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

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Saturday, February 27, 2016

A Guide to Starting Your Family History in 10 Very Basic Steps -- Step Three

This is an ongoing series on starting your family history research in 10 very basic steps. The steps so far are:

Step One: Start with yourself.
Step Two: Find out what has already been done.

Now I will move on to Step Three:

Step Three: Choose a reasonable goal

The new Find, Take, Teach model of doing family history is based on the resources in the Family Tree. The process follows a flow chart showing how to get started. The idea is find an ancestor or cousin that needs temple ordinances. Then complete those ordinances and teach someone else the process. The "Find Your Family Names, A First-Time Guide" is available online as a PDF file or you can order printed copies. Here is a screenshot of the first page of the Guide.

The first step, if you have a lot of names in the Family Tree is to find an ancestor born before 1800. My experience is that you need to be careful in following your family lines back to make sure you are actually related to that person. You can look carefully at each generation of your ancestors to see if the information looks accurate, is supported by sources and the places where events occurred is consistent with reality at the time the events occurred. This last issue means that you look to see if the places are consistent with the ability that the people had to travel. If you are considering a family where the events, such as birth, marriages and deaths occurred in different  states, colonies, counties or even different countries, then you need to do some research to find out if you have the right family members.

As a beginner, if you have no or few names in the Family Tree, then your choice of what to do is wide open. You can choose any one of your family lines to work on. FamilySearch will usually provide research hints that may add information to the individuals in your segment of the Family Tree or may not. All of the record hints need to be evaluated for accuracy.

At this stage, you may need to ask for help. has a Get Help menu on every page of the website and also has a long list of programs or apps that might assist you. The App Gallery has over 100 helpful programs. One of the most helpful to beginners is The Family History Guide. This is a sequenced, structured program with over a 1000 resources to help you learn how to approach the Family Tree and also how to get started doing some research. also has a Learning Center under the Get Help menu that has hundreds of classes and other instructional videos to teach you how to get started.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Changes to the FamilySearch Family Tree -- February 2016

As I watch the world outside my window, I can see the weather slowly turn from winter to spring. The snow begins to melt and the plants begin to grow and leaves appear on the trees. At the same time, I can also watch the changes in the Family Tree program. Overall, changes in the program are just about as regular and predictable as the changes in the seasons and the individual changes in the program are just about as random as the weather. If you are one of those people who moan and groan about the weather then you can really get down about changes in the Family Tree. As for me, I love the weather and I anticipate changes in the Family Tree with pleasure to see how they are addressing each small challenge.

Today, the Family Tree program is substantially different that it was when first introduced. If you keep focusing on what you knew yesterday, you lose the opportunity to grow and learn today. Well, enough pontificating. Each month for the past few months, has been summarizing their changes in a blog post. This month's post by Steve Anderson is consistently entitled, "What's New on FamilySearch -- February 2016." You could click on the link and see the more detailed explanations of the changes this month, or you could just use the program and get confused and alarmed when you run into something new. I like it both ways. In fact, I usually end up reading the post after I have noticed most of the changes from using the program. As usual, there are probably some changes that I may never use or even notice.

The changes this month include the following:

  • The addition of the ability to add spouse and children directly from the Descendancy View.
  • The ability to change the order of the sections on a Person's Detail page which I already wrote about
  • The final general introduction of the Memories Gallery, already a topic in one or more of my previous blog posts
  • Changing documents to photos and photos to documents in the Memories section. I can't remember when you couldn't do this but they did change the procedure
  • Contextual Help in the Memories section, this expands the light bulbs in the lower right-hand corner of the screens
  • You might have noticed all sorts of icons appearing on the photos. These let you do a number of things including rotate photos, download photos and add photos to a an album or archive
  • In adding more icons to the photos there is also one for making comments
  • They added a message link to the popup that comes from clicking on the name of a contributor
Now that wasn't as bad as an inversion layer of smog in Utah Valley was it? 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Remodeling the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah

This is an interesting time lapse showing the progress on remodeling the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. I posted a photo of the plastic sheet up for the construction, but this gives a little better idea of the extent of the remodel.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A Guide to Starting Your Family History in 10 Very Basic Steps -- Step Two

This is an ongoing series on starting your family history research in 10 very basic steps. The steps so far start with Step One:

Step One: Start with yourself.

Now I will move on to Step Two.

Step Two: Find out what has already been done.

