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New Records and Resources to Discover Your Dutch Ancestors

FamilySearch - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 15:29

If you’re looking for ancestors from your Dutch heritage, you’re in luck! FamilySearch has recently published millions of records (51 million to be exact) from the Netherlands, making it easier than ever to trace your Dutch roots. These new records have increased FamilySearch’s collection of Dutch names from 4,074,736 to over 55 million. If you’ve ever gotten stuck looking for your ancestors before they immigrated or looking for any relatives you may still have in the Netherlands, this may be the perfect opportunity to dive in and find some answers!

This isn’t only an opportunity to find lost relatives. This is also a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the lives of the ancestors you already know about. You may find more information about their birth, residence, marriage, or more! Browse the newly available Dutch records to see what you can find. You may be surprised at the wealth of information now available to you.

For more tips to help you manage your search or stories about Dutch heritage, read the articles below.

51 Million New Dutch Records Now Available on FamilySearch

How to Find Your Ancestors in Dutch Records

Gifts from My Dutch Heritage

How to Search the FamilySearch Site



51 Million New Dutch Records Now Available on FamilySearch

FamilySearch - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 15:08

Do you have ancestors from the Netherlands? If so, an incredible resource is now available to increase your chances of success in your family history research. New records that can help you find your Dutch ancestors are searchable on FamilySearch.org for the first time ever in the “Netherlands, Archival Indexes, Miscellaneous Records” collection. These new records have increased FamilySearch’s collection of Dutch names from 4,074,736 indexed names to over 55 million—almost 14 times what it was before. If you have Dutch ancestry, there’s never been a better time to dive into our record collection and find your family!

Tips for Finding Your Ancestors in New Dutch Records
  • Start by searching for your ancestors in the “Netherlands, Archival Indexes, Miscellaneous Records” collection. You can search with just a name, or narrow your search by including life events (birth, marriage, death) or relationships (spouse, parents, or other relatives).
  • Use the blue record hints you see in your tree to help you find these newly added names. These records can lead you to information about your ancestors’ parents, siblings, or children—people you may not have in your tree yet.
  • Birth, marriage, and death records are some of the best resources to find and verify vital information. They can also help you discover other important facts, like names of parents or other relatives, occupations, or addresses, which can lead you to other helpful records.
  • Don’t worry if you don’t speak Dutch—these records are easy to search and attach to your tree. But, if you need help with any Dutch words you encounter, check out the Dutch Genealogical Word List on the FamilySearch Wiki.
  • Be aware of local naming traditions. Before 1811, there was no legal requirement to have a hereditary surname. People in the northern provinces of the Netherlands used patronymics derived from the father’s name, while some people in the east of the country named themselves after the farm they lived on. Understanding the naming traditions for the region where you are doing research helps you to know which names to look for.
  • Huwelijksbijlagen [marriage supplements] are documents that a bride and groom had to submit to prove identity and eligibility to get married. They often included birth records, proof that the groom fulfilled his military duties, and the death records of any predeceased spouses or parents. These records are a great place to look for information on your ancestors and can often point you to other records to look for as well!
  • You can find the scanned images of these records by clicking “Visit Partner Site” when reviewing record information. This will bring you to the Open Archives website, where you will see a thumbnail to click through to a scan of the original record, presented at the website of the archive that supplied the information.

New Records and Resources to Discover Your Dutch Ancestors

How to Find Your Ancestors in Dutch Records

Gifts from My Dutch Heritage

How to Search the FamilySearch Site



How to Use Dutch Records on FamilySearch

FamilySearch - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 14:56

by Yvette Hoitink

In the Netherlands, historical records are kept in public archives. Increasingly, archives are digitizing and indexing these records, and then publishing the resulting scans and indexes online as open data that is free for reuse.

FamilySearch collaborates with the archives to provide online access to the most popular records, in collections or through the catalog. Some of these collections are indexed and available through the Search tab on FamilySearch.org, while other collections can be browsed manually. Not all scanned images have been made available as collections yet, so also check the catalog for the towns where your ancestors lived.

How to Find Your Ancestors from the Netherlands

The new “Netherlands, Archival Indexes, Miscellaneous Records” collection contains a range of records from all over the Netherlands. To use these records to trace your ancestors, it’s important to understand what they are and what kind of information they contain. The sections below provide helpful background and tips to help you successfully navigate this valuable collection of records.

