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

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Do Sunday School Classes about Genealogy really help?

I have had the same discussion with dozens of Family History Consultants of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints about the efficacy of the classes taught in Sunday School to motivate members to begin researching their family history. Nearly in every case, the Family History Consultants express frustration that teaching the classes seems to have very little effect on the active participation of the members of the classes in the actual activity of seeking out their ancestors. It is clear to me that what is missing is the practical "how to" of beginning the work of becoming involved with and the Family Tree program.

In my own experience, I have helped with the "Family History Classes" in Sunday School for many years with the same lack of success. A couple of years ago, in our Ward, we decided to try something different. We have a small classroom with some computers that is not really a Family History Center and we decided to invite the members to the "classroom" every Sunday to receive one-on-one help with their research. It took a few weeks before we had anyone come to our "class" but slowly more and more people came. Presently, when we are there to help, we have Sundays when there is standing room only in the class. Extra chairs are full and we literally run out of space. We have actually spoken to the Bishop about adding another classroom where we could set up some laptop computers each Sunday.

What is the difference? The classes are motivational and are necessary for new members of the Church and those needing that type of instruction. But the standard classes do not give any instruction about how to find your ancestors or the mechanics of entering names in the Family Tree program or correcting entries. What is most needed is mentoring. That is, one-on-one help working through research issues and problems. In this, many Family History Consultants do not feel qualified to help and therefore avoid putting themselves in the position of providing that service.

This problem will not go away. As long as people are "called" to do Family History work and instruction, there will always be a need for them to learn their duty.
“Wherefore, now let every man learn his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all diligence. 
“He that is slothful shall not be counted worthy to stand, and he that learns not his duty and shows himself not approved shall not be counted worthy to stand.” (D&C 107:99–100.)
But this is only part of the problem. The real issue is changing the way that Family History is taught and implemented in the Wards. If you carefully study the newest videos and talks coming from the leaders of the Church, you will realize that the message is to take Family History into the homes of the members and help them individually and as families to understand how to do the work, not just why to do the work. This model of Family History teaching is entirely different than that of the past.

In talking to one of my brother-in-laws recently who is a Ward Family History Consultant, he said that in their current round of classes, they incorporate several visits to their local FamilySearch Center as part of the class. If the Family History Consultant does not feel capable of teaching the practical aspects of Family History, then why no do like my brother-in-law and use the resources of the local FamilySearch Center?

This might be a way to get Family History moving in your Ward instead of having a part-time job teaching a Sunday School class once or twice a year.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Beauty and Purpose of Mormon Temples

This past week, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced the open house and dedication dates for the Gilbert Arizona Temple, the next temple the Church will open. The Church currently operates 141 temples around the world. In conjunction with this event, the Church's News Room has released Mormonism in Pictures, featuring photos of Mormon temples and discussing the role they play in the lives of Church members. To review this lovely collection of photos see:

Mormonism in Pictures: The Beauty and Purpose of Mormon Temples

I have been watching the construction of the Gilbert Temple and I am happily anticipating the Open House. It is always a good thing to have events that help us remember one of our basic motivations for doing family history. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Technology as part of the future of the LDS Church

I was reminded of a quote from Brigham Young about the changes in technology in the latter days. Here is the quote from an article by Archibald F. Bennett in 1952:
'Sister Susa Young Gates..once asked her father (Brigham Young) how it would ever be possible to accomplish the great amount of temple work that must be done, if all are given a full opportunity for exaltation. He told her there would be many inventors of labor saving devices, so that our daily duties could be performed in a short time, leaving us more and more time for temple work. The inventions have come, and are still coming, but many simply divert the time gained to other channels, and not for the purpose intended by the Lord.' (Archibald F. Bennett, Improvement Era, Oct. 1952, p. 720)
 Now, I suppose Brother Bennett would be even more convinced of the wonderful changes if he could have seen iPads and smartphones. We now have the technology and it is increasing in its capacity to enlarge the work, but where are the workers? If ease of use equated to more involvement, we should have many more people actively involved in researching their families.

I think part of the key to answering this question is difficulty of integrating that same technology into the social structure of the Church. How many people in any given Ward use regularly? How many of those same people have looked at Why am I still regularly teaching High Priest Group Leaders and Stake Presidencies how to get onto and Many of the Priesthood quorums of the Church are still at the level of trying to get the quorum members to do their home teaching. Moving beyond that level to learning a new technology has yet started to happen in many Wards I visit around the Church.

