Creating Eternal Families: BYU Conference on Family History & Genealogy, Recap of Day 1 and On to Day 2

Elder Gerald N. Lund, an emeritus member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, gives the keynote address

Elder Gerald N. Lund, an emeritus member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, gives the keynote address

Yesterday was opening day at the 47th Annual BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy with the keynote address given by Elder Gerald N. Lund, an emeritus member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the author of many fiction and nonfiction books, including two popular series, The Work and the Glory and The Kingdom and the Crown.

Elder Lund and his wife are the parents of 7 children, 29 grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren. He shared that his wife of 51 years passed away a little over a year ago but outlined four identifying characters she possessed: (1) a love of the Savior, the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, (2) a fierce love and commitment to her family, (3) a love of music, and (4) a passion for family history, with a love of photography. She took over 200,000 photographs! It was obvious upon hearing this and more that family history has been a part of their lives since the beginning.

He commented that the idea of family history as doctrine was new to him. He had always known that turning “the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers” was scripture and even that this concept is mentioned in all four books of scripture, but something intrigued him. There is a scripture found in Doctrine and Covenants 98:16 that says, “…seek diligently to turn the hearts of the children to their fathers, and the hearts of the fathers to the children.” How could this be if the fathers were dead? His oldest daughter had an experience in the temple that provided an answer; “[t]hey are not dead, only living somewhere else.” He then expounded on the relationship of the living to the dead, the dead to the living, and the living to each other. He also quoted Elder Russell M. Nelson saying, “we come to earth to start our eternal family.” The doctrine is not only about the past and the future, it is about the present and our relationships here. Elder Lund said, “I believe it is about creating eternal families whose hearts are bound together in love and service to one another.” We serve them by remembering them, honoring them, and performing their temple work. Their example can motivate us. He also believes that they serve us from the spirit world.

Although he has always felt guilty about not writing his family history, he realized that most of his historical fiction books have come about because his heart was turned to the fathers, e.g., Fire of the Covenant. Personal histories have shaped the plots of his books, within his novels are the names of some of his children and grandchildren, and he takes his family on research trips. He shared many stories, some humorous and others sacred, which I cannot recount at this time, but concluded with the thought that our ancestors influence us in many ways beyond completing their temple work. Could they not be the angels who speak by the power of the Holy Ghost?

James Marion Baker spins the wheel at the BYU Family History Library booth and wins some chocolate!

James Marion Baker spins the wheel at the BYU Family History Library booth and wins some chocolate!

With the keynote address establishing the tone for the conference, individuals could attend up to five more sessions throughout the day. I spoke with many conference participants, some who return each year and others who are attending this conference for the first time. Stories were shared that I hope will be written in journals and recorded for the inspiration of others and for posterity. Some have started their applications to lineage societies, courtesy of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) workshop. DAR will continue to help participants with this process all week in room 2279 CONF. The vendors in the main hall displayed their products and services. The BYU Family History Library had participants take a chance to spin a wheel where they could win a printed fan chart or some candy.

Today Robert Kehrer will be the keynote speaker at 8:30 a.m. He is a senior product manager of search technologies at FamilySearch. His topic will be “FamilySearch: Making Difficult Research Easy and Accurate.” Following his remarks, sessions will be offered on DNA research, finding stories, technology and tools, and preserving family history. Today the United States and Canada research presentations will continue and a track on British Isles research will be offered. ICAPgen will continue its sessions outlining the process of accreditation.

Scanning services are offered in room 2285 CONF throughout the week!

Scanning services are offered in room 2285 CONF throughout the week!

FamilySearch is providing complimentary scanning as well as hosting a computer lab onsite for attendees. Additional vendors will  be available in rooms 2260 CONF today and tomorrow. Vendor presentations will be held from 5:15 to 6:15 p.m. in various rooms throughout the conference center. Although the day can be long, staying for one of these presentations sure beats traffic :) This evening the BYU Family History Library will host an open house from 6 to 8 p.m. I hope to see you there!