Discovering what has already been researched and documented concerning your own family history may appear to be a simple or very complex proposition depending on how involved your extended family has been in genealogical research in the past. The issue here is whether or not you want to re-do all of the previously done research. When I started doing research into my family about thirty or so years ago, I spent years in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah trying to discover what had already been done on my own family. That survey is still going on today. I am still today actively discovering the parameters of the research that has already been done.

What has changed over the years is that we now have the tools to compress the initial time I have spent over the years into a manageable process.

My experience is that most beginning researchers vastly underestimate how much previous research has been done on their particular family. One of the most powerful tools for determining the extent of the documentation available from others about your family is to begin putting your family tree online on one of the large genealogical database programs such as,, or You could also use a family tree program such as or The advantage of the four large database programs is that they generate automatic record hints. They all have the advantage of not only, in some of the programs, automatically finding records pertaining to your ancestry, but also provide contacts with other family members that are working on their own portion of a shared family tree.

Historically, genealogy has been a solitary pursuit. With the advent of online family trees, all that has changed and it is far easier to collaborate with family members. To the extent that you are aware of the content of online family trees, you can avoid much of the duplication of effort that was rampant in the past. Having your family tree on more than one of these programs increases the probability that you will find the limits of the research that has been done on your particular family. Depending on your own particular family circumstances, you may actually be overwhelmed at the number of potential relatives discovered by these genealogy programs.

Putting a family tree online is the electronic equivalent of doing a survey of your immediate family members. The way that genealogy was traditionally taught to beginners was to urge them to contact immediate family members for their information about the historical family. A large online database programs have created their own community of potential family members. This community can extend far further than it did in the times of paper-based genealogy.  It is still important to gather whatever information and documents you can find from your immediate family members, but it is even more important to review what is already available online. It is entirely possible that carefully maintained family documents are already duplicated and readily available online. For example, my great-grandmother gathered genealogical information for many years and published what she had in a book. That family book was difficult to obtain because of the limited number of copies that were printed at the time. Presently, the book has been digitized and is online on the website. On the other hand, there may very well be personal documents that are absolutely essential to understanding your heritage better in the sole possession of your relatives. In these cases what the online family trees do is to provide a way to discover the identity of your relatives and give you a way to contact them.

One distinct advantage of doing a careful family survey to determine the extent of the knowledge about your family already possessed by your family members is that you become more aware of the identity of your ancestors and the details of their lives. Research becomes more meaningful when you know the identity of the people you are researching.

 Previous posts in this series are listed here:

Monday, February 22, 2016

A Guide to Starting Your Family History in 10 Very Basic Steps -- Step One

This is an ongoing series that outlines ten very basic steps to starting your family history.

This is Step One -- Start with yourself.

It may seem overly simplistic, but you start your family history with yourself. Your history is beginning of your family's history. Your personal family history may include photos, diaries, journals, memorabilia, certificates and other items that will have value to tell about your life to your family in future. You should begin now to digitize and share those items that can be shared. This should especially include anything that you alone can relate or identify. You can learn about writing a personal history from a number of websites. Here is a short list to start you off.

The Library of Congress website is especially helpful in providing up-to-date information on preservation and conservation. Their instructions cover the following types of collections:

I have been keeping a journal for over forty years and just because of the consistency and longevity, the journal has become a valuable historical record. Because I kept a detailed journal, I have been asked to supply the dates for some events that were not recorded by other methods at the time they occurred. The time to start recording your own life is right now. If you don't care to write by hand, then use your computer. If you don't like either method, then start recording your history or use voice recognition software to write your history.

I recently helped a friend record a few recollections from his life. He died shortly after I did the recording and his family were so grateful I had prevailed on him to record what I did. You may not think your life interesting or important but I can assure you that your grandchildren will appreciate your efforts to document your life. Your children may come around sometime but don't expect this until you are almost ready to die. If you have no children, then there is an even more important reason to record your life.

