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

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Ultimate FamilySearch Family Tree Dilemma

The most difficult decisions we face often involve a two or more apparently equally good or beneficial options. During the past few months, my immediate family members which include my wife and my children and their spouses have been discussing a complex problem we face with the Family Tree. Coincidentally, one of my regular commentators left an extremely well-written summary of the same problem. Here is the comment which is attached to the post entitled, "Are we still stuck on Green Icons?"
Your comments here go along, somewhat, with a bit of a quandary I find myself in. I have recently completed the project of going through my wife’s ancestors in Family Tree, all Norwegian and Swedish, back eight generations on all lines cleaning up names and places and attaching all the historical sources in Family Search and in the Norwegian and Swedish Digital Archives. This has included the ancestors, all their additional spouses, all their children, and all their children’s spouses. This has taken about four years. We have been working on her family far longer than that, of course, and I have gotten really good in Norwegian research.

In this process, we have added sufficient names to her temple reservation list to keep us and our adult children busy even though we have never taken anything other than family names to the temple since shortly after we got married years ago. We have no need to add any more to her reservation list. 
Also in this process, I have seen where the descendants of these ancestors continue on, which records have been covered by extraction projects, and which have not. 
I feel it would not be an exaggeration and not too immodest to say that that because of all this work, I could pick almost any one of her ancestors, start descendancy research, and have several hundred individual with good, complete, well sourced Family Tree records with green icons with a few months of work. 
So my quandary is, what do I do? 
Start researching just because I find it a fascinating, stimulating, enjoyable intellectual exercise akin to putting together a jigsaw puzzle (I won’t say fun, having read your blogs about that particular term) and rob the descendants of these cousins of my wife of the opportunity to find their ancestors through real research? 
Or do I find other things to do in Family Tree and let the descendants of these people do the research themselves someday, if ever? 
When I have completed large blocks of families and have added dozens of green icons to the tree, does my wife submit them all to the temple to be sure the work is done, thereby depriving their descendants of the opportunity to “find” them and do the temple work themselves? Since they would all share a common ancestor with my wife, my wife is authorized to do that. 
Or do I just leave all the green icons to reinforce for anyone stumbling along these lines that Family Tree is full of green icons just waiting to be found? 
Any thoughts?
My first thought is that there is only an extremely small percentage of those involved in working on the Family Tree that face this issue at all.  But ultimately, it is the most serious issue that we have encountered so far in working on the Family Tree. I also realize that because of its specialized nature, this problem is not something that can even be imagined by some researchers. We also realize that serious researchers are currently being almost totally ignored by family history promotional efforts.

I am guessing, but I believe that a very small percentage of those working on the Family Tree are producing the vast majority of the substantiated and sourced names being submitted to the temples.

As genealogical researchers, rather than mere green icon searchers, we can see an almost unlimited opportunity to generate "names to take to the temples." We are also well aware of the time and distance limitations as well as other commitments that prevent us from spending all our time attending the temples. In fact, if we spent all our time attending the temples, we would not be spending all our time doing genealogical research. So there is a trade off and we need to remember moderation in all things.

However, the issue raised in the comment and the discussion we are having is not an illusory problem. It is real.

When the Family Tree was finally approaching being fixed and workable, our family began to do serious research into all of our family lines. Within a short time, we were generating more names than it was practical for us to do as a family and we began sharing names with anyone interested enough to attend the temple. But that has its limitations. Our friends and family members all have their own sources of names from their own families.

Let me emphasize one very important point. We are not "name gatherers. " We do not fall into that category of people who simply copy names out of books and records indiscriminately adding anyone with the same surname or even anyone in an entire census record. I am fully aware that such abuses of the program exist. These people are usually easy to detect because they have thousands of names in their temple file. We provide detailed source citations and where appropriate, explanations for everything we do. I further believe that these "name gatherers" produce a significant percentage of the names currently being submitted to the temples, but that is another issue altogether.

We have not yet come to a consensus conclusion about the issue raised by the comment. We are not sure that generating green icons is a solution. We are not sure that turning more and more names over to the temples will help turn the hearts of the children to their fathers. We see little distinction between doing an unrelated "family submitted" name and the name extraction program. We could make a more informed decision if we knew exactly how many names were needed by the temples to remain in operation and whether or not the supply currently meets or exceeds the demand.

We also realize that by doing extensive research into our family lines we are "in a sense" depriving other family members of the same experience. But we also are realistic and realize that so far, almost none of our more distant family members are doing similar research.

My reaction, for a very long time, has been to do research for other people of my choosing with whom I am not particularly related. This activity, which I have been doing for years, has been recently codified as the "Find, Take, Teach" program. I spend most of my time helping others. If I need a few more names for family members to use to take to the temple, I do some more research on my own family lines and generate a few more names. By spreading out my research efforts, more people benefit from taking family names to the temples and every once and awhile, someone becomes interested in doing their own research.

So, I guess my answer to my commentator and to everyone is when you have enough of your own names, start helping and teaching those around you.

1 comment:

  1. My understanding is that many temples have almost no backlog of names for proxy baptisms, but huge backlogs of names for endowments and sealings. Obviously, this is because an individual's baptism takes far less time than do the other ordinances, and there is a larger pool of church members able to do proxy baptisms. It is also my understanding that there are larger backlogs of male names than for female names.

    As you noted, it would be very helpful if the Church could provide official, regularly updated, statistics on this.