Monday, October 10, 2011

New Youth and Family History Website

During the Saturday afternoon session of General Conference Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles told of a new website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

This new site is dedicated to Youth and Family History. In his talk, Elder Bednar addressed the youth of the Church and said:

"I invite the young people of the Church to learn about and experience the Spirit of Elijah. I encourage you to study, to search out your ancestors, and to prepare yourselves to perform proxy baptisms in the house of the Lord for your kindred dead (see D&C 124:28-36). And I urge you to help other people identify their family histories."1
The Youth and Family History website (currently available in English, Spanish, and Portuguese) has a three minute introductory video called, "The Time is Now," in which Elder Bednar and several youth of the Church speak about the work of family history.

This new website will help youth:
  • Discover how to do family history
  • How to serve others, and
  • Watch the experiences of other youth who've been doing temple and family history work
On the Discover page there are five steps with videos to help the youth get started with their family history. The five steps are:
  1. Discover My Family Tree
  2. Discover a Family Record
  3. Return and Verify
  4. Prepare a Name for the Temple
  5. Go to the Temple ... Again and Again
The Serve page currently has videos to:
  • Help the Families You Home Teach
  • Help Others Come Back to Church
  • Help New Members Take a Name to the Temple
  • Help Others Add Photos and Documents to Their Family Tree
  • Help Others Find Records by Indexing
The Experiences page has several videos of youth who share their experiences with temple and family history work.

What a wonderful resource this new website is to help our youth learn how to do family history work and then help others to learn how to do it too. If you are new to temple and family history work this website can help you too.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

FamilySearch Updated YouTube Channel
FamilySearch YouTube channel


FamilySearch has unveiled a newly updated YouTube channel giving viewers an informative, fun and fascinating look at several different aspects of genealogy through a growing number of videos in five playlists.

High-quality videos are available for the rookie genealogist and the seasoned veteran alike. The Genealogy in 5 Minutes playlist demonstrates how, in just a few minutes, individuals with little or no genealogy experience can make some headway on their family’s history.

The Woven Generations playlist features powerful, personal experiences from those who have found success or inspiration through family history work.

Additionally, FamilySearch sent camera crews to Virginia, Ohio, California, Indiana and other locations for a closer look at how FamilySearch works with societies and archives to provide access to more records online and to further mutual interests in family history. These videos can be found in the Societies and Archives playlist.

These videos and others are available at and can be powerful tools in introducing the excitement of family history to a friend or family member. They will also enrich the life of a veteran genealogist.  Check out the videos today and share them with your family and friends!


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Historic Joseph Smith Documents Now Available Online

A treasure trove of historic documents is now available online as part of an unprecedented effort to bring to light materials related to the founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The updated Joseph Smith Papers website debuted at the annual Mormon History Association conference in St. George, Utah, on Friday, 27 May 2011.

The comprehensive website will eventually contain about 2,500 documents used by the Joseph Smith Papers project in creating the definitive collection of records related to the life and work of Joseph Smith and early Mormonism. Some of these documents have never before been available to the public, while others were available only in various archives and libraries around the world.

“This will be the complete collection of extant documents that we have permission to use,” the project’s assistant managing editor Jeffrey Walker said. “There is a power with these documents. There is something magical when you find the original, and now we have the ability to release these images and transcriptions and our scholarship to the great wide world.”

The purpose of the project is to make available every document produced by Joseph Smith himself or by others he appointed as scribes. Similar projects exist for several of America’s founding fathers, but the Joseph Smith Papers is the first of its kind to make all of materials available for free on the Internet. This will provide easy access to the foundational documents of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for anyone from scholarly researchers to casual history buffs.

“The goal is to take all that rich fabric of Joseph Smith’s world and use technology to allow it to be looked at from the entire world,” Walker said.
In addition to the website, the project will print 20 physical books divided into six subjects: Journals, Revelations and Translations, History, Documents, Administrative Records and Legal and Business Records. Due to the limitations of printing, not all of the available documents will be included in the books but will be available on the website.

“Our goal was to create a digital library that is not volume based but document based,” Walker said.