Previous posts in this series are listed here:

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Family History Resources for Priesthood Leaders and Ward Councils

Lance McIntosh of FamilySearch made the following statement at a RootsTech 2016 Workshop concerning implementation of the family history program, "Find, Take and Teach."
Overall, the keys to the success of this stake were leaders who went out and found their own names and gained their own testimony, said Brother McIntosh. Another key was making sure others had quick success when starting to look for names. And the final key was going out and teaching others how to find names.
The Workshop entitled "Family history resources for priesthood leaders and ward councils" was printed in the Deseret News for February 18, 2016. The article cites several success stories from Stakes around The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Lyon France Stake President Roland E. Lepore, who helped his stake move from a submission rate of 4 to 10 percent made the following comments:
“I put together ten things that were critical to us in the Lyon stake for family history work,” he said:
1. The conviction of family history work is at the center of salvation.
2. It needed to be in the stake goals.
3. Use the network of people and resources already in place.
4. Share personal experiences.
5. Extend personal invitations to members. Have them report back.
6. Invite every future missionary to do a name submission and indexing.
7. Hold stake youth events.
8. Plan family history workshops in conjunction with stake conference.
9. High councilors participate in the work and share experiences with others.
10. Challenge recent converts to participate in family history work.
“How sweet it is to hear about the wonderful experiences members are having doing family history work,” said President Lepore. “I know we are making progress because we went from 30 indexers doing 30,000 names to over 250 indexers doing over 500,000 names.”
Brother Merrill White of FamilySearch quoted President Robert L. Davis of the Laguna Niguel California Stake.
“ ‘I’ve got to have this protection for my youth,’ ” said Brother White quoting President Davis. President Davis started a stake family history committee led by the high councilor. He then called a stake mentor. The committee met once a month with the ward consultants and high priests group leaders. “All they did was share best practices,” said Brother White.
“From there it started to spread,” said Brother White. “Here are a few things that they did.”
• Made individual in-home visits.
• Kept it simple.
• Taught people, not lessons.
• Family history themed youth conference.
• Called youth as family history consultants.
• New converts took names to the temple.
“We remain committed to this work,” said President Davis. “We devoted our stake conference to family history.”
Over one year later the number of people in the stake submitting names rose from 7 to 29 percent, said Brother White. “We are all entitled to the Spirit for the role in which we are engaged. I invite you to take that inspiration and use it in your ward and stakes,” he said.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Relative Race -- A new show from BYU-TV

Before computers and the Internet took over the media, you were at the mercy of the local TV stations or the cable companies for access to some programs. BYU-TV is a 24 hour-a-day, online option for watching the shows produced by the Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. BYU-TV has produced several shows of interest to genealogists. The new offering, Relative Race, sounds like another winner. Here is a comment about the show from the FamilySearch Blog article, "Relative Race--A New Show on BYU-TV.
What would be more amazing than a race to not only have a chance to win $25K, but to find and meet relatives you didn’t know you had? BYU-TV has the exclusive showing of a new reality TV series called Relative Race. The show will air with 11 episodes starting on Sunday, February 28th, 6 PM MT. The show is in partnership with AncestryDNA. DNA test results is how they found the relatives of each participant. During a RootsTech premier showing of the first episode, viewers were laughing and feeling the tension from the drama the couples go through in competing. 
The show is a combination of fun, emotion, drama, stress, lots of humor and the joy of learning about family. Rules involve giving up technology and going old school with maps and asking help from strangers. Just deciding who will drive and who will look at the map was funny and something most couples can relate to. Unlike a similar show the contestants drive to different cities each day and have challenges that are unique to each couple. Each couple has a specified time limit to arrive at the next destination and whoever goes over that time limit may be up for a strike. Three strikes and the couple is out. Each night they end up at a relative's home and spend the night with these newfound relatives.
You might want to check this out and even try for the competition.

Friday, February 19, 2016

A Guide to Starting Your Family History in 10 Very Basic Steps -- Introduction

Whatever your present perception of family history or genealogy, this series of posts is intended to demystify and explain the process in 10 very basic steps. Before I get to Step One, I need to explain some of the terminology and background to the topics I will cover in this Guide. I also need to give you an introduction to some of the terms and concepts you will need to begin your family history experience. So, here I go.

What is family history?

Family history is the process of recording information about yourself, your immediate family and your ancestors and relatives. In this context, the terms "family history" and "genealogy" are synonymous. They mean exactly the same thing even though there are many people who try to make a distinction between the two terms.

What is included in my family history?

The simple answer is anything you want to include. Essentially, you are telling a story about yourself and your family. You can make your story as detailed or as simple as you like. There are plenty of people who are ready to tell you what they think you should include. You can choose to listen to them or not. It is your family history and you can do it the way you want to do it.

What is a pedigree?

Families consist of people that are related in some way. You, your spouse and children are usually considered to be a family. However, families can also include a huge variety of other types of relationships across the world and in different cultures. Families can be based on blood lines, adopted lines and many other formal or informal culturally defined relationships. The most common Western European and U.S. relationships are based on blood lines. A pedigree is a chart that represents your relationship to your ancestors.

