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

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Family History and Handbook 2

Clear back in about 1998, I recall when the General Church Handbooks of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were divided into two paper copies. Handbook 1 was distributed to Bishops and Stake Presidents and Handbook 2 had a wider distribution to various auxiliary heads and had some limited access to the members in general. In 2010, the Church began the transition from paper copies of the Church's Handbooks of Instruction to electronic copies. Eventually, the general membership of the Church was given open access to Handbook 2. Today, copies of the Handbook 2 are posted on and are available through the Gospel Library app on both iOS and Android devices.

There are specific sections of Handbook 2 that apply to the organization and functions of family history callings in the Church. With the very recent announcement of the change in the designation of Family History Consultants to Temple and Family History Consultants, those changes are already reflected in the wording of some of the online versions of the Handbook 2. Previously, there were three additional family history oriented handbooks: the Member's Guide to Temple and Family History Work, the Instructor's Guide to Temple and Family History Work and the Leader's Guide to Temple and Family History Work. Only the Leader's Guide is presently available online on However, in light of the letter of instruction dated February 9, 2017 there have been some changes to the Temple and Family History Callings in the Church that are not yet completely reflected in the Handbook of Instructions in PDF versions still online and in the Leader's Guide. It will obviously take some time for the changes to be applied to all of the versions of the publications, even though they are electronic. Just as in days past, older versions of the manuals and handbooks should be discarded.

The latest version of the description of Temple and Family History Callings is on The directions to the leaders of the Church are on on the page entitled, "Leader Resources for Family History." There is also a section on entitled, "My Family History Calling" with more specific instructions about family history and the callings of Temple and Family History Consultants.

Years ago, my wife and I were called as Stake Family History Consultants. Eventually, these Stake positions were discontinued although there are still some Stakes that have a Stake family history calling still in operation. However, the February 9, 2017 letter makes clear that the Stakes may now call various Stake Temple and Family History Consultants. Questions concerning these callings are addressed on the Frequently Asked Questions page for Family History on

In ancient times, the Children of Israel spent forty years in the desert for the purpose of instructing them about some fundamental changes that they otherwise would not accept. In our own day of almost instant electronic communication, it still seems to take a number of months and even years for some of the changes made by the Church to take effect and become generally adopted. Let's hope that it doesn't take forty years for the new family history changes to become generally available to the members.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Ethics, Leaks, Sources and Genealogy

A Deseret News article published on February 18, 2017, entitled, "MormonLeaks in the Age of Transparency" raises some difficult issues that bear directly on the information provided or not provided in the context of online family tree programs and especially the Family Tree.

Genealogists have been cautioned to maintain the personal privacy of the "living" while at the same time recognizing that the dead have no privacy claims. In most cases, the "privacy" of the living is partially maintained by online programs that mark living people and prevent the general dissemination of information about those so marked. But beyond this attempt at maintaining privacy, the inclusion or exclusion of any other information is left entirely up to the individual users.

But the core issue for both those who supply "leaked" information and for genealogists generally does not so much involve privacy as it does in providing sources. The online "leaks" websites maintain the governments and other large organizations should be "transparent" in their operations while at the same time claiming confidentiality for their own sources. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. If transparency is a positive virtue then transparency should work both ways. Why do the leaking organizations think that they need to keep their sources confidential? Obviously, for some of the same reasons that organizations, such as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints maintain the privacy of some aspects of their own internal business.

Why does this have anything to do with genealogy? Because we are in the business of acquiring and publishing information. As the article cited above points out about the information being obtained through MormonLeaks:
McKnight won't reveal who is providing the leaks to him other than to say it is more than one person. In fact, he said he doesn't know who they are. News consumers should consider that, said Kirtley, the Minnesota professor of ethics and law. 
"If you're interested in the content, then I think how the organization that posted it got it, might become a relevant issue, because how they got it could raise questions about the authenticity of the article, whether the material was being leaked for motives that might tend to skew your perception of what's there. You might for example get part of something that is not really representative of the whole but could be misconstrued. How do you know that if you can't as a reader judge who the source was who provides the material?"
This is the heart of the matter. How do we know if the information provided is reliable or not if we do not have a "source?" Exactly. This is the core issue with genealogy as it is portrayed in online family trees. For example, in my own family line I have a rather vocal "genealogist" who has entered some information about an ancestor without disclosing the origin of the information. The genealogist claims that she hired a "professional genealogist" who supports her conclusions but refuses to provide either the supporting documents or any other documents that might have been used to make the conclusion. The genealogist is, in effect, doing the same thing that is being done by the "Leaks" organizations, claiming that they are above the need to supply information about their sources.

In short, any information provided even in the context of genealogical research, that lacks a citation to the source is suspect and patently unreliable.

