that this process is substantially different than the traditional methods. 


More About the BYU Family History Technology Laboratory

The BYU Family History Technology Laboratory has the following purpose:
The goal of the Family History Technology Laboratory is to create technologies that will empower better and more effective family history research. It is not our role to deploy such technologies but to create demonstration prototypes from which libraries, societies and technology vendors can develop offerings for family history researchers to use. Our fundamental goal is to develop technology that moves family history out of the libraries and into the homes and lives of ordinary people.
They are presently involved in the following projects:
Digital Microfilm LibraryThis project is a series of prototypes to demonstrate the capabilities of a digital microfilm library that can simplify the index extraction process and provide access to the microfilm library from home.
Automatic Indexing of Handwritten RecordsThe goal is to create a set of image features which can be used to index microfilm images of handwritten records.
Multiresolution Downloading of ImagesWe desire to create a image format for microfilm images which can download at various resolutions and/or partial fragments. By downloading fragments or low resolution summaries we can deliver digitized microfilm images over ordinary phone lines at interactive rates.
Extracting genealogy information from free-form HTMLA great deal of new genealogical information is being published on the WWW using HTML. There is wide variability in the formats used for displaying such information. We seek automatic means to extract and utilize such information.
Automated online research assistantWe seek to provide better automatic advice for new people trying to do family history research. In particular we wish to use all of the information that they already have to generate and filter searches on various online archives. We also seek to develop an open architecture into which experts in various areas can contribute automated advice and thus enhance the overall system.
It is possible that some of the genealogy companies out there are interested in the same types of projects. If you or someone you know may be interested, you may wish to contact the BYU Technology Transfer department. While you visit this website, make sure you read about the development of carbonated yogurt (what does this have to do with genealogy??).

Saturday, September 20, 2014

LDS Access to Free Partner Accounts on FamilySearch Get Help

Access to the free LDS Account memberships in the FamilySearch.org partnership accounts with Ancestry.com, MyHeritage.com and findmypast.com, is now available through the Get Help Link. Here is a screenshot showing the link to Get Help"


To find the link to the partner accounts, you must be signed in to FamilySearch.org with an LDS Account (i.e. be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). When you click on the Get Help link, you will see a drop down menu like the following. You click on the Help Center link.



The Help Center page looks like this:


The arrow is pointing to the Partners Link. This is a screenshot of the Partners Link:


You can then choose which of the partnership accounts you want to join. Here is a screenshot of the page for Ancestry.com:


Here is the page for MyHeritage.com:


Here is the page for findmypast.com:


Each of the pages has extensive help documents and flyers to give information about the process of obtaining free access to the individual programs.

To Turn the Hearts: The Role of the Leader's Guide


If we are to move forward with increasing involvement of the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in seeking out their ancestors, we need to be more cognizant of the importance of the Leader's Guide to Temple and Family History Work, To Turn the Hearts as the model for how that work should progress in our Wards and Stakes. Quoting from the Overview of the Leader's Guide:

This guide describes how leaders can organize, lead, and implement temple and family history work in wards and stakes. It describes how family history can be an integral part of the ward council’s efforts for the salvation of souls. It also describes how leaders can strengthen themselves and others through participation in the work. 
This guide gives details not found in Handbook 2: Administering the Church, and it replaces the Administrative Guide for Family History referenced in section 5.4.7 of the handbook. It is designed for stake presidencies, bishoprics, high priests group leaders, high councilors who have been assigned to coordinate family history, and other members of stake and ward councils. Elders quorum presidents use this guide in wards or branches that do not have a high priests group leader. The guide also contains information about how family history consultants, stake indexing directors, family history center directors, and area family history advisers can help ward and stake leaders implement family history efforts. 
From my own personal experience, I have become more and more convinced that following the guidelines and organization outlined in the Leader's Guide is a key factor in increasing activation, retention and the overall spirituality of the members of the Wards. The reason this is so important is outlined on page 1 of the Leader's Guide:
“To turn the hearts” means that individuals and families feel a spiritual awakening as they serve their deceased relatives and experience the joy of being active participants in a fundamental part of Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation (see D&C 138:56). Participation in temple and family history work touches the soul as the Holy Ghost bears witness to the eternal nature of families.
I find it inexplicable why leaders in the Wards and Stakes ignore the opportunity of involving themselves and the members of their respective congregations in this work. As the Leader's Guide continues:

