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

Monday, April 29, 2019

Still Looking for Those Golden Years: Targeted Advertising

There is a lot of online chatter about "targeted advertising" or "targeted marketing." Here is a brief definition from
Targeted marketing identifies an audience likely to buy services or products and promotes those services or products to that audience. Once these key groups are recognized, companies develop marketing campaigns and specific products for those preferred market segments.
The internet has essentially revolutionized marketing in general but targeted marketing is constantly being blamed for a significant portion of the world's ills. Those of us in our "golden years" either op out by turning off social networking and other media or learn how to ignore the floods of supposedly targeted advertisements we see and sometime hear every day.

I find it interesting that if I look at a product on, for example, within minutes I find advertisements for the same or a similar product everywhere I look online. There is an inherent assumption by the marketing companies, Amazon included, that looking for a product online automatically means that you are interested in buying that particular item. I am often tempted to go look at random items just to watch the advertising lockstep and produce ads for random products that I an not at all interested in purchasing. This is junk mail with a vengeance factor added.

Of course, what we call junk mail was targeted advertising all along. By the way, we have seen some interesting junk mail lately here in Provo, Utah. I am getting junk mail for my mother at my address. She never lived with us and certainly never lived in Provo. She also died more than ten years ago. I also get random junk mail for some of my children who left home long enough ago to have their own children graduating from universities. The assumption that blanket "targeted" advertising is effective is based on statistical market analysis. Here is another quote from the website that illustrates this issue.
For example, Starbucks currently holds the largest market share of the coffee industry in the United States. The company focuses its advertising on women and men between the ages of 25 and 40 who live in urban areas, have moderately high income and professional careers, and demonstrate an interest in fair trade and social welfare. Starbucks bets that these key groups are more likely to spend money on specialty coffee drinks and products.
[Can you find the typo in this quote?] This is called ad hoc reasoning or after this, because of this.  Basically, targeted marketing assumes that people make decisions at the level of a herd of cows. One of my own examples of this level of marketing is what happens when I but a product. For example, let's suppose I buy a certain brand of flash drive. I immediately get advertising for the product I just purchased. Why would I want to buy another flash drive? Even if I did want another flash drive, I would probably do what I always do and compare prices and products and buy the best I could find for my next purchase. The product may or may not be the same as my original purchase.

So, are all of the people in the world just mindless consumer cows? Do we all buy exactly what our current targeted advertising says we should buy? I recently wrote a post that included a reference to hearing aids. I am now getting a flood of hearing aid advertisements. How many pairs of hearing aids am I likely to purchase?

If our society has evolved into a herd of mindless purchasers who pick up whatever is advertised on Facebook or Instagram, we are in a sorry state. By the way, I will probably write about this subject again because I am noticing a significant number of ads on Facebook for bogus products that the companies have no intent on ever actually producing and because I read the comments, I am also seeing a lot of shoddy and falsely advertised products. Caveat Emptor.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Audio added to Photos on FamilySearch Memories

You should note that on your Memories, you can now add an audio file. You can add audio to photos you upload on both the website and the FamilySearch apps. Instructions for using the audio recordings are on this blog post.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Exploring Genealogy Series #4: Descendancy Explorer

Exploring Genealogy Series #4 Descendancy Explorer

This Exploring Genealogy Series is about all of the different concepts, ideas, apps, programs, methodologies, and hardware that goes into doing genealogical research. Some of the topics I would like to explore are almost impossible to write about. Hence, the idea of talking my way through videos. You can find what I am doing on my own YouTube Channel.
You can subscribe to the Channel and get notified (or not) about upcoming videos. As I have already noted in previous blog posts, doing a video saves me an enormous amount of time. Doing genealogy-related videos will never get me listed as a YouTube star. If you really want to know how popular genealogy is as an activity, just look at the number of views of genealogy-related videos. There is only one genealogy entity that produces videos with more than a million views and that is the heavily advertised  The most popular video from has about 642 thousand views. But the second most popular video has 287 thousand views. These are some of the big hitters in genealogy. has two videos with over a million views. But what about the genealogists with YouTube Channels? You can check out the totals for yourself just look at the video tab and then sort the videos by popularity. 

How does that stack up to the YouTube stars? Lindsey Sterling can get over 2 million views in four months. Her videos have had over 2.5 billion views. The currently most popular YouTube Channel has over 94 billion views. 