Sunday, February 19, 2017 products and services

One of the exhibits at RootsTech 2917 caught my eye because it was being run by some old friends from Mesa, Arizona. But the real interest came when the programs were explained to me. The first is an app called, "Called to Serve." Here is a screenshot of the app from the Apple App Store.

The next app is called MyMission.

They also produce a product called Missionary Display. All of these products are on the website. The programs look interesting, but there is little or no information on the website disclosing the owners or developers of the programs.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

For We Without Them Cannot Be Made Perfect

I have often reflected on Doctrine and Covenants 128:18 which indicates that our own salvation, both temporal and physical, is dependent on the temple ordinance work that we do for our kindred dead. Joseph Smith wrote:
I might have rendered a plainer translation to this, but it is sufficiently plain to suit my purpose as it stands. It is sufficient to know, in this case, that the earth will be smitten with a curse unless there is a welding link of some kind or other between the fathers and the children, upon some subject or other—and behold what is that subject? It is the baptism for the dead. For we without them cannot be made perfect; neither can they without us be made perfect. Neither can they nor we be made perfect without those who have died in the gospel also; for it is necessary in the ushering in of the dispensation of the fulness of times, which dispensation is now beginning to usher in, that a whole and complete and perfect union, and welding together of dispensations, and keys, and powers, and glories should take place, and be revealed from the days of Adam even to the present time. And not only this, but those things which never have been revealed from the foundation of the world, but have been kept hid from the wise and prudent, shall be revealed unto babes and sucklings in this, the dispensation of the fulness of times.
If there has been any time in history when there is an apparent curse on the world, then that time is now. At the same time, almost every day, I see wonders beyond wonders as records are made available and electronic devices and programs are developed that make the work of the salvation of the dead more immediately available. At the same time, I hear the "voice of warning" coming from God's disciples as is stated in the Doctrine and Covenants 1:4
And the voice of warning shall be unto all people, by the mouths of my disciples, whom I have chosen in these last days.
An explanation of this passage is contained in the following at page 1538.
Ludlow, Daniel H. 1992. Encyclopedia of mormonism. New York: Macmillan. 
In modern time as in antiquity, a solemn responsibility envelops both the messengers and those to whom the message is delivered. The Lord informed Ezekiel, "I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth and give them warning from me" (Ezek. 3:17). Only those who hearken to the warning are spared the punishments and receive the blessings. The messengers who deliver the message also save their own souls; if they fail to deliver the message they acquire responsibility for those whom they failed to warn-"[their] blood will I require at thine hand" (Ezek. 3:18-21). 
It is a covenant obligation of all who are baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ to "stand as witnesses of God at all times, and in all things, and in all places" (Mosiah 18:9). Once warned, "it becometh every man…to warn his neighbor" (D&C 88:81). The messengers who deliver the warning will be present at the day of judgment as witnesses (D&C 75:21; 2 Ne. 33:11; Moro. 10:34). The essence of missionary work is for each member of the Church to become a voice of warning to those who have not been warned (see DS 1:307-311). NEIL J. FLINDERS
As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we often apply this principle to the missionary work for the living, but less frequently to the work for the salvation of the dead.  Quoting from an article published in the Ensign for October 2014 written by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles from an address given at the seminar for new mission presidents on June 25, 2013:
At a solemn assembly held in the Kirtland Temple on April 6, 1837, the Prophet Joseph Smith said, “After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the Gospel.”1 
Almost precisely seven years later, on April 7, 1844, he declared: “The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us is to seek after our dead. The apostle says, ‘They without us cannot be made perfect’ [see Hebrews 11:40]; for it is necessary that the sealing power should be in our hands to seal our children and our dead for the fulness of the dispensation of times—a dispensation to meet the promises made by Jesus Christ before the foundation of the world for the salvation of man.”2 
Some individuals may wonder how both preaching the gospel and seeking after our dead can be simultaneously the greatest duties and responsibilities God has placed upon His children. My purpose is to suggest that these teachings highlight the unity and oneness of the latter-day work of salvation. Missionary work and family history and temple work are complementary and interrelated aspects of one great work, “that in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him” (Ephesians 1:10). 
I pray the power of the Holy Ghost will assist you and me as we consider together the marvelous latter-day work of salvation.
Why is it then that I encounter such a high degree of resistance among my fellow members of the Church to becoming involved in the vast work for the dead? 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Introducing BillionGraves Tree

One of the major benefits of going to the RootsTech Conference over the years has been the opportunity to meet and get to know some of the genealogy software developers from around the world. I have known the developers of for the past few years and watched the website grow from a small and interesting website into the huge, online genealogical powerhouse that it is today. Using the website, the employees and staff of will sometime this year (2017) finish digitizing the grave markers of all the cemeteries in Israel. At the end of this project, Israel will become the first country in the world to have all of their cemeteries online and digitized. See "We’re Halfway to Digitizing Every Cemetery in Israel."

