The 48th Annual BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy: An Epilogue
The 48th Annual BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy came to a close on Friday, July 29th, 2016. After 4 days of attendance, 3 keynote addresses, 40 sessions offered each day, vendors with their products and services, and visiting with friends, old and new, I must admit I didn’t “catch ‘em all!” Participants came from coast to coast in the United States and from Canada and Italy. Here are some additional highlights.
Paul Cardall spoke of the incredible spiritual journey he and his wife experienced as they searched for and found many of his wife’s ancestors and the joy of finding some of her living relatives residing in Slovenia.
All of this took place in the context of writing a song with Elder David A. Bednar of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints titled, One by One. The music and lyrics are available at lds.org.
Steve Rockwood was true to form in approaching the plenary session upside down and backwards. He began with a Q&A and ended with an invitation to address any individual questions of global concern about FamilySearch International. In between, he discussed the five experiences that FamilySearch strives to provide those seeking their ancestors: the family tree, searchable records, memories, contextual help, and discovery to create a joyous outcome for families wherever they may live throughout the world.
Paul Milner, MDiv, MSc began his address by expressing appreciation to the hotel that kept a “genealogy” book by the bedside and then began to recite lineages recorded in scripture to the amusement of participants. He then commented, “we remember the stories, don’t we?” He gave an example of a young woman named Elizabeth who didn’t know the story of a small village, whose response upon learning its history exclaimed, “nobody told me; nobody told me!” Paul encouraged those in attendance to write their stories so that their descendants would not be left to say “nobody told me!”
As I mentioned above there were 8 sessions to choose from each hour, culminating in 20 sessions that each participant could attend during the conference week.
Jean Naisbitt taught a couple of beginning genealogy classes and Terry Dahlin shared the treasure trove available at the BYU FHL. Did you know that these two are siblings by marriage?
The DNA Roundtable was an inaugural success!
The majority of vendors spent two days highlighting their products and services. There were a few stationed in the main hallway throughout the week:
ICAPGen with C. Lynn Andersen, AG prepared to answer any questions about the accreditation process
Research Ties with Jill Crandall, AG
BYU Print and Mail
BYU Center for Family History and Genealogy
The Game of Genealogy
Legacy Family Tree
BYU Family History Library
Many presenters and participants enjoyed an all-you-can-eat buffet each day at the Morris Center located nearby on campus. Thank you to each of the employees that served us so well!
Some of the Morris Center Employees
The Conference Committee
Finally, I would like to thank the conference committee for organizing this year’s conference: Alisse Frandsen, Ann Baxter, Kelly Summers, Suzanne Adams, Jill Crandall, Stephen Young and Michael Provard each representing their respective organizations and the sponsors of this year’s conference: BYU History Department, BYU Center for Family History and Genealogy, FamilySearch, Family History Library, ICAPGen, and BYU Continuing Education.
The 49th Annual BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy will be held July 25-July 28, 2017 at Provo, Utah! I hope that you will place these dates on your calendar and plan to attend :-)
A serendipitous encounter with Cosmo!
Although I didn’t catch all that took place at the conference, I must say I was delighted to catch a moment with the mascot of BYU — Cosmo!
Football season is upon us. BYU has a new head coach. It’s a new season — Go Cougars!
Personally, I find football, family and family history a great combination. Is family history going to be part of your game plan this season? For our family, it’s a definite “YES!” Whether or not you attended the conference, it is my hope that you will score many genealogical touchdowns (i.e., family history breakthroughs and/or success stories) this season! Keep me posted :-)
Note:Family Discovery Day at RootsTech is a free, one-day event of inspirational messages, instructional classes, interactive activities, and exciting entertainment to teach LDS members (age 8 and up) how to find their ancestors, prepare and take their names to the temple, and teach others to do the same. See RootsTech.org for more information.
Saturday, February 6, 2016
Family Discovery Day opened with announcements from Elder Allan F. Packer, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy and Executive Director of of the Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He announced that there were about 13,000 individuals in attendance with 120,000 participating through live streaming at lds.org. In addition, the presentations were recorded and will be used during 1300 Family Discovery Day events held in over 55 countries and presented in 10 languages. Ultimately, the presentations will reach over a quarter of a million members and their friends. Once this material is incorporated into curriculum lessons, websites, and printed publications these messages will reach millions of Church members.
