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

Saturday, January 31, 2015

New Developments on FamilySearch.org

Every so often, the FamilySearch Blog sends out a newsletter to Family History Consultants on the newest developments on the website, FamilySearch.org. I just received a link to the newest post for January, 2015. Here are the new developments listed on this post available for those who subscribe to the newsletter:

Seeing the Summary Card or a Person on Your Temple Reservation List

When users are viewing the list of ancestors they have reserved for temple work, before they seal the children to parents, they often want to know if the parents’ ordinances have been done. Previously, users had to go to each parent’s Details page and click the Ordinances tab to see if the ordinances were done.

Now, when you click a parent’s name on the temple reservation list, you will see the parent’s summary card. If an ordinance has been done, the ordinance abbreviation on the summary card will be in a gray box.
summary cardLocation-Specific Research Pages
When you click Search at the top of a FamilySearch.org screen, a world map appears. Now when you select a location on the map, you see a research page for that location. The page lists resources in FamilySearch.org for that location. The initial release includes links to five types of data: indexed historical record collections, image-only historical collections (collections that have not been indexed), courses in the Learning Center, the FamilySearch catalog, and the FamilySearch Wiki. Additional research resources will be added in the future.


People’s Roles More Clearly Identified in the Records Details

Users were often confused when they searched for an ancestor and FamilySearch.org showed them a record that mentioned the ancestor but was not directly about the ancestor (for example, when a search result showed a daughter’s birth certificate).

The record details page has been changed to help you see more clearly how the person you searched for is connected to the record.


Identifying Temple Opportunities When Attaching Records
When you use Source Linker to attach a record to Family Tree, the record may provide enough information to qualify the person in Family Tree for temple ordinances. Sometimes the record has additional people you can add to Family Tree who qualify for temple ordinances. When you attach a record and add new information or a new person, the system checks to see if the person in Family Tree qualifies for temple ordinances and is in your four generations: your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-great-grandparents and their spouses and children.

If the person in Family Tree is in those four generations and qualifies for temple ordinances, the person will be added to your Temple Opportunities list, and you will see a message telling you that the person has been added.


Family Discovery Day Full -- Consider going to #RootsTech


I am disappointed to learn that some people and groups who were planning on attending the Family Discovery Day at #RootsTech are now canceling their activities. The Family Discovery Day was so popular that the admission is filled, but you can still register for the main conference for as little as $19 a day for a "Getting Started" one day pass. 

The real question to ask is whether the interest in the Family Discovery Day was because it was free or simply because of the entertainers listed for the event? In this regard, I would point out that the main Exhibit Hall for #RootsTech has a Family Discover Zone that is included in the admission price of the Conference. Here his a description of the activities of the Family Discovery Zone:
The family discovery zone will be a fun, engaging, and interactive experience and will feature new and exciting technologies to help you discover and connect your family and stories. Stop by and experience the fun side of family history with these activities:
  • Photo Scanning Area: Bring your family photos! Make digital copies for free that you can preserve, share, and even upload directly to your FamilySearch family tree.
  • Recording Booth: Record Your Story! Your private recording session includes 10 minutes of recording time in a sound booth and get a free copy of it on a flash drive.
  • Record a Call with Someone Who Inspires You: Simply call a parent, grandparent, or someone who inspires you and find out more about their life. Our app will record the conversation and give you a personal copy as well. 
FamilySearch Scanning Booth 
Get your family book scanned for free. We’ll make a digital copy, and you'll keep the original and a searchable PDF copy for you. You can also donate personal works, family journals, and books that are in the public domain.

The #RootsTech Expo Hall alone is worth the price of admission. Here are some of the activities that will be going on during the Conference:

Demo Theater
Sponsored by Backblaze
Curious about the newest in family history products and services? Take a seat, and listen to demonstrations by RootsTech sponsors and exhibitors. The 15-minute demos will be scheduled daily during Expo Hall hours.
Cyber Café
Sponsored by Dell
Refresh and recharge at the Cyber Café while at RootsTech. The café offers wireless Internet access, recharging stations for your electronic devices, and free sodas. The staff from the Family History Library will also be here to offer one-on-one help.

For a complete map of the RootsTech expo hall, expo hall hours, and list of exhibitors, visit RootsTech.org.
Think it over, but think quickly, time is running out to register. RootsTech is only a few days away.
















Friday, January 30, 2015

Where are the duplicates in FamilySearch.org Family Tree?

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are urged to provide accurate information when submitting names for Temple ordinances. Part of the process of being accurate with the FamilySearch.org Family Tree program is resolving any duplicate records. Referring to the Help Center about providing accurate information I find the following statement:
Assuring the accuracy of the information involves documenting and presenting the information used when submitting a name for ordinances. In many cases the FamilySearch software assists in this process. However, some additional steps may be required and should not be skipped - such as evaluating possible duplicate records.
How easy is the process of finding duplicate records in the Family Tree and what are the consequences of ignoring this requirement?

 It is important to understand several facts about the FamilySearch.org Family Tree:

  • The program inherited its data set from new.FamilySearch.org.
  • The original data added to new.FamilySearch.org consisted of several large databases which already contained duplicate entries. Those databases included the Ancestral File (AF), the Pedigree Resource File (PRF) and the International Genealogical Index (IGI). 
  • The new.FamilySearch.org program did not resolve the issue of duplicate entries.
  • Information from the new.FamilySearch.org program is being imported into the FamilySearch.org Family Tree. This process is ongoing and will not be completed until sometime in 2016.
  • The FamilySearch.org Family Tree program is full of duplicates. Some of the entries have dozens, perhaps hundreds of duplicate records. 

If you know what to look for, you will see that finding duplicate entries is quite simple and easy. Usually, the program marks the potential duplicates for you by Green Arrows or Green Temple icons.

Here are some examples from my own perspective:

1. My Grandfather's Family

Here is a screenshot of my Grandfather Harold Morgan in the Family Tree traditional view:


Notice the Green Arrow. This does not mean that Temple ordinances are available. It means that there are duplicate entries. Here is a screenshot of the duplicate entries, all for the same person.


I choose the first entry to try and merge in the two obvious duplicates and here are the results:


The record cannot be merged with the obvious duplicate at this time. When will I be able to merge the duplicate record? When the new.FamilySearch.org program is finally taken down and all of the information has been transferred to Family Tree. Reviewing the ordinances for this family reveals that his parents were married in the Temple and he was "born in the covenant or BIC" The only ordinance that needs to be done is sealing to parents which has already occurred.

However, there is a third copy of this person. Here is a screenshot of the third Calvin Christensen Morgan:


This third record is interesting. Even though there is a death date showing on the record, the file shows up in a Private Space that came from FamilySearch. I did not create this record. It also does not show up as a duplicate even though it is obvious from the list of children in the family that it is a duplicate.

