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August 31, 2005

Why does the Mormon church focus on genealogy work?

Here are some excerpts from a great talk given by Kevin Owen at the BYU-Idaho Family History Conference on November 8, 2003. Owen is a member of the LDS church and helps at a local Family History Center. In his talk he answers some questions he receives from people not of his faith, “Why does your church do this?” “Why so much interest in discovering who your ancestors are – and all at no charge?”

Excerpts follow:

"President Joseph F. Smith taught this significant doctrine:

'Jesus had not finished his work when his body was slain, neither did he finish it after his resurrection from the dead; although he had accomplished the purpose for which he then came to the earth, he had not fulfilled all his work. And when will he? Not until he has redeemed and saved every son and daughter of our father Adam that have been or ever will be born upon this earth to the end of time. . . . That is his mission. We will not finish our work until we have saved ourselves, and then not until we shall have saved all depending upon us; for we are to become saviors upon Mount Zion, as well as Christ. We are called to this mission. The dead are not perfect without us, neither are we without them.' - Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. (1939), 442"

"Story: Experience of Elder Wilford Woodruff in the Saint George Temple

'The spirits of the dead gathered around me, wanting to know why we did not redeem them. Said they, ‘You have had the use of the Endowment House for a number of years, and yet nothing has ever been done for us. We laid the foundation of the government you now enjoy, and we … remained true to it and were faithful to God.’ These were the signers of the Declaration of Independence [of the United States of America], and they waited on me for two days and two nights. … I straightway went into the baptismal font and called upon Brother McAllister to baptize me for the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and fifty other eminent men, making one hundred in all, including John Wesley, Columbus, and others' (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, sel. G. Homer Durham [1946], 160-61).

We learn from this event that many of our ancestors anxiously await to be discovered, documented and have their temple ordinances completed. Sometimes we wonder whether they really want to be found – but be assured that they do."

"Boyd K. Packer said the following in 1977: 'Why not select sites by the hundreds and commence to build those temples now? I answer by asking some questions. Should we commence to build those temples, what good would it do? How would we keep them open? What names would we use? What work would we do?' He goes on to say that we as a church need to do more in the are of temple work if this prophecy is to be fulfilled. Each of us has a responsibility to see that each of our ancestors that we can possibly identify has the opportunity to receive temple blessings."

"In a recent conference address Elder Russell M. Nelson said:

'This restoration was accompanied by what is sometimes called the Spirit of Elijah—a manifestation of the Holy Ghost bearing witness of the divine nature of the family. Hence, people throughout the world, regardless of religious affiliation, are gathering records of deceased relatives at an ever-increasing rate.' – April 1998 Conference"

To view the whole article click here.

August 26, 2005

Organization for a trip to the Family History Library

I thought this Ancestry Quick Tip for August 25, 2005 was a great idea from Debbe Hagner.

Organizing Your To-Do List To Be More Effective

I remember when I first went to the Family History Library I was able to look at forty to fifty films in a week's time. For those who have been to Salt Lake City, the Family History Library can be overwhelming. The key to success is how well you organize and plan your trip.

On my last trip to the library in Salt Lake City I decided to use Excel and I created the following columns:

* Floor
* Priority
* Film #
* Title with who what where and when
* Family Name or Client name
* Results

I used Excel's landscape mode to print all the columns that I needed. I sorted:-

1. by PRIORITY--whether they were restricted, vault or "See Attendant"
2. by the floor on which the records were located, and
3. by family or clients.

This method was so effective for me that I was able to go thru 250+ films in one week. The neatest thing about it is that it is ALL on one paper! When you are finished with the film you can check it off and write in the results. I used the following in my results column:

* F--Found
* NF--Not Found
* Missing--Permanently missing from the vault and library (I had one situation like that)
* No Public access (I had one film that I was not allowed to access)
* Out--not in the drawer (check again later)
* PC--Poor copy or quality
* Wrong film (Need to investigate to see what I did wrong)

August 23, 2005

10 Ways to Trace Your Family Tree from Home

I am a stay-at-home mom, so I don't have many opportunities to go to libraries or Family History Centers to do Genealogy Research. Most of my research is done at home by using the Internet. So I thought this article was helpful - Armchair Genealogy - 10 Ways to Trace Your Family Tree from Home.

