by Kathryn Grant
It’s a common dilemma: When trying to find names for the temple, how do you know where to start looking, whether you’re working on your own lines or someone else’s?
Sometimes I’ve struggled for quite a while to find a good starting place. But when I seek the Spirit’s guidance, finding a starting place is a lot easier.
Seeking the guidance of the Spirit involves listening, but it also involves prayer and action. Here are some basic steps that have worked for me:
Two experiences illustrate this process.
One Sunday afternoon I was helping missionaries at the Provo MTC get started on their family history. As I was working with one sister missionary, another sister, Sister Montgomery, stopped to talk to us. She seemed disappointed as she mentioned that her lines had already been thoroughly researched, and she probably wouldn’t be able to find any family names.
Although I was working with the first sister, I felt impressed to offer to help Sister Montgomery. I knew from experience that names can usually be found even on full trees, and I was confident we could find names for her.
When I offered to help, she still seemed doubtful that anything could be found. But when I asked if she would pray for me, she willingly agreed. She gave me her helper information, and we planned to meet the following week.
Later, after going to a quiet place, I prayed earnestly for the guidance of the Spirit. Then I looked at the fan chart for Sister Montgomery’s family. I found myself drawn to the name of Abraham Chadwick. Abraham was one of the first converts in Sister Montgomery’s line, and his faithfulness and testimony were apparent from his record in Family Tree. It wasn’t surprising to see that he’d done temple work for much of his family.
But then I began to look at Abraham’s siblings. One of his sisters caught my eye. Her work was done, but as I looked at her children, few had spouses and those who did had few or no children. It didn’t take long to find historical records showing spouses and children who needed to be added to Family Tree.
So when I earnestly seek the guidance of the Spirit to find a starting place, does that mean it’s always simple? No. There are times when the path has twists and turns. Fortunately, the Spirit is there to help along the way.
For example, my friend Darla asked if I could help her and her teenage daughter, Chloe, find names for the temple. We arranged a time to meet, and I asked her to pray for me as I prepared.
I went to a quiet place and prayerfully reviewed the fan chart. But this time, I didn’t feel any particular guidance. I kept looking and praying. That was when I noticed a problem with Darla’s grandmother, Sarah Helen Harvey: she appeared to have the same parents as her husband! Something was clearly wrong.
A little checking revealed that Sarah was linked to her own parents and to her husband’s parents (something I could have fixed, but I felt impressed to leave it for Chloe to do). I also felt impressed that the “hidden” line—the one I hadn’t seen on the fan chart because of the wrong parents—was the one I should work on. So I displayed that line on the fan chart and soon felt an impression to look at the line of John Kellett, Darla’s 4th great-grandfather.
Checking historical records showed that John had descendants who were missing from Family Tree. During my meeting with Darla and Chloe, Chloe was able to add several of them to Family Tree and reserve their temple work.
Listening for the Spirit’s guidance in finding a starting place takes practice, but it has gotten easier the more I’ve done it. The Lord knows exactly where I should be working. If I’m willing to seek that guidance instead of thinking I have to figure it out on my own, I find a better starting place more quickly.
After years on the sidelines, Kathryn started her family history and discovered a new passion. Her specialty is mentoring new family historians and helping them find success—and maybe even helping them avoid some of the mistakes she’s made. She presents frequently at family history events and serves as the lead temple and family history consultant in her stake.
Each month, FamilySearch publishes a list of new changes and updates to the FamilySearch.org website. This list includes changes to Family Tree as well as other parts of FamilySearch.org. In some cases, these changes will also be published as individual articles where the need to do so exists.
Recently Released Search Records
There is a new banner inviting you to sign in to FamilySearch to see which individuals in the search results are already linked to your Family Tree.
