Syndicate content
Stay current with genealogy and family history topics by reading the FamilySearch blog. Find out insights into our future and our past.
Updated: 24 min 56 sec ago

RootsTech 2020–Registration Now Open!

5 hours 6 min ago

Register now to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the largest family history conference in the world. RootsTech 2020 will take place on February 26–29 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Register for RootsTech 2020

RootsTech is a 4-day conference dedicated to helping people celebrate and discover their family history, no matter their expertise.

Beginners will have the opportunity to learn from some of the most experienced genealogists in the world. For more advanced genealogists and family historians, RootsTech is a great place to learn about new, cutting edge technology for records, digitization, mobile apps, and DNA.

Get Excited for RootsTech 2020

The RootsTech 2020 theme is “The Story of You,” encouraging people to discover who they are by bridging the gap between the past and future.

Along with over 300 breakout sessions and classes, various keynote speakers will address attendees. Previous years included keynotes from Scott Hamilton, LeVar Burton , and Patricia Heaton. Stay tuned to find out who the keynote guests will be at the RootsTech 2020 conference!

Attendees can also look forward to participating in interactive activities and connecting with over 200 family history companies and organizations in the expo hall. There really is something for everyone. A full schedule for RootsTech 2020 events can be found online.

What’s New for RootsTech 2020?

The RootsTech 2020 conference is celebrating its 10-year anniversary by continuing some favorite traditions and introducing exciting new changes. Some changes include the following:

  • The option to print RootsTech badges at home
  • New check-in stations at every help desk
  • Lunch and Learn sessions
  • Power Hour sessions returning
  • Three new, specialized forums:
    • Access and Preservation
    • Innovation and Technology
    • DNA

Learn more at the RootsTech blog.

Early Bird Discount for RootsTech 2020

Register early for RootsTech 2020 to get early-bird discount pricing. From now until October 11, 4-day passes will cost $169 (a discount of $130). For a single-day RootsTech pass, people who register early can get a pass for $99. Both passes include access to the expo hall and keynote sessions.

To register early and learn more about the upcoming conference, visit!

RootsTech 2020 Discounts for Family History Callings

Tue, 09/17/2019 - 14:56

Each year, thousands of people gather in Salt Lake City, Utah, for the largest family history event in the world—RootsTech. All are welcome to participate in this conference and discover more about their family, and there is something for everyone, regardless of expertise. For the year 2020, RootsTech will be held on February 26–29.

Because the conference is all about family history, RootsTech offers discounts to temple and family history consultants and those with Church callings related to family history. There are also a select number of RootsTech keynotes and classes that will be available online for free.

Read below to find out how you can participate in the upcoming RootsTech conference.

Going in Person

RootsTech in person is a great experience. If you have the time and resources available, this is a good option. The conference is dedicated to helping people celebrate and discover their family, even if they are completely new to family history.  If you decide to go this route, here is some of what the conference offers:

  • Daily keynote sessions with inspirational and knowledgeable speakers.
  • More than 300 classes to choose from.
  • An expo hall introducing family history resources and tools.
  • Specialized forums on innovation, technology, DNA genealogy, and accessing and preserving records.
  • Interactive activities related to family history.

Those with family history callings are eligible for a discounted rate when registering for the RootsTech conference. If you fall into this category, use the code 20FAMILY during online registration to get a 4-day pass for $149.

Visit to Register and Learn More

Participants at RootsTech can also attend classes addressed specifically to people with temple and family history callings. These classes often focus on tools and resources available to help others discover, gather, and connect their family on both sides of the veil. Many of these classes will be held as part of Family Discovery Day, a free 1-day RootsTech event hosted by the Family History Department.

Can’t Go to RootsTech? Still Participate in 2 Ways

Even if you may not be able to attend the RootsTech 2020 conference in person, you still have a few ways to participate from home.

Watch Sessions Online—Some for Free!

Every day, RootsTech will select a variety of sessions and topics to livestream on that will be free and beneficial to all.

Additional online sessions will also be available for anyone who would like to purchase a virtual pass. (Keep an eye on for more information about virtual passes and when they will be available.)

Watch Family Discovery Day for Free on

As part of RootsTech, the Family History Department also hosts Family Discovery Day. This event on February 26, 2020, will feature inspirational messages from General Authorities, along with other keynotes from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The livestream with the General Authority speaker will be shown on the home page.

Learn More about Family Discovery Day

Prepare to learn and be uplifted. Mark your calendars for RootsTech 2020, on February 26–29, 2020.

Brazilian Surnames

Mon, 09/16/2019 - 07:00

by Jorge Todeschini and Claudia Brandão

If you ask any Brazilian what the most common last name in Brazil is, for sure the answer will be “Silva.”

Silva, which in Latin means “forest” or “jungle,” was brought by the Portuguese during the colonization of Brazil. The name was often given to those who did not have a family name or those who were not sure which city or region they came from. Thus, Silva spread rapidly throughout Brazil. The oldest record of this surname in Brazil is that of a tailor, Pedro da Silva, from 1612.

Many slaves after the Lei Áurea (Golden Law) also adopted the surname Silva to begin their lives as freedmen.

As we will see in this article, other Portuguese surnames have also become quite popular in Brazil. Did you know that the vast majority of the Brazilian population has an Iberian surname?

Learn about Your Family’s Last Name Surnames in Brazil

In Brazil’s early years, the Catholic Church consistently kept birth records, and in them, the baptized child received only a given name without a surname (last name). It was only in the 19th century that civilian records (government records) became standard in Brazil and included surnames on the birth certificates.

At the time of the abolition of slavery in 1888, slaves also had no surnames.

Origin of Brazilian Surnames

Due to colonization, a large number of the families in Brazil have a surname with a Portuguese origin. Just as in some other countries, these last names came from various sources.

Patronymic and Matronymic

In older times, it was a common practice for daughters to receive their mother’s last name and men to receive their father’s last name. In rare cases, boys could receive their mother’s last name, for example, if they had no father, or girls could receive their father’s last name if their father’s family was more prominent than their mother’s.

In Portuguese, surnames such as Antunes (son of Antonio), Alves (son of Álvaro), Fernandes (son of Fernando), Gonçalves (son of Gonçalo), Nunes (son of Nuno), Pires (son of Pedro), and Rodrigues (son of Rodrigo) are patronymics, with the ending -es meaning “son of.”

A patronymic surname could also be formed using the father’s first name, as in Pedro João, meaning Pedro, son of João.

As an example of matronymic surnames, we could have Antonio Mariano (Antonio, son of Maria), or, in the case of daughters, Maria Isabel, meaning Maria, daughter of Isabel.


Some Brazilian surnames (including Portuguese surnames) refer to a place where the person was born or lived or to geographic features near where they lived.

Examples of these surnames are Almeida, Azevedo, Braga, Barros, Brazil, Bahiense, Campos, Cardoso, Correia, Castro (old castle), Costa, Fontes, Guimarães, Magalhães, Macedo, Matos, Pedreira, Queirós, Ribeiro, Rocha, Siqueira or Sequeira (dry place), Serra, Souza, Teixeira, and Valle.

Some toponymic names are of indigenous origin, such as Jatobá, Parahyba, Palmeira, Pitanga, Pitangui, and Suassuna.


In Brazil, surnames with religious significance are very common. These surnames arose mainly because of the abandonment of children in orphanages and religious institutions during the colonial period. These children were usually baptized with the name of a saint that was associated with the day on which they were found or baptized. It was also a common practice for a person converting to Catholicism to change his last name as a way of demonstrating his new faith.

