Saturday, July 26, 2014

10 things you do that are way harder than searching for records on Ancestry

1. Upload a picture onto Facebook.

2. Find a video someone told you about on Youtube.

3. Download songs onto ITunes and put them on an IPod or a CD.

4. Buy concert tickets.

5. Find something you want to buy on Craigslist or Kijiji.

6. Watch TV online.

7. Get your phone or your computer connected to Wifi.

8. Use a universal remote.

9. Vote for American Idol.

10. Add a new contact in your phone.

When was the last time you asked someone for help figuring out a website? Family history websites are meant to be easy to use. You navigate websites successfully every day. If you want help with family history it should be easy to find, but you probably don't need it as much as you think! You can do it. After a few days of figuring it out on your own you'll probably know things that the family history consultants don't know. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Filling in the blanks in your family tree

The number one question at the youth family history night I attended was this: 

"How do I look for this person?"

This is a great question! And the answer is easy.

Search for records about the child of the person you're looking for. So if I wanted to fill in the Add Husband person in the above picture I would search for John Little. All I know about him is that he was born about 1820 in Ireland, was married to Mary McKeever, and had a child named John Little who was born in Ontario. 

Here are some of the types of records I would hope to find to help me identify his parents:

  • A marriage record for John Little and Mary McKeever that lists their parents. I would expect this record to be from Ireland or maybe Canada.
  • A death record for John Little that lists his parents.This record would probably be from Ontario because his son was born in Ontario and he likely stayed in the same place after having his children.
  • A census record with John Little as the head of the family that has someone listed as father, mother, sister, or brother of the head of the family.This could be from Ireland or Canada. Even if I could find a sibling or a cousin for John Little I would be closer to finding his parents.
  • An immigration record for John Little and Mary McKeever that lists where they lived in Ireland. Searching for his parents would be much easier if I didn't have to search a whole country. A city or a county would really help me.
Birth records for John Little are probably not going to help me much because there are lots of John Littles born in Ireland and I won't be able to tell which one is about my John Little. 

Although I would be hoping and praying for a record like the ones I have listed above, I would really just try to find out as much about John Little and his family that I could and hope it leads me somewhere. I hope it leads you somewhere!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Preparing for a youth family history night

My ward (in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) has a youth family history night coming up! The youth in my ward are planning on going to the Calgary temple about a month from now and they would like to take some of the names of their ancestors with them. (Why do Mormons perform vicarious baptisms?).

In order to baptize one of their ancestors, these youth will have to know the ancestor's name, approximate birth or death date, and a place where the ancestor lived. Ideally they will know more so that they can properly check that the ancestor has not already been baptized for the dead. Many of the youth in my ward will probably have trouble finding ancestors that have not already been baptized for the dead because their parents and grandparents and extended family will have already done it.

Asking the youth in my ward to find a name that they can take to the temple for baptism in a month's time is a tall order, but I believe it can be done (at least for some of them). However, since we don't have any time to waste, we need to make sure that everything runs smoothly when we meet with them. Here are some things that my ward leaders have done to prepare:

1. Make sure each youth has access to his/her LDS account. In order to submit names for the temple the youth will need to sign up for Family Search with their membership record number. They can get their number from the ward clerk. It's best if they do this at home to save time, but it's also not a bad idea to invite a ward clerk to the family history night so that he can look up numbers for any of the youth that come unprepared.

2. Each youth should bring four generations of family history information if they can. Family Search is a collaborative website, so the youth should be able to find many of their ancestors by collaborating with other people on Family Search (including their parents and other relatives). However, information for living people is private, so they need manually enter information on all of their living relatives and the first deceased ancestor for each line before they can access the information on their other deceased ancestors.

3. Train the youth leaders in advance. I think that the youth will be more excited about family history if they see that their leaders are also interested in it and know what they're doing. Also, one family history expert won't be able to help everyone at the same time. While we want to be careful to let the youth figure out a lot on their own, we don't want to leave them staring at their computer all night without any direction at all. And, since it's unlikely that the youth will be able to prepare a name for the temple in one night, the leaders need to be available to help after the family history night is over.

4. Try to get a computer for each youth. It's very difficult to learn how to do family history work abstractly. If the youth don't get to enter their own information and search for their own ancestors they are very unlikely to do it at home. That said, if there are siblings within the group, they could work together and, depending on the siblings, they might be more likely to continue at home together.

Our family history night is next week so I'll let you know how it goes!