The core research of family history is still being done primarily by a small dedicated subculture. Even in this dedicated group, the advanced technology is not always looked on as a benefit to the work, but is viewed as a challenge and a burden. In order for the technology to do what Brigham Young predicted, the culture of the Church has to move towards that technology so that it is not something from the "outside" of the culture imposing on the members rather than helping them.

President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) echoed this sentiment when he expressed his belief that the Lord will inspire new inventions to help us in advancing His work: 

“I feel that when we have done all in our power that the Lord will find a way to open doors. That is my faith. …

“… I believe that the Lord is anxious to put into our hands inventions of which we laymen have hardly had a glimpse” (“When the World Will Be Converted,” Ensign, Oct. 1974, 7, 10). The Lord will provide the means. [6.1.2]

Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke of the many individuals who were developing new and more efficient computer technology to simplify our work in family history: “Many brilliant minds and sensitive hearts have harnessed advanced technology to provide personal computer helps to simplify family history work” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1990, 4; or Ensign, Nov. 1990, 6).

Now that we have the tools, what are we going to do with them?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Answering question about Temple names submission

From time to time I get questions involving the submission of names to the Temple. Sometimes these questions involve the mechanics of printing the cards from a Family Ordinance Request form, but most of the time the questions involve policies for either performing the ordinances or which ancestors can be submitted. Consistently, I try to direct all of these inquiries to the Help Center. Here is a screenshot showing the location of the link called Get Help:

If you want to get help with questions about the Temple, you must be signed in with an LDS Account. Clicking on the link brings up the following screen:

Further help screens are located under the listing of "Product Support." In this instance, information about the Temple is a product. If you click on the Product Support link, you get the following screen:

Now you can see the link to the Help page for the Temple related questions. Clicking on that screen gives you the following:

You can scroll down that same page to get the following:

If you find a topic that answers your question, you can click on the title. If you have a question you cannot find in the list, you can type an inquiry into the form.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Blogging and the LDS Genealogical Community

Because of the religious doctrinal connection between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and genealogy, most of the membership have a general awareness of the need to seek out their ancestors. However, there is a basic disconnect between the general Church population and the genealogical community at large. I have written about this several times in my other blog, Genealogy's Star. Estimates of the active participation of members of the Church in genealogy vary from a very low 2 or 3 percent up to as high as 8 percent. Part of the problem in determining an accurate figure is the lack of a definition of genealogy and a definite threshold for measuring participation.

As I travel across the United States, I find varying degrees of genealogical activity in the Wards I visit. Some Wards seem to have an active program, but those are few and far between. Most commonly, I find that there is a Ward Family History Consultant, but that "there is no class going on at the time." It is as if genealogy is viewed as a Sunday School Class that is only taught once or so a year instead of an ongoing activity. One thing I do find is that there is an almost uniform lack of contact with the greater genealogical community including awareness of the online community and further awareness of local genealogical societies and their activities.

It is my experience that blogging, especially genealogy blogging, is an area of rather limited awareness in the general LDS community. It seems that most people know about blogs and may have read a blog, but have no concept of the specialized or special interest blogs such as genealogy. Because of the nature of the blogging community, bloggers themselves are very much aware of the blogging community. But as with any special interest group, awareness of the group's activities by outsiders is very low.

Because of the nature of blogging, it is difficult to judge how many of the active genealogy bloggers are LDS. But it is my impression that the number is perhaps only slightly higher than the percentage of Church membership compared to the overall population.

As a result of the low percentage of members of the Church involved in genealogy, it is the stated goal of FamilySearch to attract more genealogical adherents, especially younger people, and to also raise the percentage of participation among Church members. I see an initial and temporary increase coming from the current emphasis on stories and photos, but the increase will only be sustained if there is a corresponding increase in the number of dedicated genealogical researchers. The pool of stories and photos will dry up without the active involvement of the active genealogical research community.