In the case of baby girls, “Maria” was usually the given name that was the first choice, followed by one of the Virgin Mary’s honorific denominations, for example, Maria da Anunciação, Maria da Consolação, Maria da Graça, Maria Imaculada, Maria do Céu, and so on.

Non-Portuguese Last Names in Brazil

With the immigration of people from other countries (Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Poland, Lebanon, China, Japan, and others), the diversity of surnames in Brazil has increased.

Some foreign surnames have changed their spelling for many generations and today cannot be recognized in their home countries, such as the surname Collor (from the German name Koeller).

First Names as Last Names

Among first names used as surnames, we can note religious names such as Maria da Conceição and Maria de Jesus, where Conceição and Jesus, although used commonly as given names, were given as surnames in some cases where children did not have a family name.

Also in Brazil, descendants of famous people sometimes use the name and surname of an ancestor as a compound surname, enabling them to be easily identified as descendants of the famous ancestor. These last names include Ruy Barbosa, Vital Brasil, and Miguel Pereira.

You can also learn more about your family’s last name as you look at patterns in your family tree. Don’t have a family tree yet? Sign up for free on FamilySearch to see if your ancestors are in the shared family tree. If not, you can add them! 

Discovering Your African American Heritage

Fri, 09/13/2019 - 18:00

“In all of us there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage—to know who we are and where we have come from.” These words from Alex Haley, author of Roots, resonate with everyone. But they may be particularly poignant if you have African American ancestry.

The African American story is one of adversity and courage, of injustice and the long fight for equality, of past pain and present healing.

African American Genealogy The Transatlantic Slave Trade

The Freedmen’s Bureau Records Reclaiming Our African Roots

The African American Odyssey

In 1619, a group of about 20 Africans arrived in the Virginia Colonies. In name, they were  indentured servants (slavery was not legal in the colonies at that time), working in return for room, board, and eventual release from servitude. Contracts for indentured servants typically required four to seven years of labor. However, African indentured servants usually worked without benefit of written contracts, which left them at the mercy of their taskmasters. Many were required to work 15 to 20 years before being granted their freedom.

From so-called indentured servitude, the path was short to slavery, which began to be legalized in parts of the Americas in the mid-1600s. Africans were captured in raids and then transported across the Atlantic and sold to landowners and others looking for a low-cost labor source. However, the cost was anything but low to the approximately 450,000 Africans enslaved in the United States from the mid-1600s until the 1860s.

Although opposition to slavery grew over time, the journey to end slavery was long and difficult. Progress was made in 1808, when the United States Congress banned the importation of slaves from Africa. In 1820, the Missouri Compromise banned slavery west of Missouri and north of Missouri’s southern border. The Underground Railroad, aided by brave women and men such as Harriet Tubman and William Still, helped thousands of enslaved individuals reach freedom and further weakened the culture of enslavement. Finally, in 1863, slavery formally ended with the Emancipation Proclamation.

Healing the wounds of slavery has been an ongoing process. Activists such as Frederick Douglass and Rosa Parks played a key role in helping America face racial inequality and move toward change. A formal apology by the United States House of Representatives in 2008 was welcomed by many and long overdue. But perhaps the most striking example has come from descendants of the enslaved and their enslavers, who, generations later, work together to help heal the trauma of slavery.

African American Culture

Despite efforts of enslavers to strip the enslaved of their cultural identity, various African traditions survived and continue to enrich American culture today. Musical genres with African origins include spirituals (hymns that blend African and European elements), ragtime, jazz, blues, soul, hip hop, and more.

Authors such as Ralph Ellison and Maya Angelou made integral contributions to American culture as they helped capture the African American experience in their written works.

Holidays and observances related to African American culture include Martin Luther King Day, Black History Month, African American Music Appreciation Month, and Kwaanza. Especially significant is Emancipation Day, also referred to as Juneteenth or Freedom Day. This holiday commemorates the Emancipation Proclamation and provides an opportunity for people of all races to reflect on the heritage and achievements of African Americans.

Fittingly, museums such as the National Museum of African American History and Culture and others preserve and honor the richness of African American culture.

Reconnecting with Africa

For centuries, Africa has had a strong oral tradition. Chiefs of clans and villages have kept family genealogies alive from generation to generation. These oral traditions are being lost, though, as younger people leave for the cities. So a team from FamilySearch International is working hard to preserve oral histories as they interview and record the words of village and clan chiefs. It is estimated that these African oral genealogies will include some 250 million names.

As DNA testing becomes more widely used and sophisticated, these oral genealogies may provide one more link to the past for those of African descent.

Do you want to learn more about your African American heritage?

Honor your past and enrich your present by connecting with your African American heritage!

African American Genealogy

Wed, 09/11/2019 - 18:00

“No matter your background, knowing your roots plays an important role in shaping your identity,” said Nkoyo Iyama, in her 2017 RootsTech address. She continued, “African Americans are finding ways to connect and make connections with their past and their ancestors.”

When we search for our ancestors and their stories, especially African American ancestors, and and see details of the impact of slavery, it can be heart-wrenching to learn about the trials and tragedies our ancestors went through. But as we learn about them, we can heal and better understand who we are.

Through FamilySearch records, you can begin to find ways to connect with your ancestors. The FamilySearch blog has several guides meant to help you streamline the process of finding your family.

Tracing Your African-American Genealogy African American Soldiers Researching Formerly Enslaved African Americans Famous African Americans Tracing Your Ancestors

For many African Americans, finding your ancestors can be especially challenging. For example, before 1870, enslaved people were not mentioned by name in federal or state censuses.

However, to begin your search, you can look at your family’s naming conventions, oral histories, diaries, and letters. In addition, the Internet and digitized sources have opened up many more records to help people find family members and their stories. One example is the International African American Museum, which is scheduled to open in 2020 in South Carolina, USA. Their website already contains a selection of online records and helpful hints for research.

Through DNA technology combined with genealogical research, it is also possible to trace family lines past the brick wall of pre-1870 records to find the link to African bloodlines. With that renewed connection can come a sense of completeness.

Continue to Speak Their Names

In his 2018 RootsTech address, Henry Louis Gates Jr. noted, “If you continue to speak the name of your ancestor, they will never die. If you think about it, that’s what unites us. That’s why we love genealogy, because we’re keeping alive our ancestors, our families, our traditions, and therefore, ourselves.”

Do our ancestors deserve anything less?

10 Amazing Facts about the Utah State Archives—Gina Strack and Rae Gifford at RootsTech 2019

Wed, 09/11/2019 - 15:17

Want to learn more about all the amazing things the Utah State Archives and Records Service can offer you? Rae Gifford and Gina Strack shared some interesting features about the archives at the Access and Preservation Day at RootsTech 2019.

Their presentation was titled, “Utah State Archives and Records Service: 10 New or Amazing Things!” At the time of the presentation, Gifford was the outreach and advocacy archivist at the state archives and Strack is the digital archives program manager at the Utah State Archives and Records Service.

Learn about RootsTech 1. GRAMA

The Utah State Archives has developed an open records portal to assist the public in submitting Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA) requests. The portal brings together into one place the ability to request records from Utah government entities at all levels.

2. Training Classes

“Genealogists really want to access our records,” Gifford said. The Utah State Archives provides training classes for finding your family in records.

The classes from October’s “Pirates of the Pedigree” virtual event at the archives are available for free viewing. The archives held a family history workshop in July 2018 and again in 2019. Videos, slides, and handouts are also available for anyone to view.