In search results, if you are signed in, you can now see if a record is linked to someone in your Family Tree. Looking at the individual in Family Tree may help you discover other attached records, photos, and stories of the ancestor. If you are not logged in, we will prompt you to sign in to learn more about your ancestors, participate in the community, and learn from the discoveries of others.Memories
FamilySearch Memories have been improved to help you in your family history efforts:New Actions Menu
A new Actions menu allows you to rotate photos and documents to the left or right, change photos to documents or documents to photos, download, and perform other tasks.The Not in an Album Option
A new option allows you to filter the memories in your gallery to see which ones are not in an album:Social Media Sites
You will soon be able to import your memories into FamilySearch from different social media platforms.Indexing
Web indexing will be replacing the desktop indexing application and is being slowing rolled out during 2017. Stake temple and family history consultants with an indexing assignment, along with priesthood leaders worldwide, were given access for testing this platform at the end of January. These consultants should be learning the application and preparing to train their stake members once web indexing is made available to the public in coming months.
Consultants were giving a head start on learning the new program at the start of this year. In coming months, web indexing will be made public. By the end of the year, FamilySearch hopes to have all indexers using web indexing so they can retire the desktop version. New features are still being added to web indexing and will continue to be added throughout the year.
Share Your Comment or Question
The bottom of every FamilySearch page has a “Feedback” link. Clicking that link is the best way to provide suggestions, compliments, or complaints to the people at FamilySearch who can do something about it. While they may not be able to respond personally to every suggestion, FamilySearch engineers personally review each piece of feedback and consider what might be done. Your voice will be heard. Don’t be shy!
Marriage is one of life’s most meaningful events. It marks the beginning of a new family and the blending of two extended families and their unique traditions. A marriage can also bring with it a collection of hallowed family stories, learned and shared just as the new couple is beginning to make new ones. But, in many cases, precious family details have been lost in the sands of time, and it is left to the living to piece them together.
Historical records can fill in the holes of a family story, and marriage records, particularly, are among the most helpful. These unique records often have a piece of information that is a key to unlocking hard-to-find generations in a family tree—the bride’s maiden name and sometimes even her parents’ names.
Indexing marriage records makes information within the records searchable and helps reconnect people with their family stories. With the help of thousands of volunteer indexers, the US Marriages Project is doing just that. You can check the progress of the project and see which states are in the most need of indexing at familysearch.org/marriage.My Marriage Record Story
We asked our volunteers (you!) how a marriage record has helped in your family history work, and you have shared over 400 stories with us. Each one of them is inspirational and testifies to the great work you are doing. You can add your own story of how a marriage record has helped you here.
“I was working on indexing Nebraska marriage licenses, and I was able to index my own great-grandparents’ marriage license. It was a true blessing to do this. I was so blessed to be able to do this. I had no idea where they were married until this record came up. I truly am so happy that Heavenly Father allowed me to do this great work.” — Ron
“Marriage records can give not only the names and dates of a couple, but the couple’s family’s information: a place, witnesses who may be related, and, often, the office or church connection of the officiator. The latter can give me a hint about the relatives’ faith so I can search in a church graveyard for further relatives. I cannot tell you how many times our family had picnics in graveyards across the country, seeking out family members from headstones or records. Indexing marriage records has taught me how much information is available on a record such as this, causing me to take every opportunity to look at the actual image in order to glean this extra insight.” — Allyson
“My mother and her sisters were all put into the Colorado Home for Dependent Children in 1935. The youngest sister, Flora Emma Fox, was 3 years old at the time. The older girls all went to various foster homes, but Flora was adopted by a couple that lived in California. Their names were George Newton Hale and Clara Buckland Hale. Flora was re-named Barbara Ann Hale. When their biological mother passed away in 1955 there was a small insurance payment for each of the sisters. When the lawyer contacted the Hale family, he was told that Barbara had married young and they did not know where to find her. My mother, aunt, and I spent over 30 years trying to find a name to do more research on so we could find her. Finally, thanks to indexing, about a year ago I had a breakthrough! I found a marriage record for Barbara Ann Hale. She married a man named Albert Edward Hurst on April 1, 1950 in Los Angeles, California. I know it was her because the names of her adoptive parents were included on the marriage record. At this point in time, I have not yet been able to find any additional information, but at least I have a place to begin looking. I can try and find births of children, a divorce record, or even obituaries and possibly find more information on my aunt. She was born on January 14, 1932 so she could possibly still be alive. At least, I hope, sometime in the future to be able to find her or at least her descendants. This marriage record was the piece of information that has opened more doors for continued research.” — Kim
“Yesterday, February 13th, I was indexing Connecticut marriage, birth, and death records. I actually came across one that didn’t have the town list. I recognized a lot of the names as from my own family history. I went onto Ancestry and put the name of Hezekiah Brainerd in my family tree. I found that it was the same person. Previously, I didn’t have the information about his marriage date or place, who he married, or who his children were. They were all on the document I was working on. It was amazing. I am going to enter all their information into FamilySearch and submit to do their temple work. When I checked on Ancestry, it only had a couple of his children, but not any birth dates, etc. This was amazing! On the same document I found two other families and their information also. This was in the town of Haddam, Connecticut. These families settled that town, so this was very exciting and wonderful for my family and for me.
