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

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Working with the FamilySearch Partner Programs

There are now 144 apps listed in the App Gallery. It has been years now since the concept of Partner programs was introduced but I am still teaching classes about the partners to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who are entirely unaware of the many programs that are available. What is even more surprising is how few members have taken advantage of even the connections to the large, online database programs such as,, and others. One surprising thing about the effect of this lack of awareness is how many people would benefit immediately and directly from using some of all of the programs.

Of course, not all of the programs listed in the App Gallery are "free," but many of them are and all of the programs provide additional functionality. Depending on your personal preferences, you may choose to use programs that I do not feel are helpful, but that is the main reason for having a variety of programs. One thing you might note about the App Gallery is that the listings are not always up-to-date. For example, there is an app listed called that has been offline and unavailable for over a year.

As a matter of fact, I am still getting members signed in and with access to and starting them off with the beginnings of their part of the Family Tree.

Is there a solution to this situation? Actually, the entire issue is very complex. Even individuals with a substantial amount of computer experience feel unsure about learning "new" programs. There is a "chicken and the egg" problem also, without learning how a new program works, you cannot tell if it will be useful to you and the way that you work. So, you have to learn to use the program before you can become proficient enough the evaluate its utility.

One solution to part of the problem is The Family History Guide. This structured and sequenced website can help you overcome your initial resistance to learning new programs and give you enough confidence in doing research with FamilySearch, to be able to make some progress.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Ultimate Family Tree Challenges: Consistency and Accuracy -- Part Two

Wherein I Look at Some of the Challenges

Genealogists, it seems, are compelled to fill in all of the spaces on their pedigree charts even if doing so beggars reality and good sense. Clicking back in the Family Tree gives anyone who cares to do so, a real look at the challenges inherent in compiling a unified family tree. The illustration above is back 26 generations with me as the starting point.

Back a ways in this extended pedigree, there is the following:

This particular Data Problems icon indicates that this Thoma Malbon was born before his mother could have children, i.e. she was ten years old. This whole line is tacked on to one of my Hamilton lines.

Why is this one of the ultimate challenges in the Family Tree for consistency and accuracy? Because of the lack of connection between William Hamilton or Hambleton and the person here selected has his wife, Elizabeth Malbon. There is an English Births and Christenings record for Elizabethae Malbon.

But the only connection between William Hamilton and Elizabeth is a christening record that shows Wml Hambleton with a wife named Eliz as the parents of Marthae Hambleton in 1721. There is no marriage record cited connecting William Hamilton to this particular Elizabeth Malbon.

Geographically, this could be possible. All of these places are very closely located within a few miles. Now, the question is do we accept all this as "established" and move on using this information as correct and consistent or do we question the entire line? How do we know that William Hambleton married Elizabeth Malbon?

Interestingly, there are three William Hambletons who died about the same time in this same place.

Further searching shows that there was a Wm Hambleton who married Elizabetham Malbon in 1715.

But which William Hambleton married Elizabeth Malbon? Further research shows not just three William Hambletons, but four.

The more research I do at this point adds more questions. I do find a William Hambleton christened in Butterton by Hulme End, Stafford, England in 1680, but there are evidently two or three other Williams who were in the same small area at the same time and who die and are buried on different dates.

The real issue here is more complex than it may seem at first glance. If I do a quick search in for William Hambleton born about 1685 in Staffordshire, England, I get the following:

One of these entries is a will and probate for William Hambleton dated April 26, 1726 so here is yet another William Hambleton in the same place at the same time.

My experience shows me that many of the long pedigree entries in the Family Tree have the same problems. The extensions are based on superficial assumptions of relationships without any in-depth analysis.

This is only one of the Family Tree challenges. Stay tuned for more.

Here is the first post in this series.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

New Videos on the BYU Family History Library YouTube Channel

Can a DNA Test Help You Find Your Ancestors or Relatives? - Part 1 - James Tanner

This video actually has two parts because of a technical error. Part two is rather short.

Jessica Hicks, the BYU Family History Unit Assistant, did a webinar on scanning.

Scanning Basics: Before You Start - Jessica Hicks

Kathryn Grant did another excellent webinar.

The "Teach" Part of Find-Take-Teach: Teaching Others Effectively - Kathryn Grant

There are several other new videos and the schedule for March has now been posted.