What if I had started out with a more popular topic? Well, that is the problem about being a fanatic about a subject.

Anyway, if you think of a topic let me know what you would like me to put up on my channel. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The Family History Guide adds the FamilySearch Memories App
Here is the notice from The Family History Guide about the addition of instructions for the FamilySearch Memories App.
A few weeks ago we announced a new Project for the Family Tree app on The Family History Guide website. Now it’s time to introduce the Project for the sister app: Family Tree Memories. You can find this Project at the bottom of the FamilySearch learning path, in the top menu. 
Here’s a summary of the Goals in the Memories App Project:
As you would expect, there are Choices, Steps, Exercises, and Online Tracker entries for each of these Goals, as well as helpful screenshots to guide you through tasks.

We hope you enjoy the new Memories App Project in The Family History Guide. It’s a great companion to the Family Tree App, and it makes creating and uploading memories literally a snap!

Does Anyone Get Lost in the FamilySearch Family Tree?

I have been noticing that many users of the Family Tree agonize over the issue of removing a wrongfully attached child or spouse. The situation is usually that the children or one or both parents listed in a family are not supported by any records or there are records, such as a census record, that do not show them as being part of that particular family. As shown by the image above, there is always the option of removing or replacing any individual in the Family Tree. But when should you do this?

The example above is not one of those removal or replacement issues. There are several sources listed supporting the relationships. But if I work my way out on this particular line, I will inevitably run into the issue of whether or not an entry is supported by the existing sources listed in the Family Tree. Here is an example.

Samuel Linton (b. 1775) is shown as married to Margaret McBride (b. 1773). Samuel is shown as born in County Down, Ireland and his wife, Margaret, is shown as being born in County Tyrone, Ireland.  Tyrone and Down are about 100 miles apart. The only source cited for Samuel is a Family Group Record that cites "Family Records" as a source. Here is the Family Group Record (FGR).

However, the birth date listed for the Samuel Linton on this FGR is about 1769. There is nothing that shows how his parents William and Sarah got together while living so far apart in the mid-1700s. William Linton (b. 1746, d. 1823) is married to Sarah Teaquite (b. 1741). William is supposedly born in County Down and Sarah is born in County Tyrone. Their four children are shown as follows:

The first child listed is supposedly born in County Derry, Ireland. The sources listed for this William Linton (b. 1768) are two marriage records showing he married Jane Mathers 30 January 1794 in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

I could go on and on, but it appears that there are no records that support any of these marriages or child/parent relationships. But what happens if I start detaching all these people from these families? What if all of the temple ordinances have been done? (Which they have).

Well, it turns out that my direct line ancestor is the Samuel Linton (b. 1775) and there are no sources at all identifying his parents. So what if I simply detach him from this family? What about the ordinances?

Whether or not the ordinances were done for the wrong family configuration does not affect the validity of the personal ordinances done such as baptism etc. The only issue is that the sealing ordinances we need to be redone if the correct people are finally identified. If I were to detach Samuel Linton (b. 1775) from his parents as shown, then these parents would still be in the Family Tree and available if someone were to find a supported relationship. In short, no one is every "lost" in the Family Tree, an individual may not be attached to anyone or a short or long family line may not be attached, but these bits and pieces are still out there waiting for research that can show how they should be attached. If these people's individual ordinances have been done, then the ordinances are valid, but any invalid sealing ordinances would have to be redone if the correct relationships were identified. By the way, if a child is sealed to the wrong parents, the child is still technically sealed. The sealing to parents ordinance is like baptism, it is an individual ordinance. But almost always, the sealing ordinance will be redone when the correct parents are identified.

What about the mess I outline above? Well, from my standpoint, this line ends with William Linton (b. 1801) in Ardstraw, Tyrone, Ireland. Why don't I detach him from his parents as shown? The real reason is simple. I don't have any records showing anything different. So until I can find a record showing who William's parents actually were, I can either choose to detach the unsupported ancestors or not. But if I did detach them and they were later shown to be correct, they would still be out there in the Family Tree ready to be re-attached and their ordinances would still be done.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Can there really be that many birth names on the FamilySearch Family Tree

Names blurred out 
Why do some of the entries in the Family Tree have so many entries for an individual's "Birth Name?"