Walker said the books and the website will have a very different look and feel. He thinks scholars will still prefer the hard copies, but it is nice that anyone can access the documents without buying the books.

“There is something powerful about having the book in hand, flipping through it as you research, but more people around the world will access it online in the long term,” he said.

Assistant Church historian and recorder Richard E. Turley said many people will probably enjoy the material in both forms.

“When you use both the web and the book, you will get different experience,” Turley said. “Both views offer different insights.”

The format of the website will make it easy to view and understand the historic papers, with the digital image of the original document posted side-by-side with a detailed transcription.

According to Walker, documents will be available on the website before they are printed in the books. That means some of the transcriptions will be posted online after just two reviews by the project team, rather than the three reviews required for the books.

“There will be some interim content that is not yet annotated and vetted,” Walker said. “The documents going online will be what we call second level verified, but we are also giving you the image to double-check yourself.”

The website allows users to browse the documents by category, such as journals, revelations or administrative documents. You can also search by keyword, person or location. For example, you can search for documents about Emma Smith in New York in 1830. Variant spellings have been standardized and linked together. The site also includes information that provides context for the documents, including maps, charts, photographs and biographies.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

FamilySearch Records Update: 25 million new images and records for 19 countries

The FamilySearch volunteers did it! With the completion of the state of Veracruz, they indexed the entire 1930 Mexico Census—almost 13 million records. Add the census to the millions of Mexico church records FamilySearch also has online for free, and FamilySearch patrons now have a phenomenal, fundamental asset for their Mexico ancestral research. There were 59 collections updated in this release, comprising 25 million new images and records for 19 U.S. states and 16 countries. See the table below for more details. You can search all of these updated collections now for free at

If you are enjoying the steady stream of free records added weekly, please consider “giving back” as a FamilySearch volunteer. You can start and stop volunteering at any time. Find out more at

Monday, May 16, 2011

Genealogical Tip: How to Contact Living Relatives

by Gena Philibert Ortega

Researching the dead can be easy. Contacting the living can be a whole different ball game. When you find a new cousin, except for genealogist cousins, the most important thing to remember is that not everyone is thrilled about family history. In fact some people could care less (a collective ouch is felt by many of us).

The following are some ideas about making that first contact:
Contact potential cousins in the least intrusive way as possible. Responding to a genealogical query from a researcher is much different than contacting an unknown cousin out of the blue. With the unknown cousin, I would consider writing an e-mail, if the address is available, or mailing a letter. I know that some genealogists don't think twice about calling an unknown cousin. I would hesitate just because some people may find it intrusive to get a call from someone asking or telling them about their family history. If you choose to make a call, try to write out what you will say and be sure to be short, sweet, and concise. Don't overwhelm the person, and be prepared if the person does not want to talk to you.
If you are requesting information from someone, be sure you are specific. Telling a genealogist you want anything and everything to do with Great-Grandma Harris is probably not going to get you much. But asking what they know about her death might get you what you need. When writing a letter or e-mail, I would recommend that you provide the person with some information and then make your request.
•If you are requesting documents or other items, even the person's time to look up something, make sure you offer to reimburse them. Taking time out of their lives to make copies, mail documents or get information for you is worth something. The person may decline a monetary reimbursement but at least offer it. You may even consider sending something as a thank you based on how much the person has supplied you. A thank you card or a gift certificate might be much appreciated it.
Also, remember to provide your new cousin with copies of your research. Your contact may inspire them to learn more about their family history or bring up questions that they have. Consider sending completed family group sheets or pedigree charts to them so that they can know more about your shared family history. You may also consider putting together a blog, wiki, or web site that updates family members on your findings.

However, you decide to contact the living, these contacts can often lead you right where you want to be...finding the dead.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Millions of Civil War Records Now Available on FamilySearch Website

Salt Lake City | 2011-05-10 |
As the United States marks the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, history buffs and people who had ancestors involved in the conflict can access millions of records recently published on the familysearch.orgwebsite. And millions more records are coming, as volunteers enlist in an online campaign over the next five years to provide access to the highly desirable historic documents.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Free Online Classes Help People Climb Their Family Tree

Genealogy is one of the most popular hobbies in the world, and new online classes from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints make it easier than ever to search for your ancestors from the comfort of your own home.