Elder Packer said that earlier that day a meeting was held among Church leaders. The Missionary Department announced two new pamphlets, Learning and Serving in the Church and Families and Temples. The Family History Department announced a new beginner resource card titled Strengthening Eternal Family Bonds through Temple Service: Start Building Your Tree. The card and online experience were created to help new members record their family lineage and identify those who may need temple ordinances. The My Family booklet is now available in 42 languages around the world. The Temple Department announced that members will now be able to print family ordinance cards on white paper on any printer and then take these cards to the temple to perform ordinances for their ancestors.
Elder Dale G. Renlund, his wife, Ruth, and daughter, Ashley
Following these announcements, Elder Dale G. Renlund, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, his wife, Ruth, and daughter, Ashley, took to the stage for the keynote address. After introducing his wife, he remarked that when he is not with his wife, he is “ruthless.” Together they shared a family history story that you can listen to below.
Ashley described the discovery of dynamite by Alfred Nobel. It was a combination of two known substances, kieselguhr and nitroglycerin. This was likened to family history and temple blessings, together they’re a powerful combination.
The Renlunds discussed the challenge given by Elder Neil A. Anderson to those in attendance at RootsTech in 2014: “Prepare as many names for the temple as baptisms you perform in the temple.” In 2015 Elder Anderson added, “and help someone else do the same.” “This opportunity for blessings excludes no one,” Elder Renlund says. His wife Ruth added, “the temple ordinances are central to individual power.”
The Renlunds then read from Ezekiel 47: 1-5, 8-9 and explained that Ezekiel saw an angel who brought him to the House of the Lord. As the water left the house, it grew into a river and out to the sea, … “for they shall be healed; and everything shall live whither the river cometh.” According to Elder Renlund, the river that increases represents the blessings of the temple and he likened the growth of the river to the exponential growth of progenitors doubling each generation.
Ashley quoted President Russell M. Nelson, “While temple and family history work has the power to bless those beyond the veil, it has an equal power to bless the living. It has a refining influence on those who are engaged in it. They are literally helping to exalt their families.”
Elder Renlund closed by adding his apostolic voice in support of the temple challenge and extended a promise of protection for the individuals engaged in this work and for their families. The challenge was modified to include not only baptisms but all ordinances. He promised “personal power, power to change, power to repent, power to learn, power to be sanctified, and power to turn the hearts of your family together and heal that which needs healing.” He closed by declaring his witness of Jesus Christ and the restoration of the sealing power to earth.
Sister Sheri L. Dew and Sister Wendy W. Nelson
Elder C. Scott Grow was asked to recap a few ideas from the previous presentation, specifically the apostolic temple challenge, before introducing Family Discovery Day’s next guests. Elder Grow reminded everyone that the apostolic temple challenge to find as many family names for temple ordinances has been reissued and expanded the challenge to include all ordinances, not just baptisms. He stressed that this challenge is for everyone. “A promise of protection and personal power, power to change, power to progress, power to learn, power to be sanctified, power to heal, the power to be sealed, and seal the hearts of our families together” has been issued. He quoted President Howard W. Hunter by saying, “I have learned that those who engage in family history research and then perform the temple ordinance work for those whose names they have found will know the additional joy of receiving both halves of the blessing.”
Elder Grow then introduced two good friends, Sheri L. Dew and Wendy W. Nelson for a family history discussion. These good friends then publicly conversed about Sheri’s resistance to pursuing family history. Wendy shared some of her spiritual experiences with Sheri and the blessings that have come into her life since she took Elder Richard G. Scott’s challenge. In the end, Sheri took the apostolic challenge to find as many ancestors to take to the temple to receive their ordinances as she will complete this year and to help others do the same. I encourage you to watch their presentation.
Sheri responded to Elder Grow’s question of how this is to be accomplished by saying, “Something will have to change and I’ll figure it out. I don’t yet know exactly when or how, but it will work … I’m sure I’ll have to give up something, the question is what?”
Elder Grow than asked those in the RootsTech audience, “(1) What did you learn? (2) What did you feel? Select one idea expressed in this presentation and make it a part of your life.”
Brother Stephen W. Owen and Sister Rosemary M. Wixom
Elder Enrique R. Falabella, who serves as an executive director of the Family History Department, began this session by expressing his enjoyment of Family Discovery Day. He said, “The Lord has inspired the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve to help the members of the Church to strengthen their testimony in Heavenly Father and in His Son Jesus Christ through keeping the Sabbath holy. What a great opportunity we have now to spend some time on the Sabbath doing family history Our ancestors will be eternally grateful and we will be blessed.” He then shared that this was the first idea that came to his mind to help Sister Sheri Dew meet her commitment to bring her ancestors to the temple. After his remarks, he introduced Brother Stephen W. Owen and Sister Rosemary M. Wixom.