3. Upgrading the Profession

The Utah State Archives have a dedicated section working toward best practices with records keepers and creators in government.

“We hired a chief records officer,” Gifford said. “We go out to city and county officials and train them.” With electronic records, you must get in and train people early on what they need to save and how to do it.

4. Storage Expansion

The expansion of the vault was a big undertaking by the archives this last year. In 2004, the Utah State Archives built a new building just south of the historic Rio Grande Depot. They share a reading room with the Utah State Historical Society in the depot. Two years ago, they upgraded the archives building with additional storage. The next big step will be receiving electronic records for digital preservation.

5. Digital Color Camera

The archives have acquired digital color cameras and are ready to start high-volume, full-color, digitization.

6. Growth of Online Access.

The archives have done a lot with very little dedicated funding, including publishing 1.4 million online records since 2006. All these records can be accessed online for free.

7. Partnerships

The Utah State Archives have partnered with FamilySearch and with “Our growth would not be where it is at without partnerships,” Strack said.

Local organizations have also partnered to help the archives. The Marriott Library at the University of Utah assisted with equipment and conservation. Ogden City is working with the archives to preserve and provide access to their historical records. Through these partnerships, the archives are digitizing various kinds of records such as civil case files, probate records, and birth and death certificates.

8. World War I Records Online

The archives recognized the World War I anniversary by digitizing entire collections, including full-color questionnaires submitted by veterans after the war. Learn more about these collections.

9. Local Government Marriage Records

The archives have some marriage records created by local governments. Records from Utah County are in the archives for storage and preservation and are in the process of being digitized. Once the records are digitized, these marriage records will be published online for free access.

10. Preservation First Steps

One of the preservation formats the archives have used is M-Discs for digitized historical records. These discs are engraved rather than written with other means. This makes them last much longer than conventional DVD storage.

Some next steps for the archives is collaboration with record managers for electronic format records and then preservation.

To check out the Utah State Archives and Records Services, visit

Rae Gifford was the outreach and advocacy archivist for the Utah State Archives at the time of her presentation. She has a Masters of Arts in history and a Masters of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from Louisiana State University.

Gina Strack is a certified archivist and has been at the Utah State Archives and Records Service since 2002. She is the digital archives program managers and processes historical records from state and local agencies. She holds a certificate as a Digital Archives Specialist and an MLIS from the University of Washington.

African American Slave Narratives Collected by the WPA

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 18:00

African American slave stories are not something we like to remember. The heart-wrenching and disturbing acts of slavery are a stain that won’t soon go away. However, in reading the stories of these formerly enslaved men and women, you will find amazing courage, faithfulness, a love of family, strength through adversity, and much more.

The WPA Begins to Preserve African American Slave Stories

Under the establishment of the New Deal in 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt instituted a series of projects and programs in hope of stabilizing the economy and providing jobs to citizens. One such program was the Works Progress Administration, better known as the WPA. Under the WPA was the WPA Arts Projects, which included the Writer’s Project. The purpose of the Writer’s Project was to collect stories of America’s past, including interviews. The project later expanded to include narratives from formerly enslaved men and women in the United States.

African American Slave Stories: From Their Own Mouths

Interviews were conducted in several states. You can see a full list of the states that participated and how many interviews were collected from each on the Library of Congress Website.

True to their language, the transcribed interviews reflect the dialect and style of speech of their subjects. Stories include the sadness, the triumphs, the escapes, the occasional happy memory, and a great deal of family history information.

African American Slave Stories Include Family History Information

In the interview transcript pictured above, William Moore of Dallas, Texas, shared the reason his last name was Moore. This example is just the beginning of the valuable information you will find shared in these African American narratives.

Many times, the people being interviewed shared these kinds of information:

  • When they were born.
  • Where they were born.
  • Parents’, siblings’, and spouses’ names.
  • Their escape or freedom story.
  • What they were doing at the time of the interview.
  • Where they were living at the time of the interview.
Christmas Time: A Portion of the Cinte Lewis Narrative

Though the majority of these narratives share the horrors of living an enslaved life, some interviewees shared happy family memories.

San Jacinte Lewis, called Cinte, related the following story regarding Christmastime while being enslaved:

              “Come Christmas time old marse [master] sometimes give us two-bits and lots of extra eats. Iffen it come Monday, we has de [the] week off. But we has to watch the eats, cause [slaves whose] marsters [masters] don’t give ’em no Christmas sneak over and eat it all up. Sometimes we have dances, and I’d play de fiddle for white folks and cullud [colored] folks both. I’d play, ‘Young Girl, Old Girl,’ ‘High Heel Shoes,’ and ‘Calice Stockings.’” (Read San Jacinte Lewis’ full interview.)

The full collection of African American interviews created by the WPA is deeply moving and may help you piece together your family tree.

Find out if your ancestor was interviewed for the WPA slave narrative project.

Finding Slave Stories Online

Search engines such as Google Books are always great places to search for historical information, especially about your ancestors. By using search terms such as enslaved African Americans who escaped, it’s possible to find books that can give you more information on formerly enslaved men and women who escaped from slaveholders in America to freedom in Canada. One such book is A North-side View of Slavery: The Refugee: Or the Narratives of Fugitive Slaves in Canada, by Benjamin Drew. It was published in 1856 and gives a firsthand account of many daring stories of escape.

One account included in the book is the story of James Adams. James made his escape from Virginia on August 12, 1824, and arrived in St. Catharines, Canada, on September 13, 1824. Frequently, he had to trust strangers, even though there was a bounty on him, to help him navigate the trip.

Add the Stories of Your Enslaved Ancestors

It’s heartbreaking to read stories of the abuse enslaved people went through, especially if those people are your own ancestors. However, their stories are important pieces of both national and family history and can help you connect with even more of your ancestors. If you find the slavery stories of ancestors, you can add them to their sources on FamilySearch. If you have family stories not included in other records, try adding them to the ancestor’s Memories on FamilySearch. By recording the stories of your ancestors, you can provide insight and inspiration for generations to come.

Family History Library British Isles Research Team

Mon, 09/09/2019 - 13:09

The purpose of the British Isles research team is to help you discover, gather, and connect your family from areas such as Australia, New Zealand, and, of course, the British Isles. If there is anyone who understands the challenges and triumphs you’ve faced while doing British Isles genealogy, it is this group.

This team is known for their passion for teaching others, both at the Family History Library and around the world, and they love sharing what they know about effective ways to track down ancestors.

2019 British Isles Research Seminar Meet the Team

Each member of the team plays a unique role in helping you with your British Isles research.

  • Dan Poffenberger is the manager, known for his determination in solving tough family history mysteries and for his kindness.
  • Phillip Dunn brings 40 years of research and experience to the team. His focus is on England, Scotland, and Ireland.
  • Craig Foster is known for his wealth of knowledge, especially on how history has shaped the family history records of the British Isles.
  • Kori Robbins is the newest member of the team. She’s an Anglophile who has a great love for helping others find their ancestors.

The team also answers some of the questions posted on the online community and helps train the missionaries you meet on the Family History Library’s British floor. They are always on the lookout for helpful items that we can add to our collection to help you further your research.

Staying Up to Date

The British Isles team works hard to keep their knowledge current. That way, when you ask them questions, you are getting the most up-to-date answers.

This means swapping useful websites or collections they find with each other and attending professional conferences. They also spend a lot of their time in the trenches, doing their own family history and exploring archives in places such as Ireland and England.

