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Editing Dates and Places on Indexed Records—FamilySearch Update

4 hours 42 min ago

We lean heavily on correctly indexed records to help us find our ancestors. However, indexing errors happen from time to time. These errors can cause problems for people searching for records about ancestors or accurately recording information in family trees.

In 2019, FamilySearch released an update that allowed people to edit names in indexed records. A recent update now allows you to edit places and dates that were indexed incorrectly. Note that this feature may not yet be available for all indexed FamilySearch records, but it will be available in the coming months.

When to Edit a Date or Place in an Indexed Record

Indexed records may show incorrect information for a couple reasons. One reason could be that the record itself contained incorrect information—for example, the original recorder misspelled the name of a place. An indexed record might also be incorrect because an indexer might have entered the place-name or date differently from what the record listed.

How to Edit Dates and Places in Indexed Records

The following is an example of how to edit a place-name; the same steps would apply for editing an incorrect date.

Let’s take a look at a scenario in which a birthplace was recorded incorrectly on the original record.

In this record from the United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917–1918 collection, Joe Nimeth’s birthplace was entered as “Karmed, Hungary.” No place in Hungary is spelled as “Karmed”; however, there is a place named “Körmend.”

After looking at the original document and doing our due diligence with verification, we can edit the birthplace in the index by following these steps.

1. To the right of the words “Karmed, Hungary,” click Edit.

2. In the next window, change the Event Place to Körmend, Vas, Hungary.

3. Next, under step 2, click the Highlight button.

You will then be directed to click and drag a box around the place-name in the document.

4. Finally, choose a reason for the change from the drop-down options in step 3. In this case, we chose “Wrong in the document.” Add a note to explain your reason, and then click Save.

How to View Previous Edits

Let’s look at an example of a date edit that has already been completed.

In this record from the South Africa, Cape Province, Civil Deaths, 1895–1972 collection, the event date was originally indexed as 26 Oct 1953. After someone reviewed the original image, the event date was edited to be 26 October 1952.

To see this edit and any reason attached to the correction, you can click View to the right of the new date. In the next window, you will see the highlighted area that was edited, the date the edit was made, the person who made the edit, and the reason for making the edits.

Making Additional Edits

Anyone who disagrees with the conclusion can make additional edits to this record. Edits do not override information already on but rather add to it. The originally indexed information and changed information both become searchable.

Now that you see for yourself how easy it is to edit places and dates, give it a try yourself! Go to, and search for your ancestors in the millions of records online. When you find incorrect dates and places on an index, verify the correct information, make the edits, and help yourself and others achieve family history goals!

What Was It Like 100 Years Ago Today?

9 hours 21 min ago

What was life like in the United States 100 years ago today? The year 1920 ushered in a new decade and brought new innovations and a life of abundance. Let’s take a trip to the past and see what life was like for your ancestors 100 years ago today!

Life Expectancy Was Shorter

In the United States, the life expectancy for men in 1920 was around 53.6 years. For women, it was 54.6 years. If you compare that number to today’s average life expectancy of 78.93 years, you can see just how much better we are doing! The main causes of death in 1920 were heart disease, pneumonia, and tuberculosis.

The World Was Recovering from a Pandemic

By 1920, the world was just coming out of one of the greatest pandemics it had ever known. This flu, H1N1, known as the Spanish flu, infected about 27 percent of the world’s population. It is estimated to have killed at least 50 million people.

The Automobile Industry Was Born

As the decade progressed, the 1920s invited increased prosperity due in major part to manufacturing jobs in the automotive industry. Additionally, the automotive industry led to steel production, highway building, and more.

The automotive industry also introduced assembly-line work. Because companies such as Ford were using this new assembly-line technology, they were able to hire cheaper, less-skilled laborers. Many companies filled those positions with women.

Alcohol Was Prohibited

The 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution went into effect on January 16, 1920. This amendment outlawed the production and consumption of alcohol and is commonly known as Prohibition.

Many historians believe that it was during this time that organized crime began to increase. Black market alcohol, bootleggers, moonshiners, and speakeasies were part of the landscape of the 1920s.

Women Could Finally Vote

The 19th Amendment was also ratified in 1920. In February of 1920, Carrie Chapman Catt founded the League of Women Voters in Chicago, Illinois. By August, the 19th Amendment had passed and gave women the right to vote in the United States. The League of Women Voters was created to encourage women to use their newfound influence at the voting polls. It is still a functioning organization today.

Radios Were a Main Source of Entertainment

Today’s average family may prefer a binge-worthy television series, but 100 years ago the American family could be found huddled around the radio in living rooms across the nation. The first commercial radio station in the United States was Pittsburgh’s KDKA. Within a few short years, there were more than 500 stations across America.

Jazz and Dance Clubs Were All the Rage

Radio programs broadcasted the news, sports, comedy, and music. The 1920s sparked a musical plethora of new styles such as jazz, blues, Broadway, and dance bands.

With the introduction of fun, edgy music, many young people gravitated to dance clubs and roadhouses to socialize. They could gather with their friends and enjoy all the latest in music and dance steps such as the Charleston, black bottom, shimmy, fox-trot, and the Lindy Hop!

Hats Were Essential to Fashion

Just like now, 100 years ago today men and women dressed for the occasion. In other words, a woman might wear a traditional housedress while at home with her family. This simple cotton dress may have been made with colorful plaids or stripes and was comfortable for doing chores. But when a woman needed to run errands, she may have donned a “walking suit” or “day dress.”

A lady would never be without her hat and gloves. These accessories were essentials in every woman’s wardrobe. From her bobbed styled hair to her Mary Jane sensible-heeled shoes, women of the 1920s had style and dressed appropriately for every event.

Men’s fashion began to take on a more casual appearance in the 1920s too. Although the traditional business suit was still common, Grandpa may have tried a sportier trend with “oxford bag” pants and V-neck sweaters.

Hats were a must for every man and served as a symbol of social status.

The Most Popular Occupations

At the beginning of 1920, women typically worked as teachers, nurses, and maids, while men were mostly farmers, doctors, lawyers, and bankers.

A hundred years ago seems very far away, but there are still some similarities to the way we live now. Where were your ancestors living 100 years ago? Search for them today in the United States 1920 federal census!

Search the 1920 Census Records First Name Last Name Place Year   function doSearch() { var base = ""; var first = document.getElementById("firstName").value; var last = document.getElementById("lastName").value; var place = document.getElementById("place").value; var year = document.getElementById("year").value; var collections = "(1488411)"; var url = base+'%2Bgivenname%3A"'+first+'"~%20%2Bsurname%3A"'+last+'"~%20%2Bany_place%3A"'+place+'"~%20%2Bany_year%3A'+year+'~&collection_id='+collections;, '_blank'); } .javascript-form label { color: #666662; display: block; font-size: 1rem; font-weight: bold; line-height: 1.35rem; margin-bottom: 5px; cursor: pointer; margin-top: 5px; } .javascript-form input { background-color: #fff; border: 1px solid #ccc; border-radius: 4px; box-shadow: inset 0 3px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.05); box-sizing: border-box; color: #333331; font-family: inherit; font-size: 1rem; height: inherit; line-height: normal; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-top: 5px; padding: 0.429rem 0.714rem; transition: border linear 0.2s; width: 200px; } .javascript-form input::placeholder { font-size: 11px; } .javascript-form input[type="button"] { color: #fff; border: 0; -webkit-border-radius: 3px; border-radius: 3px; padding: 10px; font-weight: 700; cursor: pointer; background-color: #85B807; width: auto; box-shadow: none; font-size: 11px; }

FamilySearch Updates Enhance your Experience

Mon, 03/30/2020 - 09:01

FamilySearch is proud to have the world’s largest online family tree and thrilled to provide free family history experiences to millions. In order to give users the best experience possible, we are constantly working on updates and improvements to our online experience.

To keep you up to date on the latest FamilySearch experience changes, we will be listing them here chronologically. Check back often to see how your FamilySearch experience has improved!

March 5, 2020 Update—Mobile App Fan Chart Update

The FamilySearch Family Tree app now has a new way to see your family story—the fan chart, which was previously available only on a laptop or desktop! To turn on this feature, go to your app settings, and select Enable Fan Chart View. You can toggle this selection on or off as desired.

With the fan chart view enabled, you will see a small button in the lower corner that allows you to customize your fan chart view. The fan chart view can show four to seven generations and can be viewed from several perspectives—family lines, birth country, number of sources, stories or photos attached to profiles, and which ancestors have research recommendations. Latter-day Saint users are also able to view which ancestors have ordinances available.