Members who engage in this work are inspired to live gospel-centered lives and are more likely to participate in personal and family prayer, personal and family scripture study, and regular family home evening. Typically, when members participate in temple and family history work, they are more likely to participate in all other Church meetings. 
Doesn't this go to the heart of the issues confronting Bishops and Stake Presidents? Why then is there so much resistance to implementing family history activities in the Wards and Stakes? Why do the statistics show only a low or marginal level of activity?

For my own part, I will continue to teach until I can no longer stand or talk.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Working within the Guidelines: Family History in the Ward

The guidelines for implementing activities for supporting family history in the Ward are very clearly outlined in the Leader's Guide to Temple and Family History Work, To Turn the Hearts. It is important to remember Doctrine and Covenants, 128:13:
For their salvation is necessary and essential to our salvation, [for] they without us cannot be made perfect—neither can we without our dead be made perfect. 
This should be the guideline for considering family history work in the Ward. Crucial to the advancement of Temple and family history work is the dedication and leadership of the Bishop and his counselors. Here is a quote from page 12 of the Leader's Guide:
The bishop directs the work of salvation in the ward, which includes temple and family history work. Bishops can use temple and family history work as a way to strengthen members and their families. Bishops consider ways to use family history to help with missionary work, convert retention, member acti-vation, and teaching the gospel. Bishops should read through the entire “Ward Leadership” section for examples of ways to use family history in these efforts. 
The bishop and his counselors set an example by teaching ward members the doctrine of temple and family history work and testifying of the blessings that come by participating in this work. The bishopric ensures that the high priests group leader acts as the coordinator of the ward council’s temple and family history work.
The bishop and his counselors should be setting an example by actually participating in seeking after their own ancestors. I am sure that some would think the bishops to be "too busy" to be personally involved in their own family history work, but it is the spirit of the work, not the total amount of time spent that is important. In addition, as the Leader's Guide points out on page 16:

Under the direction of the bishop, members of the ward council discuss and develop a plan to encourage members to participate more fully in temple and family history work. They identify specific individuals and families who could most benefit from being involved in the work. They determine specific ways in which this work can strengthen all members—adults, youth, and children. The high priests group leader coordinates these efforts.
I have seen very positive results when these guidelines are followed and when the bishop and the High Priests Group Leader work together to advance family history work in the Ward. On the other hand, apathy or lack of interest on the part of the bishop and the High Priest Group Leader almost guarantee that family history work will progress either very slowly or not at all. Here is a quote from Elder D. Todd Christofferson from the Religious Educator, vol. 6, no. 2 (2005), 10-11, taken from page 19 of the Leader's Guide:

If I were a bishop again, my approach would be to charge the high priests group leader with the responsibility to lead out in the ward council on this subject. I would ensure that we had one or more . . . family history consultants who were ‘people persons’ who could work under his direction. . . . I imagine that in the course of a year we could help at least ten families. In five years, we could have a corps of fifty families active at some level in family history and its attendant temple work. That to me would be a successful, well-run program.

#MeetMyGrandma continues

FamilySearch uploaded two more videos from around the world to the #MeetMyGrandma series. They are the same video but in Spanish and Portuguese. The goal of the program is to have people upload stories about their grandmothers to FamilySearch.org's Memories program. The videos show a huge diversity of relationships between grandchildren and their grandmothers. Here is the Spanish one.



Thursday, September 18, 2014

#MeetMyGrandma program by FamilySearch



FamilySearch is promoting a new program called #MeetMyGrandma with the tag line, "People from all over the world and all walks of life recall why their Grandmother is so special." The program also has its own page on FamilySearch.org. Here is a screenshot of the page asking the question, "What Makes Your Grandma Special?"