Through the nonprofit FamilySearch organization, the Church provides records and resources to help people with their family history. This effort stems from the Latter-day Saint belief that families can be together after this life, but the Church provides access to genealogical information to everyone, regardless of religious affiliation. These offerings now include a growing collection of free online classes that anyone can access on the Internet at their convenience. These classes help people get started in genealogy, learn how to use different types of records or research in a specific area.

FamilySearch instructional designer Candace Turpin says there are currently about 140 classes available on the website, and that number is growing every month. The variety of classes offers something for everyone, from experienced family historians to curious novices.

“The goal of the initiative is to educate more people worldwide about how to find their ancestors,” Turpin said. “We do it by filming the experts teaching a particular class of interest and then offering free access to that presentation online — complete with the PowerPoint used and any electronic handouts that the user can download or print for future reference.”

FamilySearch uses viewing software that splits the viewing screen (sort of like the picture-in-picture features on some smart televisions) so the user can watch the video of the presenter while also seeing the PowerPoint presentation. Most courses are 30 minutes in length. Unlike live classes, viewers can fast forward through the online course or pause or stop and finish watching it later.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Documenting the Family Home for Posterity

By Sarah Hill

When my grandpa passed away a couple years following my grandma, my mom and her siblings knew they would have to sell their childhood home. It was inevitable, but still sad. In a way, my mom was mourning the loss of her home along with mourning her parents. Wanting to somehow preserve the physical as well as the memories, my mom embarked upon a little project that became priceless.

Before cleaning out the closets and dividing up those things of sentimental value, my mom went around the house with her camera. She took pictures of everything: the furniture that was so outdated it was almost back in style; the vintage wallpaper; the stuffed animals now balding, the bookcases filled with Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, Anne Shirley and Louis L'Amour.; the height chart to which we always went, even years past we had quit growing, to see where we had been and where we were in comparison to our cousins; the avocado and citrus trees my grandpa painstakingly cared for; the rose bushes that were my grandma's pride. My mom photographed every corner of that home.

Then she enlisted each of the 27 grandchildren to write about a memory they had of going to my grandparents' home. Some wrote several paragraphs and most wrote a page or two. There were often similar memories, whether it was my grandpa's waffles with a "surprise" ingredient (spoiler: blackberries turn them purple) or having my grandma correct your hand position at the piano or grandpa's whiskers or grandma's ability to beat anyone at Rack-O. The underlying themes of the stories were the feelings we had in that home–something you couldn't photograph.

With the photographs and the stories, my mom compiled them all using an online publisher. She worked tirelessly on it, and the results justify that. Now, each of my siblings and I have a beautiful, professionally-printed hardbound book of pictures and stories about my grandparents' home that I can share with my children and my children's children. This project has inspired me to take pictures and document the smaller things that we often overlook. It took just a few days to put together, but I will cherish it forever–especially the picture of the wallpaper.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Legacy-FamilySearch webinars now online

The two Legacy-FamilySearch classes that Geoff Rasmussen taught at the Arizona Family History Expo this past weekend are now available to view online. The handouts are also there for each class. The two classes are:

- New FamilySearch Made Easy with Legacy Family Tree (59 minutes) – this one is the overview to everything
- Improving Your Use of New FamilySearch: Data Cleanup Strategies (60 minutes)

Both are available at:

- FamilySearch page at
Webinars page at

Geoff Rasmussen
Millennia Corporation

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Family's Sorrow Revealed in 1848 Newspaper

Family trees, with all the dates carefully researched and neatly recorded, tell you that your ancestors existed. But to get to know them as people–the lives they lived, their hardships and triumphs–you need to know their stories. For that kind of information, nothing beats an archive of historical newspapers, as the following story illustrates.

Tom Kemp, our Director of Genealogy Products, was doing research on the Ayres family, who lived in Westchester County, New York, in the mid-nineteenth century.

