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New Records on FamilySearch from February 2019

Tue, 03/12/2019 - 11:59

FamilySearch expanded its free online archives in February 2019 with over 13 million new indexed family history records from around the world. New historical records were added from Argentina, Australia, Colombia, England, France, Italy, Mexico, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, and the United States, which includes California, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Records were also added from BillionGraves, and the United States Rosters of Revolutionary War Soldiers and Sailors.

Find your ancestors using these free archives online, including birth, marriage, death, and church records. Millions of new genealogy records are added each month to make your search easier.

Country CollectionIndexed RecordsCommentsArgentina Argentina, Corrientes, Civil Registration, 1880-1930 105,124New indexed records collectionArgentina Argentina, Santa Fe, Catholic Church Records, 1634-1975410Added indexed records and images to an existing collectionAustraliaAustralia, South Australia, Will and Probate Records
45,061New indexed records collectionColombiaColombia, Catholic Church Records, 1576-2017120,578Added indexed records to an existing collectionEnglandEngland, Hampshire Parish Registers, 1538-19802,071,150New indexed records collectionFranceFrance, Haut-Rhin, Civil Registration, 1792-19191,870,795New indexed records collectionFranceFrance, Vienne, Civil Registration, 1792-19132,191,179New indexed records collectionItalyItaly, Benevento, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1810-19425,080Added indexed records to an existing collectionMexicoMexico, Sinaloa, Civil Registration, 1861-1929103,858Added indexed records to an existing collectionOtherBillionGraves Index121,880Added indexed records to an existing collectionRussiaRussia, Samara Church Books 1748-1934 2,191Added indexed records to an existing collectionSpainSpain, Diocese of Cartagena, Catholic Church Records, 1503-1969168,446Added indexed records to an existing collectionSwitzerlandSwitzerland, Vaud Terrier Records, 1234-1798 236Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesCalifornia, County Birth and Death Records, 1800-1994 48,406Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesCalifornia, County Naturalizations, 1831-1985 66New indexed records collectionUnited StatesGeorgia, Confederate Pension Rolls, 1879-1920113,365New indexed records collectionUnited StatesHawaii, Harbin File – Russian Immigrant Laborers Index A-Z, 1909-19102,314New indexed records collectionUnited StatesIllinois Cemetery Transcriptions, 1853-2009 9,028Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesIllinois, Cook County Marriages, 1871-1920 2,055Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesIowa, Old Age Tax Assistance Records, 1934-1958 15,645Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesIowa, Records of Persons Subject to Military Duty, 1862-1910 4,792,997New indexed records collectionUnited StatesMinnesota, Wright County, City of St. Michael and Frankfort Township, Birth and Death Records, 1900-1953 3,349New indexed records collectionUnited StatesNew Hampshire, Hillsborough County, Manchester, Obituaries, 1800-2007 30,249New indexed records collectionUnited StatesNew York, Church and Civil Deaths, 1824-1962 40,923
New indexed records collection United StatesNew York, County Naturalization Records, 1791-1980 483,815Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesOklahoma, School Records, 1895-1936 9,614Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesOregon, World War I, County Military Service Records 1919-192015,195New indexed records collectionUnited StatesOregon, Yamhill County Records, 1857-19637,175Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesPennsylvania, Schuylkill County, Schuylkill Haven, Funeral Home Obituary Cards, 1914-20071,434New indexed records collectionUnited StatesTexas, Gonzales County, Death records, 1863-1970 36,321Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesUnited States Rosters of Revolutionary War Soldiers and Sailors, 1775-1783489,775Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesUtah, FamilySearch, Early Church Information File, 1830-190096,308Added indexed records to an existing collection

Over 6 billion searchable historic records are available from around the world on FamilySearch.org. Records are published with the help of thousands of volunteer indexers who transcribe digital copies of handwritten records to make them easily searchable online. To help make more historical records from the world’s archives available online, volunteer with FamilySearch Indexing.

Learn how to search the records on FamilySearch to find exactly what you’re looking for.

Organizing Temple and Family History Service at the Ward Level—A Summary of Elder Renlund’s 2019 Leadership Instruction

Fri, 03/01/2019 - 17:40

On February 28, 2019, Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke at the Temple and Family History Leadership Instruction meeting. He suggested three things ward leaders can do to help members in temple and family history callings be more comfortable and effective.

  1. Clarify the ward’s leadership pattern for temple and family history work.
  2. Create a ward temple and family history plan.
  3. Hold ward temple and family history coordination meetings.
Clarifying Your Ward’s Temple and Family History Leadership Pattern

Ward leaders should choose a pattern for how temple and family history consultants communicate with their leaders. This pattern shows consultants who to communicate with when giving assignments, reporting efforts, and asking for help.

Elder Renlund said that in the ideal leadership pattern, a “consultant reports to the ward temple and family history leader, who works closely with the elders quorum presidency, who supervises the work under the direction of the bishop.”

“To deviate from this standard leadership pattern requires a good reason, concurrence of the stake president, and confirmation by the Holy Ghost,” Elder Renlund said.

Elder Renlund offered three alternatives for when the ideal pattern isn’t possible—such as when a ward may not have a temple and family history leader. In such cases, a consultant may report to one of the following:

  • A counselor in the elders quorum presidency
  • The elders quorum president
  • Directly to the bishop

Elder Renlund encouraged ward leaders to pick one of these patterns and follow it. “Don’t keep it a secret!” he said. The leadership pattern should be clear and easy for everyone to understand.

Creating a Ward Plan and Holding Coordination Meetings

Elder Renlund then talked to leaders about the importance of creating a temple and family history plan and holding coordination meetings. The ward council is responsible for creating the plan, which would be approved by the bishop. It could focus on any number of things, including the following:

  • Involving 10- and 11-year-old children in family history work.
  • Helping youth and new converts obtain limited-use recommends to attend the temple.
  • Encouraging members to enter at least four generations of their family tree on FamilySearch.org.
  • Inspiring members to attend the temple more often without establishing a quota or reporting system for temple attendance.

When coordination meetings are held, the ward temple and family history leader would conduct the meeting. Ward consultants would attend, along with a counselor from both the Relief Society and elders quorum presidencies. On occasion, the ward and full-time missionaries could be invited.

Elder Renlund cautioned, “The goal is not to hold a meeting. The goal is to coordinate temple and family history work. Text messages, emails, and phone calls can oftentimes accomplish the needed coordination.”

An Invitation to Act

In closing, Elder Renlund reminded leaders of his three invitations. “Please clarify leadership patterns for ward temple and family history consultants,” he said. “Implement ward temple and family history coordination meetings and ward temple and family history plans. As you do, the Lord will hasten His work on both sides of the veil, and you will be blessed in the process!”

 

Other Messages from the 2019 Family History Leadership Session

The Eternal Nature of Temple and Family—Elder Stevenson
 

Coordination Council Meeting in Action—Elder Bednar
 

Elder David A. Bednar and Sister Susan Bednar 2019 Family Discovery Day Rootstech
 

Other Resources

Cool Features on the Family Tree App
 

My Family Booklet
 

Organizing Temple and Family History Service at the Ward Level—A Summary of Elder Renlund’s 2019 Leadership Instruction

Fri, 03/01/2019 - 17:40

On February 28, 2019, Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke at the Temple and Family History Leadership Instruction meeting. He suggested three things ward leaders can do to help members in temple and family history callings be more comfortable and effective.

  1. Clarify the ward’s leadership pattern for temple and family history work.
  2. Create a ward temple and family history plan.
  3. Hold ward temple and family history coordination meetings.
Watch the Leadership Instruction Online Clarifying Your Ward’s Temple and Family History Leadership Pattern

Ward leaders should choose a pattern for how temple and family history consultants communicate with their leaders. This pattern shows consultants who to communicate with when receiving assignments, reporting efforts, and asking for help.

Elder Renlund said that in the ideal leadership pattern, a “consultant reports to the ward temple and family history leader, who works closely with the elders quorum presidency, who supervises the work under the direction of the bishop.”

“To deviate from this standard leadership pattern requires a good reason, concurrence of the stake president, and confirmation by the Holy Ghost,” Elder Renlund said.