The answer is somewhat complex, but before I get into the issue of multiple birth names, it is important to understand what the "birth name" should be and where it should be entered. The birth name should be the name given at birth. Hmm. This almost sounds like a new rule to add to my list. But this rule needs to be qualified to actually work. Here is the next part of the rule: If there is no birth record available, then the "birth name" used is the name appearing on the earliest known record or source. When I say "earliest" I mean in time. So, if the only record of the person's name was on a grave marker, then that would be the earliest known record.

What if the name on the birth record is wrong? Again hmm. If it is the name that is on the earliest known record why would you conclude that it was "wrong?" What if the person changed their name? What if the person didn't like the name and didn't ever use the name? All that and more. Back to the rule: The birth name is the name given on the earliest known record. If there are subsequent names in subsequent records then they should all be listed as Alternative Names or Nicknames. What if the only name recorded is Betty or Betsy? Can we assume that the person's name was Elizabeth? No. Not unless there is a record showing that the name was recorded as Elizabeth in the earliest known document.

Now, what about all these "Birth Name" entries on the Family Tree? These entries are merely a default way of recording all the differences in all the entries made for that person over the long years since people started giving records to FamilySearch and all of its predecessors. It is up to you figure out which one was the one used in the earliest record. But what if there are no sources citing records? Then all the names may be alternate spellings or even the names of other people. If alternate names show up in records and are added as sources to the Family Tree then add the records as "Alternate Names" and designate which record or document produced the alternate names.


All other names, whatever their origin, should be recorded in the Other Information Section as Alternative Names. If you do not have a source for the alternative name then explain where you got it or that you made it up but don't call it a birth name.

What do I do with the long lists of Birth Names? I delete them as duplicates unless they are supported by a record and then I change the designation to reflect why the alternate name exists.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Exploring Genealogy Series #3: Relative Finder

Exploring Genealogy Series #3 Relative Finder

You will probably notice that this is the third video in this series. The reason is that I am adding videos to my blog posts on both Genealogy's Star blog and this Rejoice, and be exceeding glad... blog. I have decided that since I spent so much time learning how the video programs, such as Adobe's Premiere Pro 2019 work, that I would take advantage of my new skills and turn blog posts into videos.

Of course, I will still have videos in the form of webinars from the Brigham Young University Family History Library and they will be posted on the Library's YouTube Channel. In a sense, I guess I am competing with myself, but I am sure all of you out there can sort things out. But just think, I might do as many videos as I have blog posts. Maybe YouTube will collapse under the weight of all my videos.

By the way, I am also doing videos for The Family History Guide. See if you can guess which ones they are. I will give you a hint, they have a computer-generated narrator voice.

Stay tuned as I always say. 

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Exploring Genealogy Series #1 The Virtual Pedigree

Exploring Genealogy Series Virtual Pedigree

I am starting a new series of blog posts with videos called the Exploring Genealogy Series. For the time being, I am posting these videos on my own YouTube Channel. Please take a moment to subscribe to my YouTube Channel. Here is the link:

I have found that I can produce a video both easier and more quickly than I can write a blog or do a slide presentation. Watch for this. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

An Updated Look at the FamilySearch Solutions Gallery

Securely hidden at the very bottom of the pages of the website is the revamped Solutions Gallery. FamilySearch changed its method and criteria for including "apps" in the Solutions Gallery with the transition from the old "App Gallery." Almost since the beginning of the world of personal computers (I bet you haven't heard that term in a long time) programmers have been hiding surprises in their code commonly called "easter eggs." The Solutions Gallery isn't exactly hidden, but it may as well be. For example, in this initial view, there are three featured apps in each category. Each featured app has a five-star system for ranking. Out of the 33 apps (including duplicate entries) there are 13 that have no ranking at all. In addition, the app with the larges number of "reviews or rankings" has only 14 and 13 of them have only 1 ranking participant making the total of those with 1 of none 26 out of 33. By the way, there is a total of 86 "Solutions" in the Gallery. By the way, if the featured apps are counted by the number of developers when there are different versions of the same app, the number drops considerably. For example, FamilySearch has a listing for the Memories app twice: once for Android and once for iOS. Some variations of the same app are listed four times. 

In addition, there is nothing mentioned in the Solutions Gallery about why these particular apps are there or how they might have been selected. 