Copyright ©2015 Lynn Broderick and the Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.

A Global Perspective: the Role of FamilySearch in a Worldwide Community

The 46th annual Conference on Family History and Genealogy is coming to a close. Today, in addition to those who registered to attend the full conference, family history consultants have been invited to receive a full day of training. The consultants will be instructed in their core responsibilities to help others find their ancestors. There will also be classes on United States, British, LDS ancestral, and professional research, methodology, FamilySearch compatibles, and computers & technology.

From left to right: Frederick E. Moss, legal advisor to the Federation of Genealogical Societies, David E. Rencher, and Glenn Kinkade of Dallas, Texas

From left to right: Frederick E. Moss, legal advisor to the Federation of Genealogical Societies, David E. Rencher, and Glenn Kinkade of Dallas, Texas

Yesterday, David Rencher, chief genealogical officer for FamilySearch International, gave the closing keynote address, The Role of FamilySearch in a Worldwide Community. Mr. Rencher outlined the journey of growth and phases of FamilySearch International. Sometimes by looking back we may achieve a clearer vision of the future.

FamilySearch invites everyone, especially members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to search for their ancestors. As people accept this challenge, there are going to naturally be more beginners. He asked those present to remember when they first started their family tree and to be patient with the errors made by those new to this endeavor. He encouraged participants to manage this learning curve by mentoring them in their pursuit. He spoke about “pain points” and acknowledged that mistakes have been and will continue to be made.

Mr. Rencher compared FamilyTree to the recent renovation of the LDS Ogden temple where he realized that “scraps will be left over when building a temple” and that the same is true when reconstructing the pedigree of the human family online. He addressed the debate of quality vs. quantity and shared his experience of completing work that was a duplication in his earliest days in this field. He said that, “why all that I did was completely disposable, I had an experience that turned my heart.” In essence, the time he spent was never “wasted,” yet FamilySearch is “trying to have the most accurate lineage-linked system” as organized by man. “Let’s focus on the work that we are to do and do the best work possible.”

Mr. Rencher outlined the role that FamilySearch has taken, from its earliest days of negotiating access to the world’s records to a point of agreement and signed contracts. Microfilm is still being used by the request of a few repositories. In addition, there are 189 cameras in the field capturing digital images, while microfilm is being scanned from the vault to be placed online. “The films I wanted were converted first; the ones you wanted — last, not really, but there must be some executive privilege,” he joked. Mr. Rencher discussed how FamilySearch has improved its quality check. “You know the image skipped is the one you want.” Amazingly, FamilySearch provides 1.6 million new searchable names each day, so “if you did not find your people yesterday, check today.”

Once FamilySearch International was “the only game in town.” Now there are major for-profit companies and FamilySearch “welcome[s] them to bring their resources to the table.” He said, “we are not in competition.” He mentioned the free access members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints received to ancestry.com, findmypast.com, and myheritage.com. He says that it is about a $700 savings for members each year. However, “these members fund all that is free on familysearch.org.” He said that he is also very excited about FamilySearch’s partnership with BillionGraves and shared an example of his contributions to this project. He said, “I have no teary-eyed videos today. You are stuck with my humor,” as he pointed out a discrepancy between a vital record and a cemetery stone he used as an example from his personal research.

FamilySearch also collaborates with non-profits, such as the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS). One current project is the Preserve the Pensions from the War of 1812. FGS “took point on that” and the images will be offered for free on fold3.com. He showed examples of the plethora of documents found in these files, including “that torn page out of the family bible” from the days when duplication services were not available. There are 7.2 million pages related to this project. Each dollar that is donated will preserve two pages; this becomes four pages with ancestry.com’s commitment to match donations dollar for dollar. These files are being digitized alphabetically and the records are currently digitized to about the letters G-H and are available online. For the month of July there was a goal to raise $1800 a day to preserve these records. Although it is now August, your monetary support to this project is still greatly appreciated!