Elder Renlund offered three alternatives for when the ideal pattern isn’t possible—such as when a ward may not have a temple and family history leader. In such cases, a consultant may report to one of the following:

  • A counselor in the elders quorum presidency
  • The elders quorum president
  • Directly to the bishop

Elder Renlund encouraged ward leaders to pick one of these patterns and follow it. “Don’t keep it a secret!” he said. The leadership pattern should be clear and easy for everyone to understand.

Creating a Ward Plan and Holding Coordination Meetings

Elder Renlund then talked to leaders about the importance of creating a temple and family history plan and holding coordination meetings. The ward council is responsible for creating the plan, which would be approved by the bishop. It could focus on any number of things, including the following:

  • Involving 10- and 11-year-old children in family history work.
  • Helping youth and new converts obtain limited-use recommends to attend the temple.
  • Encouraging members to enter at least four generations of their family tree on FamilySearch.org.
  • Inspiring members to attend the temple more often without establishing a quota or reporting system for temple attendance.

When coordination meetings are held, the ward temple and family history leader would conduct the meeting. Ward consultants would attend, along with a counselor from both the Relief Society and elders quorum presidencies. On occasion, the ward and full-time missionaries could be invited.

Elder Renlund cautioned, “The goal is not to hold a meeting. The goal is to coordinate temple and family history work. Text messages, emails, and phone calls can oftentimes accomplish the needed coordination.”

An Invitation to Act

In closing, Elder Renlund reminded leaders of his three invitations. “Please clarify leadership patterns for ward temple and family history consultants,” he said. “Implement ward temple and family history coordination meetings and ward temple and family history plans. As you do, the Lord will hasten His work on both sides of the veil, and you will be blessed in the process!”

Other Messages from the 2019 Family History Leadership Session

The Eternal Nature of Temple and Family—Elder Stevenson

Coordination Council Meeting in Action—Elder Bednar

Elder David A. Bednar and Sister Susan Bednar 2019 Family Discovery Day Rootstech

Other Resources

Cool Features on the Family Tree App

My Family Booklet

Highlights from the Coordination Council in Action: Applying the 2019 Temple and Family History Leadership Instruction

Thu, 02/28/2019 - 18:01

At the Temple and Family History Leadership Instruction meeting on February 28, 2019, Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles invited a group of local ward leaders on stage to participate with him in a live, unscripted coordination meeting. They counseled about ways to apply the instruction they had just received from Elder Renlund and Elder Stevenson, providing an example of how a temple and family history coordination meeting might work at a ward level.

Elder Bednar asked the group if it was possible to have a simple ward temple and family history plan, and how they might keep it so going forward. “We do not do simple plans well,” Elder Bednar said. “We do complicated plans that nobody pays attention to.”

“How do we get a simple plan,” he asked, “that people can really understand and work with?”

Keeping It Simple

Members of the council shared ideas about creating a simple plan. Elder Bednar reminded them that the right plan merely supports what should already be taking place in the home. It doesn’t overwhelm or overrun it. An effective plan might focus on something as basic as helping youth and new members “prepare to worthily receive, remember, and honor temple ordinances.”

Or it could focus on teaching members how to use FamilySearch and the FamilySearch apps. There again, members should make simplicity a priority. “We have a tremendous capacity to be innovative and create new stuff,” Elder Bednar said. “I recommend that we don’t do that at first.” He urged members to just use “the tools that have already been developed.”

Overcoming Roadblocks

The bishop in the council later asked Elder Bednar what consultants should do when members tell them they’ve hit a roadblock in their temple and family history work. Elder Bednar invited Steve Rockwood, President and CEO of FamilySearch, to share his opinion.  

“On the app and on the website there is this wonderful button called ‘Help,’” said brother Rockwood. He explained how the feature connects ward temple and family history consultants to other helpers around the world, allowing them to communicate and solve problems together. “I promise you, if you push Help, you will tap into that network, and you will be guided through even the toughest questions.”

Help from Unexpected Sources

During the meeting, Elder Bednar also asked Sister Joy D. Jones, General President of the Primary, who attended the session, to talk about the experience 11-year-olds are having now that they can obtain limited-use recommends. “They are coming to the temple,” Sister Jones said, “but not only are they coming to the temple, they are coming with family names to perform ordinances for, and, this is even better, they are bringing their families with them.”

Elder Bednar suggested ward leaders consider young men and women about to leave on a mission as another possible part of a ward’s temple and family history plan. “Now this is not a rulebook,” he said. “We don’t have to regiment everything, but those young people can serve as ordinance workers in the temple.” He said they are more effective missionaries when they’ve had that opportunity.

“Every single returned missionary,” Elder Bednar also said, “ought to be considered to be an ordinance worker.” The ward plan can identify these members and connect them to the temple.

Following the Guidance of Prophets and Apostles

At the end of the meeting, Elder Bednar invited several leaders to share a few last thoughts.

Elder Foster, a General Authority Seventy and Executive Director of the Family History Department, expressed his hope that ward leaders would call temple and family history leaders and list them in their clerk and leader resources. Elder Foster and Elder Renlund also recommended the Family Tree app to everyone as a remarkable tool for discovering yourself and your family.

Elder Stevenson noted that though our conversations about technology sometimes focus on the hazards and concerns involved, it’s refreshing to find an area that technology can be used to accomplish so much good. “It seems that this is a place where technology is filling the measure of its creation,” he said.

Elder Bednar then quoted the Prophet Joseph Smith, who described the great gospel effort in the latter-days, including temple and family history service, as:

“A work that God and angels have contemplated with delight for generations past; that fired the souls of the ancient patriarchs and prophets; a work that is destined to bring about the destruction of the powers of darkness, the renovation of the earth, the glory of God, and the salvation of the human family”(Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 515).

In closing, Elder Bednar said that he spoke on behalf of the other apostles present at the meeting, as well as the entire Family History Department. “I give voice to our united witness of the truthfulness, the divinity, and the reality of this work,” he said. “We invoke upon you the blessing that you may see, that you may participate in, and that you may be blessed both now and throughout eternity by the lessons that you learn and through the service that you give.”

 

Other Messages from the 2019 Family History Leadership Session

Organizing Temple and Family History Service at the Ward Level—Elder Renlund
 

The Eternal Nature of Temple and Family—A Summary of Elder Stevenson
 

Elder David A. Bednar and Sister Susan Bednar 2019 Family Discovery Day Rootstech
 

Other Resources

Cool Features on the Family Tree App
 

My Family Booklet
 

Highlights from the Coordination Council in Action: Applying the 2019 Temple and Family History Leadership Instruction

Thu, 02/28/2019 - 18:01

At the Temple and Family History Leadership Instruction meeting on February 28, 2019, Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles invited a group of local ward leaders on stage to participate with him in a live, unscripted coordination meeting. They counseled about ways to apply the instruction they had just received from Elder Renlund and Elder Stevenson, providing an example of how a temple and family history coordination meeting might work at a ward level.

Watch the Leadership Instruction Online

Elder Bednar asked the group if it was possible to have a simple ward temple and family history plan, and how they might keep it so going forward. “We do not do simple plans well,” Elder Bednar said. “We do complicated plans that nobody pays attention to.”

“How do we get a simple plan,” he asked, “that people can really understand and work with?”

Keeping It Simple

Members of the council shared ideas about creating a simple plan. Elder Bednar reminded them that the right plan merely supports what should already be taking place in the home. It doesn’t overwhelm or overrun it. An effective plan might focus on something as basic as helping youth and new members “prepare to worthily receive, remember, and honor temple ordinances.”

Or it could focus on teaching members how to use FamilySearch and the FamilySearch apps. There again, members should make simplicity a priority. “We have a tremendous capacity to be innovative and create new stuff,” Elder Bednar said. “I recommend that we don’t do that at first.” He urged members to just use “the tools that have already been developed.”

Overcoming Roadblocks

The bishop in the council later asked Elder Bednar what consultants should do when members tell them they’ve hit a roadblock in their temple and family history work. Elder Bednar invited Steve Rockwood, President and CEO of FamilySearch, to share his opinion.