Before I go much further, I need to explain that I think the idea of FamilySearch partners is a great idea. I also think that we all benefit from the apps (or programs or whatever) that are featured. As is the case with many of the "features" of the website, I wonder why, if there is a reason for including the features, there is no clear path for people to find them? The very small number of reviews clearly shows that putting this Solutions Gallery feature at the very bottom of some of the pages with very small type sends a message that these entries are "boilerplate" and not things that anyone should be interested in looking at. 

If you keep digging on the website, you might find a link to a "Developers" page.

Right at the top of this page, FamilySearch makes the following statement:
Learn About the FamilySearch Solutions Program 
The FamilySearch Developer Program is now closed to the general public; however, you may be eligible to become a FamilySearch Solutions Provider if your business is prepared to deliver innovative solutions to help meet the needs and challenges involved in today's family history industry.
Why would I want to learn about a closed program? But if I click on the link to Learn More, I can start to find out what the Solutions program is all about.
One of the links from this page explains the "Solutions Gallery."
You can read what this page says from the image. I guess if I were a developer and had looked at the "Solutions Gallery" I would be wondering why I would want to spend my time and my money to simply be listed at the bottom of a page in a section of the website that seems to have little or no use?

I am very much aware of and have been involved in the FamilySearch Partner programs over the years. The real advantage to developers is the ability to connect to the website through what are called "APIs" or Application Programming Interface. These APIs are what allow some of the other third-party programs to connect directly to and in some cases, transfer information. Some very popular programs have used this connection to provide innovative solutions not available directly from FamilySearch's own website.

So, APIs are a big deal for both FamilySearch and a participating third-party developer. But many of the programs listed in the Solutions Gallery do not rely on connecting directly to the website using the APIs. If I keep clicking around, I find another page that seems to list the "Benefits for Solution Providers."
Some of the major benefits are classified as Marketing Benefits. Hmm. Then why is the Solutions Gallery so hard to find and why does it receive so little use? I think the answer lies in the fact that FamilySearch is a non-profit and in essence, a charitable organization. It is not a business as such. FamilySearch's goals and objectives do not align directly with other businesses. It has only one sponsor and whether or not the Solutions Providers succeed or fail will not really affect FamilySearch. Granted, the Strategic Partners, such as,, and all benefit greatly from their "partnership" with FamilySearch, but the "little guys" are a different matter altogether. An API connection is an obvious and saleable benefit. But if a "Solutions Partner" has no such need then what is the benefit?

During the past few years, I have seen dozens of startup companies that have worked with FamilySearch that are now either out of business or no longer seeking a relationship with FamilySearch. A company such as does not even need to mention a relationship with FamilySearch to do business. It can benefit from the connection and the partnership but has no need to advertise that it is obtaining a huge number of benefits mostly in the form of shared data from the FamilySearch microfilm collection. But for other smaller companies, the benefits as less definite and may even be undercut when FamilySearch incorporates features or programs that directly compete with the partner's core business.

But what about the user? Well, that is the question, isn't it.  We have benefited enormously over the past few years from FamilySearch's partners and that benefit is still growing and becoming more valuable. But if there is a benefit, then why doesn't that benefit extend equally to all of the partners rather than just those who have API relationships with FamilySearch? Maybe there are some changes that need to be made to actually incentivize smaller, also useful developers rather than ending up with competition from FamilySearch and other nebulous "benefits."

