Monday, February 24, 2014

Getting Started with Genealogy Part 1: Gather Information and Record it in your Family Tree

I been thinking a lot lately about how I wanted to approach this post, and hey, I'm no expert! So... I'm going to lay this out in sections based on my own experience, and point you to some awesome resources along the way. So here it goes...

I would recommend that the first thing you do would be to gather all the information that you have that is pretty accessible.  For me that included documents that I had about me, my husband, kids, my parents, photos and stories.  I was also able to get a bunch of stories from my parents.  I know what some of you are thinking... "I just want to start at the end of a line and work out from there and just start finding names", but trust me, you need to start with you!  I'll get into more details of why later...

If you want a good guide on what information to gather first, check out this new booklet.  I picked one up at the Distribution Center for $1, or you can just download the PDF here.

Once you have a little bit of information, either sign up or login to  If you have never been on before, but you have an login, try using that login first, it should be the same.  If not, just sign up and make sure that if you are a member to use your member # to sign up.  It helps get a lot of information in there for you automatically.

Quick Note: There are lots of ways to do this, I am just going to explain it in the way that I do it.  Feel free to leave comments if you have thoughts :)  Also understand that Family Tree is still fairly new and there are going to be occasions that you run into something that might not work properly or that frustrates you... don't give up!  It is an awesome system, and don't be shy to ask for help.  There is a link "Get Help" on the top right of the website.  I often find that I just need to restart my browser or some other minor issue.  

After you login, you will either have a lot of information in there already, or you might have not much at all.  Either way, start by looking at your Family Tree.

You should be able to see your own name at least.  When you click on your name, you can see a quick summary of what information is already there.  Now, you'll want to click on where it says "Person".

This is where you'll be able to add and edit information.  It's pretty self explanatory, so I won't go through everything.  Just click around and feel free to ask me questions if you have them and I will answer them the best that I can.

The next thing that you'll have to do, is to add your living relatives.  Living relatives will NOT automatically show (sometimes your immediate family members will), but information on living people is private and so you just have to add your own living relatives, for your own record.  The booklet would be a really good guide to help you add those people first.  To add a person, you can add people either from the Family Tree view, or the Person view.  With living relatives, like I said, they are private, so do not even bother trying to find them.  Click on the "Add Person" tab and input the information there.

After adding living relatives, you can add deceased relatives.  You will do this the same way, except, you will stay on the "Find Person" tab.  You may find several names, as you go through those names, select CAREFULLY.  Remember, tons of people have the same names!  Make sure that you are checking dates and places carefully.  If you are really uncertain about a name, do your research the best you can and if you are still uncertain, go ahead and just add a name yourself.  Because if you select a name and it is not the right person, it may link you up to an entirely different family tree.  So just always add and edit names with that in mind.

Once you have added a few deceased relatives, you will probably find that your tree will automatically add a lot of ancestors all by itself!  If not, then you have a lot of work ahead (which is great!).  At this point, check all of the ancestors against your own records.  There are going to be many cases where there is conflicting information on different deceased relatives, use your best judgement and make edits if necessary, but always stay on the side of caution when making any sort of edits.  You can always up discussions, leave notes, and come back to someone later if you are unsure about certain information.

At this point, do not just jump on reserving all of the temple work that you see!  It is tempting, but believe me, if you get ahead of yourself, you will get in over your head and you might be reserving work that has already been done.  I will go into lots of details about reserving Temple work in Part 3.  If you have found a name that you want to reserve, just write down the persons ID.  It is a 7 digit number/letter combination, usually right under the Name (it is displayed in this format: XXXX-XXX) and you can come back to it.

Next, take the stories, documents, and photos that you may have gathered and start putting those in.  You can input those in the Memories tab on the Person page, see below.

It is pretty self explanatory, so I won't go over everything.  If I don't explain something that you need, just ask me in the comments and I will try to answer the best I can.

First I'll touch on the Photos... just click Add (shown above) and upload your photo from your computer.   After you upload the photo, you may notice a red !  This just means that you need to tag your photo to the correct person (kind of like you would tag someone in Facebook).