“There is no age requirement to be touched by the Spirit of Elijah,” says Brother Stephen W. Owen. He went on to say that by becoming involved in family history, one discovers the power and purpose of relationships in God’s plan. “Relationships are at the very core of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” He then quoted the greatest commandments. He said that the Savior focused on relationships and was not distracted by anything temporal. He suggested that as we’re focused on our relationships with our Heavenly Father, our Savior, our family, and others we are focusing on what lasts and Christ’s gospel can move from our head to our heart.”
Brother Owen invited his youngest daughter Jessica on stage to share her family story. Jessica delivered her first child, Annie, two months premature. Annie was born with a condition where all of her muscles would contract and this happened about 60-70 times a day. Jessica and her husband Sam would cheer her on to get through each episode, but four and a half months later, Annie passed away. Jessica shared how her father, through his own grief, counseled them to get through this together. Jessica shared her gratitude for the plan of salvation and testimony that families can be together forever if we do our part. Brother Owen returned holding his one month old grandson, Archie, Jessica and Sam’s second child and Annie’s little brother.
Brother Owen then quoted from a song called “Grandma’s Book of Memories”:
“When Grandma opens up her book of memories,
these strangers all begin to look like friends to me.
I can see where I have come from and where I belong,
And where I got the color of my hair.
And I won’t be afraid when I follow them home,
because I’ve got friends already there.”
He mentioned the sealing power of the priesthood that can strengthen and bind family relationships. He went on to say, “We are each an important link in our family chain. And each of us, regardless of our current family circumstances. can begin working on the things that last. I recognize that not everyone has had the opportunity to nurture and develop family relationships, but don’t be discouraged. Stronger relationships can begin with you, right now, where you are. Through all kinds of family history and temple work, you can increase in love and help your family heal, going in both directions, towards your ancestors and towards your posterity. Maybe you’ve started your family history and have become discouraged because of damaged relationships or missing information. Don’t give up. Keep seeking the eternal. Pray and look for connections, relationships, and stories and when you begin to find those personal connections … you’ll start to understand what it’s like to have your heart turned to your fathers and the gospel will have an opportunity to move from your head to your heart. You will feel for yourself the power and eternal nature of family relationships … Let us remember that Christ suffered alone so that we can be together. Because of Him, we can have relationships that endure, relationships that include our Heavenly Father, our Savior, and our loved ones. I testify that the gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of relationships that transcend death and have eternal value. And, I do so in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.”
Sister Rosemary M. Wixom then took the stage. She started by sharing an experience she had five years ago when an apostle asked her, “What is the taproot that will anchor a child in the wind?” A taproot is the first and largest root that sprouts from the seed. It grows downward and provides stability. Taproots can make a plant drought-resistant. She shared the story of the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi. Children need to know who they are, where they came from, why they are here, and where they are going so that their lives take on a sense of purpose.
Sister Wixom quoted President Russell M. Nelson saying, “We need … women [to] call upon the powers of heaven to protect and strengthen children and families; women who teach fearlessly.” She extends this call to all members of the Church in the lives of children. She then asked how does this related to family history. She said that she loves family history and loves family stories. Then she made two confessions: (1) she now makes cookies for her husband while he does family history research, and (2) she does not scrapbook; she has plastic container with pictures for each child for their future book.
She recognizes the importance of family history and shared a quote from the Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr. as saying, “They are not far from us, and know and understand our thoughts, feelings, and motions, and are often pained therewith (History of the Church, 6:52). We make our ancestors real by telling their stories.
She said that she began with a two-minute exercise to write everything she remembered about her deceased father. Then she began to discuss recording her memories of others and considered how these stories and phrases could strengthen the next generation. She stressed that they must be shared and preserved and recommended the FamilySearch Memories app.
She closed by testifying, “We can anchor all generations to the taproot as we share precious pieces of information about those wonderful men and women, perform their sacred temple ordinances, and seal our families together. Of this truth I testify. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Elder Bradley D. Foster introduced two young men to illustrate the “importance and power of family.” He continued, These young men show us what it looks like and “what good families produce.” He then introduced Britain Covey, a wide receiver for the University of Utah, and Taysom Hill, a quarterback for Brigham Young University.