Who are my ancestors?

As my Grandmother used to say, you can choose your friends, but you can't choose your ancestors. Blood line ancestors are those who are are your biological parents and their parents in turn back into the past. In the English speaking world, we call them parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and so forth depending on how many generations of ancestors we go back in time. We also have definitions for others to who we are related. Here is a commonly used chart to show how you are related to people in your family according to the Western European model.

By Sg647112c - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
Consanguinity is a fancy word for blood relations. This chart is only one way of expressing what can become a complex web of relationships. Your own cultural background may define other types of relationships. For example, you may not know your biological parents and have been raised as an adopted child. Your parents may have been formally married or not. Your parents may have been married and are now divorced. No matter how this chart is modified, all of those potential types of relationships fit within the definition of your family history and you may have to design your own version of the chart.

Who are my cousins?

Children of your grandparents are your aunts and uncles. Children of your aunts and uncles are your cousins. You can see from this chart that there is literally no end to how far back the line of your grandparents can extend or descend. Sometimes we can get overwhelmed thinking about how far back our family might extend and how many cousins we might have. You will find people who are involved in their family history or genealogy that think they are in a competitive sport and will try to impress you with the number of people or ancestors they have accumulated. Don't be intimidated. The number of people accumulated is merely a function of the fact that the number of your grandparents doubles in each generation and the number of their descendants increases proportionately.

Who are my relatives?

The concept of a "relative" is culturally determined. Depending on where you live in the world and what language you speak, someone may or may not be a relative. As we grow up, we become acculturated to our surrounding culture and language. Even without consciously knowing it, we acquire a kinship system and recognize some people as relatives and others as outside our family in an expansive sense. Family historians and genealogists often work from a standardized definition of relationships, such as the one shown above in the chart. This does not make your particular sense of relationship either good or bad or true or false. This is a case where one size or definition does not fit all. But you will find that there is a predominate definition of relatives and family relations accepted by the Western European culture that saturates most of what you will hear about family history and genealogy. Just adapt the common definition to your own cultural heritage.

Why should I care about my family history?

This is a very good question and family historians and genealogists have struggled with the answer to this question for a very long time. Family history or genealogy is more than genetics. We are each the cumulative product of our physical, biological and cultural heritage. Who we are is to a great extent determined by our ancestral inheritance. Since the earliest human experience, there has been an innate quest to "know ourselves." We learn about ourselves by learning about our family heritage or family history. Many cultures have formal family historians who record the history of the tribe or other organizations. Whether you feel the urge or not to investigate your own family history, there is something basic in learning about your family history that satisfies a basic human need. Some people are motivated by religious or social reasons to investigate their family history. Others are motivated by mere curiosity. Each person who undertakes to investigate his or her family history has to answer this question individually.

Isn't family history only for old people?

It is unfortunate that an interest in family history in our Western European culture has focused on family history as an activity for old people. Family history is as broad or as limited as you wish to make it. It is presently true that more older people than younger people are formally involved in collecting and maintaining their family history. But there is no real reason why this is the case other than a cultural bias. An extensive discussion of the age related issues involved in family history is outside the scope of this basic discussion.

Don't I need formal training to be a family historian or genealogist?

The answer to this question is "no." There are people who practice genealogy or family history as a profession. Some of them are highly trained in research and history. Some family historians and genealogists believe that only those with a certain highly developed set of skills should be allowed to "practice genealogy." However, there is really no one who can tell you how or why you should begin to learn and record your family history. You should not be deterred from investigating your own family history because someone else has formal training or experience. As with any interest, you may wish to become proficient. In this case, there are many opportunities to learn more about the process of discovering your family connections. There are books, classes, webinars, websites, conferences and many other avenues of instruction. There are national and international organizations dedicated to learning about family history. But whether family history is a casual pastime or an all consuming passion depends on you and your needs and decisions.

So now let's get started with Step One of my ten very basic steps to starting your family history. This series will be continued in subsequent posts. Stay tuned.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Kid Chatteroo -- capture parent to child memories was one of the winners in the first round of the Innovator Showdown. This year's programs were without exception outstanding programs. The program has been around for a few years and is a fully developed application.