Now, has added a new tool for those who have their genealogy on the Family Tree. This tool is the BillionGraves Tree. The BillionGraves Tree connects to your family tree and automatically searches billions of records to find the headstones for your ancestors.

The program is designed to soon work with both and Essentially, the BillionGraves Tree links to your Family Tree and automatically searches for grave marker information in its vast database and then allows you to add the information from the grave markers with the digitized photo with a few clicks. 

The red dots indicate that there is a potential match of a grave photo. When you click on the red dots you get a page asking you to confirm the match.

The BillionGraves Tree is one of the free services from the company.

The Family Nexus iPhone App

Genealogical mapping programs aren't new or that uncommon, but this new App called The Family Nexus is outstanding in its utility and ease of use. Basically, the app connects to your portion of the Family Tree, loads several generations of your ancestors and then displays the results in a zoomable map interface. Here is a video that illustrates how this mapping app works.

Introducing The Family Nexus Mobile App

I downloaded the app and waited a few minutes while it compiled the markers indicating where some event occurred in an ancestor or relative's life. Here is a screenshot of what I saw when I looked at the western United States.

When I zoomed in on Provo, Utah, I found that 14 events had occurred right here in Provo. 

When I clicked on the number, I got a specific list of each event and the person involved. 

The trickiest part of this was taking the screenshots with my iPhone. I showed this to my wife and we immediately realized that had we had this app during our trip to the Northeastern United States last year, we could have visited graves and other places of interest that we passed without knowing what had happened in that area. 

I will definitely be using this app. See

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Ultimate Family Tree Challenges: Consistency and Accuracy -- Part One

I start thinking about the problem

Let's pretend that we could somehow zoom out and look at the entire 1.1 billion entries in the Family Tree at the same time. Let's further imagine that we could filter our view of this huge expanse of names to show all of the inconsistent or inaccurate entries in blazing red while the rest of the tree was in some pleasing pastel color. How much of the Family Tree would be highlighted in blazing red?

At the recent RootsTech 2017 Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, introduced a new feature for all of its millions of user family trees. The feature was given the name of the Tree Consistency Checker. In addition, for some time now, the Family Tree has implemented a series of icons like this:

Now, there is no way for me to know how many of these pesky red Data Problems icons there are in my section of the Family Tree. But by using the Tree Consistency Checker I can see exactly how many errors and inconsistencies there are in my own family tree. The answer is a startling 726 errors. This is unsettling as well as discouraging, but not in any way surprising.

This experience at RootsTech started me thinking about how I was going to approach this monumental issue. My first attempts at "correction" lead to a virtual avalanche of related errors, inconsistencies, duplicate entries and other problems. One approach to the Family Tree issues is the utility program, Even if you don't have a family tree in, you can begin looking at the errors and inconsistencies by generations using the program. Here is what happens with my part of the Family Tree when the filter is set to one generation.

It may be some comfort to know that I have entered myself correctly into the program. The fatal flaw in both these error and consistency programs is that you could be making up all the names but neither program would be able to detect fraud or lying.

For example, the "Maud" person shown above in the Data Problems icon is so far removed from reality as to be inaccurate even if either her birth date or marriage date were changed. Such a person probably existed, but not at all likely on any of my family lines. The data problem shown on is a still-born infant who has been included in the Family Tree but not further identified.

But at this very basic, initial level, using the program complemented by the Tree Consistency Checker, gives me a couple of powerful and useful tools to start addressing my own issues in my portion of the Family Tree.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

LDS Family History Resources from #RootsTech 2017

RootsTech 2017 was a wonderful opportunity to learn about what is going on in the genealogy community and to learn more about family history in general. For those who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there were quite a number of classes and presentations targeted at this particular aspect of the Conference. Here are some links to classes and presentations that will be of interest to an LDS audience.

First, there are a lot of things of interest to anyone in the genealogical community.

See videos of each session at "Did You Miss a Session." There are full session videos and selected class videos for each day. I suggest the following

Bryan Austad
Building Powerful Youth Consultants

Crystal Farish; Rhonna Farrer
Family History is Anything but Boring

Anne Metcalf; Gregg Richardson
Getting Started with Finding Your Ancestors

Brian Braithwaite; Linda Gulbrandsen; Ryan Koelliker; Stephen Shumway
FamilySearch and Partners: Using All the Resources to Find Your Ancestors

Rod DeGiulio
Understanding Your Family History Calling

Diane Loosle
Begin at the Beginning 2017: Helping Others Love Family History

I also think it is a good idea to watch the entire Family Discovery Day presentations. However, these are on Here is the link to the RootTech Family Discovery Day 2017 presentations. But as I write this, the videos do not seem to be working. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Understanding Your Family History Calling

Understanding Your Family History Calling

This is the one most important instruction for all those who have family history callings in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is a worldwide change that affects all family history callings. I would suggest taking some time to view this video so you understand the new responsibilities and the new emphasis of the entire program of the Church. 

BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy and Youth Family History Camp

A more accessible alternative to RootsTech is the BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy. This year will be the 49th annual Conference. In addition, BYU has added the MyFamily, Youth Family History Camp.

The youth camp is held during the same time as the BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy. The 24th of July is a state holiday in Utah and everything closes down, but BYU starts the Youth Camp on the holiday anyway.

If you only have time or the resources to go to one conference, I think you will find that the BYU Conference is very genealogy oriented and has outstanding instructors.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Before RootsTech 2017

This is quite different than my usual photos. I took this the day before the RootsTech 2017 Conference opened in the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, Utah. I liked the arrangement of the boxes and the color highlights.

Basic Changes for Temple and Family History Consultants

The formerly called "Family History Consultants" have now been renamed "Temple and Family History Consultants" but the change involves much more than simply a change in names. The basic organization has also been changed. There are now callings at the Ward, Stake, and Area level. Here is the basic organizational chart as shown on See Callings-Organizations.

The Area Temple and Family History Consultants have the responsibility to teach the Stake Temple and Family History Consultants, who in turn should be teaching the Stake level officers and the Ward Temple and Family History Consultants. Then the Ward Temple and Family History Consultants should be teaching the Ward officers. The change involves adding a Stake Temple and Family History Consultants calling. In addition, the Temple and Family History Consultants can be called to a specific calling as Stake Family History Center Directors or as Stake Indexing Directors. Here are some resources that explain the new emphasis.
Please pass this along to any who need to know about these changes.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Family History Guide now an official FamilySearch Training Partner

Since I wrote my last blog post, The Family History Guide has been notified that it is now an official Training Partner of FamilySearch. This is a huge benefit to the users of The Family History Guide and also all those who have been in need of a structured, sequenced family history training program that addresses a broad spectrum of users from the very new beginner to more advanced researchers.

For the past three days, we have been teaching here at RootsTech 2017 and because I am wearing a shirt with the website logo, I have gotten a significant number of positive comments about how the website has benefitted a user. It has been an adventure.

The Family History Guide at RootsTech 2017

This photo shows a quiet moment at The Family History Guide booth at RootsTech 2017. This is early in the day before over 20,000 people will flood this area and keep all of the people at the booth busy all day until the end of the Conference. It has been an interesting experience listening to all the people who have had their genealogical lives impacted by this extraordinary website. We have had a number of very interesting connections that could potentially expand The Family History Guide's influence significantly.

Remember that The Family History Guide is an app in the App Gallery and is linked from the training on the website.

Title of Family History Consultants Changed

In an unexpected development during RootsTech 2017, the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced that the titles of the former Family History Consultants are being changed to "Temple and Family History Consultants" at all levels; ward, stake, and area.

Here is a quote from the news story on;
The change was announced both in a February 9, 2017, official notice and by Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during a leadership training session Thursday evening held in the Conference Center Theater. Elder Cook explained that the name change will help members to remember to “always work with the end in mind” and encouraged leaders to remind teach members about the blessings promised to them as they do family history. 
Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Ruth Renlund, used chopsticks to illustrate that both missionaries and members need to work together to accomplish the work. “Two chopsticks working together can simply accomplish what one chopstick cannot,” Elder Renlund said.
The emphasis of the new title is further explained in a letter sent to General Authorities; Area Seventies; Stake, Mission, and District Presidents; Bishops and Branch Presidents:
Primary responsibility: The primary responsibility of all temple and family history consultants is to give personalized help to leaders and families, enabling them to find the names of deceased ancestors, take the names to the temple and provide necessary ordinances for them, and teach their family members and others to do the same. 
For more information see Temple and Family History Callings.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Report from #RootsTech 2017

Even if you didn't make it to Salt Lake City, Utah to visit RootsTech 2017, you can still watch selected parts of the Conference live online. Click on the link to RootsTech 2017 and then click on the live feed. That's all there is to watching the conference proceedings. All times are Mountain Daylight Time.

I will be starting today with the Innovators Summit and talking and visiting classes. The rest of the week, I will be most presenting short classes at The Family History Guide booth and at the booth.

I will be writing back and forth between my Genealogy's Star blog and this one for the rest of the week, but I will try not to duplicate too much of what I write. You might want to check both blogs.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

This week at RootsTech 2017

Today I begin the conferences. I start with the BYU Family History Technology Workshop at the university in Provo, Utah. This evening, I will be meeting with the Ambassadors in Salt Lake City, Utah at the Salt Palace for our beginning of the RootsTech 2017 Conference. I will be mostly helping with presentations at The Family History Guide booth and at the Booth. Look for me at those booths or at the Media Booth for the Ambassadors. See you there.

BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy 2017

I fully realize that we are entering the week of RootsTech 2017, but for those of you who would like to attend a quality genealogy conference but can't make it to RootsTech, I strongly suggest the BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy. This is the 49th year that this conference has been held on the Brigham Young University Campus in beautiful Provo, Utah. Unless you are a winter sports enthusiast, Provo in July is much nicer to visit than Salt Lake City in the middle of the Winter.

The emphasis of the conference is on genealogy and the presenters are exceptionally well qualified. The Conference is being held in the BYU Conference Center. Unfortunately, the Center is undergoing a major expansion and there will still be construction activities at the time of the Conference. But BYU has made arrangements to minimize the effects of the construction with special provisions for parking.

The 49th annual BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy will offer more than 100 classes, allowing participants to gain new skills and helpful information. Class topics include:
  • Youth and Genealogy
  • LDS Family History Callings
  • FamilySearch Family Tree
  • DNA Research
  • Google Genealogy
  • ICAPGen
  • U.S. Research
  • Methodology
  • International Research
  • Scandinavian Research

Monday, February 6, 2017

Even More About Data Problems in the FamilySearch Family Tree

The Family Tree is like a very old house that is in the process of being remodeled. The original contents of the Family Tree are a huge accumulation of years of submissions for over a hundred years. Added to that original pile are all the submissions made to the program and now the Family Tree. Unfortunately, this "remodeling" effort is going on while we live in the house, i.e. keep using the Family Tree. We need to keep reminding ourselves that we bought this house (Family Tree) without a home warranty and without even a prior-to-occupancy home inspection.

The first order of business when beginning this remodeling effort is to assess the condition of the premises. Likewise, with the Family Tree, anyone approaching the information already present needs to be examining that information carefully. Just as you cannot assume that there are not a few hidden defects in an old house, you cannot blissfully assume that everything in your part of the Family Tree is either complete or accurate. Let me give several examples from my portion of the Family Tree.

I will start with four family lines; the Tanners, the Parkinsons, the Oversons, and the Jarvis families. These are the surnames of my four great-grandparents. The process begins with my own personal record and for this illustration, I will avow that I have carefully examined the entries for my parents and grandparents. My task is to look at each person in each of the lines and see where that particular line "ends" because of lack of information or entries that have serious data errors. My personal rule here is that any entry without supporting source citations is suspect. Of course, as I go back in time on my family lines, the number of surnames (i.e. family lines) doubles with each generation. But for this example, I will stick to the four surname lines above. I have to admit that I have already gone through this process so I have a pretty good idea where the lines end and the fantasy world begins.

First one up is the Tanner line. Moving back generation by generation and after carefully examining all of the sources, I find that the line ends with Francis Tanner, b. 1708, d. 1777. Why is this the case? There is not one source listed connecting Francis Tanner to his father other than a reference to a book that has no supporting sources listed. Traditionally, the Tanner line goes on for one more generation (or several more with what is in the Family Tree) but no one has ever found any record substantiating Francis Tanner's parents. If I need any justification for this opinion, all I have to do is look at his "father" William Tanner. Presently, the Family Tree shows him born in Chipstead, Surrey, England in 1657 and shows the line going back in England. However, there are no records showing any connection between William Tanner in Rhode Island and anyone in England. In addition, the dates for William Tanner and his three wives don't make any sense at all. End of Line.

The next line to examine is the Parkinsons. I have done extensive research on the Parkinson line in conjunction with one of my daughters and her husband who is also a Parkinson. This line effectively ends with Charles Parkinson, b. 1766, d. 1846. We have no documentation connecting him to his father in the Family Tree. In fact, the Family Tree presently shows that Charles' birth date is two years before the date recorded for his parents' marriage date and there are no records either supporting his birth date or the identity of his parents. End of Line.

The Overson line goes back to Denmark, so the surname is really Ovesen (but there is some record of the name being Oveson, with an "o" in Denmark). The line effectively ends at the immigrant, Jens Andreas Ovesen. The dates and places beyond that are so confused as to be indecipherable. The main problems is that the children listed are all ove the place in different parishes. End of Line.

The last line in this example is the Jarvis line. This is easy. Charles Godfrey DeFriez Jarvis, b. 1855, d. 1919, changed his name from DeFriez to Jarvis. So he is really a DeFriez. The DeFriez line goes back to Marcus Mordecai Jacob DeVries in the Netherlands, but there no real documentation at this point to connect the family in England to the one the Netherlands. End of Line.