It’s a lot of work, but the British Isles team is driven by much of the same stuff that drives your own research. It is an area of the world that somehow feels familiar to members of the team, as if a part of them belongs there. Their quest for knowledge and the tolerance for going cross-eyed staring at lines of cursive comes from a need to discover the story of their family and of themselves.

For help with your British Isles research, check out the 2019 British Isles Research Seminar on September 23–27. You can attend these classes at the Family History Library or watch the classes via an online webinar.

Family History for Children—Mike Sandberg at RootsTech 2019

Sun, 09/08/2019 - 12:35

Let’s admit that certain aspects of family history can be confusing or even—dare we say it?—boring to children and youth.  Scouring 17th-century British tax records for a seventh great-uncle’s middle name might not hold their attention for very long, right?

Young families especially need an approach that introduces people of all ages to the joys and even fun of temple and family history work—but in the simplest way possible.

Mike Sandberg, a researcher and project manager at FamilySearch, recently taught a class at RootsTech on this very issue. As it turns out, there are other things to do besides scouring tax records!

Say good-bye to family history that puts your kid to sleep. Instead, say hello to family history that inspires, motivates, comforts, thrills, captivates, amuses, cheers, consoles . . . the list goes on. 

Guiding Principles for Involving the Whole Family

So how exactly does one go about making temple and family history both accessible and interesting to youth and children? The class offered six principles to follow:  

1. Seek inspiration.

Heavenly Father knows the stories or details that will interest your children. Study the available tools, then ask Him to guide you.       

2. Be real.

Life rarely goes as planned. We can learn from our ancestors’ challenges and feel inspired by the difficulties they faced—especially when their struggles mirror our own.

3. Stick together.

Family history is a family pursuit. Work together and share your discoveries. You will enjoy a richer, fuller experience if you do.

4. Keep the experience short.

A series of brief, easy encounters with family history is usually more effective than a single event. 

5. Be spontaneous.

Look for opportunities to share and talk about your family’s history with your children throughout the day. Breakfast, walks, playtime, grocery shopping—these opportunities are everywhere, if you’re looking.

6. Talk—then tech.

Make sure your family history activities include ample amounts of short conversation. This is what kids want. It’s what holds their attention.  

Read more about these principles at “Discover, Gather, and Connect Your Family Together.”

Don’t Forget to Have Fun

Temple and family history work for the family should be activity-based—people doing, talking, and interacting with one another. To that end, FamilySearch has created a robust catalog of activities specifically designed for families to try out together. Check them out:

About Me—activities that help people discover more about themselves. They encourage you to consider your name, for example, and where it comes from and why it was chosen.

My Family—activities that help a person learn about his or her family, both the living and those who have passed on. One possibility is to cook your family’s favorite meal and then share stories associated with it.

The Temple—activities that prepare children, youth, and even adults for the temple. Small children may not be able to serve inside the temple, but they can still enjoy the beautiful grounds outside of one or they can view pictures of the outside and inside of temples throughout the world. Children can also plan for their temple trip someday!

Sister Joy D. Jones, Primary General President, commented on the importance of an activity-based approach to family history: “These [activities] are easy and natural opportunities for children to have their first experience with family history in a fun and interactive way,” she said.

“What a wonderful opportunity to draw families together, to get to know each other better, and to cherish family ties on both sides of the veil.”

A Time and Place for Everything

As you can see, the activities on show that temple and family history service is a flexible endeavor—adaptable to the needs, interests, abilities, and ages of those involved. As President Dallin H. Oaks has said, “Members should participate by prayerfully selecting those ways that fit their personal circumstances at a particular time.”

Even the smallest efforts to learn more about your family history can bless and strengthen your family. President Oaks continued: “Our effort is not to compel everyone to do everything, but to encourage everyone to do something.”

FamilySearch’s Family History Activities can be that something!  Watch Mike Sandberg’s full class.

For Temple and Family History Callings—FAQ about Ordinances Ready

Sat, 09/07/2019 - 09:22

If you’ve tried Ordinances Ready or have been asked about it by members of your ward, branch, or stake, you may be looking for answers about how this feature works or why it works in certain ways.

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions from temple and family history consultants and others with temple and family history callings around the world. We hope these answers will help you in your calling as you help others have inspiring temple experiences.

Click a Question to Find the Answers Below

Have a question you don’t see here? Make a comment below, or visit the Help Center on FamilySearch.

Q: What is Ordinances Ready?

A: Ordinances Ready is a FamilySearch tool that simplifies finding names for the temple. It helps you find available ordinances and reserve them, learn more about the person you are doing ordinances for, and print reservation cards. You can find it on the Family Tree app and on FamilySearch.

Learn more about how to use Ordinances Ready.

Back to the Top

Q: How can I help others use Ordinances Ready?

A: One of the best ways to teach others about Ordinances Ready is to encourage them to try it. That way, they can reserve the names for themselves and feel confident that they can do it again for their next trip.

Helper Mode for Ordinances Ready

Ordinances Ready also has a helper mode available for consultants. To access this mode, sign in as a helper first (using an email address or helper number). Then go to the temple tab on FamilySearch to use Ordinances Ready. When you are done, the ordinances will be reserved in the name of the person you are helping.

To learn more about how to use Ordinances Ready and how it reserves ordinances, take a look at these resources:

Back to the Top

Q: Can I use Ordinances Ready to reserve all the ordinances for a person?

A: The Ordinances Ready feature finds enough ordinance reservations for one temple session (4–5 baptisms, 1 endowment, and so on.)

If you reserve one ordinance for an individual with Ordinances Ready and would like to reserve others as well, you can tap on the person’s name to find out more about the person in Family Tree. From Family Tree, you can reserve other ordinances that may be available.

Back to the Top

Q: Does Ordinances Ready check for duplicates?

A: Yes. Ordinances Ready checks for duplicate profiles on the names it finds, unless the reservation comes from your personal reservation list (in which case, the required check should have already been completed). Profiles that come up as having possible duplicates with a high-confidence match will not be shown in Ordinances Ready.

In some circumstances, a duplicate profile may have been added to Family Tree after a duplicate check has been done. If you find this sort of situation with your reservations, you can merge the duplicate profiles to ensure that the vicarious ordinances are performed just once.

Back to the Top

Q: Why did Ordinances Ready give me names of people I am not related to?

A: When Ordinances Ready is not able to find a temple opportunity for one of your relatives, it helps you prepare for your next temple trip by finding reservations that other Church members have shared with the temple.

The Ordinances Ready feature looks for temple opportunities in this order:

  • Your personal temple reservation list and reservations you have shared with the temple.
  • Reservations for your relatives that have been shared with the temple by others.
  • Related persons in your line (or tree) who have the requested ordinances available.
  • Reservations other members have shared with the temple.

If Ordinances Ready doesn’t find a related family name for you, you can try some of these steps to find out more about your own ancestors and discover if they have enough identifying information for their ordinance work to be completed:

  1. If you have not connected yourself to your ancestors in FamilySearch Family Tree, Ordinances Ready may not have been able to find your ancestors. Learn how to fill in your family tree on FamilySearch.
  2. Explore your family tree on FamilySearch, and look for orange temple icons. These icons show your ancestors who still need additional information added to their profile before ordinances can be requested for them. You can use record hints and basic research techniques to discover more about these ancestors and fill in needed information.
  3. Perhaps some of your ancestors are missing from your tree? You can use the fan chart view to easily spot places (up to 7 generations) where you may have gaps in your tree. Learn how to add your first four generations to the tree, or fill in gaps farther back by locating elusive records.

