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

Friday, January 31, 2014

Additional Comments on Hastening the Work of Salvation

In a recent LDS Media Talk blog post entitled, "What is "Hastening the Work of Salvation?" by Larry Richman had the following about family history and Temple work:
Family history work and missionary work are really one work with two parts. Both are missionary work when you think of rescuing people on both sides of the veil.

Family history is not your Grandma’s genealogy any more. With Family Tree, you can collaborate online with relatives to tie all family lines together into a single pedigree of mankind. You can upload stories and photos of your ancestors. Indexing has replaced extraction. Missionaries now participate in family history work.

The youth are also getting more involved in finding ancestors and then in performing the ordinances for their ancestors. The youth attend the temple in great numbers to do baptisms for the dead, and many take their own names. Sometimes, youth even become ward family history consultants. The spirit of Elijah is awakening.

Because young women and young men are entering the mission field at a younger age, they are also receiving the temple endowment at a younger age. These young people are arriving at the temple well prepared to make covenants.
Yes, family history work is the same as missionary work but with this caution, in missionary work we don't usually baptize the same person multiple times, as is frequently done in family history work, and count it as real missionary work. Hastening the work does not mean redoing ordinances that have already been done.

There is a pretty standard process for determining whether or not Temple work has previously been done for any prospective ancestor. You simply use the Family Tree link, "Possible Duplicates" to check to see if there is a duplicate copy of the record in the file. In fact, the program is now requiring a duplicate search before any person can be entered into the program and another search at the time ordinances are reserved or cards are printed.

Here is a screenshot showing an obvious duplicates. The arrows show where the entries are showing duplicates:

There are three pairs of duplicates and all of these people have had their ordinance done and re-done many times already. The previous program,, would allow you to easily redo the ordinances. All you needed was a slight variation in a name or date and you could claim that the person was not a match and thereby do the ordinances over again. In fact, the program facilitated finding these duplicates by indicating a potential re-baptism with a green arrow.

The green arrows are back in Family Tree, but they do not mean the same thing as they did previously. If you click on a green arrow family, you are likely to be told to do more research and look for duplicates. Many times, when you search for a duplicate and find one, the potential ordinance work turns out to be already done.

In the instances above, these duplicates involve multiple copies of the same individuals. You can tell there is a duplicate if the ID numbers are different, but it is the same person. There are still ways to get around the system in Family Tree and duplicate the work, but don't expect me to tell you how to do it.

As we hasten the work, let's make sure we are making progress and not just running around in circles and calling it progress.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

More Tips to Expand Your Family Tree

If you are interested at all in genealogy and a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints then there are some easy ways to expand your knowledge and increase your involvement in the genealogical community. I am still finding that many active members of the Church have almost no knowledge about FamilySearch, the website and even that the Church has resources online. One example is a recent post on the FamilySearch Blog for Consultants entitled "5 Tips to Expand Your Family Tree." This is an excellent post with some very specific things you can do to find research opportunities in the Family Tree program. My concern is that this type of assistance from FamilySearch (and indirectly from the Church) is not only going unheeded, but is virtually unnoticed and unknown.

Let me list some of the genealogy specific resources available to all of the members of the Church and thereby available to everyone in your Stake, from the Stake President to the individual members. To take advantage of many of these links, you will need to be signed in with an LDS account.

Here is a link to how to sign in with an LDS account and what you can do with the account:

10 Cool Things You Can Do with an LDS Account

I will start with The family history specific items are scattered around a bit but here are the main links:

OK, now let's go to Here are many of the things on that fabulous website:
Now what about the Blogs from FamilySearch? Here is a link to each one:
Do you get the idea here? Do you see somethings you are entirely missing? Do you realize that most of the members of your own Ward have no idea all of this and much, much more is only a click away?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Extreme Genes: Family History Radio

The Mormon Channel is an wonderful resource for listening to a variety of Church oriented messages. One of the featured "shows" on the online broadcasting station is Extreme Genes: Family History Radio. Here is a screenshot of the webpage for the feature;

Past shows are also available online. You can listen in anytime. There are also apps available for both iOS and Android.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Prophets Speak on Searching out our Dead -- Brigham Young

Brigham Young, the Prophet, was one of the first people to use the newly constructed baptismal font in the Nauvoo Temple to perform baptisms for the dead. Two weeks after dedicating the font on 8 November 1841, Elders Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball and John Taylor performed forty baptisms for the dead and Elders Willard Richards, Wilford Woodruff and George A. Smith, performed the confirmations. See Joseph Fielding Smith, Essentials in Church History, 27th ed. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1974), pp. 256–57. At the time of these first baptisms, the Temple had yet to be built and the baptismal font was constructed in the newly finished basement area. The doctrine of baptism for the dead was first taught at the funeral of Seymour Brunson, who died 10 August 1840 (see History of the Church, 4:179, 231). Brigham Young was also among the first of those to receive other essential Church ordinances. See See History of the Church, 5:1–2.

It is clear that each of the Prophets of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had an understanding of the importance of the principle of baptism for the dead and of Temple work. This series presents some of the statements each of this dispensations Prophets have made concerning baptisms for the dead, Temple work, genealogy and family history.

Here are some of the statements of Brigham Young on these subjects:
This doctrine of baptism for the dead is a great doctrine, one of the most glorious doctrines that was ever revealed to the human family; and there are light, power, glory, honor and immortality in it. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 16:167 
In defending the doctrine of baptisms for the dead, Brigham Young made the following statement at
a Special Conference held in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, August 29, 1852, reported by G. D. Watt on pages 277-283 of the 6th volume of the Journal of Discourses;
When brother Joseph revealed the great mystery of being baptized for the dead, did not a great many of the Elders of Israel think then—"'Mormonism' cannot endure; it will be overcome." Every item of doctrine brother Joseph has brought forth had to meet with opposition from the world. We all know that it comes in contact with sectarian influence and every other influence that is not direct from God. 
When the Elders went forth, the priests supposed they could easily put them down; but when they undertook to substantiate the doctrine of baptism for the dead, were the priests successful in confuting their arguments? No. The doctrine has ridden triumphantly over all sectarianism (what I mean by sectarianism is false religion); and it is so far from being put to silence by all the rest of the world, that it is as popular, wherever you go, as any doctrine taught; it is as readily and as quickly believed.
In another discourse by President Brigham Young, Delivered in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, August 8, 1852, transcribed by G. D. Watt on pages 80-96 of volume 3, he states:
What shall we say of the people who live in the 19th century? When any of the Latter-day Elders or Apostles die, and leave this world, suffice it to say, that their spirits go to that prison, and preach the Gospel to those who have died without hearing it; and every spirit shall be judged precisely as though he lived in the flesh, when the fulness of the Gospel was upon the earth. This leads to the subject of the saving and redeeming powers possessed by the righteous; but we shall not have time this morning to treat upon it, suffice it to say, that saviors are coming up, in the last days, upon mount Zion. 
This I say of every son and daughter of Adam, Prophets, Priests, and those that slew the Prophets, all go to prison; the Elders of this Church go there, and there continue their labors; and by and by you will see Zion redeemed, and saviors will come up upon mount Zion. The faithful Elders will come, and go forward in the ordinances of God, that our ancestors, and all who have died previous to the restoration of the Gospel in these last days, may be redeemed.
Brigham Young spoke again on the subject as delivered in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, August 15, 1852, transcribed by G. D. Watt on pages 283-298 of volume 6 of the Journal of Discourses:
Gentlemen, don't be startled; for if we don't go back there, our sons and daughters will; and a great Temple will be built upon the consecrated spot, and a great many more besides that. The land of Joseph is the land of Zion; and it takes North and South America to make the land of Joseph. Suppose we are ready to go into the Temples of God to officiate for our fathers and our grandfathers—for our ancestors back for hundreds of years, who are all looking to see what their children are doing upon the earth. The Lord says, I have sent the keys of Elijah the Prophet—I have imparted that doctrine to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts children to the fathers. Now, all you children, are you looking to the salvation of your fathers? Are you seeking diligently to redeem them that have died without the Gospel, inasmuch as they sought the Lord Almighty to obtain promises for you?—for our fathers did obtain promises that their seed should not be forgotten. O ye children of the fathers, look at these things. You are to enter into the Temples of the Lord and officiate for your forefathers.

