16 December 2015

December Find, Take, Teach

My Find, Take, Teach class this month had few attendees. I am hoping the issue was the number of different activities that conflicted with the Class. December is a hard time to try and fit everything in. My youngest son had a band concert at the Junior High School so I even had to bump the start of the class half an hour.

I started out the class with a talk from Elder Dallin H. Oaks called, Family History: “In Wisdom and in Order”. I think that Elder Oaks has some great advise for those of us who are trying to help others to do their Family History work. I suggest that you read it but he gives a great summary in three points.
(1) All things should be done in wisdom and order. We should recognize that our members have many individual circumstances. Considering these, we should promote the mission of the Church in such a way as to accomplish the work of the Lord, not to impose guilt on his children. 
(2) There is a time to every purpose under the heaven. There are many tasks to be performed in temple and family history work. We should encourage our members to make prayerful selection of the things they can do in their individual circumstances and in view of their current Church callings, being “diligent unto the end.” 
(3) Each member should think about... the mission of the Church... as a lifelong personal assignment and privilege. Each should gauge his or her personal participation from time to time according to his or her own circumstances and resources, as guided by the Spirit of the Lord and the direction of priesthood leaders.  [I edited this quote to make it shorter and because of the redefinition of the mission of the church.]
We have to be careful when teaching others not to overwhelm them or make them feel guilty about what they have or haven't done. I try to give answers and information in a way to assist and help.

Family Discovery Center

If you have not have the chance to visit the Family Discovery Center in the Joseph Smith Memorial building on temple square you are missing out. Dennis Brimhall, former Managing Director of FamilySearch, liked to call it a Museum of Me. It is a different approach to getting people engaged in Family History without the usual roadblocks many beginners are challenged with.

It may be difficult to coordinate a visit to Temple Square for a group of people so I thought I would share with you two ways you can bring the Family Discovery Center to you and those you teach.


RootsMapper is an app that uses the data in FamilySearch to plot on a map the places where your ancestors were born and the migration of your family across the globe.

I have a blog post that goes into a little more detail about the app. This is very similar to one of the booths that you can use at the Family Discovery Center. One advantage to using RootsMapper is that you can customize your search for different generations. You can also search from one of the pinpoints on the map. This would be a fun way to introduce your others to their families.

You will need to have an active FamilySearch account and to have linked yourself to some ancestors for this to work. Members of the L.D.S. Church who have pioneer ancestors will have the best results.


Forbears.io is a website that specializes in surname and related resources.

I have a blog post with more specific information about the website. Although the presentation of information is not at all like in the Family Discovery Center the general information about a person's surname is similar. This website engages users in learning about their family name through maps and other information. This would also be a fun way to introduce someone to information about their family.

We discussed the use of GEDCOM files in websites and other software. I was surprised that more people did not know about GEDCOM files and how they are used. I made a short blog post about them. I believe this is something we may discuss in the future. I believe this is key to understanding how we can use data as a tool to find for family members for our Family History.

Turning of Our Hearts

The Turning of Our Hearts is a video that shows how a family was brought together by learning about their Family History. It shows how the Ward Council plans and engages the family in the work. I think every ward council should watch this video as part of a training.

15 December 2015

A look at Forebears.io

The Forebears.io website was launched in June of 2012. I remember coming across it a couple of times in my searches and I am sure through other blog posts. I was trying to find a tool that was similar to the one FamilySearch uses in their Family Discovery Centers.

Although similar, it is not the same as what is used in the centers but I thought for my purpose it would show interesting information about surnames. Forebears also links users to other resources of information they may be looking for.

After a quick search of my surname Forebears shows me how common my name is in the world and approximately how many people in the world have my name.

I also appreciate the maps that show places in the world where my name is found the most. You can also change the time period that the map represents.

The maps are also interactive an allow you to drill down for more information. The above map shows where Trotters can be most easily found.

Drilling deeper I can see where in Utah my name is most common.

I also looked in Louisiana where my surname line is at a brick wall. The Parishes in the toe of the boot are where my ancestors once lived.

The Trotter surname is also common in northern England and Southern Scotland.

One of my branches in Louisiana is the surname Facundus. When I look at the map the only place in the United States where there is a cluster of these names in in the same place my ancestors lived. In this way this tool could be very valuable as in research and giving you educated guesses where else you might find information.

RootsMapper a FamilySearch compatible app

I have been using RootsMapper for a while now. I cannot remember when I first came across the app but it has been listed on my internet resources page for at least two years.

If you have never heard of RootsMapper their blog has a description as:
RootsMapper allows you to easily visualize the migration patterns of your ancestors. It utilizes the data that already exists in your FamilySearch Family Tree to plot your ancestors onto an interactive map. Discover your family’s heritage with RootsMapper. It’s easy to get started. Just visit our website and login with your FamilySearch credentials and a basic map will automatically generate. From there you can explore additional options and plot multiple additional generations in seconds.
A lot of people are familiar with what RootsMapper can do if they attended RootsTech last year or if they have been to visit a Family Discovery Center. I am not positive that it is the same technology but the results are pretty close.

RootsMapper works in conjunction with FamilySearch. When you first get to the RootsMapper.com website it prompts you to login with your FamilySearch account.

Once the pages loads your information from FamilySearch you can watch it plot on a map the places where your direct relatives were born. Each pin in the map represents a person. By clicking on the pin you can open a link to their profile page in FamilySearch.

Using the tools in the top left hand corner you can select how many generations you want to have plotted. You can also toggle the lines, pins and country colors on and off.

The tools also show you the number of people in each country. You can also get the same information but generation.

I like the way this tool allows me to visualize the immigration pattern of my family. It also will allow you to see the disbursement of families across the work by generation.

As you can see by my maps, it looks like my first seven generations all lead back to Great Britain and Germany. No wonder I get sunburned so quickly. Try this app. It is interesting to play with the generations. You can also have a seperate relative be the beginning of the map.

What is a GEDCOM file and how do I use it?

I first became familiar with GEDCOM files when PAF support ended and I migrated my data over to Legacy. GEDCOM stands for Genealogical Data Communication. It is a file standard first developed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and since adopted and the standard for exchanging data between different genealogy software.

How can you use a GEDCOM? 
One of the great things about using computers to complete Family History work is that the information can be used in many different ways. It is very hard to maintain several different databases. Ancestry.com, Family Tree, WikiTree, rootsweb, MyHeritage, and FindMyPast all allow you to download the information you have in your GEDCOM to their websites so you can use their tools to find out more information about your family.

However, not all of these sites allow you to download information into a GEDCOM file. Interestingly Family Tree currently does not support downloading or exporting information from the website. In order to get this data you would need to use a third-party certified program like Legacy or RootsMagic to convert the information for you into a GEDCOM file.

Why talk about GEDCOM?
I have recently started using MyHeritage.com. When I uploaded my GEDCOM file to the website it searched and found over 12,000 possible record matches for my ancestors.

I am familiar with many of the sources but there are 1282 matches in the Newspaper Archive alone.

After finding a newspaper record MyHeritage also shows you related records for the source you are checking. In the case above there are 10 other related records including pictures, headstones and other records.

Check out using GEDCOM files to find more information about your family members. I suggest that you keep a master file in either Legacy or RootsMagic. Make updates to your master file and then use it to create other GEDCOM files for tools on the Internet.