Saturday, October 31, 2015

BOOT CAMP - Lesson 5 - Using the Help Section of Family Search

It seems like many of us don't want to get started on a project as big as researching our family lines because we just don't know what to do, how to start, where to go for information, what to do with the information once we get it, and so forth.  Well, today we are going to explore the HELP section of Family Search.

1.  Go to (you don't have to log in but it is good to do so - see Boot Camp Lesson 1 for instructions how to sign up and/or sign in.

2.  Now, look in the uppermost Right Hand Corner to where it says "GET HELP".  This is the answer to most of your questions concerning research, using Family Search, adding names to your Family Tree (as well as photos, stories, etc.) and so much more.

3.  There are 2 sections.  Let's discuss each of these sections individually.

A.  CONTACT US - This is for that one-on-one help that is needed at times.  There are 4 ways to actually get help in the contact section.
     - You can CALL them.  The phone number for the help area is shown for your country.
     - You can do LIVE CHAT.  This is really fun but know that you will actually be typing your questions to someone live - meaning you will get an immediate answer because there will be someone on the other end of your chat actually answering your questions.  You should have a decent Internet connection or your session may time-out. You will have to answer a couple of questions before you start (name, email, and phone number as well as select a number that refers to the department of your question - Family Search, memories, research etc. - they will show you the list)
     - The next way is to MESSAGE them.  This is an email conversation.  You will need to supply your name, email, phone, and question. You send a question and they will first send a letter letting you know that they got your email then they will send you a response by email (although, I have had some of them call me as well as email).
     - Then there is FIND LOCAL HELP - This will direct you to the nearest Family History Center for assistance
     -  Also under the Contact Us section is REMOTE CONNECT and MY CASES.  Remote connect is where you will download a program that will allow a member of the Help team actually connect to  your computer and work within your computer - they from a different location thus remote.  This is helpful if you need some help - like in Family Tree - and you just don't understand their instructions on how to fix a problem.  The team member can access your computer (only with your approval) and actually fix the problem as if they were sitting right there with you working on your computer.  For your cases, sometimes you have an issue that the team needs to fix.  They will give you a case number. You can refer to this case number to see how things are progressing with the help or corrections.

B. SELF HELP - This is just like it sounds, you can use these links to help yourself find the answers you are looking for. (If you can't find your answer, try the contact methods listed above).
     -  QUICK START TO FAMILY SEARCH - This is a short 3.34 minute fun video explaining what Family Search has to offer.  It also shows how FamilySearch got started.
     -  GETTING STARTED - This actually takes you to a page that will give you links to specific areas to begin your work on FamilySearch,  1) Discover your story, 2) Explore your family tree, and 3) Find your ancestors. Each will take you to another page to help you in those areas.  Be sure to explore these and follow the links to learn more about these topics. While you are at those pages, click back to the HELP section and if you see the words QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS, click on it.  This will bring up some of the most popular questions with answers to help you understand how to use these parts of Family Search.
     -  HELP CENTER - This has tons of the most popular questions asked about research and Family Search.  Pick a topic you wish to know more about then pick a question - or write in your question in the space provided.
     -  THE LEARNING CENTER - This is my favorite.  They have just about every topic you can think of covered in a lesson.  This is a How To section. Most lessons are in video format but many have PDF's to look at and some even have handouts.  These are taught by very experienced people in the topic discussed. It tells you how long the video is - 5 minutes to over an hour.  Be sure to have a decent Internet connection to watch.
     -  RESEARCH WIKI - WIKI is a resource center. It mostly covers locations and some topics.  Whereas FamilySearch covers mostly people, WIKI will help with locations.  Note: There are some display changes coming to WIKI so if you look at it today, it may look differently tomorrow but the same info will be there.
     -  WHAT'S NEW - This will let you know of any recent changes in Family Search. It tell what has recently been added to Family Search and some changes to how to use things in your Family Tree.  This is helpful if you see changes and don't understand them.

So that's it!  When you are working on Family Search or in Family Tree, don't forget to look up at the HELP section for updated information, how to do something, or to ask a question....don't forget that Live Chat can help you RIGHT NOW!  Have fun learning!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

BOOT CAMP - Lesson 4 - Cemetery Searches

 Cemetery Searches

First an explanation about these programs.  People just like all of us go out into the cemeteries, take pictures, write down all information found at each grave (birth, death, etc) then post it to one of these programs.  Each program has specific details on how to submit information but anyone can participate. Once info is posted online, it is available free of charge to all of us searching our family. Great things can be found in some of these cemetery records - pictures, family history, obituaries, names of parents and siblings.  NOTE: not all info posted is correct as many gravestones are difficult to read and sometimes the person taking the info does not write it down correctly.  Also, some info on Find a Grave especially, may be submitted without ever finding the actual headstone (someone who has info about a person and their burial info can actually post it as though they actually found it in the cemetery). Sometimes this info can be incorrect also (I know because I have found some instances on both of these situations).