A key component to sustained interest in genealogy is an increased awareness of the blogging community and a greater involvement in the local genealogical societies and history groups around the country. The LDS genealogical community needs to recognize and participate in the larger genealogical community. Why does the community need bloggers and especially why does the LDS genealogical community need to relate to the blogging community? This is an interesting question. Bloggers have become the "news channel" for the greater genealogical community. The primary outlet for promotions about conferences, society meetings and other genealogical events now come through the blogs. Unless the genealogy blogs achieve a greater degree of acceptance and awareness in the greater LDS genealogical community, there is virtually no way for them to become more aware of the surrounding greater genealogical community of conferences, classes, webinars, and society meetings.

Friday, October 25, 2013

My Family Booklet: How to Be a Helper

The FamilySearch Blog had a recent article by Steve Anderson entitled, My Family Booklet: How to Be a Helper. In conjunction with the release of the booklet (see my previous post entitled, The My Family: Stories That Bring Us Together Booklet) FamilySearch has updated its helper feature and now makes it easier to sign in as a helper. You’ll see a handout on signing in as a helper and a video that shows how to sign in as a helper and enter information from the booklet for someone. The video is currently available in English and Spanish. Other languages will be available shortly (See the above link).

Quoting from the blog post:
Until now, if you wanted to use on behalf of someone else, you had to know the contact name and helper ID of the person being helped. This required that person being helped to have an LDS or FamilySearch Account, which was sometimes very inconvenient. In many cases. Not many users are able to actually remember their contact names. 
You can sign in as a helper from Family Tree, the Temple List, the landing page for the My Family: Stories That Bring Us Together booklet, and from the Photos section of FamilySearch. (This ability in Photos is new and discussed below.) 
The latest improvements now allow you to:
Sign in to help someone, even if they don’t already have an LDS or FamilySearch account. 
Use either of two sets of information about the person you are helping. The first default screen asks for the person’s user name and helper number. Being able to use the username is a change. FamilySearch used to ask for the contact name of the person being helped.
 Here is a screenshot of the form for Helping Others using their Username:

Here is another screenshot of the form for using the person's Full Name:

This should be a very useful change and eliminate some of the problems associated with helping people with the Family Tree program.

Preserving History Instructional Videos

Among the many resources on the website is a section on Church History with a collection of videos on Preserving History. President Spencer W. Kimball reminded us that "from time immemorial the Lord has counseled us to be a record-keeping people.” But many of us are overwhelmed with the details of protecting our own personal historical heritage. The titles of the videos are as follows:

  • Why Keep Records?
  • Health Precautions
  • Handling
  • Housing
  • Preservation Through Organization
  • Storage
  • Digital Storage
  • Safe Home Display
  • Conservation
Concern about preserving historical objects and documents is not an LDS issue. There are many national organizations that are deeply involved in preservation. At the forefront of the preservation issues is the Library of Congress. Their website is a very useful resource for detailed information and links to other valuable websites. 

In addition to the resources available for the preservation of physical items. there is a real concern about digital preservation, especially among genealogists. If we store out records and documents digitally (online) how can we be sure they will survive the technological changes? This is the kind of question that is addressed in the Library of Congress' Digital Preservation website

This is only the barest beginning of the vast resources available to help you do a better job of preservation. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Can Duplicates be Eliminated from FamilySearch Family Tree?

It is possible, I suppose, that the number of duplicate individuals and therefore the number of duplicate ordinances may be reduced as's Family Tree becomes the sole method of qualifying names. But I did have a very disturbing conversation today that makes me doubt that the program will be foolproof.

A patron came into the Mesa FamilySearch Library with a Family Ordinance Request form to print off the cards to take to the Temple. The missionary who printed the cards looked at them and noticed that there was not one complete name, no exact dates, and the places were all very vague. What I understood from my conversation with him, the names were something like "Robert Jones, b. abt 1850, deceased and a general place such as Ohio." In other words, there was no specific information at all. The missionary decided to look at the Family Tree entries for the cards and found the entire pedigree to be filled with such vague information. He began to suspect that the entire line was being fabricated. As long as a person does this by adding these bogus entries to his or her primary line, they will "pass muster" and allow the cards to be printed. Absent someone looking at the cards and questioning the reality of the entries, there is really nothing built into the system to stop such a practice.

Now, this started me thinking if this problem was common or not? I can imagine that such a fraudulent pedigree could last for sometime, until a descendent of the initiator discovered the made-up names. I am baffled at the motivation for doing such a thing.

By the way, because of our rules in questioning the work of patrons, the missionary could not say or do anything about what he had observed.

