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.

Calling All Family History Consultants! (At least those who pre-registered :-)

The Final Day of the 45th Annual BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy

The Ancestry Insider

The Ancestry Insider

The keynote addresses are finished, the vendors are gone, and the Ancestry Insider has said good-bye, this is the final day of the BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy being held in Provo, Utah.

Initial registration offered Family History Consultants one day of training at no cost. For those who have pre-registered today is the day! Sessions will include training on using Facebook, the role of youth, new resources available, more about the heart then the chart, and concluding the day with a case study. There will be a track for adults discussing youth and genealogy. Research tracks include the U.S., British, English/Welsh, and LDS Ancestral Research. Tracks for computers & technology and ICAPGEN complete the conference program.

Interview with J. Mark Lowe

Interview with J. Mark Lowe

Yesterday J. Mark Lowe exceeded expectations as he addressed a full house at the BYU Conference Center in the opening session. His presentation entitled, “Coffins, Urns & Zip Lock Bags” was not only informative, but fun :-) He had all of us laughing at life and isn’t lives lived and lessons learned what family history’s all about? From sharing stories of growing up as the youngest of five children to nurturing the interest in family history and genealogy with his nephews and others, Mark exemplifies the family historian. It was impressive!

The transcript will be made available soon on the conference website so I won’t elaborate, but he provided a list of “possible objectives” to support and save our cemeteries:

  • Identify historic cemeteries
  • Make “public” aware of cemeteries
  • Research cemetery use & history
  • Preserve and protect cemeteries
  • Promote cemetery preservation through education and special events
  • Broaden support

He posed the question, “What’s in your cemetery kit?” Some of the items he suggested were cornstarch, a paint brush, gloves, an unbreakable mirror, and a camera. He also admonished us to watch out for chiggers :-)

He closed the session by singing “My Grandfather’s Clock” written in 1876 by Henry Clay Work. From one voice to many, this session ended on key. (I must admit, the sing-a-long was a first for me in this setting and I wanted to break out my guitar to play along :-)

I had the opportunity to visit with Mark after the opening session. I asked him how he enjoyed the conference. He shared that he really enjoys being with people that are like-minded in genealogy. I asked him if he had the opportunity to attend other sessions and what he learned. He mentioned that he gained insight when he attended the Huguenot in North America presentation. He also mentioned that it was interesting to hear about the plans and developments that are happening at FamilySearch. When I asked him what he’s been up to recently he mentioned the work of the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS), the War of 1812 Pension Digitization Project, and the recent FGS Webinar he gave on July 18th entitled, “Discovering Local & State Militia Records” which is now available to the public for viewing. After his final presentation here at the conference, Mark was off to catch his plane. He is speaking at the 38th Annual Seminar of the Kentucky Genealogical Society (KGS) on Saturday, August 3rd. It is an all-day event with four lectures given by Mark, including “Coffins, Urns & Zip-lock Bags.” For more information, visit the the KGS website.

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