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

Friday, July 31, 2015

FSFamilyTreeUserGroup Website Makeover

The has revamped their very useful website. Here is a screenshot of the latest version of their startup page:

The core value of this website is the huge collection of training resources directed at Family History Consultants, Beginners, those using the Family Tree and others. Many of these resources are in the form of professional level presentations, such as the following example:

Short of listing all the presentations and resources, there is really no way for me to help you find something that will help you in learning about family history. There are too many different, useful and valuable resources for me to list.

This is a website well worth exploring.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

RecordSeek revisited and updated

Some of us have experienced connection issues between's applet and Here is the response:

As the image shows, "We've had login issues with FamilySearch over the past few weeks. We just pushed a release, and it should be working perfect. Please let us know if you experience any issues."

I tried out RecordSeek and it seems to work fine now. If you are even thinking about adding sources to the Family Tree, you need this app. Watch the video on the website and add the applet to your browser bar.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

More about Standard Place Names in FamilySearch Family Tree

If you have entered any data at all into the Family Tree, you have experienced the suggestion of a "Standard Place" or "Standard Date." Here is a screenshot showing the program's suggestion for a standard place:

The purpose for entering dates and places in a "standardized" fashion is explained in a Help Center document entitled, "Entering standardized dates and places." (Please be aware that Help Center documents and my links to them may change at any time. If you find that a link to a Help Center document no longer works, try going to the Help Center and searching for specific terms or phrases in the document you wish to find).
When you enter dates and places, Family Tree helps you select a standardized date or place. Using standardized dates and places helps clarify the information that you enter. It also helps the system locate people with the Find feature. 
Note: FamilySearch recommends you use the name of the place at the time of the event. This matches with sources and facilitates hinting. FamilySearch is working to connect historic names of places with their modern names.
In reality, you can enter a non-standard date or place and the program will record it. The problem, as pointed out by the quote, is that unless a date format or place name is standard, the Search function of the Family Tree will have difficulty finding it or using it to find other information. One common problem with using non-standard dates is that the children in a family do not get sorted chronologically. Let's suppose you enter the date as follows:


This date has some problems. First of all is it 1899, 1799 or 1999? In addition, is it April 5th or May 4th? For this reason, the standardized dates now require this format:

5 April 1899

The name of the month should be completely spelled out. If you use an abbreviation for the month, it is too easily confused with the many different languages used by the people using the program around the world.

Now what about places? As the Help Center articles states, we need to be recording the places as they were called at the time the event occurred. I have used this before, but it is still a good example. Here are the changes in place name where my Tanner family originally settled in Arizona:

  • Allen's Camp, Yavapai, Arizona Territory, United States
  • St. Joseph, Yavapai, Arizona Territory, United States
  • St. Joseph, Apache, Arizona Territory, United States
  • St. Joseph, Navajo, Arizona Territory, United States
  • St. Joseph, Navajo, Arizona, United States

The physical location did not change (maybe a little) but the changes in governmental jurisdictions and names are important for locating records about the people during the different times the records were created. Can I enter all these variations, when appropriate? Yes, certainly. There is a detailed explanation of how to do this in the Help Center document. Click here for the full explanation. Here a quote with most of the pertinent information:

  1. Begin typing the date or place. If Family Tree can identify the date or place that you mean, a list of standardized dates and places appears.

    Note: The standard format for entering BC (Before Christ) dates is 0120 BC and 0045 BC.
  2. Click the correct option: The standardized date and place appears beneath the field. If the Family Tree can apply a standard, it does so, even if you did not choose an option from the list.
    • If you want the system to use only the standardized date or place, click the standard date or place in the list. The standard replaces what you entered.  If you do not know the exact date, you can use "about," "before," or "after" with a year for a standardized date.
    • If you want the system to keep exactly what you enter, click None of the Above. This option appears at the bottom of the list of standard dates or places.
    • Standardized dates and places show a green banner with the date or place. Nonstandardized dates and places show a yellowish banner and the words "No Standard Selected.  Click here to select a date" (or "place").  Click the message, and then click a standardized date or place.
Shows the yellowish banner for a non-standardized date.
  1. To include extra information that does not appear in the standardized place, such as the name of a hospital, cemetery, or church where the event took place, use the steps below: 
    1. Begin typing the place as you want it to appear. As you type, the system displays the closest matches in the list of standardized places.

    2. After the part you want to add (cemetery in the example), type the final part of the place as it appears in the standardized place. If you are typing an old historical place, type the place, and then type the modern place to connect the old name for the place with the standardized name.