Back to the Top

Q: Can Ordinances Ready help me to know my ancestors better?

A: Using Ordinances Ready and FamilySearch, you may be able to see a life history, stories, life events, and even photos for the person for whom you are completing vicarious ordinances (depending on what has been added in Family Tree). This means you can get to know these people whether they are your relatives or a name that someone else has shared with the temple. Here’s how you do it:

After you tap the green Ordinances Ready button, the feature will give you a list of persons for whom you can reserve ordinances. Tap View Relationship below a name to see how you are related, and tap View Person to look at life events, memories, and photos in Family Tree.

Note: Once you tap Continue in Ordinances Ready, or if you already have ordinances reserved, you can tap a person’s name in your reservation list to learn more about the person on FamilySearch.

Back to the Top

Q: Why did Ordinances Ready give me names of people with no sources?

A: Ordinances Ready uses the official temple reservation standards. Before temple ordinances can be reserved for a person, enough information must be added to the Family Tree to uniquely identify the person. A name, standardized date, standardized place, and other information must be present, but a source is not required.

Note: In some places in the world, paper and digital historical records were not regularly kept. A care for accurate and complete information should always be taken before doing ordinance work, but correct identifying information is sufficient.

Back to the Top

Q: Can an estimated date be used when reserving temple ordinances?

A: When an exact date for one of a person’s vital events (such as birth, marriage, and death) is not known, an estimated date can be entered.

Q: Won’t estimating dates cause inaccuracies?

A: While historical documents, journals, and other sources can help identify a specific date, these resources aren’t available for every ancestor. When reserving temple ordinances, you can take steps to estimate accurately.

When you know enough about ancestors to uniquely identify them but do not have specific dates, FamilySearch allows you to add an approximate date and type “before,” “after,” or “about” with the date to indicate that it is an estimate.

When estimating dates, use what you can find or already know about your ancestor to get as close to the correct date as possible. Here are some tips on how to estimate a date with the highest accuracy.

Q: When is it appropriate to estimate a date?

A: For help on knowing when dates should be estimated and how to enter an estimated date into Family Tree, read this article.

Q: How will estimating dates affect searching for duplicates?

A: The FamilySearch Family Tree treats estimated dates as a range. For example, “about 1880” will be interpreted as 1 January 1880 to 31 December 1880. In this example, FamilySearch would look for duplicates that match that date range.

Back to the Top

Q: Do all ordinances obtained through Ordinances Ready expire in 90 days?

A: Ordinances that you reserve using the Ordinances Ready feature generally expire in 90 days. This reservation period includes ordinance reservations retrieved from the temple inventory (sometimes called temple names) and ordinance reservations your relatives may have shared with the temple.

When Ordinances Ready finds temple opportunities in your family tree and helps you reserve them, these reservations expire in 2 years.

When ordinance reservations are made outside of Ordinances Ready, different expiration dates may apply. Read more here.

Back to the Top

Q: How far in advance will I receive a message that an ordinance is expiring?

A: Three weeks before a reservation expires, FamilySearch will send a message reminding you about the expiration. You will receive another message after the reservation has expired. If you also want to receive these notifications in an email, turn on the Messages option in your FamilySearch notification settings.

Back to the Top

Q: How do I renew an ordinance reservation that is about to expire?

A: It is important to complete ordinances you have reserved in the time allotted if you are able, rather than reserve the ordinances again. If you cannot complete the ordinances, you can share them with the temple to allow others to help provide these blessings.

When you are closer to a date when you can attend the temple, you can then use Ordinances Ready again to find a reservation for a relative or someone else who needs ordinances completed.

Note: When an ordinance reservation expires, it is not lost. The reservation is shared with the temple so others may help complete the ordinances. You can unreserve an ordinance and reserve it again, but there is a chance the ordinances will no longer be available.

Back to the Top

An Inside Look at Relative Race with Dan Debenham

Sat, 09/07/2019 - 09:00

Relative Race is a compelling, heartwarming, and unscripted TV series that follows four teams racing across the country to find their relatives. All contestants walk away with complimentary DNA research and a discovery of relatives they didn’t know before, but only the winning team walks away with the grand prize of $50,000. 

At the 2019 BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy, Dan J. Debenham, the cocreator and host of Relative Race, gave an inside look at the series that has inspired thousands to connect with their family.

How the Race Began

Before Relative Race, Dan J. Debenham was the host of a series on BYUtv called Dining with the Dean. In this show, two teams of college students were given $30 to prepare and present a 3-course meal in 3 hours or less to a dean of the university. After only one season, the show abruptly ended.

Three years later, out of the blue, Debenham got a call from an executive producer at BYUtv asking him and his company, Lenzworks Productions, to create a series about AncestryDNA results. Initially it sounded like a difficult show to storyboard, but Debenham readily accepted the challenge. Lenzworks came back with the concept of a race to find family by using AncestryDNA results. The network loved the idea, and Relative Race was born. 

Although Debenham believes the first season of Relative Race was powerful, it was not as successful as he had hoped. The budget was small, and Lenzworks ended up losing money. However, Ancestry and BYUtv were determined to keep the show running, so they decided to provide a larger, more realistic budget. Relative Race has now run successfully for five seasons, with a sixth season coming in fall 2019.

Real Emotion and the Power of Family

Often, people ask Debenham how many takes it requires for people to show good emotion on the show. He tells them that Relative Race is entirely raw and unscripted, with no double takes necessary. “That is the power of family,” he said.

In fact, Debenham admitted to the BYU conference attendees that he often finds himself getting emotional as he watches the competitors find their families. He revealed, “Sometimes I have to step away from the cameras because of my emotions. Never have I had to fight emotion in other shows, but this show is very different.”

Serving as cocreator, executive producer, and host hasn’t always been the easiest thing for Debenham. Relative Race often puts him under a lot of stress. However, when he doubts himself, his wife’s faith keeps him going. She encourages him daily and believes that the show is not merely run by Debenham but that it is divinely inspired and will continue as long as it is needed.

The BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy is held annually and offers classes for genealogists and others wanting to learn about their ancestors. Keep an eye on the BYU conference page for announcements about next year’s schedule and when registration opens.

Researching Formerly Enslaved African Americans

Fri, 09/06/2019 - 18:00

With methodical research, you can often find slave records to fill out the story of ancestors. FamilySearch holds many such online records and provides links to African American Genealogy pages for each state and to records on their own website and other sites as well. Though this research may seem daunting, breaking it into simple steps can help you get started.

Step 1: Starting Your African American Research

Begin with the FamilySearch Research Wiki’s Quick Guide to African American Records. Wiki articles contain step-by-step guides to African American research and historical details of records and places. The articles also list some available records and describe how to use them.

The first goal should be to verify the ancestor’s enslavement. Before searching slave census records, check 1860 and 1850 census records to see if the ancestor was listed as a “free person of color” to eliminate the possibility that he or she was free at the time.

Verify known information with reliable sources. Keep detailed notes of what you find, where the information was found, and what the records mean.

New information builds on earlier discoveries. For many people tracing African American genealogy, key documents are records made during and just after the Civil War.

Step 2: Create a Tentative Timeline

Renate Sanders, who spoke on African American Research at the BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy, suggested creating a tentative timeline of the ancestor being examined. Fill in what you know or suspect, such as the following:

  • When and where the person was born, married, and died.
  • Where he or she lived
  • Whether the person was enslaved before 1865.
  • Who enslaved the person.
Step 3: Look for Other Family Members

Not all of the formerly enslaved took their last owner’s surname, not everyone in the same family may have taken the same surname, and surnames sometimes changed. Additionally, people tended to settle near other family members, so study three or four census pages before and after the family to look for other family members.

