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

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Why aren't the Temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint fully open to patrons?


Provo, Utah Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

There is an obvious answer to the question posed in the title of this post. The temples are only partially open because of the pandemic. Perhaps there is a more serious reason. One of the biggest concerns I have had, if not the biggest concern, during this time of the pandemic, is the closure of the temples. But then, a question was raised by one of the BYU Family History Library missionaries lately that asked why we expected the temples to open if we weren’t doing our temple work? I have seen a huge drop in family history activity in my own Ward which is not surprising at all. This year, my own Ward has seen the percentage of members submitting a name to the temple drop from around 30% to the present number of about 17% and from my own experience, 17% activity is relatively high for most wards. 

In some areas of the world, the temples are open to regular patrons. What is not that the case here in Utah Valley? I live about half a mile from the Provo, Utah Temple and could walk there in about 10 minutes. But close proximity to the Temple does not seem to promote an increase in temple activity in our area. Why did family history activity drop when so many people could not attend church meetings or participate in their usual activities? That is a very good question. 

President Russell M. Nelson, the President, and Prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has repeatedly said, quote:

Our message to the world is simple and sincere: We invite all of God's children on both sides of the veil to come unto their Saviour. 


Most members of the Church can fully understand what President Nelson is saying. But understanding and doing are two different things. If we are going to extend the blessings and ordinances to those on the other side of the veil, we need to make the effort to search out our relatives and make their names available so they can choose to have their ordinances done. 

But here we are back at the beginning. If the Temples are closed, how do we do the ordinance work for our ancestors? So, do we stop searching? Do we stop adding names to the temple reservation list? My answer is no. We continue to do our part to identify and reserve the names of our relatives even though we cannot physically enter the temples to participate in the physical ordinances on their behalf. 

It seems to me that it is as simple as that. As a missionary assigned to the Brigham Young University Family History Library, I am ready and able to help anyone who asks with searching out their family history. As this post is written we are in the middle of the University's Christmas break. Because of the pandemic, the BYU Family History Library is not open and will open again on January 11th. The missionaries will be online to help anyone who needs help. Here is the contact information for the Family History Library that will reopen on :

Family History/Religion Help Desk

For general reference questions and scanner reservations.*

Contact the Help Desk

Email:, Phone: (801)-422-6200

Chat: See link in the left sidebar.

*Scanning equipment is currently only available for BYU student and faculty use. 

Family History Assistance (Missionary Volunteers)

For family history help by email or phone, or to schedule a virtual family history consultation or group instruction.*

Email:, Phone: (801) 422-3766

*Although we cannot currently host groups in person, we can schedule YSA or other groups for virtual classes or other group instruction.

Meanwhile, if you need help, you can contact me directly. You can find me by email at or by Facebook at or in a hundred other ways. 

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Christmas on Temple Square Performance Collections


Social Sing and Serve: A Christmas on Temple Square Performances

Every evening during the month of December so far, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has presented an hour-long musical concert of groups and individuals from around the world. Here in the Mountain Standard Time Zone, we have enjoyed these concerts at 6:00 pm. They have been a wonderful part of overcoming the challenges of a Christmas season overshadowed by a pandemic. In addition, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at noon MST, there is an organ concert called Piping Up. You can see the concerts and the recordings on the Tabernacle Choir YouTube Channel. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

The Family History Guide adds new videos to its YouTube Channel for #RootsTech Connect


The Family History Guide YouTube Channel

The Family History Guide is getting ready for the 2021 RootsTech Connect virtual conference from 25th to the 27th of February, 2021. In conjunction with the Conference, we will be adding a number of new videos. During the Conference, we will also be in the Virtual Exhibit Area. So far there are over 150,000 people registered for this world-wide online conference. 

The Family History Guide will have a dedicated webpage for RootsTech Connect and will be available to answer questions online for the Conference. Meanwhile, you can enjoy the new videos on our YouTube Channel

Remember, The Family History Guide is sponsored by The Family History Guide Association, a 501 (c) 3 corporation. The Family History Guide website is entirely free due to the donations of people like you. You can also select The Family History Guide as a charity on and your holiday purchases will help support this fabulous website.

Friday, December 11, 2020

The Family History Guide: Quick Research Basics help you Form a Research Strategy


The Family History Guide P4 G3: Form a Research Strategy

Those of us working on expanding The Family History Guide website have been developing a series of videos called, "Quick Research Basics." These short videos will complement different Goals and Choices for learning about family history research. All of this and much more is available for free.

Remember, The Family History Guide is sponsored by The Family History Guide Association, a 501 (c) 3 corporation. The Family History Guide website is entirely free due to the donations of people like you. You can also select The Family History Guide as a charity on and your holiday purchases will help support this fabulous website. 

Monday, December 7, 2020

The Christ Child: A Nativity Story


The Christ Child: A Nativity Story

Quoting from the video description:

This new depiction of the Nativity story recounts in beautiful detail the sacred events found in the Bible about Jesus's birth over 2,000 years ago. Journey with Joseph and Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Witness the awe of the shepherds in the plains of Judea. Feel the joy of the wise men as they kneel before the Light of the World – our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Visit to learn more about the significance of this special first Christmas.