Hmm. So let's do a little more digging. All of the changes to this third Private Space person came from FamilySearch. How did a person with a death date get into a Private Space?

Let's go back to the Family Tree. For the time being, I will stay on the same family line. To speed up the process of looking for Green Arrows etc. I change to the Descendancy View and look at all of Harold Morgan's descendants. On the descendancy view, there are two Green Temple Icons for Calvin Christensen Morgan:


Good news here, although there are clearly Green Temple icons, there are also warnings for possible duplicates. But nevertheless, I could proceed with the ordinances assuming I was the closest living relative.

All of the descendants of Harold Morgan's father, John Morgan, started out as members of the Church. In going back in descendancy view, I find two individuals with ordinances in progress. Once I get back a little further in the pedigree, I find more opportunities marked by icons but the information is scanty. For example, there is a Temple icon showing that ordinances have been printed and reserved for a person named only "Addison" with no firm birth date, no death date, no sources or any other information at all.

I suggest that we follow the rule and check for duplicates and do some documenting of the people.


Thursday, January 29, 2015

570 Million New Hints added to FamilySearch Family Tree

According to a recent blog post by Robert Kehrer entitled, "FamilySearch Releases 570 Million New Hints Between Family Tree and Records" FamilySearch announced the following:
On Thursday, Jan 22nd FamilySearch began displaying 570 million additional historical record hints for ancestors in Family Tree. With this release, over 120 million Family Tree ancestors, with no attached sources, now have potential records to document their vital information. A significant percentage of these records also reference new family members previously not identified but who can be added to Family Tree relationships.
Record hints appear on the Detail page of each of the individuals who may have such hints available. Here is a screenshot showing a link to hints for one of my ancestors:


If you go to a Descendancy view of your ancestors, you will see all of the Record Hints displayed. Here is a screenshot of my Great-grandfather Henry Martin Tanner's family and the Record Hints now available. 


The brown icons indicate Record Hints. Clicking on the icons gives a link to the record. Be sure and review the record before attaching it to your ancestor to make sure the right person has been identified. I do find that the hints are quite accurate and very helpful in adding sources to each individual in your ancestry.

Robert Kehrer goes on in the FamilySearch blog post to state:
FamilySearch hinting builds a cloud of data around an ancestor in Family Tree using all the information from the ancestor and their parents, spouse and children. It then compares that cloud of data to the data indexed on over 5 billion FamilySearch historical records and returns records for a person that displays a high confidence of being the same as the Family Tree ancestor. Current accuracy has been verified at better than 98%.
 This is very impressive and is now on par with MyHeritage.com's Record Matches. These new technologies are a boon to all those who take advantage of having their family trees in these online programs. 

Here is a concluding quote from Bob Kehrer at FamilySearch:
Since its release last summer, the simplicity of hinting, coupled with the side-by-side data comparison, has opened up opportunities for new researchers to contribute valid genealogical information and add new ancestors to the Family Tree based on actual historical records. Because of how hinting works it is not uncommon for it to identify and present records that would have been very difficult to locate through other means. 
Users are currently attaching hundreds of thousands of new record sources to Family Tree ancestors each day and these new 570 million hints are expected to dramatically increase those numbers. These record hints has resulted in the Family Tree becoming one of the largest and most accurate genealogical trees anywhere. 
We invite everyone to visit to FamilySearch and see records you may have never seen about your ancestors, find a new ancestor in records to add to your tree, and if you are experienced with genealogy, reach out and share your excitement and skills with family and friends who have yet to discover the joy of getting to know their past.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Trouble with obtaining an LDS Account to MyHeritage.com?

During the past few months, I have helped dozens (hundreds?) of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to sign into MyHeritage.com to obtain their "free" account from FamilySearch.org. Many people try to sign into receive the account but do not follow the steps outlined carefully and then end up with a limited, "free" account with MyHeritage.com that does not include the features of a full subscription to the program. When the potential user tries out MyHeritage.com, they receive a message saying they need to pay to receive the special Record Match and Record Detective features of the program. 

Today, I got yet another question from a reader and sent her the following instructions about how to solve this issue.
Hi,Yes, as a matter of fact. You did not set up an LDS account completely. You needed to go back through the process. If I were there to help you, it would take less than three minutes to set up the correct free LDS account. Here are the steps:
  1. Go to FamilySearch.org and sign in. You must have an LDS Account with FamilySearch.
  2. Go to the Get Help link in the upper right hand corner and click on the pull-down menu
  3. You should see a link to the Help Center and click on it.
  4. In the Help Center there should be a number of icons. One is the Partners icon.
  5. Click on the partners Icon and then click on the bar that says Partners.
  6. There should be a list of the free partnership programs.
  7. Click on the link to MyHeritage.com
  8. Follow the screens carefully and watch for the small check boxes at the bottom of the screen. Make sure you check the boxes. Also, choose the option that you already have an account.
  9. Sign in to MyHeritage.com with your email and password.
  10. Click on your name and look at “My Purchases.”  
  11. You should see two 1s in parentheses and it should say you have an account. If not, try doing the whole thing over again.
I have done this over a hundred times since I got here to Provo. The trick is to carefully read the screens and click on the boxes. Also if you have ever had an account previously, free or otherwise, you need to choose the box that says you had an account before. 
 You can also go directly to the Partners page by going to https://familysearch.org/ask/#/partners/ but you will still need to make sure you are signed in to FamilySearch.org with an LDS Account.

Once in a while, I have found that people have actually signed up for multiple accounts with MyHeritage.com. This can cause a problem. The account with MyHeritage.com is called a "Website." Your MyHeritage.com Website can have several family trees. Some people confuse the family trees with the website. If you want to see which Websites you have, you click on your name in the upper left-hand corner of the MyHeritage.com start up screen. If you have created or joined family trees that you do not wish to have, you can "Manage" your trees from a link under the Family tree menu tab at the top of the page. One of the options is to delete a tree. Be careful not to delete a tree you are working on.

If you get too tangled up, you may have to delete all your trees and start over again.

I do not suggest uploading GEDCOM files to MyHeritage.com (or any other online family tree program for that matter). You should begin your family tree by entering the information you already know, one person at a time. This will allow MyHeritatge.com to help you build your family tree from sources. There is a rather long discussion here about my opinion, but in the long run, I have found this to be a better strategy. You may have to add enough individuals with dates, places etc. before MyHeritage.com will "kick in" and start giving you Record Matches. Once the Record Matches start to come, it is important to use every one of them. If you don't get any Record matches for a while, it is usually because you are not working on the tree. Try doing a research search on one or more individuals to find additional records and that will usually start the Record Match process again.