To do that, you just need to click on the picture and add the name (if it didn't already do it for you), toward the bottom and add a title if you like and then hit save.  You can add more information if you like such as the date, location, description, etc.

When you are finished, your Memories pages might look something like this!

This is as far as we are going with Part 1... if you didn't learn anything, don't worry, we will go over a lot more of the complicated stuff in the other parts.  Listed below are the FAQs for this part.  If you have questions, feel free to leave me a comment.


I am cannot see or add my Temple Ordinances, can I do that?  As far as I know, no, you can't do anything with ordinances with any living people, including yourself and your immediate family members.

I cannot find my living relatives?!  I know that they are in the system, but I can't find them when I search for them.  Information on living people is private, so they are not searchable, you just need to add your own living relatives, for your own record.  Note that whatever you add about your living relatives will not be searchable by other people either.

Continue on to Getting Started with Genealogy Part 2: Cleaning up your Records and Start your Research

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Why the heck does a twenty-something year old mother to 3 young kids spend 6+ hours a week on Family History Research?!?!

Now let's be honest, I am a 27 year old, Wife, Mother (to 3 kids: 5yr old, 3yr old, & 1 yr old), and I also work from home... I am BUSY.  But I don't think I am necessarily any more busy than the average wife and mother, but seriously, what even defines "average", not any of the wives and mothers that I know.  Being a mother is nuts, your kids run your life and your time could go in 1000 different ways, the biggest question is what should "I" do with my time?  I am not here to tell everyone that they need to spend 6+ hours a week on Family History, I am only here because I feel the need to share my story and help those that want to see if Family History is right for them... that's it, I don't even necessarily feel like I am super excited about sharing my personal life on any sort of level, I just feel like it is what I am supposed to do, so here I am :)

My Family

So really... why does a 27 year old mother to 3 young kids spend 6+ hours a week on Family History Research?!?!  It its nuts, I won't lie!

Reason #1  //  My Story

About 2 years ago, my husband (Matt), DRAGGED me, and yes, I mean dragged me into a Family History Class being offered in church, wait  ... pause ...  you need to know a little background before that...  Before beginning the Family History Class, this was my motto on Family History: "BORING, and for OLD people that have plenty of time on their hands..." even the practical, "I want to be doing ALL that I can to be a better member of the church and servant of the Lord", justified those feelings by telling myself that there is a time and a place for Genealogy in our lives, and that is when I am retired and have time for that sort of thing... so, naturally, I was going to leave Family History to my Grandfather and all the other Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and so forth that felt like they had time for that sort of thing.  So now that you understand why I used the word "DRAGGED", let's get back to that part... 

I don't honestly remember many details of taking the class itself, but the day that I remember the most, was the first time that we were assigned to go home and explore the church's Family Search website.  So, I signed up, put in a few relatives and started clicking around... At first, my thought was, "I knew it, there is NO way that I am going to find ANYTHING here...", every branch of my family tree went out at least out to the 1700s.  "What is the point? I am never going to find anyone, nor do I have the time..."  I think at that moment, the Lord knew that I needed something to change that mentality, because after clicking around for an hour or so, I came across my first Temple with a little green arrow next to it.  And if any of you have ever used the site before, the green arrow is the symbol that means that you found someone that you can reserve temple work for!!  Not only was I startled by this, but I was slightly confused... "Wait, I didn't even have to do anything, I just clicked around and here they were, someone waiting for their temple work to be done, and no one else reserved it??"  So I clicked  on the name, went to reserve the work and then sadly realized that the system prompts you to check for "duplicates", it wanted me to see if the name was in the system already, just do a double check first, before I could reserve the name.  And, as you can guess, it WASN'T that easy... there were duplicate names in the system, in fact there were a lot of them.  So, that is when I realized that no, I was not just about to find my first name to take to the temple!  I was disappointed, but so disappointed in fact, that I just HAD to find a legit name, I just had too.  So after spending the REST of my evening, more like way into the night, I actually did find a name!  And not just one name, I found a whole family of people!!  I somehow managed to find a second wife to one of my ancestors and her children!  I was so astonished by this, but it was just the glimmer of hope that I needed that night to get excited about family history in a small way.  