I don't have any children at home, but I do relate to the loss of these precious opportunities. You might want to watch the video and get some good ideas about involving your children in preserving part of their own heritage.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

FamilySearch adds new partners

From the "Partner News for February, 2016" by Gordon Clarke, we learn the following:
FamilySearch works with a variety of partners to help provide you with as many ways as possible to find, add, and share about your family members. FamilySearch is pleased to announce that Little Family Tree is now Read compatible and GenerationStory, Kindex, HP Scan, and StoryWorth are now Read and Update compatible with FamilySearch. “Compatible” means the product programmatically interfaces with and has features that conform to our strict standards of quality.
I have been intending to write about each of these programs and will very likely do so in the near future. But the blog post gives a good introduction with a link to each of these relatively new programs.

One app you may want to focus on if you have an HP scanner is the HP Scan app. The instructions in the App Gallery indicate that you have to obtain an account with HP Connected but it is another free account.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

New Tools to Help With Work of Salvation

The Church News in an article by R. Scott Lloyd entitled, "Church Announces New Tools to Help with Work of Salvation," reported on the recent meeting held at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, Utah on the closing day of #RootsTech 2016. The meeting featured a panel consisting of Elder Allan F. Packer, General Authority Seventy and Executive Director of the Family History Department, Elder Brent H. Nielson, General Authority Seventy and Executive Director of the Missionary Department, and Elder Kent F. Richards, General Authority Seventy and Executive Director of the Temple Department.
Several new resources were introduced during the session:
  • From the Missionary Department, two new pamphlets that missionaries will use in teaching investigators and retaining them as new members of the Church.
  • From the Temple Department, the newly offered ability for Church members to print ordinance cards at home before going to the temple to perform the ordinance work. [See related story.]
  • From the Family History Department, a “beginner card” named “Strengthening Eternal Family Bonds through Temple Service: Start Building Your Family Tree,” and an accompanying online experience.
  • Also from the Family History Department, the newly offered ability to enter names, pictures, and stories from the My Family pamphlet that has been available for several years into The new tool is now available in 42 languages.
 I suggest that you may wish to read the entire article to understand the changes to the existing programs.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Who Are You Related To?

The title to this post is an important question for those who are adding names to the Family Tree or submitting names of those who are in the Family Tree submitted by others. There are those who claim that "everyone is related to everyone else" so that justifies doing Temple work for anyone in the Family Tree. However, the definitions of those to whom you are related and the limitations on doing ordinance work supersede the overly broad definition that would encompass the entire world.

According to a discourse given by George A. Smith given on Dec. 25, 1874, in St. George, Utah; in St. George Stake, General Minutes, vol. 4, Church Archives, he related the following:
Some of the Twelve asked Joseph if there could not be some shorter method of administering for so many. Joseph in effect replied: ‘The laws of the Lord are immutable; we must act in perfect compliance with what is revealed to us. We need not expect to do this vast work for the dead in a short time.’
Joseph Smith also taught the following:
When any of you are baptized for your dead, let there be a recorder, and let him be eye-witness of your baptisms; let him hear with his ears, that he may testify of a truth, saith the Lord; that in all your recordings it may be recorded in heaven. … And again, let all the records be had in order, that they may be put in the archives of my holy temple, to be held in remembrance from generation to generation. (D&C 127:6–7, 9).
In other words, we need to do the work carefully and not in haste.

In the early days of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the members were taught by Joseph Smith that they were to do proxy work for their "kindred dead." See Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, (2011), 468–478, Chapter 41, Becoming Saviors on Mount Zion.

So, who are our kindred dead?

As a genealogist, I would define kindred dead as those with whom we have a blood relationship. However, in doing research, I am certainly not limited by that requirement. I can do research about anyone, even someone to whom I am not related. However, from time to time, the instructions from the Church concerning those who we should include in doing our family's ordinances has been adjusted from time to time. But the basic idea still focuses on blood relations.

The current policy is set forth on in the Help Center article entitled, "Individuals for whom I can request temple ordinances." The policies have changed somewhat from time to time, but essentially always focused on relationships. No matter how you read the rules or any changes, the rules have never allowed people to submit ordinances for those to whom they are not related.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Classes at the BYU Family History Library

The second and fourth Sundays of each month are busy for my wife and I. We teach at the Brigham Young University Family History Library. The schedule is one the Classes and Webinars page of On the Webinars page you will see the recorded classes that we are currently posting. So, you can attend a class in person, listen to a live webinar, or view the recorded classes on the Webinar page or the BYU video channel.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