The goal is to add 10,000 stories in 10 days. The links on the page promote adding stories to the FamilySearch.org Memories pages. The link on the page to the App Store goes to the FamilySearch Memories App. See this screenshot below:


There is another video on YouTube.com entitled, "Discover Photos and Stories on FamilySearch"

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Role of Family History in Member Retention and Activation

Family history can play a central role in the process of member retention and activation. The main reason it has not been a part of the retention and activation efforts on the Ward and Stake levels in the past, has been because of the limited family history resources available to the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The expansion of family history resources in and outside of the Church has only recently created a major opportunity for the members.

The recommended procedures for using family history as an adjunct to missionary and reactivation efforts have only been utilized generally in the Church on a very limited basis. Those procedures are outlined in the Leader's Guide to Temple and Family History Work, To Turn the Hearts on pages 13 - 15. Here is a quote from page 15:
Family history gets at the core of life, and people feel the Spirit. . . . More than half of the adults in our branch are now temple recommend holders who attend regularly. The benefits are worth any effort. The level of unity and harmony among our members has increased. Attitudes have changed. I see more dedication, faithfulness, harmony, and better self-esteem among our members. I can see changes in the relationships among husbands and wives and children. These improvements spread throughout the branch” (Harold St. Croix, in LaRene Porter Gaunt, “Leading the Way,” Ensign, Jan. 1995, 59).
 Here is another quote from page 14:
It wasn't long after my baptism that I was invited to attend the ward’s family history class, and as a result I was able to submit four generations of my ancestors to the temple. It was a moving experience to go to the temple and be baptized and confirmed in their behalf” (Phil D. Reinoehl, in “Becoming Part of the Fold,” Ensign, June 1999, 67).
The Leader's Guide is an important tool in implementing an effective activation program under the direction of the Bishop and the Ward Council. The basic guidelines and procedures set forth in the handbook are a proven way to positively effect the less-active and new members of any Ward.

The Role of the Family History Consultant

Over the past few years, I have talked to dozens of newly called family history consultants and many dozens (perhaps hundreds) more who have been consultants or who were at the time family history consultants. The overriding theme of those conversations is the lack of experience and knowledge they feel for their position in the Ward. It would seem that very often, those who issue callings to family history consultants are also unaware of the "job description" and fail to explain to the newly called consultants exactly what is expected. The Leader's Guide to Temple and Family History Work, To Turn the Hearts, provides this vital information. Here is a quote beginning on Page 19:
Consultants are skilled teachers who work and communicate well with others. While consultants need not be experts in family history research, they should be comfortable using the resources at FamilySearch.org and helping others use them. These FamilySearch resources include family pedigrees, historical records, and the FamilySearch indexing program. Youth can be called to serve as consultants when their technology skills can be helpful in assisting others. 
This is not surprising because I have found very few members of Bishoprics who are familiar with FamilySearch.org or any of its resources. Assuming that someone is called to be a family history consultant without these skills, is there anyone with the responsibility to teach them or see that they are taught? The answer is once again in the The Leader's Guide on Page 19: Here is the direct quote:
The high priests group leader directs the work of family history consultants as he:
  • Recommends members to be called and set apart as family history consultants, as 
  • requested by the bishopric.
  • Works with the bishopric to ensure that enough consultants are called to meet the needs of the ward.
  • Provides assignments to consultants, including assignments to work with certain ward members.
  • Ensures that consultants are properly prepared to perform their callings and makes them aware of the training resources at FamilySearch.org/serve.
The last point answers the question concerning the training of family history consultants. Unfortunately, the High Priests Group Leaders are very frequently ignorant of the handbook and of the programs themselves. This past week, I was speaking with a High Councilor in a Stake in the midwest who was responsible for 12 separate Church units. He was discussing the problem he had in his Stake with all of the High Priests Group Leaders who were totally unaware of any of their family history responsibilities. He further related to me that the Stake President had told him to contact each of the High Priests Group Leaders on a weekly basis for a progress report and for instruction on their duties. In another Stake, with the support of the Stake President, the High Councilors, two of which were assigned to family history responsibilities, had instructed the High Priest Group Leaders and the Stake was experiencing a dramatic growth in family history activity.