Research after 1811

If your ancestors lived in the Netherlands after 1811, there are certain sets of records that will be particularly helpful in your research.

  • Civil registration records of births, marriages, and deaths. The strict regulations regarding the civil registration make these records the most reliable sources of vital information from that time period. Most Dutch families can be traced back to the late 1700s using birth, marriage, and death records.

    Birth record for Vincent Van Gogh, March 30, 1853

  • Population registers. These documents record who lived in a place at a certain time and can be another great place to find ancestors who lived between 1850 and 1939. Like census records, they show whole households, but they are kept up to date and include information about arrivals and departures.

    Example of a population register from the late 1800s

  • Emigration lists. These records were kept by the government to keep track of emigrants, often including name, age, occupation, religion, reason for leaving, and destination. They were compiled based on the departure dates in the population registers.
Research before 1811

If your ancestors lived in the Netherlands before 1811, research becomes more complicated. Records from that time period aren’t as detailed, and there was no legal requirement for a hereditary surname. However, there are several types of records that can be useful.

  • Church registrations of baptisms, marriages, and burials usually go back to the early 1600s and are the first records to look for.
    • The Dutch Reformed Church has been the dominant church since the Reformation in most parts of the Netherlands, but most people in the southern provinces of Brabant and Limburg attended the Roman Catholic Church. (Roman Catholic records were kept in Latin; other records were kept in Dutch.)

Although church records can provide important details about your ancestors, they usually don’t provide enough information to prove identity and parentage. Since many Dutch people were named after family members, there can be a lot of same-named people in a town. Proving that a spouse in a marriage record is the same person as a child in a baptismal record may require other types of records.

  • Court and notarial records may include last wills, prenuptial agreements, estate settlements, and guardian appointments that can show how people were related.
  • Tax records and land records can tell you if your ancestors owned property and how they acquired it. These records often go back to the late 1500s.

Dutch records are excellent and will often allow you to trace your ancestors back to the late 1500s. The digitization efforts of the archives in the Netherlands and FamilySearch are making many of these records available to you through FamilySearch.

More Information

For more information on the new Dutch records available on FamilySearch, read the following articles.

51 Million New Dutch Records Now Available on FamilySearch

New Records and Resources to Discover Your Dutch Ancestors

Gifts from My Dutch Heritage

How to Search the FamilySearch Site



Training, Inspiration Available at RootsTech 2018

FamilySearch - Tue, 09/19/2017 - 08:03

Are you getting ready for RootsTech?

Each year tens of thousands of family history fans descend on the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, for the world’s largest family history conference. Hosted annually by the Family History Department (aka FamilySearch), RootsTech has become the premiere family history event for both the general public and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. RootsTech 2018 is scheduled for February 28–March 3, 2018.

Many of those that attend RootsTech, either in person or via streaming video, are temple and family history consultants or others with family history callings. Any who have participated in the past have discovered that it’s one of the best opportunities to receive meaningful training and inspiration for their calling.

Since registration for the event recently opened, now is a good time to consider how you might participate this year.

Attending in Person

If you attend in person, you will be amazed at what you see. RootsTech is huge and offers enough learning opportunities to benefit family historians at any level of experience. The conference features, among other things:

  • 200+ breakout sessions
  • A large Expo Hall with family history products and services
  • Daily inspirational keynote sessions
  • Entertaining evening events

There are classes on DNA research, what’s new (and coming soon) on FamilySearch.org, updates on the latest family history sites and apps, and many other topics. Perhaps most beneficial for someone with a family history calling are the consultant-specific classes that provide tips and best practices for preparing spiritual, one-on-one family history experiences.

Individuals with a family history calling are eligible to attend at a discounted rate. Anyone with a family history calling can purchase a full, four-day RootsTech 2018 conference pass for $129—just use the promotional code 18CALLING during registration.

Visit RootsTech.org for more information or to register.

Can’t Attend?