For some Family Discovery Day fun, each player was asked to find two youth in the audience to help with a relay race. No spoilers here; you must watch the video to know the outcome :)
Once the race was decided, it was time for these young men to be interviewed. The presentation highlighted Britain’s mission call to Chile and Taysom’s temple marriage. Both shared missionary experiences on and off the field.
About leaving his football career for a mission with no guarantee upon return, Britain said, “Scoring a touchdown is awesome, but it’s a difference type of happiness that this gospel and this mission brings and I guess this is what I’m excited to share.”
After this presentation, Family Discovery Day closed with a concert by Lower Lights. Mark your calendar for next year when Family Discovery Day will be held again on Saturday, February 11, 2017 at the Salt Palace Convention Center.
The Salt Palace Convention Center will serve as RootsTech’s base camp this year, beginning today through Saturday, February 6, 2016. Family historians, genealogists, and other interested parties will begin their ascent to greater knowledge and opportunities within the industry starting with the Innovator Summit.
The Innovator Summit is the world’s largest family history technology conference. Ken Krogue, a highly successful tech entrepreneur and founder of Insidesales.com, will give the keynote address at 9am followed by 2 sessions of choice.
At 12:15pm, those in attendance will be provided boxed lunches and have the opportunity to attend the 2016 RootsTech Innovator Showdown where 6 finalists will be chosen for the final showdown on Friday, February 5. You may view the video submissions of the 12 semifinalists at rootstech.org/showdown. They’re competing for a total of $100,000 in cash and prizes!
Following the Innovator Showdown, five 30 minute sessions will be offered at the Innovator Summit. RootsTech will simultaneously offer two sessions beginning at 3pm. These sessions will be followed by a networking social and the Innovator Hack-a-thon, an event that is touted “for those with a penchant for late night collaborative coding.”
On Thursday through Saturday, opening sessions will begin at 8:30am. The keynote speakers for Thursday will be Steve Rockwood, Managing Director for the Family History Department and President/CEO of FamilySearch International; Paula Williams Madison, Chairman and CEO of Madison Media Management LLC, a Los Angeles based media consultancy company with global reach and the author of Finding Samuel Lowe: China, Jamaica, Harlem; and Bruce Feiler, “one of America’s most popular voices on contemporary life” and author of The Secrets of Happy Families and other notable books.
On Friday, attendees will hear from Josh and Naomi Davis of the blog Love Taza and David Isay of StoryCorps. Michael Leavitt’s keynote address will be streamed live on Saturday. He is a former governor of the state of Utah and the founder and chairman of Leavitt Partners. He will be followed by Doris Kearns Goodwin, a world-renowned presidential historian and Pulitzer Prize–winning author.
In addition, those in attendance will have the opportunity to explore the Expo Hall and attend numerous other social events, including concerts by Crescent Superband with Ryan Innes and Lower Lights. One event that I would like to highlight is the opportunity to view the documentary Finding Samuel Lowe: From Harlem to China at 2:00pm on Saturday in Room 151 of the Salt Lake Convention Center.
Family Discovery Day will begin at 1pm on Saturday with an outstanding team recruited to inspire those who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to get into the game of family history and genealogy and provide temple ordinances for their ancestors. Elder Dale G. Renlund and Sister Ruth Renlund with their daughter Ashley will open this event in Hall D, followed by Sister Sheri Dew, Sister Wendy Watson Nelson, Sister Rosemary M. Wixom and Brother Stephen W. Owen. It is my hope that although Taysom Hill and Britain Covey play for in-state rivals, Taysom will connect with Britain to score a genealogical touchdown by inspiring families and youth at this year’s event!
If you are unable to attend this year’s conference or watch the live streaming of select sessions, including Family Discovery Day, follow #RootsTech on social media and the FamilySearch blog. You can receive automatic notifications of the latest posts by visiting familysearch.org/blog and providing your email address. If you haven’t already done so, subscribe to The Single Leaf and I will do my best to keep you posted.
For those new to the family history and genealogy community and those who are seasoned, let us remember:
“Every mountain top is within reach if you just keep climbing.”