“On the app and on the website there is this wonderful button called ‘Help,’” said brother Rockwood. He explained how the feature connects ward temple and family history consultants to other helpers around the world, allowing them to communicate and solve problems together. “I promise you, if you push Help, you will tap into that network, and you will be guided through even the toughest questions.”

Help from Unexpected Sources

During the meeting, Elder Bednar also asked Sister Joy D. Jones, General President of the Primary, who attended the session, to talk about the experience 11-year-olds are having now that they can obtain limited-use recommends. “They are coming to the temple,” Sister Jones said, “but not only are they coming to the temple, they are coming with family names to perform ordinances for, and, this is even better, they are bringing their families with them.”

Elder Bednar suggested ward leaders consider young men and women about to leave on a mission as another possible part of a ward’s temple and family history plan. “Now this is not a rulebook,” he said. “We don’t have to regiment everything, but those young people can serve as ordinance workers in the temple.” He said they are more effective missionaries when they’ve had that opportunity.

“Every single returned missionary,” Elder Bednar also said, “ought to be considered to be an ordinance worker.” The ward plan can identify these members and connect them to the temple.

Following the Guidance of Prophets and Apostles

At the end of the meeting, Elder Bednar invited several leaders to share a few last thoughts.

Elder Foster, a General Authority Seventy and Executive Director of the Family History Department, expressed his hope that ward leaders would call temple and family history leaders and list them in their clerk and leader resources. Elder Foster and Elder Renlund also recommended the Family Tree app to everyone as a remarkable tool for discovering yourself and your family.

Elder Stevenson noted that though our conversations about technology sometimes focus on the hazards and concerns involved, it’s refreshing to find an area that technology can be used to accomplish so much good. “It seems that this is a place where technology is filling the measure of its creation,” he said.

Elder Bednar then quoted the Prophet Joseph Smith, who described the great gospel effort in the latter-days, including temple and family history service, as:

“A work that God and angels have contemplated with delight for generations past; that fired the souls of the ancient patriarchs and prophets; a work that is destined to bring about the destruction of the powers of darkness, the renovation of the earth, the glory of God, and the salvation of the human family”(Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 515).

In closing, Elder Bednar said that he spoke on behalf of the other apostles present at the meeting, as well as the entire Family History Department. “I give voice to our united witness of the truthfulness, the divinity, and the reality of this work,” he said. “We invoke upon you the blessing that you may see, that you may participate in, and that you may be blessed both now and throughout eternity by the lessons that you learn and through the service that you give.”

Other Messages from the 2019 Family History Leadership Session

Organizing Temple and Family History Service at the Ward Level—Elder Renlund

The Eternal Nature of Temple and Family—A Summary of Elder Stevenson

Elder David A. Bednar and Sister Susan Bednar 2019 Family Discovery Day Rootstech

Other Resources

Cool Features on the Family Tree App

My Family Booklet

We Are the Gatherers!—Highlights from Elder and Sister Bednar’s 2019 Family Discovery Day Message

Thu, 02/28/2019 - 17:56

On March 2, 2019, Elder Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Susan, were the featured speakers at Family Discovery Day at RootsTech. They talked about the latter-day gathering of Heavenly Father’s children prophesied of in the scriptures and the responsibility members of the Church have, as the seed of Abraham, to help.

Because of the prophet Abraham’s obedience, God promised him a great posterity (Abraham 2:9–11). He also promised him that in the latter-days, Abraham’s heirs would be blessed with the Savior’s gospel and the authority of the priesthood.

Elder and Sister Bednar explained the responsibility that comes with those blessings. It is the responsibility to share the Savior’s gospel and to gather God’s childredin—on both sides of the veil.

“Having received the saving ordinances of the restored gospel,” Elder Bednar said, “and as covenant-keeping disciples of the Savior, we are the seed of Abraham. Brothers and sisters, we are the gatherers!”

Sister Bednar quoted President Nelson, who recently taught how temple and family history service relates to gathering. “Anytime you do anything that helps anyone—on either side of the veil—take a step toward making covenants with God and receiving their essential baptismal and temple ordinances, you are helping to gather Israel. It is as simple as that.”

Simple Ways to Feel Inspired and Help Others

Sister Bednar introduced several things members of the Church can do to help others participate in temple and family history work. She said that asking a friend, neighbor, or family member to talk about an ancestor is an easy way to help that person feel the Spirit of Elijah and set them on the path of discovery and gathering. “All that is needed to begin is an inspired question,” she said.

Elder Bednar and Sister Bednar next demonstrated Relatives Around Me from the FamilySearch Family Tree app. With Relatives Around Me, a person can see if he or she is related to people nearby who are also using the feature. Of the 7,000 people attending Discovery Day, Sister Bednar was related to more than 4,000 of them!

Finally, Sister Bednar showed how to use Ordinances Ready, another feature on the app that shows the user a list of ancestors in need of temple ordinances. With Ordinances Ready, a person can pick specific ordinances to perform and reserve them for an upcoming trip to the temple.

As Sister Bednar’s presentation demonstrated, engaging in temple and family history work has never been simpler or more convenient. “You can do this!” she said. “We have a tremendous responsibility to help gather God’s sons and daughters, and He is providing resources and tools to accomplish this great latter-day work,” she said.

The Responsibility to Assist

Elder Bednar urged members of the Church to take seriously their role as heirs of the Abrahamic covenant. “Today and always, we are to invite all to receive the saving ordinances of the Savior’s restored gospel,” he said. “As the seed of Abraham, this is who we are, and this is why we are here—today and always. We have been given much, and much is required of us. We are the gatherers!”

He promised members of the Church that Heavenly Father will bless them as they do the “very simple things” that they know they should do. “I promise, the doors will open,” he said. “Heavenly help will be available to you, and you will be blessed to know that you can do this. Your personal assurance will grow that the course of life you are pursuing is in accordance with God’s holy mind and will.

“I joyfully testify and witness that the heavens are open, revelation is real, and the Restoration is ongoing.”

 

We Are the Gatherers!—Highlights from Elder and Sister Bednar’s 2019 Family Discovery Day Message

Thu, 02/28/2019 - 17:56

On March 2, 2019, Elder Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Susan, were the featured speakers at Family Discovery Day at RootsTech. They talked about the latter-day gathering of Heavenly Father’s children prophesied of in the scriptures and the responsibility members of the Church have, as the seed of Abraham, to help.

Watch the Video

Because of the prophet Abraham’s obedience, God promised him a great posterity (Abraham 2:9–11). He also promised him that in the latter-days, Abraham’s heirs would be blessed with the Savior’s gospel and the authority of the priesthood.

Elder and Sister Bednar explained the responsibility that comes with those blessings. It is the responsibility to share the Savior’s gospel and to gather God’s children—on both sides of the veil.

“Having received the saving ordinances of the restored gospel,” Elder Bednar said, “and as covenant-keeping disciples of the Savior, we are the seed of Abraham. Brothers and sisters, we are the gatherers!”

Sister Bednar quoted President Nelson, who recently taught how temple and family history service relates to gathering. “Anytime you do anything that helps anyone—on either side of the veil—take a step toward making covenants with God and receiving their essential baptismal and temple ordinances, you are helping to gather Israel. It is as simple as that.”

Simple Ways to Feel Inspired and Help Others

Sister Bednar introduced several things members of the Church can do to help others participate in temple and family history work. She said that asking a friend, neighbor, or family member to talk about an ancestor is an easy way to help that person feel the Spirit of Elijah and set them on the path of discovery and gathering. “All that is needed to begin is an inspired question,” she said.

Elder Bednar and Sister Bednar next demonstrated Relatives Around Me from the FamilySearch Family Tree app. With Relatives Around Me, a person can see if he or she is related to people nearby who are also using the feature. Of the 7,000 people attending Discovery Day, Sister Bednar was related to more than 4,000 of them!

Finally, Sister Bednar showed how to use Ordinances Ready, another feature on the app that shows the user a list of ancestors in need of temple ordinances. With Ordinances Ready, a person can pick specific ordinances to perform and reserve them for an upcoming trip to the temple.