The key here is working with the program systematically. The main reason that I do not recommend adding a GEDCOM is because very, very few people have a completely sourced family tree. Why add unsubstantiated data? You can watch my video on YouTube.com about MyHeritage.com here:

http://youtu.be/lTe5CHWZ4tc

If after all this, the MyHeritage.com program still does not seem to work, then seek help from someone using the program or contact me. In some cases, I have spent up to two hours untangling what people have done without knowing how to use the program.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

You can't avoid change and changes on FamilySearch Family Tree

Here is the simplest way I can think of to explain change and changes in the FamilySearch.org Family Tree. I will start by referring to some recent FamilySearch blog posts. Here is one statement made in a post clear back on November 10, 2014. Here is a quote from the blog post entitled, "FamilySearch Announces Milestone for Retirement of new.FamilySearch.org."
The next milestone is scheduled for February 1, 2015, when all access to the program will be discontinued (data from new.FamilySearch.org will be accessible at www.FamilySearch.org). All public-facing Application Programming Interfaces (API) will be disabled, as well as access via login by all users of the program. In effect it will not be visible or accessible. However, there are still many tasks that our engineers will continue to work on, such as migrating and synchronizing datasets to Family Tree, as well as verifying and validating all data. Because of the enormity of the task and the desire to not lose any data, we can only give an estimate as to how long it will take to complete these final tasks. We believe it will take a year, possibly more, before we can reach the final milestone. 
The final milestone, where we completely retire new.FamilySearch.org will, therefore, occur in early 2016. At that point, once we are certain that all data has correctly migrated, we will begin work on very important data enhancements for Family Tree including:
  • Merging of gateway ancestors and other famous people (also known as IOUSs)
  • Highlighting and fixing other data issues, such as: individuals who are married before they are born, child older than a parent, child who is a spouse of a parent or grandparent, and such.
  • Ability for users to edit the gender of an ancestor.
  • Ability to see current spouse’s line by default.
If you try to access new.FamilySearch.org today, you will likely get a statement about the fact that new.FamilySearch.org will be turned off on February 1, 2015. The rest of the statement contains language very similar to that quoted above. Here is the statement from the notice:
On February 1, all public APIs (application programming interfaces) will be turned off, as will be the ability to access the program. This step is necessary as we enter the final phase, which is to transfer and synchronize all of the remaining data from new.FamilySearch.org to FamilySearch Family Tree. It is anticipated that this final phase of data testing, transfer, and retesting will require a year to complete. Once this phase is completed in early 2016, new.FamilySearch.org will be completely shut down. 
It is important to note that many highly desired features of FamilySearch Family Tree cannot begin to be developed until new.FamilySearch.org has reached the final milestone and is completely shut-off. Once that has happened, work can begin on features such as: 
  1. Merging of gateway ancestors and other people with large records.
  2. Highlighting and fixing other data eccentricities, such as when a person appears to have been married before birth, a child older than a parent, a child who is the spouse of parent or grandparent, and so on.
  3. The ability for users to change the gender of an ancestor.
  4. The ability to see a spouse’s ancestral line by default.
 Read these statements very carefully. You will find that FamilySearch is saying the following:

  1. Data is still being transferred from new.FamilySearch.org to FamilySearch Family Tree.
  2. Data will continue to be transferred even after new.FamilySearch.org is "turned off."
  3. That data transfer process will likely take at least another year until sometime in 2016. 
  4. Nothing will be much done to resolve the IOUS (Individuals of Unusual Size) aka legacy ancestors aka gateway ancestors aka people with large records until this transfer is complete.

Now, what this means is that as long as data is being transferred by FamilySearch from the new.FamilySearch.org program, changes will continue to show up in the Family Tree program.

This will continue to affect the ability to merge or effectively work with the people with large records. So, if you are working on trying to "correct" information about an ancestor, you may well experience some considerable frustration as FamilySearch continues to add data if by chance that data affects your ancestor.

In addition, suppose you have some ancestors that joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints between 1830 and 1900. It is very possible that these ancestors have dozens or hundreds or even thousands of descendants who are now members of the Church. When you are trying to "fix" the information for these ancestors, you are in a sense competing with all the other descendants of that same person. So you may see a huge number of changes as various of your cousins start working on the program.

The combined changes of both FamilySearch and your cousins can become overwhelming. What do we do about this? Note the time frame set forth by FamilySearch above. Why not do something else until at least FamilySearch is done and has started to resolve the issues with your ancestors?

Meanwhile, FamilySearch is locking selected individuals in the Family Tree program. This will likely be done to many of the so-called gateway or IOUS ancestors. Here is an example of a Read Only detail page for President Abraham Lincoln:


This is likely to happen to many of those individuals in our ancestry that have thousands of descendants. This will help to stabilize the Family Tree.

Mean while, what can be done? You can work on cleaning up the Family Tree and working on descendants of those ancestors who are not IOUSs.

Monday, January 26, 2015

#RootsTech Family Discovery Day Sold Out

The following announcement was posted on the #RootsTech.org website:
Family Discovery Day for LDS Members 
Due to overwhelming interest, the Family Discovery Day portion of the RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City has filled up, and we are no longer accepting registrations for this specific event. 
Tickets are still available for the main RootsTech conference, starting at $19. RootsTech includes speakers like former First Lady Laura Bush and entertainer Donny Osmond as well as over 200 classes, an interactive expo hall, and evening entertainment. Learn more here.
Looks like the Salt Palace where #RootsTech 2015 is being held will be very crowded on Saturday. This is an interesting development.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Beware of working on duplicates in FamilySearch Family Tree

NOTE: This post deals with a situation limited to those who have legacy or gateway individuals in their ancestry. If your ancestry includes people who joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints between 1830 and 1900, you may very well encounter this type of challenge. If your family has more recent membership or none at all, you will not likely see any of these problems.

Some of the entries in the FamilySearch.org Family Tree have duplicates that cannot be merged at this time. These entries are usually those who are classified as Individuals of Unusual Size (IOUSs). One of these is my Great-great-grandfather, Sidney Tanner. He presently has two very prominently displayed duplicates. Here is a screenshot showing the two duplicate entries:


These two obvious duplicates cannot be merged at this time. This situation is caused by the fact that all of the information from new.FamilySearch.org has yet to be moved into Family Tree. This situation is likely to exist well into 2016. Here is a screenshot showing the warning that these two Sidney Tanners cannot be merged at this time:


The problem is that people are constantly adding information and making changes to both of these duplicate individuals. Let me say that again. There are people adding content to both of these individuals who are the SAME PERSON. They cannot be merged. When FamilySearch finally transfers all the information from new.FamilySearch.org, which of these duplicate individuals will survive? Which of the duplicate individuals will retain all the sources and other information added to each? What if the person undertaking to merge the two makes wrong choices about what information survives the merger and what does not?

I need to emphasize that these two duplicate individuals in the Family Tree have each been extensively modified. They both have sources, notes, additional information and discussion material. One of them happens to be missing the wife and children of the line I come through. Because they both appear with the same father, in this case, they do not each start their own pedigree. But there is another issue here.

