Making Difficult Research Easy and Accurate at the BYU Conference on Family History & Genealogy

Robert Kehrer discusses robo-keying as one of the most important technologies to expedite FamilySearch indexing

Robert Kehrer discusses robo-keying as one of the most important technologies to expedite FamilySearch indexing.

The day began as youth and adults gathered to hear Robert Kehrer, FamilySearch senior product manager of search technologies, present the new and upcoming features of FamilySearch during his keynote address titled, “FamilySearch: Making Difficult Research Easy and Accurate.”

It would be impossible to recount all of the features Mr. Kehrer demonstrated and discuss all of the statistics he provided in this post. He described his presentation as trying to pack 90 minutes of material into 60 minutes of time! Nevertheless, what he showed the crowd was impressive. He shared that when he first came to FamilySearch, he went incognito over to the Family History Library to experience first-hand what a visit entails for the average person. It was much more than he expected. Kehrer mentioned that statistically only about 3% of individuals are interested in the research process, which includes documenting and sourcing lineages through analysis and proof arguments, but there are many ways individuals can contribute. FamilySearch is working to make this happen.

One of the ways that those who are not interested in the research process contribute to FamilySearch is through indexing. Currently, FamilySearch has indexed 1.34 billion records, 68,569,328 records this year! There are 15,795,814 records awaiting arbitration. There are currently 450 projects and 213,184 contributors. The new indexing web application is simpler, easier, and more collaborative. It will run on all devices! For more information he recommended another conference session on Friday at 9:45 a.m. in room 2258 CONF, presented by Jennifer Tonioli Smith, titled, “FamilySearch Indexing: It’s a Whole New World!” There will be a Worldwide Indexing Event August 7-14, 2015. Mark your calendars to index at least one batch during this week :)

Some of the highlights of yesterday’s presentation included an upcoming feature in Memories that will provide a list view for easy editing, described by Mr. Kehrer as iTunes for genealogy; thumbnail images for record collections that are digitized but not yet indexed where markers can be placed for easy navigation in these records; and easier navigation in the catalog when viewing a microfilm reference number by allowing patrons to directly view the film if it has been digitized or having the option to order the microfilm. FamilyTree will soon allow sharing reservations, reminding users that FamilySearch will enforce the 110 year rule. There will soon be a direct messaging system to contact contributors to the FamilyTree. The mobile app will have a fully functioning search system. Indexes and images are now shown on the same page. When families are split by a page in records, such as censuses, FamilySearch will soon help users connect the dots so families displayed are shown together. Navigation arrows will be in place to view pages before and after. One of the most important technologies viewed yesterday was automated indexing which is performing with a high level of accuracy. Collections that have been released using this automation are noted so that if individuals find an error in the record they can provide feedback so that the record can be corrected. There will be a session on Friday, “FamilySearch Indexing, Robo-keying, and Partnering, Oh My!” on Friday by Jake Gehring at 1:30 p.m. in room 2258 CONF that he highly recommended attending if you’d like more information.

Some of the participants of the myFamily Youth Family History Camp

Some of the participants of the myFamily Youth Family History Camp

After the keynote address, the youth attending the myFamily camp loaded university vans for a day in Salt Lake City. While there, they toured the Family History Library, Temple Square, the Discovery Center, and the Church History Library.

Mary E.V. Hill teaches participants how to organize their genealogy.

Mary E.V. Hill teaches participants how to organize their genealogy.

Ugo Perego discussed the uses of DNA in genealogy as part of the DNA track.

Ugo Perego discussed the uses of DNA in genealogy as part of the DNA track.

Today Lisa Louise Cooke will be the keynote speaker at 8:30 a.m. Her topic will be, “The Future of Technology and Genealogy: Five Strategies You Need.” Following her presentation, sessions will be offered about methodology, migration, military records, and LDS ancestral research. Today Scandinavian, French, Dutch, and Italian research will be discussed, as well as a general overview of Latin American Catholic church and civil records. A track on the use of technology tools, such as Evernote and apps for smart phones and iPads, will be offered. Throughout the day presentations from those representing online subscription sites will be given by Fold3, Newspapers.com, Ancestry.com, and MyHeritage.

An appreciation shoutout to Nate, Brianna, Abby, and Isabell (and others) who host conference participants at the Morris Center cafeteria :)

An appreciation shoutout to Nate, Brianna, Abby, and Isabell (and others) who host conference participants at the Morris Center cafeteria :)

The onsite computer lab houses eight computers for use by conference participants. Many more are available at the BYU Family History Library.

The onsite computer lab houses eight computers for use by conference participants. Many more are available at the BYU Family History Library.