Kimberly Powell lists 10 ways to research from home and I've included some articles I've written that may help with her ideas.

1. Quiz the Kin - 120 Questions to ask your Relatives
2. Get Help from the Mormons - FamilySearch
3. Network with Others - Making Connections through the Internet
4. Check the Local Library - HeritageQuest Online
5. Write a Letter...or two
6. Search and Re-Search - Getting the most out of Google Searches
7. Learn about Where they Lived - Map Your Ancestors
8. Go Local - World GenWeb
9. Root Through Records - Records to Use
10. Bone up on History

August 22, 2005

CenMatch - Helps search Census Records at Ancestry.com

A few days ago, Dick Eastman wrote about CenMatch for Ancestry.com. CenMatch's web page advertises this:

"Are you struggling to find families when searching census records on Ancestry.com? Do you wish there were more options available? CenMatch is the answer for you!

An easy to use Excel template is all that you need to start matching those hard-to-find families.

CenMatch is designed to match either 2 or 3 people that appear on the same census page together or a page following person # 1. You have the ability to Sort by Name, Birth Year, Census Parish, Census County or Matching records. It is then simply a matter of clicking on the icon to go to the page in question."

CenMatch costs $7.50 in Australian dollars, which is approximately $5.75 in U.S. dollars. So the product itself is pretty inexpensive, but you do need a subscription to Ancestry.com and to have Microsoft Excel on your computer in order to use it. I don't have Excel on my computer (I use a free program called OpenOffice), so I don't plan on buying this program...but I'd be interested to hear if anyone tries it and what they think of it.

The CenMatch template works with the following databases at Ancestry.com :

1850 United States Federal Census
1860 United States Federal Census
1870 United States Federal Census
1890 United States Federal Census Fragment
1900 United States Federal Census

1861 Channel Islands Census
1871 Channel Islands Census
1881 Channel Islands Census
1891 Channel Islands Census
1901 Channel Islands Census

1861 England Census
1871 England Census
1881 England Census
1891 England Census
1901 England Census

1861 Isle of Man Census
1871 Isle of Man Census
1881 Isle of Man Census
1891 Isle of Man Census
1901 Isle of Man Census

1861 Wales Census
1871 Wales Census
1881 Wales Census
1891 Wales Census
1901 Wales Census

August 17, 2005

How to Wisely use the Internet for Genealogy Research

A reader of Ancestry Daily News asked Paula Stuart-Warren just what professional genealogists mean when they say "go online." Paula then wrote two explanatory articles with helpful tips for using the Internet.

What Do You Do When You 'Go Online?'

More Online Searching Tips

August 16, 2005

Map Your Ancestors

I just found a very cool website called MapYourAncestors.com. The home page of this site shows the genealogy of the current United States President, George W. Bush, and a map showing where each of his ancestors were born. I think this is a great idea, and like their slogan says, it "brings genealogy to life."

You can request your own free web page if you complete their family tree form and email it to them. It also allows you to upload pictures of your ancestors to display as well. I am in the process of completing mine and look forward to seeing the final product.

MapYourAncestors.com uses Google Maps API. If you haven't checked out Google Maps before, I highly recommend trying it. It's the only website I use to get directions and look up places.

August 15, 2005

Top 5 Genealogy Questions

Kimberly Powell, genealogy writer at About.com, came up with the top 5 questions she hears about genealogy and wrote the answers to them in a recent article. The questions are mainly for people just beginning genealogy research, but I thought I would list them here:

1. How do I begin to trace my family?

2. What does my last name mean?

3. Where can I find the book on my family?

4. What is the best genealogy software?
(I wrote an article about this - Lots of Genealogy Software to Choose From)
5. How do I make a Family Tree?

Powell has answers and websites to help with each of these questions, so check out her article.