      The system now displays the place you typed and the standardized place.
    3. Instead of clicking the standardized place, click somewhere else on the screen. The system leaves the place as you type it but connects the place with the standardized place.

  • Use Step 3 to put in old historical places with different modern names. Following this step preserves the old name but connects it with the modern name. Connecting with the standardized place makes it easier for other people who use the Find feature to find this person. If they look for a name and a place, the system can match the place they enter with the standardized place.
  • When you edit a date or place, click the date or place; then press the down arrow on the keyboard to see the standardized date or place.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Introduction of The Family History Guide

The Family History Guide was formally introduced as a App in the App Gallery recently. The image above is the info page for the new App. Here is the explanation of the App from the page:
The Family History Guide helps you get started - and get farther - with your family history. There are links to over 1,000 videos and articles, all integrated into a step-by-step learning plan for learners of all levels. Projects include Family Tree, Memories, Descendants or Ordinances, Discover (research for over 35 countries), Indexing, Help, and Technology. Classroom materials are also available for instructors who want to teach using The Family History Guide.
I also wrote a post on this event for Genealogy's Star.

The Family History Guide is a comprehensive, structured introduction to the website and to doing family history research. Here is a summary from the website:
About The Family History Guide
The Family History Guide is a website that represents a best-in-class learning environment for family history. Its scope is broad, but its focus is narrow enough to help you achieve your goals, step by step. Whether you're brand new to family history or a seasoned researcher - or somewhere in between - The Family History Guide can be your difference maker.

Here are some of the unique features you'll find on the site:
  • Over 350 Goals for learning, supported by over 600 flexible Choices
  • Step-by-step instructions to make learning easier
  • Links to over 1,000 videos and articles from FamilySearch, Ancestry, and more
  • Quick-links to search records from multiple sources
  • Project Tracker sheets and Classroom materials for self-study or group instruction
Like any worthwhile pursuit, family history has two essential elements: Learning and Doing. Let's see how The Family History Guide helps you do both, to help you gain that important sense of connection with your family tree.
I will be teaching a series of classes at the Brigham Young University Family History Library about this new product in September.

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Honeymoon Trail

"Lee's Ferry" by Gonzo fan2007 - Own work. Licensed under GFDL via Wikimedia Commons -
After the construction of the Temple in St. George, Utah, many of the young couples (and older ones also) traveled from the Mormon settlements in Arizona to St. George to get married. The route they traveled became known as the "Honeymoon Trail" from an article written by historian and Arizona newspaper writer, Will C. Barnes in the Arizona Highways magazine. The "trail" ran roughly from St. George to Hurricane, Utah and then up the Hurricane Cliff and along the base of the cliffs to Fredonia in Arizona. The parties then generally stopped in Kanab and then to Lee's Ferry on the Colorado River. The very rough trail then led south to the Little Colorado River and then followed the Little Colorado into the colonies in Northern Arizona. The trails varied in Arizona but had to all cross the Colorado River at Lee's Ferry or further west at Pearce's Ferry. The northern route was preferred as shorter and more populated. Using a satellite view, most of the trail from Lee's Ferry to the Little Colorado River can still be seen.

Many of my own relatives traveled the "Honeymoon Trail." Here is a photo of my Grandfather, Leroy Parkinson Tanner, and his mother, Margaret Godfrey Jarvis Overson, probably taken while they were traveling from St. Johns, Arizona to St. George, Utah. I am guessing that this was taken by my grandmother, Eva Margaret Overson Tanner. From the time of the photo and the age of the people, it was also likely around the time that my grandfather and grandmother got married in 1923.

They would have had to have crossed the Colorado River at Lee's Ferry because the bridge over the river was not built until 1929. I do not know the identify of the lady on the left in the photo.

Here is a selection of books and documents about the Honeymoon Trail.

Barnes, Will C. “The Honeymoon Trail to Utah...” Arizona Highways, 1934, 6–7.

Byrkit, James W. “Honeymoon Trial.” [Medford, Ore.]: Benchmark Maps, 1998.

Elkins, Richard Ira, and Laura Lee Smith. The Honeymoon Trail: [a Pioneer Story for Young People]. Salt Lake City, UT: Speciality Press, 1987.

Garret, H. Dean, Clark V Johnson, Brigham Young University, and Department of Church History and Doctrine. Regional Studies in Latter-Day Saint Church History, Arizona. Provo, Utah: Dept. of Church History and Doctrine, Brigham Young University, 1989.

Pauley, Jane, and Bob Dotson. Mormon Newlyweds Reenact Honeymoon Trail. New York: NBCUniversal Media, LLC., 1982.