Let's take this another step, what if I do a Find for Sidney Tanner? I find at least 13 people in the Family Tree named Sidney Tanner without an additional middle name. But fortunately, at this point, I only find the two Sidney Tanners showing in the John Tanner family group. Are there more out there?

For this step, I use the RootsMagic program for a more in depth search of the Family Tree data. I find that there are two Sidney Tanner's that appear with the same Person Identifier Number; KWJ6-DZX. RootsMagic cannot solve the merge problem.

The solution, for now, is to make sure that the copies of the person that cannot be merged contain the same information. Then, no matter which of the copies survives, all of the contributed information will also survive.

In recent statements, FamilySearch has stated that they will not be addressing this problem until after new.FamilySearch.org program is finally taken down and is no longer online at all. See FamilySearch Announces Milestones for Retirement of new.FamilySearch.org. Read what is said carefully and you will see that they are saying the issue with "gateway or IOUS" ancestors will not be addressed until after new.FamilySearch.org is taken down.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

FamilySearch Family Tree Lists and Filters

FamilySearch.org Family Tree has several ways to list information and to filter the results from a search. The first, and most obvious of these is the list of Family Tree views in the upper left-hand corner of the view screen. Here is a screenshot showing the pull-down menu of view options and the links to show a different number of generations for the Descendancy View:


If you go to a detail page, there are additional lists and pull-down menus. If you are signed in with an LDS Account, you may see several different colored icons from the Ordinance view. There is a link to the "Legend" in the right-hand corner that gives the following explanation:

  • Completed
  • Request
  • Not Printed
  • Printed
  • Waiting
  • Shared
  • Shared Printed
  • Not Available
  • Not Needed
The categories correspond to colored icons that may or may not be visible for any particular individual. 

At the top of the Detail page, there is a link for "Lists." There are two options, "People I'm Watching" and "Changes to People I'm Watching." Here is a screenshot of part of my "People I'm Watching" list:


Below the link to the list, there is a filter box that lets you filter the list by entering a surname, a first name or any other identifying information. Here's what happens when I filter the list for the word "Massachusetts."


You can experiment with different filter terms and see how it affects your list of watched individuals. You will also see that the headings on the list are also pull-down menus that will let you change the arrangement of the Watch List. The lists will be sorted according to your selections. 

You can also see only those people in the list who have had changes. The list shows up in chronological order. You can also hide the changes you have made to see only what other people have changed. Here is a screenshot with arrows showing the link to the Changes list and the checkbox to hide the changes you have made. 

 
The names in the list are linked to the individual's Detail Page. 

You may want to click on other links and menu items in the FamilySearch.org Family Tree to see other possible features of the program. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Speaking of Green Arrows

One of the most recurrent topics of conversation among those who are "genealogists" and the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints concerns the existence of hints on the FamilySearch.org Family Tree program in the form of Green Arrows or Green Temple Icons. The idea of these hints is to give people opportunities to perform Temple ordinances for their ancestors who have not yet received the ordinances.

Now, there is an awful lot that could be said about this subject and I have said a lot in the past. But what I am seeing in the not-too-distant future is that green arrows, including the green Temple icons, will become as scarce as hens' teeth. Here is a list of the reasons this will happen:

  1. The number of duplicate records in the FamilySearch.org Family Tree is finite. Although there seem to be a huge number of duplicates now, in the future, the number will decrease mainly due to the design of the Family Tree. You have to remember that the Family Tree is a wiki and there is only one spot on the tree for each person that ever lived. 
  2. The reason the number of duplicates is not dramatically decreasing presently is that FamilySearch is still in mode of transitioning data from the huge pile of data on new.FamilySearch.org.This process is scheduled to be concluded in 2016.
  3. The difficulties with the merge program failing to find all of the duplicate copies will be solved as soon as the data is finally and completely moved over from new.FamilySearch.org.
  4. As soon as all of the data has been transferred and new.FamilySearch.org is finally taken off-line, people like me will go on to Family Tree and eliminate all of the duplicates, which will include the vast majority of the green arrows, from the system.
  5. Without a concerted effort by significant numbers of users, the Family Tree will eventually be entirely devoid of Temple hints, absent a concerted effort to add new, previously unavailable names.
One of the most obvious things happening on Family Tree presently is that many people with "gateway" ancestors also known as legacy ancestors or IOUSs (individuals of unusual size) cannot merge obvious duplicates. Once this particular obstacle is removed when the.FamilySearch.org is retired then that will open up opportunities for those who are involved to clear out many of the duplicates now floating around in the system.

 Let me give an example of what I'm talking about. Here is a screenshot from a descendent CPU of one of my great uncles, a descendent of Henry Martin Tanner.


In the screenshot, there are five dark blue Temple icons and one green Temple icon. One of the dark blue Temple icons has a red caution icon. With a little investigation, we can see that a wife listed for Milton Ray Tanner is Susie Christine Nolty, who died when she was about 16 years old. There is a marriage for Milton Ray Tanner to Hermina Louise Nolty who was, from the 1940 U.S. census apparently his second wife. He was divorced in 1938. At first, this situation seems complicated and there does appear to be the opportunity to do ordinances, however, as information is added to these records, there apparent lack of ordinance information disappears. The only candidate for ordinances is Rosemarie Tanner who was born in 1926 and died in 2006. The only people who can legitimately do these ordinances, assuming they are available, are members of her immediate family. Even if the rules were completely disregarded and some performed the ordinance, the other information will clarify the other possible ordinances and all this will eventually disappear. 

Many of the current "green arrows" arise from just such complicated circumstances. These situations are caused by the fact that the information has come from multiple sources with only partial information in each source. As the issues shown above are reconciled, the apparent Temple opportunities will disappear, either because they never actually existed or because family members will do the ordinances. Those falling within the 110 year rule, will just have to wait unless the designated family members agree to have the ordinances done or do them themselves. 

Just a reminder, here is the 110 year rule:

110 Year Rule:

To do ordinances for a deceased person who was born in the last 110 years, the following requirements must be met.
  1. The person must have been deceased for at least one year.
  2. You must either be one of the closest living relatives, or you must obtain permission from one of the closest living relatives. If you are not a spouse, child, parent, or sibling of the deceased, please obtain permission from one of the closest living relatives before doing the ordinances. The closest living relatives are an undivorced spouse (the spouse to whom the individual was married when he or she died), an adult child, a parent, or a brother or sister.
Verbal approval is acceptable. Family members should work together to determine when the ordinances will be done and who will do them.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Reason for Sources in FamilySearch Family Tree

A "source" is a document or other record that contains information that supports the information recorded about individuals and families in the FamilySearch.org Family Tree program. A source could be personal knowledge, information transmitted from others in the form of letters or Bible entries, or information obtained from online family history records or a library or other repository. If an entry is added to the FamilySearch.org Family Tree without a source, there is no way for those who subsequently view the entry to know where the information came from.

