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

Thursday, October 29, 2015

What do I do with my Book of Remembrance?

"FileStack retouched" by Niklas Bildhauer (who also is User gerolsteiner91. - originally posted to Flickr as folder. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons -
Last night, I was helping a friend with her genealogy on the Family Tree when she stopped and went to retrieve her six-inch thick Book of Remembrance. She immediately began the process of showing me all the work that had been done on her lines. After a few minutes of comparing what was in the Book of Remembrance and what was now online, I realized that there were many things in her Book that were different than what was recorded online or were lacking in the online record.

The most obvious were numerous historical family photographs. None of these had been digitized or shared online in the Memories section. As she continued to bring out stacks of paper, I discovered that the family had hired a professional researcher who had provided literally thousands of names with documentation. The stack of paper that appeared was almost a foot high. The final document was a six-inch printout from Personal Ancestral File of just her family's pedigree. My friend had no idea what she had or how much of what was in front of us on paper had already been added online.

One of the issues we had been discussing before she brought out all the paper, was the accuracy of the places recorded in the Family Tree. Many of the place names were incomplete or inaccurate. Her ancestors came from Germany as very recent immigrants so almost all of her ancestors were born in Germany. We had been struggling with the place names trying to figure out the correct information. The huge printed pedigree she produced had more correct versions of all the place names and differed substantially from what was already online.

This experience brings up a fundamental question for some members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To what extent has the information in your "Book of Remembrance" been put into the online Family Tree on My friend kept insisting that all the work had been "done" because she had a huge stack of paper even though she had no idea what lines had been worked on and how much of it was incorporated online. It did appear that much of what was on paper was more accurate than what had been recorded online however.

Because of the quantity of paper, it will probably take a considerable period of time and lot of effort to verify that the research information on the paper records was recorded in the online Family Tree. The next step will be to transfer the information from paper to Family Tree carefully adding the sources.

One of the very first tasks I did when I was starting out was to transfer all of the information in my own Book of Remembrance to my online file. I also subsequently digitized all of the photos and put them online also. I suggest that you dig out your "Book of Remembrance" and make sure that all the information, including the photos and documents, have been digitized and shared online on the Family Tree. You might just be surprised to see what is missing online.


  1. Boy do I relate. My archive sheets, some with great source citations, are sitting in those old long book type scrap books just staring at me to get t them. As you say, it will take a long time to compare them with what's online. Supposedly Family contains what the Archives had, but they did not take the time to turn the pages over to the back side, to copy the source citations there. Grrrr.

  2. The old paper archive sheets often were typed up by professional genealogists working for the former Research Division of GSU. In such cases, the initials of the professional genealogist were typed next to the name and address of the person who would be submitting the family group sheet to the temple.

    GSU microfilmed all of their old client files when the Research Division closed. So those archive sheets are a key indicator of whether there will be microfilmed client files to track down and analyze. In research I did for one client, I found that the client's grandfather had provided GSU with handwritten letters from his relatives still in Europe. Those letters ended up in the client file and were thus microfilmed. They were letters that no one now living had ever seen. And they could have been found in no other way than on the microfilm, since the microfilm has not (yet) been digitized and the client files were destroyed after the filming took place. (Which is a shame, since the filming was often not done very well.)

    1. Thanks Chad, there are 7 microfilmed volumes of the Family records in the Catalog. For example, here is the link to Volume One:

    2. I think we are talking about two different things. Here is the catalog record to what I am talking about:

      By the way, BYU used to also have professional genealogists and students training in the genealogy degree program who did client research -- primarily for LDS clients. These client files were imaged when the program shut down and they are on microfiche at the BYU FHC. And some (but far from all) of the BYU research files have been microfilmed by FamilySearch, such as this one:

    3. OK, now I see what you are talking about. There are a lot of obscure records hiding in the FamilySearch Catalog.