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January 31, 2006

The Roots of Family History

In March of 2000 Elder D. Todd Christofferson gave a talk, The Roots of Family History, at a BYU Family History Fireside. He talks about the many new tools that we have to help with our genealogy research but then switched to what is really at the "roots" of family history work.

Now, having talked by way of introduction about these exciting developments and future possibilities, let me talk about what is really behind "roots mania." I think you know. It is the Holy Spirit moving in the hearts of people across the earth, turning their hearts to their forebears. This divine influence leads people, in a spirit of love and without their fully understanding why, to prepare what will be needed to open the door to salvation for their predecessors. The fact that this influence is now being so widely felt simply means that the Lord is hastening His work in its time (see D&C 88:73).

It is vital that we maintain a firm doctrinal foundation in family history. Otherwise, we might focus only on tools and techniques and become simply hobbyists. The spirit and divine purposes that underlie family history must, for us, guide what we do and how we do it. By analogy, in archeology, the tools of the trade, the pick and shovel, trowels and brushes, have been supplemented with the camera (film, digital, and video), computers, infrared technology for looking under the surface, and satellite locating and mapping capabilities. Still, the fundamentals do not change. A dig must proceed with a certain order and care. A record must be kept. Artifacts as they are discovered, must be identified and labeled, their characteristics and location in relation to other things carefully noted. So in family history and temple work, the standard tools of pen and paper, heavy deed books and musty records, have been supplemented with microfilm and computers and the Internet and e-mail. Yet the fundamentals remain. There should be an order to research and a focus on one's own progenitors. A careful record must be kept. Accuracy, insofar as humanly possible to attain, is essential to the integrity of our work. And the doctrines of redemption must be both our motivation and our control.

Elder Christofferson later goes on to quote President Hinckley many times and I suggest reading the rest of his talk.

January 27, 2006

Ancestry.ca - New Ancestry.com Canadian Site

Ancestry.com Launches New Canadian Site with 150 million Names

Now researchers seeking their Canadian roots can search 150 million records covering the years 1592-2002 through Ancestry.ca, a new Canadian site. The new site, part of the World Deluxe package (and also available through a new Canada Deluxe membership) includes the following databases:

* 1911 Canada Census (Every-name index and images)
* Ontario Birth Index, 1869-1907
* Ontario Marriage Index, 1858-1899
* Ontario Death Index, 1869-1932
* Ontario, Canada Census Index, 1871
* Ontario and Nova Scotia Census Records, 1800-1842
* Canadian Genealogy Index, 1600s-1900s
* Canadian Address and Phone Directories, 1995-2002

Canada Deluxe Membership - 12 months for only CDN $99.95
1 month for only CDN $14.95

World Deluxe Membership - 12 months for $359.95
1 month for $49.95

January 25, 2006

GEDCOM files

Recently I had some issues trying to upload my GEDCOM file to a certain website. I forgot about it for a while and then this morning I uploaded my GEDCOM file to a different site and it worked just fine. I realized that some genealogists might have the same trouble or may not even understand how GEDCOM files work. So here is a link to an About.com article, GEDCOM 101, written by Kimberly Powell explaining how to create, read, and share your genealogy research via GEDCOM files.

January 24, 2006

Free Genealogy Toolkit

Yesterday as I was searching Cyndi's List, I came across a website called Lineages.com. It's a website that offers professional research help with your genealogy, over 13,000 genealogy products, and a chance to order documents from the Family History Library. Most of their services come with a fee, but they are offering a free genealogy toolkit to help beginners get started or to help old-timers get better organized.

The forms in this genealogy kit include:

* Pedigree Chart
* Family Group Record
* Research Calendar
* Research Extracts
* Contact Log
* Checklist of Genealogical Sources
* U.S. Census Abstract Forms

To download the forms using Adobe Reader go to this site. You will get a PDF of 31 different pages. You can then print out the whole packet, or pick and choose which charts will be most useful to you.

