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

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Thou Gracious God, whose mercy lends

Thou Gracious God, Whose Mercy Lends - Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Thou gracious God, whose mercy lends
The light of home, the smile of friends,
Our gathered flock thine arms enfold
As in the peaceful days of old.

Wilt thou not hear us while we raise
In sweet accord of solemn praise
The voices that have mingled long
In joyous flow of mirth and song?

For all the blessings life has brought,
For all the sorrowing hours have taught,
For all we mourn, for all we keep,
The hands we clasp, the loved that sleep.

The noontide sunshine of the past,
These brief, bright moments fading fast,
The stars that gild our darkening years,
The twilight ray from holier spheres.

We thank thee, Father; let thy grace
Our loving circle still embrace,
Thy mercy shed its heavenly store,
Thy peace be with us evermore.
Thy mercy shed its heavenly store,
Thy peace be with us evermore.

As we leave Annapolis, Maryland to return home after our mission, we will be eternally grateful for the people we have met and the love they have shown to us. We are especially thankful for our opportunity to serve in the Spa Creek Branch (Spanish Speaking) of the Annapolis Stake. I thought these words of Oliver Wendell Holmes were particularly appropriate. I am not sure any of the Branch members will ever see this post, but I do hope they realize what a great experience we had working with them for nearly an entire year. We hope to see them all again sometime.

We would also like to express our thanks to all those volunteers and missionaries who worked with us at the Maryland State Archives. They made the whole experience worthwhile. I truthfully can not understand how we could have done our work of digitizing without the combined effort of all the missionaries working together to solve the challenges and problems that arose.

We will remember you always. Here is another version with the King's Singers.

Thou Gracious God, Whose Mercy Lends - The King's Singers & the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

What are the "New Records" on FamilySearch?

Each month, I receive an updated email outlining the newly added records in the Historical Record Collections. Usually, the Digital Records column is all zeros. This month there are a few new digital records. Has FamilySearch stopped uploading new digital records? Absolutely not. I know that from first-hand experience digitizing records at the Maryland State Archives. But what is happening here?

Some time ago, FamilySearch made the decision to separate the announcement of new records by those that are indexed as opposed to those records that are only available as images. The image-only records are still being added to the website, but the list sent out each month mentions only those records that are indexed and thereby searchable. So where are all the unindexed records that are available?


I have been writing about this situation for the past couple of years and I still find that very few of the people I work with know that the bulk of the digitized records are only listed in the Catalog.
In short, you will find all of the records, including those in the Historical Record Collections, listed in the Catalog. Here is a short video I contributed to the Brigham Young University Family History Library YouTube Channel some time ago that explains how this works.

Where are the Digitized Records on - James Tanner

FamilySearch is still adding millions of new digital records, you just have to know where and how to look for them.

New Video Resources on the BYU Family History Library YouTube Channel
The Brigham Young University Family History Library has maintained a steady stream of new videos being uploaded to their YouTube Channel. Here are a few of the most recent offerings:

Using American Migration Patterns to Find Ancestors - James Tanner

Fuzzy Gazetteer by Barbara Starkey

Autosomal DNA Testing Plans - Paul Woodbury (1 Nov 2018)

What's Happening at the BYU FHL by Joe Everett

Ordinances Ready Family Search by Judy Sharp

We now have over 400 videos on almost every conceivable genealogical topic. If you find that YouTube is blocked, you may wish to view the videos directly from the BYU Family History Library Webinar Library. In the Webinar Library, you will find the videos listed by category.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Major Technological Advances Announced by MyHeritage

Gilad’s Keynote Address - MyHeritage LIVE - November 2018
In the image above, you can see only one of the fabulous technological advances discussed by Gilad Japhet, CEO of, at the MyHeritage LIVE Conference in Oslo, Norway. If you have the slightest interest in family history or genealogy, you need to listen to the entire presentation. I have reviewed many of the highlights of the presentation in my blog post on Genealogy's Stat, "Major Genealogical Advances Announced by MyHeritage." Please take the time to watch Gilad's presentation, but if not, then read my summary then you will probably want to watch the presentation.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

A Family History Mission: Coming to the End

No. 89

Note: You can do a Google search for "A Family History Mission James Tanner" to see all the previous posts in this ongoing series. You can also search for "James Tanner genealogy" and find them or click back through all the posts.

As the leaves fall and the temperatures drop here in Annapolis, Maryland, we come to the end of our one year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The entire experience has been significantly different than I expected. At the time of this post, we have only five more days working at the Maryland State Archives and that time will pass very quickly. We do have a few things left to do including a farewell dinner with the Washington, D.C. North Mission President and his wife and one more visit to the Annapolis Stake Family History Center. But essentially, our time here is finished. We also have a long drive back to Provo. On the way, we will stop off to visit with some of our children and their families, so it will be a time for transition and reflection.

Here are a few random thoughts about serving a Senior Mission.

Traditionally, Senior Missionaries served after "retirement." Since my retirement did not really have a specific date and I kept working at my usual 12 hour a day level, I never really felt like I was or am "retired" in any sense. I certainly have not focused on "leisure" activities. I am going back to Provo with the expectation of serving extensively in the Brigham Young University Family History Library, as a member of Board of Directors of The Family History Guide Association, and as member of the Board of Directors of Family History Expos. I am already scheduled to present at the Annual Yuma Family History Seminar on January 19, 2019 in Yuma, Arizona. I will also be attending the upcoming RootsTech 2019 Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. We have a long list of topics for classes and webinars for the BYU Family History Library that will be posted on the BYU Family History Library YouTube Channel..