This short video was released last year and has set a new tone and standard for nativity videos. I am grateful for the artistry and talent that created this lovely message. #givethanks



Friday, December 4, 2020

#LighttheWorld this Christmas Season


#LighttheWorld is an initiative of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and part of a larger program called #ComeuntoChrist. Here is the theme of the project:
When Jesus Christ was born, angels proclaimed, “On earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14). This December, the promise remains the same. As we love and serve each day the way Jesus did, we can end 2020 on a hopeful note.

Here is another more complete explanation: 

#LightTheWorld is an invitation to transform Christmas into a season of service. It’s a worldwide movement to touch hearts and change lives by doing the things Jesus did: feeding the hungry, comforting the lonely, visiting the sick and afflicted, and showing kindness to everyone. Jesus said, “Ye are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). #LightTheWorld is the perfect way to let our light—and His light—shine brightly.

Also, remember Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

We can make a difference, one day at a time. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Virtual Christmas on Temple Square, Salt Lake City, Utah #LightTheWorld


Christmas on Temple Square to be Celebrated Virtually in 2020

Our family has a long tradition of visiting the Christmas lights on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah, and at other Temples, including Mesa, Arizona, and Washington, D.C. This year, the pandemic has limited the availability of this wonderful activity. However, we now have an online, virtual opportunity to visit the Salt Lake City Temple and elsewhere. Here is the statement from the post linked above.

The seasonal lights on Temple Square and at the temples in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles will be turned on in the evenings after Thanksgiving. The lights on Temple Square will only be viewable from surrounding roads and exterior city sidewalks as the plaza will be fenced off and the gates will be closed at 4:30 p.m., with no public access to Temple Square. The lights will turn on at 5 p.m. Those walking by are encouraged to wear masks and practice social distancing. No public parking will be available in the Conference Center or Joseph Smith Memorial Building parking lots. In Washington and Los Angeles, the lights will be viewable only to those driving by in cars. 

The Mesa, Arizona Temple is still under renovation. Beginning on December 1st, there will be presentations every night from Temple Square. You can see these on the Temple Square Facebook page.

The first performance on December 1, 2020 is now on Here is a link.

Celebrating the Light of the World: A Christmas on Temple Square Performance

Remember, these performances will be online every day this month. We have never been able to attend all of the concerts before and now we can. 


Monday, November 30, 2020

I am thankful to be able to travel #givethanks


One of the things I miss most by reason of the limitation imposed by the pandemic is our ability to freely travel around our country and the world. Our grandchildren serving missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have had far different experiences than they expected. They had the Mission Training Center in their homes and temporary assignments to place other than the ones they were called to serve in. 

My wife and I have had several trips to Europe and locations in the United States canceled. But I am grateful for the trips we have taken over the years. My Walking Arizona blog currently has 4594 photos that I have taken (or my wife has taken) over the years and they show the huge number of places we have been able to visit. Every day, I give thanks for the beautiful world we live in. #givethanks

Friday, November 27, 2020

Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem, Rembrandt van Rijn, 1630 #givethanks

 I love fine art and I am thankful for all the wonderful artwork I have seen during my life. I began my university studies as a fine arts major but I soon learned that I had little talent for painting and drawing. I still love all the artwork I have been able to see around the world. #givethanks

I finally realized that I could write and this is my 2002th post on this blog. 

Thursday, November 26, 2020

I am grateful for the scriptures #givethanks


8 We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.  We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God. Articles of Faith #givethanks I am always, daily thankful for the scriptures. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Free Printable Family Tree Templates and Online Family Tree Ideas

This is a really good idea. I am always looking for new examples of family trees and this came along at just the right time. You should take some time to look at the links in this post. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

I am thankful for genealogy #GiveThanks


I started exploring my family's genealogy almost 40 years ago. Most of what I do now is directly or indirectly a result of my earlier interest and continued work. I am grateful for all of the thousands of ancestors and relatives I have discovered over the years. I am grateful for all the people I have come to know both living and dead as a result of my genealogical research. I am looking forward to doing a lot more. #GiveThanks

Saturday, November 21, 2020

The Problem of Racism


In the October 2020 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Russell M. Nelson said the following:

Each of us has a divine potential because each is a child of God. Each is equal in His eyes. The implications of this truth are profound. Brothers and sisters, please listen carefully to what I am about to say. God does not love one race more than another. His doctrine on this matter is clear. He invites all to come unto Him, “black and white, bond and free, male and female.”

I assure you that your standing before God is not determined by the color of your skin. Favor or disfavor with God is dependent upon your devotion to God and His commandments and not the color of your skin.

I grieve that our Black brothers and sisters the world over are enduring the pains of racism and prejudice. Today I call upon our members everywhere to lead out in abandoning attitudes and actions of prejudice. I plead with you to promote respect for all of God’s children.

The question for each of us, regardless of race, is the same. Are you willing to let God prevail in your life? Are you willing to let God be the most important influence in your life? Will you allow His words, His commandments, and His covenants to influence what you do each day? Will you allow His voice to take priority over any other? Are you willing to let whatever He needs you to do take precedence over every other ambition? Are you willing to have your will swallowed up in His?