The Leader's Guide is the answer to the dilemma faced by many of the family history consultants I meet. If the Stake and Ward are providing the support called for in The Leader's Guide, then the activity of the members in family history will increase.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

FamilySearch adds an Interactive World Map for Searches

The Search page of the FamilySearch.org website has had a map of the world as a graphic for some time now. Now, they have activated the map and turned it into an interactive search aid. Here is a screenshot showing the map:


Clicking on one of the sections of the map brings up a list of more detailed places in the same area as that on the map.


When you make a selection, the dialogue box provides some general information and a link to start searching. Here is another screenshot showing the popup image:


Take advantage of this shortcut to research any particular country in the United States.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Mentoring Family History in the Church


There is a crucial passage in the Leader's Guide to Temple and Family History Work, To Turn the Hearts, referencing the duties of the Ward Family History Consultant:
Consultants take the initiative to reach out to members, especially those who are not comfortable using technology, by: 
  • Helping a few individuals or families at a time to work on their own family history so they can perform temple ordinances for their deceased relatives. The most effective place to do this is in members’ homes. The ward council could determine specific individuals or families for the consultant to work with. The high priests group leader assigns these families to the consultant.
The Ward Family History Consultant is not called to "teach a family history class." There is nothing in the description of the duties of a Ward Family History Consultant that mention the family history class. In fact, the Leader's Guide talks about a family history class in conjunction with activation and new members of the Church. Here is the section from the Leader's Guide that addresses classes:
Members of the ward council help the bishop ensure that the doctrines, principles, and blessings of family history and temple work are taught regularly in ward meetings. They encourage members to receive their own temple ordinances and participate actively in family history and temple work. 
Each family can receive the Member’s Guide to Temple and Family History Work to use in the home and in family history classes. 
Holding a temple and family history class is a good way to increase participation and interest in family history. The class can be used to help with ward activation, retention, and missionary efforts. Anyone may be invited to attend the class. The ward council may decide to invite certain ward members. 
The class is taught by an effective instructor, who may or may not be a family history consultant. The class may be taught during Sunday School or at another time that is more convenient for members. It is taught under the direction of the bishopric rather than the Sunday School president. (emphasis added).
You may also note that the class is taught by an effective instructor, who may or may not be a family history consultant.

Ward Family History Consultants need to be mentors not Sunday School Class Teachers. A Ward Family History Consultant does not have to sit around and wait for the Ward to hold a Family History Class during Sunday School to do his or her job. Read and re-read the sections of the Leader's Guide and think and pray about your calling as a Family History Consultant. Talk to the High Priest Group Leader and explain your calling and refer him to the Leader's Guide. Quoting from the Leader's Guide again about Family History Consultants:

Consultants help ward leaders learn about family history so they can share it with those they serve.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Challenge of Increasing Family History Activity in the Church

As evidenced by the number of articles and talks most recently found in Church publications concerning involvement in family history, there appears to be a dramatically increased effort to involve members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in seeking out their ancestors and submitting increased numbers of ancestor's names for Temple ordinances. There is obviously a correlation between the ever increasing number of Temples worldwide and this renewed effort. Much of this effort has gone into general admonitions to the members to become more involved in preserving and remembering family history including stories, photos and documents. The implication of this effort is that an increased interest in the stories from the past will result in an increase in the submission of ancestral names to the Temple. However, the connection between the two appears to be somewhat unclear.

In teaching about genealogy day after day, I find many people who are earnestly seeking after their ancestors but lack the tools and the training to advance past the interest stage of their involvement. Much has been said recently about hastening the work of salvation. I would like to focus on the work part of the statement. This "hastening" takes work on our part. From my perspective, the work of salvation for the dead is most certainly hastening all around the world. Marvelous tools are being provided by those both inside the Church and outside the Church that enable us to do the work more efficiently and can accelerate the process of finding our ancestors. But it seems that the work part of the process has been somewhat neglected by the Church members.