August 12, 2005

Genetic Genealogy or "Genetealogy"

Not too long ago I received an email from one of my husband's distant relatives. His name is Reg, and we first made contact via WorldGenWeb. We conversed a few times sharing information and he described his relationship to my husband as follows:

"Without going into a long listing of details, your husbands mother and I each have in our DNA makeup, an identical 6.25% of the DNA of our ancestral patriarchs, Samuel McAuslane and Flora Ramsay. Your husband and my daughter(contempories in age) each carry 3.125% of that DNA."

I thought it was a bit strange that he would describe his relationship to my husband using DNA percentages, instead of just saying they're third cousins once removed. But genetic genealogy research, sometimes called "genetealogy," is becoming much more common these days. There's going to be a Genetic Genealogy Seminar the day before the FGS Conference in Salt Lake City next month, which I assume a lot of the genealogists coming into town for the conference will also be going to. I don't know much about DNA testing myself, but here are a few good articles that I'd recommend reading as an introduction.

Genetics & Genealogy by Thomas H. Roderick, PhD
An introduction to Genetic Genealogy by Alan Savin
Genetics & Genealogy - An Introduction With Y-DNA Case Study Examples by Charles F. Kerchner, Jr.

I also found an interesting survey done by Megan Smolenyak, writer for Ancestry.com. The survey asked three multiple-choice questions:

1. How would you describe your participation in genetic genealogy?
(a) Have not done it and am not interested
(b) Am “getting smart” about it to decide whether to try it
(c) Will likely try it within the next 6 months
(d) Have taken (or sponsored/facilitated) one DNA test
(e) Have taken (or sponsored/facilitated) more than one DNA test
(f) Am active participant in a DNA project, but don't manage it
(g) Manage a DNA project

2. If you have not participated in genetic genealogy, which of the following explain why?
(a) Don't understand it yet
(b) Not sure it would help my genealogical research
(c) Concerned about privacy
(d) Too expensive
(e) Other

3. If you have participated in genetic genealogy, which kind of test(s) have you taken (or sponsored/facilitated)?
(a) Y-DNA
(b) mtDNA
(c) DNAPrint/BioGeographical
(d) African Ancestry
(e) Native American Ancestry
(f) Other Ethnic (Cohanim, Tribes of Britain, etc.)
(g) Other

To view her results, click here.

August 11, 2005

My Genealogy Store.com

City Directories are now being sold at MyGenealogyStore.com. They explain why these directories are useful at their site:

Why are City Directories Important to Genealogists

Individuals that research their family history use a variety of sources. Those sources vary, depending on each persons research knowledge, affordability, and availability of resources.

Census records are the number one U.S. resource used by genealogists. Other data sources would include Tax Records, Military Records, Ship Passenger Lists, and City Directories, etc.

City Directories are often over looked by researchers, yet they can identify almost every household every year. They can also help distinguish different persons of the same name. They are easy to read, alphabetically arranged, and contain a wealth of information.

MyGenealogyStore.com also has digital census CDs, microfilm readers, and other genealogy books available.

August 10, 2005

Tombstone Rubbing

The Genealogy Tip of the Day from About.com is on Tombstone Rubbing. I have yet to go visit cemeteries in search of deceased ancestors, but I know that many genealogists do it. I thought this might be a good alternative to just taking a snapshot of the tombstone.

The Perfect Tombstone Rubbing

You can achieve a clear, durable impression of a tombstone engraving by using wax crayons and interfacing material, such as Pellon, found at your local fabric store. Interfacing fabric is wonderful for tombstone rubbings because it is inexpensive (about $1.25/yard), folds neatly into a suitcase (unlike paper) and doesn't tear.

To create the perfect rubbing start by ensuring that the stone is stable, is not crumbling and that you have permission to do the rubbing (in some states it is actually illegal). Next cut a piece of non-fusible interfacing material slightly larger than the face of the stone. Use masking tape or a partner to hold the material tightly around the stone. Rub gently, but firmly, over the inscription with the side of a jumbo wax crayon or a block of rubbing wax until you have a good impression of the entire tombstone inscription. Once you get home you can preserve your rubbing by placing it wax side up on an ironing board, then cover with an old towel and iron. This will set the crayon or wax into the fabric and preserve it indefinitely.