What I did at #RootsTech 2016

So far on Genealogy's Star, I have written 44 blog posts on #RootsTech 2016. On this blog I have written an additional 16 blog posts for a total of 60 blog posts mentioning the Conference. So, what did I do once I got to the Conference beside write some of these posts? The activities available at #RootsTech 2016 (and the previous conferences) fall into three or four major activities. Most of the conference attendees attend the classes. At this year's RootsTech there were 295 total class sessions offered. If you attended classes during every possible time slot, you could attend about 17 of those classes if you also attended the Innovator Summit on Wednesday. You can also view 27 classes online in the Video Archive for RootsTech and another nine recorded sessions from the Innovator Summit. The number of videos include the Keynote addresses. If you take out the Keynotes, there are only 17 classes recorded and published on the #RootsTech 2016 website for the Conference and only 5 classes recorded aside from keynotes and Innovator competition videoed for the Innovator Summit.

So, you had to be there to see what was going on.

As a blogger, I got a free pass to the conference. I did pay to go to the BYU Family History Technology Workshop on Tuesday, but the rest of my Conference experience was free. Another benefit I got from writing was a series of three lunch vouchers during the conference that helped pay for some of the food. I also paid for parking and managed to get a parking ticket for overstaying the time when I went to after Conference activities without making provisions to extend my parking. The bloggers also get the use of the media hub, a place to sit down and write with Internet connections and electricity to charge our devices. We also get the opportunity to interview some of the Keynote speakers and other celebrities at the conference and if we make the arrangements, we can interview other people who are at the conference.

Now, this was my sixth year at the #RootsTech Conference and my schedule began to fill up in the weeks before the conference started. By the time I got to #RootsTech, I had most of my days and nights completely planned with meetings, interviews and social events. I spent less time this year in the media hub than ever before and wrote fewer blog posts during the three days of the Conference than ever before for the simple reason that I would rather talk and learn while I had the opportunity.

I have to admit, I only went to one full class and a part of one other. The reason is also simple, I learn more from talking to people directly than I do in a class. Over the next few weeks, I will be following up with all the companies and products I talked about at the conference and afterwards. I am still in the mode of talking to vendors and developers. I have video conference yesterday with one developer and will likely have more.

I did not interview any of the people provided by FamilySearch. Although they are very interesting people, they had little to say about genealogy or product development. I see RootsTech as a superb opportunity to talk to all the vendors I can possible manage. I spend most of my time talking. In fact, on Thursday, I lost my voice for a while in the middle of presentation I did for I would rather talk to someone who was "off the record" and could talk about what they really planned to do, with the understanding that I not disclose anything said in confidence than I would to someone who will just repeat what they are saying in public.

I have been around long enough that most every one I see at #RootsTech is willing to talk to me and I make it clear that I do not disclose confidences. What I write ultimately reflects what I understand and glean from my conversations with the world. That is what I do at RootsTech.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Surviving the Fire Swamp of Family History in the Family Tree

My apologies to Princess Bride, but parts of the Family Tree remind me of the Fire Swamp with the Family Tree's IOUSs as opposed ROUSs. From time to time in discussions about the topic of the Family Tree, I am reminded that only a small percentage of the world-wide membership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have actual Utah pioneer ancestry and of those only a smaller percentage have ancestors that fall into the category of IOUSs or Individuals of Unusual Size. The reference to the unusual size is to the fact that Family Group Records containing these people have been submitted hundreds (sometimes thousands) of times and are all accumulated in the Family Tree.

You can detect an IOUS ancestor when you see an obvious duplicate and try to merge the two and see an error message that the says that the individuals cannot be merged at this time. There are other reasons why some duplicates cannot be merged, but this error messages is a good indicator. The current wisdom in these IOUS circumstances is to wait until the Family Tree is no longer limited by its association with If you would like the latest word on that subject, I suggest watching the video posted on the website of Ron Tanner's presentation. Even if you watched the class in person, you may still want to go back and watch it again.

Now, even though some of us have focused on the IOUS problem. This is not the most difficult challenge. The IOUS problem will be resolved. What is left? The part where we add new names and correct the information that is already there.

Now where is the swamp? Here is a good example.

This screenshot comes from my portion of the Family Tree. It is easy to see that the people shown are "deceased." But who are they and how are they related to me. Those red icons indicate serious data problems but they are not the only problems. You might notice all of the "Unknown Names." What is even more serious about this entire entry? I am probably not related to these people at all!!!