FamilySearch will continue to provide complimentary scanning as well as hosting a computer lab onsite for attendees. This is the last day many of our vendors will be onsite in rooms 2260 CONF. The vendor prize drawing will be held TODAY at 1 p.m. in room 2254 CONF. Vendor presentations will be held from 5:15 to 6:15 p.m. in various rooms throughout the conference center. My Family Online, Historic Journals, Legacy Family Tree, Family Chartmasters, My Mission, Green Planet Maps, and SHOTBOX LLC will be represented. This evening at 7 p.m. at the Varsity Theater in the Wilkinson Center on BYU campus, Cokeville Miracle, a film by T.C. Christensen will be screened in preparation for the keynote address by this filmmaker in the plenary session tomorrow morning.

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.

It’s the First Day of the 47th Annual BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy

Walk-in Registration is still available for the BYU Conference on Family History & Genealogy

Walk-in Registration is still available for the BYU Conference on Family History & Genealogy

The BYU Conference on Family History & Genealogy starts today, but things are a bit different :) For the past two years, the conference has invited youth to spend a day learning about family history. This year BYU is hosting a conference just for youth titled, myFamily: Youth Family History Camp! Upon my arrival yesterday I was greeted by Hannah Z. Allen, a very popular presenter, and a number of youth who were checking in for their own four-day adventure. The youth will join the traditional conference for the keynote address each day but then they will be off to learn more about family history, including an excursion to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Yesterday I spoke with John Best, assistant program administrator, who reported that more than 60 youth from throughout the United States have registered for this year’s youth program.

If you are just young at heart, the traditional conference is the place to be. The first keynote address will be given at 8:30 a.m. 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. His address is titled, ‘They Are Not Dead, Only Living Somewhere Else.”

After the keynote address, courses will be offered specifically for the beginner, general methodology, online research, and writing & publishing family history. United States, Canada, and German research instruction will also be given. FamilySearch will host a track, including a presentation highlighting partner apps. For those interested in accreditation, ICAPgen is presenting lectures throughout the day.

Karen E. Hyer, Ph.D., J.D. setting up the DAR workshop to be held today!

Karen E. Hyer, Ph.D., J.D. setting up the DAR workshop to be held today!

For the first time, as part of the US/Canada Research track, a hands-on workshop will be given to assist individuals interested in joining the Daughters of the American Revolution. Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak with Karen E. Hyer, Ph.D., J.D. who will be presenting “Joining the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) and Other Lineage Societies” at 9:45 a.m. in room 2267 CONF. She will outline all of the steps necessary to prepare a successful application and provide worksheets and guidance.

This morning and throughout this week, John Best and his staff will be ready to greet and assist over 700 conference participants. Although the youth registration is closed, walk-in registration is available for the traditional conference.

The BYU Family History Library is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and until 6 p.m. on Friday. On Wednesday night from 6 to 8 p.m. the library will host an open house. For those staying through the weekend, the library is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday. The library has subscriptions to many noted genealogy websites and houses a large collection of microfilm. Scanning, printing, and other services are available. The BYU Family History Library is located on the second floor, which is downstairs and to the right of the main entrance of the Harold B. Lee Library. For more information contact the BYU Family History Library at (801) 422-6200.

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

It’s the NFL’s Wild Card Weekend

stadium at nightWarning: Participating in genealogy and family history football while watching an NFL game with your significant other may cause side effects including distraction, interference with relational bonding, and failure to fully enjoy chips, salsa, and guacamole. Research responsibly.

It’s the NFL’s Wild Card Weekend! Now that the playing field has been narrowed to twelve, the winner of the Lombardi trophy will soon be determined on the field. Although some teams are required to play more on their way to the Super Bowl, it’s anyone’s game. Since there is no NFL team in the land of genealogy and family history, the following of the locals here can change as fast as the wind. It’s a house divided. But in football, there is no place like home!

So, are you up for your game this Wild Card weekend? Do you have your goal defined for each of the games you will play? Have you narrowed the field so that you are prepared to finish the season on February 1, 2014? Each play moves you closer to a genealogical touchdown, to winning the game, and ultimately achieving the Lombardi trophy of your Family History Bowl.

Have you looked for information on your pivotal person and it’s just not where you hoped it would be? Is the record set impossible to access in the time frame of this season? Does the most obvious record set not exist? Check out this page on the FamilySearch wiki. Go to the bottom of the page to “Selecting Record Types.” There you will find a listing of objectives and a priority list of records to search. If you cannot find that record set online, check the FamilySearch catalog for available microfilm, then visit the Family History Library or order microfilm to view at your local Family History Center. If you need assistance contact me. I would be happy to provide coaching advice or execute a play or more on your behalf.