He found James Ayres (born in 1817) and his wife Ann (also born in 1817) listed in the 1850 Census for Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York. The Census also listed their three children: James H. (born in 1842), Sarah (born in 1844), and Frederica (born in 1849).

Looking at this family closely, we see that there is a suspicious five-year gap in the ages of the two youngest children: Sarah is 6 and Frederica 1. Tom, who has been doing genealogy for 45 years, knows that these gaps are often the most difficult to research–and yet often turn up the most interesting and poignant family history. He also knows that you can't rely on census records to find every member of a family–newspapers provide family history details not found anywhere else.

Death was something people in 1850 were all too familiar with. The life expectancy was only around 39 years. Infant mortality was shockingly high–roughly 22 out of every 100 live births died as infants. Is there an Ayres family tragedy that the above record does not reveal–was there a child born that had died before the 1850 Census? Tom turned to GenealogyBank's extensive newspaper archive to find the answer.

It didn't take Tom long to find what he was looking for, and a painful part of the Ayres' family history came to light. In the Dec. 12, 1848, issue of the Hudson River Chronicle (Sing Sing, New York), he found an obituary notice for the daughter of James and Ann Ayres: Lovina Ayres, who was born Aug. 7, 1846, and died Nov. 26, 1848.

And there is more. Accompanying the obituary, the family inserted this notice–and suddenly the personal connection is made, and we can feel the Ayres' sorrow:

Newspapers not only fill in gaps in census records, they provide intimate family details that humanize genealogy research. Imagine if the Ayres were part of your family tree and you found this newspaper notice. Suddenly, you've come to know something about their lives; you've shared their grief, holding onto the image of the smile on Lovina's lips as their darling two-year-old girl passed away. They've become part of your family.

"GenealogyBank's newspaper archive gives us important details about Lovina: her brief life, exact age, dates of birth/death, and even the actual poem that her parents chose to remember her by. For a brief moment we are standing there in the home–feeling the grief of our ancestors as they lived it," Tom commented. "These are details you just won't find in the census or anywhere else. Family trees are just not complete without the details available in newspapers."

Friday, January 14, 2011

How an Expert Tackles the Problem

By Ancestry Monthly Update 05 January 2011

Every search has to start somewhere. Even experience and know-how won’t change that, says Joseph B. Shumway, AG, professional genealogist with ProGenealogists.

“You want to find good documentation for each generation,” he says. “You don’t want to connect to the wrong line.” For Shumway, that means starting your search in the present … or at least as close as you can get. “All the background knowledge you acquire for the more contemporary generations can help you see further into the past.”

That’s just one of Shumway’s tips for tackling a family history problem. What else does Shumway suggest?

SLOW DOWN. “Sometimes you can get too far ahead of yourself. It’s better to slow down, find as much documentation as you can for each generation. The more info you have about each ancestor, the fuller your understanding is going to be.”

SEE WHAT OTHER PEOPLE KNOW. “Your first step is always to browse around and find out what’s already been done. Look for compiled family trees, books, items like that. The information you find may not be reliable, but you can use it as a guide to help you decide what to look for. From there, it’s a matter of looking for additional records to supplement – even prove or disprove – what you’re finding.”

KNOW WHEN YOU GET THERE. “How do you know when you’ve found enough information about an ancestor? When you get to a place where you feel beyond a reasonable doubt that you’ve connected the right people to each other and when you feel pretty certain that it’s unlikely that there’s another contender whom you might have missed.”

PICK YOUR GO-TO SOURCES: “If you’re a beginner, your key record sources are always going to be census records and vital records, at least for most parts of the western world. I have a lot of tricks that I’ll use to find people: wildcard searches, searching for everyone with the same first name or last name in a geographical area, for example. And if the problem I’m facing is that I don’t have enough evidence to prove a connection, I’ll look at siblings, neighbors and other associated people that I find mentioned in records with the person I’m interested in. Focus on these people for a while and you might find clues to the person you’re looking for and piggyback on the sibling or neighbor.