Mr. Rencher admitted that “there is an element of independence that must be given up to collaborate and sometimes it is painful … [but, the goal is to] connect people to their ancestors.” His presentation slides, The Role of FamilySearch in a Worldwide Community,  are available on the conference website. Elder Paul F. Koelliker keynote address, Family the Fabric of Eternity, is also available on the conference website.

Copyright ©2014 Lynn Broderick and the Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.

So Many Stories … The 46th Annual Conference on Family History and Genealogy

So many stories, so little time … this is how I feel as I try to capture the essence of the first day of the 46th annual Conference on Family History and Genealogy. I met so many wonderful people who shared so many wonderful stories!

The Koelliker Family and Me[1]

The Koelliker Family and Me[1]

Yesterday’s opening keynote address was given by Elder Paul F. Koelliker, an emeritus member of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He has served as executive director of the Temple Department and as assistant director of the LDS Family History Department. His remarks centered on the purpose of family history and genealogy and the motivating factor for all we do – LOVE! He encouraged participants to think beyond the charts and find the stories that touch the hearts of those around us. He commented that we should think more about the future of our children than we do of the past and asked, “What stories have you written down to teach the generations to come?” He challenged participants to determine five actions they can take from ideas presented at this conference and implement them into their lives. He encouraged participants to think of family history in a forward direction. “Cousins is the new buzz word” and he suggested we find ours and take them to the temple. He shared a story of finding one of his cousins in Africa. Elder Koelliker who is of Swiss descent said, “who would have thought?” I had the opportunity to visit with the Koelliker family after the session ended, and well, all I can say is that they make you feel like one of their own.

Hannah Z. Allan Teaching Youth about Using Social Media in Family History

Hannah Z. Allan teaching youth about “Using Social Media in Family History”

There was standing room only during the opening session of the Youth track. Hannah Z. Allan discussed using social media for family history. So many youth commented about how much they enjoyed her presentations! I even noticed a few adults trying to disguise themselves as youth so they could attend these sessions :)

Joan Enders had the youth actively engaged in The Military Life of Joshua H. Bates, a Camp Lewis Soldier

Joan Enders had the youth actively engaged in “The Military Life of Joshua H. Bates, a Camp Lewis Soldier”

Throughout the day FamilySearch provided scanning opportunities for photos and began to collect books that will be scanned and made available online after the conference.

There is also a computer lab with a dozen computers provided by FamilySearch for those attending the conference this week.

Today, the keynote address, “I Am Ready Now – Lessons from the Life of Ephraim K. Hanks,” will be given by T.C. Christensen who wrote, directed, and produced the movie Ephraim’s Rescue” After his keynote address, participants will have the choice of seven tracks: Beginner, DNA Research, United States Research, Immigration and Migration, Photos, Youth and Genealogy, and the FamilySearch Family Tree. There is definitely something for everyone interested in pursuing their ancestors!

Incline Software, the makers of Ancestral Quest, and Heritage Miniatures will demonstrate their wares from 5:15 – 6:15 p.m. in rooms 2254 and 2295, respectively.

[1] Photograph courtesy of Alfonso J. Flores, BYU Marketing and Communications

Copyright ©2014 Lynn Broderick and the Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.

 

Genealogy and Family History: A Game for All Seasons

A round "Tuit" to help you get around to your genealogy and family history!

A round “Tuit” to help you get around to your genealogy and family history!

Some of you may have started participating in genealogy and family history this past autumn when the leaves were turning and the weather called us to an inside game. For others, New Year’s Day tradition brings the air of resolutions and the commitment to new goals.

A recent survey of articles reveals that many of us have the same aspirations: eat well, exercise, get more sleep, lose weight, and/or get in or out of relationships. There are also goals related to finance, organization, and making life better, happier, and more satisfying. One of your goals may be to learn more about your genealogy and family history.

There are a number of reasons that individuals pursue their genealogy and family history, and if this is one of your goals this year I would like to recommend resources to help you get started.