Download the FamilySearch Family Tree app, and give this update a try!

February 20, 2020 Update—Sharing and Liking Albums, Album Slideshows on Memories

Albums on Memories can now be shared easily to Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest via the Share menu in an album.

FamilySearch users can also now “Like” an album. Liking an album is a way to bookmark an album that belongs to another user. To like an album, click the blue heart Like icon located below the album title. All liked albums display in the user’s My Likes list in the gallery.

Additionally, you can view your album’s photos in a slideshow. To play a slideshow, click on the Slideshow icon below the album title. A window will pop up and give you the options to loop the slideshow or include audio (if the images have audio).

Update: February 18, 2020—Explore Historical Images Unlocks Data in Digital Records

Have you ever tried searching for your ancestor’s name in online records? FamilySearch, FamilySearch partners, and volunteers worldwide have worked to make over 3 billion records easily findable online with a very simple name search. But did you know that these indexed records represent only 20 percent of the historical records FamilySearch has available online?

Well ahead of any formal indexing or cataloging, the new FamilySearch Explore Historical Images tool can help you find records about your ancestors more easily, even when their information is not text-searchable and seems to be locked inside a digital image. Learn more here.

Update: February 6, 2020—Topic Tags Added to Memories

FamilySearch Memories released a new feature, “Topic Tags,” that makes it easier than ever before to categorize and find memories.

On the website, the topic tags option is found to the right of images and documents that you are viewing in Memories. Just click the link Add Topic Tags to add tags such as “Recipes,” “World War II,” “Wedding,” and other descriptive terms. Once you start typing, a drop-down menu will give you ideas.

Later, when you want to find memories with a specific topic, you can click the Find tab, select the Search Topic Tags option, and search all of FamilySearch Memories for photos tagged with the topic you are looking for. You can limit your searches to close relatives only by clicking the option Search Only My Close Relatives, found on the search results page.

Update: February 5, 2020—Header Redesign on

The FamilySearch website has a new, streamlined header that is more readable and takes up less space. The Help menu is now more visible and easier for users to find. 

Also—exciting news!—the new Activities page, created early in 2019, has a prominent position in the main header. To discover more about yourself and your family, simply click Activities at the top of the page on

Update: January 15, 2020—Free 2020 Calendar

FamilySearch has made it possible to print out a free 2020 Calendar that gives you dates that would have been important to your ancestors. This calendar includes birth dates, death dates, and wedding anniversaries. Additionally, it is now possible to get calendar reminders in your FamilySearch notifications. These reminders will notify you on the date of your ancestor’s event, and tell you how many years it has been since that day. Click here to view your own personalized calendar and download a free copy.

More Updates from 2019

See What’s Coming in 2020 All about the FamilySearch Family Tree

Ministering to All through Temple and Family History: 2020 Leadership Instruction

Fri, 03/27/2020 - 18:44

The annual Temple and Family History Leadership Instruction is a one-of-a-kind event where Church leaders teach about temple and family history work and share ways we can all serve and minister more effectively through these efforts. This year, leaders focused on how temple and family history can be used to minister to all of God’s children—and emphasized that “all” really means “all.”

Watch this short video about the 2020 Temple and Family History Leadership Instruction, which includes a personal invitation from Elder David A. Bednar.

The full video for the meeting is available on As you watch, look for ways temple and family history can help you personally in living the gospel of Jesus Christ, caring for those in need, inviting all to receive the gospel, and uniting families for eternity (see General Handbook, 1.2).

Watch the Full Leadership Instruction Online

A transcript of the 2020 leadership instruction meeting will be available in several languages. You can also view current and previous leadership instruction videos and transcripts in the Gospel Library.

Virtual Tours—19 Ways to Travel from Home

Fri, 03/27/2020 - 14:57

Virtual tours can open up amazing and awe-inspiring locations around the world that may otherwise be inaccessible to you. You can experience the majesty of the Sistine Chapel, the wonder of the Great Wall of China, or the beauty of Hawaii from the comfort of your own home. 

Picking the Right Virtual Tour for You

As you consider which virtual tour you want to take, try finding one that not only helps you explore a new place, but consider a place tied to your heritage. Learning more about your cultural heritage can help you become more resilient as you develop a deeper understanding of your story.

You can discover more about your heritage using the Where Am I From? experience, which maps where your ancestors came from.

The following virtual tours allow you to see some of the most spectacular sites in the world and gain a greater appreciation for world cultures. By immersing yourself in world heritage, you will better understand your own heritage.

1. Vatican Museums

This collection of virtual tours lets you see some of the masterpieces of the Renaissance, including the Sistine Chapel, Niccoline Chapel, Raphael’s Room, and more.

Start the Tour

2. Great Wall of China

The Great Wall is often regarded as a wonder of the world, making it a prime tourist attraction. By taking the tour online, you can skip the crowds and still experience the incredible view and Chinese history.

Start the Tour

3. Louvre

The Louvre, located in Paris, is the largest art museum in the world. Three of the museum’s top exhibits are available online.

Start the Tour

4. Taj Mahal

This ivory marble mausoleum in India is one of the most famous buildings in the world. Emperor Shah Jahan had it built in 1632 for his wife Mumtaz Mahal.

Start the Tour

5. Ellis Island

The virtual tour of Ellis Island is a great choice if you have ancestors who immigrated to the United States. The immigration station processed over 12 million immigrants as they entered the country.

Start the Tour

6. British Museum

With online exhibits from the British Museum in London, dive into the fascinating history of famous world artifacts such as Egyptian mummies and the Rosetta Stone.

Start the Tour

7. Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza

Home to the second-largest private collection of art in the world, this Spanish museum holds some of the greatest pieces and names of almost every artistic period.

Start the Tour

8. Carlsbad Caverns

Dive into an exploration of Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, in the United States. You’ll get the chance to see deep caverns filled with unique and awe-inspiring rock formations that were formed when the limestone was dissolved by sulfuric acid. 

Start the Tour

9. National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City

As the largest museum in Mexico, the National Museum of Anthropology is home to significant artifacts from pre-Columbian Mexican heritage. If you have ancestors from Mexico, this tour will help you understand the history of Mexico and the Aztec and Mayan people.

Start the Tour

10. African Safari

African safaris are some of the best ways to appreciate African wildlife and heritage. These 360-degree video tours bring that experience into your home.

Start the Tour

11. Great Barrier Reef

The world’s largest and most famous coral reef covers an area of over 344,000 square kilometers (133,000 square miles) off the coast of Australia. Take the interactive journey online to dive in.

Start the Tour

12. National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Korea

The contemporary art museum in Seoul also contains international art from different periods, and it is worth looking in to see the impressive collection.

Start the Tour

13. Hang Son Doong

The world’s biggest cave is located in Vietnam. Don’t fret—National Geographic has a 360-degree virtual tour available for free online.

Start the Tour

14. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

If you are unable to make it to Washington, D.C., to see the Smithsonian, it has a complete virtual tour that allows you to click through and see the entirety of the museum. 

Start the Tour

15. Buckingham Palace

Tour the iconic British palace with all its ornate details, including the grand staircase, throne room, white drawing room, and more. It is a significant site for anyone with British ancestors.

Start the Tour

16. Gardens of Versailles

The magnificent gardens outside the Palace of Versailles in France have been meticulously kept since 1661, when they were renovated by André le Nôtre by order of King Louis XIV. Walk through online to enjoy the impressive feat.

Start the Tour

17. Acropolis

The ancient citadel in Athens is famous for its significant historical remains, particularly the Parthenon.

View Live Cams

18. Metropolitan Opera

While this one isn’t a tour, it’s still a way to experience world travel from home. The Metropolitan Opera in New York City is streaming some of their best shows nightly at 7:30 p.m. (eastern time).

Visit the Website

19. Create Your Own Virtual Tour

With the help of Google Maps or Google Earth, you can explore almost any location in the world. If you need ideas of places to visit, use the opportunity to virtually explore the places of your heritage. Traveling to understand the past and particularly your ancestors will help you gain a connection to your heritage and a sense of your roots.

Explore Where You Came From

First, choose a destination and create a list of significant sites you would like to see. Once you have a list of places, use Google Earth or Google Maps to search for the places you chose and see real images of them. Using these tools, you can wander through places as if you were actually there and walking through them.

As long as you have access to the internet, you have access to the world. No matter what is keeping you at home, there is a wealth of information, images, and virtual tours available online that makes it possible for you to travel from home. 