To the NFL players and coaches this season, the genealogist who struggles to find time to play the game, to our ancestors whose lives were rarely blessed more than ours, I close with a quote known as The Man in the Arena[1]:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Cheering you on in your game to win your Family History Bowl!

1.Roosevelt, Theodore. “Citizenship In A Republic.” Delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on April 23, 1910. Accessed January 4, 2014. http://www.theodore-roosevelt.com/trsorbonnespeech.html. [For a copy of the complete speech in PDF format click here.]

Copyright ©2014-2015 Lynn Broderick and The Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.

Wishing You the Very Best This Holiday!

Assembly Hall 2014 WPAcross the street from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City there is a gated area called Temple Square. Although it sometimes serves as a respite from the intensity of researching one’s ancestors, the Friday after the American Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve, visitors can enjoy the lights on Temple Square complete with a scheduled concert series and an ongoing presentation of the nativity.

On New Year’s Eve  there is a series of performances beginning with a sing-a-long of Broadway tunes at 5 pm in the Assembly Hall to Vocal Point performing in the Tabernacle at 10:15 pm. [Vocal Point gave an outstanding performance at RootstTech 2014.] Fireworks are scheduled for midnight to welcome 2015!

Although the Family History Library is closed today and tomorrow to celebrate Christmas, it will be open from 8 am to 5pm beginning on Friday the 26th until the 31st. The Family History Library opens on Saturday at 9 am and is closed on Sundays. The 2015 holiday schedule is available here.

As we close 2014, I want to thank you for your interest and subscribing to my posts. If you have a friend that would be interested, would you please recommend me?

Wishing you and yours the very best this holiday season and all that is good in the coming new year!

[There are many opportunities forthcoming in genealogy and family history during 2015. I would like to recommend RootsTech 2015. This conference will be held at the Salt Palace Convention Center in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah February 12-14. See RootsTech.org for further details.]

 

American Thanksgiving Traditions: Food, Football & Family History

The graphic in its entirety is available at nfl.com.

The graphic in its entirety is available at nfl.com.

Thanksgiving is the most traveled holiday in America with an estimated 46.3 million Americans expected to migrate, at least for the day, 50 miles or more this year!

Thanksgiving is traditionally known as the day of America’s greatest food consumption! Think turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie as the common core of the Thanksgiving banquet. Each family has other traditional favorites as well. This year I found a recipe that adds a new twist to an old favorite. If it meets with positive reviews from the culinary critics at my table, I’ll share it with you next year :)

Football has also been a traditional favorite at this time of year. Whether it is a friendly game at your local field or watching one or more of the three NFL games offered throughout the day, it has become part of the holiday for many Americans. The NFL posted an informative graphic about this holiday tradition. Did you know that QB’s named Tom are 5-1 playing on Thanksgiving since 1950? In addition, Thanksgiving has become one of the biggest running days of the year with morning Turkey Trots offered throughout the nation!

So, what about family history? Tradition speak volumes and it is never too late to adopt or create a new tradition. As individuals, we determine what we carry forward and what we create. Once again, for those who may have missed it, I found a set of questions produced by the team at Real Simple that I have carried forward to interview family members at important times of gathering. Although not of my own creation, I find these questions to be a gift from the author that I would like to extend to you, my readers. Choose the questions most relevant and cultivate them into conversations. Later, jot down those stories and memories. You’ll be making family history as you record it :)

On the eve of this important American holiday, we at the Single Leaf wish you and yours a very happy holiday! As we have reached out, you have reached back, and for this we are grateful :) Happy Thanksgiving!

© 2014 Lynn Broderick and The Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.

Genealogy Football: 30 Minute Challenge

Genealogical Touchdown Photo WPI confess that this post qualifies as a delay of game, but as the Dallas Cowboys prepared last week to meet the Jacksonville Jaguars in London at the NFL International Series, Emmitt Smith was on hand for the festivities. The former Cowboy was the first Pro Football Hall of Famer to discover his roots all the way back to Africa on Who Do You Think You Are?  during the first season. It was a great episode!

While in London the 2014 Dallas Cowboys took some time to Play 60 with some youth. For those who may not know, in October 2007 the NFL began a campaign promoting youth health and fitness by encouraging them to be active for at least 60 minutes daily. It’s a good idea for all of us :)

As I streamed through the photos of players and youth, I was reminded of a challenge I faced in one class I taught to those beginning their search for their ancestors. As an educator, I am aware of the sedentary lives of students in a classroom. As a genealogist, I am aware of the sedentary nature of many of the activities related to the pursuit of one’s ancestors. The limits on time and energy come into play even with those most interested.