Friday, February 24, 2017

My Experiences with The Family History Guide

During the past few weeks, I have been heavily involved in reviewing, teaching and talking about The Family History Guide. This has been primarily by my own choice. During the recent RootsTech 2017, I taught a number of fifteen-minute classes at The Family History Guide Booth and because I was wearing a shirt with the logo on it, I spent even more time talking to people about the program. Without exception, the comments and experiences of those who took the time to talk to me were positive and even very emotionally touching. Many people went out of their way to stop me and comment on the program. If you would like to experience some of the comments I heard, you can go to the Quotes page of the website and read a few of the hundreds of comments we received.

When I was asked to teach so many classes over the three days of RootsTech 2017 for The Family History Guide, I was a little taken aback. I spend a lot of time at RootsTech talking to people about the state of the genealogical community, but I personally felt upon immediate reflection, that there was no other program that had the same potential to actually affect a huge part of the genealogical community is a such a positive way as does The Family History Guide.

The main challenge of the program is obviously funding. The developers have set up a low-profit, limited liability company or L3C corporation. Quoting from Wikipedia:
An L3C is a for-profit, social enterprise venture that has a stated goal of performing a socially beneficial purpose, not maximizing income.[5][6][7] It is a hybrid structure that combines the legal and tax flexibility of a traditional LLC, the social benefits of a nonprofit organization, and the branding and market positioning advantages of a social enterprise.[8][9] The L3C is obligated to be mission-driven so there is a clear order of priorities for its fiduciaries.[2] 
The L3C is designed to make it easier for socially oriented businesses to attract investments from foundations and additional money from private investors.[10][11] Unlike the traditional LLC, the L3C's articles of organization are required by law to mirror the federal tax standards for program-related investing.[12] A program-related investment (PRI) is one way in which foundations can satisfy their obligation under the Tax Reform Act of 1969 to distribute at least 5% of their assets every year for charitable purposes.[8] While foundations usually meet this requirement through grants, investments in L3Cs and charities that qualify as PRIs can also fulfill the requirement while allowing the foundations to receive a return.[13]
I have included all of the references to provide even more information. In short, The Family History Guide needs supporters. The people who are developing and maintaining this program are volunteers, just like me. If you know of someone who could help with funding please have them contact us through the website.

Now, what I have seen already leads me to view the website's potential for the future. The major benefit of the website now is content and adding more content will improve the website. So, I am going to be working on suggesting additional content. If you see areas that need to be expanded in the website, please feel free to suggest those areas to me.

I have a lot of other areas where I spend my time, but this, right now, is a priority.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

What are the core values of family history?

Quoting from the Desert News Faith Section, for February 11, 2017, "President Russell M. Nelson extends challenge during Family Discovery Day 2017,"
President Russell M. Nelson and his wife, Sister Wendy W. Nelson, extended a special challenge to Church members during the 2017 RootsTech’s Family Discovery Day. 
“I invite you to prayerfully consider what kind of sacrifice — and preferably a sacrifice of time — you can make to do more family history and temple work this year,” said President Nelson, president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Sister Nelson also encouraged members to make a sacrifice of time to the Lord by increasing the time spent on temple and family history work. “And then, watch what happens,” she said.
The divine nature of the family and our need to seek after our kindred dead are the core values of family history. Remember what is said in Malachi 4: 5-6,
Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: 
And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
 President Nelson is further quoted as saying,
“If our collections of stories and photos should ever become an end point in themselves — if we know who our ancestors are, and know marvelous things about them, but we leave them stranded on the other side without their ordinances, such diversion will not be of any help to our ancestors who remain confined in their spirit prison,” President Nelson declared. 
“We need to make time to find our ancestors’ ordinances-qualifying information,” Sister Nelson agreed. 
Which can mean sacrificing time normally spent on other activities, President Nelson added before spelling the next word — “sacrifice.”
One final quote from President Nelson.
“Each class we attend, each time we serve, each covenant we make with God, each priesthood ordinance we receive, everything we do in the Church leads us to the holy temple — the House of the Lord,” Sister Nelson said. 
“The ultimate end for which we strive is that we are happy as a family: endowed, sealed, and prepared for eternal life in the presence of God,” President Nelson added.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

In Support of the FamilySearch Partner Programs

Just recently, I was asked to help a patron in the Brigham Young University Family History Library with some Danish research. Other missionaries had been trying to help the patron for almost two hours without success. One of the very first things I asked the patron was whether or not she had registered and used Not surprisingly, she was not even aware of the program, even though as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints she had a free subscription to the program. I say that this was not surprising because even now when the original partner programs have been available for years, I find only a very few members have taken advantage of the free access.