Again, in a short talk posted on on November 20, 2020, President Russel M. Nelson, condemned racism. See

President Dallin H. Oaks, of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, gave a talk at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah on October 27, 2020. A synopsis of the talk was reported in a Deseret News article entitled, "Latter-day Saint leader tells BYU audience to ‘heed our prophet’s call’ to end racism" and on some social media websites including Instagram. 

Some of the comments generated by the publication of the talk perfectly illustrated to me one of the real problems with racism. Rather than listen to what President Oaks had to say, there was an immediate reaction to the talk from a purely political standpoint, and the discussion revolved around condemning the "Black Lives Matter" organization for such things as demolishing the police, destroying the nuclear family, and advocating Marxism. President Oaks' comments made no reference at all to the organization. 

Many of the comments to the news article denied the existence of "systemic racism" in the United States and yet we have a significant number of people in our American society that support a political view that encourages "White Supremacy." The comments included assertions that the talks were politically motivated and effectively equated statements condemning racism as being "Marxist." 

Racism is a personal and cultural issue. One of the commentators replied to President Oak's talk by saying that he wasn't racist and didn't know anyone who was racists and couldn't understand why the leaders of the Church kept talking about racism. I have seen systemic cultural and personal racism again and again throughout my life both inside and outside the Church. Given the politicization of the issue of racism in the current election, I think it was both appropriate and important that the leaders of the Church have spoken out on this issue. I know people who consider themselves to be "good members of the Church" who systematically support extreme attitudes of discrimination. 

Here is a link to President Oak's talk at BYU. Here is a final quote from his talk.

Now, with prophetic clarification, let us all heed our prophet’s call to repent, to change, and to improve. Only the gospel of Jesus Christ can unite and bring peace to people of all races and nationalities. We who believe in that gospel—whatever our origins—must unite in love of each other and of our Savior Jesus Christ.

Friday, November 20, 2020

FREE Virtual Family History Classes, Webinars, and Videos from the BYU Family History Library

Although the Brigham Young University Family History Library is closed to both volunteer/missionaries and patrons, we are hosting a broad offering of free online classes, webinars, and videos. All of the present offerings are outlined on our "Classes and Webinars" webpage.

The classes and webinars include:

In addition, for the students and faculty who still have access to the Library, we have a virtual consultant video station in the Library with live, online missionary volunteers every weekday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. The students and faculty simply have to walk up to the video monitor and start asking questions. 

We have nearly 500 videos online on the BYU Family History Library YouTube Channel. Here is a screenshot of the Channel.

If you have a question or a suggestion for a new video, please let us know. The contact information for the Library is on our webpage. Here is the link:

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Let God Prevail


Eugène Delacroix (1861) CC BY-SA 3.0,
Jacob wrestling with an angel

The painting above depicts an event described in the Bible in Genesis (32:22–32; also referenced in Hosea 12:4) when Jacob wrestled with an angel and subsequently, received a new name, "Israel." 

President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spoke in the Sunday morning session of the Church's 190th Semi-annual General Conference on October 4, 2020. He began his talk by explaining that he had learned a new meaning of the word "Israel." The most common translation is "contends with God" but President Nelson indicated that Hebrew scholars also translated "Israel" as "Let God Prevail." He then gave some examples of letting God prevail including abandoning attitudes and actions of prejudice. See "President Russell M. Nelson: Let God Prevail." 

I was impressed by his comments. Most of my early life was spent in a small town in eastern Arizona and in the larger city of Phoenix. After leaving Phoenix for a few years I returned and lived many years in Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Mesa. It took me a number of years away from Arizona and living in Argentina and Panama to realize that I grew up in de facto segregated communities. None of the grade schools or the high school I attended had any significant minority students despite the fact that Arizona has a significant minority population. Currently, the non-Hispanic White population is about 54% of the population. 

As I grow older, I have become increasingly aware of the systematic and cultural racism that exists in the United States. Part of my awareness comes from speaking Spanish fluently and subsequently being involved as an attorney in the Hispanic community representing Spanish speaking clients and teaching Spanish as a second language in the local community college system. Living in Panama made me acutely aware of the prejudice harbored against the Black community. 

Now, President Nelson had some very specific things to say about racism. Here is a quote from the above-linked article.

“Brothers and sisters, please listen carefully to what I am about to say. God does not love one race more than another. His doctrine on this matter is clear. He invites all to come unto Him, ‘black and white, bond and free, male and female’ (2 Nephi 26:33). I assure you that your standing before God is not determined by the color of your skin. Favor or disfavor with God is dependent upon your devotion to God and His commandments, and not the color of your skin.

“I grieve that our Black brothers and sisters the world over are enduring the pains of racism and prejudice. Today, I call upon our members everywhere to lead out in abandoning attitudes and actions of prejudice. I plead with you to promote respect for all of God’s children.