If you are unable to make it to Salt Lake City to attend the conference in person, you can still participate. In fact, many of the sights, sounds, and learnings from the conference will be streamed live online at rootstech.org. Each day of the conference, RootsTech will live-stream a select number of sessions. These sessions will cover topics such as how to find and use pension files, how to uncover hidden truths in old family photos, and how to use the many features available on FamilySearch.

A full streaming schedule of events will be available in February 2018.

Watch Family Discovery Day on LDS.org

As part of RootsTech, the Family History Department also hosts Family Discovery Day, a 1-day event to inspire you to discover, celebrate, and cherish your family relationships. Family Discovery Day features inspiring devotionals from General Authorities as well as breakout sessions taught by popular LDS speakers. Family Discovery Day begins on March 3, 2018 at 1:00 p.m. and will be streamed live on the LDS.org homepage.

Learn more about Family Discovery Day.

So, that’s the latest on RootsTech 2018. Save the date—February 28–March 3, 2018—so you can make the most of RootsTech and gain new experience and knowledge to help you succeed in your calling.


Using Apprenticeship Records to Trace Your Ancestors from the United States to England

FamilySearch - Mon, 09/18/2017 - 15:00

by Kate Eakman

Tracing your ancestor’s journey from England to the United States during colonial times can be difficult. Passenger lists from that period weren’t as detailed as modern ones, which can often help you determine the identity of the family they left behind, places of birth, and family members or friends who had already immigrated. But, if you are fortunate, and if you know one or two key pieces of information about that ancestor, Findmypast has some great databases that can help you make that leap across the pond.

Let’s imagine your ancestor was John Randall, an Englishman by birth who ended up in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, by the 1790s. From the census records, you know that he was born no later than 1765, but he could have been born ten or twenty or more years earlier than that since he only appeared in the “white males 45 years of age and older” columns.

You also know that John was a joiner or a specialized carpenter who made the wooden parts of a building such as stairs, doors, door frames, and window frames. But you are stuck on the banks of the Chesapeake Bay unable to find John Randall in England. A search for John Randall with various spellings of his name results in a thousand possible matches for men born in England between 1725 and 1765.

Fortunately for you, there are specialized document sets on Findmypast which can help you trace John Randall. They are all related to his occupation and can be used to trace any ancestor who lived and worked in a specialized trade in England between 1442 and 1933.

From medieval times, the most common way for a young man to learn a trade was to become an apprentice. His parents would pay a fee to a master craftsman to take in the young man for at least seven years and teach him the skills of the trade. Careful records were kept of the name of the apprentice, the name of the master, and the trade which the boy was to learn—and those contracts still exist today. Findmypast has several of these record sets available: Country Apprentices 1710–1808; City of London, Haberdashers, Apprentices and Freemen 1526–1933; City of London, Ironmongers, Apprentices and Freemen 1511–1923; and London Apprenticeship Abstracts, 1442–1850.

In the case of John Randall, you know that the haberdashers (in England this meant dealers in small items used for sewing, such as buttons, thread, needles, etc.) and the ironmongers (people who made iron hardware, such as handles, hinges, and locks) are not the places to look for him, but the Country Apprentices and the London Apprenticeships Abstracts record sets are both possible places where records for a man who was a joiner might be found.

A search of these sources yielded two entries for the same person: Master John Randall, a carpenter from Sherrington or Sherington in Gloucestershire, took in two apprentices—one in 1761 and one in 1764. While it is certainly possible that Master John Randall of Gloucestershire could be the ancestor you seek, you still need to find some evidence that this man emigrated (left England) between 1764 and 1790.

FindMyPast database and record collections

This is where another document set comes in handy. Findmypast has a set of passenger lists (Early Emigration from Britain 1636–1815) which, depending on the date of travel, can contain some very specific information. Your next step is to search that document set for John Randall of Gloucester, traveling between 1771 (when James Lowe’s 1764 apprenticeship would have ended) and 1790 (the year John was living in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, which you discovered in a previous search). This search resulted in four possible options, three who traveled to Philadelphia, and one who traveled to Maryland:

FindMyPast database and record collections

The three men who left in 1774 for Philadelphia were a sawyer from Kent, a husbandman from Salisbury, and a laborer from Salisbury—none of which match the ancestral John Randall, joiner. But the first man on the list was 40-year-old John Randall, a carpenter and joiner from Gloucestershire. He embarked on the ship Sibella from London on March 21, 1774 and landed in Maryland:

FindMyPast database and record collections

You can also see a copy of the actual passenger list, which provides you with the information that John was traveling with his wife, 30-year-old Ann Randall. Their final destination was Maryland, where they intended to settle. This information matches the age of the woman who appeared in the US census records you already found and provides a possible name for your ancestor’s wife.