As Sister Bednar’s presentation demonstrated, engaging in temple and family history work has never been simpler or more convenient. “You can do this!” she said. “We have a tremendous responsibility to help gather God’s sons and daughters, and He is providing resources and tools to accomplish this great latter-day work,” she said.

The Responsibility to Assist

Elder Bednar urged members of the Church to take seriously their role as heirs of the Abrahamic covenant. “Today and always, we are to invite all to receive the saving ordinances of the Savior’s restored gospel,” he said. “As the seed of Abraham, this is who we are, and this is why we are here—today and always. We have been given much, and much is required of us. We are the gatherers!”

He promised members of the Church that Heavenly Father will bless them as they do the “very simple things” that they know they should do. “I promise, the doors will open,” he said. “Heavenly help will be available to you, and you will be blessed to know that you can do this. Your personal assurance will grow that the course of life you are pursuing is in accordance with God’s holy mind and will.

“I joyfully testify and witness that the heavens are open, revelation is real, and the Restoration is ongoing.”

 

 

2019 Temple and Family History Leadership Instruction

Did you miss the 2019 leadership instruction? On February 28, 2019, Elder Bednar, Elder Stevenson, and
Elder Renlund gave important guidelines to consider when organizing temple and family history work in a ward. The counsel given at this Temple and Family History Leadership Instruction meeting can help ward leaders and members coordinate their efforts and inspire others to connect with family and enjoy the blessings of the temple.

Watch the Video
Learn More

The Eternal Nature of Temple and Family—A Summary of Elder Stevenson’s 2019 Leadership Instruction

Thu, 02/28/2019 - 17:41

On February 28, 2019, Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke at the Temple and Family History Leadership Instruction meeting. He said that the home, the family, and the temple are all inseparably connected.

As an example, Elder Stevenson told about his trip to Rome for the open house of the Rome Italy Temple, where he was reminded that his great-grandfather and great-grandmother were Italian.

The revelation wasn’t new to Elder Stevenson, but he had questions about his family tree. He couldn’t remember when or how his ancestors had emigrated from Italy. He wanted to research the matter—but where to begin?

“I knew I had tools I could turn to,” he said, “one of which was the Family Tree app on my phone!”

How Temple Leads to the Family—and Family Leads to the Temple!

With the Family Tree app opened on his phone, Elder Stevenson quickly learned that his first ancestors joined the Church in Italy in the 1850s. He read about the missionaries who taught them and about the many hardships they endured immigrating to Utah. He found journal entries as well as biographies.

At home, Elder Stevenson wanted to share what he had discovered with his family. He was especially excited to talk with his third son, whose wife is Italian. “I encouraged him to teach about the faith of their Italian ancestors in a home evening so it could become an inspiration for them,” he said.

Elder Stevenson’s experience in the Rome Italy Temple had prompted him to learn more about his ancestors. Now the stories he had learned about his ancestors would be used to strengthen and point his family back to the temple!

Family History at Your Fingertips

“Understanding the eternal nature of the temple will draw you to your family,” Elder Stevenson said.

He noted that demonstrating how to use tools such as the My Family: Stories That Bring Us Together booklet or the FamilySearch apps that are “available literally at our fingertips” might be the most productive thing a person can do in his or her calling as a ward temple and family history consultant.

“This will assure that families and individuals in their homes will participate in activities that will lead them to the temple,” he continued. “In no other work are we more home-centered than in temple and family history work.”

In closing, Elder Stevenson shared what President Russell M. Nelson has said about the relationship between families, the temple, and the plan of salvation: “The earth was created and this Church was restored so that families could be formed, sealed, and exalted eternally.”

 

Other Messages from the 2019 Family History Leadership Session

Organizing Temple and Family History Service at the Ward Level—Elder Renlund
 

Coordination Council in Action: Applying the 2019 Temple and Family History Leadership Instruction
 

Elder David A. Bednar and Sister Susan Bednar 2019 Family Discovery Day Rootstech
 

Other Resources

Cool Features on the Family Tree App
 

My Family Booklet
 

The Eternal Nature of Temple and Family—A Summary of Elder Stevenson’s 2019 Leadership Instruction

Thu, 02/28/2019 - 17:41

On February 28, 2019, Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke at the Temple and Family History Leadership Instruction meeting. He said that the home, the family, and the temple are all inseparably connected.

Watch the Leadership Instruction Online

As an example, Elder Stevenson told about his trip to Rome for the open house of the Rome Italy Temple, where he was reminded that his great-grandfather and great-grandmother were Italian.

The revelation wasn’t new to Elder Stevenson, but he had questions about his family tree. He couldn’t remember when or how his ancestors had emigrated from Italy. He wanted to research the matter—but where to begin?

“I knew I had tools I could turn to,” he said, “one of which was the Family Tree app on my phone!”

How Temple Leads to the Family—and Family Leads to the Temple!

With the Family Tree app opened on his phone, Elder Stevenson quickly learned that his first ancestors joined the Church in Italy in the 1850s. He read about the missionaries who taught them and about the many hardships they endured immigrating to Utah. He found journal entries as well as biographies.

At home, Elder Stevenson wanted to share what he had discovered with his family. He was especially excited to talk with his third son, whose wife is Italian. “I encouraged him to teach about the faith of their Italian ancestors in a home evening so it could become an inspiration for them,” he said.

Elder Stevenson’s experience in the Rome Italy Temple had prompted him to learn more about his ancestors. Now the stories he had learned about his ancestors would be used to strengthen and point his family back to the temple!

Family History at Your Fingertips

“Understanding the eternal nature of the temple will draw you to your family,” Elder Stevenson said.

He noted that demonstrating how to use tools such as the My Family: Stories That Bring Us Together booklet or the FamilySearch apps that are “available literally at our fingertips” might be the most productive thing a person can do in his or her calling as a ward temple and family history consultant.

“This will assure that families and individuals in their homes will participate in activities that will lead them to the temple,” he continued. “In no other work are we more home-centered than in temple and family history work.”

In closing, Elder Stevenson shared what President Russell M. Nelson has said about the relationship between families, the temple, and the plan of salvation: “The earth was created and this Church was restored so that families could be formed, sealed, and exalted eternally.”

Other Messages from the 2019 Family History Leadership Session

Organizing Temple and Family History Service at the Ward Level—Elder Renlund

Coordination Council in Action: Applying the 2019 Temple and Family History Leadership Instruction

Elder David A. Bednar and Sister Susan Bednar 2019 Family Discovery Day Rootstech

Other Resources

Cool Features on the Family Tree App

My Family Booklet

2019 Temple and Family History Leadership Instruction

Thu, 02/28/2019 - 12:23

On February 28, 2019, Church leaders gave important guidelines to consider when organizing temple and family history work in a ward. The counsel given at this Temple and Family History Leadership Instruction meeting can help ward leaders and members coordinate their efforts and inspire others to connect with family and enjoy the blessings of the temple.

Elders Bednar, Stevenson, and Renlund each spoke at the meeting. Learn about creating simple family history plans for your ward; the inseparable connection between home, temple, and family; and using easily-accessible tools to connect members with their ancestors by clicking below. You can even watch as Elder Bednar leads an unscripted temple and family history coordination meeting with volunteer ward leaders.

Elder Dale G. Renlund

Ward leaders are invited to clarify their ward’s temple and family history leadership pattern, develop a simple plan, and begin holding ward temple and family history coordination meetings.


Learn More

Elder Gary E. Stevenson

The temple leads to family, and learning about family leads to the temple. Using the My Family: Stories That Bring Us Together booklet, and the FamilySearch Family Tree and Memories apps to help members make simple discoveries may be the most productive thing consultants can do in their efforts to help individuals and families.


Learn More

Elder David A. Bednar—A Coordination Council in Action

Children are important contributors to the work of salvation. Family history provides children an opportunity to feel the influence of the Holy Ghost and become converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ.


Learn More

On March 1, 2019, Elder and Sister Bednar also spoke to Church members about our role as the seed of Abraham in gathering Heavenly Father’s children.