As I continued to help the patron with her Danish research, using we were able to immediately begin to correct the entries she had in the Family Tree and then add more new names. The patron was moved to tears by the experience of finding so many new names and leads. Before she left the Library, I made sure she was signed up for and had started a family tree. She had Instant Discoveries of more than fifty people added to her family tree and, as I pointed out, many additional Smart Matches that appeared to be relatives living in Denmark. What was remarkable about this experience was that it was not unusual at all, despite the emotional response of the patron, I had suggested using for the simple reason that they have a large collection of Danish records that are not so nearly as easily found on the other websites.

I have had the same types of experiences using the other Partner Programs. After extensive unsuccessful searching on, I frequently find records available on the partner programs. I use and regularly in my own research into ancestors in Great Britain. I recently took the DNA test and found confirmation for theories about two of my puzzling lines.

As I watch the notices I receive from the Partner Programs, I am overwhelmed at the resources that are being constantly added. I noted recently that had passed the 7.2 billion record count. has over 2.4 million collections of records and at the time of this post had added over 54,000 collections in the last month. Numbers do not tell the story. The whole story is in the tremendous opportunities to discover information about our ancestral families. It is time to start taking advantage of these opportunities while they exist.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Family History and Handbook 2

Clear back in about 1998, I recall when the General Church Handbooks of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were divided into two paper copies. Handbook 1 was distributed to Bishops and Stake Presidents and Handbook 2 had a wider distribution to various auxiliary heads and had some limited access to the members in general. In 2010, the Church began the transition from paper copies of the Church's Handbooks of Instruction to electronic copies. Eventually, the general membership of the Church was given open access to Handbook 2. Today, copies of the Handbook 2 are posted on and are available through the Gospel Library app on both iOS and Android devices.

There are specific sections of Handbook 2 that apply to the organization and functions of family history callings in the Church. With the very recent announcement of the change in the designation of Family History Consultants to Temple and Family History Consultants, those changes are already reflected in the wording of some of the online versions of the Handbook 2. Previously, there were three additional family history oriented handbooks: the Member's Guide to Temple and Family History Work, the Instructor's Guide to Temple and Family History Work and the Leader's Guide to Temple and Family History Work. Only the Leader's Guide is presently available online on However, in light of the letter of instruction dated February 9, 2017 there have been some changes to the Temple and Family History Callings in the Church that are not yet completely reflected in the Handbook of Instructions in PDF versions still online and in the Leader's Guide. It will obviously take some time for the changes to be applied to all of the versions of the publications, even though they are electronic. Just as in days past, older versions of the manuals and handbooks should be discarded.

The latest version of the description of Temple and Family History Callings is on The directions to the leaders of the Church are on on the page entitled, "Leader Resources for Family History." There is also a section on entitled, "My Family History Calling" with more specific instructions about family history and the callings of Temple and Family History Consultants.

Years ago, my wife and I were called as Stake Family History Consultants. Eventually, these Stake positions were discontinued although there are still some Stakes that have a Stake family history calling still in operation. However, the February 9, 2017 letter makes clear that the Stakes may now call various Stake Temple and Family History Consultants. Questions concerning these callings are addressed on the Frequently Asked Questions page for Family History on

In ancient times, the Children of Israel spent forty years in the desert for the purpose of instructing them about some fundamental changes that they otherwise would not accept. In our own day of almost instant electronic communication, it still seems to take a number of months and even years for some of the changes made by the Church to take effect and become generally adopted. Let's hope that it doesn't take forty years for the new family history changes to become generally available to the members.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Ethics, Leaks, Sources and Genealogy

A Deseret News article published on February 18, 2017, entitled, "MormonLeaks in the Age of Transparency" raises some difficult issues that bear directly on the information provided or not provided in the context of online family tree programs and especially the Family Tree.

Genealogists have been cautioned to maintain the personal privacy of the "living" while at the same time recognizing that the dead have no privacy claims. In most cases, the "privacy" of the living is partially maintained by online programs that mark living people and prevent the general dissemination of information about those so marked. But beyond this attempt at maintaining privacy, the inclusion or exclusion of any other information is left entirely up to the individual users.