“The question for each of us, regardless of race, is the same. Are you willing to let God prevail in your life? Are you willing to let God be the most important influence in your life? Will you allow His words, His commandments, and His covenants to influence what you do each day? Will you allow His voice to take priority over any other? Are you willing to let whatever He needs you to do take precedence over every other ambition? Are you willing to have your will swallowed up in His? (See Mosiah 15:7).” 

Although his words specifically identified Blacks as the object of racism, his words clearly apply to any discrimination of anyone because of their supposed "race." 

As a genealogist, I have learned that due to current studies in DNA testing, the concept of race can no longer be clearly defined. Here is a statement on the subject from Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

'Race’ cannot be biologically defined due to genetic variation among human individuals and populations. (A) The old concept of the “five races:” African, Asian, European, Native American, and Oceanian. According to this view, variation between the races is large, and thus, the each race is a separate category. Additionally, individual races are thought to have a relatively uniform genetic identity. (B) Actual genetic variation in humans. Human populations do roughly cluster into geographical regions. However, variation between different regions is small, thus blurring the lines between populations. Furthermore, variation within a single region is large, and there is no uniform identity.

I will have more to say on this subject in the future.  

Friday, October 2, 2020

FamilySearch has over 8 billion searchable names in historical records


A news announcement from FamilySearch recently noted the following:

Nonprofit FamilySearch published its 8 billionth free searchable name from its worldwide historic record collections online. The milestone is even more astounding when you think that each name is someone’s ancestor—8 billion family connections just waiting to be discovered. Explore the free databases at

It’s an incredible feat when you realize that just 1 billion seconds ago, it was 1988, or 1 billion minutes ago the Roman Empire was thriving and Christianity was just beginning to spread.

“To digitally preserve and make so many names freely searchable online is impressive, but it’s the personal family connections that matter most,” said David Rencher, FamilySearch’s chief genealogical officer. “With each new record, there’s the possibility to find a missing link in the family tree. And that is soul-satisfying.” And FamilySearch adds over 1 million new records each day.

The last sentence in this short excerpt is important: "And FamilySearch adds over 1 million new records each day." Researching online is always an ongoing process. Because records are added every day, you never know if what you are looking for and could not find has recently been added to the online collections. 

Monday, September 21, 2020

New section for Youth on The Family History Guide

The Family History Guide has added a fabulous new section of family history information and activities for Youth; both for those who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and those who are not. Here are the new sections:

There are always a number of updates and surprises on The Family History Guide website. Take a few minutes to review the website and see how valuable it can be for you and your family. 


Tuesday, August 18, 2020

RootsMagic 8 is in Beta Testing

Here is an update on the progress on RootsMagic 8 from an email notice I received:

We've been so busy working on RootsMagic 8 that we've neglected to post any updates on our progress over the last few weeks. While we've been sharing videos and tidbits via email and social media, we realized that we needed to pull these recent updates into one place to better communicate with all of our users.

The Testing Continues 
We have many users who have been using RootsMagic 8, reporting bugs, and giving suggestions. In order to start testing the software, a user first agrees not to disclose to others about their experience or even that they are a tester. So for those that aren't testing, it feels like everything is very quiet in regards to RootsMagic 8 while those that are testing are actually very busy and active. We gradually add more users to our testing pool so as not to overwhelm the process. Many of you have already volunteered to test the software and- if you aren't already doing so- we hope to give you the opportunity soon.

Writing software is sometimes more of an art than a science. All of those who use RootsMagic will be happy to see the update.  

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Two Valuable Research Tools on FamilySearch: The Family Tree Map and The FamilySearch Places Tool

There are a number of helpful tools on the website that you may never have used or even seen. The Family Tree Map is one of those relatively obscure tools. You can find it by clicking on the link to the Time Line on the detail page of each person on the Family Tree. Here is a screenshot showing the link.

Once you are viewing the timeline, the map is pretty obvious. 

What is not obvious is what the map can do for you. The reason for this is that this map is not the map for the FamilySearch Places Tool. Where is the FamilySearch Places Tool? The answer is "You can't get there from here." Astoundingly, there are no links from the website to the Places Tool. You get there by entering this link: By the way, there are a number of other such tools and pages that are not linked from the main website. The only link I have found so far is in the site map located at the bottom of the startup page and a few other pages. Here is a screenshot of the bottom of the startup page showing the link to the site map.

Once you are looking at the site map, you might notice an entry named "Places." That is the link. Here is another screenshot of the site map page with an arrow to the Places link. 

Now, read the article linked at the beginning of this post to see how to use the Places Tool. It really is useful. By the way, you might want to click on some of the other links on the site map to see what other surprises await you on the FamilySearch website. 

Friday, August 14, 2020

Fixing Family Tree Data Problems

Fixing problems in the Family Tree is one of my most common topics. It is always a good idea to consider alternative points of view. I thought this post by FamilySearch was timely and appropriate. You should take the time to read it and follow the well-taken suggestions. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Online Volunteer Opportunity: Help Improve Place-Names: A good idea with some unforeseen consequences

Crowdsourcing can accomplish some tasks that are overwhelming when viewed on a one-by-one basis. The Family Tree is an excellent example of crowdsourcing. Although there is a downside for those people who excessively focus on the changes without understanding the process of correcting information that is inaccurate the overall achievement is adding a huge amount of information in a universally accessible venue. 