Elder and Sister Bednar at Family Discovery Day

As the seed of Abraham, we have a responsibility to help gather Heavenly Father’s children. Elder and Sister Bednar share simple ways that we can help others participate in temple and family history work.


Learn More

 

2019 Temple and Family History Leadership Instruction

Thu, 02/28/2019 - 12:23

On February 28, 2019, Church leaders gave important guidelines to consider when organizing temple and family history work in a ward. The counsel given at this Temple and Family History Leadership Instruction meeting can help ward leaders and members coordinate their efforts and inspire others to connect with family and enjoy the blessings of the temple.

Elders Bednar, Stevenson, and Renlund each spoke at the meeting. Learn about creating simple family history plans for your ward; the inseparable connection between home, temple, and family; and using easily-accessible tools to connect members with their ancestors by clicking below. You can even watch as Elder Bednar leads an unscripted temple and family history coordination meeting with volunteer ward leaders.

Watch the Leadership Instruction Online Elder Dale G. Renlund

Ward leaders are invited to clarify their ward’s temple and family history leadership pattern, develop a simple plan, and begin holding ward temple and family history coordination meetings.

Watch the Video
Read a Summary
Elder Gary E. Stevenson

The temple leads to family, and learning about family leads to the temple. Using the My Family: Stories That Bring Us Together booklet, and the FamilySearch Family Tree and Memories apps to help members make simple discoveries may be the most productive thing consultants can do in their efforts to help individuals and families.

Watch the Video
Read a Summary
Elder David A. Bednar—A Coordination Council in Action

Members of a local ward council gather on stage for an unscripted discussion on temple and family history work in the ward, led by Elder Bednar and the local bishop. Elder Bednar asks Sister Joy D. Jones, General Primary President, and other Church leaders to share their perspectives.

Watch the Video
Read a Summary

 

On March 1, 2019, Elder and Sister Bednar also spoke to Church members about our role as the seed of Abraham in gathering Heavenly Father’s children.

Elder and Sister Bednar at Family Discovery Day

As the seed of Abraham, we have a responsibility to help gather Heavenly Father’s children. Elder and Sister Bednar share simple ways that we can help others participate in temple and family history work.

Watch the Video
Read a Summary

 

 

 

New Family History Discovery Experiences on FamilySearch.org

Mon, 02/25/2019 - 13:39

Your family history starts with you. Record your own stories and discover more about your loved ones with these new Discovery Experiences on FamilySearch.org.

You are one of a kind—and your family’s stories are unique, too. FamilySearch now makes it easier than ever to get started with family history and connect with your past. Just start with yourself.

All About Me

Discover things you may not even know about yourself and your history with the All About Me discovery experience. Learn what your name means and where it comes from. Discover just how popular or unique your name is: how many people share it?

With All About Me, you can see how the world has changed (or hasn’t) since you were born. Explore the top news stories for your birth year, learn what the latest technologies were, and even how much it cost to go to the movies. You can also click on another year and see how things were different when your parent, sibling, or a friend was born.

Record My Story

There’s something special about the sound of your own voice. It’s even more special when you’re telling your own stories.

Stories—memories, thoughts and feelings—are how we connect to each other. Use Record My Story on FamilySearch.org to capture and preserve your memories and your family’s stories. It’s easy! Choose from one of three options:

Not sure what to say? The Record My Story discovery experience can help! Look at different categories of questions and pick the one that sparks your interest most—or create your own topic.

When you record a short audio message or type your answer, your story will be saved under My Stories and in the Memories section of your Family Tree profile. Listen to it or download it whenever you like.

Picture My Heritage

This one is great fun! Put yourself in your ancestors’ shoes—or more accurately, in their clothing—with the Picture Your Heritage tool. When you use this tool, you’ll see a selection of different places your last name appears across the world in the FamilySearch Family Tree:

Then you can choose your heritage. An interactive screen will appear and let you take a head shot with your device’s camera. You will appear in traditional dress, surrounded by fun facts about that place. (Bet you didn’t know that Scandinavians have been skiing for over 6000 years—and that Lego bricks were invented in Denmark!)

Learn more about yourself and your family—and share your stories—with these new family history discovery experiences. Try it now!

New Family History Discovery Experiences on FamilySearch.org

Mon, 02/25/2019 - 13:39


Your family history starts with you. Record your own stories and discover more about your loved ones with these new Discovery Experiences on FamilySearch.org.

You are one of a kind—and your family’s stories are unique, too. FamilySearch now makes it easier than ever to get started with family history and connect with your past. Just start with yourself.

All About Me

Discover things you may not even know about yourself and your history with the All About Me discovery experience. Learn what your name means and where it comes from. Discover just how popular or unique your name is: how many people share it?

With All About Me, you can see how the world has changed (or hasn’t) since you were born. Explore the top news stories for your birth year, learn what the latest technologies were, and even how much it cost to go to the movies. You can also click on another year and see how things were different when your parent, sibling, or a friend was born.

Record My Story

There’s something special about the sound of your own voice. It’s even more special when you’re telling your own stories.

Stories—memories, thoughts and feelings—are how we connect to each other. Use Record My Story on FamilySearch.org to capture and preserve your memories and your family’s stories. It’s easy! Choose from one of three options:

Not sure what to say? The Record My Story discovery experience can help! Look at different categories of questions and pick the one that sparks your interest most—or create your own topic.

When you record a short audio message or type your answer, your story will be saved under My Stories and in the Memories section of your Family Tree profile. Listen to it or download it whenever you like.

Picture My Heritage

This one is great fun! Put yourself in your ancestors’ shoes—or more accurately, in their clothing—with the Picture Your Heritage tool. When you use this tool, you’ll see a selection of different places your last name appears across the world in the FamilySearch Family Tree:

Then you can choose your heritage. An interactive screen will appear and let you take a head shot with your device’s camera. You will appear in traditional dress, surrounded by fun facts about that place. (Bet you didn’t know that Scandinavians have been skiing for over 6000 years—and that Lego bricks were invented in Denmark!)

Learn more about yourself and your family—and share your stories—with these new family history discovery experiences. Try it now!

What Is DNA?—A Molecule That Links Generations

Fri, 02/22/2019 - 18:28

What is DNA? We’ve all seen stunning pictures of DNA models, and many of us have heard the phrase “deoxyribonucleic acid” before. DNA can seem futuristic, scientific, and sometimes downright magical. But is there a simple definition of DNA, one that is a little less mysterious?

DNA affects our appearance and abilities, and it also links us back from generation to generation. Simply put, DNA is the most basic inheritance we get from our parents—and our grandparents, and great-great-grandparents, and so on. Each of our direct ancestors may have contributed to the DNA we carry in our cells.


Learn about DNA Testing

 

You may be curious about your DNA because you want to learn more about your family, ethnicity, or health. Or maybe you just want to see your DNA results for the fun of it!

Regardless of why you want to learn more, DNA testing and DNA research can lead you to a lot more than your raw DNA test results. When you combine DNA testing with family history research, you can make connections with living family members—cousins you may not have even known you had—and your own ancestors. Learn more about DNA and how it can help you connect with your family.

DNA Brick Walls

Are you stuck in your family history research? DNA testing may help.

DNA Cousin Matches

Learn how to contact your DNA cousins and make discoveries.

DNA and Adoptions

How to connect with your biological family through DNA testing.

DNA Testing

Compare options for DNA testing and find answers to DNA questions.

What Is DNA?—A Molecule That Links Generations

Fri, 02/22/2019 - 18:28


What is DNA? We’ve all seen stunning pictures of DNA models, and many of us have heard the phrase “deoxyribonucleic acid” before. DNA can seem futuristic, scientific, and sometimes downright magical. But is there a simple definition of DNA, one that is a little less mysterious?

DNA affects our appearance and abilities, and it also links us back from generation to generation. Simply put, DNA is the most basic inheritance we get from our parents—and our grandparents, and great-great-grandparents, and so on. Each of our direct ancestors may have contributed to the DNA we carry in our cells.


