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

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Five Steps to Success with FamilySearch Family Tree

It is fairly common at the present time for leaders of Stakes and Wards in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to issue challenges to their members to "take a name to the Temple." For this to be successfully accomplished the members of the Ward or Stake must be taught how to do this. Finding ancestors whose Temple work has yet to be completed could be as simple as filling out the names for the first four generations on the Family Tree. In many cases, the names of these recent ancestors can be obtained from family records or the memory of older living family members. There are, however, a significant number of members of the Church whose ancestors joined the Church before the year 1900. For these members, facing such a challenge can be overwhelming.

If Ward or Stake leaders contemplate issuing a challenge to the members, they should also take steps to insure that those same members have the opportunity to be trained. If at all possible, this training should begin with Stake and Ward leaders and should be conducted through one-on-one help sessions. These sessions should continue with the Family History Consultants working with members in their homes. I suggest implementing some or all of the following activities.

No. 1: Work with the members so that they have a login and password to the website.
In class after class and in meeting after meeting, I find that there are still a significant number of people who do not have or remember their login and password to When groups of members come to the Brigham Young University Family History Library for training, we strongly urge the organizers to make sure all that come are already registered and know their login and password. Even with these prior instructions, it is not uncommon for the members to come for instruction and still not have access to the programs. While individually helping members learn about the programs, I find that it is still very common that they do not remember or have never obtained access.

No. 2 Work individually with the members to help them become familiar with their ancestors.
The concept of "turning the hearts" involves an unstated need to have a relationship with your ancestors. It is difficult, if not impossible, to "turn your heart" to someone you do not know. It is extremely important that the members take some time to "get to know" the people in their Family Tree. We have found this is best accomplished when the members have the opportunity to sit down with a mentor, someone with experience with, and be shown how to navigate the program. In becoming familiar with their ancestors, members should be encouraged to view the Memories section of the website.

No. 3 The members need to be taught the skills necessary to navigate and work with the website.
Members should be shown how to add photos, stories, documents and audio files to the Memories section of They should also know how to tag the people in the photos and attach documents as sources for individual ancestors in the Family Tree. They should understand the Record Hints and know how to evaluate a record and attached the record to an individual in the Family Tree. They need to know how to search for duplicate records and clean up the records by eliminating duplicate, incomplete and inaccurate information. They should understand where to find sources and documents that will help them clean up the records and extend their family lines.

No. 4 The Ward Family History Consultants should be qualified to instruct the members in the use of the website.
Ward Family History Consultants need to be adequately prepared to go into the member's homes and teach them the skills necessary to be successful in finding ancestors who need Temple work. They should be familiar with their assignments as outlined on pages 19 and 20 of the Leader's Guide to Temple and Family History Work: To Turn the Hearts.

No. 5 The Leaders issues challenges to their unit members should be committed to accomplishing the goals they set.
My favorite comment about leadership is that "you can't push a rope." If you are a leader and wish your members to be successful, you must also be willing to lead out and accomplish the same goals you issue to the members in your Ward or Stake. It is my opinion, that if the Stake Leaders have already tried to accomplish the goals they will likely change their opinion about how easy or hard it will be for the members.

For more information about this process, please refer to Leader's Guide to Temple and Family History Work: To Turn the Hearts.

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