Ricketts, Norma B. Northern Arizona Mormon Pioneers Collection, 1735.

Ricketts, Norma B, David B Haight, Marshall Trimble, James W Byrkit, and International Society Daughters of Utah Pioneers. Arizona’s Honeymoon Trail and Mormon Wagon Roads. Mesa, Ariz.: Maricopa East Co., International Society, Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 2001.

Ricketts, Norma B, Beatrice B Malouf, and Daughters of Utah Pioneers. Pioneer Potpourri. [Salt Lake City, Utah]: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1994.

Wiggins, Lou Jean S, and Daughters of Utah Pioneers. Utah Pioneers in Southern Arizona: Gila River River Valley and San Pedro River Valley. [Salt Lake City, Utah]: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 2008.

Young, Valerie P. “The ‘Honeymoon Trail’: Link to Community and a Sense of Place in the Little Colorado River Settlements of Arizona, 1877-1927,” 2005.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Find, Take, Teach

On October 8, 2012, the First Presidency letter contained, among other things, this very important clarifying statement, “When members of the Church find the names of their ancestors and take those names to the temple for ordinance work, the temple experience can be greatly enriched.” This counsel was augmented by Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his family on the stage during Family Discovery Day at RootsTech, February 14, 2015.

This process is summarized by the statement to "Find, Take, Teach." The finding process is augmented by the new tools in and other websites. The taking process is the most enjoyable part but also the most important. The last step, to teach what you have learned, is just getting some traction. It is time to remember to teach what you know. Help another person (or lots of people) to understand and learn the process of finding their ancestors.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Waking up to technology

The diffusion of innovations according to Rogers (1962). With successive groups of consumers adopting the new technology (shown in blue), its market share (yellow) will eventually reach the saturation level. Based on Rogers, E. (1962) Diffusion of innovations. Free Press, London, NY, USA
I recently read the following:
For years there has been a theory that millions of monkeys typing at random on millions of typewriters would reproduce the entire works of Shakespeare. The Internet has proven this theory to be untrue. 
I guess I would paraphrase that old saying into the following:
There is a theory (my own) that millions of genealogists typing at random on millions of computers will eventually produce a unified family tree. The real Family Tree has proven my theory to be untrue.  
In reality, since the input to the Family Tree is not random, and further, given the fact that all of the entries in the Family Tree can be edited and corrected, the production of a unified Family Tree is certain. Another certainty is that technology will continue to evolve and that there will always be some individuals who will be late adopters or laggards. This is not a theoretical issue. One of the most repetitious issues that I face in helping people with their family history research is a lack of computer (i.e. technological) skills.

If I seem to address this topic regularly, it is because I am reminded of the issue almost every time I start working with a new patron at the Brigham Young University Family History Library. If you study the graph at the beginning of this post, you will see that the yellow line measures the % of market share of a given technology. What is interesting from my own observations from working with patrons is that the nice symmetrical bell curve of the diffusion theory simply does not apply to the adoption of technological innovations in the area of family history and the use of the new technology (such as the website and the Family Tree program) never gets past the early adopters. To illustrate this, here is another quote from Benjamin Franklin:
To get the bad customs of a country changed and new ones, though better, introduced, it is necessary first to remove the prejudices of the people, enlighten their ignorance, and convince them that their interests will be promoted by the proposed changes; and this is not the work of a day.
We have over a hundred years of doing "family history" as certain way and changing the attitudes and prejudices of the people will take much longer than "a day." I am reminded of the Children of Israel who wandered in the wilderness for forty years. I certainly hope it will not take that long for the majority of the members to adopt the Family Tree as a completely new way to do family history.

In this regard, I suggest that diffusion theory, or the theory of how an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among the members of a social system, (See Rogers, Everett M. Diffusion of Innovations. New York: Free Press, 1983) is highly applicable.

Let me propose a hypothetical situation (any resemblance to reality is intentional). Let's suppose that only a certain small number of people in any given society will be interested in or pursue with any consistency serious historical investigation of their ancestral lines. Let's further suppose that doing family history research is moderately to very difficult. In addition, let's suppose that the entire field of family history research is in an accelerated state of technological change. If I assumed these conditions, I would expect that only a very small number of people would ever adapt to those technological changes. The main reason for this is that the motivation to make the effort to adopt the new technology would only be present in the small number of researchers who were interested enough in family history to make the effort and the number interested in family history is already very small.

