Wednesday, August 27, 2014 family history videos for youth

Below I've posted three amazing videos that I found on the youth family history page. Using these three easy steps anyone can start their family history.

1. Discover your story
This is such an important step and so many people skip it! Start your family history with your closest relatives and work your way back. More records are available every day, but memories disappear faster than you think! There's a booklet available online or in print to guide you through gathering stories.

2. Explore your family tree
Everyone I've seen do this loves it. I highly recommend looking up some of the places your ancestors lived and their last names on the internet. There may be books written about your ancestors or they may have been part of some big historical event. I recently found out from a book that I found on Google that one of my ancestors fought in the War of 1812.

3. Find and serve your ancestors
This is the last step because it never ends! You can keep doing this for your whole life and you will be blessed for it.

Who owns your ancestors?

I know someone who started family history research within the last month. She figured out the technical aspects pretty much all on her own. All it took for her to get started was half an hour of instruction, and I think she probably didn't even need it. She found records that allowed her to add new people to her family tree in one night. But she kept coming back for help. Why? 

She felt like she needed permission to add these new people to her family tree. She wanted to talk to her mom about it before she did anything. She wanted to make sure she was adding them exactly right. She felt like, since she was a beginner, she needed to check with someone before she did anything.

You have as much right to your ancestors as anyone else in your family. You don't need permission from anyone to do family history research! You can make changes to your family tree. Give a reason and add a source and no one can argue with you. And if it turns out that you were wrong, you can just switch it back. 

Family Search really scares some of the more experienced genealogists. They are worried that beginners are going to mess up their family tree. They don't want to lose their work! You may owe them a debt of gratitude for finding the ancestors that popped up when you opened family tree for the first time. But they do not own your shared ancestors more than you do. You're allowed to work on it too.

I encourage you to keep the lines of communication open with the other people who are working on your family tree. Be respectful, ask for help and advice, but don't feel like you have to ask for permission to start family history research. Beginners are genealogists too. Just go for it.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Intro to Family Search Powerpoint

I used this presentation recently at a youth family history night to give a quick overview of the kinds of things they would be doing on Family Search. I couldn't believe how quickly they picked it up. I probably didn't spend much more than 7 minutes on the presentation and later I noticed the youth searching for records using the shortcuts I showed them. Maybe they already knew about the shortcuts and my presentation was boring to them, but here it is in case you need one.

Go to and sign in

You can sign in using your LDS account or you can create a new account

You will need your membership record number and a valid e-mail address. If you don't have your membership record number handy you can add it later.

Once you've signed in view your family tree

Start by filling in the blanks that you know already

Living people are private so even if you know someone is in the system, if they are living, you will need to add them as a new person. Don't worry about adding all of their details, though, because you are the only one who can see them.

Keep adding living people until you get to a deceased ancestor. Once you find a deceased ancestor and select them, all of their ancestors that are in the system should pop up.

Go to the person page for one of your deceased ancestors to view more information.

It's easy to edit details, but make sure you always give a reason and cite a source if possible.

You can find records by using the hints provided, searching from the person's page, or manually entering their information after clicking the search button at the top.

Click on the records that interest you to view more information. It's sometimes helpful to open the records in separate tabs so that you can return to the search page easily.

You can attach records that you find on Family Search to individuals in your tree so that you can find them easily next time and so that you can provide proof for any changes that you make.

Use the history list or possible matches to find the right person.

After you attach the record it will show up in the sources section of that person's page.

Green arrows mean that temple ordinances are available to be requested for someone in that family.

You can also find ordinance information by switching from the details section of the person's page to the ordinances section. This information is only available for LDS Family Search users.

Choose the ordinances you would like to request and hit continue

Please read through the Church's policy on requesting ordinances before continuing. Never request ordinances that require permission if you do not have permission from the closest living relative. The system will tell you if you need permission.

After you have requested ordinances they will show up in your temple section. When you select ordinances that you want to perform and click print the website will create a pdf that you can take to the temple office to get the names printed for ordinances. Once you have the pdf printed out, you are ready to go to the temple!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Preparing for a youth family history night - one more thing

Ask the parents to come! Family history work is a family affair and the youth can't (and shouldn't have to) do it on their own. They need help from their parents or another family member to get started. Here are some reasons parents should be invited to youth family history nights:

1. Some youth don't have an e-mail address so they cannot sign up for a Family Search account even if they do have their membership record number. Also, many youth do not know their log in information, and they can't reset their password if they don't have access to the e-mail address associated with their account.

2. Youth under 13 need parent's permission to sign up for Family Search. They need to have a parent's membership record number or wait for their parents to respond to an e-mail providing consent for their child to use the website.

3. Many youth do not know enough about their ancestors to link back to a deceased person so they can't see the family history information that is already available to them. They expect to see their family tree just pop up when they log in, but usually they will have to add several people before they can get started.

4. The point of youth family history nights is to teach the youth to do family history at home. They can't get it all done in one night. They are much more likely to do genealogy at home if their parents are involved in helping them learn.

5. Parents can usually bring the youth's ancestors to life in a way that no one else can. Their memories make the people on the family tree real to the youth and that realness is what keeps people interested in genealogy.