Remarks by President Brigham Young, made in the Bowery, Great Salt Lake City, October 21, 1860, reported by G. D. Watt on pages 222-226 of the 8th volume of the Journal of Discourses.
Our bodies are now mortal. In the resurrection there will be a reunion of the spirits and bodies, and they will walk, talk, eat, drink, and enjoy. Those who have passed these ordeals are society for angels—for the Gods, and are the ones who will come into the Temple of the Lord that is to be built in the latter days, when saviors shall come up upon Mount Zion, and will say, "Here, my children, I want this and this done. Here are the names of such and such ones, of our fathers, and mothers—our ancestors; we will bring them up. Go forth, you who have not passed the ordeals of death and the resurrection—you who live in the flesh, and attend to the ordinances for those who have died without the law." Those who are resurrected will thus dictate in the Temple. When the Saints pass through death, they cannot officiate in this sinful world, but they will dictate those who are here. "Go, now, and be baptized for the honorable—for those who would have received the law of God and the true religion, if they had lived; be baptized for the heathen—for all who were honest; officiate for them, and save them, and bring them up. Be baptized for them, anointed for them, washed and sealed for them, and fulfil all the ordinances which cannot be dispensed with." They will all be performed for the living and the dead upon Mount Zion.
To report and discuss all of the statements recorded from Brigham Young about the work of the  salvation of the dead would take an entire book, but here is another statement taken from a
Discourse by President Brigham Young, delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, November 14, 1869, transcribed by John Grimshaw on pages 150-156 of the 13th volume of the Journal of Discourses
We have come here to build up Zion. How shall we do it? I could tell you how if I had time. I have told you a great many times. There is one thing I will say in regard to it. We have got to be united in our efforts. We should go to work with a united faith like the heart of one man; and whatever we do should be performed in the name of the Lord, and we will then be blessed and prospered in all we do. We have a work on hand whose magnitude can hardly be told. We have now to go to and save ourselves according to the plan provided for our salvation, the Savior having done for us all that he can, except to impart unto us grace to aid us in our lives, and to save our families, friends, ancestors, and the nations that have lived before us and those that may come after us, that all may be brought unto God and be saved, except the sons of perdition. This is the labor we have before us.
Summarizing the importance of the work of seeking our our dead is recorded in Discourses of Brigham Young [Deseret Book, 1971], pp. 406–408:
We have a work to do just as important in its sphere as the Savior’s work was in its sphere. Our fathers cannot be made perfect without us; we cannot be made perfect without them. They have done their work and now sleep. We are now called upon to do ours; which is to be the greatest work man ever performed on the earth. …

There must be this chain in the holy Priesthood; it must be welded together from the latest generation that lives on the earth back to Father Adam, to bring back all that can be saved and placed where they can receive salvation and glory in some kingdom. This Priesthood has to do it; this Priesthood is for this purpose. …

The ordinance of sealing must be performed here man to man, and woman to man, and children to parents, etc., until the chain of generation is made perfect in the sealing ordinances back to Father Adam. …

Now, all you children, are you looking to the salvation of your fathers? Are you seeking diligently to redeem those that have died without the Gospel, inasmuch as they sought the Lord Almighty to obtain promises for you? For our fathers did obtain promises that their seed should not be forgotten. O ye children of the fathers, look at these things. You are to enter into the temples of the Lord and officiate for your forefathers.
Our responsibility to our ancestors cannot be said any more plainly than that.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Comments on Researching Your Mormon Ancestors

In a recent blog post, Amy Thiriot, my very talented and competent daughter, posted a concise and useful summary about "Researching Your Mormon Ancestors." I have a number of comments on the post to add a little of my own perspective to the process of researching Mormon records.

Amy initially divides the process into two main methods: purely genealogical research and going on a grand adventure. I would think a little bit more perspective might also help. How you approach the process of investigating your family history changes dramatically depending on the time when your ancestors joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If you have ancestors going back to the 1800s, it is very likely that you have inherited a substantial amount of "genealogy" whether you are aware of it or not. It is also equally as possible that no recent research has been done on many of your family lines. It is also equally as possible that some of your ancestors appear in the historical record of the migration of your family from Europe or from the Eastern part of the United States. Many of the places where you can find this historical information about your family are listed by Amy in her blog post reference above.

The very first step you should take in examining your Mormon family roots is to register and sign on to and examine what is available in the Family Tree program. An almost uniform reaction by current members of the Church to what is there is that their "genealogy is all done." This is absolutely and categorically wrong in every single case. I have said this many time before, both while teaching classes and in print, if you give me 15 minutes with your family as recorded in Family Tree, I can show you how many places where there is information lacking and research needs to be done. In fact, when I started saying this I did this by examining the tree and looking for inconsistencies which I always found. Now, we all have marvelous tools that allow us to examine our Family Tree and graphically see the missing ancestors.

Above is a screenshot of the FamilySearch certified program This tools gives us a graphic representation of the descendants of any one of our ancestors recorded in the Family Tree program and shows by the lack of descendants, exactly where our ancestral family members are missing from the data in the program. Once we have an idea of where we can go with our research, we can use the resources suggested by Amy to continue our research. Be sure and watch the videos to see how this tool will overcome your impression that "all the work has been done."

Friday, January 24, 2014

Inside the Outside of Genealogy

Biography is the near cousin of genealogy. Or maybe its the other way around. One very interesting project that relates directly to genealogy, Temple work and redeeming the dead is introduced in a blog post called "The Eminent Women of the St. George Temple." The description of the project is written by my daughter, Amy Tanner Thiriot on a blog called The Keepapitchinin. Ostensibly, this blog is dedicated to Mormon history. But in reality, it is a delightful mixture of genealogy, history, commentary and memorabilia. The blogger/editor is Ardis E. Parshall, who presently works at the The Church History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. My daughter Amy is a sometimes contributor and sometimes editor of the blog along with her own blog, TheAncestorFiles. Occasionally, they also have other contributors. If you have any feeling at all for history and especially Mormon history, you will fall in love with The Keepapitchinin blog.