January 23, 2006

Cyndi's List

Last June I wrote an entry titled, Professional genealogists choose the best genealogy websites to use. I cited the 14 websites preferred by professional genealogists in a 2004 survey. I then tried to write an entry about each website, but just found a few that I missed. Cyndi's List was ranked 4th on the list, so I thought it was about time that I wrote a quick article about her site.

I'll give you the basic synopsis of Cyndi's List right from her FAQ section.

Cyndi's List - FAQ
What is Cyndi's List?

* A categorized & cross-referenced index to genealogical resources on the Internet.
* A list of links that point you to genealogical research sites online.
* A free jumping-off point for you to use in your online research.
* A "card catalog" to the genealogical collection in the immense library that is the Internet.
* Your genealogical research portal onto the Internet.

I have not used this resource as much as I should, but after browsing through it a little bit today I found some very valuable websites. Cyndi currently has over 250,000 links and I'm sure she adds new ones each day. There are links to almost anything related to genealogy: scrapbooking, timelines, obituaries, Family History Centers, How-to guides, etc. There are also many links to different countries to aid you in whatever geographical area you are researching. I highly recommend bookmarking this website for future use.

January 19, 2006

Pick a Resolution

Kimberly Powell has come up with 10 good ideas for New Years Resolutions for Genealogy. Now that we're 19 days into 2006 and might have already given up on some of our other resolutions, maybe we should set one or two for our genealogy work. I have picked my 3 favorites and plan to work on them this year.

1. Interview a Relative

One thing many of us postpone until it is too late is talking to our own family members about our shared heritage. Now is the time to get in touch with those relatives you’ve been meaning to contact. If you are fortunate enough to have older members in the family, approach them first. Some of them may have information about the family that can’t be found elsewhere. If you have already spoken to your parents and grandparents, then extend your research net to include extended family such as brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins.

My husband has a grandmother about to turn 95 years old...so I think she might be one of these older members in the family who I need to interview.

5. Label & Store Your Family Photos

Most of us have piles of precious family photographs sitting in piles or boxes waiting to be labeled, organized, put into scrapbooks, digitized, etc. Don't let another year go by with those photos fading both from light and from people's memories. Get together with relatives and identify as many people as you can and label those pictures. Be sure to use a photo-safe marking pencil or pen! If you have access to a scanner then consider digitizing the photos onto CD-ROM to preserve them indefinitely. Even if you don't have time to create scrapbooks and really get the photos organized right now, make sure you get them out of old envelopes and shoeboxes and into archival quality plastic sleeves or acid-free photo boxes before they are lost forever. Make copies of important photographs and other important documents and share them with another family member. The recipient will no doubt enjoy the gift, and a second copy will help to ensure that these precious photos will not be lost forever in the event of an unforeseen disaster.

I am in the process of trying to attach a photo to as many people as I can in my genealogy file.

8. More Than Names & Dates

Sometimes in the rush to get our lines as far back as we can we forget to take the time to learn more about the people our ancestors were and the times they lived in. Take time this year to record family stories, either electronically or on paper before this oral history is lost forever. Go out and find at least one additional record on each of your direct ancestors, choosing a record which will hopefully tell you more about them than you already know. Census records include interesting information such as your ancestors' occupation, education level and property value. Wills and probate records can provide you with all sorts of fascinating information including debts, friends and even the bed covers and pots and pans your ancestors owned. Tax rolls, immigration records and land records are other good sources for information about the lives of your ancestors. You can also chart your ancestor's life against a historical timeline and learn more about wars, plagues, crop shortages, big storms and other noteworthy things your ancestor may have experienced.

This one goes along with interviewing a relative and it's definitely an important reminder for me. When I first started genealogy research all I cared about was finding names. Now I want to go back and put some meat into my file with stories and pictures.

