Wednesday, January 2, 2013

My Priorities In Teaching Genealogy To New Missionaries: by Elder Larry Cragun

My goal: Is to provide the familyhistory/genealogy student the resources on how to gain a foundation whereby they can become a pretty good genealogist.
This is a cinch with your having an understanding of: – FamilySearch Family Tree - Basic sites to do research – basic research sources
Your first focus is on your 1st 5 generations. Good research principles would have you not bounce around from line to line, rather have you seek for inspiration as to what ancestor to focus on. We will do a little of both as a teaching exercise.
There are 5 main places to search online. These 5 gather about 80% of the online information. They are:  (This is a membership site that costs a monthly fee except at LDS family history centers and some libraries,
and searching on Google for images. Remember to check for spelling variations.
After you have searched these sites the work gets more time consuming, takes more effort. Here is where the family history library and the church history library are extremely helpful. They both have an online catalog.
It is important you become acquainted with the help the FamilySearch wiki offers. This place does not give you information about an individual, rather provides information on how to find the information you seek. You get to the wiki by going to then click learn then click research wiki.
There are two different helpful ways to use the wiki: 1- using the search box. Example: “Census records for Utah”. This way you pull a series of articles, each written by a volunteer researcher or expert, in the articles is information that may help you. 2- The second way is very helpful and often overlooked as it is not as easily found. It is a page with resources for a State or Country. (You will find a map of the United States whereby you can just click the State you are researching.) To get there follow these instructions:
Then select down to the country or State you are researching. The result is a page like this:
Note outlined are numerous links to in depth research. Systematically go through these, keeping records of your research history. The Wiki is considered by the church as your #1 research tool.
In focusing on one individual you are likely to gather enough sources to create a short life story of an ancestor. You will see the Church place more emphasis on this part of family history in the near future. Stories are important. Wouldn’t you like to know your ancestors when you meet them in the next estate? Studying them and writing about them can make that a reality.
The components that make an interesting story do not include your being a great writer. If you just start with the persons birth information and move through their life, noting what you know, what you assume, and what you don’t know works fine. Your going to the effort of learning about their community: what it was like there and then, adds significantly to the story.
About Family Tree: The Church has made a huge financial commitment to Family Tree. It currently has a few bugs, it sometime goes down for a short time as they work on it – but it is so important, now, that I encourage you to take it seriously and learn it completely. Two sites help immensely. A training video site: is awesome. Going through these videos can train you perfectly. I also write a lot about family tree on my blog: There are other basic and genealogy resources on this blog.

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