Family History Lesson – Partner Sites

This is a lesson that I created for my family history class. It helps students to walk through the process of signing up for the family history parter sites. When you access these sites, you will be able to use their genealogical records to help find your ancestors. This lesson is intended for members of the Restored Church of Jesus Christ, who have free access with their membership.

Researching: Partner Sites

Now comes the fun! It’s time to start seeking information and evidence to prove and complete the information on your family in FamilySearch. You will be going beyond Record Hints in your pursuit of sources. FamilySearch has many sources that do not automatically appear in Record Hints that require more advanced search skills.

Additionally (with your Membership in the Church) you have access to American Ancestors, Ancestry, FindMyPast, and MyHeritage where you can search for additional information and sources. Becoming confident in your ability to search is a skill you now need to master. 

For this assignment:

  1. Watch this video for background
  2. Tips for Finding Your Ancestors in Genealogy Databases (Links to an external site.) is another resource that will give you tips on researching ancestors.
  3. Create accounts with all four Partner sites by going to www.familysearch.org/partneraccess (Links to an external site.)  (these accounts are free with your membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).
    • Notes:
      • FamilySearch –  does not allow you to download a GEDCOM from the site
      • My Heritage  – will bring over a full FamilySearch Tree (takes a while to download) but will create a GEDCOM
      • Ancestry – will only import 4 generations from FamilySearch, but will create a GEDCOM
      • American Ancestors – allows an import from FamilySearch but this is what they say on their website – 
        • You can import up to 4 generations of ancestors and one generation of their descendants, or up to 8 generations of ancestors without descendants.Because we import not only facts and relationships but also stories and media, importing more generations would take a long time.You can import additional generations at any time by navigating to an end-of-line ancestor and selecting Download more from the FamilySearch icon in the toolbar.
      • Find My Past – will only take GEDCOM (will not import directly from FamilySearch)
      • Geneanet  – will only take GEDCOM (will not import directly from FamilySearch)
  4. If you are unfamiliar with a GEDCOM (Links to an external site.), it is a computer file for genealogy. In fact the word is short for Genealogical Data Communication. Here is a video from Ancestry on how to create a GEDCOM from their site. It should give you a good idea of what it is and how it is used. 
  5. Assignment: Using Google searches and help found on the sites listed above, pick one of the five main family history sites you will use for research and become an expert on advanced searching techniques for the site you selected.

Thank you!

Help! I can’t find my ancestors on FamilySearch!

Help! I can’t find my ancestors on FamilySearch!

Are you in this category? You know that there are lines and lines of ancestors linked together in FamilySearch (you’ve seen them on your mom’s or grandmother’s tree) or you are trying to get linked to your spouses’ long ancestor lines, but you just can’t figure out how to do it! Then this post is for you.

What you need to do is to create what I call a “Ghost Record” or a “Bridge Record from yourself through your living relative to your first deceased ancestor. Once you hit that deceased ancestor, then it will populate your tree with all of the deceased relatives in your (or your spouses’) lines.

I have a video on YouTube: FamilySearch Ghost or Bridge Records that walks you through it –

A few quick reminders hat you can find in the video:

  • You have to create a record for a living person (let’s say it’s your mom).
  • That record is NOT your mom’s record. Your creation and her living record are two different records.
    • For privacy, only you can be in your own record.
  • Don’t do much with that record
    • It’s best not to add documents (census records, etc.) to your ghost record. those should be added by your mom into her living record.
    • Add only a few pictures or memories if you wish, but they will not show up for the living person, unless your ghost record and their living record are merged after their death – which of course we don’t want, but I speak of it as an eventuality in the FAR FAR future of course!
  • Make a note that it is a bridge or ghost record to help with confusion when the person dies and you need to merge the records together.

In 2016, Ron Tanner from FamilySearch talked about sharing living records with family members in a video called: How to Share Living Family Trees on FamilySearch. In that video, he said that we would soon be able to be in another’s record (with a permission or password, etc.) but that was 4 years ago and I will update this post when that exciting feature does emerge!

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to share below.

Please take a look at some of these posts –

Family History – An Introduction

Family History – An Introduction

This semester (Spring 2020) I am teaching a class on Family History at BYU-Idaho, and unfortunately, as it is the end of my three-year contract as a visiting professor there, this blog must once again become a repository for all of the things that I want to remember, so that I can use those ideas in the future. That was the original purpose of this blog, you know – a digital place to store what I had gained as a Seminary teacher of 7 years. As I tried to get all of those talks and scriptures in one digital setting, my purpose and motivations changed and this blog became a place to store my religious writings, thoughts, poetry, etc.

My Great-Grandfather Arthur Wooster in WWII, 
colorized at MyHeritage
My Great-Grandfather Arthur Wooster in WWII,
colorized at MyHeritage

However, I just cannot lose things like the Family History Course, and so as I teach it to my students in this strange time of COVID-19 isolation, where I teach them virtually, I’m going to adapt the lessons here in the hopes that it can help some readers, and refresh my mind later when I’m called on to teach it again – it has been my experience that the Lord NEVER wastes our learning, and so I am sure that this will not be the last time that I teach it.