Parents are the first link between youth and their ancestors. Even if they know nothing about doing family history research parents are the youth's most valuable resource for family history work. They should at least be invited to the activity.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Family history booklets for Personal Progress

Family history and Personal Progress are great friends. Different aspects of family history are suggested as projects for many of the Young Women values, including Faith, Individual Worth, Good Works, and Integrity. And now it's easier than ever.

Family Search has a new feature called "My Family Booklet". It has pages for three generations of your ancestors where you can fill out stories and memories about them and keep track of important dates in their lives. If you fill it out online it automatically uploads all of the information to Family Search so you can easily share with others in your family. 

And also, it's Individual Worth value experience #6, but it could easily turn into a project for several of the Young Women values if you spent enough time on it. I know interviewing my family members would take at least 10 hours. I could spend 10 hours interviewing my Grandma and she wouldn't run out of things to say! This project is just waiting to be completed! It's so easy! And there's no reason not to use family history for several projects. For example, one project could be finding your ancestors and another project could be performing their baptisms in the temple. You probably would have gone to the temple anyway, but you might as well do Personal Progress there.

The reason family history is in Personal Progress so much is that family history can help youth progress in a way that nothing else can. And it's personal! 

Family history is not just a good thing to do because it fills up your time; it makes you want to be better. It focuses you on the temple. It improves family relationships.

The last page of the family booklet has this quote from Elder Bednar:
“I promise you will be protected against the intensifying influence of the adversary. As you participate in and love this holy work, you will be safeguarded in your youth and throughout your lives.” “The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn," Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 27. What a great promise! And I know that it's true.

*Personal Progress is a program that LDS young women complete between the ages of 12-18. Young Men also have a program, but I am not as familiar with it because I am a girl. If you know how family history works into the Young Men's program let me know in an e-mail. I don't mean to exclude the boys. Thanks!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Pinterest for family history

I stumbled across this post today about creating an ancestor timeline on Pinterest and it hit me. Pinterest a great place to save sources!

I know I should keep a research log, but it's so boring. A research log is basically taking notes while you're researching so that you can go back and figure out what you found out and where you found it. It makes total sense because as soon as you find one thing about someone it opens up all kinds of other possibilities. But it also kills momentum. You find something exciting and the first thing you have to do is write it down? Buzz kill. That's where Pinterest comes in. Pinning something never kills momentum.

It's like an online research log with links to what you've found. It only takes a second to hit the pin it button (you can add the pin it button to your browser here) and add a quick description and then you have a saved link back to the source you found. The description could be as simple as the ancestor's name or it could include more details.

You could have a board for each person, one board for all of your genealogy stuff, or - and this is what I'm going to do - a board for each great-grandparent and just put stuff for that whole family line all jumbled together in there. It could be private or public and you can send the whole board or individual pins to your other family members. You could even have a shared board so that you can collaborate with the other family genealogists whether they live 10 minutes away or in another country.

Several of the genealogy sites I use have a "save source" option, but I use more than one genealogy site and sometimes I just use Google. Pinterest is a great place to save records from a variety of sites.

Well, it's been nice chatting, but I think I'll get started.

Update: Sometimes genealogy pages don't have images to pin to Pinterest. Try looking for another extension for your browser to solve this problem. The one I found for Chrome is called "Pin my Screen" and it just takes a screen shot of the page for Pinterest to pin. Here's the link.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Why do members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints do baptisms for the dead?

First of all, these are vicarious baptisms we are talking about. There is no exhuming bodies involved. And secondly, when we do these baptisms and other ordinances we do so in hope that they will be accepted by the spirit of the person for whom they are performed. We do not think that we are forcing these people to be baptized. We are merely offering them the choice.

There is evidence for vicarious baptisms in the BiblePaul speaks of it in 1 Corinthians 15. He uses the fact that vicarious baptisms were being performed to prove the resurrection. Verse 29 says, "Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?" Basically, he says, "What's the point of vicarious baptisms if there is no resurrection?" I agree. There would be no point. 

But why would we do such a thing? It all comes down to families.

Julie B. Beck said, "Without the family, there is no plan; there is no reason for mortal life." Teaching the Doctrine of the Family, Ensign, March 2011.

Heavenly Father has a plan for us and that plan centers on families. The whole point of us coming to earth is to live and learn in families to become like God and then ultimately live with our family again after we die. That's why the earth would be cursed if Elijah didn't turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the children to the fathers (Malachi 4:5-6). The earth would be utterly wasted if families could not be together in the eternities (D&C 138:48). 

In order for our families to be together with God we must make covenants and partake in ordinances. To enter the kingdom of heaven we have to be baptized (John 3:5). So in order for our families to be together with God, we must all be baptized.

There are several ordinances that we perform for the dead along with baptism. They are the same ordinances that members of the Church perform for themselves when they are alive. We only perform ordinances for the dead for people who did not have these ordinances when they were alive.

Most of the ordinances are individual, like baptism, but the last and most important ordinance seals families together for eternity. The sealing ordinance binds generations together and allows us to live with God as a family.

We do baptisms for the dead because we want to be with our ancestors after we die. We love them. We want them to be saved. We want to seal them to us so that we can be connected to them through God's power.

Family history work allows us to become connected to our ancestors through ordinances and through knowledge. You wouldn't think that finding a death record about someone would make you feel like you know them but it does! God could just reveal our entire genealogy to us if He wanted to, but I think working to find out more about our ancestors is important for us. It turns our hearts to them.