August 9, 2005

Intro Genealogy Class Quiz

About.com offers a plethora of information on genealogy. They offer a Genealogy Tip of the Day, a free weekly newsletter on genealogy, as well as a free Introduction to Genealogy Class all via email.

I just got my email with lesson one of the Introduction to Genealogy, and instead of reading through it, I decided to just test my current knowledge by taking the quiz at the end of the lesson. There were actually some difficult questions that I wasn't sure about. My final score was 14 out of 20, so perhaps I should read through that lesson :)

If you want to test your knowledge too, try this quiz. Just type in your name and click on "Take the Quiz."

August 8, 2005

Youth Genealogy Camp

I just read an interesting article titled, "Students trace roots, sometimes with surprising results," written by Mary Foster for Dateline Alabama. It's about a genealogy camp for 7 - 15 year old children and it seems like the children interviewed for the article learned quite a bit about their ancestors.

The Camp was put together by Antoinette Harrell-Miller, the founder of the African-American Genealogy Connection. This year the camp was put together for African-American youth, but next summer they plan on allowing any race to come. Harrell-Miller said that it is much easier for those of European descent to find their ancestors, since their records have been better preserved. A lot of records for slaves have been lost; a fact that I had never thought about before.

Supposedly there are no other youth genealogy camps around the nation like this one, so it might be something to look into.

August 5, 2005

Wasted Time Re-Researching

I found an Ancestry Quick Tip titled Wasted Re-research Time. This quick tip by Earlene Scott is to remind others to document all their resources and what was found. Even if you don't find any information, just make a note that you've already checked that source so you don't end up checking it over and over and finding nothing. I have gone back to the same Census Record many times before because I didn't make a note of what I found there, so I am slowly working on following Earlene's advice.

Ancestry.com's editor then made a note at the end of this Quick Tip that said that Ancestry.com's Charts & Forms area includes a research calendar to help you record all your sources and information. I was not aware of this, so I downloaded it and it looks like this. It could be a helpful way to keep track of your research.

August 4, 2005

120 Questions to Ask Your Relatives

I posted some Genealogy Interview Questions a little while ago, but I found another list with some different questions. (These same questions could be used as an outline for your personal history as well)

Vital Statistics
Where were you born? When? Why was the family living there? Where else did they live? Why?

Where have you lived? When? Why were you living there? Why did you move?

When were you baptized (christened)?

When were you married (divorced)?


Who are your parents? Your grandparents? What do you know about them?

What are your childhood memories of your grandparents?

What are your childhood memories of your parents?

When did your grandparents die? Your parents? How did you feel?

Who are your children and grandchildren? Where do they live? What do they do?

What do you enjoy about your children and grandchildren?

Growing Up

What did you enjoy doing as a child? What was your best experience? Why? Who else was with you?

What did you dislike most as a child? Why?

Who were your friends as a child? What do you remember about them?

Where did you go to school? Elementary, secondary, college?

Who were your favorite teachers? Why?

What adults had a particular influence for good or bad on you?

What activities (sports, music, dance, etc.) did you participate in while you were growing up? What were some of your experiences with this activity?

What were you good at? What were you poor at?

What summer jobs did you have growing up? What did you like (dislike) about them?

What jobs have you had during your life? Where? When?

What did you do in these jobs?

What did you find rewarding about the job?

What did you find most demeaning about the job? Why?

Who were your supervisors? Who did you like? Who did you dislike? Why?

Who were your coworkers? Who did you like? Who did you dislike? Why?

If you had it to do over would you choose the same career? Why? What career would you choose? Why?

Who are the people alive right now that you respect and admire the most? Why? What are some of the experiences you had with them?

Who are the people now gone that you respect and admire the most? Why? What are some of the experiences you had with them?

What are the things you value most? Why?