The question is, can this change? I believe that it can, but it will take a readjustment of a culture that is presently not in a position to see the need to adapt to technological change. The way to overcome this societal inertia is through the program presently under way in the Church: Find, Take and Teach. The key here is the last element of the process, that is, to have those who do overcome the societal inertia and do learn the process, to teach others. See Our Father's Plan is About Families.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Happy Pioneer Day 2015

Pioneer Day is all about family history. My daughter Amy has posted an interesting story about an encounter with a bear called, "Sidney's Little White Cur Dog Saves a Life" you might want to read. But better yet, you might want to find a story about your own pioneer ancestors. As Amy's post mentions, this story and many others are on the Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel website.

As an example, here are some of the resources taken from the entries for my Great-great-grandfather Sidney Tanner:
Here is a quote from the Caroline Barnes Crosby Journal for a further example:
Saturday June 17th arrived at the ferry[.] had to wait untill Sunday morn [Nelson] Merkl[e]y and [Solomon] Conly gave over[.] our turn comes next. Found Samuel Richards and wife just came over from the other side[.] going down 60 miles in Mo to live on a farm, he has lat[e]ly returned from Europe on a 2 years mission, had the small pox[.] is quite disfigured with it, her health very poor[.] had the chills and fever for sometime. The wind rises[.] begins to rain[.] feer it will be bad eroding, went into the stor this morn in co with sis [Sarah] Merkl[e]y, found nothing that I wanted.
Sunday evening arrived safely at winter quarters[.] called at br Hewitts, staid, till towards night, came up to the camping ground, stoped near an old chimney where they told us John Parker formerly lived.
Monday washed
Tuesday commenced braiding a hat.
Wednesday made crackers.
Thursday rainy day, cold and unpleasant, felt sick all day in consequence of the hard days work the day before,
friday finished my hat, sis Merkl[e]y and I took a walk about town[.] Called at Phinehas [Phineas] Richards[.] saw P. Johnsons, Also called at Nathan Tanners[.] had quite an agreeable time.
On the same page here is a list of the related people:
[Brother] Lucas
Homer Duncan
You just might want to have a story or two to tell this 24th of July. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Resources about our pioneer heritage

As part of the celebration of the 24th of July, 2015, I wanted to focus on the pioneer experience both historic and modern. If you have pioneer ancestors, you may or may not know some of their stories. I decided to list just a few of the resources available to find the histories of your own ancestors that may have been pioneers. Here is that list:
  • Christensen, T. C, Ron Tanner, Darin Southam, Katherine Nelson, James Gaisford, Mia Selway, Travis Eberhard, et al. Ephraim’s rescue, 2013.
  • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Family History Department. LDS Reference Unit. Early Church Information File. Salt Lake City, Utah: Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1991.
  • Clayton, William, and LDS Archive Publishers. The Latter-Day Saints’ Emigrants’ Guide: Being a Table of Distances, Showing All the Springs, Creeks, Rivers, Hills, Mountains, Camping Places, and All Other Notable Places, from Council Bluffs, to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake : Also, the Latitudes, Longitudes and Altitudes of the Prominent Points on the Route : Together with Remarks on the Nature of the Land Timber, Grass, &c. : The Whole Route Having Been Carefully Measured by a Roadometer, and the Distance from Point to Point, in English Miles, Accurately Shown. [Grantsville, Utah]: [LDS Archive Publishers].
  • Crockett, David Romney. Saints Find the Place: A Day-by-Day Pioneer Experience. Tucson, Ariz.: LDS-Gems Press, 1997.
  • Daughters of Utah Pioneers, and Lesson Committee. Museum Memories. Vol. 1 Vol. 1. Salt Lake City, Utah: International Society, Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 2009.
  • International Society Daughters of Utah Pioneers. Pioneer Pathways. Salt Lake City, Utah: International Society Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1998.
  • International Society Daughters of Utah Pioneers, and Lesson Committee. Museum Memories. Volume 2 Volume 2, 2010.
  • Jenson, Andrew. Day by Day with Utah Pioneers, 1847.
  • Nibley, Preston. L.D.S. Stories of Faith and Courage. Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1957.
  • Thompson, Vickie. LDS Pioneer Companies of 1847 to Utah. Salt Lake City, Utah: [s.n.]., ///.
  • Utah Immigration Card Index, 1847-1868. Salt Lake City, Utah: Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1963.
Here are some further resources online:
Here is a list of libraries from that have significant collections of LDS history materials:
There are a huge number of individual biographies of early pioneers. If you search in for the name of the pioneer, you may find a book about your ancestor.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015 Beta Site demos Direct Messaging

The Beta website has recently been demoing a Direct Messaging feature. This is valuable when a user makes an addition or change that causes you some concern but the user has no contact information in the program. The Direct Messaging will allow you to send a message to the user directly through the program with or without an email.

