Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Thursday, December 14, 2017

A Family History Mission: Transition to Annapolis, Maryland

Early evening view of the MTC
No. 9

Note: You can do a Google search for "A Family History Mission" to see all the previous posts in this ongoing series. You can also search for "James Tanner genealogy" and find them.

We are nearly at the end of our Missionary Training Center or MTC experience. This will be a short post. We have one day of training from FamilySearch in Salt Lake City and then we began our long drive across the country. During the past week, our second week in the MTC, we have had classes on the process of digitizing historical records using digital cameras. The instruction is pretty technical and is a challenge for those without a background in computers and photography.

The training at the MTC is marvelous and very pertinent to what we will be doing in the "mission field." I will try to give a few more updates as we drive across the country.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Premature Post

Sorry about the premature post. I meant to save the title on the last post for updating and clicked post instead.

Here is the link to the updated post about the new features on

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

New Training Resources on

Sorry about the premature post. :-(

The Consultant Planner contains a link to some exciting new training resources. First, you have to go to the Consultant Planner under the Get Help menu in the upper right-hand corner of

When you look at the Consultant Planner, you will see a new notice:

Click on the link. You will then see the following page:

Then, click on the Resources tab for more options:

Try out all the new links and resources. If you click on the "Basics" link, for example, you will see the following links:

Guess what? the Family History link and the Computer Basic Link each link to The Family History Guide.

A Family History Mission: Learning Our Assignment

The Provo, Utah Missionary Training Center at Night
No. 8

Note: You can do a Google search for "A Family History Mission" to see all the previous posts in this ongoing series. You can also search for "James Tanner genealogy" and find them.

Today was the first day of our second week in the Provo, Utah Mission Training Center or MTC, right next to the Brigham Young University campus. We have driven past the MTC nearly every day and sometimes many times a day for the past three and half years and it is an interesting experience to be in the MTC. Quite a change. The first week of our mission experience was based on learning about missionary work from the Preach My Gospel manual.

This week is focused on training to use the digital cameras during our assignment to work at the Maryland State Archives. Quoting from the website:
The State Archives serves as the central depository for government records of permanent value. Its holdings date from Maryland's founding in 1634, and include colonial and state executive, legislative, and judicial records; county probate, land, and court records; church records; business records; state publications and reports; and special collections of private papers, maps, photographs, and newspapers.
We will be serving as FamilySearch Record Preservation Specialists. Interestingly, we do not wear normal "missionary" clothes or have the black missionary badges because it is a government facility. We will be attending a local Ward and are already making plans to help in the Family History Centers in the area. Will be living in an apartment in Annapolis.

The process of digitizing records is fairly complicated. From negotiating contracts with the record repositories to the actual digitation process there are several steps. Even after the records are digitized it takes several steps to prepare the records for publication online. The end product still needs to be indexed. But this whole process is revolutionizing genealogical research.

Without volunteers, there would be far fewer free online records available to the genealogical community. In addition, many of these records have not been generally available without the time and expense of actually visiting the archive. This is a win-win situation everyone benefits from our effort.

By the way, the digitization process turns out to fairly complicated and involves a lot of steps. The cameras are mounted on large stands and need to be calibrated and focused before every digitization session. I am familiar with the process since I participated in the original development of the software when I volunteered to assist FamilySearch in digitizing the Mesa City Cemetery Records that are now on

New Features Added to the Consultant Planner

Show birth countries
The Consultant Planner has some new interesting and informative features. The views of the fan chart have been expanded to include:
  • Show Birth Countries
  • Show Birth Years
  • Show Memories
  • Show Sources
Here are screenshots of the new views. You can access the new views from the pull-down menu. 

Show Birth Years

Here is the next view:

Show Memories

The fourth and last new view:

Show Source
Each of these views allows both the individual and those helping to quickly see the "status" of the person's entries on the Family Tree. The more color, the more it is likely that people have been working on the entries. If they are thinking of adding another fan chart, I would suggest one showing whether or not there are any red problem icons. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Family History on the LDS Media App
The LDS Media App is available for both iOS and Android devices. You can download the app to your smartphone or tablet or iPad from the Apple App Store or the Google Play store for free. The LDS Media App page on (see above) has links to Guides for both versions of the app. Quoting from the webpage:
Wherever you teach, the LDS Media Library app gives you complete and searchable access to the Church media library. Complement Sunday lessons, Family Home Evenings, or missionary discussions with easy-to-find videos, images, and music content.
The resources on the LDS Media App can also be downloaded for use without an internet connection. Items are downloaded automatically so they can be used for lessons and other presentations. One very important point is that the videos of conference talks or other videos can be trimmed down to play only the portion you want to present. Cable adapters can also connect your device directly to a monitor, TV or projector for use in a class.

You will be surprised at what you might find for use in family history classes or for talks about family history. A search for media will result in dozens of images and videos.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

A Family History Mission: Changes from the Past

Large wall plaque in the Missionary Training Center, Provo, Utah
No. 7

I could not help but reflect back on my experiences years ago in the Language Training Mission held in the old Knight-Mangum Hall on the Brigham Young University Campus and compare my original experiences with those we experienced in the Missionary Training Center or MTC this past week.
Here is a quote from a Deseret News article entitled, "The development of the Language Training Mission (LTM)."
Previously serving as a women’s dormitory, the Knight-Mangum Hall on the southeast edge of BYU’s campus became the central office for what became known as the Language Training Mission on June 16, 1963. All missionaries learning a foreign language were sent to the LTM, with similar facilities eventually established at Ricks College (for Dutch and Scandinavian languages) and at the Church College of Hawaii (for Polynesian and Asian languages). Through August 1976, the Knight-Mangum Hall served as a place for missionaries to live, eat, learn and worship.
Recently, Knight-Mangum Hall was demolished to make way for the new Brigham Young University Engineering Building.

My mission experience as a young man began with a trip to the Salt Lake Mission home on North Main Street in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. We were there for one week before being transported to the LTM in Provo. You can get an idea of our life there from an article entitled, "A Day in the LIfe of a Language Training Missionary," published in the New Era in March of 1971. Our experience in the LTM was vastly different than the one experienced today in the MTC. In fact, in talking to senior missionaries this past week who have served missions previously in the past few years, they also said that today's program is vastly different than it was just a few short years ago.

When I started at the old LTM in 1964, they were only teaching a few languages. Today, the MTC teaches 55 different languages. But the main differences come from the emphasis and the training offered to the new missionaries. The current MTC experience is centered on teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ from the Preach My Gospel publication. Our instruction during the week was a mixture of practical lessons including using electronic devices and the apps available to testimony building activities in actually presenting lessons to others.

The experiences I had at the LTM were intensive and life-changing, but I can tell from our short first week at the MTC, that today's missionaries are vastly more prepared to serve than we ever were.