Monday, April 15, 2019

Online Tracker Reporting System added to The Family History Guide
The Family History Guide continues to evolve and become more useful almost every day. Occasionally, there is a big jump in the usability of the website and this is one of those big jumps. Here is the announcement from Bob Taylor's article from The Family History Guide Blog article entitled, "Introducing the Online Tracker Reporting System."
It’s here! 
At RootsTech 2019, we announced that a new reporting system for the Online Tracker would be coming in April. Today we are excited to announce its debut on The Family History Guide website. This new feature enables you to create progress reports for yourself or others, based on slider-bar settings that have been recorded in the Online Tracker. 
Getting Started with Groups 
Note: If you haven’t accessed the Online Tracker, you will need to go to and create a free account. It’s the only place in The Family History Guide that requires a login. 
Once you log in to your Online Tracker account, you’ll find that two new buttons have been added in the top menu bar: Groups and Reports. Clicking “Groups” opens a screen where you can invite others to join a reporting group, and then set up groups of email addresses. Groups are required for reports to be run against. 
For more information on creating and managing Groups, see Goal 2 in the Online Tracker Help page. 
Creating Reports
With a Group of email addresses, you can start running reports to see slider-bar totals for Choices in The Family History Guide. Note: All reports use Choices as the basis for displaying chart info, as Choices are the only places where slider bars can be set. 
For example, suppose you created a group of two people for reports. In Project 1, Goal 1, let’s say person A has 5 “Started”, 4 “Good”, and 3 “Proficient” slider-bar values, while person B has two of each of these values. The report would show 7 “Started”, 6 “Good”, and 5 “Proficient”. Slider bars that are set at 0 (“Not Started”) do not produce report data. 
For more information on creating Reports, see Goal 3 in the Online Tracker Help page. 
Report Types 
The following types of current reports are available:
  • All Choices (three bars)
  • Choices in each Learning Path (FamilySearch, Ancestry, MyHeritage, Findmypast)
  • Choices by Project (bars for each Project)
  • Choices in selected Goals
The following types of historical reports are available:
  • All Choices, by day, week, or month
  • Choices in a selected Project, by day, week, or month
  • All Choices for your own personal account, by day, week, or month
Sample Reports 
Below are a few sample reports, based on a test Group. For more examples, see  Goal 3 in the Online Tracker Help page.

Remember that The Family History Guide is a free website but we are supported by the generous contributions of our users and other contributors. For more information about contributing to The Family History Guide see The Family History Guide Association. All contributions will be warmly received and greatly appreciated.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Still Looking for those Golden Years: Glasses, Water, and Hearing Aids

What do glasses, water, and hearing aids have in common? Well, you would have to be pushing your Golden Years to discover the commonality. The common issue is the cost of the items versus their selling price. Each of these three items has a ridiculously low cost and a comparatively high selling price. In addition, if you are hearing and sight challenged and need to bathe or drink water, all three of these items could be classified as necessities.

Since I have all three of these challenges, I have become interested in researching these three commonly used products. Not too long ago following a visit to my local ophthalmologist for an eye exam and the results showed I need new glasses. Since I wear regular variable vision glasses, sunglasses, and computer glasses, the total spent came to a tidy sum even when the purchase made a Costco Warehouse. We have tried online glasses and not been happy with the results. The price was within the range of what I expected since I have been wearing glasses since grade school.

Now we come to the research. It turns out that a $500 pair of glasses probably costs less than $20 to make. See "You'll be Shocked to Find Out How Much Eyeglasses Really Cost."

Hmm. This seems like a major issue. Could it be true? Time to do some more research. Here is a list of links to articles discussing the real cost of eyeglasses.

The list could go on indefinitely. So why did I pay hundreds of dollars for eyeglasses? Good question. 

Now what? Let's move on to hearing aids. The average cost of hearing aids makes high priced glasses look cheap. In looking around, it looks like the average price on one hearing aid is $2300 and of course, I have two ears. See "Is there a hearing aid price bubble?" Again, what is the actual cost of manufacturing these extraordinary electronic devices? Much less than $200. How many people go without hearing aids because of the artificially high price? In addition, I would have to have an ear test before anyone would sell me a pair. There go my Golden Years. What rankles me is that my latest hearing aids are about as dumb as a rock compared to my iPhone and I paid more than three times the cost of my iPhone for these wretched hearing aids that do not help much at all. 

What about water. Isn't that mostly pretty inexpensive? Well, actually yes unless you don't have it piped to your house or you decided to fill a swimming pool. But as we found out recently by carefully examining our water bill,  the part of the bill that applies to the sale of water is about 7%, the rest of the bill goes for taxes. I don't have a ready link for the cost of water. But if you are one of these people who buy cases of bottled water at your local supermarket, you are paying about 2000 times as much as it costs for tap water in most of the United States. See "Bottled Water Costs 2000 Times As Much As Tap Water." By the way, bottled water costs more than twice the cost of gasoline. 

Those of us who have a few years behind have been paying these prices for a long time. 