In, making up a pedigree and then doing the Temple work was not only possible but quite easy. It could be done intentionally or simply out of negligence. The example above aside, for the moment, what is the possibility that intentional duplicates can be created in Family Tree that will allow the Temple work to be done? For example, what if someone simply added a extra child with the same or similar name to a family and then proceeded to do the Temple work for the fictitious child? How is this any different than the same actions that were allowed by

Both systems, Family Tree and, run on the premise that the users will be careful and honest. But what if the users are neither? Are there any safeguards built into Family Tree to stop duplicate children or adding a fictitious marriage with additional children? In both cases, the Temple work could be long done before the fiction was discovered by some other family member. Of course, if the fraud were discovered, there would be a confrontation and action would likely be initiated by FamilySearch and/or the Church.

We have discussed this issue in the past in the context of and I have come to the conclusion that as a missionary in a FamilySearch Center, it is not my place to question the submissions in any way or even say anything to the patron. But what is the impact of these actions on the part of patrons on the integrity of the entire system?

I am convinced that Family Tree will eliminate a great deal of the duplication rampant in But I am equally convinced that there are those who will still use the system to their supposed advantage. Since there are now relatively very, very few sources, adding more fictitious unsourced names will not be noticed until family members start working on the lines.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Family History Consultant or Mentor?

The core issue faced by any newly called or already seasoned Family History Consultant is how to translate the concept of gathering family history information and recording it in a way that can be used for submission of Temple Ordinances, into a usable and practical local plan of operation. Here are several questions with my own answers based on my experience during the past 8 years or so of active participation as a Family History Consultant.

What is the first thing I would do as a newly called Family History Consultant?
This is an easy question. I would take all the training I could find online and in classes at local Family History Centers. I would make sure that I understood the basics of Indexing, submitting records to the Temple for ordinances and the mechanics of getting online to use and This does not mean that I need to become an expert genealogist, but I think that a Family History Consultant should, at the very least, be able to help anyone get online to submit names to the Temple or do research.

I would also assess the needs of my own Ward. Do we have a lot of new members or those whose families have never been researched? Or the opposite true, do most of the members have long histories of ancestors in the Church? This makes a difference in the way I approach the Ward. Wards with new members or with little genealogical experience might benefit from series of classes. But Wards with more seasoned members will benefit most from mentoring.

What about holding classes for the members of the Ward?
We have a computer center in our Ward, but it is not a FamilySearch Center. It is just some computers in a classroom. We have taught series after series of classes but few, if any, of the class participants have gone on to do any family history research. Finally, we decided to simply act as mentors and consultants. We meet every Sunday in the Family History Room and make the computers available for use by the Ward members. We help anyone who comes in with their family history research or find a way to answer their questions. At first, we had no one coming to the class and we sat there and talked to each other about what to do. After a while, the members of our Ward finally figured out that we were serious about providing help and so they began to come to the class. Now, we have standing room only almost every Sunday. We have members of our Ward that are actively taking the ancestors to the Temple and doing research. Of course, we cannot answer all of their questions, but we give them direction to the online resources such as to find the answers.

What if your Ward Building does not have computers?
Most of the Ward buildings in the Church now have access to WiFi. If your Ward does not have a computer room, then create one by having volunteers bring laptop computers to Church each Sunday for the class. If the WiFi becomes "jammed" because of overuse by other members, ask the Ward leaders to encourage members to limit their cellphone and tablet use to classes and only when necessary. It may also be possible to get addition WiFi coverage if there is a need.

What if you are not a genealogist and have little or no background in research?
The first way to get around this problem is to follow my initial suggestions of becoming familiar with the mechanics of getting online and submitting names. Next, I would suggest involving those active in your local FamilySearch Center. There are over 4,600 FamilySearch Centers around the world and there should be someone who has research experience involved in the Center. Perhaps, instead of a class on Sunday, you have a regular day during the week when the members of your Ward can to to the FamilySearch Center and receive help. The idea here is consistency in helping.

These are some of the ways we have been successful in getting members of our Ward to become interested in and doing family history. In future posts, I will give some additional ideas we have had about Indexing, research and other topics.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Explaining Temple Ordinances to those who are not members

Given the sacred nature of anything having to do with Temples, it is always a challenge to know what to say and what not to say, especially in a public context. It has always been my policy to err in favor of discretion. But if the conversation must go further, I suggest following the guidelines set down by the current Church websites.