On the other hand, this idea of looking briefly at a geographic location and then changing it to match a preselected "standard" place is rife with the possibility of error and loss of data. Sadly, geographic knowledge is sadly lacking in many countries and cultures of the world. For example, in my experience helping people in the United States with research around the country and in Great Britain, I have found almost no knowledge of the geography of the United States or England down to the county level not even looking down to the city and town level. Choosing a preselected standard place name has always been an extremely controversial topic in the genealogical community. Software programmers love standards. Researchers find constant place name designations that do not fit in a standard mold. 

Here is one example of the variations in the place names for the same location in one family entry in the FamilySearch Family Tree. You might note that Kentucky did not become a state until June 1, 1792. I should also mention that Nicholas County, Kentucky was not created until June 1, 1800. Here is the list.
  • Birth abt 1780 Lincoln, Kentucky, United States
  • Birth 1787 Of,,,Ky
  • Birth abt 1787 of Nicholas Co., Ky.
  • Birth about 1789 Kentucky District, Nicholas, Virginia, United States
  • Birth 1791 Carlisle, Nicholas, Kentucky, United States
  • Birth 1793 Ky
  • Birth 1795 Of,,,Ky
  • Birth 1797 Of,,,Ky
  • Birth 1799 Of,,,Ky
  • Birth abt 1801 of Nicholas Co., Ky.
  • Birth 1802 Nicholas, Kentucky
  • Birth abt 1804 of Nicholas, Ky.
As a matter of fact, most of these place names are incorrect and I would ask you, as a reader of this blog post, can you tell what is wrong with each entry? Even assuming you read my comments on the dates?

Recently, I have had a situation where a Family Tree user absolutely refused to standardize the place names even when they were exactly the same as suggested standards. 

If we move out of the United States, we have so even more complex problems. The place names in Denmark may contain elements of territories, waters, settlements, cultivated areas, streets and roads, houses, farms, and shops, and many other things. Another complication of this naming system is the Danish “Farm Name.” Quoting from Nordic Names:
Farm names were usually added to the given name and the patronym and originally functioned as an address rather than as a surname. 
When name laws were introduced in the 19th and early 20th century and hereditary surnames became mandatory, many people decided to keep their farm name as a surname. 
In Denmark many people who use a secondary patronym chose to take a farm name as a middle name.
Can someone by looking at the following type of entry make any of the temporal or geographic judgments necessary to have a correct, not just standard, place name?

These are the choices offered by the new app that is supposed to standardize the place. Here is a quote about the Caddo Tribe and the Kiowa Agency from the FamilySearch Research Wiki article "Kiowa Indian Agency (Oklahoma)."
The Kiowa Agency [also called: Anadarko Agency, the Kiowa and Comanche Agency, and the Kiowas, Apache, and Comanche Agency] was established in 1864. The tribes assigned to it -- Kiowa, Apache, and Comanche -- had been previously assigned to the Upper Arkansas Agency, and before 1855, to the Upper Platte Agency. Even after the establishment of the Kiowa Agency, it was closely associated with the Upper Platte Agency. The Kiowa Agency also has some responsibility for some Caddo Indians during the Civil War and for some Comanche Indians living in Texas.

There was no fixed location for the Kiowa Agency during its early years. It was supposed to have its headquarters at Fort Larned, Kansas, but due to the nomadic life of the tribes assigned to it, the agent spent most of his time moving about. By the Treaty of Medicine Lodge Creek in 1867, the three tribes agreed to settle in an area south of the Washita River in Indian Territory. An agency headquarters was located on Cache Creek near Fort Sill.

From May 1869 to July 1870, the Wichita Agency was consolidated with the Kiowa Agency, but in 1870, the Wichita Agency again became independent. The two were again consolidated on 1 September 1878 and the combined agency became the Kiowa, Comanche, and Wichita Agency
This discussion continues in the next article, "Kiowa, Comanche, and Wichita Indian Agency (Oklahoma)."
The Kiowa Agency and the Wichita Agency were consolidated 1 September 1878 and became the Kiowa, Comanche, and Wichita Agency. It was still commonly called simply the Kiowa Agency and some of the records are filed under that name. The Agency headquarters for this agency was located at Anadarko, Oklahoma and became the forerunner to the Anadarko Agency
So, where was this person born? Where are the records located is there are any? If a user chooses any one of the standardized places, they are wrong.  

This new app will create a massive clean up problem for those standardized entries that lose valuable information. 

The common approach to place names views them in a hierarchal order from smallest to largest or most restrictive to most inclusive in the form of “town/township, city, county, state, country.” This simplistic view can readily be shown to be inadequate when you begin to record places in a country such as Denmark. In order to uniquely identify people with the same or very similar names, it is important to understand the origin and development of the Danish place names which take a two-part form. 