Let's start with Find a Grave - found at

The HOME page has 4 sections from which to choose.  (Find Famous Graves, Find Graves, Questions and Answers, and Forums, Store, etc.)

Choose Search Grave Records (under Find Graves).  Type in a name of a deceased person and see what happens.  If you have specifics like birth or death and location, enter it but if you find nothing, start removing some info. If you still find nothing, try removing different info and leaving different info. Also try the full name. Again, if you get nothing, try just a letter for the first name and the full last name.  You need a last name but if you know of alternate spellings, you might try them. If you have an unusual last name, search for it and see who all come up!

-  You can also try Search for a Cemetery (Cemetery Look-up). If you don't know the name of the cemetery, just type in the state and county and all of the cemeteries that have been entered (some cemeteries have not had their info submitted) will show. Once you find a cemetery and select it, you can search through the whole cemetery (in ABC order) or do a search from within the cemetery by typing in a name.

Note: If you have a question or might want further info on a person, check to see who submitted the information.  Often you can email them or ask them a question.  Some are great to answer. I even had a man go back to the cemetery for me and looked up some additional information.

Billion Graves found at - this is very similar to Find a Grave. People take pictures with their phones (after they have registered and downloaded the app) then they upload the pictures.  Other people transcribe the data from the pictures for the website. Then the information is available for searches.

Headstone Search - type in a name (use info as stated above for Find a Grave). If you want to put in more information, click on the words "Check out the Advanced Search Page". This will open a page with the options Person Look-up or Cemetery Look-up.

There is a lot more available at both of these sites so after you've done a few searches, take a look around the sites and see the other information they offer.

Friday, July 31, 2015


What does it mean to “Fuel the Find?” Indexed records are like the fuel that gives  the power to connect people to their missing family members.  Every name you index adds another drop of precious fuel that can help someone else to find their ancestors.

You can help Fuel the Find! 

A service provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Historical records, documents, important moments in our ancestors’ lives are recorded and are often kept in archives around the world. 

FamilySearch volunteers create digital photographs of millions of these records. These digital images are sent to FamilySearch for publication online. Volunteers index (transcribe) information from the images to make it searchable by computer. Indexed information is like “fuel” that helps people search billions of names in seconds. Indexing also powers “hinting” — where the computer automatically displays records that match information about your ancestors. It has never been easier to find information about your ancestors.

You can help Fuel the Find!

The Worldwide Indexing Event is coming August 7-14, 2015, and this year it’s one week long! Join volunteers from around the world to help “Fuel the Find”. You have one week to participate by indexing at least one batch in the language of your choice. If you are fluent in a non-English language, challenge yourself by helping to index in that language. We are especially looking for help indexing French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish records.
This year we’re going for a record 100,000 volunteers (the current one-week record is 91,721), but big numbers mean more when we’re helping meet the greatest need. English speakers have billions of records to search on—20 times more than all other languages combined! Let’s help everyone across the world to find their ancestors too! All it takes is one batch indexed sometime during the week to be counted.
So please join this wonderful World Wide Indexing Event.  
Remember, all information on 
is FREE.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

BOOT CAMP Lesson 3

Summertime is always so busy but there are some things that you can do with your family to bring a little "Family History" into your home.  This bootcamp will focus on "the group" and things you can do for Family Home Evening, at a Family Reunion, or just to keep the kids busy. Use your imagination and pick some activities this month (and all summer) to help everyone do a little something in the Family History department.

1.  Journal writing - Using a loose leaf binder, as often as you wish (every day - once a week), you choose a topic and write about it.  Be sure to date your page and give it a title. I like to use the "Journal in a Jar" method.  It makes choosing a topic more fun.  

2.  Cemetery Scavenger Hunt - Take the family (or group) to a local cemetery and have them look for fun things - like someone who fought in the Civil War, or the Oldest person in the cemetery.  HERE are some more fun things to do at a cemetery.

3.  Online Detective - Another scavenger hunt type of thing but doing it online. Have everyone look for topics to do with your family tree - like find out how much a carpenter made in the 1700's, 1800's and today, type in the family last name to see what all comes up, find out what kinds of houses your ancestors may have lived in during the 1800's, etc.

4.  Food - have an Ancestral Meal where you cook only things from a time period and country of one of your ancestors.  Try to cook using only the utensils that they may have used.

5.  Family Game - Make a game using pictures of your ancestors (or your family now!).  Examples might be:  Bingo, Life, Monopoly, Chutes and Ladders, etc.  

6.  Recipe Book - When gathering everyone together this summer, have them bring their favorite recipes and family stories about food.  Put them together for a treasured memory.

Now, use your imagination and think of something YOUR family can do this summer to either make family history for future generations or bring the past to the present by learning about your ancestors.