Let me give an example. Here is a screenshot of one of my ancestor's Detail page from FamilySearch.org Family Tree:


This is an entry for Samuel Linton supposedly born in 1775 in Derry, Ireland. There is no information entered as to a Christening date, Death date or any burial information. If I scroll down, I see that there are no sources listed. Here is another screenshot showing the Sources field:


How do we know if the birth date is correct? How do we know this is the correct "Samuel Linton?"
Where did the information about his birth date come from? Where would I go to verify that the person who entered the information originally selected the right person or even copied the information correctly? For example, if I go to Ancestry.com and search for "Samuel Linton," I get 561,418 returns. Which of these is my Samuel Linton? If I add in the date and supposed place of birth, I reduce that number to 55,824 and none of the entries has a resemblance to the Samuel Linton listed in the Family Tree. Here is one entry that might merit some additional investigation in there were any way to do that?
Samuel Linton in the Ireland, Griffith’s Valuation, 1847-1864
OCCUPIER: Samuel Linton
LESSOR: Worshipful Company of Ironmongers
COUNTY: Londonderry
BARONY: Coleraine
PARISH: Desertoghil
TOWNLAND: Gortacloghan
OS PAGE NUMBERS: 26
The only problem with this entry is that my Samuel Linton would have been 72 years old (assuming the birthdate was correct) at the time of the earliest entries in this record. In addition, I find that my Samuel Linton is supposed to be the father of William Linton born about 1799 in Ardstraw, Tyrone, Ireland. My conclusion, the Samuel Linton in the Ancestry.com record cannot be the same as my own Samuel Linton.

Essentially, I am going about this all wrong. Instead of now searching for someone with no sources, I should be looking forward in time to his children and making sure that I have the right people listed in the Family Tree. If I look at the person listed in my line who is supposed to be the son of the 1775 Samuel Linton, then I find that the William Linton has sources but none of them substantiate the birth information I noted above.

Over the years, genealogists and family historians have discussed the issues of "evidence" and "proof." All of this is meaningless until there are sources recorded that substantiate the information. The whole process of determining the correct conclusions from the "evidence" presupposes that we have some "evidence" to examine.

On a practical level, someone could come along in Family Tree and change the birth information for my Samuel Linton born in 1775 without putting in a source and how would I know if what was entered was correct?

There are a much more complicated reasons for adding sources or citations but the all boil down to substantiating the information in a way that others can verify what we have entered. If I go back on my family lines in the FamilySearch.org Family Tree, I will very quickly find entries with no sources. What about your own entries? How many of them have even one source to substantiate what is in the Family Tree?

Monday, January 19, 2015

A Glimpse of the Future -- Beta Site for FamilySearch.org

I was recently reminded of the Beta site for FamilySearch.org. I decided to log in and take a look. In a recent meeting of the Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group (UVTAGG) I listened to a presentation by Ben Baker from FamilySearch talk about a few of possible new developments to the program. and upon opening the program, was immediately reminded on his comments and those of other FamilySearch folks I had talked to recently. One of the benefits of living here in Utah is the opportunity to attend meetings like those held by the UVTAGG.

Well, what did I see when I logged into the Beta version of FamilySearch.org Family Tree? The main view of the program was quite different than what we see now. Here is a screenshot of the present program to remind you what it looks like:

Recent view of Family Tree

Here is the proposed Beta view:

Proposed Beta View
This new proposed view add features from the other views presently available on Family Tree. You can see the photos now available in the Portrait view and the icons representing various actions that need to be taken or opportunities for research hints etc. that come from the present Descendancy View. Some things are missing in the proposed view, including the pop up items that show wives, children and for those who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the ordinance link. I think I prefer the new look over the older one. I certainly like the inclusion of the icons for research and corrections etc. added on the proposed page look.

Clicking on some of the other view options crashed the program, so there was not much there. Once I signed back in, the other views of the Family Tree appeared to be about the same. I decided to poke around a little more and went to a lot of different pages and did not find anything too different than the present program. I guess I like the changes I did see, but given what I had been already told about what was coming, nothing was much of a surprise.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Evaluating FamilySearch.org Research Hints

The idea of adding research hints to online family trees is one of the most useful and productive recent innovations in the online genealogical community. There are certain requirements that had to be developed in order for this type of research hinting process to become effective. The first and main requirement was the ability to amass a sufficiently large amount of genealogical data in a searchable format and indexed that could support a record hint capability. In supporting the underlying ability of programs to offer such a feature, it was necessary to have the computer power and availability of the network developed to the stage that such a concept was even possible.

Fortunately, for those of us who are online and have taken advantage of this new technology, we are finding an almost overwhelming number of basic research connections and adding sources to the individuals in our family trees.

FamilySearch.org was not the first online family tree program to implement record hints. The first developed use of record hands in conjunction with a family tree was developed by Ancestry.com in their green "shaky" lease record suggestions or hints. The development of record hints was pushed to a new level by MyHeritage.com when they released their Record Match and Record Detective programs in conjunction with their online family trees. By increasing the accuracy of the record hints, MyHeritage.com led the way to an increase in accuracy by the other two programs.

Record hands are valuable from a number of standpoints. Of course, they provide suggested sources but the underlying concept is that sources can be the way to provide additional information about families and to extend the family lines. The important point is that the researcher is encouraged to move from a name-based standpoint to a source-based research base. In the past, the practice has been to obtain a name of an ancestor from some source, such as a previous researcher's efforts, i.e. a family history oriented relative, and then proceed to attempt to prove that the information given was correct. For example, current researcher is given the name of a distant ancestor and then attempts to find specific information about the ancestors such as a birth date, marriage date, death date etc. In contrast, in a source-based research effort, the idea is to look for sources to extend the family line before focusing on names.

There is a subtle difference between MyHeritage.com's use of Record Matches and the Record Hints on FamilySearch.com's Family Tree. MyHeritage.com suggests Record Matches completely independently of the family tree. You can look at Record Matches on MyHeritage.com without going to your family tree at all. However, on FamilySearch.org, you not only need to go to your family tree, but you must also go down to the level of the individual before you can obtain a record hint. In other words, FamilySearch.org presupposes that you have already identified your ancestor before you are given any record hints. Whereas, MyHeritage.com promotes the concept of Record Matches and Record Detective independently of involvement in the family tree directly. Once you have a minimal amount of information available to MyHeritage about your family, the program immediately begins offering additional sources for information that may assist in extending your family lines.

All of the online companies with record hints can help to extend your family lines by offering undiscovered family members, but this can only happen after a certain amount of information has already been entered into the programs in the form of a family tree.

No matter how a record is obtained, in all of the programs it is necessary to evaluate the suggested records before attaching them to your individual family records. Although the programs, including FamilySearch.org, are becoming more accurate in suggesting applicable record hints, it is still necessary for the user to become involved in the process of adding the records so that there is some assurance that there is a connection between the offered record and the individual in the family tree.