― Barry Finlay, Kilimanjaro and Beyond
Since genealogy + football = my game, you can only imagine how pleased I was to hear that Britain Covey of the University of Utah and Taysom Hill of BYU will be joining RootsTech this year for Family Discovery Day! This announcement is not to intercept the outstanding team recruited for this year’s event! Read the following press release from RootsTech for full details. I hope to see you there!
Announcement: Full lineup of Speakers Announced for Family Discovery Day
SALT LAKE CITY, 28 January 2016—RootsTech, the largest family history conference in the world, announced today the complete lineup of speakers for its free Family Discovery Day event, which will take place Saturday, February 6, 2016, at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. This incredible opportunity is specially designed for families and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ages 8 and older.
The free one-day event will feature inspirational messages, instructional classes, interactive activities, and exciting entertainment designed to teach LDS families how to find their ancestors, prepare names for temple ordinances, and teach others to do the same. Attendees will also receive access to the Expo Hall, where hundreds of exhibitors will showcase the latest technology and tools. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and FamilySearch will host the event. Families are encouraged to register online at RootsTech.org.
This year’s event will kick off with an exciting opening family general session featuring newly called apostle Elder Dale G. Renlund and his wife, Sister Ruth Renlund. Their daughter, Ashley Renlund, will join them for what will be an inspiring and candid moment with the entire Renlund family. This 45-minute opening session starts at 1 p.m.
Sheri Dew and Sister Wendy Watson Nelson will speak during the family history discussion, which will be an exclusive conversation between best friends. Sheri Dew is the executive vice president of Deseret Management Corporation and the CEO of Deseret Book Company. Sister Wendy Watson Nelson is the wife of President Russell M. Nelson and was a professor of Marriage and Family Therapy. They will share their life experiences with family history during this 45-minute session, which starts at 2 p.m.
Primary General President Sister Rosemary M. Wixom and Young Men General President Brother Stephen W. Owen will speak during the family session. Sister Wixom will share how the plan of salvation and family history provide a taproot that anchors our children. Brother Owen will speak about the role of families in the plan of salvation. This uplifting 30-minute session starts at 3:15 p.m.
Family Discovery Day continues its amazing lineup with a session featuring Britain Covey and Taysom Hill. Britain Covey is a University of Utah Wide Receiver from Provo, Utah. Taysom Hill is a Brigham Young University Quarterback from Pocatello, Idaho. They will both share inspiring stories, humorous memories, and faith-promoting experiences. This 30-minute session will start at 4:15 p.m.
Family Discovery Day will close with a stunning performance by The Lower Lights, a gospel and folk band that recently performed at Kingsbury Hall. The band will bring its part-revival, part-vigil sound steeped in tradition to Family Discovery Day for an exclusive performance that attendees will not want to miss. The performance starts at 5:30 p.m.
Family Discovery Day is free, but registration is required. Visit RootsTech.org to learn more and to register.
RootsTech, hosted by FamilySearch, is a global conference celebrating families across generations, where people of all ages are inspired to discover and share their memories and connections. This annual event has become the largest of its kind in the world, attracting tens of thousands of participants worldwide.
Warning: 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:
“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!
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!
I 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 60 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. :)
Congratulations to the Seattle Seahawks on winning Super Bowl XLVIII. It was amazing execution on the field for the triumphant win! Seattle, enjoy your celebration today; I wish I could be there! Football is all about claiming the Lombardi trophy and statistics provide great feedback as to what happened on the field and how to approach the future.
Family history and genealogy similarly have stats we can review to orient ourselves to the game. Coupled with a research log, this feedback can help a researcher move the chains.
The most comprehensive statistic to calculate is how many ancestors you have found compared to how many are yet to be found in a certain number of generations. By dividing the total number of ancestors you have found by the sum of the total number of ancestors from the first generation to the target generation that you are interested in, you will find the percentage of ancestors found. This will give you an idea of how many more research opportunities you have before you. This can be humbling. Those who say it’s all been done are few indeed. Even if one has the essential identifiers of name, date, place, and relationship to an event, a researcher must look to see if the data has a source and then verify it.
For example, I went on Ancestry.com and found an interesting sourced tree in which I had great hope. It not only had complete vital information but the sources indicated the microfilm numbers by which the information was obtained. Nevertheless, when I pulled the film to verify the information none of it was correct! I’ve mentioned it before, but it bears repeating, never trust an online tree. It may contain valid information and clues to further your research but always verify the information and its sources!