FindMyPast database and record collections

While there is still more research necessary before you can definitively say that the John Randall you found in Gloucestershire is your ancestor, by utilizing these unique record sets available on Findmypast, you have managed to find what appears to be the ancestor you were seeking. And once you have verified that the two men are the same person, you have a very specific part of England to begin your search for John Randall and his ancestors in Gloucestershire. (John’s Maryland will, which names his wife, Ann, would be a great start, or a deed naming the two of them buying or selling a piece of real estate would be another way to confirm the connection.1)

Kate Eakman works for Legacy Tree Genealogists, a genealogy research firm with extensive expertise in researching and finding immigrant ancestors. Legacy Tree also has numerous onsite agents in hundreds of countries worldwide who can access archives and repositories for records that may be necessary in tracing your immigrant ancestors.

[1] See Maryland, Anne Arundel and Howard Counties, Founders (Published 1905); Maryland, Anne Arundel County, Wills 1777–1917; Maryland, History, 1634–1848; and Maryland, Index of New Early Settlers of Maryland Query By Dr. Carson Gibb. All sources can be found on Findmypast.


Even with Technology, Family History Is “a Spiritual Work”

FamilySearch - Thu, 09/14/2017 - 13:06

by Kathryn Grant

In an April 2017 General Conference talk, President Henry B. Eyring spoke of Elijah’s visit to the Prophet Joseph Smith in the Kirtland Temple in 1836 (see D&C 110:13–16).

Since that visit, President Eyring observed, “interest in exploring one’s family history has grown exponentially. At ever-increasing rates, people seem drawn to their ancestry with more than just casual curiosity.”

In addition, President Eyring noted that “technologies have emerged around the world to support this interest” (“Gathering the Family of God,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2017, 21).

Some of the more recent technology advances include the following:

  • 1999: The Church launched the FamilySearch.org website.1
  • 2006: The indexing program began, engaging hundreds of thousands of volunteers to transcribe information from historical records to make them searchable.2
  • 2012: FamilySearch released Family Tree, a shared tree with features to enable collaboration and reduce duplication.3
  • 2014: FamilySearch began partner relationships with other family history organizations, making access to records and discovery experiences easier than ever.3

It’s easy to see that technology has advanced family history in ways that would otherwise be impossible. However, President Eyring taught, “I have learned . . . that even the best technology can never be a substitute for revelation from heaven. . . . This is a spiritual work, and the Lord directs it through His Holy Spirit” (“Gathering the Family of God,” 22). We use technology most effectively when we are guided by the Spirit.

As we keep this principle in mind and teach it to those we help, we will be in the strongest position to take advantage of the technological miracles of our day—miracles to help us in the great work of gathering our families on both sides of the veil.

President Eyring emphasized this truth with a personal experience:

“I was working on my family history with a consultant by my side and another helper on the phone. On the computer screen before me was a problem beyond my mortal power to solve. I saw two names, sent to me by the wonders of technology, of people who might be waiting for a temple ordinance. But the trouble was that the names were different, but there was a reason to believe they might be the same person. My task was to determine what was true.

“I asked my consultants to tell me. They said, ‘No, you must choose.’ And they were completely sure I would discover the truth. The computer, with all its power and information, had left me the blessing of staring at those names on a screen, evaluating the available information, seeking other research, praying silently, and discovering what was true. As I prayed, I knew with surety what to do—just as I have in other situations when I needed to rely on heaven’s help to solve a problem” (“Gathering the Family of God,” 22).

President Eyring concluded, “We do not know what marvels God will inspire people to create to help in His work of gathering His family. But whatever marvelous inventions may come, their use will require the Spirit working in people like you and me” (“Gathering the Family of God,” 22).

As you prepare to help other people gather their families, consider how you can use the Spirit in your preparation and how you can help them to recognize the Spirit in the time you spend together.