When this technology was in the developmental stage, the accuracy of the hints was not very impressive. We have moved way past that stage, but there is still a necessity for the individual to carefully examine each record hint to make sure that the right person is been identified. In addition, in each of the programs, including FamilySearch.org's Family Tree, the user must also evaluate each item offered as facts from the record hint. In some cases, the record hint will be less accurate or more incomplete than the information already in the user's file. In this case, it is necessary to carefully examine each item suggested and either accept or reject the item's inclusion.

Ultimately I would hope that many more of those involved in online family tree programs will avail themselves of this record hinting capability and began to correct the information presently contained in the online family trees.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

What's New on Your Family Tree?


Many people complain about the changes in Family Tree, the online family tree program from FamilySearch.org. It is important to understand that there are several features built into the program that minimize the impact of changes made by other users. One of the most valuable of these resources is the ability to "watch" any of your ancestors in the program. Here's a screenshot showing the location of the Watch link. In this case, the Watch link is saying "Unwatch" because I am already watching that person.


 Every time there is a change made to any of the individuals in your ancestral lines that is changed by any other user, you will receive a notification weekly about all the changes. You can see a screenshot of the notification. This notification comes by email so if you do not have an email in the system you will not receive a copy of the notification. Obviously, if you are not watching any of your ancestors you will also not receive a copy of the notification.

Notification accomplishes two things; first it notifies you that others have made changes to your watched ancestors, but it also provides a record of the changes you made to your own ancestors during the past week. If the changes made to any of your ancestors are wrong or otherwise improper you can reverse the changes or simply make the corrections necessary. In either case, if there is a problem with the changed data, it is important to contact the person who made the changes and ask for an explanation of the reason why the change was made or provide that person with information about the correct data that should be put in the program.

In addition, it is extremely important that all those who participate in the Family Tree program and sources and explanations for the information as it is corrected. I have noticed a dramatic decrease in the number of changes made to my ancestors as I have added sufficient sources to document each date and place in the ancestor's detail section.

New Features in Searching the FamilySearch Historical Record Collections

The core resource on FamilySearch.org are the vast Historical Record Collections. Presently the records contain over 3.5 billion individual's records and the number is increasing by over 69 million records every month. Over 35 million of the records added each month come from digital copies made from the 2.4 million rolls of microfilm stored in the Granite Vault in Little Cottonwood Canyon outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. The rest, over 34 million each month, are provided by a team of record acquisition missionaries making digital copies of original records around the world. See FamilySearch News and Press.

One of the most valuable new features added to the Historical Record Collections is the automatic record hints feature on the Family Tree program. FamilySearch reviews the individual entries on the Family Tree and suggests appropriate historic source records that may be of value in adding useful information. In some cases, the records suggested may contain the names of ancestors who are not recorded in the Family Tree. The information from the suggested sources may also be valuable in correcting the existing entries. Since their introduction, these record hints have been increasing in both their scope and accuracy.

Another valuable new feature is the ability to use an interactive map to search by a location. Here is a screenshot of the search map:


When you hover your mouse over the various areas on the map, that particular area is highlighted. When you click on the highlighted area, a popup menu appears and allows you to select a country in that area. Here is a screenshot of the popup menu.


When you choose a country, first you get a summary of the records available and then you get again to get a page of links and suggested search options for that country:


Here is the country page for France:


You can then follow the links to find records about your ancestors or learn about other records that may be available.

The search fields and options for the Historical Record Collections has also been enhanced. Here is a screenshot showing all of the options, including the new ones:


The new features include the ability to search with multiple entries and use the field to filter or restrict the results. For example, if you want marriage records only for Apache County, Arizona, you could enter that search by selecting marriage in the life events category and then entering the county in the restrict by place field that appears. You would then get a list of all the marriage records in the collections for Apache County. You could then further filter the results by the following:
There are a huge number of different combinations of searches that can be made.


Thursday, January 15, 2015

10 Useful Tips for Searching in the FamilySearch Catalog

The FamilySearch Catalog is an expansion of what used to be called the Family History Library Catalog. The updated catalog contains entries from an expanded base of Family History Centers and FamilySearch Libraries from around the world. It is found on the FamilySearch.org website. In addition to helping locate genealogical resources in the FamilySearch system, it also functions as an instructional finding aid. You can use the categories in the catalog to suggest other types of records that may be of assistance in finding your ancestors.

Here are the 10 Tips:

1. Start out with only a few search terms and then add terms.
It is tempting to try and put something into each field offered for searching the Catalog. However, the best policy is to start with about 3 or 4 fields. No more. If the results you obtain are not specific enough, try adding another search term, one at a time, until you start seeing some results.

2. Try using the "exact search" option.
There are reasons to try a more general search, but occasionally an exact search will find what you want. Most database search engines, such as the one used by FamilySearch, are programmed to provide the "next level" in a search. For example, if I specify a city and there are no names matching for that city, the program will default to the state or some other location. This is the reason that some of the searches seem to produce random results. I many cases, not all, checking the "exact search" option will give more specific results.

3. Try using the "Keyword" search if you do not get results with a specific place etc.
I have found that searching for a specific place may not produce any positive results while searching for the same place (or word) will find the same word. This doesn't always work, but it is worth a try.

4. When searching for a name or place, try all of the variations.
You may think you know the way your ancestors spelled their name, but you might not know that the name changed before you inherited it. In addition, remember, you are searching with indexed records. The person who indexed the record may have misread the source or simply misspelled the index entry. Trying a number of different variations is advisable. For example, one of the places where my ancestors lived is officially spelled two different ways; St. Johns and Saint Johns.

5. Close out a search before switching to a different type.
This is a suggestion from the FamilySearch Research Wiki article entitled, "Introduction to the FamilySearch Catalog." Here is the quote:
When you want to change to a new kind of search it helps to close the old search first. Close the old search by clicking the "X" in the upper right corner of the area around the search box. Then click on the new search type to open that kind of search.
6. You can do more than one type of search at a time.
This is a simple process, just select more than one type of search and add content to both entries. This way you can use a keyword with a place or name.

7. The Library is a moving target, try again later.
New material is added to the Catalog as new material is acquired by FamilySearch and the libraries. In addition, much of the material in other libraries is still being added to the Catalog.