Feeling the Blessings of the Temple at Home

Fri, 03/27/2020 - 10:00

As temples around the world close temporarily for public health reasons, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints look forward to renewed  opportunities to worship and serve in these sacred buildings. They also look forward with great anticipation to feeling the family connection that comes from serving in temples on behalf of deceased ancestors.

Here at FamilySearch, we focus on the joy and sense of purpose that come from connecting families across generations. You can have those feelings within the walls of your own home! Below are several ideas for individuals, couples, families with children, and multigenerational families. Some require technology; others require just time and attention.

1. Build meaningful memories with loved ones.

As each of us experiences an unprecedented and unpredictable era, we are making history. Live these days deliberately; you’ll likely always remember how you felt and what you did during this time. Focus on the people who matter most. Be creative about ways to strengthen relationships, express love, and laugh—don’t simply pass the time.

If you aren’t able to be with loved ones personally, use technology to stay connected. Texting and messaging services make it easy to let others know you’re thinking of them. Use video platforms such as Skype, FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts, or others to have more frequent face-to-face conversations with special loved ones. Host a virtual reunion with small groups of relatives, such as your siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, or cousins.

2. Write your own story.

Your memories, opinions, and experiences are all unique—and they all matter. You are the only person who can write them with complete authority. Thinking about and compiling your memories can lead to better emotional health and to recognizing the Lord’s hand in your life.

Writing (and perhaps rewriting) your personal history helps build resilience in yourself. Don’t wait until you are older to write your stories; your memories of earlier years will be more accurate and vibrant if you write them now. As the saying goes, “The faintest ink is brighter than the clearest mental memory.”

Can’t think what to write about? Try memory-jogging strategies. Pull out an old photo album, scrapbook, or box of memorabilia. (If you don’t have these, look through your camera roll or social media feeds.) Listen to old songs that bring back memories.

Think about the most important people and experiences in your past and how they shaped you. Reflect on previous seasons of change or upheaval and how you grew. Still need ideas? Try these prompts from Record My Story.

3. Swap stories with loved ones and friends.

Storytelling to pass the time and strengthen relationships is a timeliness activity across many cultures. Exchange life stories with loved ones in person or virtually, as your circumstances permit. Telling a story is great practice for writing it (and vice versa)!

Invite children to listen and participate; they need to know their stories matter too. Just allow them to tell their stories in their own ways. With permission from participants, consider recording the audio of these conversations with your phone and sharing the file with each person.

You may also want to conduct more formal oral history interviews with older loved ones. After all, if you don’t preserve your family’s most precious memories, those memories will fade within three generations. Can’t think of questions to ask? #52Stories for Families offers a list of conversation-starting questions. So does this list of questions to ask your grandparents! This tutorial on using FamilySearch apps to record oral histories offers great getting-started tips.

4. Share and preserve family photos and documents.

Images are powerful records, both historically and emotionally. Find your family photo albums, boxes of old pictures or digitized images you may have stashed away. What do you know about them? Enjoy reminiscing—with a loved one, if possible. Enlist older children and youth to help organize and digitize your photos, following these tips for safe preservation.

Other descendants may appreciate seeing your old family photos too. Upload the photos to the FamilySearch Family Tree using FamilySearch apps, and attach them to the profile pages of your ancestors. Don’t forget to tag relatives and add captions. While you’re there, consider choosing portrait photos for your ancestors’ pages and thanking others who have contributed images.

Just for fun, compare your face to your ancestors’ pictures to see which ones you may resemble.

5. Explore your tree.

What discoveries await you on the FamilySearch Family Tree? To find out, add yourself and your living relatives to the Tree. Then start exploring! Travel up each branch of your tree as far as you can. Where did each line come from? Do you notice any naming patterns? Can you find anyone who lived in an interesting time or place?

Experiment with looking at your tree from different perspectives to see what you learn. Explore the meaning of your name.

When you feel drawn to a particular ancestor or family, dig a little deeper for their stories. Look at the records that have been attached to their pages. Take a virtual tour of the places they lived. Learning more about the experiences of your relatives can strengthen and inspire you.

As you discover meaningful stories, tell others. Share the stories on a blog or on social media. Consider including comments about why these stories matter to you.

6. Help build the world’s family tree.

While exploring the FamilySearch Family Tree, you may notice erroneous information, missing ancestors, and ancestral profiles with minimal information. More than 5 million people have contributed to this tree—it’s the largest shared family tree in the world—and it’s inevitable that incorrect or outdated information may appear. Don’t worry! This is a work in progress, and you can help improve contributed data.

Add what you know about your family to the Tree, and attach any related evidence, such as document images. Correct erroneous information, and review record hints to see if they pertain to your ancestor. Record hints often add more information about a person or family. You can also merge duplicate profile pages.

Finally, help the Family Tree continue to grow—and catch fascinating glimpses into history—by participating in record indexing.

Although times may be tumultuous, remember the Savior’s invitation to “be still.” If we ensure that our focus is on Christ and on service to others on both sides of the veil, we will feel the peace and blessings that the temple brings—no matter where we are.

A Family Volunteers from Home—and Reaps Surprising Benefits

Thu, 03/26/2020 - 17:00

This extended family is working from home to help make the world’s historical records more available. In the process, they are connecting with each other and drawing strength from the past.

Like millions of people around the world, the extended Greenway family is sequestered at their homes. Coronavirus has not yet touched them personally. Rather, they have been social distancing to protect themselves and others.

During this time when most social events are discouraged, and especially with children at home, the family has been looking for meaningful ways to pass the time and stay connected.

They’ve found one. From their homes in several parts of the United States, the Greenways are working toward a joint goal to transcribe at least 2,000 names from FamilySearch’s collection of free, digitized historical records. These transcriptions help others who are trying to learn more about their family history.

Three generations of Greenways have taken up the cause. It’s already proved so rewarding that several family members plan to continue indexing even after normal routines resume. Here’s how they got started, what results they are seeing, and how they help their children to participate.

Start your Own Indexing Project Getting Started

Ron and Melanie Greenway live in Pennsylvania, United States, but their six grown children and 20 grandchildren are scattered around Pennsylvania, Ohio, Idaho, and Utah. Daughter Emily Greenway Richins recently proposed that their family collaborate on a joint goal of indexing old records. “I’ve done this before,” she says. “If everyone contributes a little, it will add up. If we go over, awesome! I created a group home page, and we FaceTimed to get everyone an account and teach people how to do it.”

A screen capture of the Greenway family’s indexing group. Anyone can create a private indexing group to pool group efforts and encourage others.

A Teen Indexer and His Mom

Emily’s oldest son, Isaac, who is almost 14, has been one of the group’s most active participants so far. “He’s taken this by the horns! He’ll index for 45 minutes at a time. He cyber-schools, so he’s really good on the computer. He’s good at reading old handwriting too,” Emily says. “He likes indexing the ship passenger manifests; they’re in a list, and he just goes down the names. He has autism and it appeals to the organized part of his brain.”

Emily has found the process personally rewarding, too. A busy nurse and mom, she finds that indexing fills her limited downtime meaningfully. “When I would normally pick up a book or play a game on my iPad, I’ll tell myself I need to index so many names before I can do that,” she says. “Before I know it, I’ve finished four or five batches, and I have no desire to pick up my book.”

Isaac Richins lives near his grandmother Melanie Greenway. They’re not getting together in person much now, but sharing their indexing goals still helps them feel connected.

“I’ve been indexing death records and passenger manifests,” she continued. “I see the causes of death from, say, 1895. I work in labor and delivery, and I’ve noticed a lot of childbirth and infant deaths. I think to myself, ‘She wouldn’t die from that cause nowadays,’ and I wonder how the family felt. I’ve found stowaways on the ship passenger manifests. I wonder why they stowed away.”

“My son asked me what a stowaway was,” Emily says. “It led to a great conversation about why people would have stowed away. We wouldn’t have had that conversation otherwise. For parents, it’s a good way to open up a dialogue about the challenges other people face versus what we face.”

A Project for the Whole Family

Emily’s sister-in-law in Ohio, Tanya Greenway, is a stay-at-home mom whose four children are now home all day too. Tanya loves history but is new to indexing, and she has been pleasantly surprised. “Indexing is an education it and of itself—for me, not just my kids. I’m learning geography and history. Records mention countries that don’t even exist now,” Tanya says. “I’m seeing how people spelled their names. Who knew you could have that many vowels and consonants in one name?”

She especially enjoys the stories she sees unfolding in old records. “They have become real people to me,” explains Tanya. “One man got his citizenship one day after his birthday. What a great birthday present! Today I ‘met’ a woman from Romania who was about 4 feet and 11 inches and weighed 100 pounds. She was about 20 years old and a seamstress. I could just picture this petite little seamstress. Someone’s description says he had a scar on his neck. I thought about how that might have happened, what his life must have been like.”

