Midvale Union Fort
 Multi-Stake Family History Center
540 East 7155 South in Midvale
 (just north of fire station) Please use north door      
Phone: (801) 569-1621 
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Research Tactics Lesson 1

If it is Recorded on Earth, it is Recorded in Heaven.
“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” - Revelation 20:12

“...As are the records on the earth in relation to your dead, which are truly made out, so also are the records in heaven. This, therefore, is the sealing and binding power, and in one sense of the work, the keys of the kingdom, which consist of the key of knowledge.

“Going hand in hand with increased temple activity is an increase in our family history work. The computer in its various ramifications is accelerating the work, and people are taking advantage of the new techniques being offered to them. How can one escape the conclusion that the Lord is in all of this? As computer facilities improve, the number of temples grows to accommodate the accelerated family history work.”
– President Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, Nov 1999.
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Discussion & Theory
Home Sources and Organizing Records
by Juliana Smith

When I became interested in family history, I was amazed at all the lecturing and harping going on about genealogical documentation and organization. Boring! Who wants filing and documenting for a hobby? Not me. I was there for the excitement. The thrill of the chase was what I wanted. I wanted to seek those relatives from long ago and learn who they were, where they lived, and what their lives were like. If I wanted paperwork, I’d go back to work in the bank. No, I wanted to do something fun, something with meaning that I could pass on to my daughter.

And so I began. My mother had been working on our lines since the 1970s and had collected a lot of data. But as the years went by, she had spent less and less time on our own family as she professionally researched and compiled family histories for others, and later began writing reference books. As I became interested in the hobby, we dusted off the files and attacked our lines once again. I began entering the data she had collected on the computer. I saw no reason to waste time with sources and the like. At that time, genealogy software programs weren't as “source-friendly” and I sure didn’t want to do anything the hard way. After all, we were in the age of computers; all this source stuff was slowing me down. I was on a roll!

I can’t say I wasn’t warned. Mom did her best to educate me on sound research practices, but of course I knew better. Wrong! It didn't take long to realize that my way was not working, and I was forced to admit defeat. As those little trickles of documents began metamorphosing into large piles, it was taking me forever to find information. I had Thomas Tobin mixed in with Thomas Howley, and Margaret Howley in with Margaret Dooner. I couldn’t get a good research session going to save my life, and my husband was starting to give me that look. You know the one. It says something like, “Didn’t we once have a dining room table here somewhere?” and “Please get rid of these piles or I will take them out back and bury your ancestors for a second time.”

I tried several organizing schemes, all of which were dismal failures. Then I adopted a three-ring binder system. Basically, I keep a notebook for each family, which includes sections for the family I’m working on as well as sections for miscellaneous tidbits that I haven’t quite tied in. I put information on children who are direct ancestors in their own individual file, although I do put cross-reference charts in the parent file. Information about any siblings is placed in the parent file.

It’s not perfect, but it works for me and the notebooks have pretty much tamed the paper monster I was battling. Eventually I will have to split some of the binders, but by putting the documents in sleeves and punching holes in the charts and reports, it confines those loose papers that once threatened to take over my house.

1. Identify what you know. Begin by recording what you know about your ancestors in your family history record management program*. Add everything you can remember. Start with yourself and your parents, add your brothers and sisters. Then move onto your parent’s brothers and sisters and their parents, and your grandparents. Go back as far as you can from memory.

2. Gather home sources. After you have recorded what you know from personal knowledge, it’s time to start looking for things around your home that may fill in some blanks. Look for documents and artifacts that may help you in tracing your ancestry, then move onto your relatives’ homes. Of course ask permission before you start rummaging around in someone’s house.

3. Record the information you find in your family history record management program*.

Types of records to look for:

Family Bibles may contain a few pages devoted to genealogical records of the family (births, marriages, and deaths), Information found in a family Bible should be carefully evaluated, and if possible, confirmed by other sources.

Diaries and Journals From the standpoint of family history, diaries and journals are invaluable. They should be carefully studied for genealogical information.

Biographies Often, unpublished biographies are found among the loose papers of a relative. Unscholarly, poorly written, and illogical as they may sometimes seem, they are still priceless to the family historian.

Letters Old letters are the most informal and intimate family sources. Note the addresses, names of the correspondents, postmarks, and dates for useful information.

Memorial Cards and Funeral Programs
Genealogical data on funeral memorabilia includes date of birth, place of birth, date of death, place of burial, and age at death.

Church Records These records include certificates of birth, baptism or christening, marriage, advancement, death, and funeral notices.

Civil Records Competent civil recorders prepared birth, marriage, and death certificates usually near the date of the event.

Citizenship Records The records of immigrant ancestors may contain citizenship papers, dates of arrival, ports of embarkation and debarkation, and other details.

Fraternal Records Freemasons, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, Knights of Columbus, etc., preserve biographical sketches of their membership.

Genealogical Records Other family members and ancestors may have compiled genealogical records and given you a copy.

Histories Occasionally, a manuscript history in the handwriting of an ancestor is found. Verification with supporting evidence is helpful in such instances.

Legal Papers Family members may have preserved legal documents. Included in this category are wills, deeds, mortgages, and land grants. These are valuable because of the names, dates, and places mentioned.

Military Records Search for discharge papers, pensions records, service records, medals, ribbons, etc.

Newspaper Clippings Many families have collections of newspaper clippings relevant to family history.

Occupational Records Apprentice records, awards, citations, and other occupational achievements are often found in the home.

School Records School attendance records and graduation certificates provide genealogical data.

Albums Photograph albums are among the most cherished family records. Ask older relatives about their pictures and label them as soon as possible.

4. Organize records as you put families together. Remember this work is about families so we must do research by family. Prepare a file folder for each marriage.

5. Glean and use genealogical data. There is never enough information. It takes many, many, records to re-create the life of an individual. Nothing is insignificant. Continue to search for every record in which your ancestor may be found. Some records will only give a small piece of the puzzle but given enough small pieces a picture will begin to form. Many so called family sources may surface years later so stay watchful. “They can run but they can’t hide.”

(*Record Management Programs: Free versions of Ancestral Quest, Legacy Family Tree and RootsMagic are available at https://familysearch.org products. These programs integrate with the church’s new temple submission programs.)
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Bring to Class This Week:
1. Intern Questionnaire
2. Printed materials for Lesson 1 in a notebook

Lesson Materials:

Web Links:

Homework for Next Week:
1. Choose an organization method and begin to gather and organize records in your home one family at a time.
2. Read Lesson 2 and print out all the lesson material.
3. Bring your pedigree chart to class next week.
4. OPTIONAL: Choose which family history management program you are going to use for the class.