Sunday, August 24, 2014

Who Stands Behind You?

One of the greatest ways to find out who you are is to discover where you come from. Begin to today to learn what you can about those who came before you. Who makes up your lineage?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Relative Finder--A New Feature for FamilySearch Users

Recently, a friend in my ward posted this link and description to our ward facebook page:

"a team of computer scientists at BYU have designed a program that allows you to find out your relation to others. This program uses your FamilySearch family tree to find common relatives with others. Its fast and easy!"

To get on is simple. The link is:

A homepage shows up, welcoming you to the website. Simply click on "Connect"
You will then be prompted to sign in through the FamilySearch login page
It will take some time, but the website will load your FamilyTree into the system. The rest is fairly straightforward...
As you can see, there are four links on the top right hand corner of the page. This screenshot is currently the home page. Next to that is "Relatives," which is the main feature of this website. When you click on this link, it takes you to the following page:
Simply select which groups you want to compare relations with, and click "Show Relatives."
I chose "Declaration Signers" and came back with the above results. Don't be afraid to play around with it. You can click on the category to organize them and there is a feature on the left of your relation that says "View."
When you select view, you are taken to a page that displays a chart showing your relationship to the individual from the group you chose. You can download this chart as a pdf or print directly from the webpage. 

If you refer back to the fourth image, you will see that I belong to a group. Through this website, you can create groups for people to join up and find out how you are related--in this case, the young man from my ward created a group for my YSA ward. 

Overall, I found this site to be quite easy and interesting to use. One thing to be mindful of is the accuracy of your tree in FamilySearch--this will affect the actual relationship you share with individuals when the system reveals a common ancestor. Also, the default groups are limited to a smaller population. They seemed to deal primarily with English ancestry, which is convenient for longterm Americans and multi-generational Mormons. Go give the website a try and see what it does for you.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

You Might Be a (Young) Genealogist If...

    You know what the following abbreviations stand for when they appear across the Internet: BMD, FMP, DAR, DUP, FHL, FHC, GLO, NARA, WRHS, and so on.
    You know how to use a digital microfilm reader
    You can watch a movie, research, and perform data input all on the same computer
With twenty open tabs being used at various times…
    People tell you that you have an old person’s hobby
    You actually know how to talk to the older generations
    You work two jobs, go to school, and still find time for genealogy—who needs sleep right?
    You know how to use at least five different kinds of scanners
    You use the library’s online catalog for its obscure features in research help
      You NEVER take a transcription for face value
      You enjoy getting your hands dirty from time to time when it comes to research—remember those things called books? (Yeah, got a stack of them on my shelf about random historical things.)
      You know what “second cousin once removed” means
      Your ability to speed-read and multi-task…Pretty much speaks for itself
      These three words get you excited: Salt Lake Trip!
    You would rather spend your Saturday in the library than at the biggest ward function of the summer
      You have been on a date to a genealogy related function

“College Often Unwise for Young Ladies”…Or Is It?

It is interesting how this phrase sounds in 2014. I encountered this headline, “College Often Unwise for Young Ladies,” when I was perusing old newspapers from 1950 for obituaries. Catching my eye, I scanned the article to read later.

Being from an old advice column called “Dorothy Dix Talks,” I found the journalist’s opinion stunning yet intriguing to one letter writer’s plight: “I have…five daughters of whom I am naturally proud, but we are in very modest circumstances and I have been ill for over a year…My oldest girl…graduates from high school this term. What about a college education?...shall we struggle along, denying ourselves everything we possibly can and sacrificing the comforts of the whole family, in order to send our girls to college?—Mrs. B.”

What would you say if you were the journalist? Would you encourage this mother to act on her desire to provide her girls with the best including a college education? Would you do some research for her on good schools and alternatives to paying for tuition?