How are things going for her children? Images from left to right: Tanya Greenway with Madelynne and Owen; Jackson Greenway; Luke Greenway helps his mom, Tanya Greenway.
  • Madelynne, 14, had previously done some record indexing. “She helped me get set up, because I’m not good with technology. It was a great opportunity for her to teach me something,” Tanya says. “Now she works mostly independently. I don’t tell her how much to do or when—I want this to come from her. I just check on her to see what she’s working on.”
  • Jackson, age 11, “needs more of a one-on-one experience. This is new to him. I sit down with him to work in his account. He’s soaking up the one-on-one time and asking his dad to do it with him too,” Tanya says. “He tends to move quickly through things, and this requires him to be meticulous, which is good for him. He can’t read cursive, so we’re helping him choose projects with typed records rather than handwritten ones. We want him to feel competent, not frustrated.”
  • Luke, 7, is too young to have a FamilySearch account to do his own indexing, Tanya says. “He was sorely disappointed! He likes to look over my shoulder and help me decipher handwriting. We compare how the person wrote the same letter on different parts of a page. He’ll read numbers for me. He likes to try to pronounce the names.”
  • And baby Owen, just under age 2? His main job is to take his afternoon nap. “When Owen is awake, he wants to sit on my lap and snuggle while I’m typing. For him to sit still for even a minute at this age is a bonus, so I’ll take it.”
The Oldest and Youngest Volunteers

What about the Greenway grandparents? Ron is an experienced indexer who, like his daughter-in-law Tanya, enjoys the kinds of glimpses the records give him into history. He also loves when someone makes a record discovery from something he indexed and then that person sends him a thank-you message. “It’s like, wow, this meant something to someone,” he says.

Indexing was a new experience for his wife, Melanie, who doesn’t use computers often. “We went through one indexing batch, and then I had to leave the house,” says Ron. “When I came back, she had completed the project. She was excited she could pull it off. I think she’s going to continue on—she’s got time on her hands!”

Anna Greenway gets help indexing old records from her older brother, William.

The youngest Greenway indexer is Anna, age 8, whose family also lives in Pennsylvania. Her mother, Lynn, describes how she guides Anna’s participation while ensuring that the indexing is done accurately. “We are careful to find batches that are relatively short and are typed. Sometimes I will return a few batches [of records] before I find one that works. Then we usually play find-and-seek with the document. She’ll hunt through it to find the birthdate or event place, and then we’ll type it in. I’m usually the one that helps her, but sometimes her older brother, William (age 12), helps too.”

Seeing the Bigger Picture

The Greenways set up their family challenge as a competition. “It’s not about the numbers,” says Tanya, “But for some of the younger family members, being in friendly competition with their cousins is motivating. If you want a tip for getting a lot of names quickly, passenger lists can do it!”

“It’s fun to talk to my grandchildren about it,” says Ron. “And when the cousins talk to each other, they up their enthusiasm. Someone suggested having a prize. We may end up giving out lots of little prizes. The fact that we’re doing this project as a family is the most exciting thing to me.”

Emily sees this project as incredibly timely. “Right now, our challenge is the pandemic. Indexing old records lets us see our challenges in perspective. The world was crazy and chaotic back then too. Everyone’s always had difficult times; their difficult times were just different. We can still learn a lot from them. They got through it, and so will we.”

Experience for yourself the benefits of indexing old records. Better yet, invite others to do the same in a private indexing group!

Northern Ireland History and Culture

Wed, 03/25/2020 - 15:00

Northern Ireland is a unique part of the world known for its natural beauty. Filmmakers and novelists alike have been inspired by its ever-changing climate and lush landscape. In fact, it’s believed that Cave Hill in Northern Ireland gave Jonathan Swift the idea for a sleeping giant in his book Gulliver’s Travels.

If you have heritage from Northern Ireland, then you are in good company. Athletes, actors, actresses, singers, inventors, and even three United States presidents have roots that go back to the hills and beaches of this beautiful country. Discovering more about your Northern Ireland ancestors can help you uncover more about yourself.

History and Heritage of Northern Ireland Food Finding your Ancestors in Northern Ireland History of Northern Ireland

The history of Northern Ireland is deep and rich. Over the centuries, the island of Ireland was involved in the power struggles between rulers and religions that were commonplace in Europe during the Reformation period. The planting of Scottish and English families into the Ulster area during the 17th and 18th centuries created a population divided along religious lines, which led to further conflicts.

The Irish War of Independence (1919 to 1921) concluded by the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, creating the Irish Free State, now the Republic of Ireland, which Northern Ireland was allowed to opt out of. Northern Ireland immediately chose to do just that, making it one of the four countries in the United Kingdom.

Culture of Northern Ireland

Much of Northern Ireland’s holidays, culture, and everyday life is centered around its Roman Catholic and Protestant roots. Many families hold traditional expectations and standards of behavior based on their beliefs.

Daily life is also influenced by the agricultural and manufacturing economy. Northern Ireland’s rich soil makes for quality farmland and livestock. Since the Industrial Revolution, this country has also become known for a variety of different industries, including textile, shipbuilding, and engineering, resulting in population movement to the cities.

Despite the inner conflicts that arise, Northern Ireland is known for its strong national identity. Because of the political history of Northern Ireland, many residents consider themselves as distinct from both the English and the Irish, although they may still consider themselves connected to their compatriots in the Republic of Ireland or the United Kingdom.

If your ancestors come from Northern Ireland, FamilySearch can help you learn more about them. Discover their lives through FamilySearch’s record collections—or discover who they were personally in FamilySearch Memories.

Helper Resources: The Go-to Page for Helping with Family History

Tue, 03/24/2020 - 21:55

Do you know where to find resources for helping others with temple and family history?

Helper Resources is a FamilySearch web page created for those with temple and family history callings—and anyone else wishing to help others with family history. It has training, tools, and information about updates that you can use to help others discover ancestors and connect with their family.

At Helper Resources, you’ll find everything you need to create fun, inspiring, personalized family history experiences and learn about your calling.

Visit the Helper Resources Page

To access Helper Resources from the FamilySearch site, in the top right corner of the screen, click Help. Then click Helper Resources, and sign in.

What You Can Find on Helper Resources
  • Articles on temple and family history for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  • Calling information and how-to content.
  • Access to the Planner—your primary aid for creating personalized family history experiences.
  • Information on newly released updates to the FamilySearch website and apps.
  • A link to the FamilySearch Community, where people ask questions and find answers to common challenges.
  • A link to Easy Invitations, a new feature that identifies temple and family history opportunities you can share with members of your ward.
  • Family history videos, links to Church policy, instruction and inspiration from Church leaders, and more!
The Planner

The Planner is located on the right side of the screen. Your name appears in bold, near the top. Click your name, and you can enter the Planner for yourself and begin exploring how it works.

When you are ready, click ADD SOMEONE to request permission to use the Planner on behalf of that person. His or her name will then appear in the list titled “People You Are Helping.” Once that person accepts your request, you can click the name to begin helping.  

Easy Invitations

Easy Invitations enables you to quickly find meaningful temple and family history experiences for the people in your ward. To use it, first click the Easy Invitations link. When you do, you see a list of all of the people in your ward. To the right of each person’s name is a small icon indicating the type of temple and family history experiences available for that person at To the left is a link, which you can copy and send.

It’s that simple. Find the person’s name. See what experiences are available. Copy the link and send it to the person! The people you share with will likely still need some guidance, especially if it is their first time completing available experiences. Pointing them in the right direction has definitely never been easier.

Our goal is to give you one place to go to find helpful information, tools, and other resources you can use to successfully help others with their temple and family history goals. It is important to remember, however, that although FamilySearch’s helper resource section can give you a great deal of information, your best tool in family history is the Holy Ghost. Remember to rely on the Spirit in the work you do, both for yourself and for others.

The information on Helper Resources is updated regularly. Visit the page often to make sure you don’t miss anything!

33 Productive Things You Can Do at Home

Mon, 03/23/2020 - 17:00

Staying in the house can quickly start to feel repetitive or mundane. When you find productive things to do at home and you’re purposeful with your time, you’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish!

If global or local circumstances require you to remain at home right now, you may be struggling with changes to your routine. Regardless of whether the reasons for your home confinement are health- or economic-related, here’s a list of productive things you can do at home to make the most of your time.

 Even when conditions improve and normal routines resume, keep these ideas on hand! They make great down-time activities for anyone, anytime.