But the core issue for both those who supply "leaked" information and for genealogists generally does not so much involve privacy as it does in providing sources. The online "leaks" websites maintain the governments and other large organizations should be "transparent" in their operations while at the same time claiming confidentiality for their own sources. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. If transparency is a positive virtue then transparency should work both ways. Why do the leaking organizations think that they need to keep their sources confidential? Obviously, for some of the same reasons that organizations, such as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints maintain the privacy of some aspects of their own internal business.

Why does this have anything to do with genealogy? Because we are in the business of acquiring and publishing information. As the article cited above points out about the information being obtained through MormonLeaks:
McKnight won't reveal who is providing the leaks to him other than to say it is more than one person. In fact, he said he doesn't know who they are. News consumers should consider that, said Kirtley, the Minnesota professor of ethics and law. 
"If you're interested in the content, then I think how the organization that posted it got it, might become a relevant issue, because how they got it could raise questions about the authenticity of the article, whether the material was being leaked for motives that might tend to skew your perception of what's there. You might for example get part of something that is not really representative of the whole but could be misconstrued. How do you know that if you can't as a reader judge who the source was who provides the material?"
This is the heart of the matter. How do we know if the information provided is reliable or not if we do not have a "source?" Exactly. This is the core issue with genealogy as it is portrayed in online family trees. For example, in my own family line I have a rather vocal "genealogist" who has entered some information about an ancestor without disclosing the origin of the information. The genealogist claims that she hired a "professional genealogist" who supports her conclusions but refuses to provide either the supporting documents or any other documents that might have been used to make the conclusion. The genealogist is, in effect, doing the same thing that is being done by the "Leaks" organizations, claiming that they are above the need to supply information about their sources.

In short, any information provided even in the context of genealogical research, that lacks a citation to the source is suspect and patently unreliable.

Sunday, February 19, 2017 products and services

One of the exhibits at RootsTech 2917 caught my eye because it was being run by some old friends from Mesa, Arizona. But the real interest came when the programs were explained to me. The first is an app called, "Called to Serve." Here is a screenshot of the app from the Apple App Store.

The next app is called MyMission.

They also produce a product called Missionary Display. All of these products are on the website. The programs look interesting, but there is little or no information on the website disclosing the owners or developers of the programs.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

For We Without Them Cannot Be Made Perfect

I have often reflected on Doctrine and Covenants 128:18 which indicates that our own salvation, both temporal and physical, is dependent on the temple ordinance work that we do for our kindred dead. Joseph Smith wrote:
I might have rendered a plainer translation to this, but it is sufficiently plain to suit my purpose as it stands. It is sufficient to know, in this case, that the earth will be smitten with a curse unless there is a welding link of some kind or other between the fathers and the children, upon some subject or other—and behold what is that subject? It is the baptism for the dead. For we without them cannot be made perfect; neither can they without us be made perfect. Neither can they nor we be made perfect without those who have died in the gospel also; for it is necessary in the ushering in of the dispensation of the fulness of times, which dispensation is now beginning to usher in, that a whole and complete and perfect union, and welding together of dispensations, and keys, and powers, and glories should take place, and be revealed from the days of Adam even to the present time. And not only this, but those things which never have been revealed from the foundation of the world, but have been kept hid from the wise and prudent, shall be revealed unto babes and sucklings in this, the dispensation of the fulness of times.
If there has been any time in history when there is an apparent curse on the world, then that time is now. At the same time, almost every day, I see wonders beyond wonders as records are made available and electronic devices and programs are developed that make the work of the salvation of the dead more immediately available. At the same time, I hear the "voice of warning" coming from God's disciples as is stated in the Doctrine and Covenants 1:4
And the voice of warning shall be unto all people, by the mouths of my disciples, whom I have chosen in these last days.
An explanation of this passage is contained in the following at page 1538.
Ludlow, Daniel H. 1992. Encyclopedia of mormonism. New York: Macmillan. 
In modern time as in antiquity, a solemn responsibility envelops both the messengers and those to whom the message is delivered. The Lord informed Ezekiel, "I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth and give them warning from me" (Ezek. 3:17). Only those who hearken to the warning are spared the punishments and receive the blessings. The messengers who deliver the message also save their own souls; if they fail to deliver the message they acquire responsibility for those whom they failed to warn-"[their] blood will I require at thine hand" (Ezek. 3:18-21). 
It is a covenant obligation of all who are baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ to "stand as witnesses of God at all times, and in all things, and in all places" (Mosiah 18:9). Once warned, "it becometh every man…to warn his neighbor" (D&C 88:81). The messengers who deliver the warning will be present at the day of judgment as witnesses (D&C 75:21; 2 Ne. 33:11; Moro. 10:34). The essence of missionary work is for each member of the Church to become a voice of warning to those who have not been warned (see DS 1:307-311). NEIL J. FLINDERS
As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we often apply this principle to the missionary work for the living, but less frequently to the work for the salvation of the dead.  Quoting from an article published in the Ensign for October 2014 written by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles from an address given at the seminar for new mission presidents on June 25, 2013:
At a solemn assembly held in the Kirtland Temple on April 6, 1837, the Prophet Joseph Smith said, “After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the Gospel.”1 
Almost precisely seven years later, on April 7, 1844, he declared: “The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us is to seek after our dead. The apostle says, ‘They without us cannot be made perfect’ [see Hebrews 11:40]; for it is necessary that the sealing power should be in our hands to seal our children and our dead for the fulness of the dispensation of times—a dispensation to meet the promises made by Jesus Christ before the foundation of the world for the salvation of man.”2 
Some individuals may wonder how both preaching the gospel and seeking after our dead can be simultaneously the greatest duties and responsibilities God has placed upon His children. My purpose is to suggest that these teachings highlight the unity and oneness of the latter-day work of salvation. Missionary work and family history and temple work are complementary and interrelated aspects of one great work, “that in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him” (Ephesians 1:10). 
I pray the power of the Holy Ghost will assist you and me as we consider together the marvelous latter-day work of salvation.
Why is it then that I encounter such a high degree of resistance among my fellow members of the Church to becoming involved in the vast work for the dead? 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Introducing BillionGraves Tree