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Over 600,000 views: The BYU Family History Library YouTube Channel
We have had over 600,000 views on the Brigham Young University Family History Library YouTube Channel. That may seem insignificant when some YouTube videos are racking up that many views in a day, but for us, it is another milestone. There are now 423 videos on a huge variety of subjects for free on this very active channel. For example, 12 new videos have been uploaded in the last month. The most popular video on the Channel has over 44 thousand views. We are slowly converting our presentations to video format and away from presentation software such as PowerPoint to increase the usefulness of the information presented. You can see a good example of the transition on this video:

Come Follow Me Companion by Ann Tanner

We encourage all who view the videos to subscribe to the Channel by clicking on the subscribe button. You might also like to know that the videos are also organized and available on the BYU Family History Library Website. Here is a screenshot and a link. The benefit of using the videos on the BYU website is that they are viewable in the chapels of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when YouTube videos are blocked.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Show Me coming to The Family History Guide
The Family History Guide is Your free learning, research, training, and activities center for family history. It is the world-class family history learning system used by learners in over 150 countries and approved by FamilySearch as an official training resource. The website links to thousands of family history resources across the internet.

You may not know that it is a sequenced and structured learning environment that can help you attain competency in family history research. It is organized into a series of Projects which are further divided into Goals. Each Goal then has a series of choices that help you learn in manageable steps to learning all about family history. We have begun producing short "Show Me" videos that accompany each Goal to illustrate how what is described in the text looks like on the different websites. The first of these videos are being linked from Goals for learning FamilySearch.

Because of the huge number of these short videos that will be produced, the format had to be standardized as much as possible and for this reason, we are using computer-generated voice narration for the segments. You can see these Show Me videos in the context of the website for Project 1, Family Tree Goals.
Assuming I can keep working, we hope to have most of the Goals with Show Me segments.

Discover, Gather, and Connect Your Family
You should watch this extraordinary presentation by Angelle Anderson, Scott Anderson, Merrill White sponsored by The Family History Guide and FamilySearch and the recent RootsTech Conference. As you watch this presentation, you will discover the spirit and enthusiasm behind the phenomenally growing The Family History Guide website. You can also view the videos produced by the Andersons on The Family History Guide YouTube Channel.  As you might guess, we are involved in the video world almost completely now. I am transitioning from slide presentations (i.e. PowerPoint and Keynote) to video. It has taken me about two months to make the transition since I had to relearn the video programs that had progressed so much since my last foray into video production. You can expect a lot more video offerings in the future both on The Family History Guide YouTube Channel and the Brigham Young University Family History Library YouTube Channel.

Here is another outstanding video about The Family History Guide Come Follow Me Companion from my wife, Ann Tanner on the BYU Family History Library YouTube Channel.

Come Follow Me Companion by Ann Tanner

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

The Family History Guide adds Instructions for the FamilySearch Tree App

The Family History Guide Blog
Quoting from the blog post entitled, "The Family History Guide and the Family Tree Mobile App:"

We are excited to announce a new addition to The Family History Guide: there is now a Project for the Family Tree Mobile App from FamilySearch. You can find the new Family Tree App Project at the bottom of the FamilySearch drop-down menu.
The Project is being published in two parts. Part One will include the following Goals:

  • Pedigree
  • Person View
  • Sources and Record Hints
  • Search Historical Records
  • Map My Ancestors
  • Other Tools
  • Settings 

Part Two will add the following additional Goals:

  • Memories
  • Ordinances (in the Church of Jesus Christ page)
  • “Possible Duplicates” (added to the Part One pages)
  • Task for Descendants
The link to the new FamilySearch Tree App Project is located in the FamilySearch menu items. 

Here is a screenshot of the Project page.

FamilySearch Tree App
With the dramatically increased emphasis on the FamilySearch Mobile app in various presentations and talks from both representatives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and from, these detailed instructions will give potential users a good understanding and foundation for learning to use the mobile apps. 

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Are you an orphan Temple and Family History Consultant?

Despite the Temple and Family History Leadership Instruction from Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on February 28, 2019, there are still Wards and Stakes that have not yet implemented the ideal Ward Temple and Family History Leadership Pattern.

Failure to implement the standard pattern makes the Ward Temple and Family History Consultant essentially an orphan. However, even without this formal organization, a Temple and Family History Consultant should be helping the Ward members individually with their family history needs. New instructions about the Temple and Family Consultant calling have been posted on Here is the link to the first page of the instruction.