1. Go for a daily walk.

Crowds and public spaces may be off-limits, but that doesn’t mean you’re stuck inside. In fact, there are many reasons to spend time outdoors, if you can. Find a safe outdoor space, such as your neighborhood or backyard, and get out in the sun every day.

2. Schedule your days. 

If you’re finding that your days feel aimless, try creating a daily schedule. Setting aside time for designated activities will help you stay on top of your tasks and be productive. 

3. Record your story. 

Everyone has a story to tell, including you! With your free FamilySearch account, check out these prompts to help you start writing your stories. 

4. Do some spring cleaning.

This is the perfect time to do some spring cleaning! Organizing the clutter can make your home a more positive space.

5. Start your family tree.

Follow these easy guides on how to use Family Tree as you start your journey into your family’s history. Exploring your history will help you feel connected to your past and your family.

If you’re already connected to the Family Tree, try exploring record hints to find more of your family.

6. Learn a new skill.

Use the time to develop your skills. You might learn something that will boost your résumé or pick up a hobby you’ve always wanted to try. 

7. Plan your dream vacation.

While now is not the time to travel, it’s a great time to start planning. To get the ideas rolling, have you ever looked into heritage tourism?

8. Revisit your New Year’s resolutions. 

A lot has happened since 2020 started. If your New Year’s resolutions are gathering dust in the corner, reignite your drive and work on those goals.

9. Start exercising at home.

Whether you’re looking for a replacement for your gym outings or starting from scratch, establishing an exercise routine will help you stay healthy and positive.

10. Find a way to serve.

Look for ways to help the people around you. You might bring groceries to someone at risk (older adults or adults with health conditions) or help someone set up a home office. Just stay safe and avoid others if you or they aren’t feeling well.

11. Create a master résumé.

A master résumé can be an invaluable tool to have on hand. Essentially, it’s a complete record of your marketable skills and experience, a resource to help you create targeted résumés when you’re ready to apply for a specific job. 

12. Discover your roots.

If you’re connected to the FamilySearch Family Tree, try the Where Am I From? tool to explore your roots.

13. Satisfy your curiosity.

If you’re looking for things to do when you’re bored at home, it’s the perfect time to soak in some of the information the internet has to offer. For example, learn what your name means, or discover the history behind Frozen.

14. Start a garden.

Start planning your backyard garden. Research plants that do well in your area, find the perfect spot in your yard, and prepare the area. While you may need to wait out a quarantine to get some of the supplies, you can get a lot of the initial work out of the way!

15. Read a book.

While you’re stuck at home, reading can transport you to another world filled with adventure, not to mention the benefits reading can have for you.

16. Learn how to cook something new. 

Explore new foods from around the world and stretch your cooking muscles simultaneously. You never know—you might find your new go-to dish.

17. Meditate.

Meditating could be a way to help the stress of the current situation melt away. You never know until you try!

18. Bond with your family.

This time at home provides the perfect opportunity to spend quality time with your family or your roommates. Be creative, and try new ways to connect.

19. Brush up on neglected hobbies.

If it’s been ages since you’ve painted, played the piano, or stretched those writing muscles, there’s no better time than the present to pick up your hobbies where you left off.

20. Learn a language.

With the help of the internet, the world is more and more interconnected. Becoming multilingual can be a huge asset to your career or as you travel and interact with new people. It can also make it possible to enjoy new shows or books.

21. Preserve family memories.

Share family memories with your family, or explore the stories and photos your family has shared. Saving these precious memories now can serve as a powerful reminder in years to come.

22. Explore this list of in-home activities.

These easy in-home activities could provide some much-needed variety as you try to find productive things to do at home. This list also provides some fun ideas.

23. Find a new podcast.

There are podcasts on pretty much any topic, so find something you’re interested in, and jump right in!

24. Index historical records.

Recording information from historic documents can make them searchable online and help people find information about their families. Try it for yourself.

25. Network.

Just because you’re stuck at home doesn’t mean you can’t network. Find new connections on LinkedIn, or send a simple email or text to people you know to see how they’re doing with all the shutdowns.

26. Clean up your computer.

Admit it—there’s some unnecessary clutter on your computer or phone. Organize those emails or files, delete unnecessary apps, and make it easy to find what you need when you need it.

27. Write in a journal.

Journaling is a great way to get your thoughts or ideas out there, and it can help you stay stress-free.

28. Play games.

Card games and board games will help relieve that boredom and help you enjoy the extra time you have with your family. It might not seem like much, but it will help you all become closer!

29. Learn about your family name.

Discover where your last name comes from, and take a photo of yourself in traditional clothing from that region. It’s one way to have fun while learning about your family heritage.

30. Find opportunities to work from home.

If you’re unable to continue your work from home, find ways to earn extra income during the time off. Freelance websites can help you look for temporary work online.

A word to the wise—if any opportunity asks you to pay first, it is probably not a good option.

31. See which ancestors you look most like.

If you’re connected to the FamilySearch Family Tree, try Compare-a-Face to see who in your family tree shares your good looks. You can also use this activity to find your doppelgänger using any photo you upload.

32. Send cards and letters.

Mail off cards and letters to family and friends to brighten their days at home. Getting mail is a quick way to make anyone’s day better.

33. Take inventory of your belongings.

Take pictures and make lists of everything you have. This list might save you a huge headache if you ever need it for insurance purposes. Update the list every six months to avoid the hassle of starting over down the line.

Hopefully this list helps you find a way to be productive at home. In these times of uncertainty, remember that there are still things you can do to make good use of your time, contribute to your community, and support your family. If we all band together, we can collectively make a difference.

Share your stories and ideas below. How have you used your time at home?

Connect While Social Distancing: Join the FamilySearch Live Community

Mon, 03/23/2020 - 07:56

“We wish you peace and joy as you connect with those closest to you. We remain committed to helping you discover your story.” —Steve Rockwood, FamilySearch CEO

We at FamilySearch are excited to share an upcoming new live social media series. This series will be an opportunity for the family history community to connect virtually and interact while many are practicing social distancing, quarantining, or even self-isolating.

When Does It Start?

This series will begin this week with our first Instagram live event on Tuesday, March 24, at 11:00 a.m. (mountain time), and an Instagram live event on Thursday, March 26, at 11:00 a.m. (also mountain time). There will also be a Facebook live event on Wednesday, April 1, at 4:00 p.m.

Instagram live events will continue on each Tuesday and Thursday and the Facebook live events will continue each Wednesday at the same times while we endure the social limitations relating to COVID-19.

Update: Event Schedule FamilySearch Facebook Live

When: Wednesday, April 1, at 4 p.m. (mountain time)

Topic: Records Innovations

Who: Ty Davies

FamilySearch Instagram Live

When: Thursday, April 2, at 11 a.m. (mountain time)

Topic: Mobile Apps

Who: Ryon Bazzle

Why a Social Media Series?

“Our stories matter. They are one of the richest parts of family history. Sharing these stories can provide comfort to us and to future generations as they face their own struggles.” —Steve Rockwood

Family history is for everyone, every day. It is just as important for us to take part fully in recording our stories as it is to discover those people who came before us. This evolving series is meant to help you do both of those things.

What Will the Series Include?

The series will include questions and answers, beginner how-tos, record helps, FamilySearch and Family Tree app tips, family stories, and more! We hope that in creating this series, we will be able to help you find quick ways to stay involved with family history without adding any burden.

We want to point out ways that you are already succeeding and give a few tips along the way that can help you make the most of this unprecedented time. We hope to help you find new ways to record YOUR story, find inspiring stories of others in your family tree, and share inspiring and encouraging messages along the way.

How Can I Participate?

Follow us on Instagram @FamilySearch and on Facebook ( to receive notifications and reminders. Share your thoughts and experience with the series by using the hashtag #FamilySearchLive when you post!

To view the Instagram Live, follow these steps.

On mobile: 

  1. Open the Instagram app and go to the FamilySearch page. You can find the FamilySearch page by clicking on the magnifying glass icon (bottom-left corner) and typing “FamilySearch” into the search bar that appears.
  2. Once at the FamilySearch page, click on the FamilySearch profile picture in the top-left corner to view current or past Instagram Lives for up to 24 hours after the stream. (If given the option to view the story or live, select live.)
  3. Alternatively, you can view current or past Instagram Lives by tapping on the IGTV icon (a square TV with a squiggle through the center), which you can find below the profile description and above the Instagram feed.

On Desktop:

(Note: You can only view live Instagram streams on the mobile app, but the recordings will be uploaded and available via desktop. To access them, follow the instructions below.)