For a more complete explanation with screenshots see my Genealogy's Star blog post.

Modern-Day LDS Pioneers

This is the first of a series of eight videos produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints about pioneers, both historic and modern. In celebration of Pioneer Day, July 24, 2015, I hope that you and your family will take time to explore the meaning of the pioneer spirit in your own family's experiences today.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

FamilySearch Standard Finder now the Place Research Tool

I must say that the FamilySearch Labs website is not one of the better known FamilySearch online offerings. There are presently six programs on the website and three of them are marked "Retired." So, it is a surprise to find out that one of the remaining three programs, the "Standard Finder," has also been retired by being replaced. The new website is called the "Place Research Tool." This program does not show up on the FamilySearch Labs website and I can only wonder and speculate that this particular FamilySearch website will eventually disappear. I believe that both the remaining Labs programs have already been integrated into the main website. Community Trees is available on the Search Genealogies page and the England Jurisdictions 1851 map is the only one that is not in the already-used-someplace-else category.

So what in the world is "Place Research?" The web page itself is devoid of help menu or instructions of any kind. There is a link at the bottom of the page to "About." This explains as follows:
Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away. Marcus Aurelius
As time progresses places are built, destroyed, renamed or conquered. As researchers track family histories across centuries, it becomes important to track the historical context of places as well. 
Place Research is a FamilySearch application which provides access to standardized information about locations. This information is used by several FamilySearch applications to assist researchers in searching for exact spellings, checking whether locations exist, as well as determining alternate name spellings/variants to expand research. 
The immensity of the data being collected and cross-referenced is enormous and ever-growing. If you come across information you feel is incorrect or incomplete, please use the feedback link so we can make corrections and improve this data for future work.
I appreciate the quote from Marcus Aurelius but the explanation following certainly leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Some additional language comes from the now defunct Standard Finder website:
Standard Finder is a FamilySearch Labs application which provides access to standardized information for names, locations, and dates. These databases are used by several FamilySearch applications to assist researchers in searching for exact spellings, as well as indexers who enter information used for RecordSearch. 
As can be imagined, the immensity of the data being collected and cross-referenced is enormous and will not always be correct. If you come across information you feel is incorrect, please use the feedback link so we can continue to make corrections to improve this data for future work. As you search, please remember, too, that historical perspectives affect the usability and correctness of the data. 
As a standalone application, Standard Finder can be of assistance to researchers in determining proper spellings of locations, checking whether locations exist, as well as determining alternate name spellings/variants to expand research.
Going back to the Place Research website, it turns out that more detailed explanations of the operation of the program are contained in the "Guidelines" section of the About menu.  I hesitate to reproduce the entire long explanations, but there seems to be no alternative. Here we go:

- Place representations describe changes to the same logical place over time. Previous to organization/incorporation into political, administrative units, different places will exist (numbered townships and ranges before named townships, precincts, etc.)
- Generally speaking, a place will only have one place representation for any given time. Overlaps in place rep dates or gaps (periods of time between valid place representations that are not covered by another place representation) should be examined and either fixed or verified. Lowest-level settlements should show as many historical relationships as we know about.

- Different “jurisdictional types” – political, ecclesiastic (various denominations), judicial, etc. – can exist at the same time as separate place reps of the same Place. However, we need to make it much easier to distinguish different types of reps (civic/political, ecclesiastic –various denominations, judicial).
- We have a large amount of data regarding where small towns (and portions of large cities) attended church (i.e. to which parish they belonged). We need a way to expose/improve this data that will be easily understood by patrons. Place reps are better than unique Places, provided we can clearly distinguish “rep types.”

- Unique place representations for the same place are created to show change in: "parent" jurisdiction (town becomes part of a newly-created county), official name (St. Petersburg to Stalingrad to Leningrad to St. Petersburg...), or type (village becomes a city).
- Place types are used to categorize place representations. They should make it possible to easily recognize places of the same type, regardless of locale. At the same time, there needs to be enough granularity in the available types to effectively describe unique place types and administrative divisions.
- Effectively describing place types for all place representations makes the data better. It is much easier to recognize potential duplicate entries, to filter searches and have confidence in their results, and to recognize gaps in the data.

- In cases where a municipality doubles as a settlement (a town or city), the municipality shall be the only entity recorded with place representations; i.e. there will be no duplicate place to represent the town of the same name within said municipality.
- In many European countries, municipality (Gemeinde, obec, comune, etc.) is seen as a special type of town. There is no need to make a separate entry (separate place rep) for a town/city under a municipality of the same name.
- In countries, where municipalities are quite large - more than a dozen or so subordinate settlements - this may not be the best approach.