8. Use the wildcard options.
The FamilySearch Catalog has two "wildcard" options; the * and the ?. Searching with a wildcard has been explained in a FamilySearch Blog post appropriately entitled, "Searching with Wildcards in FamilySearch." Here is a quote from that blog post:
Wildcards enable you to replace characters using wildcard characters. The wildcard characters are an asterisk (*) for multiple characters or a question mark (?) for a single character. Wildcards are useful when you can spell a surname or given name in multiple ways, for example, Thurgood or Thoroughgood. You can use up to four asterisks at a time for any surname or given name. You may also use multiple single character wildcards in a given name or surname. Note: To use a wildcard symbol in your search, in most cases, you must use at least 3 letters of the surname or given name.
9. Do your homework before you search.
You need to have some confidence in the search terms you decide to use. The rule is always to search from the known to the unknown. Guessing does not always help. You may need to drop back a generation or two and find out more information about your more recent ancestors before launching off into the unknown.

10. Always look for more results on Google.
If you find a useful type of record in the FamilySearch Catalog, then use the name of the source as a search term on Google search. This will usually give you additional sources for similar information.

Keep Searching!!

You can now share Temple reservations with family and friends

FamilySearch.org Family Tree recently added the capability to share Temple reservations with family and friends directly. There is now a Share link under the Temple menu item that appears for those who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and registered on FamilySearch.org with an LDS Account.

On your reservation list, there is a check box next to each reservation which allows you to mark the reservations you want to share. Marking this box enables you to send the reservations to a family member or friend by email. The reservations are then marked with an share envelope icon and sent. When accepted, the reservations will disappear from your list. If your invitation is not accepted within two weeks, the share envelope icon will be removed, allowing you to print, share, or unreserve your ancestor reservation again.

This is a major step in avoiding lost cards and misunderstandings. You will still need to monitor whether or not the accepted reservations are used to perform the ordinances.



Monday, January 12, 2015

FamilySearch Discovery Centers -- Discover Your Story



We have been hearing about FamilySearch Discovery Centers for some time now. What I do know is that FamilySearch is developing a new interactive experience called the FamilySearch Family Discovery Centers. These centers will allow guests to create, explore, and share their family stories. Coming soon to Salt Lake City, UT and Seattle, WA.

Some time ago, in a blog post, FamilySearch explained this a little bit further:
First, a bit of clarification—many of you are aware that the Family History Department will soon establish family history discovery centers in a limited number of locations worldwide. Discovery centers, which were previewed at RootsTech 2014, will feature interactive, technology-based experiences designed to immerse visitors in family history and inspire them to learn more about their ancestors. We are excited about the potential for discovery centers to reach members of the community and help them experience the joy of family history.
 I guess we have to wait to see what these new Discovery Centers will do.

New FamilySearch Family Tree Video in Seven Languages



This cute video comes in seven different languages. So far, I only see this version on YouTube.com but I got sent a copy of each of the seven. This may be a pre-release, but no instructions came with the videos.

Using Standard Place and Date Functions on FamilySearch Family Tree

One very little understood and often misused rule for genealogists is the need to record place names as they were at the time any particular event occurred. The reason for this rule is that any documents created at or near the time of the event will most likely refer to the place as it was called or officially named at the time. Even though this is the rule, there may be a need to search for documents or information using the current place name, so both are important.

For example, the place where my Tanner family great-grandparents lived changed names a few times over the years. In addition, although the physical location of the place did not change, the county boundaries, name of the place and the political jurisdiction changed and the place was included in three different counties depending on the time period involved. Here is a timeline showing the changes:

1877: Allen's Camp, Yavapai County, Territory of Arizona, United States
1879: St. Joseph, Apache County, Territory of Arizona, United States
1895, St. Joseph, Navajo County, Territory of Arizona, United States
1912: St. Joseph, Navajo County, Arizona, United States
1923: Joseph City, Navajo County, Arizona, United States

Nothing moved and nothing changed except the boundaries and political jurisdictions. It is very likely that almost every place on the face of the earth has had similar changes. Even the names of physical locations, such as rivers and mountain ranges change over time. There are a couple of things to note. The inclusion of the word "county" in the name is not necessary. Some genealogical database programs include the word "county" and others do not. FamilySearch.org Family Tree usually does not. There is some disagreement over the use of United States vs. USA. Some programs will let the user switch globally between the two different terms meaning that you can change all of the entries in your database at the same time from one to the other. You will need to check to see which term is preferred by the program you are using, although there is little chance of confusion no matter which is used.

In the distant past (a few years ago) many genealogists were accustomed to added extra commas in place names to show omitted places. So for example, you might see something like this

,, Arizona, United States

The two extra commas were used to indicate that the city and county were unknown. This was the common practice with the Personal Ancestral File program. It is no longer desirable or necessary to add the extra commas. If you have entries with the commas, you may find that the place names do not sort properly in a list of place names. Entries with these extra commas need to be edited to remove the commas.

Some current genealogical database programs (i.e. programs that store names, places, dates etc.) suggest "standard" place names. There are various levels of such standards. For example, the United States Postal System includes, what are called, ZIP codes. These are standard numbers used to indicate a specific area in the United States. In the not too distant past, these numbers have been expanded to be more specific. I am not aware of any of the current genealogy programs that utilize ZIP codes as part of a place name, although I suppose some of them would allow you to do so. Another type of standard is that used by the United States Geological Survey (USGS.gov).  the USGS uses a standardized way of referring to various geographical features and places.

FamilySearch.org uses a standardized place name to make it easier for the program to find a specific location in its database of place names. The issue that arises in conjunction with this practice is the fact that many users are not familiar with the method of preserving the original place name, so we see events such as a birth in 1880 in St. Joseph, Apache County, Territory of Arizona, United States recorded as Joseph City, Navajo, Arizona. It is true that it is really the "same place" but by obscuring the location as it was called at the time, the researcher is causing subsequent researchers to perhaps look in the wrong county for information.

The preservation of the original place name is important for historical purposes and as an aid to finding where the records made at the time may have ended up. If the researchers are not aware of both the change in the status of the area known as Arizona and the changes in county jurisdiction, they may not be able to find existing records. One of the real challenges of genealogical research is identifying these original place names and then tracking down where the records may have gone.

FamilySearch.org's Family Tree has a rather complicated way of preserving the original place names. At the same time, these names are added to the standard list in order to make the process of using an original place name much easier. In Family Tree, place names may also include a specific location such as a farm or cemetery. This further assists the researcher in finding pertinent records.

I advise all of the users of FamilySearch Family Tree to carefully review the instructions for preserving original place names. I will be explaining those instructions in a post in the near future. Meanwhile here is the link for the Help Center article explaining how this is done:

https://familysearch.org/ask/salesforce/viewArticle?urlname=Entering-Standardized-Dates-and-Places&lang=en

You can also search the Help Center for the name of the article, "Entering standardized dates and places."

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Taking the Drudgery and Work out of Family History: A Blessing or a Curse?

