Sunday, April 26, 2015

How to sign in to FamilySearch using only your membership record number and birthday

Adults and youth alike, it's hard to remember all of your usernames and passwords. But there isn't much you can do on FamilySearch without logging in.

If you know that you signed up for FamilySearch with your membership record number, you can remember your birthday, and you have an in with the ward clerk, you can recover your username and reset your password in a matter of minutes

This is especially useful for youth who have signed up with a parent's e-mail address and have no other way of recovering their username and password in order to do family history work at mutual or for a Sunday lesson. 

First, admit that you don't know your username. (Or skip the first two steps if you remember)

Second, choose to recover it using your membership record number and birthday. You can request your membership record number from the ward clerk, or, if you are an endowed adult with a temple recommend, you can copy it from your temple recommend.

 Write down your username and move on to recovering your password. 

Provide your username and "type the letters from the picture" (thus proving that you are a human and not a robot).

Choose to recover your password using your membership record number and birthday and your password will be reset. (Write down the new password just for now)

Use your new password to log in!

Your new password will probably be hard to remember, so change it back to something you can remember by going to your account settings.

Use your reset password to change it to something you can remember next time.

Who can teach family history?

Anyone. Anyone can teach family history. Especially including youth!

This video from RootsTech has several great messages but the one that stood out to me is that these leaders of the Church believe that after one family history experience - one name prepared - you are ready to teach others. And you should!

You don't have to be an expert. You don't have to be an adult. You just have to be willing to try to figure it out as you go.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Explore your Family Tree Mutual Night

You want to do a family history mutual night. Wouldn't it be easier to just play volleyball? Nope. Because I have instructions for you!

Before the big night:

1. Make sure all (or at least most) of the youth leaders are trained in the basics of FamilySearch. You can use this video to train them on some of the fun ways youth can explore their family trees. Leaders should come to help the youth - not to work on their own family history.

2. Contact parents and ask them to sign their youth up for a FamilySearch account and connect their tree to a deceased ancestor on all of their lines if possible. Give them at least two weeks notice and follow up a few days before the activity. Offer help if they need it. Suggest that more forgetful youth bring their username and password with them when they come. If they forget their log in information check out this post.

3. Book the Family History Center and arrange for extra computers if needed. It's best if you can set it up so that everyone is in the same room if possible (it gives the youth a certain energy...). Invite your ward family history consultants. Make sure there is one consultant or trained leader for every 2-3 youth. Ask some people to come early to set up.

4. Print out this handout for the leaders and consultants.

At the activity:

1. Set the tone by bearing testimony and/or sharing a family history experience. It's important for the youth to know that their leaders are participating in family history work and experiencing blessings because of it.

2. Don't instruct the youth on what to do. Remind them that FamilySearch is just a website and they figure out how to use websites all the time. Make sure they know that they can ask each other for help and share what they find with their friends.

3. Let them explore! Let them choose what they want to do. Some of them may want to try to click back to Adam, some may want to research, some may want to try to find temple names. Let them do what they want. Let them get a little loud. Try to make sure all of the youth have a positive experience.

5. Help youth print out fan charts if they want so that they can get more information from their family. You could assign one leader or consultant to make sure each youth has the opportunity to print out a fan chart.

6. Before the activity ends, encourage the youth to find out more about their family tree by talking to their family. This can be part of personal progress (Individual Worth #6 or project). 

Monday, April 13, 2015

How indexing can make you a better genealogist

Technically, indexing doesn't really count as genealogy or family history work. It gets lumped in there, for obvious reasons, but it's basically just a service project that helps genealogists. That said, participating in indexing can take your research to the next level pretty fast, if you're paying attention.

Inexperienced genealogists skip over great records all the time. The death place is wrong, the birth year is off, that's not how they spell their name. Indexers know better. They know what's going on behind the curtain.

For example, when you're searching through records it's easy to pass over a census record where the birth year is three years off. If you're born in 1996 you're not going to write 1993. Doesn't make sense. If you're an indexer, though, you know that a 5 and an 8 can look pretty much the same. You also know that when it says that's the birth year, the category could really be "close enough to the birth year". And, after seeing how many people can't sign their own name, it's a little easier to believe that these people might not be keeping track of their age very carefully, much less how they spell their name!

Indexing is a fast and fun way to learn about genealogical records. The little things you learn while you're indexing can be worth years of experience. Here's how to make the most out of it.

1. Choose projects that are relevant to your ancestors if you can
If you can find a project (in a language that you speak) for a country or region where your ancestors lived, choose that one! You'll learn common names, abbreviations, and all kinds of other information that can help you with your family history research.

2. Read (or at the very least skim) the project instructions before you start
Not only is this important if you're going to do a high quality indexing job, but the project instructions can also tell you important information about the types of records you're indexing. For example, one of the projects I recently indexed included "marriage banns", which the project instructions said are basically engagement announcements. There wasn't an indexing category for engagements, so the instructions said to put it down as a marriage. Yikes! Next time I see conflicting marriage dates, I'll know what to look for.

But can youth index? YES! Like family history work, there is no age requirement for indexing. Or skill-level requirement. You don't have to worry about messing up someone's genealogy if you index something incorrectly because someone checks your work. It's set up so that anyone can do it, so there's no reason not to!

Get started here!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The FamilySearch Discovery Center near Temple Square

This weekend I was lucky enough to visit the FamilySearch Discovery Center near Temple Square in Salt Lake City and it was a blast! Everyone in my group had fun, whether they were beginners or more experienced genealogists.
Becky on her way to learn more about her ancestors

Mom and I finding out the meaning of her name

 If you're going to be in Salt Lake City soon, I highly recommend it! Before you do, though, there are a few things you should do first in order to maximize your experience.
  • Make sure you know your FamilySearch log in information. If you have a hard time remembering it, write it down and bring it with you. You're not going to want to waste time trying to recover your password!
  • Make sure your tree is set up on Family Search (at least try to connect to a deceased ancestor on each of your lines)
  • Make sure the people who are coming with you have these things done too! (Children too! Anyone 8 and up can have a FamilySearch account)
  • Consider bringing an empty memory drive so that you can record memories at the discovery center and then bring them home with you. You could also bring some photos of a recent family vacation or some interview questions to help get you talking.
Mom showing me how we're related to pioneers (she was shocked!)
How to find it:

The Discovery Center is in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building near Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah. It's hidden in the left corner of the FamilySearch Center which is on the north-east side of the building. The building (and Temple Square) is crawling with missionaries and volunteers, so if you need help finding it just ask someone with a nametag for the "FamilySearch Discovery Center" and I'm sure they'll get you there.

While you're there consider visiting the Family History Library on the other side of Temple Square where there are experts waiting to help you begin or continue your family history research.

If you can't make it to Utah check out these links for a similar (though slightly less exciting) family history discovery experience:

Special thanks to my friends Becky Irving and Andrea Choy for taking these great pictures!