Amy's most recent article caught my eye and my ear. It is entitled "Eminent Women: Jean Armour Burns." Here is a short video from the post to illustrate what I mean:

I'll let you go to Amy's post for the explanation and the connection. Thanks Amy for reminding me that I can listen to poetry on YouTube as well as music.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Prophets Speak on Searching out our Dead -- Joseph Smith

Understanding is supernally important to our ability to act. If we are going to become involved in the mortal side of the salvation of our ancestors, we need to understand that responsibility on several levels. Of necessity, we must have a sound doctrinal understanding of the need for searching out our dead. In addition, we need the technical tools both from the standpoint of skills in the use of computers, the Internet and genealogy programs but also from the standpoint of having acquired the skills of doing genealogical research. When we match those technical skills with a sound basis in the doctrine, we have the potential to implement the work.

This series of blog posts will be a collection of quotes from each of the modern-day prophets as they expressed their understanding and testimony concerning our collective obligation to search out our dead, record accurate information about them, and then perform the sacred ordinances of the Temple for them in a dignified and appropriate way.

The first Prophet of the Restoration was the Prophet Joseph Smith. The follow are a selection of quotes from Smith, Joseph, Joseph Fielding Smith, Richard C. Galbraith, and Joseph Smith. Scriptural Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Co, 1993. Page numbers at the end of the quotes are from this book.
I presume the doctrine of “baptism for the dead” has ere this reached your ears, and may have raised some inquiries in your minds respecting the same. I cannot in this letter give you all the information you may desire on the subject; but aside from knowledge independent of the Bible, I would say that it was certainly practiced by the ancient churches; and St. Paul endeavors to prove the doctrine of the resurrection10 from the same, and says, “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?” I first mentioned the doctrine in public when preaching the funeral sermon of Brother Seymour Brunson and have since then given general instructions in the Church on the subject. The Saints have the privilege of being baptized for those of their relatives who are dead, whom they believe would have embraced the Gospel, if they had been privileged with hearing it, and who have received the Gospel in the spirit, through the instrumentality of those who have been commissioned to preach to them while in prison. Page 179.
This doctrine presents in a clear light the wisdom and mercy of God in preparing an ordinance for the salvation of the dead, being baptized by proxy, their names recorded in heaven and they judged according to the deeds done in the body.This doctrine was the burden of the scriptures. Those Saints who neglect it in behalf of their deceased relatives, do it at the peril of their own salvation. The dispensation of the fullness of times will bring to light the things that have been revealed in all former dispensations; also other things that have not been before revealed. He shall send Elijah, the Prophet, &c., and restore all things in Christ. Page 193.
There is nothing equivocal in these statements, pursuing the salvation of our dead ancestors in not just something for old people to do in their spare time, it is a basic requirement for our own salvation. Notwithstanding the clarity of these words, it is interesting how lightly this responsibility is taken by many members of the Church.

From the Documentary History of the Church 4:568-569 on 27 March 1842:
This was an interesting day. A large assembly met in the grove near the Temple. Brother Amasa Lyman addressed the people in a very interesting manner. He was followed by Joseph, the Seer, who made some highly edifying and instructive remarks concerning baptism for the dead. He said the Bible supported the doctrine, quoting 1 Cor. 15:29: “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all, why are they then baptized for the dead?” If there is one word of the Lord that supports the doctrine of baptism for the dead, it is enough to establish it as a true doctrine. Again; if we can, by the authority of the Priesthood of the Son of God, baptize a man in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, for the remission of sins, it is just as much our privilege to act as an agent, and be baptized for the remission of sins for and in behalf of our dead kindred, who have not heard the Gospel,8 or the fullness of it. Page 201.
From a further discourse of Joseph Smith on baptism for the dead:
The situation of the Christian nations after death, is a subject that has called forth all the wisdom and talent of the philosopher and the divine, and it is an opinion which is generally received, that the destiny of man is irretrievably fixed at his death, and that he is made either eternally happy, or eternally miserable;1 that if a man dies without a knowledge of God, he must be eternally damned, without any mitigation of his punishment, alleviation of his pain, or the most latent hope of a deliverance while endless ages shall roll along. However orthodox this principle may be, we shall find that it is at variance with the testimony of Holy Writ, for our Savior says, that all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men wherewith they shall blaspheme; but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven, neither in this world, nor in the world to come, evidently showing that there are sins which may be forgiven in the world to come, although the sin of blasphemy [against the Holy Ghost] cannot be forgiven. Peter, also, in speaking concerning our Savior, says, that “He went and preached unto the spirits in prison, which sometimes were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah” (1 Peter 3:19, 20). Here then we have an account of our Savior preaching to the spirits in prison, to spirits that had been imprisoned from the days of Noah; and what did He preach to them? That they were to stay there? Certainly not! Let His own declaration testify. “He hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight of the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.” (Luke 4:18.) Isaiah has it—“To bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness from the prison house.” (Isaiah 42:7.) It is very evident from this that He not only went to preach to them, but to deliver, or bring them out of the prison house. Isaiah, in testifying concerning the calamities that will overtake the inhabitants of the earth, says, “The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall and not rise again. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth. And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be visited.” Thus we find that God will deal with all the human family equally, and that as the antediluvians had their day of visitation, so will those characters referred to by Isaiah, have their time of visitation and deliverance; after having been many days in prison. Page 2018-219.
Again from the Documentary History of the Church 5:139-141 recorded on 31 August 1842:
President Smith said, “I have one remark to make respecting the baptism for the dead to suffice for the time being, until I have opportunity to discuss the subject at greater length—all persons baptized for the dead must have a recorder present, that he may be an eyewitness to record and testify of the truth and validity of his record. It will be necessary, in the Grand Council, that these things be testified to by competent witnesses. Therefore let the recording and witnessing of baptisms for the dead be carefully attended to from this time forth. If there is any lack, it may be at the expense of our friends; they may not come forth.” Page 260. 
I often wonder what the Prophet Joseph Smith would have thought of the duplications of the ordinances due to the poor record keeping of the members of the Church.

It is for the same purpose that God gathers together His people in the last days, to build unto the Lord a house to prepare them for the ordinances and endowments, washings and anointings, etc. One of the ordinances of the house of the Lord is baptism for the dead. God decreed before the foundation of the world that that ordinance should be administered in a font prepared for that purpose in the house of the Lord. “This is only your opinion, sir,” says the sectarian. * * *
If a man gets a fullness of the priesthood of God he has to get it in the same way that Jesus Christ obtained it, and that was by keeping all the commandments and obeying all the ordinances of the house of the Lord.
Where there is no change of priesthood, there is no change of ordinances, says Paul. If God has not changed the ordinances and the priesthood, howl, ye sectarians! If he has, when and where has He revealed it? Have ye turned revelators? Then why deny revelation? Page 308.
Comments made by the Prophet Joseph Smith about the teachings of baptism for the dead as taught in the New Testament:
The doctrine of baptism for the dead is clearly shown in the New Testament; and if the doctrine is not good, then throw the New Testament away; but if it is the word of God, then let the doctrine be acknowledged; and it was the reason why Jesus said unto the Jews, “How oft would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!”—that they might attend to the ordinances of baptism for the dead as well as other ordinances of the priesthood, and receive revelations from heaven, and be perfected in the things of the kingdom of God—but they would not. This was the case on the day of Pentecost: those blessings were poured out on the disciples on that occasion. God ordained that He would save the dead, and would do it by gathering His people together. Page 310.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

See Studio C Live at RootsTech 2014

One of the more interesting phenomena has been the rise of Studio C, a comedy show from Brigham Young University (BYU). FamilySearch is capitalizing on the extraordinary popularity of this program by inviting attendees at the free Saturday RootsTech event as part of Youth Day to see Studio C. If this doesn't mean anything to you it just illustrates the gap between the generations yet once again. Two of my granddaughters' most prized Christmas presents were Studio C oriented gifts. One of my grandsons even participated as a background person in Studio C comedy routine. My guess is that the Saturday afternoon presentation by the Studio C cast will create a mob scene at RootsTech.