- Moving forward, the place type PPL (populated place) – as found in much of the current data – will no longer be used. Instead, one of a number of more descriptive options: city, town, village, hamlet, etc., will be selected.
- In the past PPL was used as a generic catch-all for a wide array of settlement types. However the more descriptive terms adds value and context to the data.

- Cemeteries, parks and buildings (including church buildings) should be placed under the cities/towns/villages in which they are located.
- These locations are predominantly searched for by the relationship to their "parent" jurisdiction.
- Some cemeteries in rural areas exist beyond the boundaries of any town. For these the best parent could be the county, although a township or similar county division would be a better choice in areas where such divisions are commonly used.

- Parishes (units of a religious denomination) and wards (LDS) should be placed under the appropriate jurisdictional level of the religious denomination of which they are a part, while any church buildings should be placed under the city/town/village.
- Religious jurisdictional units should exist within their own hierarchy (at least at the lower levels).
- In most cases, standard names in a different language will be added as display names for their respective locale. In situations where it is not clear that the different language variant is commonly used, it should be added as a variant name only and not included as a display name.
- Many localities have multiple standard names for multiple locales. This is particularly common for larger cities and country names, in regions near borders, and in areas that were historically controlled by a ruling power that used a different language.

- By definition, the display name should be the official or standard name of a place.
- Display names should be selected from the Standard Full or Standard Short names for a given locale. If it becomes necessary to make another name into a display name, its name type should be changed to either Standard Full or Standard Short.

- In cases where a foreign language variant of a place name is exactly the same as the equivalent name in the place rep's default display language, there is no need to create a separate foreign language variant.
- Many foreign language place names are identical to the native (default display language) spelling. This becomes increasingly prevalent with the decreasing significance (population, distance from foreign language borders, etc.) of a city/town/village. Different writing scripts (i.e. Cyrillic) would never be "exactly the same" and would be cause to create a unique foreign language variant. However, such work should only be done where a case can be made for the relevance of adding the foreign language names in question.
- Citations shall be added to describe the source of information associated with place representations and places. A place representation will not be considered "validated" unless it has at least one citation.
- We desire accurate and authoritative data. Citations give researchers places to look to verify various elements of the data.

- In the absence of citations for specific data elements (i.e. Name, Type, Jurisdiction, Place Date, etc.), a "Place" citation may be used to cite any and all of these various data elements.
- If the only citation attached to a given place representation is a "Place" citation, we can assume that all information about the place in question can be verified from the single, "Place" citation. It acts as an "umbrella" citation that can include various data elements. Any of these elements can be singled out in the citation's description field.

- If data concerning a place representation is updated to a new value (i.e. new coordinates, new type, new parent jurisdiction), any citations referencing the outdated information (Location, Type, or Jurisdiction) should be removed/deleted from the place representation.
- Citations are meant to validate the information currently stored with a place representation. If any data elements change, the corresponding citations should be removed and replaced with new citation/source information.
I decided to leave it formatted as it is in the original. Let me see if I can boil this all down to a more understandable form. The computer needs standard place names. We may not like the idea at all, but have to concede the need to use some sort-of standard. Now, the question is, how do you standardize something that is inherently not standardized. For example, part of my family comes from a town in Eastern Arizona called "St. Johns." However, the name of the town is also spelled "Saint Johns." If you are searching for this place, the two names fall into quite different parts of the alphabet. (i.e. "sa" vs. st."). However, they are both commonly used. Which one do you select for the "standard?" Quoting from the instructions above: "Generally speaking, a place will only have one place representation for any given time." That may be "generally" true, but having multiple names for a single location is not uncommon.

When you get down to it, selecting a "standard" name for a location is an arbitrary process. Granted the place names change over time, but they may also change over proximity to the actual location. For example, answer this question: what is the name of the state just south of Arizona? A variation on this question is what is the name of the country just south of Arizona? Do you think you know the answer? Good Luck unless you happen to speak Spanish and had looked up both names. Here is a hint:

OK, this blog post is already too long, but this topic is far from exhausted. I shall return!

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Days of the Pioneers are not Past

I think it is important to gain a perspective of how the early history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has formed and continues to form both the beliefs and culture of the Church. This short video introduces the idea that those who live today, are or can become modern day pioneers. Remember the 24th of July, not just as a state holiday in Utah, but as a symbol of the dedication of those who helped to establish the Church and continue to do so.