Let me demonstrate what I mean. Here is the screenshot showing James Stewart Earl of Moray clicking back in my portion of the pedigree.

To get from me, through my lines, back to the person shown in the Descendancy View, James Stuart 3rd Earl of Moray, you have to back through the person with red icons. Here is what the red icons say:

Now, if I correct this what will happen to the line? Will I still be related to James Stuart 3rd Earl of Moray? This would be fairly simple to answer except for the fact that the line breaks down many steps down from this person. Here is an example of where the line breaks down and we enter the swamp.

James Stewart shown here has 14 wives listed. This is just the beginning of the problems. Many of those marriages have sources!!!

He was born in either Scotland or Massachusetts. None of this has anything to do with what FamilySearch has done or intends to do. This situation can only be resolved by careful step-by-step, sourced correction of the Family Tree beginning with the first credible ancestor.

Now, it is time to get to work. Where do you start? With yourself and your own family. Document and correct all of the entries and then move back in time.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

BYU Family History Library Immigration Webinar

Note: Now posted on the BYU Family History Library Online Webinars Page.

The Brigham Young University (BYU) Family History Library series of free webinars is now completely underway. After a few test webinars, we have started into 2 -3 times per week broadcast. Friday, February 12, 2016, I will be presenting a webinar on US Immigration.

The BYU Family History Library plans to expand the project to include guest presenters from the genealogical community at BYU and elsewhere. You can attend the webinars live and ask questions or view the recorded webinars listed on the Online Webinars page. We already have six presentations online with many more to come.

The FamilySearch Research Wiki - Waiting for the other shoe to drop

For some time now, I have been hearing about a forthcoming update to the Research Wiki. Recently, the FamilySearch blog posted a very short notice that stated the following:
FamilySearch Research wiki is being upgraded to the latest version and redesigned to better match the current look and feel of FamilySearch. 
Why Is It Important? 
Upgrading the version will give all Research wiki users access to the features currently available, and the rich text editor will again be usable in all browsers. (The rich text editor is used when you add or change information in the wiki.) Currently the rich text editor is available only in the Firefox browser. We have chosen to use the standard MediaWiki template with the update. This will allow us to quickly stay current with the latest versions and provide increased space for our articles.
I agree that it is important to upgrade the Research Wiki. I also understand the need to transition to the standard MediWiki templates. There in no need to remake the wheel when there is a good model already available. Expanding the area for pages and articles is also a good development. 

Usually, about this time, I would say But... This time I have no questions to raise or comments to make. I may have more when I get into the actual program, but right now, I would like the change over to happen as soon as it is possible so we can get busy fixing any formatting problems caused by the change. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

#RootsTech 2016 Video Archive

The website now has archived videos for the entire Conference. Here are the links for the different day's activities.
The links are also online for the 2016 Class Syllabi

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

FamilySearch Blog Month in Review

This past month culminated with #RootsTech 2016. It was a busy month for me and for FamilySearch. As I have done in the past, here is a list of all of the FamilySearch Blog posts I could capture during the month of January and leading up to #RootsTech 2016 in February. I you did not have a chance to attend #RootsTech 2016, then this is one way to get a glimpse of the Conference. Here is the list.