Neither my wife nor I had any idea about how physically demanding digitizing documents all day, five days a week world be. I have never really had a regular 8:00 to 4:00 or 5:00 job five days a week in my life. Every job I have had has been flexible time. Of course, some times in the past, I have worked at two and three and even more jobs at the same time, but they were always somewhat flexible. The constant daily work takes quite an adjustment and we don't have much energy to do anything after work. We also have the usual overhead of daily living; buying food, car maintenance, cleaning the apartment, washing clothes, eating, etc. All of this takes time. I maintian my usual schecule of working 10 to 12 hours a day, but eight or nine of those hours are at the Archives.

Many missionaries have misgivings about leaving their families for a mission. I suppose that had we gone to another country, we would have had less contact with our children and grandchildren but by being in Maryland, we actually saw almost all of our children at one time or another and kept close contact by phone and online conferences. Our children live all over the United States and so they are used to traveling and almost all of them could come for a visit during our mission.

We have certainly enjoyed our association with the other Senior Missionaries serving here in Annapolis. I understand that some missionaries do not have the benefit of being assigned in a group of Senior Missionaries and I think that would be much more difficult. The support and friendship of the other missionaries has been wonderful.

In our particular assignment, we have had very limited contact with the young Full-time Missionaries. We have also had only limited contact with the Midshipmen from the Naval Academy. Other Senior Missionaries have had more contact. Early on, we decided to attend the Spa Creek Branch (Spanish Speaking). This has been one of the highlights of our mission. We have enjoyed the great fellowhip and friendship of the Branch members.

One of main activities we have had on our mission is the opportunity to help members of our Branch and others, including the Senior Missionaries, discover and find their ancestors. We joined the local Anne Arundel County Genealogical Society when we arrived and that has also given us an outlet for participating in genealogical activities. I have spent almost every Tuesday and Wednesday evening in the Annapolis Stake Family History Center and that has also resulted in a number of opportunities to help people find their ancestors.

During our mission, I have participated in several conferences, including one in Pennsylvania for FamilySearch and done several webinars for the BYU Family History Library. These have been significant contributions to our overall experience here in the Washington, D.C. North Mission.

I would strongly encourage all of our senior members of the Church to seriously consider serving either a full-time or part-time mission. You may have a vision of your retirement or older years that looks more like time in Sun City or Leisure World, but I can assure you that you will ultimately find those activities to be hollow and less fullfilling than serving a mission.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Official Statement on Ward Family History Organization

Please Note: 
I have found several references to the content of this letter online, but the language in Handbook 2 does not yet reflect this exact information. Unless your Stake and Ward leaders have received the referenced letter, I suggest waiting for further instructions. 

The changes in the Priesthood quorums of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has also affected the Ward organization of those involved in temple and family history. Here is a quote from a letter dated October 6, 2018, to General Authorities; General Auxiliary Presidencies; Area Seventies; Stake, Mission, and District Presidents; Bishops and Branch Presidents; Elders Quorum Presidencies; Stake and Ward Relief Society Presidencies from the Priesthood and Family Department, it
“When assigned these responsibilities, the elders quorum counselor responsible for member missionary work will act in the role of ward mission leader or will supervise a ward mission leader who is a Melchizedek Priesthood holder. Similarly, the other elders quorum counselor will act as the ward temple and family history leader or will supervise a Melchizedek Priesthood holder who is called to that responsibility. Whether a bishop calls a ward mission leader and a ward temple and family history leader or the counselors in the elders quorum presidency fill those roles is up to the inspired direction of each bishop.”

 “To facilitate priesthood-directed member missionary work and temple and family history work, the Relief Society presidency may follow the pattern of the elders quorum, with one counselor assigned to help with member missionary work and the other counselor assigned to help with temple and family history work.”

Additional clarification:
  • If neither elders quorum counselor takes the family history responsibility then a Melchizedek Priesthood holder is called, much like the ward mission leader, as the ward temple and family history leader. This is a calling made by a member of the bishopric and is sustained in Sacrament Meeting. 
  • The ward temple and family history leader does not replace the lead ward temple and family history consultant. That lead ward consultant calling can be filled by a sister or a couple. 
  • The ward temple and family history leader (or elders quorum counselor) has administrative responsibility to ensure ward consultants, including the lead, are called and trained, help motivate and make sure family history discussions are happening in the ward council.
  • Ward lead consultants, in addition to helping ward members one-on-one, train the new ward temple and family history consultants. They can call upon stake lead consultants for assistance if needed. 
  • It may be that the ward temple and family history leader could also be the lead consultant but would need to be a Melchizedek Priesthood holder and take on both sets of responsibilities. This is up to the bishop.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Update on the MyHeritage and FamilySearch Tree Synchronization

One of the most fantastic advances in online genealogy is the ability of the large family trees to share information with each other. At the 2017 RootsTech Conference, MyHeritage announced that they would be implementing a way to synchronize a family tree with the Family Tree. Unless you have been as involved as I have been with MyHeritage and FamilySearch, you cannot imagine how important this development would be. But after a short BETA testing phase, the program did not work well and was taken down.

A short time ago, I was once again contacted by MyHeritage about a BETA test of the tree synchronization program. After working with the Development Team from MyHeritage for a couple of weeks, I was finally able to get the process to work. There are still some things that need to be worked out, but this is a major step in resolving the issues I have with the Family Tree using the fabulous tools available on For example, I have 778 issues using the MyHeritage Tree Consistency Checker.

You can see, I have a LOT of work to do. I am not sure when the program will be generally available.