First let me state that it is traditionally taught that you start with yourself, but any ancestor of interest is just as appropriate. Please be aware that if you have not proven the relationships between generations you may be learning about family history that belongs to someone else. As interesting as this may be, it will not help you reach your goal to know your family history.

If you are interested in recording your or a family member’s personal history, Real Simple has published a 10-page worksheet with questions that cover a life span of experience to help get you started. Set a time to complete this document or arrange a time to interview that family member of interest. You could even do both :-) Choose your questions wisely. Some individuals may be uncomfortable with specific topics so be sensitive and appropriate.

The second resource I would like to recommend comes in two online wikis. For those who are unfamiliar with the term “wiki” it is a web application that allows individuals to collaborate and add, modify, or delete content as necessary. The idea is to keep the most relevant and up-to-date information available to its audience. Ancestry.com has a wiki that provides the information found in two classic reference books for the United States, Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources and The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy. The information from these two books, in addition to other information available in Ancestry’s Learning Center, can help you get started. FamilySearch.org has a wiki that provides information from their classic Research Outlines that covers research resources internationally as well as more up-to-date information. FamilySearch also has online tutorials for the necessary education to reach your goal of knowing more about your family history.

And finally, don’t forget the search engines that provide access to all the information available online. Check out David Barney’s well-attended presentation at RootsTech 2013 for helpful hints on using Google’s tools for genealogy.

Genealogy and family history can be fascinating. There is a definite learning curve so take is slow. Focus on one pivotal person and build from there. With these resources you will have everything necessary to reach your goal. Remember the KISS principle. Wishing you all the best in this new year!

Copyright ©2014 Lynn Broderick and the Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.

Can You Chart the Heart? Revisited

I’ve been thinking about this question in relation to the new emphasis in FamilySearch training that says “first the heart, then the chart” in genealogy and family history. It only makes sense. This idea is important to acknowledge by those who have their charts given to them, such as in long-standing New England or LDS families. Others who begin with a question, curiosity, or desire to know the unknown naturally start from the heart because there is no chart :-) The heart provides the motivation for the quest, yet sometimes our hearts are challenged. Rarely do we know this until symptoms manifest.

Equipment to Chart the Heart WPIn 1903, a Dutch physician named Willem Einthoven invented a way to chart the heart. He received the Pulitzer Prize in Medicine for this in 1924. The electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) identifies abnormalities that provide doctors with information that helps in diagnosis and treatment. The heart exists; the chart assists. The same thing can be true in family history.

Anyone familiar with history knows that challenges within families have existed from the beginning. Without expounding, I have met many individuals over the years who resist family history and genealogy because of sensitive issues surrounding the chart. Family history can be fun if as a community we realize that one size does not fit all. Adoption and other circumstances require our understanding. I remember one student in the second grade who was asked to draw a picture of her family. She drew herself, her mom, her dad, a brother, and three sisters. In reality, her parents were divorced and she was an only child. She drew herself in her best friend’s family. In essence, she charted her heart.

The purpose of this post is NOT to address social or political issues, but to suggest ways that one can engage in and enjoy family history and genealogy by charting the way to turning the heart :-)

  • Start with anyone that you and/or your child would like to know more about :-) Consider a member of your family who has a quality or qualities that you admire. More often than not, they stand on the shoulders of those that came before them. Find out :-) Think about it; Who Do You Think You Are? finds a significant story, otherwise the majority of the audience would just tune out. Learn about your ancestor, write their story and/or a script, make your own episode highlighting a series of interesting life events. Make the ordinary extraordinary!
  • Family Roots Circle Pedigree WPPost a fill-in-the-blank chart in a high traffic area in your home, even on the refrigerator if necessary. Make sure it is laminated and that a vis-á-vis or extra fine Sharpie is readily available to record discoveries. Our chart was in the family room. Recently I decided I would erase all the ancestors and start over, more for fun than verification purposes :-) My daughter’s response was, “Mom, you do have all of this recorded somewhere else, don’t you?” My son came home that day and asked, “What happened to the ancestors!” Believe me, they notice :-) Again, the chart can start with anyone that turns your heart :-)
  • Create a chart to discover common or complementary talents, interests, abilities, and/or occupations. One can chart eye color, hair color, and/or other physical traits. [Don’t you just love military records and passport information that are so descriptive!] The point is for family members to discover patterns and what they have in common with their ancestors.