Here are some links to websites and pages that help with the basics of what to say and what is not appropriate to discuss.
Some of the basic questions are answered in a very appropriate way on the website under the Frequently Asked Questions subject heading of Temples.  There are also links from that page to Answers from other Mormons. Following the links on will give you a good understanding of the way questions about the Temple should be answered.
Another good resource is the website. Look under the Teachings link to a further link to Temples. There are several very good links from the Temples page to books, the Scriptures, and other references. has been a battlefield of information both for and against the Church and Temples have suffered their attacks also. A search on the words "LDS Temples" will bring up both Church sponsored videos and blatantly anti-Mormon productions. You may notice some of the videos by people with my same surname. Yes, they were distant relatives who left the Church and spent their entire lives attacking the Church and its doctrines.
This is a good place to visit to obtain authorized, direct and uncomplicated statements about the Church and Church doctrine. Temples are a frequent topic and the video at the beginning of this post came from that website.

These are a few of the sites that can help with official statements about the Church. Before using any of these materials, I would suggest carefully examining their origin.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Dealing with disinterest in genealogy

Is it possible to have a firm testimony of the value of Temple work and yet seem to be entirely disinterested in genealogy? Unfortunately, that seems to be the case with many members of our Wards and Stakes, even with some of the leaders. If you are a Family History Consultant this challenge can be a real concern.

In my experience, most long-time members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have a basic understanding of the doctrine supporting Temple and Family History work in the Church. Even those who attend the Temple regularly, may still have difficulty seeing how they can become involved in the Family History part of the work. That inability to connect with Family History can have a whole spectrum of causes from lack of computer skills to physical disabilities. One pathway to overcoming this lack of interest is through the FamilySearch Indexing program. Rather than trying to get people to "do their genealogy," I think it is a good idea to overcome the gap with involvement in Indexing.

What is the Indexing program? If you go to presently, you will see a link in the upper right-hand corner of the screen with the word "Volunteer." Here is a screenshot showing the location of the link:

 Clicking on that link will take you to a second page:

Becoming involved in the Indexing program is a very good way to overcome the inertial or reticence of members of your Ward and Stake to become involved in genealogical research. Indexing is the process of extracting names and other information from the records currently locked up in microfilm and being digitized by FamilySearch. An Indexer views a record and transcribes the pertinent information onto forms provided by the Indexing program. These extractions become a searchable index to the records and are put online for others to use. Anyone, whether or not they are a member of the Church, can participate.

The main thing accomplished by having people become involved in Indexing is that they learn the correspondence between viewing a record and finding names. Once they gain that concept, the idea of searching similar records for information about their own family is easier to understand.

Remember, one way to get people interested in Family History is to have them volunteer as Indexers.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Suggestions to a new Family History Consultant

If you have been called as a Family History Consultant in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you probably share some similar experiences with many, many others called to the same position. It is very likely that you have little or no experience doing genealogical research. It is also very likely that the person who called you to this position in the Church also has little or no experience doing genealogy. How can I guess that this is the case? Because most of the estimates of the number of contributing genealogists in the Church cite figures of less than 5% of the entire Church population as contributing names for ordinance work in the Temple. Quoting Dennis Brimhall, managing director of the LDS Family History Department and the FamilySearch website, in an online article from the Church News entitled, "Family History Now Focuses More on Heart, Not Charts" only 25 percent of Church members have at least registered, and studies show that in a year-long span, only 8 percent of Church members have logged on and used

My own personal experience would also support these statistics. But I would guess that in most Wards, the numbers are substantially lower unless you count everyone who has ever submitted names for ordinance work at any time in the past.

Why is this the case in the Church given the strong religious-based teachings of the importance of family history? You might note at this point that I use the terms "family history" and "genealogy" interchangeably. That is, despite recent attempts to differentiate between the two, they are for all purposes the same activity. Emphasizing one name or the other does not change the basic activity involved; seeking out the identity of one's ancestors.

The above article goes on to note the following:
Looking at the LDS membership outside of the United States, only 27 percent of members have both parents in their family tree, and only 12 percent have grandparents in that tree. Less than five percent have great-grandparents recorded in the tree.
In an attempt to address this issue, the Church has issued a booklet, available from the, called "My Family: Stories That Bring Us Together." By filling out the information requested by this booklet, anyone, member or not, can essentially gather the information necessary to complete a four generation pedigree.