Cohabitation records exist for Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. Slave marriages were not recognized legally, but cohabitation records contain information about these kinds of unions.

Step 4: Search the Right Records

Owners of large plantations kept detailed records of all business and property. These records might include information about slaves being hired out, clothing purchased, doctor visits, and births, deaths, and marriages. Family papers and family bibles might also include records of enslaved family members.

Although they were not designed as slave records, estate and probate records of owners may have listed the names of slaves and their ages. Sometimes names of family groups were recorded.

Deaths were recorded in the 1850 United States Mortality Schedules 20 years before formerly enslaved people were first recorded in the population schedules of the 1870 census. The 1850 mortality schedules contain a variety of useful information about individuals, such as the following:

  • Name of every person who died during the year ending on June 1, 1850
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Color
  • Free or slave
  • Married or widowed
  • Place of birth
  • The month in which the person died
  • Profession, occupation, or trade

A sample of the schedules is available on the National Archives website.

Information about searching the collection can be found in the supporting wiki article “United States Mortality Schedules, 1850.” This article contains useful hints about searching the collection and tips for using the information you find.

Step 5: Search beyond the Civil War

Post-Civil War records originated from programs set up by the federal government to help the newly-freed population. Freedmen’s Bureau and Freedmen’s Bank records list names with other information about land, jobs, welfare, relief, education, and fair treatment.

Also check the 1870 United States federal census, the first taken after emancipation and the first in which all people of color were enumerated by name. This census can help you establish the family’s makeup, ages, and location.  

As you begin to search the stories of your ancestors, visit to find some excellent historical record collections. These collections include the following:

Other excellent records include census records; birth, marriage, and death records; probate records; family trees; and more.

Step 6: Find Support with Classes and Community Groups also includes several online classes on African American research. You will discover historical documents and photographs that will shed light on the lives of early African Americans. You will also find links to dozens of online websites that provide a wide variety of historical and genealogical resources for genealogists and family historians.

For advice, consider joining the Facebook African American group and the African American Genealogy Research Community that is hosted by, where like-minded users help one another with their searches.

What Do You Call Grandma? Names of Grandparents around the World

Fri, 09/06/2019 - 15:44

Do you have a favorite name for your grandparents? Maybe it was Maw Maw and Paw Paw, or Nana and Pop, or the classic Grandma and Grandpa. While many families have their own unique names for their grandparents, here some common names people around the world call their grandparents.

Ireland (Gaelic)

Grandmother: Maimeó (pronounced Mam-o)

Grandfather: Daideó (pronounced Daddo)

While maimeó and daideó are the words used to address a grandmother or grandfather, there are a few different words for grandparents in Irish. For example, there are máthair chríona, which translates to “wise mother,” and athair críonna which translates to “wise father.”

Greece (Greek)

Grandmother: Yaya (yah-yah)

Grandfather: Pappoús (pa-poos)

Many Greek children are named after their grandparents. These names often correspond to a saint’s name, and along with celebrating birthdays, families also celebrate a child’s name day. The name day is the saint’s feast day.

Japan (Japanese)

Grandmother: Obaasan, Sobo (obaa-san, soh-boh)

Grandfather: Ojiisan, Sofu (oh-gee-sahn, soh-foo) 

Though most Japanese homes house only immediate family, extended family often live close by and visit frequently. In Japanese culture, elders are highly respected.

Russia (Russian)

Grandmother: Babushka (BAH-boo-shka)

Grandfather: Dedushka (DYZE-doo-shka)

Both of these terms are used to address one’s grandparents as well as someone of grandmotherly or grandfatherly age. Babushka is also the name of colored, light wool headscarves worn by older women in Russia.

India (Hindi)

Grandmother: Nani (maternal), DaaDee Jii (paternal)

Grandfather: Nana (maternal), DaaDaa Jii (paternal)

India has over 22 major languages, and depending on the region you are in, you might hear a variety of names for grandparents. For example, in one of India’s languages, Telugu, grandma is am’mam’ma, and grandpa is tatayya.

Morocco (Arabic)

Grandmother: Jaddah (juddah)

Grandfather: Jad (jud) 

A common Arabic proverb about grandparents goes, “Only your grandchild is dearer to you than your child.”

France (French)

Grandmother: Grand-mère (gran-mare)

Grandfather: Grand-père (gran-pear)

French-Canadian versions of grandma and grandpa are slightly different, with many people using the terms mémère and pépère.

Israel (Hebrew)

Grandmother: Savta

Grandfather: Saba

Grandchildren may also call their grandmothers Bubbe or Bubby and their grandfathers Zayde or Zayda, the Yiddish words for these titles.

Sweden (Swedish)

Grandmother: Mormor (maternal), Farmor (paternal)

Grandfather: Morfar (maternal), Farfar (paternal)

Swedish last names often employ patronymics, the tradition of adding a suffix or prefix to the father’s name and passing it on to the child.

Brazil (Portuguese)

Grandmother: Avó (ah-vah)

Grandfather: Avô (ah-voah)

It’s not uncommon to find three generations living under one roof. The word for “family” (parentela) often refers to extended family as well, not just immediate family.

Spain (Spanish)

Grandmother: Abuela

Grandfather: Abuelo

Spaniards have the highest life expectancy in Europe, living on average for 85.8 years. This long life means more time with grandparents!

Kenya (Swahili)

Grandmother: Bibi (bee-bee)

Grandfather: Babu (bah-boo)

In Kenya, according to tradition, the youngest son is responsible for caring for his aging parents.

Italy (Italian)

Grandmother: La Nonna (non-na)

Grandfather: Il Nonno (non-no)

In Italian culture, people have a deep respect for elderly family members. These senior members are deeply invested in their children and grandchildren’s lives, and this care comes with the expectation that their children and grandchildren will likewise care for them throughout their old age.

It’s fun to know what other people call their grandparents, but it’s even better to actually call and talk to your grandparents! When you call, ask your grandparents to share some of their stories with you. Need some ideas? Check out this article about how you can preserve your grandparents’ stories!

Meet the United States and Canada Research Team at the Family History Library

Fri, 09/06/2019 - 12:30

Want to learn more about your ancestors who came to North America? Maybe they fought in the Revolutionary War, or perhaps your ancestors were part of Canada’s French colonies.

Either way, the Family History Library’s United States and Canada research team can help you discover the stories of your ancestors from the sometimes overwhelming spectrum of United States and Canadian history.

United States Research Seminar Meet the Team

Each member of the team has unique expertise in helping others research their family history.

  • Carol Smith is the manager. We are sorry to say that she is retiring this year, but she has contributed much to what the team is today.
  • Beth Taylor helps research areas such as DNA, probate, and land. She is also great at keeping everything together and organized.
  • Lyn Rasmussen is an expert at African American family history, Native American family history, and Southern United States topics and records.
  • Tim Bingaman focuses his research on all parts of the broad and varied United States, especially Pennsylvania.
  • Mallory Kempter and Cara Jones are the team’s hardworking contractors.  

The team runs both the second and third floors of the Family History Library. Because the team covers a lot of ground, teamwork and coordination are some of their greatest strengths.

Staying Up-To-Date

The team works hard to keep their knowledge current. Along with their one-on-one work with guests at the library, the team schedules a variety of conferences and institutes to attend throughout the year. This participation allows them to be savvy to the newest strategies, records, and technologies related to genealogy.