[1] “FamilySearch.org,” FamilySearch.org/wiki/en/FamilySearch.org.

[2] “FamilySearch Indexing,” FamilySearch.org/wiki/en/FamilySearch_Indexing.

[3] “FamilySearch,” en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FamilySearch.

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Technology: A Heart-Turning Tool

FamilySearch - Tue, 09/12/2017 - 09:30

by Kathryn Grant

Vilate Kimball was present when the Prophet Joseph Smith first taught the Saints about baptism for the dead. She wrote joyfully to her husband, Heber C. Kimball, who was then serving a mission:

“President [Joseph] Smith . . . says it is the privilege of [members of] this Church to be baptized for all their kinsfolk that have died before this gospel came forth. . . .

“I want to be baptized for my mother. . . . Is not this a glorious doctrine?” (As quoted by Quentin L. Cook, “Roots and Branches,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 44–45).

In those early days, family history meant talking to relatives, sending letters across oceans, and even looking through old church records.

But as technology advanced, things changed. Microfilmed records were a miracle in their day, followed by personal computers, the internet, and mobile devices. Technology is one way the Lord hastens the work of family history, in ways our ancestors probably never imagined. But technology doesn’t replace heart-turning experiences; rather, it’s a tool that can invite them.

One way the miracle of technology comes to us is through FamilySearch partners. Over the years, FamilySearch has gathered and digitized billions of valuable family history documents and made them available in FamilySearch Historical Records. However, many records are available only on other sites.

FamilySearch has partnered with key family history organizations to provide free accounts for members of the Church so they can access as many records as possible. Together with FamilySearch Historical Records, these sites provide valuable information and tools you can use as you prepare family history lesson plans and work with people one on one to help them with family history.

FamilySearch currently offers free accounts for the following partners:

  • Ancestry.comprovides access to 14 billion worldwide records. Members can also create personal trees and collaborate with other members. It is available in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Swedish.
  • FindMyPast specializes in records from the United Kingdom, but it includes other collections such as US marriage and census records. This site is available in English only.
  • My Heritage provides international records, extensive searching features, family tree tools, and unique matching technologies. It is available in over 40 languages.
  • American Ancestors focuses on American family history from the 17th century to the 21st century. This site is available in English only.
  • Geneanet focuses on French and European records and research. Member online trees include information for over 400 million individuals. Hundreds of thousands of free digitized archival records are also available. This site is available in Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Swedish.

You and those you are helping can sign up for free partner accounts by following the steps below. Be aware that youth must be at least age 13, and youth ages 13–17 require parental consent.

  • Visit FamilySearch.org/partneraccess.
  • Click the button for the account you want to create (you may need to scroll down to see the buttons).
  • When prompted, sign in to FamilySearch.org.
  • After signing in to FamilySearch.org, you will be guided to create your account. If you already have an account with one of these partners, you can convert your account to a free LDS partner account.

In addition to FamilySearch partners, some third parties have created apps for everything from interactive maps to charts showing your ancestral homelands. Here are a few that could help create a discovery experience for those you are helping with family history.

Technology can help in your efforts to provide heart-turning experiences when it enables people to better know and love their ancestors. Used appropriately and under the guidance of the Spirit, it can be a valuable tool to help gather the family of God.


Fortify Your Home

FamilySearch - Wed, 08/30/2017 - 13:22


Family history can be a powerful defense for families in today’s troubled world. Church leaders have promised numerous blessings to those who participate in this work, including more closeness and joy in your family, increased knowledge and faith, and divine protection throughout your lives.

If you’re looking for ways to fortify your home through the power of family history, these ideas can help. Each of the following presentations was given at the 2017 RootsTech family history conference in a class titled, “Grandma’s Syrup: Fortifying Your Home with Family History.

Keep and Tell Stories

Plan Tangible Activities

Share Food Traditions

Gather with a Purpose



Fortify Your Home: Gather with a Purpose

FamilySearch - Tue, 08/29/2017 - 08:44

Have a Desire to Help

Many of us want to be more involved in family history, but feel that we lack the time, experience, or tools to be successful. What we may not realize, however, is that our desire is all we really need to get started.