Quoting from the University of Copenhagen, Names in Denmark, from the Department of Nordic Research, here is a list of common place name types:

Names in -inge
Names in -um
Names in -løse
Names in -lev
Names in -sted
Names in -by
Names in -toft(e)
Names in -torp
Names in -bøl(le)
Names in -rød
Names in -tved
Imperative names
Abstract names
Names that look old

To see more information, here is a further quote from the section on “The publication of place-names in Demark.

There is no complete list or database containing all the Danish place-names but the series Danmarks Stednavne, Danske sø- og ånavne and Sydslesvigs Stednavne each cover a large proportion of the country with a thoroughly researched and interpreted corpus of names. The handbook Danske stednavne provides a brief explanation of over 7,000 place-names – first and foremost settlement names – in Denmark.

The place names in Denmark may contain elements of territories, waters, settlements, cultivated areas, streets and roads, houses, farms, and shops, and many other things. Another complication of this naming system is the Danish “Farm Name.” Quoting from Nordic Names:

Farm names were usually added to the given name and the patronym and originally functioned as an address rather than as a surname.
When name laws were introduced in the 19th and early 20th century and hereditary surnames became mandatory, many people decided to keep their farm name as a surname.
In Denmark many people who use a secondary patronym chose to take a farm name as a middle name.

The point of these examples is that naming places is more than designating a series of blank places to fill in with names. 

I cannot begin to imagine what will happen to Danish place names with this new program. Here is just one example of a suggested standard for a Danish place.

Which of the three suggested places would you choose? What if the information in the non-standard place name is simply wrong? I can go on for pages and pages, but I will leave my further comments for another day.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Updates on FamilySearch to Temple Ordinance Reservations

There have been a number of significant revisions to the Family Tree, Temple Ordinance Reservation system. These updates are summarized in a blog post entitled, "Updates to Temple Ordinance Reservations." The list of the featured revisions is as follows:
  • Update: June 11, 2020—Help Others on Temple Pages
  • Update: June 11, 2020—Request Shared Names Using the Family Tree or Ordinances Ready
  • Update: June 11, 2020—Simplified Temple Reservation Lists
  • Update: June 11, 2020—Fewer Temple Icon Colors
  • Update: July 29, 2019—Ordinances Ready: A Convenient Way to Find Ordinance Reservations
  • Update: July 29, 2019—Expiration of Ordinance Reservations
  • Update: July 29, 2019—Date Required to Reserve Temple Ordinances
  • Update: July 29, 2019—Easier Ways to Print Ordinance Reservation Cards
All of these are linked and explained by this one blog post. At the time of this post, the temples of the Church are closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic so it had been a while since the June 11th announcements and changes. Sorry to be late in bringing this to your attention. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Juneteenth Live with Thom Reed

It is important to realize that there are a broad spectrum of cultures and nationalities in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and we need to be open to both learn about those in the Church and respect their history and culture. Here is a link to President Russell M. Nelson, President of the Church's recent statement on social media condemning racism and pleading for peace.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

The Future of Family History Centers and Libraries in the Years of the Pandemic

Copper engraving of Doctor Schnabel [i.e Dr. Beak], a plague doctor in seventeenth-century Rome, with a satirical macaronic poem (‘Vos Creditis, als eine Fabel, / quod scribitur vom Doctor Schnabel’) in octosyllabic rhyming couplets. See

As the number of daily new cases of the COVID-19 virus around the world continue to increase rapidly as of the date of this post, logical questions arise about the future. Family History Centers and Libraries have been closed because of the pandemic since the middle of March, now about 3 months ago. 

As I have noted many times, my wife and I have been serving at the Brigham Young University (BYU) Family History Library for the past six years (including a year spent in Maryland, United States at the Maryland State Archives digitizing records for but continued to participate in webinars and other presentations). This is the longest period in my life for the last sixteen plus years that I have not been serving regularly in a Family History Center or Library. 

My experience with serving at the Mesa FamilySearch Library came to an interesting conclusion when I moved to Provo, Utah, and began serving at the BYU Family History Library. Shortly after we left Mesa, Arizona, the Mesa FamilySearch Library was closed for "temporary remodeling and repairs." Unfortunately, the building housing the Library was never used again. There were many Church Service Missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints serving at the Library at the time it closed. See "What is happening with the Mesa FamilySearch Library?" and "The Plight of the Mesa FamilySearch Library" and other previous posts including the final one: "The End of an Era: Mesa FamilySearch Library is Closing Completely."

Shortly after we arrived in Provo, Utah, we witnessed a similar situation when the Orem FamilySearch Center/Family History Training Center was closed and many Church Service Missionaries were released within a very short time. I am still hearing stories about the closure of the Training Center, now closed for almost five years. 

The situation that occurred with the Mesa FamilySearch Library has become a prime example of the problems associated with the closing of a busy and well-attended family history facility. From the time of the Library's closure in the late Fall of 2014 until its final closure in 2018, the Church Service Missionaries continued to serve where and when the could. The missionaries moved the function of the Library to an older (original) building after a long wait for information about when and if the Library would reopen. Finally, the issue was resolved when it was announced that the Mesa, Arizona Temple would be closed for renovation and both the older and newer Family History Library buildings would eventually be torn down. It was also announced that a new Family History Discovery Center and Family History Center would be included in the Temple's Visitor Center. With the pandemic, the Mesa, Arizona Temple's reopening, and the opening of the Visitor's Center are likely dependent on the progress of the pandemic. 