Thank you for this! Also, this was a record that was partly done, so I was grateful for that too!” — Ann
“Family starts with marriage usually. I think of how happy they are as they head with their special friends over to see the judge or justice or other leader, religious, usually. How special marriage is. We found about 55 people in a direct line from my husband’s grandmother due to Tennessee marriage records batches. We helped index about 995 of the records when the projects first came out. Though we never got to do one of our own ancestors, as far as we know, we helped others get their ancestors, and the records have helped us to the tune of 55 more names just in my husband’s line alone. We logged in and saw the sources, and marriage records have blessed us most recently. The search continues. The word search is in the title FamilySearch for a reason. THANKS!” — Dee
“We always knew that my father-in-law had been married before (a WWII end-of-war marriage) he met and married my mother-in-law. We only knew his first wife’s first name: Frances. After years of searching and finding no links to the mysterious Frances, I finally found an indexed marriage record, which gave me her full name and the place they were married, which was totally unexpected because the place was very different than the family lore. This record led us to finding the actual marriage document. That marriage record led to the names of both of her parents and her two sisters. It also informed us that Frances was the daughter of the minister that married them. Though they were divorced (or perhaps the marriage was annulled, since no divorce record has ever been located) soon after the marriage took place, and they had no children, Frances never remarried. She lived and died within 50 miles of where my father-in-law eventually raised his family. I’m not sure he ever knew that, since I only found that information through an indexed Social Security death record as I was tying up the ‘rest of the story’ of Frances.” — Colleen
Read More Marriage Record Stories
Relationships can be complicated. Everyone knows that. There are many songs, movies, and plays out there detailing the tangles and twists of relationships, each with their own dose of dramatic flair. And despite what anyone might say about life being simpler in the good old days, complicated relationships are nothing new—as demonstrated by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, which was originally published in 1597 and is still the standard for complicated relationships.
Each of us has plenty of these messy relationships in our family tree. Sometimes the juicy details get lost in the abyss of history, but other times family stories that offer glimpses into our ancestors’ complicated relationships survive. Occasionally, evidence of these relationships has been preserved in the records. Of course, you’ve got to be careful when researching these stories. You can’t believe everything you hear or see in your family history—especially when it comes to what might be less-than-exemplary behavior from ancestors. But if you dig deep enough, you’re sure to find a few interesting stories.
Here are a couple relationships with some bumps and bruises from my family:
When I was sixteen, I interviewed my great-grandmother who was then in her 80s. She was a vivacious woman everyone called Dolly. When I asked her to tell me the story of marrying my great-grandfather, Walt Mulford, she answered with a mischievous smile, “Now that’s a secret I can’t tell you until you’re older.”