Sister Wendy Watson Nelson said that “the Lord will provide everything we need to be successful in doing this work, including the inspiration, the information, the energy, the answers, the proxies, and even the time and desire. All we have to do is ask and show that we are serious in wanting to help.”

Just as has been promised here, if you show the Lord your willingness to make family history a priority, He will help you find everything you need to be successful in connecting with your family.

Gather with a Purpose

One important way to make those family connections more meaningful is to have a purpose when you gather with your loved ones. Whether you’re planning a family gathering, a reunion, or just a family home evening lesson, you can find ways to make family history a planned and purposeful part of those events. By doing so, you and your family will feel a deeper love for your ancestors and for each other.

  • Get to know the “one”—research and share stories about your ancestors.
  • Connect with your ancestors through their own words—find personal histories or journals to digitize and share.
  • Save the stories, photos, and memories to the FamilySearch Memories app.
  • Help everyone get involved, no matter their age.
No Matter the Distance, Gather

When I realized that my granny and grandpa were going to have their 81st wedding anniversary, I recognized a great opportunity for my family to gather, even though it had been many years since they had passed away. So I made a cute invitation, I created a family hashtag, and I sent links where my whole family could meet or gather through the internet on this great day to share their photos, their memories, and their stories.

All throughout that day, I was just so excited to be connecting and gathering with my family from all over the place. By the end of the day, I had seen photos I had never before seen of my granny. I heard stories about my grandpa that made me laugh and made me cry. At the end of the day, my cousin sent me an email and said, “I don’t know about you, but this was the best day ever.” She said, “I know Granny and Grandpa were celebrating with us.”

I believe the reason that we have technology is to feel things like this. Gathering and connecting our hearts is real and powerful when we are involved with family history, and thanks to the divinely inspired technology we have, we can connect no matter where we are. When we are prepared and we gather with a purpose, it makes everything different.

These tips were presented by Rhonna Farrer during a class titled “Grandma’s Syrup: Fortifying Your Home with Family History,” at the 2017 RootsTech family history conference.

Keep and Tell Stories

Plan Tangible Activities

Share Food Traditions

Fortify Your Home



Fortify Your Home: Share Food Traditions

FamilySearch - Tue, 08/29/2017 - 08:24

Elder Dale G. Renlund described the healing power of family history in his 2016 RootsTech presentation. He promised that those who participate in family history and temple work will find “personal power—power to change, power to repent, power to learn, power to be sanctified, and power to turn the hearts of your family members to each other and heal that which needs healing.” Those blessings can come in moments when we most need them. As you bring your family together to share traditions and memories, you can begin to access that healing power and strengthen your relationships with each other.

Discover Your Stories

My love for family history began when I was a little girl. Every Sunday, we gathered around my grandmother’s table for family dinner. We always had the same meal: roast beef, mashed potatoes, red Jell-O, and Swedish coleslaw. I doubt my grandmother knew then that by doing those simple things of sharing stories, gathering us around the table and sharing family recipes, she was doing family history. She opened a window to the past, and she helped me get to know and love people I had never met.

Traditions like these, centered on food and family, can be a good place to start discovering your family’s story. Try some of these ideas to start building traditions that will bring lasting strength into your home:

  • Preserve family recipes online so that no matter where your family lives in the world, everybody will be able to access them.
  • Gather your family around the table, and use the Memories app to record the stories you share during your time together.
  • Save artifacts from your home or kitchen (special dishes, recipe books, or other objects) so your grandchildren and great-grandchildren will have something tangible to help carry on your stories.
  • Your words matter. Write them down. Your words will uplift, inspire, and sustain your family in times of trial and will become precious to them.
Family History Can Heal

By the time I had turned 12, I had lost both of my grandfathers, who died at fairly young ages, but that year, I also lost my dad. I was brokenhearted and didn’t want to celebrate. On Christmas Eve, my grandmother gathered us around her table, and we did what we always did—family history. We made roast beef, mashed potatoes, and coleslaw. We constructed gingerbread houses, and we shared stories of the people from our past that now included stories about my dad. Those small and simple things that my grandmother did that night sustained us through a very great trial and helped heal our hearts.

These tips were presented by Crystal Farish during a class titled “Grandma’s Syrup: Fortifying Your Home with Family History,” at the 2017 RootsTech family history conference.