January 18, 2006

BYU's Annual 2006 Computerized Genealogy Conference

In October I announced the dates for the upcoming BYU 2006 Computerized Genealogy Conference. BYU announced the dates March 10-11, 2006 as well as the feature presenter to be Cyndi Howells, webmaster of http://www.cyndislist.com. My mom has just informed me that BYU has updated their website and started registration for this conference and the guest speaker(s) have actually changed, though the dates remain the same.

2006 Conference Dates: March 10–11, 2006

March 10–11, 2006, are the dates of this year’s Computerized Genealogy Conference. This conference is designed to be a how-to guide for everyone, including beginning, intermediate, and advanced researchers. Join us to learn how advancements in computer programs have revolutionized genealogical and family history work.

The featured presenters for this conference will be Curt B. Witcher and Alan Mann. Witcher is the department manager for the Historical Genealogy Department of the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He is the past president and current director of the Federation of Genealogical Societies, and past president of the National Genealogical Society. He also serves as a member of the Genealogy Committee of the American Library Association.

Alan Mann is a manager of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah and is an accredited genealogist researcher in England, the Channel Islands, and Australia.

Registration will begin January 5, 2006. Register online or call (801) 422-8925

To register online, click here. The cost is $120 to attend, or $168 to attend and receive college credit. To just get the syllabus is $30, or the PDF is $20.

January 17, 2006

Salt Lake City Research Trip

A Salt Lake City Research Trip is planned for the week of Sunday, February 12, 2006, 6:30pm - Friday, February 17, 2006, 5:00pm. Their website advertises this:

Join us for the ideal genealogy vacation at the Family History Library. This event provides an opportunity to spend a week at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City with professional researchers on hand to provide help and advice at regular intervals.

For registration and itinerary information visit this website. The registration deadline is January 30, 2006. If you can't make it for this research trip, there will be 2 other ones later in the year: June 11-16, 2006 and October 22-27, 2006.

January 16, 2006

Googling Genealogy Search Tips

Back in July I posted an article titled, Getting the Most out of Google Searches. I had found an article at Ancestry.com that gave some tips for using the search engine with your genealogy research. I just found another article written by Kimberly Powell titled, Googling Genealogy Style. She lists 12 google search tips for genealogists. They are:

1. Search with a focus
2. Search without stops
3. Search suggested alternate spellings
4. Bring sites back from the dead
5. Find related sites
6. Follow the trail
7. Search within a site
8. Cover your bases
9. Find people, maps, and more
10. Pictures from the past
11. Glancing through google groups
12. Narrow your search by file type

January 13, 2006

Ancestry.com Workshop - Sandy, Utah

The following is an announcement emailed to me from my dad. I thought I should post it since I live in Sandy, Utah and hopefully will be able to attend.


January 12, 2006

Internet Genealogy Magazine

There is a new magazine coming soon from the publishers of Family Chronicle and History Magazine. The magazine is called Internet Genealogy and it will hit the newsstands near the end of February. The cover price will be $5.95(US) and $6.95(CAN), with a subscription cost of $28(US) or $32(CAN). There is also a limited introductory subscription rate of $20(US) or $23(CAN). The subscription will offer you 6 issues a year and some valuable information on all the genealogical resources available on the Internet.


To find out more about this new magazine, visit their website at http://www.internet-genealogy.com.

January 11, 2006

Social Security Death Index and World Place Finder - Order for $6

Dick Eastman recently posted an announcement about ordering a FREE Social Security Death Index (SSDI) and World Place Finder from Progeny Software. The SSDI is available at a lot of different websites, but having the single CD itself will be useful when you don't have an Internet connection.

I personally have been wanting the World Place Finder to help me find cities and counties, etc. You only have to pay the shipping charge of $6(US) or $10(CAN) for the 2 CDs, so I think it's a great buy. Someone did comment on Dick Eastman's announcement page that Progeny's SSDI on CD is over 5 years old. Eastman retorted that he has used both products and liked them and thought the value was much more than $6. So I have already ordered my set and hope to enjoy them soon.

This free offer from Progeny Software ends February 28, 2006 - so act soon.