What things make you happy? Why?

What things make you angry? Why?

What things make you unhappy? Why?

What things frighten you most? Why?

What things give you peace of mind and contentment? Why?

What lessons has life taught you that you would want your children or grandchildren to understand and learn from? How did you learn these lessons?

What accomplishments in your life are you most proud of? Why?

What regrets do you have about your life? Why?

What would you do differently if you could? Why?

How would you like to be remembered? How do you think you will be remembered?


What are your interests and hobbies outside of your work?

Why do you enjoy them?

Which are you best at?


What church(es) do you (have you) belong(ed) to? What are (were) they like?

Why did you become involved in the church(es)?

How did participation in them make you feel? Why?

What is your understanding of God? How did you arrive at that understanding?

What do you feel your relationship is to God? Do you (how do you) communicate with God?

What are the experiences in your life that have brought you closer to God? Why?

What are the experiences in your life that have moved you away from God? Why?

What happens to us when we die?

What is the purpose of life?

August 3, 2005

Advanced Genealogists

I found an interesting post titled "Are you an advanced genealogist?" at Genealogy Blog. In this post Donna Phillips lists 41 concepts that you should strive to have a working understanding of in order to be an "advanced" genealogist. These concepts were given by Marsha Hoffman Rising; who is a professional genealogist, educator, and writer. They are as follows:

1. home inventory
2. charts and organization
3. family interviews
4. family records
5. correspondence
6. queries
7. census records
8. federal court records
9. immigration records
10. land records
11. genealogical definitions
12. archival records
13. county court records
14. church records
15. cemetery records
16. published genealogies
17. published local histories
18. newspaper research
19. library resources
20. FamilySearch.org
21. fraternal organizations
22. school records
23. manuscripts
24. vital records
25. funeral home records
26. business records
27. maps
28. migration patterns
29. handwriting
30. surname variations
31. calendar changes
32. oral tradition
33. historical outlines
34. journals
35. primary vs. secondary sources
36. genealogical societies
37. documentation
38. mortality schedules
40. professionalism
41. Internet genealogy

Due to this list, I think I have a few (if not many) things to work on in order to become more advanced.

August 2, 2005

Encyclopedia of Genealogy

In December of 2004, Dick Eastman formulated a free online service for genealogists called the Encyclopedia of Genealogy.

"The Encyclopedia of Genealogy serves as a free compendium of genealogical tools and techniques. It provides reference information about everything in genealogy except people. Look to the Encyclopedia of Genealogy to provide explanations of how to look up your family tree. It will also provide explanations of terms found in genealogy research, including obsolete medical and legal terms. In addition, it will describe locations where records may be found. Within a few months, this online encyclopedia will describe how to research Italian, German, Polish, French-Canadian, Jewish, Black, Indian, and other ancestors. In short, the Encyclopedia of Genealogy will serve as your standard genealogy reference manual."

Dick Eastman created the framework of this encyclopedia, and genealogists around the world have been submitting articles over the past 8 months. The encyclopedia works just like wikipedia or wiktionary, which basically means anybody who sees an error or wants to change something to an entry can do so.

Here are some examples of the articles this encyclopedia offers:

Family History Library
Pedigree Resource File
Social Security Death Records

August 1, 2005

Family Searcher

I recently read an article in PAFology titled Family Searcher: an Alternative to PAF Insight, written by Kay Baker. I thought I might do a little comparison of these two programs myself since I recently wrote an article on PAF Insight.

Family Searcher is a program authored by Kevin Owen that speeds up the process of researching names on websites such as FamilySearch.org, Ancestry.com, Rootsweb.com, and EllisIsland.org. But due to the name, Family Searcher, I think the main function is to use it to search FamilySearch for LDS temple ordinances.

I decided to make a Pro/Con list to help show the differences between the programs a little more easily.


Though there are more Pros listed for Family Searcher, I think the benefits for using PAF Insight are far greater than those for using Family Searcher. If I had to pick between the two of them, I would pay the $20 for PAF Insight every time.

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