So, when I consider the titled question, my response is a resounding YES! [And, it can be a fun process.] Just like so much in life, one cannot appreciate what one has not discovered for oneself. It’s the journey, not the destination, that engages the heart and fills out the chart!

[If you have an idea for charting the heart and would like to share, please comment or send me message. At your request, full attribution or anonymity will be included in future posts. If you have your own blog and post a response there, send me the link. I would love to continue the conversation :-)]

Copyright ©2013 Lynn Broderick and the Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.

A Case for Preserving an Independent Medium

Imaging Equipment WP

As genealogists and family historians, we passionately seek to preserve the past. Questions are answered, understanding is gained, and the wisdom and folly of the ages are passed on to the next generation as we publish our research. In order to recapture the past, records and other artifacts are necessary to reconstruct it. Technology has provided incredible opportunities to amass what remains and to record the activities of the present day. There is no question that digital preservation has expedited research and placed records in the hands of the world. No one in the future will have to question what we ate, where we went, or even how we felt day to day as social media documents these experiences. But does the advances of digital preservation negate the necessity of preserving the original form? Can we justify the destruction of an old picture or document?

A printed photograph is preserved on an independent medium. Documents on quality paper have lasted hundreds, even thousands, of years. Nothing else is required to view, enjoy, and recapture the memory.  Although we know that conditions have rarely favored the preservation of these items, think about the limitations of the many dependent forms of media. Electricity goes out, batteries die, and networks get disrupted. Can you remember a time when your connection to the Internet was unavailable? Did it come at a critical time? How long did it last? How long could it last?

Although an independent medium has the limitation of number, therefore, found in one location, it is still nice to have a record or artifact in this form. I know of no material that is completely indestructible, but the independent nature of paper, stone, or metal is appealing. This is not to suggest that other ways of preservation should be ignored. It’s just that it seems ironic that if we want to preserve something we would destroy an original.

As we consider preservation, we must remember that provenance is an important principle in the field of genealogy and family history. Provenance is defined as “the chronology of the ownership, custody or location of a historical object.”1 When we destroy an original we disrupt this path. As we seek a source, we never reach the end of that particular journey even though we are encouraged to trace our sources back to the original. This becomes impossible to do if we are destroying them.

In addition to preservation in an independent medium, using technology and having multiple copies in different formats backed up to your devices and migrating your data as we progress on our technological journey will assure the best chances of survival. Coupled with all of these advancements, preservation in an independent medium has its place among us as the keepers of  records. As we find our ancestors, let us consider provenance and the preservation of the records and artifacts they left behind.

1. Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org), “Provenance,” rev. 6 Mar 2013

Copyright ©2013 Lynn Broderick and the Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.

KISS Genealogy

KISS Genealogy WPA number of years ago a university professor asked me to write a curriculum for a family history and genealogy class. He told me to make it “KISS.” Well, I hadn’t heard of that principle before so he added, “Keep it simple s_____.” You can fill in the blank.

Now the KISS principle is attributed to Clarence Leonard [Kelly] Johnson (1910-1990), an aeronautical engineer who led the design of the SR-71 Blackbird.1 He is noted as saying, “Our aim is to get results cheaper, sooner, and better through application of common sense to tough problems. If it works, don’t fix it…. Reduce reports and other paperwork to a minimum…. Keep it simple, stupid—KISS—is our constant reminder.”2

So there you have it, my instructions. Sometimes the thought of doing genealogy brings a vision of piles of files, endless reports, and isolation. It doesn’t sound like a lot of fun, does it? I can attest to this experience.