While I had only been mildly interested in the story before, now I was hooked, and eventually I did uncover her story. With her long, blonde hair and love of dancing, Dolly turned a few heads in her teenage years. She lived at home in Escalante, Utah, with her father and siblings. Dolly’s mother died when Dolly was 14, leaving her and her older sister with heavy family responsibilities and little supervision. When Walt Mulford, a handsome, older man came to town and showed interest in her, Dolly was instantly smitten. Dolly’s father, however, did not share her enthusiasm. Walt was more than a little rough around the edges, and the excitement of those rough edges is exactly what drew Dolly to him. She had known him only a few days when he asked her to elope with him and she agreed. Her father tried to chase after them, but he was too late. By the time he found them, they were married. The marriage certificate says Walt was 21 and Dolly was 19. Dolly’s age was a lie—she told the official she was 19 so he would agree to marry them. Dolly was actually 15!
4th Time’s the Charm?
No stories survive about Christoph Harprecht, my fifth-great-grandfather, born in 1743 in Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Germany. But the records have their own story to tell. Christoph, it appears, was the epitome of a man unlucky in love, and it’s all captured in the notes of the comment column in one marriage record. This record of Christoph’s marriage to Anna Katharina Elisabeth Bulls tells us that it was his fourth marriage. Although it doesn’t provide names of previous wives, it does tell us his second and third wives died in 1826 and 1830. A note in the death record of the 3rd wife explains that she died from exposure after going out in a snowstorm and getting lost.
The most interesting part of this 4th marriage record is what it tells us about his first marriage, the marriage I’m descended from. After 20 years, Christoph divorced this wife, something that was very unusual among the peasants in Germany at that time. The divorce was most likely made possible only because of lenient divorce policies that Napoleon put in place during his brief rule.
Christoph’s death record adds the clencher in his sad story. A note written by the pastor states that in Christoph’s final years, he was supported by the parish poor house.
I also have in my family tree someone who married her father’s friend when she was 16 and he was 46. Then there’s Charlie, one of my ancestors, who swore all his life that he was the son of his mother’s second husband, the man who raised him, instead of the son of her first husband, a man everybody detested. Some people couldn’t help noticing, though, that Charlie looked a lot more like the first husband—and the timeline confirms that first husband, unpopular as he may have been, was really Charlie’s father. The second husband wasn’t even in the state yet when Charlie’s mother got pregnant.
The best story of all might be about my husband’s great-grandfather, Leslie Vincent. Just a few years ago, a woman contacted my husband’s aunt, a granddaughter of Leslie Vincent, saying she was also a granddaughter of Leslie Vincent. The two women don’t have the same grandmother, though. Leslie Vincent didn’t marry more than once—he just had two families who lived around the corner from each other in New York City. He never married the other woman and never told his wife that the second family existed. That was the first my husband’s family had heard of it!
Locating the Complicated Relationships in Your Family
Are you ready to poke around in your own family tree and see what unique relationships you might uncover there? The most straight-forward place to look, of course, is in marriage records. FamilySearch has a large, growing collection of marriage records. (You can read more about those records at FamilySearch.org/blog/en/index-marriage-records.) Remember that sometimes these records won’t contain what you expected, so be open-minded and creative when you search.
Listen to family stories. Take them with a grain of salt, but don’t just dismiss them. Sometimes a speck of truth in them might be the strangest, least plausible part of the story! Pay attention to dates, and create a timeline when you suspect there might be something askew.
And remember, people have been generating ideas for romantic comedy—and tragedy—since before Shakespeare began writing about it.
March 17, 2017, marked the 175th anniversary of the founding of the Relief Society. At that first meeting, Emma Smith said, “We are going to do something extraordinary” (in Daughters in My Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society , 14). And she was right. Today, Relief Society sisters all over the world are positively influencing their families and communities and doing their best to exemplify the organization’s motto, “Charity Never Faileth.” The heritage of strong women in the Church spans generations. We asked four women, who currently serve as social media missionaries for FamilySearch, to share how an ancestor or other woman of faith has influenced their own lives. Read their experiences here:
Learn the inspiring stories of the women and men who helped grow the Relief Society.