On this particular occasion I had one student who was just too busy to complete assignments. Each week this student came to class. Each class period she would explain she had not found time to complete the assignment. After a number of missed assignments I asked if there was anything I could do to help. After hearing about the challenges that she faced I asked, “Would you be willing to experiment with me?” The student agreed.

During the next week this student was asked to spare 30 minutes, only 30 minutes, to work on the assignment. Morning, afternoon, or evening, it did not matter. The day of the week, it did not matter. The commitment was to just “do it” for 30 minutes.

This student later said that she committed to the 30 minutes that very evening to get it out of the way :) She reported the following: ‘I took the challenge about 9pm that very night. As I got into the databases I kept finding more and more. It was so exciting … I was up ’til 4am! I can never do that again! I had difficultly getting through work the next day.’ :)

Now, the challenge was 30 minutes, not 7 hours, but anyone who knows anything about pursuing one’s roots also knows that it can be addictive. Genealogical pursuits must have limits; 30 minutes, 60 minutes, or a few hours, one genealogical football game is best played within those limits, just like the physical sport is held to four 15-minute quarters, plus overtime every now and then.

So, if this fall season you’ve been weighed down with other responsibilities, experienced a false start, or have experienced burnout, take the 30 minute challenge! And while you’re at it, Play 60 each day as an example to our youth for a more active and healthier generation! Studies show that it helps the mind as well as the body, which is good for tackling those tough genealogical brick walls. :)

[For those who may have missed the beginning of this series you may be interested in the post, Are Genealogy and Family History Your Game This Season?]

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

The Final Day of the 46th Annual Conference on Family History and Genealogy

Friday marked the final day of the 46th annual Conference on Family History and Genealogy at Brigham Young University. Many of the vendors were gone, the book scanning moved back to its West Valley facility, and family history consultants were invited for a day of free training. There was no keynote speaker, just the choice of five classes throughout the day from the 8 different tracks offered. Maybe it was just me, but it seemed that all of us were a bit exhausted!

Family History Consultants WPOne of the goals at FamilySearch is to provide training to family history consultants who serve in their local areas, including the many family history centers throughout the world. Although there are many resources online, the opportunity to ask questions was a bonus to conference participants. There was standing room only for the first session titled Family Tree Primer for Consultants. I happened by a wonderful question and answer segment on the policies for submission in From Tree to Temple. Consultants were also instructed in ways to encourage individuals to record their history in the My Family booklet. The final session of the day for consultants was one of the most popular sessions last year as well, Facebook for Family History Consultants.

The youngest family history consultant present was 13 year old Ruby Baird. Ruby Baird and Her GrandmotherHer grandmother, Marsha Hartmon, describes Ruby as an old soul in a very young body. Ruby was named for her great grandmothers, one from each side of the family. Ruby researches her ancestral lines, prepares names for the temple, and gifts the ordinance cards to family members so that they can complete the temple work; she also helps others pursue their ancestors.

There were about 750 participants at this year’s conference and an additional 50 youth. Among them were many great family stories to share. New this year, the FamilySearch computer lab was well used during the course of the conference. Many personal photographs were scanned for the benefit of participants. About 100 books were donated to be scanned; these books will be placed on-line at books.familysearch.org in about a month.

Although the sessions were not recorded, the address from Elder Paul E. Koelliker, Family the Fabric of Eternity, and the presentation material from David E. Rencher, The Role of FamilySearch in a Worldwide Community, are on-line for review. The syllabus will continue to be available at a cost of $20 for the CD and $35 for the printed edition. This syllabus contains 588 pages of helpful material, including links and bibliographies to further your research. You may order by calling 1 (877) 221-6716.

It is impossible to acknowledge all of the wonderful people I met during the course of this conference, but I put together a slide presentation of some of the highlights from this year’s event. I hope that you will enjoy it! I would also like to acknowledge the conference planning committee, including Stephen Young, FamilySearch project manager; Kathy Warburton, FamilySearch project coordinator; Michael Provard, FamilySearch conference logistical coordinator; and Kelly Summers, Church History and Doctrine, BYU. I would like to thank John Best, assistant program administrator, BYU Conferences and Workshops, and his staff, especially Jon Collier, event planner, for an excellent conference. In addition I would like to thank all of the instructors for their presentations and the participants for their many contributions!

The BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy invites you to set aside July 28-July 31, 2015 for the 47th annual conference to be held next year on the BYU Provo campus!

Copyright ©2014 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.