As I pondered over this mother’s question, I came back to the reality of this column. This was in 1950, not 2014. Circumstances and social norms were different. Very different. Miss Dix wrote the following reply: “I think where a girl can be sent to college depends entirely on her personality. Upon her looks, her disposition, her character, and most of all upon the sort of brain she has and what her ambitions are.” Right there, in the first sentence, Miss Dix reminds readers that college education was not a priority, especially for girls.

She continues: “Not all girls are college material. Plenty of them are bright…but they have no book sense. They have no intention whatever of following any learned career, and it is a waste of time and money to send them to college…Also, it is a waste of time and money to send to college the girl who has more glamor than gray matter, and who was predestined by Nature for marriage.” She goes on for another two paragraphs addressing both side of the issue, but clearly making a stance that college is more of a luxury for the rich than for the working class.

Her opinion becomes more heated as the column progresses. She boldly declares: “I do not think that there is anything more pathetic than the superstitious reverence the great majority of people have for a college education. They have a blind misguided belief…that a college degree is some sort of magic that will unlock every door of opportunity to its fortunate possessor and enable them to stroll through prosperity.” Towards the end of the column, she states that kids at college “are just having a grand fling and a four years’ loaf, nothing but a college yell and maybe sweater with a letter on it and a swelled head.”

I was shocked, but not surprised by this journalist dissuading the mother from sending her daughters to college. In 1950, women were expected to marry young and run a household. Today, women are encouraged to pursue an education and enter the career force. According to an article from The New York Times, “men now make up only 42 percent of the nation's college students. And with sex discrimination fading and their job opportunities widening, women are coming on much stronger, often leapfrogging the men to the academic finish.” (Tamar Lewin, “At Colleges, Women Are Leaving Men in the Dust, 2006).

Although I do not share most of the columnist’s opinion from 1950, she was supporting a norm for the day that working class people could not afford college. Opportunities for the less fortunate to go were fewer. After thinking it over and considering how college education has become a widely accepted social standard today, I am grateful for the opportunities available to this generation. Having a college degree, I feel like my six years were not wasted, but rather the opposite of what Miss Dix wrote—I have the magic key to more opportunities and to greater prosperity.

In essence, college is wise for young ladies. In the words of two respected religious leaders: “Arise, young women! You determine your goals. You decide what enters your mind and heart.” “The future us unknown; therefore, it behooves us to prepare for uncertainties…pursue your education and learn marketable skills.”

Monday, August 11, 2014

Success Story: Your Family Needs You!

Once upon a time, a young lady came seeking help for doing her genealogy. Having never used FamilySearch before, I took her aside and showed her the basics. Unlike most people I have helped, her story takes an unusual twist—she had success within two days. Since the LDS Church preaches the need to spiritually bind our families together through temple work, her ability to find several names for the temple in one sitting is phenomenal.

The process was simple. She already had her LDS account set up so we went straight to work, logging into FamilySearch FamilyTree to navigate her tree. When we encountered a green arrow, we investigated. The green arrow means a name is ready to submit to the temple, but we needed to takes some steps before clicking on that green arrow: was this person’s information correct? Were they connected to the right family members? And most importantly, was their work already done?

Looking through census records and well-researched profiles, we verified their vital information and family connections. All were cleared. Next, we checked the system for duplicates to make sure there were no repeated individuals floating around. After we merged a semi-completed tree to my friend’s, that is when the floodgates opened. The children of her something-great grandparents were missing information on their own families!

Within thirty to forty minutes, we dug up the names for several new individuals who were not yet in the system, providing new names for my friend to take to the temple. What were the best things about this experience? A young lady unaccustomed to genealogy work was able to put a whole family together: the parents, the children, and the children-in-law. She was able to experience the thrill of researching information and learning new things about these people related to her. The crème-de-la-crème was that she did it all herself, with me only supervising research and website use. She is officially a genealogist.

One does not have to be incredibly gifted with research or technology to do family history. If you are wanting to get started, do it with a buddy or a relative, visit a family history center, or even try it on your own to see what you can do if you are adept with technology already. A lot can happen in one sitting. If you hit bricks walls, don’t give up—there are people out there who can help you. Your Family Need You!