Learn about DNA Testing

 

You may be curious about your DNA because you want to learn more about your family, ethnicity, or health. Or maybe you just want to see your DNA results for the fun of it!

Regardless of why you want to learn more, DNA testing and DNA research can lead you to a lot more than your raw DNA test results. When you combine DNA testing with family history research, you can make connections with living family members—cousins you may not have even known you had—and your own ancestors. Learn more about DNA and how it can help you connect with your family.

DNA Brick Walls

Are you stuck in your family history research? DNA testing may help.

DNA Cousin Matches

Learn how to contact your DNA cousins and make discoveries.

DNA and Adoptions

How to connect with your biological family through DNA testing.

DNA Testing

Compare options for DNA testing and find answers to DNA questions.

DNA Cousin Matches Can Lead to Family History Discoveries

Fri, 02/22/2019 - 15:29

DNA testing has become a big part of genealogy and family history. DNA matches, sometimes referred to as cousin matches, can be the link to overcoming brick walls in family history research, help adoptees find their birth families, and lead to exciting new family history discoveries.

DNA testing companies that assist with family history generally offer DNA matches or cousin match lists in their DNA testing reports. These DNA cousin matches are a list of people whose DNA matches yours significantly. Depending on how much of your DNA matches, the report can give an estimate of how closely you are related.

Each of the DNA matches on your list may possibly have a common ancestor or ancestral couple from which you both descend. Once you have a DNA match, you may be able to collaborate with your newfound cousin to find this common ancestor, work together on holes in your family tree, or share family history stories and pictures.

3 Steps for Using Your DNA Cousin Match List
  1. Review the family tree of each of your DNA cousin matches, if a family tree is available. DNA cousin matches who are familiar with family history will likely have an online family tree associated with their DNA test results. At the least, they may have included where their ancestors lived and a few of their most recent surnames.
  2. Use the family trees, surnames, or other information to guess which DNA cousin matches are on your father’s side or your mother’s side of the family.
  3. Start contacting your DNA matches via your testing company’s internal message system.

Note: It’s important to remember before reaching out to your DNA cousin matches that not all people who participate in DNA testing are knowledgeable about their family history. In fact, many people send in their DNA just for fun or to learn about their ethnicity breakdown. For this reason, some of your DNA cousin matches may not be able to collaborate with you as easily regarding your shared ancestry.

Which DNA Cousin Matches Should I Contact?

Typically, a DNA cousin match list will begin with your closest DNA matches first. The list is usually categorized by immediate family, 1st to 2nd cousins, 3rd to 4th cousins, and distant cousins, although each testing company’s categories vary. It is important to learn exactly how your testing company categorizes their matches.

Contact your closest matches first. The easiest way to contact a DNA cousin match is via the testing company’s message system.

Not sure what to say? Here’s a helpful example:

“Dear ____, It seems that you and I are close DNA matches. I noticed you did (or didn’t) have a family tree uploaded and wondered if you would feel comfortable sharing a little of your family history with me. I am the daughter of Jacob Smith and Ann Donnelly. I believe you are likely from the Smith side of my family. My father Jacob (b. 1941) is the son of Michael Smith (b. 1911) and Donna Mason (b. 1913) of Sandusky, Ohio. Do any of these names sound familiar to you? I am hoping to learn more about Michael and Donna Smith and hope you might have some information. Hope to hear from you soon.”

As you move down your list to 3rd, 4th, and even more distant cousins, it may become more difficult to determine how closely you are related or who the common ancestor is. But those matches shouldn’t be overlooked. Reaching out to these more distant DNA cousins may still be beneficial.

Collaborating on Family History with Cousin Matches

As you contact cousins, it may be helpful to offer your own information about shared relatives in exchange for what they have. This offer can help you and your newfound relatives build your family history together.

If your DNA matches don’t yet have a family tree, helping them sketch out a small family tree may be a good way for them to share information they have about their parents, grandparents, and other relatives. Most cousins will remember parent and grandparent names and places.

Lots of great tools are available for building a family tree for your cousins or yourself. When you create a free account on FamilySearch.org, you can use the shared FamilySearch Family Tree to build your tree, search for records, and work together with your cousins and other family.

Whether you found the information you needed in your first contact with your cousin matches or didn’t learn as much as you had hoped, consider reaching out again, even regularly, to share new information and see if these relatives have learned more as well. Record what you know in your family tree so you and others can connect with your ancestors and preserve your family stories.

DNA Cousin Matches Can Lead to a Family History Discovery—Donna’s Story

In 2018, Donna decided to participate in DNA testing in hopes of finding her relatives. With the help of a professional genealogist familiar with DNA testing, she was able to find a first cousin match. After reaching out to this newfound cousin via the testing company’s internal message system, Donna found family members willing to work on family history with her. Shared stories, family hobbies and interests, and pictures have just been the beginning of this amazing family history discovery.

If you have taken a DNA test, be sure to upload your family tree to the testing website. You may discover DNA cousin matches for yourself, or you may be the DNA cousin that leads to a long awaited and much anticipated family history discovery!

 

As you learn more about your family history using DNA cousin matches, we’d love to hear your story! You’re welcome to share in the comments below.

More about DNA Testing

Compare options for DNA testing and find answers to DNA questions on FamilySearch.org.

 

DNA Cousin Matches Can Lead to Family History Discoveries

Fri, 02/22/2019 - 15:29


DNA testing has become a big part of genealogy and family history. DNA matches, sometimes referred to as cousin matches, can be the link to overcoming brick walls in family history research, help adoptees find their birth families, and lead to exciting new family history discoveries.

DNA testing companies that assist with family history generally offer DNA matches or cousin match lists in their DNA testing reports. These DNA cousin matches are a list of people whose DNA matches yours significantly. Depending on how much of your DNA matches, the report can give an estimate of how closely you are related.

Each of the DNA matches on your list may possibly have a common ancestor or ancestral couple from which you both descend. Once you have a DNA match, you may be able to collaborate with your newfound cousin to find this common ancestor, work together on holes in your family tree, or share family history stories and pictures.

3 Steps for Using Your DNA Cousin Match List
  1. Review the family tree of each of your DNA cousin matches, if a family tree is available. DNA cousin matches who are familiar with family history will likely have an online family tree associated with their DNA test results. At the least, they may have included where their ancestors lived and a few of their most recent surnames.
  2. Use the family trees, surnames, or other information to guess which DNA cousin matches are on your father’s side or your mother’s side of the family.
  3. Start contacting your DNA matches via your testing company’s internal message system.

Note: It’s important to remember before reaching out to your DNA cousin matches that not all people who participate in DNA testing are knowledgeable about their family history. In fact, many people send in their DNA just for fun or to learn about their ethnicity breakdown. For this reason, some of your DNA cousin matches may not be able to collaborate with you as easily regarding your shared ancestry.

Which DNA Cousin Matches Should I Contact?

Typically, a DNA cousin match list will begin with your closest DNA matches first. The list is usually categorized by immediate family, 1st to 2nd cousins, 3rd to 4th cousins, and distant cousins, although each testing company’s categories vary. It is important to learn exactly how your testing company categorizes their matches.

Contact your closest matches first. The easiest way to contact a DNA cousin match is via the testing company’s message system.

Not sure what to say? Here’s a helpful example:

“Dear ____, It seems that you and I are close DNA matches. I noticed you did (or didn’t) have a family tree uploaded and wondered if you would feel comfortable sharing a little of your family history with me. I am the daughter of Jacob Smith and Ann Donnelly. I believe you are likely from the Smith side of my family. My father Jacob (b. 1941) is the son of Michael Smith (b. 1911) and Donna Mason (b. 1913) of Sandusky, Ohio. Do any of these names sound familiar to you? I am hoping to learn more about Michael and Donna Smith and hope you might have some information. Hope to hear from you soon.”

As you move down your list to 3rd, 4th, and even more distant cousins, it may become more difficult to determine how closely you are related or who the common ancestor is. But those matches shouldn’t be overlooked. Reaching out to these more distant DNA cousins may still be beneficial.

Collaborating on Family History with Cousin Matches

As you contact cousins, it may be helpful to offer your own information about shared relatives in exchange for what they have. This offer can help you and your newfound relatives build your family history together.