One of the major benefits of going to the RootsTech Conference over the years has been the opportunity to meet and get to know some of the genealogy software developers from around the world. I have known the developers of for the past few years and watched the website grow from a small and interesting website into the huge, online genealogical powerhouse that it is today. Using the website, the employees and staff of will sometime this year (2017) finish digitizing the grave markers of all the cemeteries in Israel. At the end of this project, Israel will become the first country in the world to have all of their cemeteries online and digitized. See "We’re Halfway to Digitizing Every Cemetery in Israel."

Now, has added a new tool for those who have their genealogy on the Family Tree. This tool is the BillionGraves Tree. The BillionGraves Tree connects to your family tree and automatically searches billions of records to find the headstones for your ancestors.

The program is designed to soon work with both and Essentially, the BillionGraves Tree links to your Family Tree and automatically searches for grave marker information in its vast database and then allows you to add the information from the grave markers with the digitized photo with a few clicks. 

The red dots indicate that there is a potential match of a grave photo. When you click on the red dots you get a page asking you to confirm the match.

The BillionGraves Tree is one of the free services from the company.

The Family Nexus iPhone App

Genealogical mapping programs aren't new or that uncommon, but this new App called The Family Nexus is outstanding in its utility and ease of use. Basically, the app connects to your portion of the Family Tree, loads several generations of your ancestors and then displays the results in a zoomable map interface. Here is a video that illustrates how this mapping app works.

Introducing The Family Nexus Mobile App

I downloaded the app and waited a few minutes while it compiled the markers indicating where some event occurred in an ancestor or relative's life. Here is a screenshot of what I saw when I looked at the western United States.

When I zoomed in on Provo, Utah, I found that 14 events had occurred right here in Provo. 

When I clicked on the number, I got a specific list of each event and the person involved. 

The trickiest part of this was taking the screenshots with my iPhone. I showed this to my wife and we immediately realized that had we had this app during our trip to the Northeastern United States last year, we could have visited graves and other places of interest that we passed without knowing what had happened in that area. 

I will definitely be using this app. See

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Ultimate Family Tree Challenges: Consistency and Accuracy -- Part One

I start thinking about the problem

Let's pretend that we could somehow zoom out and look at the entire 1.1 billion entries in the Family Tree at the same time. Let's further imagine that we could filter our view of this huge expanse of names to show all of the inconsistent or inaccurate entries in blazing red while the rest of the tree was in some pleasing pastel color. How much of the Family Tree would be highlighted in blazing red?

