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

Thursday, April 30, 2020

New Functions Added to FamilySearch Search

Four relatively new features have been added to the Search function. 

1. Search for Multiple Relationships within Historical Records
2. Refine Your Search without Returning to the Original Search Page
3. More Flexible “Find a Collection” Search Experience
4. Automatic Standardizing When Attaching Records

You can read about the details of each of these in the above-linked blog post.  Some of these enhancements are long overdue although you might not even notice the changes unless you are very familiar with the search process on FamilySearch. 

One possible addition not mentioned in the post is a Historical U.S. Counties Auto-Checker. This is not a FamilySearch app but a separate Chrome extension. Although most of the date ranges for counties and other jurisdictions have been added to the standardization process. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Blessings are still available during COVID-19 pandemic
Just a short thought for today from Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Quoting from the above Church News article:
During this season of closed temples, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can focus on “what we learn and the Spirit that we feel in the temple,” said Elder Bednar. 
“Obviously, the Spirit is not available only in the House of the Lord,” he said. “If we are honoring the covenants, then we can have that same Spirit with us always.” 
Without the perspective of the gospel, many challenges, many of the hardships of life, “would be unbearable,” said Elder Bednar. “But because we can recognize the scope of eternity and see beyond the grave, then we can fresh courage take and continue to press forward.” 
The covenants and ordinances administered in the holy temples are a great source of hope because they “focus on the Savior, His mission and what He has made possible for us,” he said. No one would choose to experience the COVID-19 pandemic, “but it is upon us.” 
“With the eternal perspective that the restored gospel provides and the grace that comes from the Savior’s Atonement, we can learn lessons from the adversity of mortality that prepare us for the blessings of eternity,” he said. “We have to pray. We have to seek. We have to ask. We have to have eyes to see and ears to hear. But we can be blessed in remarkable ways to learn lessons that will bless us now and forever.”

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Social Distancing does not have to be isolation for a genealogist

I am amazed at the amount of contact I have had with my family since this "social distancing" has come into importance. First, before going into how my family has thrived during the pandemic, I need to indicate that I am a person who falls squarely into almost every risk category. I am a person over 65 years old. I have had asthma, a chronic lung disease for a long time. I am immunocompromised at the moment, in the process of recovering from a serious operation. I miss some of the other criteria but the idea here is that I am in charge of my own care and disease prevention. I am not listening to anyone tell me whether or not I need to self-distance or whether is possible for me to go to the beach or a sports event. I am smart enough to make those decisions on my own. If someone else wants to ignore history and common good sense, that is their problem. I am not waiting for anyone, even the President of the United States to tell me there is no longer any danger. I can read the statistics and I can see that the number of people infected, compared to the number of people tested is still unacceptably high here in Utah and almost everywhere else in the U.S. If there are no reported cases of COVID-19, I can verify for my own satisfaction whether or not there have been any tests taken.

That said, I am also pretty much in charge of what I determine to do all day (except for the recent surgery) and I can choose to do genealogy and genealogically related activities along with other things that need to be done. I do not need someone reminding me of my duty or whatever. I have been consistently involved in genealogical research for almost 40 years and as long as I can sit up and work, I will keep researching. I am also scanning documents, sorting the scanned files, posting Memories to the website and many other important activities that I now have time to do.

What about my family? Well, granted they are almost as busy as ever but we do get together once a week from all over the United States for a video conference. I also end up talking to my children much more frequently than before the virus hit. For all this, we owe this opportunity to cell phones and the internet.

My point is that we are in charge of what happens to us. Quoting from Invictus by William Ernest Henley:
It matters not how strait the gate,
      How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
      I am the captain of my soul.

Lastly, I am in no way isolated. I have friends around me and I can talk to almost anyone I please. If you want a classical example of isolation watch this old movie.

The Mailbox

Let's hope that you don't put yourself in this condition. One thing other thing. My older grandchildren have started to read to some of the younger ones over Zoom. Who can you read to?

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Gathering Israel on both sides of the Veil

In the Sunday morning session of the April General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Russell M. Nelson made the following observation about the gathering of scattered Israel.
This doctrine of the gathering is one of the important teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Lord has declared: “I give unto you a sign … that I shall gather in, from their long dispersion, my people, O house of Israel, and shall establish again among them my Zion.” The coming forth of the Book of Mormon is a sign to the entire world that the Lord has commenced to gather Israel and fulfill covenants He made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We not only teach this doctrine, but we participate in it. We do so as we help to gather the elect of the Lord on both sides of the veil. See April, 2020 General Conference talk by President Russell M. Nelson, "The Gathering of Scattered Israel."
The recent emphasis on applying the concept of the "gathering of Israel" to both "sides of the veil," is a deliberate shift from our traditional view that the "gathering" applies to missionary work here on earth. Here is a link to a recent video entitled, "Families Gathering Families on Both Sides of the Veil," If you believe that missionary activity occurs after death in the Spirit World, then you should realize that the ordinances that accompany conversion will need to be performed here on the earth by those of us who are still alive. The temple ordinance work for these people who are ready because of being taught in the Spirit World has to be done, one-by-one, for each of these individuals. In addition, each of these people in the Spirit World needs to be researched and identified. A person converted in the Spirit World who subsequently receives the benefit of vicarious ordinances done here on earth has the same importance and significance as those who accept baptism while living here in the flesh.

If you need to see what to do to get started in this important work, please review The Family History Guide website.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Check Out Your Local Public Library's Website

Many public libraries are closed because of the Coronavirus COVID-19 but that doesn't mean a lot of them are not still in operation. Many of them have extensive online resources. Our local public library here in Provo, Utah has some amazing resources. We also pay a small fee to maintain a library card at the Maricopa County Library in Arizona. With these two public library resources, we have an amazing amount of "free" information.

Across the United States, many libraries provide access to digital books and other publications through Rakuten an international digital reading platform in a network of 45,000 libraries in 78 countries. Rakuten Overdrive is owned by Rakuten, a Japanese multinational corporation. If your public library has an Overdrive account, you can download the desktop or mobile app and check out digital books and movies for up to two weeks depending on your library's regulations. Here is a screenshot of the website when you sign in from a computer.

One reason we pay to keep the Maricopa County Library is that they have over 81 thousand books that are available, as I write this post, to choose from. I haven't seen too many books specifically about genealogy, but there is a lot of history books.

However, the big attraction from the public libraries is their collections of online research resources and how-to videos. I have learned how to use several applications over the past couple of years using video classes from our Provo public library. I have also gotten dozens of audiobooks to listen to while exercising or just doing repetitious activities.

I can't believe in this day and age that anyone can run out of good activities while primarily staying at home.