  1. Go to and then use the search-bar at the top of the screen to go to the FamilySearch page.
  2. Similar to mobile, either click on the profile picture or select the IGTV icon to watch past Instagram Lives.

Also, be sure to let us know in the comments how we can help you during this time. We would especially like to hear your responses to these sorts of questions: 

●      We are here to support you. What questions do you have for us?

●      How can we help you while you are home?

●      What would you like to learn during this unprecedented time?

●      What questions do you have about the Family Tree or Memories apps?

We hope to grow along with you in innovative ways as we discover, gather, and connect wherever we may be. We are grateful for the technology we have that makes such discoveries and connections possible in almost every circumstance. 

Why Is the Census Important?

Sat, 03/21/2020 - 12:01

A census is an important record that societies use to make effective decisions. Censuses influence policies that impact the everyday lives of real people, including decisions made in education, transportation, health, housing, and even environmental preservation.

But the significance of censuses goes beyond that—censuses can help you piece together your family story. After all, each census entry is a story: a new birth in the family, a tragic loss since the last census, a location or occupation that shaped a family or an individual’s entire life. (Here’s how you can use U.S. census records for family research.)

Search U.S. Census Records What the 2020 Census Can Do for You

Although 2020 census will be a significant record for your future family, it also provides immediate benefits. The 2020 census gives officials and businesses an accurate idea of the lay of the land and needs of the people. Through this knowledge, officials can know how better to serve the community and provide benefits, including the following:

  • Better sanitation.
  • Businesses that fill a need in a community.
  • Effective transportation.
  • Money allocated to the right areas.
  • Schools and hospitals built and maintained.
  • Construction for needed highways.
  • Organized housing districts.
How to Participate in the Census

This year, every household in the United States will get an invitation to participate in the census. You can respond to the census in various ways, depending on what you feel most comfortable with:

Record-keeping and storytelling have always been important, whether it was by scrawling on a cave wall, writing on a scroll, or singing out loud through generations. A census is one way to keep a record of our own story as a society.

FamilySearch’s work in genealogy has made us especially grateful for those who took advantage of the census in the past. By participating in the 2020 census, you can add to that legacy.

4 Historical Records about Early Members of the Church

Fri, 03/20/2020 - 17:00

The bicentennial of the First Vision and the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ is currently underway! A variety of resources—including the Joseph Smith Papers, Saints, gospel essays, and podcasts—can help you understand the magnificent events of that time period.

But have you ever tried your hand at primary research? Among other things, primary research includes reading historical documents, observing details that stick out to you, and drawing your own conclusions.

Sometimes just seeing a person’s name on a census or tax record can be a powerful experience—evidence that this person you have read or heard so much about actually lived—that he or she was a real-life human being, just like you.

Search Records for Free on FamilySearch

FamilySearch has a host of historical records that can help you in your research. Here are just a few records and what they can tell you about early members of the Church.

A Busy Town Called Kirtland

Consider, for example, an 1838 tax record for Kirtland, Ohio, a town several hundred miles east and south of Palmyra, New York. Joseph and Emma moved there shortly after the Church was organized.

Take a look at the record. It shows that two men in Kirtland owned tracts of land larger than 100 acres. Several others owned parcels in the range of 25–50 acres. The prophet, by contrast, is listed as owning a single lot, three-fourths of an acre. His wife, Emma, is listed as owning 8 acres. Both Eliza and Lorenzo Snow are listed as owning property, as is Joseph Smith Sr., the prophet’s father.

Many of the Saints in Kirtland were poor, but they worked together to build their community and, eventually, a temple. “With very little capital,” Eliza later wrote, “except brain, bone and sinew, combined with unwavering trust in God, men, women, and even children, worked with their might.”

18-Person Household

Another interesting record to consider might be this United States census for the city of Nauvoo for the year 1840, which, like the record above, lists the prophet and several members of his family.

The census lists the head of every household in Nauvoo, followed by the number of people living with that person. If you look at the record closely, the prophet’s brother Hyrum appears on the census as the head of a household of 13.

Joseph, on the other hand, is listed as being head to a household of 18, a tally that must have included his wife, Emma, their children, and any servants, neighbors, or hired hands living with them at the time the census was taken. One can imagine what a busy home this must have been!

A Round Chin and an Oval Face

You won’t find many photographs in historical records from the 1800s. But in some cases—if you read carefully—you might discover a description of what a person looked like. Consider Eliza Snow’s 1872 passport application. In addition to providing her age (68), Eliza states that she is five feet, four inches tall; that she has brown eyes, a small mouth, and an oval-shaped face; that her chin is round and her hair black—among other details!

Connecting the Dots

The marriage record of Oliver Cowdery, one of the Book of Mormon’s Three Witnesses, is another interesting document.

As the handwritten certificate shows, in 1832, Oliver married Elizabeth Ann Whitmer, sister to David Whitmer. This is the same David Whitmer whose name also appears at the front of the Book of Mormon as one of the Three Witnesses.

In June 1829, an angel showed Oliver and David the gold plates, the sword of Laban, and the Urim and Thumim, one of the instruments used to translate the Book of Mormon.

The triangle would be complete if we could say that Oliver and Elizabeth were married by Martin Harris, the third of the Three Witnesses, but, no, they were married by Parley P. Pratt, one of the restored Church’s original Twelve Apostles.

Discoveries Are Waiting

With more than four billion images (and counting) to search, there’s no limit to what you can discover in FamilySearch’s vast repository of online, historical images. This is primary research at its best—remarkable, surprising, unpredictable, and most of all, fun! Your observations may not be earth-shattering, but these little details stick in your mind and make the heroic men and women of Church history easier to imagine and easier to relate to.

Don’t worry if you don’t consider yourself an experienced researcher or genealogist. There’s no right or wrong way to do things. Just pick a name from the past, someone you admire, enter your search terms (try a general research site such as Wikipedia for birth and death dates of famous people), and click Search.

11+ Family Activities That Bring You Closer Together

Fri, 03/20/2020 - 11:16

Creating lasting memories doesn’t require tons of props or preplanning. In fact, some of the best family activities are just a couple clicks away!

Try some of these fun, easy activities to bring the whole family together, even those who may be far away. Whether online or in person, you can use these simple activities to create family memories and connect with family members in meaningful ways.

Note: Some of these activities may prompt you to log in to your FamilySearch account to better interact with your family tree. If needed, click here to create a new account on FamilySearch. It’s free!

Discover Your Name Meaning

Discover the meaning and origin of your surname. You can also view what countries your surname is most likely to be found in.

Try It Now Join FamilySearch Live

Tune into FamilySearch’s upcoming new live social media series for beginner how-tos, record helps,  Family Tree app tips, and more!

Try It Now Find Your

Compare-a-Face lets you upload photos and see how similar you and your family members look. You can finally settle who looks more like Mom or Dad!

Try It Now Map Where You Came From

Where Am I From lets you map where your ancestors lived, see where they were during major world events, and learn more about your heritage.

Try It Now Try on Traditional Clothing

Picture My Heritage lets you virtually wear the traditional clothing of your heritage. You can also see yourself in old, black and white photos.

Try It Now Go on a Virtual Scavenger Hunt

Search your surname and see if you can find family members’ names in books on our digital library. You can also search historical records.

Try It Now Record Your Family Story

Record Your Story will prompt you with questions about your family and personal history. You can also use our 52-questions template to begin writing your family story.

Try It Now Learn about Your Heritage

Learn about the culture, heritage, and history of where you came from using FamilySearch’s country pages. Don’t know what your heritage is? Here’s how you can find out.

Try It Now Give Grandma
a Call

Call your grandparents, and ask them about their lives. We’ve provided 20 questions to help get you started. Be sure to save their story in a safe place, such as in FamilySearch Memories.

Try It Now Watch RootsTech Classes

Round up your family, and watch incredible motivational speakers talk about the importance of family.

Try It Now Try Traditional Recipes

Cooking together is a wonderful way to connect to family, especially if the food you are making relates to your heritage.

Try It Now Explore More In-Home Activities

You can find more in-person, at-home family activity ideas on the FamilySearch In-Home Activities page.

Try It now Learn Facts About Your Birthday

All about Me will tell you fun facts about the year you were born, such as how expensive gas was, the top music of the year, and other cool facts.

Try It Now

Still looking for more ideas? Check out our list of productive things you can do while at home that the whole family can enjoy.

We’d love to hear about your experience with these family activities! Share your experience online with the hashtag #FamilySearchTogether or comment below.