I feel sorry for the presenters at RootsTech who have the 3:00 pm, Saturday timeslot. The only saving grace will be that few of the "older" RootsTech attendees will have any idea what is going on.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

How do we hasten the work of genealogy? Family History Work in the Ward

Many of the talks and articles by Church leaders recently have discussed the need to "hasten the work of salvation." Quoting from the October, 2013 Ensign with an article with that specific title:
It is time for all of us to understand more clearly our role in hastening the work of salvation. As we make member missionary work, convert retention, activation of less-active members, temple and family history work, and teaching the gospel a natural part of our lives, we will experience great joy and be endowed with the spiritual gifts we need to strengthen the Church in the 21st century.
The focus of most of the commentary is on missionary work for the living, but temple and family history work are always mentioned. So how do we "hasten" our genealogy or family history work?

One of the biggest challenges and one key to progress, is that of involving the youth in the work of seeking out their ancestors. Whether you call this "family history" or "genealogy" the process is the same. Quoting a comments made by Elder Paul B. Pieper of the Seventy and Elder Allan F. Packer of the Seventy and Director of the Family History Department, from a Church News article of April, 2013:
Helping the youth gain perspective is a goal of the new youth curriculum—where learning resources replace lesson manuals, said Elder Pieper. The curriculum will allow youth instructors to determine what they need to build into each Sunday experience to prepare youth for temple and family history work and missionary service.

“The new MTC is the home,” said Elder Packer. “The new family history center is the home. The new curriculum is going to help the youth and the parents both in that role.”
Having helped hundreds of people get started with researching their family history, the biggest question I have is who is going to teach all these people how to do the work? Granted, a new member whose family has never done genealogy or family history work previously, has an open field. They can usually go to available family records or easily obtainable online records and complete two or possibly three generations. But what happens when they have to do some actual research into records that may not be as easily obtained? One the other hand, what of the youth who find themselves heirs to a family history that goes back generations? How are they supposed to start? With the now suspended program it was easy to find "green arrows" or people supposedly ready for ordinances. This was mainly due to the unresolved duplications in the program.'s Family Tree program brings the process into the realm of reality and out of the dream world of harvesting green arrows. I was amused by a comment I had to a blog post recently that said:
Oh, don't get me started on this subject!!! I love the idea of collaborating on family research, but we keep forgetting that people have different reasons for doing their research, and not all of them reflect the goals of accurate scholarship. My feeling is that FamilySearch should have two entirely separate trees, one for the "feel good about your family" types, and the other for people who cite their sources and can analyze them as well.
Do we really want a "feel good about your family" type of family history work or is there some component here of accuracy and diligence in identifying the right people? Believe me, there are people in the Church who think that they have the responsibility for re-doing all of their ancestors' ordinances themselves, even if someone else has already done the work.

In my own Ward, for example, the individuals assigned to work in Family History are almost entirely isolated from the rest of the Ward, especially the youth. The High Priest Group Leader and the Ward Mission Leader attend Ward Council, but no Family History Consultant or other representative of the family history work is directly involved. None of the members of the Ward regularly hear about "doing their family history work" like they do about missionary work or home teaching. In our Ward, we have a structured help center every Sunday during Sunday School to help members with their family history, but the youth cannot attend, even if they wanted to, because they would be viewed as missing their Sunday School class. Even most of the adults feel guilty because they are missing the Gospel Doctrine class. There is no other scheduled time when Ward members can get help with family history. Family History is mostly viewed as "one more program" competing for the interest and activity of the members and unfortunately is usually viewed as much lower priority than other programs.

The Family History Consultants, during infrequent opportunities to address the Ward, invite the members to ask for individual help, but unless the Family History Consultant or Consultants push the issue, nothing happens. As I have written previously, our Ward uses the Sunday School time as an open time for assistance. Because of this, members of the Ward have qualified hundreds of names for Temple work. This would not be the case if we were "teaching a class" instead of helping the members individually. All this is done "outside" the regular organization of the Ward. This opportunity to receive help with family history cannot extend to the youth because there is no mechanism in place or program or time or whatever to make that happen. If family history is addressed in the context of the existing program, it is looked upon as a "special event" taking away from the regular scheduled classes and activities.

If you are talking about integrating family history into the lives of the youth and their families, this needs to be done in a way that provides the help and support necessary. Presently the whole system relies on a Ward's High Priest Group Leader, who receives little or no formal training in how to do Family History. Most of the High Priest Group Leaders I talk to around the Church are only vaguely aware of FamilySearch, much less of the entire Family History programs of the Church. One minor adjustment would help to change that, in my opinion, put the High Priest Group leaders into the Family History loop or have a Ward Family History Consultant who acts in a similar capacity to the Ward Mission Leader. In many Wards, the "Family History Consultant" is a woman. That is not a problem and usually she is the most qualified person in the Ward. But she has not direct contact with the High Priest Group Leader in any formal meeting. Neither does a male Family History Coordinator who is not a High Priest.

The Leader's Guide to Temple and Family History Work, To Turn The Hearts, says at page 3:
High priests group leaders have the primary responsibility to coordinate the ward council’s efforts to encourage and enable temple and family history work in the ward.
At pages 17 and 18 or the Guide, the program as outlined is exactly what is being accomplished in our Ward with the exception that there is no provision for the inclusion of youth in the activities. Again, at page 19 here is a quote from the Guide:
The high priests group leader directs the work of family history consultants as he:
• Recommends members to be called and set apart as family history consultants, as requested by the bishopric.
• Works with the bishopric to ensure that enough consultants are called to meet the needs of the ward.
• Provides assignments to consultants, including assignments to work with certain ward members.
• Ensures that consultants are properly prepared to perform their callings and makes them aware of the training resources at
In addition, we have already established Family History Centers in the Stakes around the Church, let's use them. Where there are no centers, how about a dedicated family history class room where a class or assistance can be given every Sunday? How about some other innovative ways to provide the training and help necessary to actually do family history?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Indexing Obituaries -- a rare opportunity to see the past

When we participate in the FamilySearch Indexing project, we a get a unique opportunity to open a window into the past we may never have experienced except for our indexing efforts. As genealogists, we stick pretty much to the sources and records of our own families, but as indexers we can see records that we never would have looked at any other way. The effect of this exposure to a large variety of records from around the world can be unpredictable.