So to begin, here are some talks and ideas to “whet your whistle” and get you excited to learn about family history. Come on, I know you’ve always meant to get moving with your family history, and right now – during the coronavirus isolation – here’s the perfect opportunity!

Gathering God’s Family

That’s what it’s all about isn’t it? Gathering together in one as much of God’s family as we possibly can, we and they all have their agency as to whether we’ll accept our place at Aslan’s table, but we need to make sure that it is set and that there is an invitation for all of God’s children to be there. This is taught so beautifully in President Eyring’s talk, Gathering the Family of God, General Conference, April 2017. I assigned this talk as the first day’s reading and they were asked to come prepared to share insights in our opening class.

You see, the names “brother” and “sister” are not just friendly greetings or terms of endearment for us. They are an expression of an eternal truth: God is the literal Father of all mankind; we are each part of His eternal family. Because He loves us with the love of a perfect Father, He wants us to progress and advance and become like Him. He ordained a plan by which we would come to earth, in families, and have experiences that would prepare us to return to Him and live as He lives. ~President Henry B. Eyring (see link above for the full text)

Here is a link to a short video of excerpts from President Eyring’s talk. I shared it in my lesson after we discussed what stood out to us in the talk.

Family Search – the Place to Begin Gathering People, Records, Memories, and Families

While there are MANY wonderful sites for digital family histories, we will focus mainly on FamilySearch (though I will be showing some other really helpful sites and places throughout the course).

When you sign in on the FamilySearch website there is a tab entitled “Family Tree”. The goal of Family Tree is a place in which a common pedigree of mankind is linked together. Hopefully the day will come where we can all go on “Family Tree” and see how we relate to everyone. What a lofty and marvelous goal! However, we need to have each individual represented on the tree, and to have them appear only once. Sometimes, the information on Family Tree is poorly sourced, duplicative, inaccurate, and unreliable.

Our generation has the opportunity to verify and correct the information on Family Tree so that we can be confident about who our ancestors are and whether they have received the ordinances of salvation. In future lessons, you will learn how to combine duplicate records and provide sources to information that is found in Family Tree so that we can continue filling in information on our family with confidence.

To begin, I’m going to give an assignment –

FamilySearch Beginning Assignment

The purpose of this activity is to help you access FamilySearch in preparation for future assignments. You will log in to FamilySearch.

  • If you are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, you will use your church account username and password (you can find your Church Record Number by contacting your bishop or by locating it on your temple recommend).
  • If you are a member and do not already have one, create a churchaccount now. You will need your birth date and membership record number. Again, your record number can be obtained from your ward clerk, your temple recommend, or on the Churchs’Tools Website. If you can’t remember your username and password this article, “I forgot my FamilySearch password or username” may help.
  • If you are not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that’s perfectly fine, you can also have a free account. Simply do not mark the box that states that you are a member (for a reference to what I am talking about, see the image below):
Screen Shot 2020-04-27 at 1.20.39 AM
  • If you are having difficulties, you can call 1-866-406-1830 for assistance.

Do as much of the following as you can and you can ask questions in the comments below for areas in which you are stuck.

  1. Log into your FamilySearch account.
  2. The goal is to have your tree contain accurate information about you, your spouse (if you have one), parents, and siblings on your Person Page (NOTE: bear in mind that if the person that you are creating a page for is living, then you are creating a bridge or ghost record (see video below) for them, and NOT their own family search person page. Currently, the only person that has access to their own personal living record is the living person. More on that later.
  3. Put the following on your Person Page:
    • A picture posted to the left of your name on your Person Page,
    • Adding or edit your Vital Information (birthdate, place, etc.)
    • Add a spouse, parent, or child
    • Using a record hint (if any)
    • Create a story, document, or audio file posted and tag it to you
    • Connect yourself to your deceased relatives by adding living relatives and then connecting to your first deceased ancestors.
  4. Watch this Video: FamilySearch when your family Tree is Empty (Links to an external site.) to help with that.
  5. Navigate Family Tree (click on “Family Tree” and then “Tree” and then the dropdown arrow next to “Landscape” see picture below) by viewing the following:
    • The Landscape View
    • The Portrait View
    • The Fan Chart View
    • The Descendancy View
    • Screen Shot 2020-04-27 at 1.49.02 AM
  6. Spend a few minutes orienting yourself with FamilySearch.
    • Click on the tabs at the top – “Family Tree”, “Search”, “Memories”, “Indexing”, etc.
    • See where they go.
    • Don’t worry! If you get lost, you can always click on the FamilySearch logo in the top left of your screen (see image below) and it will take you back to the homepage.
    • Screen Shot 2020-04-27 at 2.04.01 AM
  •  While on the home page, orient yourself with the tools that are there –
    • Such as the rolling list of memories that your relatives have added about your common ancestors.
    • The “Recommended Task List”
    • The “Recent People Viewed” List
    • And the “To Do” List

Just go in there and have fun figuring out the different features. Don’t get hung up on anything, you will learn as you go. Right now, the important thing is to orient yourself with the website.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to share them below, and I would love it if you shared it with someone you know who would like to learn about family history.