At the recent RootsTech 2017 Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, introduced a new feature for all of its millions of user family trees. The feature was given the name of the Tree Consistency Checker. In addition, for some time now, the Family Tree has implemented a series of icons like this:

Now, there is no way for me to know how many of these pesky red Data Problems icons there are in my section of the Family Tree. But by using the Tree Consistency Checker I can see exactly how many errors and inconsistencies there are in my own family tree. The answer is a startling 726 errors. This is unsettling as well as discouraging, but not in any way surprising.

This experience at RootsTech started me thinking about how I was going to approach this monumental issue. My first attempts at "correction" lead to a virtual avalanche of related errors, inconsistencies, duplicate entries and other problems. One approach to the Family Tree issues is the utility program, Even if you don't have a family tree in, you can begin looking at the errors and inconsistencies by generations using the program. Here is what happens with my part of the Family Tree when the filter is set to one generation.

It may be some comfort to know that I have entered myself correctly into the program. The fatal flaw in both these error and consistency programs is that you could be making up all the names but neither program would be able to detect fraud or lying.

For example, the "Maud" person shown above in the Data Problems icon is so far removed from reality as to be inaccurate even if either her birth date or marriage date were changed. Such a person probably existed, but not at all likely on any of my family lines. The data problem shown on is a still-born infant who has been included in the Family Tree but not further identified.

But at this very basic, initial level, using the program complemented by the Tree Consistency Checker, gives me a couple of powerful and useful tools to start addressing my own issues in my portion of the Family Tree.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

LDS Family History Resources from #RootsTech 2017

RootsTech 2017 was a wonderful opportunity to learn about what is going on in the genealogy community and to learn more about family history in general. For those who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there were quite a number of classes and presentations targeted at this particular aspect of the Conference. Here are some links to classes and presentations that will be of interest to an LDS audience.

First, there are a lot of things of interest to anyone in the genealogical community.

See videos of each session at "Did You Miss a Session." There are full session videos and selected class videos for each day. I suggest the following

Bryan Austad
Building Powerful Youth Consultants

Crystal Farish; Rhonna Farrer
Family History is Anything but Boring

Anne Metcalf; Gregg Richardson
Getting Started with Finding Your Ancestors

Brian Braithwaite; Linda Gulbrandsen; Ryan Koelliker; Stephen Shumway
FamilySearch and Partners: Using All the Resources to Find Your Ancestors

Rod DeGiulio
Understanding Your Family History Calling

Diane Loosle
Begin at the Beginning 2017: Helping Others Love Family History

I also think it is a good idea to watch the entire Family Discovery Day presentations. However, these are on Here is the link to the RootTech Family Discovery Day 2017 presentations. But as I write this, the videos do not seem to be working. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Understanding Your Family History Calling

Understanding Your Family History Calling

This is the one most important instruction for all those who have family history callings in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is a worldwide change that affects all family history callings. I would suggest taking some time to view this video so you understand the new responsibilities and the new emphasis of the entire program of the Church. 

BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy and Youth Family History Camp

A more accessible alternative to RootsTech is the BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy. This year will be the 49th annual Conference. In addition, BYU has added the MyFamily, Youth Family History Camp.

The youth camp is held during the same time as the BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy. The 24th of July is a state holiday in Utah and everything closes down, but BYU starts the Youth Camp on the holiday anyway.

If you only have time or the resources to go to one conference, I think you will find that the BYU Conference is very genealogy oriented and has outstanding instructors.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Before RootsTech 2017

This is quite different than my usual photos. I took this the day before the RootsTech 2017 Conference opened in the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, Utah. I liked the arrangement of the boxes and the color highlights.

Basic Changes for Temple and Family History Consultants

The formerly called "Family History Consultants" have now been renamed "Temple and Family History Consultants" but the change involves much more than simply a change in names. The basic organization has also been changed. There are now callings at the Ward, Stake, and Area level. Here is the basic organizational chart as shown on See Callings-Organizations.

The Area Temple and Family History Consultants have the responsibility to teach the Stake Temple and Family History Consultants, who in turn should be teaching the Stake level officers and the Ward Temple and Family History Consultants. Then the Ward Temple and Family History Consultants should be teaching the Ward officers. The change involves adding a Stake Temple and Family History Consultants calling. In addition, the Temple and Family History Consultants can be called to a specific calling as Stake Family History Center Directors or as Stake Indexing Directors. Here are some resources that explain the new emphasis.
Please pass this along to any who need to know about these changes.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Family History Guide now an official FamilySearch Training Partner

Since I wrote my last blog post, The Family History Guide has been notified that it is now an official Training Partner of FamilySearch. This is a huge benefit to the users of The Family History Guide and also all those who have been in need of a structured, sequenced family history training program that addresses a broad spectrum of users from the very new beginner to more advanced researchers.