***  Please let us know some of the fun things that you or your ward members have done.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

BOOT CAMP - Lesson 2 - Updating Individual Information

Summer is coming and that means there will be lots of time for families to gather whether it be for picnics, visiting, special family nights, or family reunions.  What a great time to ask the "family history" questions.  Last month you practiced moving around in your family tree on Family Search.  This month let's try to fill in some of those empty spaces and do some fun things along the way. (Refresher of last month click HERE)

1.  Check out your Family Tree - start by signing in (remember this is found on FamilySearch).

2.  Pick an ancestor (let's start with someone deceased but close to you like a parent or grandparent)
3.  Click on their name then click on Person. You should be in the Details View.  Look over the details to see that everything is correct and that no major information is missing.   HERE IS A BIG HELP - look to the right side column. You might see a section that says RECORD HINTS.  Click on some of them and see what they have available.  Isn't this a great feature?  If something is missing, then this is where you should start.  If there are no record hints, check with family members still living to see if they have some information that can help fill in some of those blanks. If they don't, try a search (on Family Search) to see if there is something that will help you find this missing info).

4.  Update the info for your ancestor (if you forgot how or need help click HERE).  Be sure when you review the info that you click REVIEW AND ATTACH if this is correct information for your ancestor.  This will document the information so others will know that this is correct.

FYI - Some names may be spelled incorrectly or information incorrect even to the point you might not think it is your relative.  Click on the name anyway just to check it out.  You might be surprised at what you find.

5.  While you are in the Person view, click on Ordinances to make sure all of their temple work has been done.

6.  If you have time and feel confident to do more, check out the Memories section.  Here you can add photos, stories, and even audio files.  We will get into this memory section in more detail later but check it out and try it if you like.

7.  Move on to the next ancestor and repeat this process.  Your goal is to make sure all temple work is done for your family and to do your best at making sure their information is correct.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Relative Finder

by Julie 

Ever wonder if you've got some long-lost cousins out there? Relative Finder allows you to see how you are related to other people’s friends, coworkers, prophets, historical figures, and more! Relative Finder, is a certified program from The Family History Technology Lab which is part of the Computer Science Department at Brigham Young University. It is found at

In order to use Relative Finder, you must have an account with FamilySearch. Login in to Relative Finder using your FamilySearch account login and password and discover who your are related to.

In the Sandpoint Stake we have a group you can join. Using your mouse, hover over the word "groups" then click Join. In the search field type Sandpoint Idaho Stake   (spaces between words - you may need to use caps but no punctuation). The password is   MyFamily   -  no spaces but use caps on M and F.  In Settings you may also edit your display name. If you are a woman you can include your married name so others in the stake can identify you. FamilySearch lists women by their maiden names yet in Relative Finder you can hyphenate it to also include your married name. (If your birth name is Mary Jones but your married name is Smith you can use your name as Mary Jones-Smith.)  For help, contact your ward consultant or Family History Director. 

Check with your stake to see if you have a group.  If not, maybe you can be the one to start it.  You can make a group for your family, your friends, clubs, etc.  It is a wonderfully fun site so check it out!

Friday, May 1, 2015

BOOT CAMP - LESSON 1 - Getting started on Family Tree

Every month we will have help for you to get started or progress in your search for family information.

Use these training ideas to help you learn the ins and outs of Family History. 

For additional help, email us at
It helps to have an interest in your family to go from the - Yeah, I love my family - to - I love my family enough to help us be united for eternity.  Help your love for your family grow by getting involved in your family history.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has taken the work out of Family History. Find our family and their information has become so much easier. Today we are going to take the very first step to learning how to do Family History. Some of you may be long past this stage and for you, I encourage you to keep going.  For those of you who have not started doing any kind of research, let's start at the beginning.  This information will also be very helpful for those you are teaching.

We will be working with Family Search and a few sites that will not only be interesting and informative, but also fun. Just click on the highlighted words to get more information as you go along.

This month we will be getting the "feel" for Family Search.  You will get logged on and do some simple exploring before we actually get started on researching. Take some time to look at your family tree and follow through on some of the lessons available.


1. Log onto or sign up for an account.  

To Log on - Go to Family Search home page and in the upper right hand corner (using your LDS account or your Family Search user name and password) click on Sign-In.

To open a new account - Go to the  home page of Family Search in the upper right hand corner and click on Free Account 
or click HERE (watch video) to learn how to sign up.  You do not have to be a member of the church to sign up for an account.  Note:  You will get a message in your email that you will need to confirm to finish the account sign up.  

2.  Now let's learn a bit about using the Family Tree - click HERE for basic instruction on how to use Family Tree.   Practice some of the things taught and be sure to "connect" YOU with your ancestral lines if that has not been done.  If you still do not understand this step, please ask your ward/branch consultant for help, visit your Family History Center, or email me at

NOTE: Family Tree mostly works with deceased people.  If your parents are still living, you will need to manually add them - refer to the instructions given in step #2.

This course will help you get a good start on understanding Family Tree.  We will discuss many of these topics covered in more detail in future newsletters.  HERE is another place to go if you have questions.

by Diane (Sandpoint Stake Family History Consultant)