So as it went, by the end of the class, I had found nearly 100 names and I had realized that even though my Grandpa, my Aunts, my Uncles and many distant cousins on BOTH sides of my family were knees deep in family history work, there was SO much work to be done!

So here I am 2 years later having found nearly 300 names, with no end in sight!  It has been an amazing, miraculous journey, and I am hooked!

Reason #2  //  I "Get to Know" my Ancestors

So I bring this reason up next, because it was one of the first realized blessings that I received from doing Genealogy.  I want to quickly relate an experience that I had, that I know that I would not have had, had I not been involved in my Family History.

I was facing a very hard time in my life, I felt like I was sinking into a state of sever anxiety and/or depression.  I was feeling very overwhelmed with myself and was honestly feeling that I was alone in my trial and was convinced that no one understood me and what I was truly facing inside.  My husband had recently suggested that I consider seeing a doctor, but I was embarrassed, and insisted that I would be able to "figure it out on my own".  

I continued to feel overwhelmed, and one afternoon in particular I found myself crying and on my knees in desperate prayer.  After praying, I clearly felt the need to look to my right, almost as if I knew that someone was there and a large binder on my shelf caught my eye.  It was a collection of Family History stories that I had borrowed from my Father.  I grabbed it and started flipping through the pages and I came across my Grandmother Carolynn's (I was named after her) story.  I felt inclined to read it, partially because I knew so little of her.  As I read her story, I came across a part that stood right out at me and at that moment, I knew that my Grandmother was there, in the room with me and that she was trying to tell me something.  In the story, my Grandfather described a period in her life where she was stressed and overwhelmed and she was frustrated because she was experiencing terrible migraines.  The doctor's suggested that she may be too stressed and that it would be a good idea to take on less.  At first she ignored the doctor's advice, calling it "phooey".  That part of the story made me smile because I related, I have so often in my life feel that doctors are constantly over-diagnosing and that many things can just be overcome by putting more effort into it.  After the migraines didn't go away, my Grandmother finally followed the doctor's advice and quit her job and miraculously her migraines disappeared and she was even able to get pregnant, which she hadn't been able to do before.  It was at that moment, that I knew that Matt was right and that I needed to suck it up and go to the doctor.  I learned not only that I was not crazy, but that my whole life I have had ADHD, and that these battles in my mind were frustrations that I simply didn't know how to handle, because I didn't have the proper tools to handle them.  My Grandmother knew that I needed help and she helped me find the answer that I needed.

I can now say, thanks to Family History, that I KNOW that the people that have gone on before us are not only there, but that they are invested in our lives and that they watch out for us.  We need "get to know them" and studying our family history is the best way to do that.

Reason #3  //  Finding those that are Waiting

This reason, I would say is one of the most obvious reasons for any person to start doing their Family History, but I never truly understood it's significance until really getting into it.  The first year or 2 of my Family History work really felt more like a hobby (not that I didn't realize the blessings from it), but it really wasn't until this year that I really began to understand the importance and the need for what I was doing.  I had an experience about a month ago, that I want to share that really changed my perspective.