For the past three days, we have been teaching here at RootsTech 2017 and because I am wearing a shirt with the website logo, I have gotten a significant number of positive comments about how the website has benefitted a user. It has been an adventure.

The Family History Guide at RootsTech 2017

This photo shows a quiet moment at The Family History Guide booth at RootsTech 2017. This is early in the day before over 20,000 people will flood this area and keep all of the people at the booth busy all day until the end of the Conference. It has been an interesting experience listening to all the people who have had their genealogical lives impacted by this extraordinary website. We have had a number of very interesting connections that could potentially expand The Family History Guide's influence significantly.

Remember that The Family History Guide is an app in the App Gallery and is linked from the training on the website.

Title of Family History Consultants Changed

In an unexpected development during RootsTech 2017, the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced that the titles of the former Family History Consultants are being changed to "Temple and Family History Consultants" at all levels; ward, stake, and area.

Here is a quote from the news story on;
The change was announced both in a February 9, 2017, official notice and by Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during a leadership training session Thursday evening held in the Conference Center Theater. Elder Cook explained that the name change will help members to remember to “always work with the end in mind” and encouraged leaders to remind teach members about the blessings promised to them as they do family history. 
Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Ruth Renlund, used chopsticks to illustrate that both missionaries and members need to work together to accomplish the work. “Two chopsticks working together can simply accomplish what one chopstick cannot,” Elder Renlund said.
The emphasis of the new title is further explained in a letter sent to General Authorities; Area Seventies; Stake, Mission, and District Presidents; Bishops and Branch Presidents:
Primary responsibility: The primary responsibility of all temple and family history consultants is to give personalized help to leaders and families, enabling them to find the names of deceased ancestors, take the names to the temple and provide necessary ordinances for them, and teach their family members and others to do the same. 
For more information see Temple and Family History Callings.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Report from #RootsTech 2017

Even if you didn't make it to Salt Lake City, Utah to visit RootsTech 2017, you can still watch selected parts of the Conference live online. Click on the link to RootsTech 2017 and then click on the live feed. That's all there is to watching the conference proceedings. All times are Mountain Daylight Time.

I will be starting today with the Innovators Summit and talking and visiting classes. The rest of the week, I will be most presenting short classes at The Family History Guide booth and at the booth.

I will be writing back and forth between my Genealogy's Star blog and this one for the rest of the week, but I will try not to duplicate too much of what I write. You might want to check both blogs.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

This week at RootsTech 2017

Today I begin the conferences. I start with the BYU Family History Technology Workshop at the university in Provo, Utah. This evening, I will be meeting with the Ambassadors in Salt Lake City, Utah at the Salt Palace for our beginning of the RootsTech 2017 Conference. I will be mostly helping with presentations at The Family History Guide booth and at the Booth. Look for me at those booths or at the Media Booth for the Ambassadors. See you there.

BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy 2017

I fully realize that we are entering the week of RootsTech 2017, but for those of you who would like to attend a quality genealogy conference but can't make it to RootsTech, I strongly suggest the BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy. This is the 49th year that this conference has been held on the Brigham Young University Campus in beautiful Provo, Utah. Unless you are a winter sports enthusiast, Provo in July is much nicer to visit than Salt Lake City in the middle of the Winter.

The emphasis of the conference is on genealogy and the presenters are exceptionally well qualified. The Conference is being held in the BYU Conference Center. Unfortunately, the Center is undergoing a major expansion and there will still be construction activities at the time of the Conference. But BYU has made arrangements to minimize the effects of the construction with special provisions for parking.

The 49th annual BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy will offer more than 100 classes, allowing participants to gain new skills and helpful information. Class topics include:
  • Youth and Genealogy
  • LDS Family History Callings
  • FamilySearch Family Tree
  • DNA Research
  • Google Genealogy
  • ICAPGen
  • U.S. Research
  • Methodology
  • International Research
  • Scandinavian Research

Monday, February 6, 2017

Even More About Data Problems in the FamilySearch Family Tree

The Family Tree is like a very old house that is in the process of being remodeled. The original contents of the Family Tree are a huge accumulation of years of submissions for over a hundred years. Added to that original pile are all the submissions made to the program and now the Family Tree. Unfortunately, this "remodeling" effort is going on while we live in the house, i.e. keep using the Family Tree. We need to keep reminding ourselves that we bought this house (Family Tree) without a home warranty and without even a prior-to-occupancy home inspection.