Keep and Tell Stories

Plan Tangible Activities

Fortify Your Home

Gather with a Purpose



Fortify Your Home: Plan Tangible Activities

FamilySearch - Tue, 08/29/2017 - 08:22

Many of us already appreciate our ancestors and have a basic knowledge of their stories. But that connection can become stronger and more profound as we make family history a part of our daily lives. In a 2011 talk, Elder David A. Bednar promised that by doing family history, “your love and gratitude for your ancestors will increase.” You don’t have to dedicate hours of your time each day to receive that promised blessing. There are simple ways to make family history fit into the routines you’ve already established for your family.

Discover How Family History Fits Your Routines

Every family is different, and an approach that works well for one family might not be right for yours. Try a few different ideas, and see what fits your schedules and routines. If you need to, don’t hesitate to adapt these suggestions for your family’s specific needs.

  • Choose one day each week to focus on your ancestors and their stories. It could be part of your Sunday activities or a designated time during the week. Over time, it will become a habit that helps you keep the spirit of family history in your home.
  • Find stories on FamilySearch.org under the Memories tab, and read them together as a family. FamilySearch Memories can be a great source of information about your ancestors and their lives.
  • If your Memories tab is looking a little empty, try asking your oldest living relatives to share some of their favorite family stories. Reach out to your great-grandparents, a great aunt, or even family friends, and record their stories to upload to your ancestors’ FamilySearch profiles.
  • Make family history a part of your next family road trip. Before you hit the road, check if you will be passing towns where some of your ancestors were buried. Visit the cemeteries as part of your trip, and take a few minutes to find your ancestors’ headstones.
Savor Your Family History

There are so many ways to incorporate family history into our lives, even in a simple conversation over breakfast. I have ancestors from Scotland, Alexander Hill and his wife Elizabeth. In return for his service in the Scottish navy, Alexander was given land in Canada. He moved his entire family from Scotland to Canada, where they became maple syrup farmers. Now in the morning whenever we have pancakes, we talk about Grandma and Grandpa Hill and their maple syrup, and we love sharing their stories. I’m so thankful that these stories have been shared, but not only shared—preserved. As Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Seventy observed, “Family histories, family traditions, and family ties help us savor remembrance of things past while providing future patterns and hope” (“Always Remember Him,” Ensign, May 2016, 108).

These tips were presented by Risa Baker during a class titled “Grandma’s Syrup: Fortifying Your Home with Family History,” at the 2017 RootsTech family history conference.

Keep and Tell Stories

Fortify Your Home

Share Food Traditions

Gather with a Purpose



Fortify Your Home: Keep and Tell Stories

FamilySearch - Tue, 08/29/2017 - 08:20

Family History Can Guide and Protect

We know that the family history work we do blesses our ancestors as we find their names and complete temple ordinances on their behalf. But as Church leaders have promised repeatedly in recent years, the blessings of family history can have a positive impact on our families and homes as well.

In a 2011 talk, Elder David A. Bednar promised that as we accept and act on the invitation to become involved in family history, we will be “protected against the intensifying influence of the adversary” and “safeguarded throughout . . . [our] lives. As we make family history a priority in our homes, it can become a powerful defense for our families in today’s troubled world. Here are some ideas to help busy families add simple family history activities to their daily lives.

Family History Can Happen Naturally

It can seem overwhelming to fit family history into our busy schedules, as much as we want to have that promised protection for our families. But there are so many things that we do naturally in our lives that could just be tweaked to become part of our personal histories, including the following:

  • Family newsletters
  • Emails to your children or family members
  • Calendars of family events and activities
  • Social media posts

What if you compiled these simple things you already do into something that will last?

Your Family, Your Story

One thing that I have loved to do is make tortillas with my family. We use a recipe that has been handed down for generations. My sweet grandmother has Alzheimer’s, and a few months ago I took a simple video of her making tortillas, perhaps for the last time. As I watched her make those tortillas, I thought about all the times I sat in her kitchen and she told me stories of faith and resilience. Now I have that one recording that I can share for those who will not have the opportunity to sit in her kitchen and learn from her.