Blogger, Guest. “Dallas Genealogical Society Writing Contest Closes March 3, 2016.” FamilySearch Blog, January 18, 2016.
———. “Discover What Your Ancestor Did for a Living.” FamilySearch Blog, January 20, 2016.
———. “Riverton FamilySearch Library Free February Seminar Family History – A Family Affair.” FamilySearch Blog, January 28, 2016.
———. “Ruby Baird—RootsTech 2016 Youth Ambassador.” FamilySearch Blog, January 28, 2016.
Boerans, Trice. “Naomi and Josh Davis of Love—Sharing Stories of Their Life.” FamilySearch Blog, February 6, 2016.
Broderick, Lynn. “Partner Town Hall with FamilySearch Executives.” FamilySearch Blog, February 4, 2016.
———. “Steve Rockwood Rocks the Thursday Opening Session at RootsTech.” FamilySearch Blog, February 5, 2016.
Gale, Katie. “3 Confessions of an Arbitrator.” FamilySearch Blog, December 31, 2015.
Howard, Hadley Duncan. “Make a Difference with Find A Grave.” FamilySearch Blog, November 30, 2001.
———. “MooseRoots Visuals Help Tell the Story.” FamilySearch Blog, January 29, 2016.
Hyde, Jesse. “5 Ways to Get Others Excited about Indexing.” FamilySearch Blog, January 4, 2016.
———. “Conquering the Arbitration Pileup.” FamilySearch Blog, January 21, 2016.
Judson, Michael. “Straight Talk about Indexing—Part II.” FamilySearch Blog, January 5, 2016.
Kemp, Thomas Jay. “Finding Irish Marriage Records.” FamilySearch Blog, January 19, 2016.
———. “Typical Genealogy Research Problem: Here’s What You Want to Do.” FamilySearch Blog, January 26, 2016.
Kuehn, Duncan. “Newspapers Help Smash a Genealogy Brick Wall.” FamilySearch Blog, January 13, 2016.
Mayer, Jan. “12 Things You Will See from FamilySearch in 2016.” FamilySearch Blog, January 12, 2016.
———. “Innovator’s Summit: Marketing Doesn’t Have to Break the Bank.” FamilySearch Blog, February 5, 2016.
McMurdie, Greg. “Family Memories: Favorite Genealogy Documents from Family Historians.” FamilySearch Blog, January 29, 2016.
———. “Family Memories: Genealogists Share Favorite Family History Documents.” FamilySearch Blog, January 15, 2016.
Nauta, Paul G. “Family History Enthusiasts Worldwide Gathering in Utah for RootsTech 2016.” FamilySearch Blog, January 27, 2016.
———. “Full Lineup of Speakers Announced for Family Discovery Day.” FamilySearch Blog, January 28, 2016.
———. “TapGenes Wins First Place of 2016 Innovator Showdown.” FamilySearch Blog, February 6, 2016.
———. “Vast Collection of Mexico Ancestor Records Continues to Grow.” FamilySearch Blog, January 22, 2016.
Nixon, Brett. “Arbitration: What, How and Why.” FamilySearch Blog, January 5, 2016.
Rockwood, Steve. “Make the Resolution to Find, Take, and Teach in 2016.” FamilySearch Blog, January 26, 2016.
Sagers, Diane. “Michael Leavitt and Doris Kearns Goodwin Encourage Us to Tell Our Stories.” FamilySearch Blog, February 7, 2016.
———. “State Archives and Libraries: Free Online Resources.” FamilySearch Blog, February 5, 2016.
Sorenson, Yvonne. “Getting Started With Polish Research Class and Webinar.” FamilySearch Blog, January 14, 2016.
———. “The Family History Library Announces Free Classes and Webinars for February 2016.” FamilySearch Blog, January 27, 2016.
Sparks, Jay. “Not Sure Where to Go With Your Family History? Give Travel Journals a Try.” FamilySearch Blog, February 2, 2016.
Stahle, Tyler S. “3 Tips For Preserving the Legacies of Today.” FamilySearch Blog, January 29, 2016.
———. “3 Ways to Use Your Smartphone for Family History.” FamilySearch Blog, January 11, 2016.
Steele, Logan. “RootsTech Online Broadcast Schedule.” FamilySearch Blog, January 30, 2016.
Steve Anderson. “Bruce Feiler Teaches Us We Are All Story Tellers.” FamilySearch Blog, February 5, 2016.
———. “David Isay—Recording America’s Stories.” FamilySearch Blog, February 6, 2016.
———. “Paula Williams Madison: My Chinese—Jamaican Legacy.” FamilySearch Blog, February 5, 2016.
Stevens, Maggie. “DIY Marketing Guerilla Strategies.” FamilySearch Blog, February 3, 2016.
———. “Get Your Start-Up Taken Seriously by a Big Company.” FamilySearch Blog, February 8, 2016.
———. “Preserve Your Digital Photos Forever.” FamilySearch Blog, February 5, 2016.
“Using Timelines to Plot Out Your Ancestor’s Life.” FamilySearch Blog, January 22, 2016.
Woods, Debra. “Get a Peak Into What’s Coming with Innovator Summit Keynote Speakers.” FamilySearch Blog, February 3, 2016.
———. “Giving Life to Journals with” FamilySearch Blog, February 6, 2016.
———. “Ken Krogue, Cofounder of, to Keynote at the 2016 RootsTech Innovator Summit.” FamilySearch Blog, January 13, 2016.
———. “Stiff Competition at the 2016 RootsTech Innovator Showdown Semi-Finals.” FamilySearch Blog, February 4, 2016.
———. “U.S. Census Record Secrets Revealed!” FamilySearch Blog, February 6, 2016.