We can hope for the salvation of our dead but without the work of actually seeking them out, this will not happen. In Mormon 9:27 it reads as follows:
O then despise not, and wonder not, but hearken unto the words of the Lord, and ask the Father in the name of Jesus for what things soever ye shall stand in need. Doubt not, but be believing, and begin as in times of old, and come unto the Lord with all your heart, and work out your own salvation with fear and trembling before him.
In an epistle from Joseph Smith the Prophet contained in the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 128: 18,
I might have rendered a plainer translation to this, but it is sufficiently plain to suit my purpose as it stands. It is sufficient to know, in this case, that the earth will be smitten with a curse unless there is a welding link of some kind or other between the fathers and the children, upon some subject or other—and behold what is that subject? It is the baptism for the dead. For we without them cannot be made perfect; neither can they without us be made perfect. Neither can they nor we be made perfect without those who have died in the gospel also; for it is necessary in the ushering in of the dispensation of the fulness of times, which dispensation is now beginning to usher in, that a whole and complete and perfect union, and welding together of dispensations, and keys, and powers, and glories should take place, and be revealed from the days of Adam even to the present time. And not only this, but those things which never have been revealed from the foundation of the world, but have been kept hid from the wise and prudent, shall be revealed unto babes and sucklings in this, the dispensation of the fulness of times.
What is the work of salvation for the dead? It is the process of researching and finding ancestors who have not yet had the opportunity of receiving the saving ordinances of the Temple. Once your heart is turned to your fathers, you must still do the work of finding those who need the work to be done.

Although I never knew my paternal grandfather, I was often told something he believed, that anything worth doing is worth doing right. Certainly the work of salvation is worth doing and just as certainly, it is worth doing right. Learning how to find your ancestors is interesting and can be challenging, but in the end being involved in family history is work, just as doing Temple work, is work. Let's get to work.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

BYU Family History Library Classes on YouTube


The BYU Family History Library has its own YouTube Channel. The videos online include dozens of short instructional presentations and they have started videoing my hour+ long classes. If you subscribe to the Channel, you will get a notification when new videos are added.

Friday, September 12, 2014

How do I Start My Family History on FamilySearch Family Tree?

One of the most common questions I am asked, involves getting started with FamilySearch.org's Family Tree program.There are two completely opposite positions possible; the person has no family history in FamilySearch.org's Family Tree or the person has thousands of ancestors already recorded. Of course, these two situations vary with the amount of previous involvement your family has had in recording your ancestral lines.

The easiest of the two situations from the Family Tree perspective is if the person has almost no family history recorded. In this case the answer to getting started is rather simple: start entering information, photos, stories or documents about your family's history. You can use the "Search Records" option to search the Family Search Historical Record Collections to add additional individuals to the family tree. The idea here is to document the information you enter into the family tree with the sources where you obtained the information. A source is some kind of historical record that contains information about your family. This could be a census record, a birth or marriage certificate, a school or church record or anything containing information about your family. Avoid the temptation to copy your ancestors from someone's previous list or pedigree or book, unless they supply sources about where they obtained the information.

Beginners who find a lot of names in Family Tree have the tendency to focus on whether or not an ancestor's ordinances have been recorded in the Family Tree program. If you search back through the information already on Family Tree, focus on the individual's detail pages. The first thing to check is whether or not anyone has added sources to the detail page. Here is a screenshot showing a detail page where there is no information showing any sources:


You can see where the sources are supposed to be listed and there are none listed. If there had been sources listed, the entry would look like this:


The lack of sources indicates that the information given about the person may not be reliable or accurate. In fact, the person may not even be one of your ancestors. Even if there are sources listed for the person, you may still not be related because any one of the ancestors connecting you to this person may be wrong. To rely on the information in Family Tree, you need to have a chain of sources connecting you to the individual. This is especially true the further back in time you go. If you simply jump back until you find someone who looks like they need Temple ordinances, you cannot be sure that you are related to that person or that the person really exists.