Start today. Start simple. You might consider participating in #52Stories, a new project from FamilySearch that provides 52 prompts to help you share one story about your life each week this year. One story can make all the difference. You might think, “I don’t matter, nobody cares,” but that’s not true. You are exceptional. You matter. Your story is important. Find a way to do what you are doing right now in a way that is permanent and lasting. As you do, you will feel and recognize the protection that come as a love for your ancestors and their lives is instilled in your home.

These tips were presented by Allison Kimball during a class titled “Grandma’s Syrup: Fortifying Your Home with Family History,” at the 2017 RootsTech family history conference.

Fortify Your Home

Plan Tangible Activities

Share Food Traditions

Gather with a Purpose



Preserve Your Legacy: 9 Tips for Interviewing Relatives

FamilySearch - Mon, 08/28/2017 - 10:41

by Katy Barnes

My grandma June was a lively, intelligent woman who loved to share memories of her past. Back in college, as I worked on my degree in family history, I came to her house one day to interview her about her life history. She told wonderful stories about her childhood, her parents, and her siblings. I am so glad I captured everything on a cassette tape and was required to transcribe it for my project. I did this with several other relatives as well to fulfill various assignments.

Many years later, my daughter needed to interview someone about what it was like to live during World War II. I immediately thought of Grandma June, who was still very active, both physically and mentally. However, when I called her, I was surprised to hear her say, “I don’t remember.”

We just never know how much longer our relatives will be able to share precious memories of their past and their ancestors. It is so important to take advantage of every opportunity to listen to and record our loved ones so their posterity can remember them.

Here are nine tips to make recording interviews an enjoyable activity for you and your family:

  1. Seize the moment. Most of us have smartphones with voice and video recorders built in. You never know when your relative will start sharing a memory. Be ready to record at any time; if you are, you will capture some precious gems.
  1. Plan an evening. My husband and I invite our parents over once a month for an evening of questions and answers about their lives. We have a nice digital voice recorder for these events, and we send the questions ahead of time so they can think about their answers and bring along any memorabilia they want to share. Our children love hearing their grandparents talk about their courtship, their favorite pets, their first jobs, and the houses they’ve lived in.
  1. Capture the video. It is wonderful to watch our loved ones’ expressions and gestures as they share their life stories, perhaps shedding tears or breaking into joyful smiles. Capturing these moments on video allows us to enjoy them now and after they pass on.
  1. Upload and share. Many family history and social media websites allow you to upload these precious audio and video files and attach them to your ancestors’ profiles. They add a wonderful dimension that goes beyond documents and written stories, and they inspire greater love for your relative. Young people are more likely to find and share these stories if they can access them through the internet.


  1. Let them do the talking. The skillful family history interviewer will say as little as possible and allow their relative to take center stage. Don’t be afraid to let them pause and think before answering a question. Encourage them with your expressions rather than frequent verbal cues. Allow them to ramble and follow their stream of memories. They may end up sharing things you didn’t think to ask about.
  1. Ask open-ended questions. Ask questions that cannot be answered with a “yes” or a “no.” Some examples include: “How did you spend your Saturday afternoons as a child?” “How did you spend your time before the internet and cell phones were available?” “What do you remember about your grandparents?”
  1. Record songs and poems. Does your relative have favorite songs he or she is always singing or a favorite poem he or she memorized as a child? Invite them to sing or recite—you’ll be glad you did.
  1. Bring photos and memorabilia. Prepare beforehand by gathering photos and scrapbooks that will trigger memories and fuel the narrative. Keep a pencil handy to label those photos if you haven’t already.
  1. Break it down. These days, we are accustomed to scrolling through social media, flipping through magazines, and channel surfing. We are more likely to catch a story and re-share it if it is relatively short. Once you have your interview, try to break it down into smaller chunks that can be labeled by topic, such as “First Date” or “Saturday Afternoons.” Audio and video editing software make this editing process simple. You can also start and stop your audio and video recorder with each question you ask.

Katy Barnes works for Legacy Tree Genealogists, a genealogy research firm with extensive expertise in researching and finding immigrant ancestors. Legacy Tree also has numerous onsite agents in hundreds of countries worldwide who can access archives and repositories for records that may be necessary in tracing your immigrant ancestors.