January 10, 2006

A genealogy goal for each month of 2006

Maureen Taylor recently wrote an interesting article for Ancestry Daily News. It was titled, A Year of Preservation, and listed a genealogical goal for each month of 2006. I thought they were good ideas and that I should post them here.

Start the year right and take care of all those family photographs you took during the season. Have you seen the Epson Picture Mate commercial where people are frozen in an active pose because no one has taken time to print their digital images? I laugh every time I see it. It’s all too familiar a scenario in many households. Make a decision to print your digital images or take your film to be processed. Then sit down right away and label them using a writing implement suitable for pictures. See my earlier column “Photographic Memories of the Holidays” for last year’s photo resolutions.

Valentine’s Day makes me think about all the love stories on my family tree. Each marriage represents a tale of passion and sometimes heartache. For instance, I wonder how my grandparents met. My Mom told me about meeting Dad but I never asked my grandmother those important questions. Spend a moment listening to the romantic stories in your family. Write them down, video tape the conversation or tape record it.

Here in New England, March is a nasty month of variable weather usually featuring ice and bone numbing cold. What a great time to stay inside putting your photographs in order in acid and lignin free albums or to arrange your family heirlooms. If you need some help, read “Saving Your Family Treasures One Step at a Time.”


Know any good jokes? April Fools’ Day can be a reminder to find out about your ancestors recreational pursuits. Did they attend fraternal organization meetings, play in band, or belong to any local clubs? You can learn more about their leisure activities by interviewing family. My maternal grandparent’s and their extended family used to entertain themselves with musical evenings of song and dance. I know this because my mother and her sisters told me stories about them.

Plant some genealogical seeds in your children’s minds. In “Why Genealogy is Important to Kids," I explored some reasons why family history and kids is a natural match.

How about taking a few moments to look at the photos and papers that have accumulated during the school year? Ask your child to help decide what to discard and get them talking about their memories. “School’s Out for Summer” offers other suggestions for keeping on top of the mess.

During those hot moist summer days watch out for temperature and humidity damaging your heirlooms. Color photographs left in a stack can end up stuck together just from fluctuations in those two environmental issues. If you’re storing things in a hot attic or damp basement it’s definitely time to get those boxes of heirlooms in a stable area like an indoor closet. Consult the useful tips in “Protected from the Elements: Storing Heirlooms at Home.”

Every two years my husband’s family has a reunion. It’s fun for kids and the adults like seeing each other. The lazy hazy days at the end of the summer are good for getting together with relatives. Plan a small family barbecue or a large reunion. Ask family to contribute some food and RELAX.

Now that the kids are back in school it’s time to hit a historical society or two looking for missing family data. Last August I wrote an article about stepping away from your computer to walk into a library or historical society. The response was overwhelming. See what caused the fuss in “Custodians of Our Past” and the follow-up article.

I know we just finished with the holiday season, but in October it’s time to start planning those family history related holiday gifts. Craft, hobby and scrapbook stores begin thinking about the winter holidays in the summer. Here’s an interesting tidbit -- those stories that appear in December magazines are written in July.

Ask family to bring a story, heirloom or picture with them to the holiday table to share with relatives. Just watch out for gravy and make sure your hands are clean. You’re bound to learn at least one new fact about your relatives.


You’ve come full circle. It’s been a busy year of remembering family and tracking down genealogical information. Congratulate yourself on a job well done and take a rest. There’s always next year to make a set of resolutions.

January 9, 2006

10 Common Genealogy Questions

Kimberly Powell, the guide for genealogy at About.com, recently listed a set of common genealogy questions. Here is the list of questions:

1. How do I begin to trace my family tree?

2. What does my last name mean?

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

4. What is the best genealogy software?

5. How do I make a family tree?

6. What is a first cousin, twice removed?

7. Am I related to someone famous?

8. Where can I find birth, death, and marriage records?

9. What is my family coat of arms?

10. Where did my ancestors come from?

To find her answers and links to helpful websites click here.

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