If your DNA matches don’t yet have a family tree, helping them sketch out a small family tree may be a good way for them to share information they have about their parents, grandparents, and other relatives. Most cousins will remember parent and grandparent names and places.

Lots of great tools are available for building a family tree for your cousins or yourself. When you create a free account on FamilySearch.org, you can use the shared FamilySearch Family Tree to build your tree, search for records, and work together with your cousins and other family.

Whether you found the information you needed in your first contact with your cousin matches or didn’t learn as much as you had hoped, consider reaching out again, even regularly, to share new information and see if these relatives have learned more as well. Record what you know in your family tree so you and others can connect with your ancestors and preserve your family stories.

DNA Cousin Matches Can Lead to a Family History Discovery—Donna’s Story

In 2018, Donna decided to participate in DNA testing in hopes of finding her relatives. With the help of a professional genealogist familiar with DNA testing, she was able to find a first cousin match. After reaching out to this newfound cousin via the testing company’s internal message system, Donna found family members willing to work on family history with her. Shared stories, family hobbies and interests, and pictures have just been the beginning of this amazing family history discovery.

If you have taken a DNA test, be sure to upload your family tree to the testing website. You may discover DNA cousin matches for yourself, or you may be the DNA cousin that leads to a long awaited and much anticipated family history discovery!

 

As you learn more about your family history using DNA cousin matches, we’d love to hear your story! You’re welcome to share in the comments below.

More about DNA Testing

Compare options for DNA testing and find answers to DNA questions on FamilySearch.org.

 

Connecting with Your Biological Family through DNA Testing

Fri, 02/22/2019 - 12:49

Adoptees and others with unknown parentage can use DNA testing to find and connect with their biological families or to learn more about where their ancestors came from.

DNA testing won’t always provide adoptees with a quick answer to finding their biological roots, but with some traditional genealogy research and DNA testing, many have found success! If you’re wondering how to find your birth parents through DNA, this article can help you get started.

First Step—Taking a DNA Test

If you wish to connect with your biological family or determine an unknown parent, consider taking an autosomal DNA test. An autosomal DNA test can be taken by males or females and may provide you with DNA matches within 5 to 6 generations on both your biological mother and father’s sides of the family.

What’s a DNA match? A DNA match, sometimes referred to as a “cousin match,” is the result of your DNA data being compared to other people’s DNA data to identify matching segments of chromosomes that indicate a family relationship. How closely you are related depends on how much DNA you and another person share.

Second Step—Consider Taking a Test from More Than One Company

The major DNA testing companies help compare your DNA to the DNA of other people who have tested with the same company. For this reason, many genetic genealogists suggest adoptees upload their DNA file to other DNA websites, when possible, or test with multiple DNA companies. If you test with more than one company, your DNA will be matched to a bigger pool of potential relatives.

Third Step—Review of DNA Matches

Once your DNA has gone through the testing process, most companies will provide you with a DNA match list. Reviewing your DNA matches is the next step. Although you may not find a parent match in your match list, you will possibly have a half-sibling match, a close cousin match, or a more distant cousin match. Though a close match of second-cousin or closer is ideal, an adoptee may still be successful in connecting with his or her biological family while learning more about more distant DNA matches.

Some of the DNA cousin matches may have additional information available for you to review online. Additional information may include family surnames, places of origin, or even a family pedigree with names, dates, and places.

Fourth Step—Reaching Out

The fourth step is to reach out to your DNA matches via the testing website’s message system. When using DNA testing to find your biological family, consider the following before reaching out to them.

  1. Your DNA match may not know how to help you determine your birth parents or immediate family.
  2. Your birth and subsequent adoption may have been kept a secret from other members of the birth parents’ families.
  3. Your birth family may not wish to make a connection.

With these and many other things to consider, what are adoptees to do when they are ready to take the next step and reach out to their biological family? For inspiration, here is Jillian’s story of finding and reaching out to her birth father’s family after taking a DNA test.

Jillian’s Story

Jillian was adopted at birth, and her main purpose in DNA testing was to learn about her ancestors and where they came from and to be able to put together a family tree of some sort. But she thought that if she found her birth parents in the process “that would be great.”

Jillian tested her DNA but found the process of analyzing her DNA matches overwhelming. She enlisted the help of a professional genealogist. DNA match lists from multiple testing companies were the key to finding her family. In no time, the genealogist located a few first-cousin matches and one of several responded.

The first cousin did not have a family tree already, but using traditional genealogical research, they were able to build one. Then, with the limited adoption information Jillian knew, they determined that Jillian’s biological father was likely one of the uncles of her newfound cousin. Jillian’s first cousin tried to help other cousins test their DNA to determine who specifically was Jillian’s father, but not all of the cousins were willing to test.

Although Jillian still does not know which of the uncles is her own birth father, she has been able to exchange family pictures and stories with her first cousin. Just recently, her cousin sent some of their grandmother’s Ukranian recipes for Jillian to try. “I will never taste the pierogies my grandmother made,” Jillian said, “but I can connect with her when I make them myself.”

Hope and Support for Adoptees

Many stories show happy reunions of biological families through DNA matching, but not all stories end in the same way. Many adoptees wishing for a similar story of their own may be disappointed with how their search for their biological family ends.

If you are looking for support after not having an ideal reunion, learning that your birth family doesn’t want to connect, or discovering an unknown parent, many community groups can help, including the following:

These groups can provide guidance, sympathy, and support. They can also advise on how to approach other family members sensitively, as your current and newfound family members may also be affected.

Whether you meet your immediate birth family or not, DNA testing can offer you a way to learn more about your genetic history and where your family comes from. You can begin building your own unique part of your family tree for free on FamilySearch.org, before and after you take a DNA test.

Learn more about FamilySearch’s shared online tree and how it can help you learn about your family, collaborate with cousins and other family members, and do much more!

More about DNA Testing

Compare options for DNA testing and find answers to DNA questions on FamilySearch.org.

 

Connecting with Your Biological Family through DNA Testing

Fri, 02/22/2019 - 12:49


Adoptees and others with unknown parentage can use DNA testing to find and connect with their biological families or to learn more about where their ancestors came from.

DNA testing won’t always provide adoptees with a quick answer to finding their biological roots, but with some traditional genealogy research and DNA testing, many have found success! If you’re wondering how to find your birth parents through DNA, this article can help you get started.

First Step—Taking a DNA Test

If you wish to connect with your biological family or determine an unknown parent, consider taking an autosomal DNA test. An autosomal DNA test can be taken by males or females and may provide you with DNA matches within 5 to 6 generations on both your biological mother and father’s sides of the family.

What’s a DNA match? A DNA match, sometimes referred to as a “cousin match,” is the result of your DNA data being compared to other people’s DNA data to identify matching segments of chromosomes that indicate a family relationship. How closely you are related depends on how much DNA you and another person share.

Second Step—Consider Taking a Test from More Than One Company

The major DNA testing companies help compare your DNA to the DNA of other people who have tested with the same company. For this reason, many genetic genealogists suggest adoptees upload their DNA file to other DNA websites, when possible, or test with multiple DNA companies. If you test with more than one company, your DNA will be matched to a bigger pool of potential relatives.

Third Step—Review of DNA Matches

Once your DNA has gone through the testing process, most companies will provide you with a DNA match list. Reviewing your DNA matches is the next step. Although you may not find a parent match in your match list, you will possibly have a half-sibling match, a close cousin match, or a more distant cousin match. Though a close match of second-cousin or closer is ideal, an adoptee may still be successful in connecting with his or her biological family while learning more about more distant DNA matches.

Some of the DNA cousin matches may have additional information available for you to review online. Additional information may include family surnames, places of origin, or even a family pedigree with names, dates, and places.

Fourth Step—Reaching Out

The fourth step is to reach out to your DNA matches via the testing website’s message system. When using DNA testing to find your biological family, consider the following before reaching out to them.

  1. Your DNA match may not know how to help you determine your birth parents or immediate family.
  2. Your birth and subsequent adoption may have been kept a secret from other members of the birth parents’ families.
  3. Your birth family may not wish to make a connection.