Perhaps the most impressive quality is this team’s ability to help you with all the different localities in the area they research. They are an English-speaking team, but you wouldn’t know it from the wide variety of records they work with. These records may include French records in Quebec, Spanish ones in the southwest, Polish papers in Chicago, or Irish documents that from Boston.

Some areas have more genealogical records than others, but the United States and Canada research team is always working to improve our collections and help research an impressively large chunk of the world and its history.

For help with your North American family history, check out the United States Research Seminar coming up on September 10–13. These classes are held at the Family History Library and will be also be broadcast as webinars.

Join FamilySearch in Celebrating the 125th Anniversary of the Genealogical Society of Utah!

Thu, 09/05/2019 - 17:26

Did you know that before FamilySearch was the organization we know today, it was called the Genealogical Society of Utah? On November 13, 1894, the Genealogical Society of Utah (GSU) was founded by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with the goals of “collecting, establishing and maintaining a genealogical library for the use and benefit of its members and others” and “disseminating information regarding genealogical matters.”

In 1999, the GSU was renamed “FamilySearch” to prepare for the launch of its first website, Since its beginnings in 1894, FamilySearch has worked to publish over 2 billion online historical records, grow its family tree of over 1.2 billion names, and provide help in its over 4,700 family history centers worldwide!

In order to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the founding of this historical organization, FamilySearch needs your help. The story of FamilySearch would not exist if not for the stories of our users. For this reason, we need you to send us your inspiring family history experiences on social media!

Using the hashtag #FoundAtFamilySearch, we want you to send us a photo, video, or experience relating to your favorite ancestors or family history stories. You can do so in one of the following three ways:

  1. Post a photo, video, or experience with the hashtag #FoundAtFamilySearch to social media.
  2. Send a photo, video, or experience with the hashtag #FoundAtFamilySearch to 1-703-436-1321.
  3. Fill out the survey found here.

 As we gear up for the 125th Anniversary on November 13, we’ll feature your content on our #FoundAtFamilySearch social media feed in celebration of all the amazing genealogy discoveries over the past 125 years!

How FamilySearch Opens Doors for UK and Ireland Research

Wed, 09/04/2019 - 18:00

Our goal at FamilySearch is to help you discover your family and, in turn, discover a bit about yourself. Our website provides many resources to help you achieve this goal, including wiki pages on both Ireland Genealogy and United Kingdom Genealogy. Both pages offer information and other aids that you can use to navigate research for these areas.

If you get stuck, FamilySearch Community research groups let people ask for help and research advice. FamilySearch has community research groups for England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and many more.

Several other tools are available to help you get the most out of FamilySearch’s resources. By learning about them, you can take your family history research to the next level.

Start by signing up for a free account. Once you have signed into the website, you will be brought to the main page. There’s a lot to look at here, but we’ll start with the little link in top right corner called Help.

This Help tab offers multiple features that you can refer to whenever you find yourself getting stuck.

  • What can we help you with? This search box makes it easy to do a quick search of articles and videos that give pointers on navigating Family Tree and similar topics.
  • Help Center takes you to a page where you can search help resources or browse them by topic.
  • Getting Started does what its name implies. Come here for research tips and local help to get started in your research.
  • Contact Us offers a variety of ways to reach FamilySearch support.
  • Learning Center brings you directly to videos and lessons on doing genealogy.
  • Community offers opportunities to collaborate with others who have similar interests and challenges in doing their family history. Many groups are created around specific subjects, which could be helpful in your research.
  • My Cases is where to go if you have previously contacted FamilySearch support and want to view the details of your case.
  • Research Wiki is an enormous resource that provides information about different areas of the world, including the British Isles. The wiki is also a good place to go to learn about record types, archives, societies, online communities, and other research tools. 
  • What’s New lists current updates to the website.

And that’s only the Help tab. You can also look at many other resources.

Guided Research helps you track down specific records by finding matching collections. The search is based on locality, and the results include websites even outside of

Family History Center Locations. Visiting a local family history center gives you access to records that are not always available from your home, and our volunteers are always willing to give one-on-one help.

Catalog. You can search our online catalog of genealogical materials by locality. These materials include books, online materials, microfilm, microfiche, and publications. What is not available online can be found in libraries and family history centers worldwide.

Historical Records. Discover your ancestors in the many published collections of images and searchable records for the United Kingdom, Ireland, and many other areas of the world.

FamilySearch Maps reveal the various levels of jurisdictions in each county in 1851 England. These include parishes, registration districts (after 1834), probate courts, an ordinance-survey map base, and more.

Indexing. Join our team of thousands of volunteer indexers! You can be a part of making even more records searchable and gain more understanding of historical records along the way.

Family history research can be a challenge, but we believe that discovering the story of your ancestors—and of yourself—is well worth the effort. We hope these resources give you a place to start tracing your ancestors.

A Better System for Searching Books—Troy Mohrman at RootsTech 2019

Wed, 09/04/2019 - 12:00

You know that you can search records and family trees on—but did you know that you can also search books? And now, thanks to LIMB Gallery, searching books is that much easier and more effective.

What Is LIMB Gallery?

“What is LIMB Gallery?” Troy Mohrman, who works for LIMB Gallery, asked this question during his presentation “Digital Asset Management: There Is a Difference,” which he gave on Access and Preservation Day at RootsTech 2019.

Mohrman explained that LIMB Gallery is the new system FamilySearch uses to display books. LIMB Gallery was created by i2S (Innovative Imaging Solutions), the same company that produces book scanners used by FamilySearch and others.

LIMB software can be used at each stage of scanning, processing, and publishing books online. “You are an institution that has spent a lot of time digitizing books; now how do you present them to your users?” he asked.

A New Book Interface

For several years, FamilySearch has been working with i2S to prepare a new book interface.

FamilySearch has customized the system, as have other institutions. Mohrman showed examples of these customized systems from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies of Geneva, Adelphi University Archives and Special Collections,  Radford University McConnell Library Digital Collections , and Collections Numérisées de la Bibliothèque de l’INHA, among others.

Improved Text Searching

The new FamilySearch book system offers a complete text search. The system allows seeing text matches in context and moving easily from one text match to the next one.

As an example, Mohrman searched for the name Vonderfecht with the previous FamilySearch book interface. The old system found 5 results. Two weeks before RootsTech, the system changed to LIMB Gallery. Mohrman searched for the name Vonderfecht with the new system, and it returned 28 results, even though both systems were searching the same set of books.

To use the new system, go to, select Search in the toolbar at the top of the page, and then select Books in the drop-down menu.

Troy Mohrman is director of LIMB Gallery North America at i2S, France. He has been working with libraries with automation systems and digital asset management software for over 20 years. He is a former Seminaries and Institutes institute director and seminary principal.

The Time Is Right: Helping 11-Year-Olds with Family History

Tue, 09/03/2019 - 14:58

You wouldn’t expect a Sunday school class for 11-year-olds to be exactly the same as a Sunday School class for adults. The topic could be the same. But the teacher’s method—if he or she wanted to be effective—would have to be a little different, right?

The same could be said for parents or ward temple and family history consultants trying to help 11-year-olds prepare for their first temple experience.

4 Ways to Engage 11-Year-Olds in Family History

Plan to help someone who is 11 as you would plan to help anyone—that is, by carefully considering his or her life circumstances, praying for guidance, and then preparing in advance.

Here are a few more thoughts to consider.