The first order of business when beginning this remodeling effort is to assess the condition of the premises. Likewise, with the Family Tree, anyone approaching the information already present needs to be examining that information carefully. Just as you cannot assume that there are not a few hidden defects in an old house, you cannot blissfully assume that everything in your part of the Family Tree is either complete or accurate. Let me give several examples from my portion of the Family Tree.

I will start with four family lines; the Tanners, the Parkinsons, the Oversons, and the Jarvis families. These are the surnames of my four great-grandparents. The process begins with my own personal record and for this illustration, I will avow that I have carefully examined the entries for my parents and grandparents. My task is to look at each person in each of the lines and see where that particular line "ends" because of lack of information or entries that have serious data errors. My personal rule here is that any entry without supporting source citations is suspect. Of course, as I go back in time on my family lines, the number of surnames (i.e. family lines) doubles with each generation. But for this example, I will stick to the four surname lines above. I have to admit that I have already gone through this process so I have a pretty good idea where the lines end and the fantasy world begins.

First one up is the Tanner line. Moving back generation by generation and after carefully examining all of the sources, I find that the line ends with Francis Tanner, b. 1708, d. 1777. Why is this the case? There is not one source listed connecting Francis Tanner to his father other than a reference to a book that has no supporting sources listed. Traditionally, the Tanner line goes on for one more generation (or several more with what is in the Family Tree) but no one has ever found any record substantiating Francis Tanner's parents. If I need any justification for this opinion, all I have to do is look at his "father" William Tanner. Presently, the Family Tree shows him born in Chipstead, Surrey, England in 1657 and shows the line going back in England. However, there are no records showing any connection between William Tanner in Rhode Island and anyone in England. In addition, the dates for William Tanner and his three wives don't make any sense at all. End of Line.

The next line to examine is the Parkinsons. I have done extensive research on the Parkinson line in conjunction with one of my daughters and her husband who is also a Parkinson. This line effectively ends with Charles Parkinson, b. 1766, d. 1846. We have no documentation connecting him to his father in the Family Tree. In fact, the Family Tree presently shows that Charles' birth date is two years before the date recorded for his parents' marriage date and there are no records either supporting his birth date or the identity of his parents. End of Line.

The Overson line goes back to Denmark, so the surname is really Ovesen (but there is some record of the name being Oveson, with an "o" in Denmark). The line effectively ends at the immigrant, Jens Andreas Ovesen. The dates and places beyond that are so confused as to be indecipherable. The main problems is that the children listed are all ove the place in different parishes. End of Line.

The last line in this example is the Jarvis line. This is easy. Charles Godfrey DeFriez Jarvis, b. 1855, d. 1919, changed his name from DeFriez to Jarvis. So he is really a DeFriez. The DeFriez line goes back to Marcus Mordecai Jacob DeVries in the Netherlands, but there no real documentation at this point to connect the family in England to the one the Netherlands. End of Line.

If you follow this analysis on every line, you will soon see that the old data in the Family Tree is in a dire need of remodeling. So it is time to get out the "detach" tool and to mix metaphores, prune the tree.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Comments on What's New on FamilySearch for January 2017

Unless you are watching carefully and subscribed to the FamilySearch Blog, you will likely miss the new developments in the Family Tree program. Some of the changes are also subtle and might go unnoticed unless you are constantly using the program. This month is headlined by a very useful improvement to the Family Tree. When you are searching for historical records in the Historical Record Collections, the program now visually identifies those records that you have already attached to individuals in your part of the Family Tree. Here is a screenshot showing the icons that indicate records that are already attached.

This may seem like a small thing, but those of us who have to click on the suggested records to see if they are already attached will find this to be very convenient and a time saver.

Next, the Memories section has been redesigned to have an "Overview" link to what is essentially the startup page. FamilySearch has also added a "List View" to the items in your memories section. Here is a screenshot of my Gallery's list view.

This is a much more efficient way to view the Gallery when you have a large number of entries.

There is also a note that the web-based edition of the Indexing program "will be rolled out in 2017." The program is still in Beta right now. I got to see the demo version for a short look and I hope that the prediction of the program's release is accurate. I understand that there will not yet be smartphone support, which locks out all those of us who do a major portion of our computer usage on smartphones.