If you follow this analysis on every line, you will soon see that the old data in the Family Tree is in a dire need of remodeling. So it is time to get out the "detach" tool and to mix metaphores, prune the tree.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Comments on What's New on FamilySearch for January 2017

Unless you are watching carefully and subscribed to the FamilySearch Blog, you will likely miss the new developments in the Family Tree program. Some of the changes are also subtle and might go unnoticed unless you are constantly using the program. This month is headlined by a very useful improvement to the Family Tree. When you are searching for historical records in the Historical Record Collections, the program now visually identifies those records that you have already attached to individuals in your part of the Family Tree. Here is a screenshot showing the icons that indicate records that are already attached.

This may seem like a small thing, but those of us who have to click on the suggested records to see if they are already attached will find this to be very convenient and a time saver.

Next, the Memories section has been redesigned to have an "Overview" link to what is essentially the startup page. FamilySearch has also added a "List View" to the items in your memories section. Here is a screenshot of my Gallery's list view.

This is a much more efficient way to view the Gallery when you have a large number of entries.

There is also a note that the web-based edition of the Indexing program "will be rolled out in 2017." The program is still in Beta right now. I got to see the demo version for a short look and I hope that the prediction of the program's release is accurate. I understand that there will not yet be smartphone support, which locks out all those of us who do a major portion of our computer usage on smartphones.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

History and Use of the International Genealogical Index (IGI) -- Part Three

The International Genealogical Index (IGI) was not completely available online until 2012. At that time, it was added to the Historical Record Collections. It is easily located by doing a title search from the Historical Record Collections search page. Here is a screenshot showing a search for the IGI.

The IGI search page has selections for searching either the Community Contributed IGI or the Community Indexed IGI or both. If I just select the Community Contributed IGI and do a search for one of my ancestors, here are the results. I will search for my Great-grandfather, Henry Martin Tanner, by entering his name in the search fields as shown below and unchecking the Community Indexed IGI.

Here are the results.

The results here illustrate that entries in the IGI can be duplicated a number of times. The first four results are references to my ancestor. There are also additional references to him down in the list. The FamilySearch search engine also picks up references to "Martin Henry Tanner" who is my cousin and a source of confusion with Henry Martin Tanner, my Great-grandfather. The duplicate entries represent multiple submissions of the same individuals. As a note, the IGI information has been included in the currently available Family Tree and the duplicate entries in the Family Tree came, in part, from this initial duplication.

At this point, the real issue is whether or not you can find a reference to the original document that was used to create the IGI entry. The best source for detailed information about the origin, structure, and content of all of the various forms of the IGI is the following book.

Jaussi, Laureen Richardson. Genealogy Fundamentals. Orem, Utah (284 East 400 South, Orem 84058): Jaussi Publications, 1994.

When you click on one of the results from the search illustrated previously, here is a sample of the page you might get.

The entry at the bottom of the page on the left with the arrow pointing is the IGI Film number. This number can be used to find the microfilm record of the "original" IGI microfilm roll. You can search with the numbers in the Catalog. Here is a screenshot of the results of such a search.

In this case, these original microfilms are in the Family History Library, Special Collections and have access limited to members with temple recommends and you will likely have some additional research to do with the original microfilm in your search for the source records.

From time to time, you may find one of the following types of entries in the Family Tree:

If you see this notice, then you should click on the link to learn more. You will then be taken to the following page:

As you can see, there is a lot of information that goes along with the IGI.

Here is the link to read the previous posts in this series.

Friday, February 3, 2017

History and Use of the International Genealogical Index (IGI) -- Part Two

The International Genealogical Index (IGI) is an index. This means that it is not an "original" source for the information contained in the compilation, but essentially an organized list of records. Since this huge index was first created on the GIANT program, it has since been incorporated into the genealogical database collections called the Historical Record Collections on the website. See the web page entitled, "International Genealogical Index (IGI)." The IGI contains 892,761,439 records.

There are two main components of the IGI. The first part is designated as the "Community Contributed IGI" and consists of family information submitted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Here is a description of the Community Contributed IGI from the Research Wiki.
Community Contributed IGI (approximately 430 million names) represents a set of records submitted to the church for which no historical record collection source is known. Some of these records came directly from original sources. For a short period of time duplication in the IGI was reduced by removing records from the indexed data when these records were submitted by the community, but the original collection annotation was lost. The majority of the records may contain data from multiple sources. To do an exhaustive search for your ancestor you should choose to search the Community Contributed IGI from the IGI collection details page and then follow the process outlined on the Family Search Wiki IGI page to determine if the record you find was part of an indexed collection.
The second part is designated as "Community Indexed IGI." Here is a quote concerning the content of this part of the IGI from the IGI Search Page.
The indexed data has been organized into the original collections from which it was transcribed and resides in the Historical Records system. To see a list of all collections available choose Browse All Published Collections from the home screen. The Community Indexed search from this page searches ONLY the records that were part of the old IGI. Most of these collections have had many more records added to them. To do an exhaustive search for your ancestors you should choose to use the search form on the home screen.
Here is another quote from the Research Wiki explaining the content of the Community Indexed IGI.
Community Indexed IGI (approximately 460 million names) is a set of records transcribed directly from source material and submitted to the church. The indexed data that was part of the IGI has been organized into its original source collections from which it was transcribed and it now resides in the Historical Records system. The Community Indexed IGI search from the IGI collection details page searches ONLY the indexed records that were part of the old IGI. To do an exhaustive search for your ancestors in all available historical records (over 3 billion names that includes the old indexed IGI records) you should choose to use the search form on the home screen. To see a list of all published collections available choose All Record Collections from the home screen.
 There is a web page in the Research Wiki entitled, "International Genealogical Index Coverage," that lists the contents of the IGI by country and by state in the United States as of July 1998. However, index records were added to the IGI through December 2008.