So, assuming that you have a lot of people listed in your pedigree on Family Tree, where do you start? You start by examining the details about the individuals and building a bridge of sources so that you can rely on the information in the file. This may seem a lot less interesting than jumping around in the file trying to find green arrows or Temple icons indicating available ordinances, but it is really necessary to establish that you are really related to these people listed in the program.

One very excellent tool that has been developed to graphically indicate what needs to be done on your particular family is the Descendancy View. Here is a screenshot of the first person above in the Descendancy View:


The blue icons on the right indicate that she has no sources attached. In addition, she has no parents listed and if you look at her basic information in the traditional view, you will find that there are, at least, three different entries in Family Tree for a Margaret Whitmore although there are presently no matches found if you search for a duplicate in the program.

The answer to this question is that the data in Family Tree needs to be verified before you launch off and claim that your supposed ancestors' Temple work needs to be done. This is especially true if you find yourself on the side of the spectrum with many, many names already in the program.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Sources exchanged between FamilySearch Family Tree and Ancestry.com

The past few days as we added new individuals to FamilySearch.org's Family Tree directly from Ancestry.com's family tree, we noticed that the resulting individual in Family Tree had all of the sources from Ancestry.com. The same thing happened when we added a new individual to Ancestry.com's family tree from Family Tree. i see this as a big step towards the ability to fully share sources between the two online family trees.

Un fortunately, I cannot simply demonstrate the process without having an individual to use as an example and all the examples I saw this week were from other people's family trees. None-the-less, here is a screenshot showing the link in Ancestry.com where you can add a family member to the family tree:


Clicking on this link will bring up a list of the individual's family members which can be added one by one. My family tree on Ancestry.com has been there for years and I don't have any particular individuals I need to add from the FamilySearch Family Tree. But if you do have someone you wish to add, you can do so by clicking on the link and selecting an individual to add.

The ability to share data between the three large genealogy database programs and Family Tree is in the development stage and you can expect developments to happen unannounced. I am guessing, but I would think that this will be a feature highlighted at #RootsTech 2015.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Traditional Pedigree View on Family Tree to change

A blog post from FamilySearch by Robert Kehrer announced the there would be "A New Look for the Traditional Pedigree View on Family Tree." As of the date of this post, the change was not evident, but the FamilySearch post outlines the changes:
Traditional pedigree is being redesigned. It will have the look and much of the same look and feel of the landscape view. It will also have some of the same functions that are found in the descendancy view. For example data errors, hints, and so on. It also offers new options to change colors.

There are a number of significant improvements to this popular view. These improvements include:
  • Marriage Information—Each couple link will now display the marriage date and place.
  • Scrolling—Users can now use their mouse scroll to move the view.
  • Photos—The preferred photo will be displayed for each person.
  • Indicators—Research Suggestions, Data Problems, and Record Hints will be displayed for each person.
  • Two Color Schemes—Users can now choose between two different color schemes (Daybreak and Nightshade).
  • Simplified Alternate Parent and Spouse Selectors—It’s now much easier to select preferred parents or spouses.
  • Easier to Identify the Descendant—The direct descendant of an ancestor now stands out in contrast to their spouse.
  • No Hover Actions—The controls on each link are always displayed (i.e. Children). This improves support for touch pad devices.
It appears to me that the changes will be welcome. I am not especially a fan of the present design of the "Traditional View."

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Learn from BYU's Family History Lab


It has been some time since I reviewed the genealogical resources available through Brigham Young University. For some time now, BYU has provided a free full-blown university level course on genealogy called Religion 261. The online course comes complete with a Student Manual, Supplemental Readings and a U.S. Census Tutorial. Obviously, this course is designed for full-time students at BYU, but the benefit we have as outsiders is that the course contents are freely available online. The sections of the class are as follows:


Of course, reviewing this course got me poking around a little more on the BYU website. Of course, there are all the resources linked on the BYU Family History Library website


I just finished writing a blog post for Genealogy's Star about the BYU Family History Technology Lab. But there are a lot more resources available if you are persistent in searching. For example, there is the Center for Family History and Genealogy


The current projects include the following:
  • Nauvoo Community Project
  • Immigrant Ancestor Project
  • Bertram Merrell's Index of English Marriages
  • Script Tutorials
  • Discovering English Ancestors
  • Welsh Mormon History
  • Family History Companion
Each of these resources are remarkable. Together, they are more than remarkable.