So, my first suggestion, in a long line of suggestions to come in this blog, to the Family History Consultant is get some copies of the new booklet and start working your own way through it.

Next, I would suggest that you begin watching all of the orientation videos contained on the website under Family History Callings. Then go through the resource links at the bottom of the page. You need to have an LDS Account with a user name and password, but when you sign in you can view all of the resources available. If you make the effort to go through the material, you will have more information about doing family history or genealogy than the other 95% of the members of the Church. Get busy!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Read-only Status Coming for

I am still talking to quite a few people who persist in working on despite the almost constant announcements of the fact that it will be made "read-only" at the end of the year. I guess I should point out that that is less than three months away at the date of writing this post. It is also clear that at the end of 2014, the program will be removed from the Web.

Please see Ron Tanner's post entitled, "Major Migration Milestone Coming for" for more details.

Despite the clear announcements being made about the migration of, I am positive that there will be a huge number of people who will claim they knew nothing about the changes in the program come December 31st. I would think it would be a good idea for FamilySearch to put a notice with a count-down on the website, telling users how many days left they have before the program goes inert.

Here are a list of questions I have been answering over the past few months. The answers are my own and if you find anything that is inaccurate, please make a comment and I will correct the information in subsequent posts.

What does it mean that the website will become "read-only?" 

It means exactly what it says, the website will be locked and no changes, additions, or other use can be made of the website once it is made read-only. Users will be able to view the information and that is all.

Why are the forcing everyone to move to a new website?

First of all, this shouldn't be a surprise.'s Family Tree was introduced in February 2012 and has been in active use now for almost two years. At the introduction of Family Tree it was made clear that would one day cease to function.

Isn't Family Tree still in the testing stage?

Family Tree is still undergoing changes, as it probably will throughout its life and for the foreseeable future. Websites either constantly change or they die. Family Tree is not a preliminary or Beta program. It is a fully functional and complete program. There are a few features that can only be fully implemented once goes into Read-only mode, but that has been known for some time.

Can you reserve names for the Temple with Family Tree?

I cannot believe how many times I have been asked this question. It shows me that the people asking have yet to look at Family Tree or spend any time with the program. Yes, you can reserve names for the Temple and yes you can print Family Ordinance Request (FOR) forms and take them to the Temple to have the Temple cards printed. [Note: The Mesa FamilySearch Library has the capability of printing Temple cards from the FORs]

Why is are the people on my Family Tree file so messed up?

I am surprised to still be getting this question. Family Tree merely reflects the status of the records as they now exist. If there are mistakes, inconsistencies, wrong people etc. they are what has always been part of the overall record for each individual. In other words, the mistakes have been there all along and Family Tree has merely given us the first opportunity we had to correct the information.

What can I do about someone who was wrongly combined in

Not a whole lot until the programs are separated and goes read-only.

This isn't all the questions by far, but it these are the most common ones. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to post a comment.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The My Family: Stories That Bring Us Together booklet

The new My Family: Stories That Bring Us Together booklet is an engaging way to capture and preserve your family story. This booklet provides simple steps for recording family information, including adding photos, names, dates, and precious family stories. The booklet is available from the Church's online store. The cost is $1.00 per booklet. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

FamilySearch Church Service Missionaries -- A wonderful opportunity

Most of the volunteers at the Mesa FamilySearch Library are Church-service Missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There are hundreds of such genealogically oriented missionaries around the world. As explained by the Church website:
Since 1979, the Church-service missionary program has provided a growing and varied number of opportunities to serve. This important missionary workforce helps many Church departments and operations provide needed products and services. Serving others brings great blessings to those who serve and to the Church worldwide.
The general qualifications to serve a Church Service missionary are covered in the Frequently Asked Questions section of the website:
All Church-service missionaries must be worthy to hold a temple recommend and should have no minor children living at home. They must be physically, mentally, and emotionally able to fulfill the specific call and its related duties. Prospective missionaries must also provide their own transportation and financial support. Church-service missionaries are responsible for their own medical and dental needs, including eye-care and prescription-drug expenses.
You will note that there is no upper or lower age limit for serving as a Church-service missionary. We have missionaries in the 80s and others much, much younger.