With these and many other things to consider, what are adoptees to do when they are ready to take the next step and reach out to their biological family? For inspiration, here is Jillian’s story of finding and reaching out to her birth father’s family after taking a DNA test.

Jillian’s Story

Jillian was adopted at birth, and her main purpose in DNA testing was to learn about her ancestors and where they came from and to be able to put together a family tree of some sort. But she thought that if she found her birth parents in the process “that would be great.”

Jillian tested her DNA but found the process of analyzing her DNA matches overwhelming. She enlisted the help of a professional genealogist. DNA match lists from multiple testing companies were the key to finding her family. In no time, the genealogist located a few first-cousin matches and one of several responded.

The first cousin did not have a family tree already, but using traditional genealogical research, they were able to build one. Then, with the limited adoption information Jillian knew, they determined that Jillian’s biological father was likely one of the uncles of her newfound cousin. Jillian’s first cousin tried to help other cousins test their DNA to determine who specifically was Jillian’s father, but not all of the cousins were willing to test.

Although Jillian still does not know which of the uncles is her own birth father, she has been able to exchange family pictures and stories with her first cousin. Just recently, her cousin sent some of their grandmother’s Ukranian recipes for Jillian to try. “I will never taste the pierogies my grandmother made,” Jillian said, “but I can connect with her when I make them myself.”

Hope and Support for Adoptees

Many stories show happy reunions of biological families through DNA matching, but not all stories end in the same way. Many adoptees wishing for a similar story of their own may be disappointed with how their search for their biological family ends.

If you are looking for support after not having an ideal reunion, learning that your birth family doesn’t want to connect, or discovering an unknown parent, many community groups can help, including the following:

These groups can provide guidance, sympathy, and support. They can also advise on how to approach other family members sensitively, as your current and newfound family members may also be affected.

Whether you meet your immediate birth family or not, DNA testing can offer you a way to learn more about your genetic history and where your family comes from. You can begin building your own unique part of your family tree for free on FamilySearch.org, before and after you take a DNA test.

Learn more about FamilySearch’s shared online tree and how it can help you learn about your family, collaborate with cousins and other family members, and do much more!

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Overcoming Brick Walls in Your Family Tree with a Genealogy DNA Test

Fri, 02/22/2019 - 11:58

Today, many people are turning to DNA testing to overcome brick walls in their family history research. When you are unable to find information to go back any further in your family tree, DNA testing might help you break through these research barriers.

To get through a brick wall, successful genealogists often start by using traditional research methods and tried and true techniques. A genealogy DNA test can work alongside these methods and help break through a brick wall when nothing else can.

Three Types of DNA Testing You Might Use to Overcome Brick Walls

There are several DNA companies that provide opportunities to find relatives in what is generally called a “DNA match list.” DNA cousin matches are people whose DNA significantly matches your own. But with many types of DNA tests, how do you know which one to use? Below is a quick summary of three types of DNA testing that can help the most with brick walls.

  • An Autosomal DNA Test—This DNA test can be taken by males or females and will typically give you DNA matches within about 5 to 6 generations on both your mother and father’s sides of the family.
  • The YDNA Test—This DNA test can be taken only by a male, as it is used to track the Y chromosome passed from father to son over the generations. It extends back many generations. The YDNA test can provide relative matches and a paternal haplogroup. If a father’s family line is in question, this DNA test may help break down that brick wall.
  • The mtDNA Test—This DNA test can be taken by males or females, but it looks only at the genetic markers of your mother’s maternal line. It too extends back many generations. The mtDNA test will provide a maternal haplogroup and DNA matches for the maternal line. If your brick wall involves your mother’s maternal family line, this DNA test may be helpful (although an mtDNA test will naturally have a higher margin for error in the maternal line than a YDNA has in the paternal line).

Strategies for Overcoming Brick Walls with DNA

After you’ve taken a DNA test, various strategies can help you break through your brick wall problem. Here are some common problems that DNA can help with and strategies for tackling these brick walls with your DNA test results.

Using DNA to Find an Unknown Parent or Grandparent

To find an unknown parent or grandparent, start by sorting your DNA matches into groups. Many companies help you do this sorting by using a shared or “in common with” feature to show you matches that share DNA with each other. When a whole group has matching DNA, it may mean they all share a common ancestor.

Compare trees with some of these matches to see which groups are connected to your known parents or grandparents, and set these aside. With these set aside, you can focus on matches that might lead you to your unknown relative. Compare trees with these matches, and try to find an ancestor who appears in more than one of the trees. This approach provides a starting point for traditional research, as this common ancestor is possibly related to you and your unknown relative.

As you research the descendants of this common ancestor, look for dates and places that match the information you know about yourself and your unknown relative. Confirm your relationship by asking other living descendants to take a DNA test.

Using DNA to Find New Avenues for Research

If your research hits a brick wall due to immigration or migration, name changes, or missing records, DNA may suggest clues that can lead you to new relatives, surnames, or locations. To identify these clues, you’ll need to use information about your brick-wall ancestor (the ancestor whose family line ends or who you’re trying to find more information about).

First, identify other descendants of your brick-wall ancestor who have also taken a DNA test (or ask other descendants to take a DNA test). Use the shared or “in common with” feature provided by your DNA testing company to identify other DNA matches connected to the same brick-wall ancestor. Review those matches and their trees. Look for people, surnames, or locations that match the information you already know about your brick-wall ancestor. Next, use records to research these relatives and try to connect them to your brick-wall ancestor.

Using DNA to Confirm a Relationship

If records were burned or are missing or were never created, you can break brick walls by first hypothesizing and then using DNA to confirm a relationship. Start by researching your brick-wall ancestor and identifying possible relatives. Then locate and test living descendants of both your brick-wall ancestor and the possible relatives of this ancestor. Compare the DNA of the descendants of the brick-wall ancestor with the DNA of the descendants of the proposed relatives. If the DNA matches at an expected rate, the relationship probably existed.

Using DNA to Do Collaborative Research

Once you have identified DNA matches that may be related to your brick-wall ancestor, contact these matches to discover what they know about their family lines, especially if they have not uploaded a tree to the DNA testing site.

If your brick-wall ancestor is more recent, a DNA match may have living memory of the person or the person’s descendants who can help you track down relevant records and vital information. They may also have a family tree or other information that can help.

If your DNA match does not include a family tree or has limited information but you both want to learn more about your ancestors, you may want to work on the problem together. A family history site that allows you to upload and share family tree data can be a good way to learn from and collaborate with DNA matches. FamilySearch.org offers a shared family tree for free. 

Getting Help

Solving brick walls with DNA is not a simple or easy process, but many places offer DNA help. Consider asking an expert for help in setting up a strategy for you. Family history and DNA experts can also advise if DNA testing can help with your particular brick wall and can even help you with the research itself.

How Miles and Angela Overcame a Brick Wall with DNA Testing

For over 20 years, Miles and Angela had searched for the parents of Angela’s ancestor Willie Mae Harris (1864–1909). Willie Mae Harris had appeared in very few records, leaving Miles and Angela with few clues of her parentage.

Traditional research led Miles and Angela to find living descendants of Willie Mae and collect DNA samples from many of them. Using DNA match lists from these known descendants, they were able to find a previously unknown DNA cousin match. This newly discovered cousin had uploaded a family tree that included ancestors with the surname of Harris. Angela and Miles quickly sent an email to the cousin via the DNA testing website to compare their Harris family lines. It was determined their common ancestral link was William E. Harris and Fredonia Aust Harris. With this couple finally identified, further research led to the confirmation that William and Fredonia were the parents of Willie Mae Harris.

In addition to breaking through this 20-year brick wall, Angela found additional living cousins, one of whom sent pictures of William and Fredonia Harris, Willie Mae’s parents. DNA testing was the key to solving this family research problem and extended another generation on their family tree.

Have you had family history success using DNA testing? We would love to hear your story in the comments below.

More about DNA Testing

Compare options for DNA testing and find answers to DNA questions on FamilySearch.org.