We frequently hear the word "work" used in the context of religious discussions in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We commonly use the term "family history work" or the "work of salvation" to describe the process of searching out our ancestors. As an example, on the LDS.org webpage, "Hastening the Work of Salvation" the term "work" appears a minimum of 12 times. In fact, one of the most persistent historical doctrinal issues in Christianity involves the relationship between faith, works and salvation. Quoting from the Handbook 2: Administering the Church it says:
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ are sent forth “to labor in his vineyard for the salvation of the souls of men” (D&C 138:56). This work of salvation includes member missionary work, convert retention, activation of less-active members, temple and family history work, and teaching the gospel. The bishopric directs this work in the ward, assisted by other members of the ward council.
 The doctrinal position of the Church concerning the relationship of works to salvations is very clear. One example is also found in the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 138:55-59 as follows:
55 I observed that they were also among the noble and great ones who were chosen in the beginning to be rulers in the Church of God. 
56 Even before they were born, they, with many others, received their first lessons in the world of spirits and were prepared to come forth in the due time of the Lord to labor in his vineyard for the salvation of the souls of men. 
57 I beheld that the faithful elders of this dispensation, when they depart from mortal life, continue their labors in the preaching of the gospel of repentance and redemption, through the sacrifice of the Only Begotten Son of God, among those who are in darkness and under the bondage of sin in the great world of the spirits of the dead. 
58 The dead who repent will be redeemed, through obedience to the ordinances of the house of God, 
59 And after they have paid the penalty of their transgressions, and are washed clean, shall receive a reward according to their works, for they are heirs of salvation.
Notwithstanding this clear doctrinal connection between the process of working out our salvation and our ultimate salvation, I find that many would reduce this process to something that is represented as fun, simple, and easy and involves little or no work. Those of us who have spent years involved in our family history realize that the "work" component means exactly that. There is a great deal of intense, relatively difficult or even very difficult work involved in discovering our family history. In addition, the process usually involves a tremendous commitment of time and effort. However, in many instances the work component of the process has been minimized or claimed to be eliminated.

Is it wise to represent that the "work of salvation" requires no work? Central to this concept that there is very little work involved in discovering family members who need Temple ordinances is the idea that the FamilySearch.org  Family Tree has an endless supply of names ready for Temple work. Coupled with this basic idea is the concept that retrieving names from the Family Tree is simply a matter of finding and clicking on green icons. By taking this attitude are we selling ourselves and our youth short? Are we depriving people of the real opportunity to work out their own salvation? By ignoring the tremendous number of duplicate records in the Family Tree program are we simply discouraging the idea that there is any work involved at all?

Many of us pride ourselves on our "work ethic." We encourage our children to learn how to work. We pride ourselves in our work and what we are able to accomplish through intense physical or mental effort. We even glorify athletes who spend incalculable hours working at perfecting their ability in this particular sport. We help our children practice the piano to learn a valuable skill and sometimes become extremely proficient. Our children spend hours a day at school only to come home and do homework. Yet, given all of this, we somehow expect that family history can be done without any effort. Additionally, we seem to assume that the use of the church can do their family history without any instruction, practice or work.

We would not expect to send our child to a piano recital unless they had spent many many hours practicing. Likewise we would not expect our children to participate in any team sport without a great deal of practice. We are proud when any of our children "make the school team" because of the amount of time and effort and practice and real work that has gone into the accomplishment. But now, we expect our youth to understand a complex subject like family history with either little or no instruction and certainly no practice. One of the reasons why taking our own names to the Temple is a more significant activity is because of the work involved in finding those names. If we eliminate the work component are we in effect minimizing the importance of the activity?

Cleaning up the FamilySearch.org Family Tree can involve many hours of work and finding one qualified name can take weeks or months or even years of intense effort. Can we expect the members of the Church to expand that type of effort if they are led to believe that FamilySearch or someone has already done all the work necessary to find qualified ancestors who actually need Temple ordinances? Obviously, for those whose families have previously done little or no family history, the process of completing Temple ordinances for immediate family members who are deceased can be relatively simple. But this reservoir of "low hanging fruit" is very quickly depleted.

One aspect of this tragedy is that instruction in proper family history procedures has never been more available. It's many young people are called as "Family History Consultants" with no provision whatsoever being offered to assist them in being trained on how to successfully accomplish what they've been called to do. At the same time, youth are challenged to "take a name to the Temple" without any training or preparation in the actual processes necessary for accomplishing this vitally important work.

In the great scheme of things, work is often portrayed as a curse. We often refer to the story in Genesis and focus on the only part of the statement in the Pearl of Great Price in Moses 4:23 wherein the Lord cursed the ground. The entire phrase is that "cursed shall be the ground for thy sake" (emphasis added). Yes, the way to live in the world was made difficult and Adam and Eve had to suffer the following:
24 Thorns also, and thistles shall it bring forth to thee, and thou shalt eat the herb of the field.
25 By the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, until thou shalt return unto the ground—for thou shalt surely die—for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou wast, and unto dust shalt thou return.
 But we too often forget that all of this was done "for our sake." In other words, this was done for our own benefit. If we neglect the work we are denied the benefit. If we teach our children that family history work involves no work, then are we not denying them the benefits of the family history work? Granted, by attending the Temple they are gaining some benefit from the experience (perhaps). But just as we do not benefit fully by attending the Temple without doing our own family history and taking our own names to the Temple, are you do not benefit from "clicking on green arrows."



Saturday, January 10, 2015

Stakes encouraged to hold Family Discovery Days

For the past two years, FamilySearch.org has recorded classes presented at #RootsTech, the large family history conference held in Salt Lake City, Utah for replay at local Stake sponsored events previously referred to as Stake Family History Fairs. This year, 2015, there will be another push to extend the concept of a local family history event through the use of Family Discovery Days. A flyer about the event is being sent to Stake Presidents from the Area Family History Advisers.

The Stake leaders are invited as follows:
Host a RootsTech Family Discovery Day in 2015 Your stake is invited to join with hundreds of other stakes in hosting a RootsTech family discovery day (formerly family history fair). A family discovery day event is a great opportunity to hear messages from Church leaders that will inspire and assist members to find the names of their ancestors, prepare to take those names to the temple for ordinance work, and teach others to do the same. 
Participation of the Stakes in the Family Discovery Day can help the members increase their participation in family history related activities:
A Family Discovery Day Can Help • Inspire members in your area to take family names to the temple through talks by Elder Quentin L. Cook and Elder Neil L. Andersen
• Strengthen family ties—past, present, and future—with messages from Bonnie L. Oscarson, Linda K. Burton and Brother Tad R. Callister
• Protect youth and children with the promised blessings of participating in family history
• Help new converts and investigators to learn more about their own families and the eternal nature of all families through temple ordinances 
There are four steps for Stakes to get started:
1. Sign up your stake at www.lds.org/hostfair 2. Add the date to your stake calendar
3. Review the training and promotional materials at www.lds.org/planfair 4. Plan and host a fun and exciting family discovery day in your stake  
Support from the Family History Department includes:
• Prerecorded classes and lesson materials
• Customizable promotional materials
• Planning and technical guides
• Activities for all ages