Most of the missionaries at the Mesa FamilySearch Library work two or more shifts of about seven hours per week. All of this time is donated without monetary compensation. Other Church-service Missionaries help staff the FamilySearch organization and others assist in preserving records through digitization of original records around the world. Here is a video about some experiences of a couple of records preservation missionaries:

Church-service missionaries generally serve for up to 24 months, but can extend for longer periods of time and can renew their mission calls.

I have been serving as a Church-service missionary at the Mesa FamilySearch Library for eight years now and I am already scheduled for another two years. All of the missionaries called to serve at the Mesa FamilySearch Library are trained for a full month before they begin to serve. They attend classes taught by other missionaries five days a week for that month before they begin helping patrons in the Mesa FamilySearch Library.

If you are interested in spending a lot of quality time helping people find their ancestors, you might want to investigate the possibility of serving in Mesa, if you live here or want to serve here, or in some other location around the world. If you would like to serve and are not a member of the Church, you can still volunteer to help at a FamilySearch Center. Please feel free to call a FamilySearch Center and offer to volunteer.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

FamilySearch Indexing -- Benefit to the entire genealogical community

If you have wondered if your efforts at indexing the Historical Record Collections for is having an effect, you really only need to go to the list of updated records to see what is happening. In a recent blog post from FamilySearch it was noted that "FamilySearch Adds More Than 9.5 Million Indexed Records and Images to Collections from Argentina, BillionGraves, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Italy, and the United States." These are records indexed by volunteers helping to make all of these millions of records more useful.

In another touching blog post had a story written by Carlos Alberto Serrano, Family History Area Advisor in the Brazil Juiz de Fora Mission. His experience shows how Indexing can be a powerful tool to help activate youth as well as give an eternal perspective to all the youth in a ward or stake.

Yet another post from FamilySearch talks about "Indexing Presentations That Motivate and Inspire." The post includes the reminder that many great resources are available on and on the stake indexing director callings page that you can include in your presentations and training. Even though these suggestions are aimed at Stake Indexing Directors, they are also useful on the ward level. Even more useful information for motivation is contained in another blog post entitled, "Peer-to-Peer: How can I motivate and retain current volunteers?" I think one of these example is interesting:
L. Butler, from Idaho, United States“I decided there was strength in numbers, and I try and get everyone to do it. As of today, I have 1,090 indexers in my stake. I email each of them at the beginning of the month with a YouTube video, a training link, a letter of appreciation and encouragement, and a table showing how many names each ward has indexed and arbitrated. This always gives a few of them motivation. It also gets indexing back on their minds as well as on the minds of priesthood leaders. Everyone should be involved in some aspect of family history throughout their lives.”
This is an idea of what can be accomplished by one dedicated individual working with support from his Stake leaders.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Youth Consultants Called to Work in FamilySearch Centers

According to a FamilySearch blog post by Lisa McBride, in response to Elder David A Bednar’s counsel found in his talk given in the October 2011 General Conference, The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn, many Family History Centers now have youth consultants called by stake and ward leaders. Centers are reporting that the youth are great assets to their staff and to their wards and stakes.

Quoting from Elder Bednar's talk:
It is no coincidence that FamilySearch and other tools have come forth at a time when young people are so familiar with a wide range of information and communication technologies. Your fingers have been trained to text and tweet to accelerate and advance the work of the Lord—not just to communicate quickly with your friends. The skills and aptitude evident among many young people today are a preparation to contribute to the work of salvation. 
Parents and leaders, please help your children and youth to learn about and experience the Spirit of Elijah. But do not overly program this endeavor or provide too much detailed information or training. Invite young people to explore, to experiment, and to learn for themselves.

Parents and leaders, you will stand all amazed at how rapidly your children and the youth of the Church become highly skilled with these tools. In fact, you will learn valuable lessons from these young people about effectively using these resources. The youth can offer much to older individuals who are uncomfortable with or intimidated by technology or are unfamiliar with FamilySearch.
Elder Bednar has further said to the youth:
You have been prepared for this day and to build up the kingdom of God. You are here upon the earth now to assist in this glorious work. I know the youth of the rising generation have a key role to play in this great endeavor.” Ward and stake leaders can play an important role in helping youth act on this invitation and secure the blessings promised to them.
We have had young Church Service missionaries at the Mesa FamilySearch Library for the past few years and they have made an outstanding contribution to the Library. Some of them have even been given the opportunity to teach the other missionaries and help patrons with their genealogy, depending on their personal skills and abilities. All of them, regardless of their abilities have been faithful and helpful additions to the Library staff.