With FamilySearch’s two mobile apps (the FamilySearch Tree app and the Memories app), you can take your family history with you anywhere you take your phone! This makes it more convenient than ever to fit a few little family history tasks into even the busiest schedules. The first step, if you haven’t used FamilySearch before, is to create a free account. Next, make a quick stop at the App Gallery to download the apps. Then read through our tips and tricks below, and you’ll be off and running in no time.
And since both apps sync with the website, changes or additions you make on your phone will show up on the site.Using the FamilySearch Tree App
Designed as a companion to FamilySearch’s online Family Tree, there’s lots of great things you can do with this app. Here are two highlights to get you started.View and edit your tree
When you open the app, your family tree will appear—with as much or as little information as you’ve put into it so far. Use your fingers to move or expand the tree. To add a new person, tap on a black plus sign to reach a screen where you can enter those details. As you enter deceased people, the app automatically searches for possible matches already in FamilySearch’s Tree. This helps avoid duplicates and could link you into material that might already be there. To search the Tree for a particular person, select the magnifying glass in the upper right corner.
If you’d like to add or change information about a specific person, tap on him or her to reach his or her individual screen. From here, tapping the green plus sign in the lower right corner will bring you to a screen where you can type in further details, such as a birth date and place.Find and add sources
Besides exploring and expanding the ancestors you have on your tree, you can also find and add sources to your tree with this app. From a person’s individual page, select Sources, and then choose the green plus at the bottom of the screen. This brings up three options: add a URL for a web page, add a source with a photo—which might include photos of a records taken with your phone, or search FamilySearch’s historical records to find sources that match this ancestor.
Tapping Search Records will give you a choice to search FamilySearch or Ancestry. The search will try to find records with information that matches that particular ancestor, like it did here for Samantha Mcmullin on the right. If you find a record that matches, tap it to see more information. Then you can even attach it to the Tree with just one more tap.
Another way to access historical records is by choosing More from the tabs across the bottom of the screen. For more information on adding sources, try the article “How to Attach Sources” in this series (link to previous article).Using the Memories App
FamilySearch’s second app, the Memories app, is a companion for the Memories section of FamilySearch. This section of FamilySearch offers a place to store and organize family memories, such as photos, documents, stories, audio clips, and more. The beauty of the corresponding app is that it allows you to capture these memories as they happen—and upload them directly to the Memories Gallery. Here’s how it can help you with your family history.Capture new material
Your phone offers you quick and convenient ways to record memories—and the Memories app helps you preserve them. The app opens to the My Photos section. In the upper right corner, select the plus to see the option to upload a photo from your camera roll or take a new photo. Select Stories to type in a family story or memory. And by using the Audio tab, you can record an interview with a family member and instantly have it be part of your Memories Gallery.Label and attach memories to your tree
Once you bring in a photo, story, or audio clip, you can make it even more useful by making it be part of the Tree. Tapping on the photo will take you to a screen to do this. First choose a title for your photo. Then you can tap Who is this about? to make circles appear on faces in photos (or on names in documents). Start typing in the name, and FamilySearch will find possible matches from your tree. Selecting one of these people will attach the photo or document to that person on your tree. The same general process applies to stories and audio clips.
Of course these apps can do much more than what we’ve covered here. But you’ll find they are fairly intuitive to use. With these few tips, you’re more than ready to jump in and start finding and preserving your family history right from your phone.
by Cora Foley
When you were young, family traditions probably seemed like something that happened naturally—and for you as a child, they probably did. Since you most likely were not involved in planning and carrying out these events year after year, the effort needed to create these traditions may not have been obvious to you. Usually, both effort and persistence are needed for new family traditions to take hold.
Just as families grow and change, so do traditions. Sometimes traditions evolve, and sometimes they are abandoned entirely to make way for something different. While change can be unsettling, do not be upset when a tradition evolves or ends. Every life event (a baby, a marriage, a new job, or a big move) presents opportunities for you to create new traditions as well as to enjoy exciting and precious family memories.What Are Traditions, and Why Do I Need Them?