1. Involve parents.

Your efforts are more likely to have an impact when the youth’s parents are involved. In fact, it might be a good idea for you to meet with Mom and Dad first to discuss what you can do to support the family’s temple and family history goals. If the child does not have a FamilySearch account, parents can help their child create an account.

2. Be brief.

Family history experiences for youth can be short. If you’re a parent, a 5-minute conversation at the dinner table, for example, may be more meaningful than a structured lesson.

3. Focus on conversation and activities.

Make sure that the bulk of your time working with an 11-year-old is spent in actual conversation rather than demonstrating a specific research technique. In fact, consider shelving research altogether.

You might begin with activities that allow the youth to share what they know about their own family. Listening to their interests is always a good starting point. Again, communication with the family will help you know what focus in most appropriate.

At, you’ll find dozens of activities to choose from, all of which will get youth and their families thinking about ancestors and contributing to their personal histories in unique and inspiring ways.  

4. Explain why family history is important.

Help youth understand that temple and family history work is part of the gathering of Israel—what President Russell M. Nelson has called “the greatest challenge, the greatest cause, and the greatest work on the earth.” Teach them that President Nelson has specifically asked youth to join the cause.

Tell them that they will be qualifying themselves for spectacular blessings when they participate in temple work and family history, including the following:

  • Protection from the adversary.
  • Greater faith in the Savior Jesus Christ.
  • Increased family unity.
  • Strength to overcome difficulties.

The list of promised blessings is even longer.

Remember Your Audience

We can seek the guidance of the Holy Ghost as we serve individuals of all ages. Remember:

  1. Think about the specific needs of the person you are helping.
  2. Then create an experience that takes those needs into account.

Remember to adapt. Remember to modify. Above all, remember to keep trying.

For more on adapting your approach, visit How to Help Others.

Streamlining Your Family History with Family Tree Lite

Sat, 08/31/2019 - 12:00

One of our goals at FamilySearch is to create a research experience that is fast and efficient. That’s why, when you visit our site or use our app, you come across so many different tools. You can attach photos, list sources, use record hints, and search partner sites, and the list goes on.

However, in some cases, you might have limited internet bandwidth that doesn’t allow all the bells and whistles of the website to run smoothly. Or maybe you simply want to save on data usage. For these circumstances, we have created a streamlined version of FamilySearch’s Family Tree, known appropriately as Family Tree Lite.

Explore Family Tree Lite Back to the Basics

Family Tree Lite takes the essence of Family Tree and cuts away all the extras. Here are some of the differences you will notice immediately:

  • Families are formatted in lists, not trees.
  • Information on individuals is summarized into vital information and links to spouses and parents.
  • There are no Memories features, such as photos or audio.
  • Sources are no longer visible.
  • Links to partner sites have been removed.
  • There are no record hints.

Don’t worry. All this information is still stored on the full website and in the Family Tree app. And whatever information you add or change in Family Tree Lite will also be reflected in these two locations. The idea is that Family Tree Lite allows you to continue working on your tree in situations where you otherwise would be bogged down because of limited internet bandwidth.

Personal Screen

You will also notice that the menu options at the top of the main screen offer only a few simple options:

  • Arrow “Me” icon: Return to information about you and your immediate family.
  • Family icon: Return to the information about the family of the person you are viewing.
  • Person icon: Return to view the person you were researching.
  • Magnifying Glass icon: Search for a relative in your family tree.

Clicking the Edit button brings you to this screen, where you can change information.

Edits and Updates

The process of making changes to your family tree is simple. Navigate to an ancestor’s person page, and click Add for any detail that needs to be added. To change what is already there, select the detail, and then click Edit. More complex changes, such as merging or adding sources, can be done only on the main site or in the Family tree app.

The Benefits of Family Tree Lite

Family Tree Lite is designed be used in locations where Internet connectivity is slow, unreliable, or possibly expensive. Through this service, we are better able to give people all throughout the world the opportunity to experience the joy of family history.

Even those who may not need to use Family Tree Lite can experience the added bonuses of going back to the basics. The simpler display can help illuminate problems or holes in family tree information that may have been overlooked. This simplified view allows you to drill down to the meat of the matter—your family.

In life, unexpected benefits often come from going back to the basics. This concept is at the heart of Family Tree Lite.

Explore Family Tree Lite More about How to Use the Family Tree

Castles in Scotland

Fri, 08/30/2019 - 18:00

The country of Scotland, on the island of Great Britain, is home to more than 1,000 castles. One region, Abderdeenshire, claims more castles per acre than any other part of the United Kingdom. More people than ever are flocking to visit castles in Scotland, including over 5 million in one recent year.

What draws so many visitors to Scotland’s castles? These grand estates embody the proud history of Scots who fought for survival and independence. The architecture, furnishings, art, and artifacts—even the ruins of some castles—all have stories to tell about those who lived and worked there. And almost all of Scotland’s castles, whether richly restored, painstakingly preserved, or lying in ruins, stand amidst the most stunning and dramatic vistas you can imagine.

Castle Building in Scotland

Castles in Scotland date back to the reign of David I in the 12th century. As a young man, David lived in England and saw castles built by Norman invaders to strengthen themselves against the native population. David invited several Norman nobles north to Scotland and granted them titles and lands. Soon, their castles began dotting the countryside and shorelines.

The earliest Scottish castles were stone tower houses built by clans and other regional leaders during medieval times. Tower houses were especially common in the vulnerable Scottish Borders area, where attacks sometimes came from England. Tower houses are tall, narrow buildings with elevated doors and small windows. Kisimul Castle, built in the 1400s on the tiny Isle of Barra, is a three-level tower house. A stone curtain wall attached to the tower house encloses and protects a few smaller buildings.

Cawdor Castle in Scotland.

Some of the much larger castles in Scotland today were built around these older tower houses. One example is the famous Cawdor Castle in the Scottish Highlands. The thane of Cawdor built this enormous stronghold around a four-story tower house. The famous Glamis Castle expanded the footprint of a much older tower house that also served as a royal hunting lodge for the kings of Scotland.

How Scottish Castles Have Been Used

Originally, castles were secure homes for powerful families. Some served as military fortifications against the English and occasionally against fellow Scots. A few castles even became prisons for political prisoners. Architectural details in Scottish castles reveal these original functions. Many have thick stone walls, small windows, protected entrances, and other defensive features. Some have dungeons.

As peaceful times prevailed, wealthy and royal families improved many Scottish castles for sumptuous country living. For example, Braemar Castle in the Highlands was originally built in the 1600s both as a hunting lodge and as regional defense against growing political unrest. When rebellion broke out in 1689, Braemar Castle was conquered and burned. Eventually, the British government requisitioned and rebuilt the ruined castle. In 1749, Braemar became a garrison for Hanovarian troops. By the end of the century, it was converted into a home again, grand enough eventually to host Queen Victoria of England.

A room in Edinburgh Castle.

Today, many Scottish castles serve as monumental witnesses of the country’s history. Many castles and their extensive grounds are open to the public. Some have museums, armories, and other historical displays. Edinburgh Castle, perhaps the most important and famous castle in Scotland, houses the Scottish Crown Jewels and the Scottish National War Memorial. At Stirling Castle, costumed interpreters welcome visitors to a restored Renaissance-era edifice with a regimental museum, art gallery, and tapestry display and recreated scenes of everyday life from the past. These and hundreds of other castles continue to share Scottish heritage with millions who come to visit their storied settings.

Find Your Scottish Ancestors

Do you have Scottish ancestors, including any who may have lived or worked in castles? Explore your Scottish heritage for free on

Search for your Scottish Ancestors