Blessed Honored Pioneer
I saw a quote in an article entitled, "Professor speaks on LDS Church's global historical landscape at Pioneers in Every Land series," in the ChurchNews that caught my eye. The article was about a presentation by Professor Melissa Inouye, from the University of Aukland, New Zealand about the treatment of her Chinese and Japanese ancestors in the United States. The quote was as follows:
“I am a descendant of Mormon pioneers,” Sister Inouye said. “They didn’t pull handcarts or wear bonnets. ... They were excluded, driven from their homes, imprisoned and reviled. They did make incredible sacrifices in order to nourish their deepest beliefs. 
“And I will be a Mormon pioneer by finding new ways to embrace our global brotherhood and sisterhood, to be a peacemaker and to be a representative of the Savior in our world which has moved into global territory. This is a triumph but also the beginning of a monumental challenge.”
She was also quoted as saying,
In conclusion, Sister Inouye explained that someone is not a pioneer simply for doing something first, but because they did something difficult.
As far as I know, none of my pioneer ancestors pulled handcarts or wore bonnets (but I am not sure about the bonnet issue). What they did do is walk across the continent to find a measure of religious freedom. Technically, Mormon pioneers are those who crossed the plains between 1847 and 186, the date when the Transcontinental Railroad was completed to Utah. One of my ancestors, my Great-great-great-grandfather, Sidney Tanner, b. 1 April 1809, d. 5 December 1895, crossed the Plains by wagon twice. The first time was is 1848 with the Willard Richards Company. As is explained on the Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel website,
526 individuals were in the company when it began its journey from the outfitting post at Winter Quarters, Nebraska. This company was divided into two sections, Willard Richards section and Amasa Lyman Section. The Lyman section left the outfitting post on 1 July and the Richards section left on 3 July. 
Members of the company arrived from 10-19 October 1848.
Amasa Mason Lyman was Sidney Tanner's brother-in-law since Amasa Mason Lyman married his sister, Louisa Maria Tanner in 1835.

The second time Sidney Tanner crossed the Plains was in the Sidney Tanner Company of 1861. Here is one account of the "Down and Back" trip across the Plains by his Grandson, George Shepherd Tanner:
In 1861, Sidney responded to a call by Brigham Young to be a part of what came to be known as the “Down and Back” wagon trains. This was another effort by Brigham Young to find an inexpensive way to get the immigrant poor across the plains. He had first tried to do it with handcarts but they didn’t work really well and had its problems. By 1861 he had learned that wagon trains leaving Salt Lake could go to the states and back in a single season. With that information, Brigham Young prepared for the 1861immigration season by asking each of the wards in the territory to provide teams, wagons, drivers and supplies to make the trip to Omaha and back to provide transportation and provisions for those too poor to provide their own. In late April of 1861, 200 Church Train wagons with 2,200 oxen and some mule teams carrying 150,000 pounds of flour (the flour was dropped at four way stations to be retrieved on the return trip) left Salt Lake to travel to the Missouri River, to” bring in the poor”. Sidney Tanner was among them with his big mule teams. Because his Mule teams could travel faster than the ox teams, it appears that he was left behind after the other “down and back” trains had started for Salt Lake, to pick up the stragglers. When he finally left on July 20, he was 16 to 20 days behind the others. According to the journal of William Hart Miles, a member of the company, Sidney’s train traveled many days close to 30 miles. Before the end of July he was passing other trains. He made the return trip in just over seven weeks arriving in Salt Lake September 11 arriving before all the ox drawn “down and back” trains.
See also,
De Brouwer, Elizabeth. Sidney Tanner, His Ancestors and Descendants: Pioneer Freighter of the West, 1809-1895. Salt Lake City, Utah (4545 S. 2760 E., Salt Lake City 84117): S. Tanner Family Organization, 1982.
As I have learned about my pioneer heritage over my now relatively long lifetime, I have come to appreciate what they did for me and their other descendants. But I also realize that having a pioneer heritage is meaningless unless I, myself, make a similar contribution. I come from a long line of men and women who knew how to work and as I have seen over an again, perseverance and hard work, whether driving a team and wagon across the Plains or writing and teaching are necessary components to service. My beliefs may have originated from my pioneer heritage, but I had to test my beliefs and discover for myself whether or not the beliefs that motivated my ancestors to cross the Plains would motivate me in my own life.

Discover your own family history. You may not have ancestors that walked across the American continent, but you may discover that your own ancestral lines contain those who challenges were even greater than settling the western part of the United States.