It is important to understand that the IGI has a number of record collections. The indexed entries from the IGI are treated the same as indexed records from any other source and they are published by county or state (parish or county) and organized into the record collections they were transcribed from. Some of the idiosyncrasies of the IGI include the following:
  • Burials and death records were not indexed unless they applied to children who died before the age of 8.
  • Illegitimate infants who died young were not indexed.
  • Many extracted entries have been redacted because FamilySearch does not have permission to publish these records online; these entries can now only be viewed on the microfiche and CD-ROM versions of the IGI.
  • In England, entries before 1752 followed no standards for double-year entries dated between January and March.
Before going much further, it is important to realize the limitations of indexes. The entries in the IGI should not be considered completely reliable. Any information obtained from a search of the IGI should be verified by looking in the original sources. 

Here is the link to read the previous post.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

History and Use of the International Genealogical Index (IGI) -- Part One

An often overlooked part of the website is the Search Genealogies section. This section is found under the Search Tab on the website's startup page. Here is a screenshot of the dropdown menu:

These resources have been separated from the Historical Record Collections because they are "compiled or contributed" records. If you have been using the Family Tree for a while, you may have seen a source added by FamilySearch that references the IGI. For many years, the IGI was considered to be one of the most valuable resources and finding aids for doing research in England. To understand its present value and use, it is imperative to also understand its origin.

My summary here of the history of the International Genealogical Index is based on the following book:

Allen, James B, Jessie L Embry, and Kahlile B Mehr. Hearts Turned to the Fathers: A History of the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1894-1994. Provo, Utah: BYU Studies, Brigham Young University, 1995.

The IGI has its origins in the attempts made by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to record the ordinances performed in their temples. See Gospel Topics: Temples. One of the difficulties encountered in the process of recording these ordinances was the persistent issue of duplication. As early as 1894, the Church recognized the need to keep adequate records and also recognized that there was a problem with ordinances being duplicated in different temples, mostly because of the difficulties involved in communication during these early years. Members living in different geographic areas were doing the same research and submitting the same names to the temples due to this inability to communicate easily or at all.

In 1927 the Church began a centralized index of the temple ordinances performed in the temples, which was ultimately called the Temple Index Bureau or TIB. This index was kept on 3" x 5" cards in file drawers like an old library catalog. There is no real need to review the details of the evolution of the various programs and records created to record the temple ordinances and to avoid duplication. Suffice it to say, that over the years, the problem of detecting and resolving duplicate submissions remained as one of the most perplexing challenges in the record keeping process.

With the advent of computers, the Church began to look at ways to computerize the vast amount of information that had been accumulated. In 1961, the First Presidency of the Church approved using electronic records processing for the first time and by 1962 the move to computerize the records was underway. The task of computerizing the TIB was too overwhelming to consider at that time but at the same time, the Church began the process of extracting names from original, microfilmed records. The original program was called the Records Tabulation program (R-Tab). Although records from other locations were included, most of the records were extracted from British parish registers.

In 1969, the Chuch introduced a comprehensive computer system called GIANT. The program included the records in the Record Tabulation program as well as names manually submitted by the members. Eventually, the master file from the GIANT system was output to microfiche. This huge microfiche-based list was at first called the Computer File Index or CFI. Later compilations from the GIANT system on microfiche, the fourth edition, were called the International Genealogical Index or IGI.

The IGI continued to grow. In 1975 the IGI contained 34 million names. In 1981 the IGI had grown to 81 million names. By 1984 it had 147 million names and in 1992 the total had increased to 187 million names. Because of its focus on British records, it became the most valuable index of British records in existence. In 1988, some of the records were put on CDs and sold to the public. By 1993, the IGI was possibly the largest name indexed record in existence in the entire world.

Quoting from the book Hearts Turned to the Fathers cited previously on pages 318 - 319, by 1992 the IGI contained the following classes of records:
The 1992 edition of the IGI on microfiche was totally new product including 187 million names, not only from the Mass File in GIANT (162.5 million) but also from other ordinance files: pre-1970 temple records created by the Family Record Extraction Program (17.5 million), records from the Family Entry System (4.5 million) and Completed Ordinance File records created by the Ordinance Recording System (2.5 million). 
When was created prior to its staged introduction across the Church, the developers included the IGI as part of the records included in the program. This same huge database was then carried over to the currently used Family Tree program. Some users of the Family Tree will see source references to the IGI in their source listings for ancestors in the Family Tree.