For example, FamilySearch is looking for volunteers, in a recent blog post entitled "Obituary Arbitration in 6 Easy Steps," they asked:
FamilySearch needs hundreds of additional arbitrators to help with the new obituary projects, both to help publish the records and to help others get past the learning curve for this new record type.
I have an insight into this activity having scanned thousands of death records from the City of Mesa Cemetery and I can say that reading death notices will change your understanding of life. This new emphasis on obituaries is part of a larger effort to focus on modern records that connect recent generations. The advantage, of course, to the indexer is that text is not usually in a foreign language, it is printed and it tells a story. I think we will see some interesting reactions as people begin indexing this type of record.

If you are interested, FamilySearch has prepared an instruction document called "Indexing Obituaries and Death Notices." As a matter of fact, this document is a remarkable analysis of obituary entries and would be useful to anyone researching obituaries.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Who can get lists of Stake, District, Ward or Branch members registered in FamilySearch programs?

I realize the title to this post is quite long, but it asks a question that has been coming up lately in our Ward discussions. There is a Help Center document addressing this very issue. The questions it addresses are the following:
  • How can I get a list of members who are registered in new FamilySearch in my stake, district, ward, or branch?
  • Can I get a list of my ward members who are registered in new
  • How can I get a list of members who are registered in in my ward or branch?
  • How can I register all my ward members for new FamilySearch?
  • How can I get a list of members who are registered for an LDS Account in my ward?
Quoting from the answer, we find that this access is allowed through proper Priesthood channels. Here is the answer from the Product Support portion of Get Help:
There is not a way to obtain a list of members who have registered in new FamilySearch or

You can find a list of your local ward Family History Consultants in the Help Center under the Local Assistance Tab.

You can obtain a list of those who have registered at or for consultant mailings and for training in the Help Center of new FamilySearch from an Area Family History Adviser. This list contains Family History Consultants, priesthood leaders, family history center directors, assistant family history directors, and others who have registered at or These lists are usually provided to stake and ward priesthood leaders only.
It is possible for authorized members to obtain a list of those who have obtained an LDS Account. Most stake presidency members, district presidencies, bishoprics, branch presidencies, high priest group leaders and elders quorum presidents have access to what is called “Administrator Options” on to enable them to add information and other content to their individual unit websites. The stake, district, ward, or branch website administrator also has the same authority. Those who have this authority can access this list by signing into their own stake, district, ward, or branch website and then, in the blue area to the left, scrolling down and clicking on a small box called ‘Administrator Options’. Once that screen opens, they can scroll down in the green area and click on ‘Registered Users’. This will open a list of members in the unit who have an LDS Account. Because a member has an LDS Account doesn’t necessarily mean that these individuals have signed in to new FamilySearch. It only means that they have a user name and password to enable them to do so.
Other information, such as reports on the number of people volunteering for Indexing etc. can also be obtained through proper channels. This particular answer refers to, which, of course, has now been made READ ONLY.

The Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond, Judy Russell and Stephanie Nielsen at RootsTech 2014

I find it very interesting that the "big name" keynote speakers at the huge RootsTech 2014 Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, February 6 - 8, 2014, are well-known bloggers. There are 3 of the 6 speakers that are bloggers; Ree Drummand with The Pioneer Woman blog, Judy Russell of The Legal Genealogist blog and Stephanie Nielsen of the NieNIe Dialogues blog.

Ree Drummond is one of the opening keynote speakers for RootsTech 2014. Through her popular blog, cookbooks, and Food Network show, she shares glimpses into her life as a ranch wife and a mother, with photos, memories, stories, and food. In February 2010, she was listed as 22 on the Forbes' list of top 25 web celebrities.

Drummond said, "I love sharing stories about my family and our experiences on the ranch, so I'm really excited to be part of RootsTech this year. It's all about finding ways to share family stories and strengthen family connections. And of course, not all stories have to be about life on a cattle ranch or buttery adventures in the kitchen-every family has its own unique history! I'm looking forward to sharing a little of mine at RootsTech."

Also speaking at RootsTech, on Saturday, February 8, is Stephanie Nielsen, author of the popular blog, NieNie Dialogues. In 2008, Stephanie and her husband were in a serious plane crash. Over 80 percent of her body was burned. Her story of survival and recovery are documented on her blog and has been recounted in interviews with Oprah Winfrey and on the TODAY show. In 2012, Nielsen published her book Heaven is Here.

One interesting comment, in my own Ward and in talking to members in other Wards, I find very few who have heard of RootsTech 2014 or any other RootsTech Conference. I was talking to a patron at the Mesa FamilySearch Library yesterday who is taking a Genealogy class at BYU Idaho and she had never heard of RootsTech at all. It might be a good idea to have the BYU folks make their students aware of the Conference. If you read this, it also might be a good idea to talk about this in your Ward. 

Where Are the Instructions??? - FamilySearch Family Tree and Photos

I realize that there are many of us that do not feel that we need help with new products. I am usually one of these people, but of late, I have taken to reading the instructions completely before starting a new project. It may come as a surprise to many users of the website, but there are complete and extensive instructions for all the programs. The key to finding these resources is the Get Help menu at the top-right of the Startup page. Here is a screenshot showing the link:

As usual, you can click on the image to see an enlarged view. Clicking on the link opens a pull-down menu:

If you are signed in as a member, you will see the following screen, if not, the icons concerning the Temple will be missing.

I highlighted the icons for Family Tree and Photos and Stories. Clicking on those icons adds extensive support material at the bottom of the page for each of those products. There is also a place to enter search items to search past answers to questions.

The one thing that is missing from this list is a link to the Reference Guide to Family Tree. That is located on Here is the link to the complete Reference Guide. Be sure and check back periodically for updates to all the materials.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

My Ancestors and the Temple

Many of the stories of my ancestors deal with their interaction with the Temples. My 3rd Great-grandfather, George Jarvis, and his family worked on the construction St. George Temple and Tabernacle. Some of the stories come from a highly fictionalized account of his life as follows:

Kleinman, Mary Miles. The Essence of Faith. Springville, UT: Art City Pub. Co, 1973.

I might note that this book is in the FamilySearch Library catalog and also in I got the link to the FamilySearch Library from The OCLC number for this book is 50688381.

Back to the stories. In another book,

Overson, Margaret Godfrey (Jarvis). George Jarvis and Joseph George De Friez Genealogy. Mesa, Ariz: s.n, 1957.