Quoting from the section called "Discover, Gather, Connect:"
Personalized Family History Experiences 
A good way to engage others in temple and family history is through personalized family history experiences. 
A personalized family history experience is a meeting between a temple and family history consultant and an individual or family where the consultant shares an activity or family history information prepared especially for that meeting. This can take place in a home or another convenient location that is conducive to the Spirit.
This section emphasizes the need for the Temple and Family History consultants to help individuals one-on-one. The Ward may eventually develop a plan and include you in the implementation, but your core responsibility is to help people one at a time with finding their own family names to take to the Temple. The instructions include step by step instructions about how to go about doing this.

If you need any other help at all, please take a few minutes to review The Family History Guide. This resource will teach you what you need to know to really help others.

Do not feel like an orphan. You can learn what you need to know from the online resources. Then you can begin helping those around you. If the Ward catches up and has a plan, then you are that much further ahead.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

What Common Errors Are Being Made in the FamilySearch Family Tree? Part One


All online family trees are often perceived by a certain segment of the greater genealogical community as error-ridden traps for the unwary genealogical researcher but taking that attitude immediately implies that those making that assumption have somehow achieved perfection. Valid and defensible genealogical conclusions are based on careful systematic research into historical records which by their very nature are prone to errors and omissions. It is certainly possible to assiduously follow both academic and professional genealogical proof standards and still make egregious errors.

The real basis for historical or genealogical research accuracy consists of a healthy dose of skepticism combined with the ability to see through conflicting historical records. Correct conclusions are not arrived at by being enveloped in an ivory tower of research isolation. In genealogy, accuracy will ultimately be achieved on the battlefield of the community based and compiled family tree programs such as the Family Tree.  The opinions of those who ignore this reality will ultimately be lost to obscurity.

One good example of isolationist superiority is the history of the acceptance of Wikipedia as a source of reliable information. There are still academic holdouts who condemn Wikipedia in its entirety out of hand regardless of the source citations attached to any given article. Likewise, there are those in the genealogical community that condemn the Family Tree who have not so much as registered for a look at the website and who also uniformly dismiss all other user-contributed family trees in every other program.

From my perspective, I would find it impossible to construct my own family tree relationships by basing my research solely on my own examination of historical records and academic journal articles. For example, in my own surname line, I have yet to find even one professional genealogist who has contributed anything of substance. However, the "crowdsourcing" efforts of all of my relatives have actually produced an extremely accurate family line up to the point where the records are apparently not available or are unavailable.

Of course, the Family Tree is not without its share of errors. So what are the errors or problems that continue to appear? The Family Tree is not a dead, isolated opinion in an academically oriented journal, it is a living, breathing entity that grows and changes every day. But just as beautiful gardens need to be tended and the weeds removed, the Family Tree needs constant attention.

One way that the Family Tree can grow with accurate and reliable information is for those who contribute to the Family Tree to become aware of the most common errors. Any assessment of the accuracy of the Family Tree must be based on some kind of objective criteria and fortunately, we have just such a mechanism. Some time ago, by virtue of a partnership between FamilySearch and MyHeritage, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were able to use the MyHeritage website for no charge. One of the more recent advantages of that arrangement is the fact that those members who have actually availed themselves of the advantages of using the MyHeritage website, can now create a synchronized file between the two websites by importing up to 8 generations from the Family Tree into a new MyHeritage family tree. As a result of this importation, the MyHeritage website automatically begins to examine the contents of the imported file using the sophisticated Consistency Checker program.

Some time ago, I created a synchronized version of my first 8 generations on the Family Tree in a new MyHeritage family tree and almost immediately received a report of the number of errors in my portion of the Family Tree. The report checked 3,520 people in the imported family tree. Keep in mind that I have been working on correcting the entries in the Family Tree for over 37 years. Here is the report from the Consistency Checker:

It takes a while for the whole report to be compiled, so what this screenshot shows is only 365 errors of a usual 720. Wow! That many errors? That is about a 20% error rate. The error rate shown above with only 41% done is 24% But what is being measured? The category with the largest error rate is for photos tagged with an inaccurately reported death date, i.e. a date inconsistent with the the one showing in the individual's detail section. Other common errors are as follows:

  • Child born after death of parent
  • Fact occurring after death
  • Fact occurring before birth
  • Siblings with close age
  • Multiple marriages of same couple
  • Disconnected from family tree
  • Siblings with the same first name
There are possibly many more types of errors. Stay tuned for more information about the errors and why they occur.