Traditions are a set of customs or rituals passed down from one generation to the next. They help shape a family’s legacy, while also instilling family values in its newest members, whether they be a baby or a spouse. Family traditions can also help solidify the bond between all family members, no matter the age or distance between them. If you document these family times with photos, videos, or written stories, the memories can be shared for generations, ensuring that your family legacy is always protected.How Do I Create Traditions?
Traditions are an amazing way to help your family come together and create new memories. While it does take effort to start a new tradition or change an old one, any effort you make now will be worth it and may last for generations to come.
Cora Foley works at Smooth Photo Scanning Services and is a passionate advocate for memory creation and preservation.
Since Family Tree is a collaborative tree and we all share the same ancestors, it’s important to verify the information you enter and provide sources to show others where your information came from. On FamilySearch’s Family Tree, now it’s easy to attach actual images of the sources. Here are the most common scenarios and some tips to help:
A) Adding sources to individuals from the Person screen.
Perhaps the most basic way to add a source is by attaching one you already have to an individual on the Tree. For example, I have a scanned copy of the birth certificate of my great-great-great-grandfather, Edmond Harris, that I would like to attach to him.
Another common way to attach sources found in FamilySearch’s record collections is from the source itself. Perhaps you just did a search and located your ancestor in a historical record (for help doing this see: How to Search). Or maybe you saw a Record Hint icon prompting you to check out a certain source (see section C for an example of this). No matter how you located your source, FamilySearch makes it easy to attach it directly to that person on the Tree. For this example, I want to attach a World War I draft registration card to my great-grandfather, Earl Albrecht.
This is how it works:
Earl Albrecht was the only person in my family who was included in the draft registration card. However, many records, such as census or marriage records, have names of several ancestors in them. FamilySearch makes it possible to attach the source to all your ancestors at one time. Just follow these steps:
If you’re feeling bogged down in the details, remember that FamilySearch provides prompts along the way. The best way to learn is to dive in and give it a try!
For more information, try these resources:
FamilySearch is bursting at the seams with great records—some of which almost certainly have new information about your family. Their digitized collections from across the world include church, vital, census, land, probate, military, and immigration records as well as many other types of records and histories that can help you uncover your family tree.
How do you unlock the door to find them? All you need is a good search. You can access FamilySearch’s main search screen at https://familysearch.org/search/, or from the bar at the top of the screen, select Search and then Records. From here you can see that there are a few different ways to search. It’s not rocket science—anyone can manage it. But a little extra background knowledge and a few insider tips can streamline your effort and get you on the fast track to success. So that’s exactly what we’ve provided here!A) The Basic Search: Search by Individual
Looking for a specific person in FamilySearch’s vast collections is the staple of most people’s searching. To search this way, focus on the Search Historical Records box on the left of the main search screen, and follow these simple steps:
There’s also another way to search for individuals. If you are using Family Tree, go the Person screen. On the right side of the page, from the Search Records box, select FamilySearch. The details of this person will automatically be used to fill in the search fields.
Keep in mind that only collections that are indexed are searchable. FamilySearch has many online records that aren’t yet accessible by searching this way.B) Search by Location.
Instead of looking to see what records your particular ancestor is included in, you can search to see what records exist for a particular place. Here’s how:
The final option on the main search screen is to search by collection. This works best if you already know there is a certain type of record—such as vital records for a particular county or a specific census record—that you would like to search.
To search by collection:
What if you search but don’t have any luck? If your ancestors don’t materialize from these searches, all is not lost! Remember that FamilySearch doesn’t have every record out there, and not all of their records are indexed. As the video below explains, try the location and collection search to find records you might need to browse or even order in on microfilm. Try FamilySearch’s partner sites. And don’t forget to check back often. The holdings available at FamilySearch are constantly growing. So who knows? Maybe the record offering the key to figuring out your family tree is in the record group coming online tomorrow.
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