Now we come to the closing and future possible reopening of the BYU Family History Library. There are some major differences between the BYU facility and the one in Mesa but there are a lot of similarities. Both Libraries were busy, well-attended, and staffed with many Church Service Missionaries. All of the missionaries in Mesa were put into a state of indecision about the future of their service. Likewise, the BYU missionaries are now in a similar situation. Most of us are well into the age considered to be at an increased risk for the virus. Even if limited use of the BYU Family History Library were allowed, we would not be able to return to serve at the Library because of our susceptibility. 

No firm announcements about the opening of the Family History Library have been yet released but I have heard that even if the Library is opened, use of the Library would be limited to students and university staff and educators. We may be excluded from the Library for as long as a year or even more. 

Now this problem is not confined to the BYU Family History Library, the same problem exists with the Salt Lake City, Utah Family History Library, and all of the other Libraries and Centers around the world. 

We need to get on with our presently very limited lives. We should not be put in the same position as were the missionaries in Mesa; waiting for word of whether or not they could go back to serve and ultimately told that they were essentially out of work. Many of us have struggled with how we should respond to this situation. However, we are not alone. This is the situation with Church Service Missionaries of all kinds waiting to serve around the world. But there are also Family History Center Directors and volunteers who are not missionaries and who are also in the same circumstances. How many of us will wait and wait and then ultimately find out that our Centers have been closed permanently or that the Libraries no longer need senior missionaries to serve?

There has been a continued background of discussion about how many of the existing centers are still needed and used. There have been other discussions about centers being closed and consolidated into a more central location such as was done with the Riverton Family History Library in Utah. This pause in the service of so many missionaries would be a good time to make those decisions and let the missionaries, Center Directors, and volunteers know that they will not be needed. 

Both my wife and I have talked about alternatives. In our case, we have plenty of our own family history work to do but it is a shame that people with extensive family history and genealogy experience, some of who have spent years learning, helping, teaching, and serving will be lost to the greater genealogical community. 

What if we just wait around to see what happens? Not a good idea. When you are as old as we are, there are not a lot of realistic years in the future to plan. If we are going to do something we need to do it now. 

To anyone who can make a decision in this matter, take a lesson from Mesa and Orem and BYU and let us get on with our lives. 

Monday, June 8, 2020

Arm In Arm | President Russell M. Nelson and Reverend Amos C. Brown

In light of recent events, Russell M. Nelson, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints shared the following message on his social media accounts:

We join with many throughout this nation and around the world who are deeply saddened at recent evidences of racism and a blatant disregard for human life. We abhor the reality that some would deny others respect and the most basic of freedoms because of the color of his or her skin.

We are also saddened when these assaults on human dignity lead to escalating violence and unrest.

The Creator of us all calls on each of us to abandon attitudes of prejudice against any group of God’s children. Any of us who has prejudice toward another race needs to repent!

During the Savior’s earthly mission, He constantly ministered to those who were excluded, marginalized, judged, overlooked, abused, and discounted. As His followers, can we do anything less? The answer is no! We believe in freedom, kindness, and fairness for all of God’s children!

Let us be clear. We are brothers and sisters, each of us the child of a loving Father in Heaven. His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, invites all to come unto Him—“black and white, bond and free, male and female,” (2 Nephi 26:33). It behooves each of us to do whatever we can in our spheres of influence to preserve the dignity and respect every son and daughter of God deserves.

Any nation can only be as great as its people. That requires citizens to cultivate a moral compass that helps them distinguish between right and wrong.

Illegal acts such as looting, defacing, or destroying public or private property cannot be tolerated. Never has one wrong been corrected by a second wrong. Evil has never been resolved by more evil.

We need to foster our faith in the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man.

We need to foster a fundamental respect for the human dignity of every human soul, regardless of their color, creed, or cause.

And we need to work tirelessly to build bridges of understanding rather than creating walls of segregation.

I plead with us to work together for peace, for mutual respect, and for an outpouring of love for all of God’s children.
Because I have lived through the years of the Civil Rights Movement and because I have lived in both South and Central America, I have strong feelings about the need to repent of any prejudice against any group of God's children especially prejudice toward another race. I would hope those of you who have such feelings pay heed to this message. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

GenealogyBank Added as New FamilySearch Partner

FamilySearch sent out an invitation to me announcing that as a FamilySearch LDS member, I now have a free account. Quoting from the website:
GenealogyBank is a leading online genealogical resource from NewsBank, inc. Featuring a wealth of exclusive material-including modern obituaries and historical newspapers, books, pamphlets, military records, government documents and more-GenealogyBank helps you discover fascinating information about your family history.