Like every Sunday, I was sitting down, working on my Family History.  My 16 year old brother called me and asked if he could come work on it with me so that he could find a few names to fulfill a Young Men's assignment, before they attended the temple.  I dropped the section of my family tree that I was doing and pulled out a new spot of names that I thought that I could show him, so that he could work on it without messing up what I was on.  Little did I know that he would actually find some names as we worked on that section.  Now to back the story up a little bit, every Monday morning, like EARLY every Monday morning (4:45am) a group of ladies and I have been attending the temple to do initatories.  On this particular Sunday, I was not terribly excited about going the next day, I honestly was going to bail even.  Also, I knew that it might snow, and that was another reason for not going (more like an excuse).  But, randomly, here my little brother shows up, helps me work on an entirely different section of names and not only did we find 3 female names, but all 3 female names were already done with their Baptisms and Confirmations and just waiting to have their initatories done!  So, I took that as a good enough reason not to miss out on the temple trip the next day.  Fasting forward to the next morning at the temple, I remember waiting to begin the work for one of the names in particular and as I sat there, I decided to pray for her that she might be ready to accept the work that I would be doing for her.  A moment later when the temple worker began the initatory, I felt an overwhelming feeling of joy!  I knew that she was there and I knew that not only did she eagerly accept the work, but that she was so grateful that I found her and that she had been WAITING for SO LONG.  That was the feeling that I got.  It was amazing, overwhelming and I knew that the spirt was so strong because not only had I teared up, but the temple worker was tearing up (and usually the seem so composed at all times, lol).  After I finished her initatory, I looked down at the card and studied it, and as I did, I realized that her Baptism and Confirmation had been performed clear back in 2005 and I felt distinctly that she was eager back then for her work to continue, and she was so grateful that I "found" her.  For some reason, obviously I will never know, she got lost and someone had to find her again.  It was an amazing experience, and I am will always be so grateful for the veil to be so thin that morning, because I will never forget the close feeling that I felt to Eva Catherina (the woman's work that I did).  That experience will always be with me as I continue to search for those that are anxiously waiting for their work to be done.

Reason #4  //  It Get's Me to the Temple

I never expected Genealogy to really change many of my habits much, other than maybe consume more of my time, but the simple truth is that yes, it does consume more of my time.  The neat thing is that I fill my time with are much more uplifting and worthy things, like going to the temple!  What a better way to get rid of that "Shoot, I really need to get to the temple" feeling.  It is really hard for me not to go to the temple now, with a stack of 150 family names sitting by my bedside, it is becoming harder and harder to find reasons NOT to make time to go.  What a blessing that has been in my life, because I am the QUEEN of procrastination and before Family History, I will sadly, but honestly admit that getting to the temple once a year was more common that once a month.

Reason #5  //  I Have To

I saved this reason for last, because it is a hard one to swallow.  I will be the first to admit that I never have a problem making time for Family History, because I am addicted and I really truly enjoy it.  It is in no way boring to me.  One of my "fantasy" jobs has always been to become a criminal investigator (detective)... So I think that honestly Family History is a perfect way to fulfill that "Detective" in me.  It is worth all those hours spent every time I am able to reserve a new name.  My problems started to become, "should I be feeling guilty about doing this work, while I have a young family and lots of other responsibilities?"  So let me share another experience that I had that really puts the "have to" in perspective...

About 6 months or so ago, I was having another one of my "moments", I like to call them... The "moment" where my day goes from being okay, to "I give up", "I can't do it anymore".  Sounds kind of pathetic as I write about it, but that is the reality!  Anyway, so I had a "moment" and Matt was there for me, like he always is :) and he felt prompted to give me a blessing.  I honestly hadn't even thought about it, but it is exactly what I needed.  To put it in perspective for the stories sake, my "moment" was a mixture of "I am doing all I can!", "I am just trying to be better person!", but "I am failing at this, and this, and this, and that", "Why is so much expected of me?", or "Am I just expecting all of this from myself for no reason?".  So when Matt gave me the blessing, I remember being so startled at first, I felt that I had not really expected what I heard.  I expected to be told that it was okay to slow down and do what you can... I really did.  But instead, the blessing went much differently.  I was told that the Lord was pleased with my added efforts, he needed me to continue to work harder.  He mentioned a lot of specifics, but included in that list was Family History.  I was told that the Lord was very pleased with my efforts in Family History and that I should continue.  But the key to the entire blessing was that he told me that I was capable of all of this, and that it was me that needed to stop telling myself that I couldn't do it.  Wow, did that hit me!  I was just told that I was the only person stopping myself from doing more.  So there was my answer, I "have to" keep doing this work.  There isn't some distant time and place in my life reserved for this work... the time, for me, is now.