The following story is told about George Frederick Jarvis, one of my uncles and the son of George Jarvis. 
An incident should be mentioned in connection with the plaster work our George was doing on the Temple. He was working on a scaffold high up near one of the southwest corner round windows. There was a scaffold above his head on which other workmen were, also. He thought he heard someone say, "Step inside the window. " He looked around to see who had spoken, but saw no one. Again he heard, "Step inside the window. " which he immediately did. Just then the workman from the scaffold above stepped down on the one he had been on, struck a knot in the plank, causing it to break. Had he not moved inside the window, he would have been struck by the plank, and knocked to the ground. The other workman went through the scaffold to the ground, and those below expected to see him mashed to a jelly, but on being examined, found that no bones were broken, 'tho' he was badly bruised. He was off work for a few days only. There were some other accidents that were narrow escapes, but when the Temple was completed it was found that the Prophesy made by President Young at the start of building, had been literally fulfilled. He had promised, "If you do right and Keep the Commandments of the Lord, no lives will be lost during the erection of the Temple.
Recently, FamilySearch had a blog post entitled, Temples and Our Ancestors. Quoting from that post
In the past year we have read and heard the quote from President Hunter teaching us that there are two halves to the blessings of temple and family history work. We are first blessed by attending the temple. We are further blessed by taking our own ancestors’ names to the temple for temple work.
Elder Neal A Maxwell said that “Temple attendance…provides a powerful and pointed invitation to become better. The ways of the world receive constant reinforcement—should not the ways of heaven?’’ We want to improve in our own lives. Doing our ancestor’s temple work opens the doors for them to improve also. As we do more and more temple work, it becomes a wonderful circle of improving ourselves while giving others the opportunity to do the same.
FamilySearch has gathered videos of many people bearing testimony to the joy and strength they find in their lives as they participate in family history work. These videos are available to you for your inspiration and for you to use as you teach others about this important work. Find these videos on under Media library: Family History: Work of Salvation.
From time to time, I will share more stories from my ancestors about their experiences in and around the Temple.

Genealogy Presentations inside and outside the Church

This past weekend I had a very interesting experience. On Saturday, I attended the Yuma FamilySearch Center Conference in a Stake Center in Yuma, Arizona. Yuma is about three hours south of Mesa and this is the third year in a row I have attended and taught at that Conference. I taught 6 one-hour classes in a row. The very next day, I taught essentially one of the same classes to a Ward in Gilbert, Arizona during their Sunday School time of the Block. Both classes were about the same subject;'s Family Tree Program. After the second day's class, I had to remark about the distinctive difference between the two classes and put down some of my thoughts.

I am going to compare the two classes I taught on the same subject. Bear in mind that in Yuma, I was teaching at a Conference where the people attending were not all members of the Church. Also in Yuma, the people who came had chosen to attend the Conference on a Saturday. They did not have any obligation to be there. In contrast, the class on Sunday was part of a regularly scheduled set of Sunday meetings we call the Block. None of the people there were there because of their prior interest in genealogy or FamilySearch or Family Tree. Both meetings were well attended. I estimate the Yuma meeting had over 100 people. The Gilbert meeting had close to 250 people. Both meetings were held in the Chapel of a Stake Center. My presentation in Yuma was very specific about the program and generated a great deal of comments and questions from the participants. In Gilbert, the presentation was mainly a PowerPoint and there were very few comments and even fewer questions. As a side note, I knew only a very, very few of the people in Yuma, maybe one or two. In contrast, I saw probably a dozen or more people in the Gilbert Ward I knew personally.

Now what were the main differences between the two classes on two different days? I assure you, the experiences were completely and dramatically different.

A first impression was that the differences between the meetings could be attributed to the voluntary vs. quasi-involuntary nature of the two groups in attendance. But I think the differences run much deeper than that. Genealogy is a touchy subject to discuss in the Church. I am in a position to talk to both those who are members of the Church and those who are not, on a one-to-one basis almost every day, day after day. When I talk to people about genealogy in a non-church setting, such as my class last week at the Maricopa County Library, I find that those in attendance are mostly very curious and have a lot of questions. They are concerned about how to proceed to find their ancestors and are very surprised at what I say and tell them. I get the exactly opposite response generally from members of the Church. When I bring up the subject of genealogy in any context, I seldom hear questions and I almost always get a change-the-subject negative reaction. There are a few notable exceptions, but they are mostly with people who are already involved in genealogy one way or another.

What was interesting to me was that this difference in attitude came across as the main contrast between the Yuma and Gilbert classes. When I am teaching, I can tell if the class members are responding to what I am saying. If they are not, I feel like I am wading through mud or talking to a brick wall. That is what I felt like with the Ward in Gilbert. I could sense the antagonism and lack of interest. This is not just a passive disinterest, but an active antagonism. As a consolation, I did have several people after the Gilbert presentation who went beyond the polite, "thanks for coming," type of response and indicated that they had learned something during the class. But, the overall feeling of the meeting was in sharp contrast to the open, interested response in Yuma.

Why is this the case? Why do members of the Church generally respond in a negative fashion to the ideas of doing family history? Was it the content and manner of my presentation? From my perspective, I was talking about the same subject in almost exactly the same way to both groups. In the case of Yuma, I felt the positive response of the audience and in Gilbert it was almost exactly opposite.

It seems to me that this attitude of Church members generally has to be addressed. I do not think it is lack of interest per se. When I address any congregation of members in almost any context where they are in a formal Church meeting, I frequently get the same negative response to genealogy. I am reminded of the old saying, familiarity breeds contempt. Family History is viewed as "just another program" that will add more time and responsibilities and has no clear benefits. It is like repeated pleas to "do your home teaching and visiting teaching." Everyone in the Church "knows" that they have this responsibility, but they have no idea how they are going to add this "new" program into their already busy and distracted lives. They see people like me who are involved on a regular basis and they see that as a threat. It is an entirely cultural and not a religious response. They see genealogy as a threat to replace something they already are doing and value as a positive activity with an activity they find boring and uninteresting.

In any event, the issue is real. There is a distinct negative response to Family History or genealogy or whatever you want to call it from members. Perhaps as I write about this subject, I can come up with some positive suggestions to alleviate this antagonism? I certainly hope so.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Mark Kendall: Demo: A needle-free vaccine patch that's safer and way che...

The Duty to Keep Accurate Temple Records

 I have been thinking recently about the importance of accurate record-keeping. This has been a constant recurring theme in my blog posts over the years mainly due to the fact that so many of the genealogy records that I encounter are sloppy, inaccurate and incomplete. I have used this example in my past writings. This is taken from and is a list of the name variations for one of my ancestors.

Francis Tanner
* Francis TANNER
France Tanner
Francis Tanner Esq.
Mr Mr Tanner
Mr. Mr. Tanner
Mr. Tanner
William Tanner

The correct name was Francis Tanner. These particular variations were each recorded multiple times. In my mind, there is absolutely no excuse for this kind of research or whatever you want to call it. The historical record concerning the Tanner family back to Francis Tanner is well-documented and not subject to any particular dispute as to the identities of the individuals. Although some of the variations are merely stylistic, the fact that the individual was identified as Mr. Tanner or wrongly as William Tanner is difficult for me to understand in light of these scriptural injunctions requiring accuracy.