Experiencing World Cuisines and Your Food Heritage

Thu, 03/19/2020 - 18:00

World cuisines are one of the best ways to connect with others and to experience world cultures. Traditional food opens a window into the lifestyle of any given place. It tells a story of the people who lived there, its climate, the local flora and fauna, and the economy—just to name a few. 

Local ingredients and cooking techniques create a unique food profile distinctive to each area. Taking it even further, the customs around actually eatingthe food are integral to the culture. 

As Travlinmad puts it, “That’s the beauty of it. In Italy, food is life. Food is love.” The best part? It’s true no matter where you are or where you go.

Embrace Your Food Heritage

Food can be a powerful connector. It involves all the senses, provides a gathering time for families, and carries the history and love of togetherness with it.

The foods you eat also say a lot about you and your cultural heritage. But did you know that they might also hint at your ancestry? 

You may have cooking techniques that have been passed down in your family for generations. Or you could be making the same traditional foods as your ancestors. Perhaps you’re experimenting with cooking for the first time.

Whatever the case, food is an important part of your personal story. Share your family recipes or favorite cooking tips with your family, or save them for yourself.

Save Your Recipes Experience World Cuisines through International Recipes

Experience exciting world cuisines right in your kitchen with these international recipes. From Swedish meatballs to Brazilian pork and beans, these foods are some of the best the world has to offer.

Brazilian Recipes

Famous for its meats, rice, beans, and much more

Finnish Recipes

Wild berries and local grains at its heart

Norwegian Recipes

Raw ingredients and local wilderness

Danish Recipes

Home of stewed meats and rye bread

Mexican Recipes

The heart of Mexican culture, with corn as its staple

Swedish Recipes

Famous for Swedish meatballs, with much more to offer

English Recipes

Yorkshire pudding, fish and chips, and more

Northern Irish Recipes

Simple spices and hearty cooking

Welsh Recipes

Representative of farm life, with meats, cheese, and vegetables

Enjoy World Cuisines at Home or Abroad

Food is an integral part of every culture. Whether you’re traveling to learn about your cultural heritage or you’re looking for ways at home to experience a new culture, be sure to make food part of the journey. Push yourself to try new foods—they may help you understand your heritage a little better! 

Share your experiences and favorite foods to keep your family’s memories alive, and inspire others to do the same.

Discover Your United Kingdom Heritage

Tue, 03/17/2020 - 18:00

Connecting with your heritage is one of the best ways to discover more about yourself, your history, and your family. You can embark on this journey by doing anything from unraveling the life stories of your ancestors to embracing the customs and experiences of your cultural heritage. If you’re researching your United Kingdom genealogy, your heritage is closer than you think.

Having ancestry in the United Kingdom means that your ancestors are from England, Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland. These four countries, while relatively small in size, reflect a diverse range of cultures, customs, languages, foods, and more. 

Discover what your heritage means to you as you learn about your ancestors and their experiences. You can start by researching United Kingdom genealogy using FamilySearch records, exploring your family tree, or diving into the customs and history of the United Kingdom. Here are some resources to get you started:

Learn about Your Scottish Heritage Learn about Your Welsh Heritage Learn about Your English Heritage Learn about Your Northern Irish Heritage

The more you learn about your ancestors, the more you understand your own story. Take the dive into the cultures and customs of the United Kingdom and your British ancestors. 

A Look into the Past

A lot has happened to bring about the United Kingdom as you know it today! A complex and rich history shaped the individual countries and later their unification.

Before the Union

Celtic and Gaelic groups were some of the earlier residents of the United Kingdom. However, the area was under foreign rule in later years.

First, the Romans conquered Britain. Then Germanic tribes started taking over in what we know today as England. Later, Norman and Viking raids peppered Britain for hundreds of years. 

These foreign powers brought many changes with them, including the first roads, development of cities, and spread of Christianity. Indirectly, Viking involvement also made way for England and Scotland to emerge.

As a United Kingdom

England (Wales included) and Scotland remained at odds with one another for centuries. However, in 1707 they united to form the Kingdom of Great Britain. Nearly 100 years later, Ireland joined to form the United Kingdom.

In the centuries that followed, the United Kingdom became a major world power. 

Life in the United Kingdom Today

The culture of the United Kingdom is recognized around the world. When you think of the United Kingdom, your first thought might be drinking a cup of tea or enjoying fish and chips. There’s much more to it than that! 


English is the main language in the United Kingdom, and it is spoken by 98 percent of the population. However, Welsh, Scots, Scottish Gaelic, and Irish Gaelic are also commonly heard in Wales, Ireland, and Scotland.

Even among English speakers, there’s a lot of variety. Dozens of distinct dialects make for a unique linguistic map. Try using this map to listen to recordings of many British dialects and hear how your ancestors from different areas may have spoken.


Because the United Kingdom is made up of four countries, there is a mix of culinary traditions. That being said, you can often expect to find dishes with meat as an entrée and sides of vegetables and potatoes. 

Popular dishes include Yorkshire pudding, fish and chips, haggis, and roast beef.

Pop Culture

The United Kingdom has produced some of the biggest international sensations of the past century, which have had a global impact. Harry Potter, the Beatles, Lord of the Rings, Adele, and Doctor Who are just a few.

United Kingdom Genealogy

Feeling motivated to learn more about your British heritage? Get started with some of the following resources:

Genealogy for Beginners: 3 Easy Ways to Start Now

Mon, 03/16/2020 - 18:00

Let’s face it: genealogy can be hard to spell, let alone do. Maybe you find it overwhelming. Maybe you’ve always thought that you had to be an expert or have an expert dig up the roots of your family tree. That couldn’t be further from the truth! You can do it too—right now.

While it’s true that certain branches of your tree may take some climbing and while it’s true that some of that old cursive can be intimidating, that isn’t all there is to discovering the story of your family.

You can do simple things today to begin uncovering—and telling—the story of your family. After all, often the small, everyday details we discover about our ancestors make all the difference.

1. Start Where You Are

When it comes to genealogy for beginners, remember that your genealogy begins with you. Don’t be afraid to start small. Here are four questions to start with:

  1. What memories do you have about your immediate family?
  2. What memories do your immediate family have about your extended family?
  3. How did your grandparents meet?
  4. Where did your parents go to school?

You might be surprised by how much you can learn just by taking time to sit with someone and reminisce. Just be sure that you find a way record these stories, whether you use a pen and paper, a video camera on your phone, or a recording device. You’ll be glad you did.

Once you’ve recorded your family’s stories, make sure to save them on FamilySearch Memories. Doing so will save them not only for you, but for your entire family to see.

2. Check Local Sources

You don’t need to go anywhere to start your research. If you have a phone or a laptop with internet, you can get started right now!

Do you have any books that have been passed down to you? Ask family members if they have any old photographs, documents, or journals. You might also check your local library.

Even if your family is not from the area, consider checking out a book that covers a historical event or time period that you think may have impacted an ancestor’s—or even a parent’s or grandparent’s—life. Or simply search online for the meaning of your last name. Even these small steps can help you begin to piece together where you come from.

Using what you discover, you might also consider searching FamilySearch’s expansive record collections. With even a little bit of information about your ancestor, you can discover dozens of records about your family.

3. Continue the Legacy

It’s unlikely that the people in your family tree set out to be the most interesting ancestors on the census. Like you, they were just living their lives. Today, we live in a busy world. Don’t forget to take the time to create family traditions, even if they are as simple as an ice cream on a Saturday afternoon.

Remember to be present in the lives of those around you and to document your family’s adventures. Taking the time to learn about family, whether in the past or the present, adds extra color and meaning to life.

So don’t sell yourself short; you might be better at this than you think. After all, nobody suddenly wakes up one day as a professional genealogist. The only way to learn more is to pick a place to begin.

Need some more ideas? Check out the FamilySearch Discovery Center, and remember that the most important thing about genealogy for beginners is to get started.

Finding Answers about Temple Ordinance Policies

Thu, 03/12/2020 - 18:00

As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints participating in temple and family history, you may have questions about temple ordinance policies. Others may ask you questions as well. How can you learn everything you need to know?

The good news is that you have an easy way to find answers to temple ordinance policies.

FamilySearch has gathered common questions on temple ordinances and policies into one place. As shown on the image below, a list of questions appears on the left. As you click a question, an article appears on the right with the answer. Each article also includes links to more information.

You may find it helpful to read the answer to each question to become familiar with them all. Don’t worry about memorizing all the details; by knowing where to find answers, you will know where to go when you need them. You may even consider bookmarking the page for future reference.

What if you have a question that isn’t included on the page? You can try several other resources:

If you feel an important question is missing from the common questions site, you can suggest that it be added by scrolling to the bottom of the page and clicking the Feedback link.