Oh, did you know that the BYU Family History Library has a YouTube Channel? That should give you a heads up on what might be available if you keeping digging around on the Web for genealogy. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Is Your Stake Prepared for the New Indexing Program?

FamilySearch is in the process of developing a new Indexing Program that will be completely online. There have been a number of FamilySearch blog posts on the upcoming program. Here are links to some of the blogs that talk about the introduction of the program and its features:
The first post on this list explains that stake indexing directors can help the stake members be prepared for the new indexing program by laying a foundation for change over the coming months. This foundation will help them be ready when it’s time to make the transition to the new program. Change is not easy for any of us, and the actions that you take now will help things go more smoothly in the future.

In the coming weeks, stake indexing directors will have access to the beta (test) program so that they can explore how it works and test its features. That is one of the best ways they can begin preparing for the new program. The post entitled "Peer to Peer: Preparing Your Stake for the New Indexing Program" will give you a few suggestions explaining what some stakes are doing to get ready for the transition. If you are reading this post and are not in the indexing program, I would suggest you may want to pass this along to one of your indexing friends or the stake director.

LDS Faith Exhibit Online



Historical documents are basic to genealogical research. Any efforts made to make historically important documents more available should be encouraged. You may not consider this exhibit to be genealogically significant, but I can assure you that it is. I have personally met or know people who are descendants of the individuals who are recorded in these documents or actually participated in their creation. These particular documents are just the tiniest tip of the huge documentary iceberg of similar documents, including personal journals, histories and other types of records, maintained in the Church History Library and other repositories.

If you cannot travel to Salt Lake City, Utah to see the documents in person, there is a website with digitized copies of the exhibit on LDS.org. Here is the link to the Foundations of Faith Exhibit. Many of these early documents are also being digitized and put online in The Joseph Smith Papers project. The Project includes brief biographical sketches of all of the people mentioned in the Joseph Smith Papers, including this biographical sketch of my own 3rd Great-Grandfather:
Tanner, John
Biography
15 Aug. 17781–13 Apr. 1850.2 Farmer, timberland owner.3 Born at Hopkinton, Washington Co., Rhode Island.4 Son of Joshua Tanner and Thankful Tefft.5 Moved to Greenwich, Washington Co., New York, ca. 1791.6 Married first Tabitha Bentley, 1800.7 Wife died, Apr. 1801.8 Married second Lydia Stewart, fall 1801.9 Moved to Northwest Bay (near Bolton), Warren Co., New York, 1818.10 Moved to Bolton Landing, Warren Co., 1823.11 Wife died, 1825.12 Married third Elizabeth Beswick, 1825.13 Baptized into LDS church, 17 Sept. 1832, at Bolton Landing.14 Ordained a priest by Orson Pratt, 2 Feb. 1833, at Bolton.15 Moved to Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio, Dec. 1834.16 Loaned and donated substantial monies to JS and church.17 Left Kirtland for Far West, Caldwell Co., Missouri, 1838.18 Severely beaten during conflict between Latter-day Saints and other Missourians, fall 1838.19 Moved to New Liberty, Pope Co., Illinois, Mar.–Apr. 1839.20 Located near Montrose, Lee Co., Iowa Territory, Mar. 1840.21 Materially assisted in building of temple in Nauvoo, Hancock Co., Illinois.22 Served mission to New York, 1844.23 Ordained a high priest, by Dec. 1845.24 Moved to what became Council Bluffs, Pottawattamie Co., Iowa Territory, spring 1846.25 Moved to Salt Lake Valley, 1848.26 Died at South Cottonwood, Salt Lake Valley.27
The links are to the website and by going to the Reference section, you can see where each of the facts was obtained.