Elder Rudger Clawson explained the sacred obligation of keeping accurate temple records: 
In the early days of the Church, some baptisms for the dead that were not properly witnessed and recorded, were rejected of the Lord, and the work had to be done over again. We know that great care and attention is given to this matter today in our Temples, and that efficient help must be secured to do this. … Truly it is a great and marvelous work, and not the least important thing about it is that these ordinances are all carefully recorded in the books and are filed away in the archives of the Temple, to be brought forth in due time. From these records the people who have gone to that house will be judged. Nothing that is done in that Temple will be accepted of the Lord, except it is properly witnessed and recorded. (In Conference Report, Apr. 1900, pp. 43–44.)
Further quoting from the Introduction to Family History Teacher Manual: Religion 261, (2012), 16–21 from Brigham Young University:
This lesson reviews the basics for recording family history information and the importance of being as accurate and complete as possible in keeping records. The lesson is designed to also remind students that as they gather names of their ancestors, they are dealing with people who live as spirits in the postmortal spirit world. The Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith (1805–44), “We without them cannot be made perfect; neither can they without us be made perfect” (D&C 128:18).
 One of the most obvious results of this lack of concern for accuracy is the rampant duplication of Temple work created by the inaccurate records. This has been a problem for a considerable period of time. Elder J. Thomas Fyans in speaking in General Conference in October of 1978 gave the following account:
It has become apparent that genealogical research efforts are being duplicated.To determine the extent to which such duplication exists, I took my genealogicalrecords to a professional research institute. They compared my records with theirname pool and determined that they already had ninety-five percent of myrecords in their file. That means that only five percent of my records are uniqueto me. Thirty-four other clients shared my ancestry. I was rather amazed withthis and wondered if such a high rate of duplication existed among the generalpopulation. At my request the institute took a sampling of clients from all parts ofthe United States, members of the Church and nonmembers. These names werecompared with records in their name pool, and it was determined that eightypercent were duplicates. Only twenty percent were unique. 
I found through a study made by another institution that I have at least 348 first,second, and third cousins, all of whom could be searching for the same pair ofsecond great-grandparents. 
From this you can see that duplication is tremendous in genealogical research. Itis for this basic reason that President Kimball has directed us that we shouldseek out our ancestors back four generations. After that we should work togetheras a Church through the records extraction program.
 With the tremendous tools we now have to research our ancestors, we are literally without excuse and failing to provide accurate records as a basis for Temple ordinances.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Harold B. Lee Library Digital Collection on the Internet Archive

The sources I find on the Web are a never ending supply of surprises. One of the websites that is always a treasure trove is the Internet Archive ( This website has a huge collection of items from dozens of public and university libraries all across the United States. Interestingly, the Internet Archive also has a substantial collection of items from the Harold B. Library at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah consisting of over 21,000 items from different collections.

Of particular interest to genealogists, is a collection of old maps. But the rest of the historical collections could be of help to genealogists who are searching for historical, cultural and other background information about their families. The Internet Archive is an endless source of fascinating documents, recordings, videos and everything in between in over 10 petabytes of stored documents. Just as a note to genealogists, the Internet Archive has a free complete digitized copy of the U.S. Federal Census records from 1790 to 1930.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Why do Mormons perform baptisms for the dead?

As a genealogist, I am in situations where the question in the blog title is frequently raised. Some of the people who ask this question are serious inquirers. Others are antagonistic to the principle altogether. It is important to realize that as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we have a valid, scripturally supported basis for our beliefs concerning this important ordinance. Quoting from the Frequently Asked Questions section of
Jesus Himself, though without sin, was baptized to fulfill all righteousness and to show the way for all mankind (see Matthew 3:13-17; 2 Nephi 31:5-12). Thus, baptism is essential for salvation in the kingdom of God. We learn in the New Testament that baptisms for the dead were done during the Apostle Paul’s time (see 1 Corinthians 15:29). This practice has been restored with the establishment of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Prophet Joseph Smith first taught about the ordinance of baptism for the dead during a funeral sermon in August 1840. He read much of 1 Corinthians 15, including verse 29, and announced that the Lord would permit Church members to be baptized in behalf of their friends and relatives who had departed this life. He told them “the plan of salvation was calculated to save all who were willing to obey the requirements of the law of God” (Journal History of the Church, 15 Aug. 1840).
Section 128 of the Doctrine and Covenants is a letter from Joseph Smith containing instructions about the principle of baptism for the dead. The basis for the practice is explicitly set forth in Verse 8:
8 Now, the nature of this ordinance consists in the power of the priesthood, by the revelation of Jesus Christ, wherein it is granted that whatsoever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Or, in other words, taking a different view of the translation, whatsoever you record on earth shall be recorded in heaven, and whatsoever you do not record on earth shall not be recorded in heaven; for out of the books shall your dead be judged, according to their own works, whether they themselves have attended to the ordinances in their own propria persona, or by the means of their own agents, according to the ordinance which God has prepared for their salvation from before the foundation of the world, according to the records which they have kept concerning their dead.
Those who are members of the Church have more reasons to seek after our dead and do the work of genealogy or family history than those who do so out of an interest or hobby. As Joseph Smith said,
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’; 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.
( History of the Church, 6:313. )
 This responsibility is not discharged by planning to do your genealogy sometime in the future or when you retire. I did not retire from work, I retired to work. I merely changed the emphasis of my full-time profession as an attorney, to take on another full-time profession, that of genealogist and teacher of genealogy. I see too many of my contemporaries, who are now at or past the retirement age, pursuing an "active adult lifestyle" focused on themselves and their desires and needs and not on taking their, now retired time, to do what they put off for so long. I haven't ever seen a time limit placed on our duty to seek after our dead or that we only need to do so when it is convenient or not interfering with our "active lifestyle."

I suggest that those who question the doctrines of the Church and claim that Mormons are destroying the cultural heritage by baptizing their ancestors, would deny those same ancestors, who are active, individual spirit children of our Father in Heaven, the same rights to determine their own beliefs and actions as those same people would so defend for themselves.

If you do not believe in an afterlife, then baptism for the dead would seem unnecessary. If you do believe in an afterlife, what gives you the right to determine how your loved ones who have passed on want to believe or what they want to do in that afterlife? If you are a believer, and also a member of the Church, why would you deny those same ancestors the right to be baptized if they wished to be? How is your failure to do your own genealogy and seek after your own dead any less of an issue than those outside the Church who would deny them the opportunity through stopping the practice of baptisms for the dead?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Benefits of FamilySearch Indexing

I thought it would be a good idea to pass along some blog posts from the FamilySearch Consultants Blog since not everyone sees this blog. These posts give some excellent examples that can be used in classes or for your own motivation. If you are an Indexer, you may wish to subscribe to the blog posts. You can do this with a Reader program such as or any other Reader or News Aggregator program. Here are the links to the posts:
If you haven't yet visited the new Indexing website, it is up and running but will continue to be enhanced over the next few months as FamilySearch works towards implementing online Indexing. Here is a screen shot of the new Indexing Web Site:

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Pass This Along

One thing I have noticed is that relatively few of the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have any particular contact with genealogical news concerning the Church's programs. I started this blog for the purpose of partially rectifying that issue and attempting to disseminate more information about the genealogical community within the Church. If you are reading this blog and enjoying what you read, please consider republishing links to this blog through Facebook, email and other online social networking programs. Thanks for all the kind comments and encouragement I have received in the past couple of months.

As usual, I very much appreciate comments especially suggestions for blog topics and questions.