GenealogyBank's 13,000+ historical newspapers include letters, speeches, opinion pieces, advertisements, hometown news, photographs, illustrations and more. These unique primary documents go beyond names and dates, providing first-hand accounts that simply aren't available from census or vital records alone. With GenealogyBank, you'll get a glimpse into the triumphs, troubles and everyday experiences of your American ancestors.
Look for an invitation in your email. I can't yet find GenealogyBank listed as a FamilySearch partner. Maybe I am the only one invited? You can try this link: Get Account Access

President Nelson Shares Social Post about Racism and Calls for Respect for Human Dignity

In this time of social unrest, pandemic, economic depression, and natural disasters, it is a good idea to remember kindness, civility, obedience to God's commandments, and other basic principles of a Christ-like life that may not determine our circumstances but will certainly determine how we react to those circumstances. Whether or not you are a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, take a moment to read what President Nelson has to say and reflect on how you might improve the area immdiately around you. 

Saturday, May 30, 2020

MyHeritage Releases Exclusive New Record Collection from Germany has uploaded over 2.4 million images completely indexed in their new North Rhine Westphalia Death Index 1870–1940. Quoting from an email announcement:
The collection includes 2,450,551 records along with beautiful scanned images of the original documents. The images have been fully indexed by MyHeritage for the first time, making the information more accessible and readily searchable than ever before. These records are available only on MyHeritage, and are an invaluable resource for anyone researching their German roots.

Civil death registration records in Germany, called Personenstandsregister, were kept by the German Civil Registrar. They cover 98% of the population and have been mandatory in all German states since 1876. They may include the first and last names of the individual, the date and place of birth and death, age at death, residence, name of spouse, and even the names of the individual’s parents.

The state of North Rhine-Westphalia is the most populous state of Germany with over 17.5 million inhabitants. During the period covered by the records in the collection, the region comprised 3 provinces: Westphalia, North Rhine, and the German Free State of Lippe. They were unified by the British after World War II.

Millions more records will be indexed and added to this collection in the future, in a series of planned updates.

This collection is a true treasure trove for those with German heritage. I hope you and your readers find it valuable. 
You can search the collection now and read more about the North Rhine-Westphalia Death Index 1870–1940 on the blog

Friday, May 15, 2020

Church Service Missionaries during the COVID-19 Pandemic

For the past few years, my wife and I have been serving as Church Service Family History Missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the Brigham Young University Family History Library. Beginning in March, the Library was closed because of the social distancing requirements imposed by the COVID-19 Pandemic. As of the date of this post, we are in the ninth week of being sequestered at home. Presently, the University is deciding whether or not to hold classes in the Fall Semester through distance learning (online). This would likely mean that the Library will be closed for the rest of 2020. 

Even if the Library were to open on a limited basis for students or visitors, it is still likely that we will be unable to serve because of our age and possibly immunocompromised. So, it looks like it might be a while before we see the BYU Family History Library again. 

Meanwhile, we are still doing webinars from home. 

BYU Family History Library YouTube Channel

Here is my latest webinar.

I hope we can keep doing webinars even though the Library remains closed. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Art in Meetinghouse Foyers and Entryways to Reflect a Deeper Reverence for Jesus Christ

The most significant, for me, part of this whole announcement are two images that were included near the end of the Newsroom announcement. You can see that there is an image of a glass display case with two picture tripods staked in a corner. The next image shows both the glass display case gone and the tripods gone and they are replaced by a photo show Christ teaching. 

At the time of this post, we have spent over eight weeks without meetings in our chapels. This time away from meetings has been described as a time for focus on teaching in the home. It seems to me that it may also be a time to redirect our use of the chapels and the meetings and activities that we have traditionally conducted in those buildings. Glass cases with photos of missionaries or activities may disappear. Meetings that we think are essential may be replaced with further emphasis on teaching in the home. 

How much of our "Wasatch Front" culture really applies to the entire world? Quoting from the announcement:
In the Church’s temples, every furnishing adds to an atmosphere of peace, worship and reverence for Jesus Christ. The same principle applies to the Church’s meetinghouses. It is in chapels that Latter-day Saints partake of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper — bread and water that symbolize the body and blood of Jesus. This is “the most universally received ordinance in the Church” and “the most sacred hour of the week,” Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said last year. Everything that surrounds this rite, including the artwork people see as they enter the chapel, should contribute to what the Apostle called “an increasingly sacred acknowledgment of Christ’s majestic atoning gift to all humankind.”
Think about what changes need to be made to have this go into effect. 

Monday, May 11, 2020

A Piano's Purpose

A Piano's Purpose

This short video was made for Deseret Industries. I go way back with Deseret Industries. You may not have one of these stores in your area but if you do, you will find a treasure trove of bargains. What does this have to with genealogy? Well, I visit the large store here in Provo, Utah from time to time and I always check to see if they have genealogy books. I collect old genealogy manuals, references, and other books and sometimes I find some very good items.

Our society often depreciates things that are old and seem useless, including people. I have reached the age when I have become essentially "invisible." Unless I take the initiative and specifically stop and address people around me, I am categorically ignored.

One of the advantages of helping and teaching genealogy is that I get to have interaction with a lot of people. Maybe as you watch this video you might think about your own older relatives and pay them a visit to find out what they know about your family.