Sunday, July 19, 2015 Pioneers

This coming week is the 24th of July, a statewide holiday in Utah. In my youth, the 24th of July was a really big event. The small community where I spent my summers had a parade, a Camporama, a rodeo, dramatic productions and many other activities. In fact, the events planned for 2015 include a volleyball tournament, a basketball tournament, a chile bean and cornbread dinner, an ice cream social, a youth dance, a junior rodeo, a campfire circle (Camporama), a family dance, a fun run, a parade, a rodeo, an indoor soccer tournament, a steak dinner and finally, a family dance. All of that in one week to celebrate the 24th of July. Where I am living now, in Provo, Utah there will also be a significant amount of celebrating, including a family reunion I will attend. In Utah, these celebrations are called the "Days of 47" and the events begin in April!

Why the 24th of July? This is the traditional date that the original pioneer company, led by Brigham Young, entered the Salt Lake Valley. There is, of course, some considerable amount of qualification and discussion about the actual date when the pioneers arrived. Some members of the company entered the Salt Lake Valley a few days before the body of the pioneers, including Brigham Young, arrived. See Brigham Young Pioneer Company (1847). Some of my relatives were in the original company, although my direct ancestors came in subsequent companies. If I believe the Relative Finder program, I have 12,845 ancestors (relatives) who were pioneers, including Brigham Young himself.

The image above is from the web page. It is supposed to list the pioneers that it finds in your segment of the Family Tree. It does a pretty good job except that it seems to ignore many of the children and women who came across the plains. My complete list would be many, many times longer than this. For example, my Great-great-great-grandfather, George Jarvis came across the plains from Boston in 1860. At that time, he was accompanied by his wife, Ann Prior Jarvis, and seven of his eleven children. The list is a good place to start, but not to end in reconstructing your family heritage.

For additional information, look at the Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel website. I will be adding more pioneer websites and resources all week in celebration of the 24th of July.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Printing Charts in FamilySearch

The Brigham Young University Library continues posting is educational series of videos on various aspects of family history. This is latest video posted that gives you an overview of how to print pedigree charts, family group records and fan charts from the data in the Family Tree. So far, the BYU Family History Library videos have had over 27,000 views.

FamilySearch App Gallery jumps to 95 listed Apps

Briefly, the last couple of days, the App Gallery jumped to 96 Apps, but then dropped down to its more recent total of 95. If you click on any of the large icons representing the various programs or Apps, you can see more details about that particular App. Here is an example if I click on the link to see the "A Family Tree by FamilySearch - iOS." If you want to see all of the Apps at once, you have to click on the menu and view "All Categories."

You might want to spend a few minutes and review the offerings. The Apps are available on the Web or for specific operations systems, such as iOS, Android, Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. The Apps may be free, available on subscription or have a one time payment. By the way, the term "App" is nothing more than a jargon term for program or application. The Apps fall into several different categories. Some are full-blown applications and others are utilities designed to work with the Family Tree.

There is a provision for ranking the programs or Apps with stars. The present rankings are based on very few responses and are not at all reliable. They will only become reliable as people rank the programs. If you want more reliable family history reviews, see

Friday, July 17, 2015

I Am a Pioneer from FamilySearch -- New Records Reveal Previously Unknown Pioneers

In a blog post by Paul G. Nauta, entitled "New Records Reveal Previously Unknown Mormon Pioneers," FamilySearch and the The Church History Library announced:
In a collaboration between the Church History Library and FamilySearch, individuals can now discover and explore more of their pioneer heritage on the newly redesigned Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel website that also includes information about previously unknown pioneers. In addition to discovering your pioneer ancestors, new features enable people to read their ancestors’ personal journals, see available photos, and learn key details about major events in their ancestors’ lives. 
Since the site was first launched, an influx of pioneer documentation has allowed historians to reconcile and expand their understanding of the trek west. The site now includes information about more than 57,000 individuals in 370 pioneer companies, with thousands of original trail excerpts that are authoritatively documented. “This is an extremely significant database,” said Keith Erekson, Church History Library Director. “It reveals so much about individual pioneers and their experiences, but it also offers fresh new insights about their collective experience.” Site updates include the ability to submit family photographs of pioneers and to link to digital copies of sources on the Internet. There are also new articles of interest, including humorous stories from the trail.
In conjunction with this new website update, FamilySearch is encouraging individuals today to see themselves as modern-day pioneers. Here is the excerpt.

Millions of people continue to be inspired by the courage, faith, and triumphs of the Mormon pioneers. Many of us are unknowingly modern pioneers, whose courage, personal achievements, and applied faith will be equally inspiring to future posterity and generations. This updated site will be featured in the international “I Am a Pioneer” social media campaign (#IAmAPioneer) that will encourage individuals today to see themselves as modern-day pioneers and recognize the need to readily capture their stories of triumph online for future generations. Learn more about this initiative at