Explanation added to Ordinances that "Need More Information"

In the past, when you saw this notice, you had to search around and try to figure out what was missing from your entries so that you could proceed with the ordinances. Now from an announcement in the FamilySearch Blog we have new resources:
When you have a deceased person in your Family Tree that doesn’t have enough information to qualify for temple ordinances, Family Tree now tells you what information is needed. More than 20 different situations can trigger the “Needs More Information” ordinance status to appear, which means it can be hard for a member to figure out what critical information is missing. Now you can get help knowing exactly what is missing and how you can update the record to qualify for temple ordinance work.
On the person’s summary card, hover your mouse over the ordinance status to see an explanation. If the status is “Needs More Information,” that message now tells you what information is needed:

Also, in the LDS Ordinances section of the person’s details, the information appears right beneath the ordinance status:

This is an area where I have gotten quite a few questions over the past months and this new addition will help to explain what is missing and how to go about resolving the issues. Thanks FamilySearch. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

How to add photos to Family Tree Photos -- the details you need to know

The Photos program has proved to be an extremely popular addition to the Family Tree program. However, in teaching classes about the program I find the same questions repeated. Here are some of the more common issues with my explanation of how the problems can be resolved.

1. The first issue is that of scanning or digitizing files. Here is a helpful website with scanning tips and a series of blog posts called Scanning 101 - The Basics. Scanning seems as simple as putting the photo on the scanner's screen and pushing a button, but it is really a lot more complicated.

2. One basic issue facing those who wish to upload their photos to is the format and file size of the images. Presently,the program is limited to a 5 MB file size and JPEG and PNG file formats. Since JPEGs are the most common file format created by scanners and digital cameras it is likely that most of the photos that are digitized for use with the program are already in that format. It is important to note that most archivists would recommend storing your photos in the TIF format to avoid loss of image quality if the photo is edited. You will then need to convert the TIFF files to JPEG files to upload to Family Tree. There are a number of free programs you can download from the Internet that will allow you to edit the photos without too much difficulty by changing the file format or the file size of the image. Two very commonly used programs are Google's Picasa and There are dozens of other programs that could be used.

3. The next issue is that of editing or manipulating the photo. I am of the strong opinion that the photos used for genealogical/historical purposes should not be edited. Most of the editing that I see on the Photos program involves cropping the photo to show just one individual in a group picture. By doing this, the user destroys the context of the photo and any relationships that may be indicated by the people depicted. I realize that there is absolutely no way to stop this from happening but I think that it is extremely important that the entire original photograph be uploaded. The purpose of the tagging function of the Photos program is partly to identify individuals in a group. Why have this feature if the users are going to crop the photos to eliminate the group?

Another tendency is for people to use the editing functions of the photo-manipulation programs to change the content of the photo in some way, usually to rectify assumed defects in the original photograph. Once again, from an archivist standpoint, it is important to preserve an accurate and unedited copy of the original. I have written about this issue in previous posts and probably will in the future again and again.

4. What if your photos are in an album? If the photos can be removed, it is a good idea to remove them from the albums before you begin scanning, if this can be accomplished without damaging the photos. If the photos are permanently mounted (glued) to the album pages, I suggest scanning the entire page as one image and then copying out the individual photos one at a time by cropping to the individual image and then saving the cropped image with a different name than the entire page. Here is a copy of a scanned album page:

In this particular case, the photos were glued down and there was no reason to "save" the album as such. So we cut the photos out of album individually. Fortunately, the photos were only on one side of the pages. The mounts were also permanently glued to the photos. Here is an example of the final scan of a photo from the album with the mounts clearly visible and still stuck to the photo:

The image was scanned as a TIFF file at 400 dpi and then converted to a JPEG when it was uploaded for this blog post. The TIFF image was 138.5 MBs and the JPEG image was 1.4 MBs. I happened to use Adobe Lightroom for the conversion, but you could use the programs I mentioned above or any others that accomplish the same size reduction.

To be continued...

Monday, January 6, 2014

Some details about FamilySearch Family Tree they don't tell you about in the manual

There are a number of things about the Family Tree that are not obvious and are not in the manual. Here are a few of the issues I have noticed that might help you understand what is going on in the program.

1. Many of the individual Details pages have a huge number of variations on the individual's name that show up under the category of "Alternative Name." These are useless for the most part as left-overs from all the prior submissions with slight variations in the way the name was submitted previously. Here are two screenshots showing an extreme example:

As you can see, the list of Alternative Names is longer than I can show with two screen shots. All of these alternatives are listed as "Birth Name." They are not the birth name. The birth name is at the top of the Detail Page. They are duplicates or wrong and are not necessary. They should just be deleted as duplicates. However, in making that remark, I have had people respond that they thought all of them should be preserved because they are there. On the contrary, there is absolutely no reason to preserve all of the past mistakes for posterity. Just click on each entry and delete them. If you don't want to bother to spend the time, then at least don't go around justifying keeping them in the file. 

Now, there are alternate birth names. In the rare case that someone's birth name is unknown or has variations, those variations should certainly be preserved with substantial source references. If the person changed his or her name later in life, such as when the person immigrated, then of course, that type of change should be included under Alternate Names and documented. 

2. Green Arrows almost never mean that ordinances are available unless they are people who were only very recently added to the Family Tree. If you encounter green arrows on your pedigree just remember that this information was brought over directly from and people have been working on that program looking for green arrows for the past five or six years. If there really were any ordinances ready to be done they would have long since been taken care of. In fact, the green arrows in Family Tree usually mean that more information is necessary or that there are duplicates. Unfortunately, there is still a substantial problems with the merge function of the program and so it is advisable to be highly cautious with green arrows especially those in families that you know have been members of the Church for a considerable period of time.

3. The fan chart view of the pedigree would entice you to believe that you needed to research the missing people. In reality, when the fan chart shows an end-of-line it usually means that research needs to be done in the preceding generations (more recent). The simplest way to check whether this is the case is to look at the Details Page for the individual who is listed right below the open space in the fan chart and see if there are any sources listed for that individual. If there are no sources, there is no confidence level that the information is correct. This indicates that you should start your research with that person or the first person in the line who has sources and has been substantiated.

4. As with the duplicates listed for birth names, many of the "Notes" imported from are meaningless and should simply be deleted. Read the note. If it makes sense and contributes to the information about the individual, keep it. Otherwise, delete it. 

5. Always check to see which stories, photos, and documents have already been uploaded for the program before adding your own. I am seeing as many as four and five duplicate photos for a single individual.

6. The manual does encourage you to supply your email address. I would point out that this is a cooperative program and failure to provide contact information indicates that you do not wish to cooperate. From my perspective, if you add something without substantiation and do not provide contact information I will simply delete your entry. If you have privacy concerns get over it.

7. Remember that there are still unresolved duplicates in the program for those individuals who have excessive combined duplicates carried over from This will be the case as long as the two programs are still linked. This is true even though is read-only. If you think about this, you'll realize that adding a lot of of sources and editing the entries for these individuals may end up with the loss of all the changes made when mergers are finally possible. Think about it.

 That's probably enough for the moment. It's very likely I'll have more in the future. As usual, comments are welcome and taken seriously.