I would think it would be a good idea to call youth from each age group and let them assist the High Priest's Group leaders and the regular Family History Consultants in their callings. This would be a unique and valuable opportunity for all.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Resources for Submitting Temple Ordinances for FamilySearch Family Tree

All of the different programs and websites incorporated into the website are supported as "products" by FamilySearch. So to get help with any one of the various "products" you go to "Product Support." This option is located in the Get Help link at the top right of the website pages. So for help in finding answers to questions about submitting names for Temple ordinances you go to Product Support and click on the icon for Temple. Of course, you have to be logged in with an LDS Account in order for these items to appear on the menu selections. Here is a screen shot of the options on the Product Support page, once you have logged in with an LDS account:

You can also search for answers to any other questions you might have about this or any other topic, by choosing the appropriate icon and then searching all the product support articles or articles about that topic. The search box appears near the center of the web page. 

Use these resources to answer most of the questions you might have about any of the FamilySearch "Products." 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Basic Resources for Family History Consultants

Many newly called Family History Consultants have approached me over the past few years and wondered where they could go to get some basic training. The Mesa FamilySearch Library has provided a training class for Family History Consultants almost every week for many years and recently, those classes have gotten so large that they were moved to our biggest classroom. But The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Church) has always had training materials even since the calling was first introduced. Today those training materials are extensive and readily available on the Web.

The first place to begin looking is on under the resources tab that will take you to resources for all callings. Here is a screenshot of the page for Family History Callings:

There is a link to Register as a Family History Consultant. Please take the time to do this. You will then be sent news, notices and resources important to the Family History work in your Ward. If you click on the link for "Training for My Calling" you will find many more resources, including short videos that will help you understand your responsibilities. Here is a screenshot of the Family History Consultants' page:

Follow the links and take advantage of these extensive resources. I also suggest that, as soon as possible, that you visit your local FamilySearch Center and become acquainted with its resources. I would also suggest spending some time Indexing and also working with your own Family Tree on

In short, there are many resources available. As it says in D&C 58:26-28:
26 For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward. 
27 Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; 
28 For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.

Reduced price for RootsTech for Family History Consultants

From a Press Release from
If you are a Family History Consultant, you can get a Full Access pass to RootsTech for $99. Registration is now open for RootsTech 2014, which will be held on February 6-8, 2014, at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. This annual family history conference, hosted by FamilySearch, is a unique global event where people of all ages learn to discover and share their family stories and connections through technology.
Get a Special Discount to Attend RootsTech 
As someone with a family history calling, you can attend RootsTech 2014 at last year's discounted price! Get a Full Access Pass for $99 when you use the promotional code CONSULT14.

NEW! Family Discovery Day For LDS Church Members
On Saturday, February 8, 2014, members of the Church are invited to participate in Family Discovery Day, which is a free event offered in conjunction with RootsTech. General Authorities and other popular speakers will share inspirational messages to help strengthen family relationships across generations through family history and the work of salvation.

Family Discovery Day will also include youth activities and classes for LDS youth (12-18) and access to the booths in the RootsTech Expo Hall. Again, Family Discovery Day is free, so invite members of your ward and stake to attend!
By virtue of my calling as a Church Service Missionary, I am also a Ward Family History Consultant, so had I not already been selected as a speaker and blogger for the Conference, this would have been a good alternative.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Introducing Rejoice, and be exceeding glad...

I have been regularly blogging for many years in my primary blogs, Genealogy's Star and Walking Arizona, but I have recently felt the need to share the religious aspect of my interest in genealogy. This blog will be aimed more at the religious aspects of my genealogical experience. I thought it more appropriate to separate the religious from the secular. I will keep posting my usual topics and comments on the other two blogs, but this one will definitely be slanted towards my genealogy experience as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Of course, it almost goes without saying, that I have no official connection with the Church and nothing in this blog, unless a direct quote from Church blogs or Youtube, should be construed to be other than my personal opinion. I enjoyed watching the sessions of General Conference today and so I posted the above link to the Highlights.