Stay tuned for the next installment of this post.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Data Problems in the FamilySearch Family Tree

Apparently, reality has escaped some of the genealogical researchers over the years. This is a rather common slice of the data still to be corrected on the Family Tree. Here is an example of one of those bright red Data Problem Icons.

I can only wonder what the person who entered this information was thinking (or not thinking). Chronology was not a strong point among our ancestors who were doing "the work for their kindred dead." As a matter of fact, kindred was not a strong point either.  Here are a couple of entries from this same section of the Family Tree:

Maybe you thought the "living dead" (zombies) were a new phenomena. It looks like some of my ancestors fell into this category. All this would be passably amusing were it not for the fact that this mess represents a huge amount of work cleaning up the lines before I even get to these problems. By the way, I found all this in about three seconds of clicking back on a randomly chosen ancestral line. I didn't have to guess very much to choose which line to search.

In case no one has told you, these red icons mean serious problems. They are not there to add festive color to your section of the Family Tree. Any attempt at "fixing" these problems needs to begin many generations earlier than this particular level. You cannot, under any circumstances, begin to "fix" this mess without carefully working through each of your lines beginning with someone who has been carefully documented and can act as a firm anchor for moving back generation by generation.

The worst part of the mess illustrated above is that unsophisticated users of the program of all ages but primarily youth, are encouraged to "look for the green icons" without qualification. Here is a screenshot of the same section of the Family Trees showing a green temple icon in the middle all this mess.

Fortunately, in this case, clicking on the green icon shows the following message:

The red icons do not even begin to indicate all of the data problems that exist in this section of the Family Tree. Just in case you are not aware of the resources already available that address these issues, here is a link to the page outlining the data problems addressed by the red icons:

Fixing Data Problems in Family Tree

I thought it might be a good idea to copy the list of data problems identified by the red icons. The list below comes from the page linked above. The list is in a table with three columns. The first is the name of the data problem as it appears when you click on the icon. The second is a brief description and the third is a yes or no indicating whether or not the issue can be ignored because of special circumstances. 

Data Problems
  • Birth after Father's Death: The birth year of the child is later than the death year of the father. No
  • Birth after Mother's Child-Bearing Years: The birth year of the child is after the mother turned 52, which is normally the end of child-bearing years. Yes
  • Birth after Mother's Death: The birth year of the child is later than the death year of the mother. No
  • Birth before Father Could Have Children: The birth year of the child is before the father was 12 years of age. No
  • Birth before Mother Could Have Children" The birth year of the child is before the mother was 12 years of age. Yes
  • Born after Married: The birth year of the person is after the marriage year. No
  • Born after Spouse's Death: The birth year of the person is after the death year of the spouse. No
  • Child Born before Father: The birth year of the child is before the birth year of the father. No
  • Child Born before Mother: The birth year of the child is before the birth year of the mother. No
  • Child Death before Father: The death year of the child is before the birth year of the father. No
  • Child Death before Mother: The death year of the child is before the birth year of the mother. No
  • Death before Birth Year :The death year of the person is before the birth year. No
  • Death before Spouse Was Born: The death year of the person is before the birth year of the spouse. No
  • Death Year before Marriage: The death year of the person is before the marriage year. No
  • Died Too Young for Marriage or Children: The person has marriage or children information, but the death year shows the person as 8 years of age or younger. Yes
  • Male or Female Is Required: You must specify the sex of this person. No
  • Looping Pedigree: This person has a child who is also listed as a parent. See Solving a pedigree looping problem in Family Tree (56206). No
  • Married before 12 Years Old: The marriage year for one spouse shows the person was less than 12 years of age at the time of marriage. Yes
  • Missing Standardized Event Date or Place: A date or place for an event, such as birth, marriage, or death, is not standardized. See Entering standardized dates and places (71996). To recommend additions to the standardized place list, see Recommending an addition to standardized places (53683). No
  • Person over 120 Years Old: The death year is more than 120 years after the birth year. No
  • Possible Duplicate Child: Information about 2 or more children is similar:
  • Name is the same.
  • Birth year is the same or missing.
  • Death year is the same or missing.
  • Living status is the same. See Finding and merging possible duplicate records in Family Tree (53952). Yes
  • Possible Duplicate Spouse: Information about 2 or more spouses is similar:
  • Name is the same.
  • Birth year is the same or missing.
  • Death year is the same or missing.
  • Living status is the same. See Finding and merging possible duplicate records in Family Tree (53952). No