Years previous to the request to write a curriculum I enrolled in a university genealogy class. Weeks into it I thought, “never again!” I could not figure out the discrepancy. I had been doing genealogy since I could hold a “magic” marker, purple to be exact. I had designed a family tree by the time I could write, and before I ever saw one in printed form. Not to get personal, but no one in my family did such things. As an anomaly, I was having a lot of fun tracking down those ancestors anyway :-) Now, in this university setting I was saying, “something is so wrong here!” It was only appropriate that the time would come that I would be asked to write such a curriculum.

So I did. I wrote the curriculum. Originally, the request was to cover genealogy in four 30-minute lessons. I raised him two. The class increased exponentially and by the fourth cycle four times the number of students were in attendance. Simplicity breeds engagement. Simple is not superficial; it’s approaching a subject step by step, taking the time required without imposed deadlines so that one can cover the breadth and depth necessary to feel the satisfaction of a work well done. It’s finished when it’s finished. Granted, professionally speaking, deadlines are part of the contract, but for anyone reading this who’s just curious, has a question or two, or a compelling story to confirm, may I suggest you give it a KISS! Spend today with your loved ones and in future days I’ll share with you ways to KISS your heritage hunting. Happy Valentines Day!

  1. Ben R. Rich, Clarence Leonard (Kelly) Johnson 1910-1990: A Biographical Memoir (Washington, D.C.: National       Academies Press, 1995), 221.
  2. Rich, Clarence Leonard (Kelly) Johnson 1910-1990, 231.

Copyright ©2013 Lynn Broderick and the Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.

The Genealogical Touchdown

The Single Leaf Touchdown WPI don’t know about you but I enjoy the game of football. In the upper elementary grades I was one of the neighborhood quarterbacks. Rules were modified to include the fact that the opposing team could not sack THIS quarterback, a definite advantage :-) Throughout my life I have had the opportunity to become acquainted with the game and its players at all levels. The game is exhilarating; their work for charity is inspiring!

But today I would like to comment on another type of touchdown, the genealogical touchdown! I define it as the reconstruction of families, neighborhoods, and/or events that tell a story of a people. As a genealogist and family historian, when I know that I have made a reasonably exhaustive search for records, identified the sources of the information through proper citations, analyzed and correlated the quality of the evidence, resolved any conflicts identified, and arrived at a soundly reasoned, coherently written conclusion I call it a “genealogical touchdown.” [Others call it the Genealogical Proof Standard or GPS.1] In the game of life, may we who pursue our family’s history experience many touchdowns :-) Happy Super Bowl!

1. Board for Certification of Genealogists. The BCG Genealogical Standards                Manual. Orem, Utah: Ancestry 2000.

Copyright ©2013 Lynn Broderick and the Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.

The Single Leaf

The Single Leaf WPDuring the autumn season, in some parts of the world, the leaf of a tree falls to the ground. Actually, many leaves fall, but one is noticed. It’s colorful. It’s beautiful. It’s similar but not the same as every other leaf that falls from the same tree. Other trees surrounding it are different altogether, yet they too have leaves that fall, with the exception of the evergreens.

The leaf. The single leaf. Unique in its color, and pattern, and shape. Its identity is all its own. Its contribution to the surroundings can go unnoticed. Each person is like the single leaf. Without a medium of preservation, the individual’s story deteriorates into oblivion. Acknowledged, the experiences, challenges, and triumphs are added to the collective interaction we admire in the beauty of nature. Each person’s life is like the single leaf, colorful and rich. Once written, it is pressed between the pages of a book to be remembered. Individually, it can be studied, framed, and sometimes even admired. Collectively, the picturesque vision provides wisdom that aides future generations. The value of the single leaf is why I research individuals of the past in the context of family, community, and social history.

Copyright ©2013 Lynn Broderick and the Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.