Over time, your knowledge and skills will grow—but there will always be more to learn. So, don’t worry about knowing everything; when you know how to find answers, you know enough.

Discovering Your English Heritage

Sat, 03/07/2020 - 19:00

William Shakespeare called it “this other Eden.” Its history, tradition, and culture are vital and diverse. It is graced by beautiful and varied scenery. It is home to great theater and great literature. Here you’ll find Stonehenge, Big Ben, and double-decker buses. It’s a small country with a far-reaching impact. Welcome to England! 

Do your ancestors hail from England? If so, learn about your English heritage and how to research your ancestors.

English Recipes Finding Your English Ancestors English Surnames Are You in the Royal Family Tree? Historical Roots

The Britons, a Celtic race, were one of the first-known groups to inhabit the land we now know as England, living there during the Iron Age. The Roman Empire began its conquest of the British Isles in AD 43 and maintained control until the early 400s. Subsequent groups settling in England included the Anglo-Saxons, Normans, and Vikings.

England became a nation in the 10th century under the rule of Æthelstan. Skirmishes and wars marked the next centuries as different groups fought for dominance. It wasn’t until 1707 that the Acts of Union were passed to create the United Kingdom of Great Britain. Finally, almost 100 years later, another Act of Union made Northern Ireland part of the United Kingdom, forming the political structure still in place today.

Life in England

For hundreds of years, religion has played a central role in English life. Christianity was introduced in the first several centuries after Christ. Catholicism was widespread until King Henry VIII’s famous break from papal authority and his establishment of the Church of England, which is still the state church today. The number of adherents to non-Christian religions has grown, representing Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, and other faiths. However, overall religious involvement has begun to wane in recent years as the influence of secularism has increased.

Class has been one of the defining features of English society over the generations. While its impact is not as strong in modern society as it has been in the past, it is impossible to understand England without understanding the influence of class structure.

Historically, there were two broad classes: nobility—those with titles, property, and wealth—and the working class. Of course, within each class were further levels. But for many years it was difficult, if not impossible, for members of the working class to rise above their birth. The Industrial Revolution, followed by increasing opportunities for education and employment, made class lines more fluid and less limiting.

In the 20th and 21st centuries, England has also become more diverse as a nation. About one-fifth of those living in England in 2011 were not born there; their roots are in India, Poland, Pakistan, and other nations.

Holidays unique to England include Boxing Day, a day traditionally set aside for showing charity to the less fortunate. Another is Guy Fawkes Day, originally the commemoration of a foiled plot in 1604 to blow up Parliament. Today the day is a time to gather with friends and family for food and fun.

Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Look at pictures of the English countryside and seaside—or, if you’re lucky enough, visit them in person—and you will understand why so many are designated as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, or AONBs. The Lake District and Peak District National Parks offer breathtaking views of mountain country with their lakes and glaciers. The striking White Cliffs of Dover greet travelers arriving from the English Channel. Other scenic vistas include the North Devon coast and the Isle of Wight.

English Contributions in Theater and Literature

Arguably the most enduring playwright of all time, Shakespeare is as relevant today as he was in the 1500s and 1600s. If that surprises you, do these phrases sound familiar? “All that glitters is not gold,” “break the ice,” “elbow room,” or “in my mind’s eye”—all were used in plays by the Bard. And who can forget timeless scenes such as Cordelia’s forgiveness of her father, King Lear, or Portia’s moving words about the quality of mercy?

We are indebted to authors such as Jane Austen and Charles Dickens for giving us not only memorable stories and characters, but also insights into the society of their times. And the entire world has been enriched by C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia and J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.

Your Journey of Discovery

This short overview can hardly do justice to a land as complex and fascinating as England. Whether you have strong ties to England or just want to explore further, there’s more to discover and learn as you connect with your English heritage.

Emerging Tech at RootsTech

Fri, 03/06/2020 - 20:00

Genealogy and technology—it’s a perfect blend. And where better to celebrate this blend than at the RootsTech Innovation and Technology Forum?

An attendee favorite, this forum at the RootsTech genealogy conference in Salt Lake City is where industry leaders share insights about innovation and their vision for the future. Attendees also get to see demos of exciting new technology that will make family history more accessible and engaging than ever before.

From Industry Leaders

Steve Rockwood, president and CEO of FamilySearch International, introduced this year’s forum with a reminder that, ultimately, technology is about people. “Technology is the great enabler,” he said, but it needs to “know its place.” He characterized the forum presenters as inspired genealogists and technologists who have both brilliant minds and sensitive hearts.

What Keeps Us from Innovating

Clark Gilbert, president of BYU–Pathway Worldwide, made the audience laugh by opening his keynote address with a comical episode of Candid Camera. After the video, which showed people responding to odd social cues inside an elevator, Gilbert discussed five ways our natural tendencies can keep us from innovating:

  • Peer pressure—We fear losing the approval of others, so we stay with the status quo.
  • Familiarity failures—We can’t see past our familiar worldview to innovate.
  • Hardened habits—Habits may make us efficient in some settings, but they can keep us from innovating when new opportunities arise.
  • Everyday decisions—Referencing Clayton Christensen’s book How Will You Measure Your Life, Gilbert described how seemingly small, everyday decisions can lead us away from innovation.
  • Different performance criteria—To succeed at innovation, we must find new ways to measure success.
Giving Feedback is Key

Joshua Taylor, president of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, spoke about how his life changed 10 years ago when he began speaking with technologists. His advice to genealogists? Don’t just complain about what isn’t working; instead, provide feedback to technologists. Innovation is more likely when both try to understand each other’s worlds. Innovation starts with questions.

Taylor shared what he feels are the top five genealogical innovations of the past 10 to 15 years.

  1. Online access to the United States census.
  2. The FamilySearch record pilot, which changed how we access records online.
  3. Crowd-sourced indexing.
  4. Automated hints and matches.
  5. Consumer DNA tests, which sparked not only new audiences, but new tools.

And his wish list for the future? Tools that do the following:

  • Make family history more accessible. For many around the world, access and opportunities are limited.
  • Help us interpret and understand historical records, not just read the words.
  • Help us learn. Family history is a constant process of education, so technology should teach us as well as help us discover.
  • Enable us to share and preserve our family history. Sharing today is typically done in siloes; we need a way to connect these siloes.
The Latest Innovations

Here’s a look at the exciting new technology from the forum.

StoryScout showed a beta version of StoryScout, a tool that invites users to search for an ancestor. Using the ancestor’s historical records, StoryScout creates an engaging narrative that includes not only events in the ancestor’s life, but facts about the ancestor’s time and place.


Treasured enables users to create appealing 3D online museums to showcase family photos and documents. Museums can be shared with family and friends. Virtual reality is in development.


If you have ancestors from the Netherlands, you’ll love Links, a cutting-edge tool that reconstructs families from the data on the WieWasWie (Who Was Who) website.

Explore Historical Images

The first digital record collections published by FamilySearch in 2007 contained around 100,000 images. That number has now skyrocketed to over 4 billion. Until recently, FamilySearch needed around 249 days to make a digital image accessible online. Innovation has now reduced the time to 24 hours. Check out the real-time image counter on the Explore Historical Images page.


Filae presented GeoSearch, a tool that plots historical record search results on a map. These visual search results provide an enlightening context that can help answer questions and break through brick walls.

Expanded 1939 Register

When findmypast initially published the 1939 Register, about 10 million names were redacted to protect the privacy of those who could still be living. Findmypast developed technology to identify which of those individuals are deceased, resulting in redaction being removed for about 4 million names. Findmypast’s British newspaper archive now contains over 36 million pages, each with the potential of close to 90 names per page.

Time Machine

The Time Machine project was created to combat the ongoing loss of historical data. It is a collaborative effort between universities, archives, and private companies to preserve information documenting Europe’s past.

Wrap-up Wisdom

Steve Rockwood concluded by asking attendees to consider how to help people learn to do family history, a different matter from simply training or teaching them. We need a paradigm shift from traditional ways of teaching genealogy. The innovations presented at the Innovation and Technology Forum help people learn by experience as they discover, gather, and connect their families in the past, present, and future.

We are stewards of our time and place, Rockwood said. We need to honor those in the past on whose shoulders we stand; we also should honor those we will serve in the future.

RootsTech began 10 years ago in an effort to spark collaboration between genealogists and technologists. The Innovation and Technology Forum provides evidence that both groups have benefited and will continue to benefit as they work together, moving family history forward in exciting and innovative ways.

Learn More about RootsTech