As far as statistics, I’ve always looked at completing nine generations simply because in the next generation there are 1,024 more ancestors to find and that can be overwhelming. Nevertheless, I never miss an opportunity to go beyond and add additional generations to my lineage when records are available. Remember, records become more scarce and incomplete as one moves back in time.
So, are you up to the challenge of finding the next generation of your ancestors and their families? In previous posts I’ve mentioned resources to get you started. This week I would like to recommend RootsTech 2014, the largest family history and genealogy conference in North America, which begins today with an Innovator Summit, formerly called Developer Day, and the Full-Access conference beginning tomorrow, February 6th, through Saturday, February 8th, at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, Utah. Check out the website at RootsTech.org for pass comparisons and registration information.
Not in Salt Lake City? There is good news! The keynote presentations and specific sessions will be streamed live and available for later viewing at your convenience. Whether you are at RootsTech 2014 in person or view the conference virtually you will strengthen your offense by participating in this conference. There’s no doubt about it!
[FYI: Keynote and select presentations given at RootTech 2013 are still available for viewing for a limited time. Check out the sessions here.]
32 . . . 12 . . . 8 . . . 4 . . . 2 . . . . There’s no such thing as a win-win in football, unless it’s two consecutive wins. This is the obvious goal of the NFL Conference Championship games today. Only two teams will triumph on their respective playing fields . . . . Two more weeks and only one team will prevail and claim the Lombardi trophy at Super Bowl XLVIII.
I’ll leave the commentary to the NFL analysts. They’re good at what they do. But if you’ve been following along with genealogy football, the same principle applies: win, and win again! The objective is to win from the first down to touchdown again and again for as long as there is time on the clock. It’s the play-by-play effort that makes the difference. One can never win in the present what the future holds. It is elusive. But, if in the present a play is successfully executed, and then the next, and then the next, soon the outcome is the goal and the goal this season is your Family History Bowl.
One of the ways you can track your plays is with a research log, or research calendar as some call it. When you track your plays you keep on track. There are many ways to keep this log so that it can be an effective tool as you make your plays: paper and pencil, a pre-printed form [like the one from Ancestry.com], a spreadsheet, your database computer program, or your favorite journaling app. A research log is kept for each individual or family in your lineage. It’s traditionally suggested that a child remain the subject of his or her parents’ log until that child marries. One of my favorite things about automated logs is that with tagging and/or search capacity that child who became a parent can be found on either log. [This log may be incorporated into a research report, but remember that a report that contains suggestions for further research may be completely outdated on the day of review. Check for updated availability of records.]
Recently, I was going through a fifth-generation grandfather’s file. The research I completed for him is decades old but a question came to mind. When I opened the folder I found a piece of paper with a list of sources I had reviewed and the result for consulting each particular source. The paper was dated, written in pencil, and did not look like more than scratch, but it was as if this piece of paper, this research log, transported me back in time to briefly relive the plays, make the catch, and enabled me to run and score the genealogical touchdown. The answer was found among the documents that I had already secured. It’s not always this easy, but it is always the place that you, as a researcher, want to begin. The research log is your punt return; it shows your position on the field and where to begin your drive for that touchdown!
Over the years as I have reviewed the work of a number of genealogists, including my own, I have found that the key to efficiency is the research log. It’s helpful to know what information was sought for and why, the title of the record and in what form the record was recorded, whether online, microfilm or fiche, or paper, the date [especially when using online databases], the place where the information was accessed and the result, even if what you were looking for was not there. By recording this information you will be in great field position to evaluate the source, identify inconsistencies, make wise judgements about the contribution of this source to your research, and determine where your next play begins. Wishing you all the success on this game day!
[In it’s simplicity, The Genealogical Touchdown Playbook is available in PDF format for personal, non-commercial use. It provides a place for interested youth, and others, to record their drive downfield to the ultimate genealogical touchdown!]
Team colors. Team uniforms. Teamwork. This is what we witnessed during Wild Card Weekend. Thanks to all the players and coaches! Winning is a time for celebration; losing is never easy.
It’s the NFL Divisional Playoffs this weekend and I’m interested in names, particularly family names, also known as surnames, the ones the guys wear on the back of their jerseys. Surnames can provide additional facts and clues about your family and their story.
Ancestry.com has a great database available to search for information about a surname’s meaning and origin. The database information is from the Dictionary of American Family Names. Additional demographic information is provided for the United States, England and Wales, and Scotland. There are charts and links that provide information on immigration, average life expectancy, occupations, and civil war records.