Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Saturday, February 12, 2011

RootsTech -- Devotional with Elder Richard G. Scott

Preliminary note: I am taking these notes real time at the sessions so please excuse typos and fragmented sentences.

FamilySearch is a wholly owned corporation, owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Church). As part of the RootsTech Conference there was a devotional. Perhaps for some in attendance this was their first look at an LDS meeting. This was a reminder of the spiritual focus of genealogy emphasized by the teachings of the LDS Prophets. Some of this post will have a very LDS orientation.

With Elder Scott, on a panel, was David Rencher, Craig Miller, Ransom Love, Jim Greene all from FamilySearch. Introductions and opening was by CEO Jay Verkler.

This was totally a Church experience. For the most part, although the Church was like the elephant in the middle of the room, RootsTech is a genealogical and technological experience and the Church has truly remained in the background. One thing that happens in this Conference is the attendance of hundreds of Church missionaries who are all so visible because of their little black and white missionary badges. Of course, they also have suits and ties, contrary to the rest of us.

This was mostly a question and answer session. The questions began with issues relating to Church Temple and ordinance work.

Question: What will happen to Family History Centers outside the Wasatch Front? Answered by Jay Verkler, the uses of Family History Centers may disappear, but they will always need and provide help, experience and guidance. They are currently testing a model of centralized Family History Libraries like the facility in Riverton.

Question: Explain the new deal? All Family History Centers will eventually be at a level of access to where services are economical and feasible. The next few months is a test phase for implementation. The Centers will have the standard Library Edition of

Question: What is the balance between involving everyone and being genealogically sound? David Rencher. FamilySearch is trying to change the entire way that people in the Church do family history. They are not going in the direction of the academic genealogists.

Question: Problems in library in Alexandria, Egypt? The library facilities around the world are being expanded. There will be a significant library in conjunction with the Temple in Rome, Italy. The microfilm at the Alexandria library may be impacted but we have to wait.

Question: What about duplication? There is a fundamental shift in the way duplicates are detected in the new system on New FamilySearch. Do just a little more before doing the ordinance work, but don't require extensive documentation.

Question: Is Personal Ancestral File going to talk to New FamilySearch? FamilySearch is using a web interface. The program is not being supported. Many vendors offer free versions of their programs to work with New FamilySearch. FamilySeach will stick with a browser based interface. Will be adding better sourcing, with an evidence basis. Another feature change will be to edit the information to be able to correct or clean up information. They are fully aware of the multiple individual copy problem and are working to alleviate the problem. Other vendors are providing the services that FamilySearch may not be able to provide.

Question:  Is it OK to have a Millenium File? Yes.

Question: How can I inspire and motivate my Priesthood Leaders? Many of them need to be educated about the importance of the work. Pray for them but respect the keys and read the manuals.

Question: How do we get people to come to the classes? Read Section 121 of the Doctrine and Covenants. But have patience.

Question: GEDCOM standard issues? Standard is being evaluated and looked at. They are going to move ahead and update the standard.

Question: What about access to New FamilySearch to those who are not Church members? They are still planning on opening the program but are still working on the issues.

Question: How do we get Young Single Adults interested in family history? Design fun activities that involve family history. Go to their homes to help them with their family history.

Question: Will this meeting be online? Yes. Sometime in the future.

Question: How has the use of the Internet affected the storage of records in the Granite Mountain Vault? All of the records in the vault will eventually be digitized.

Question: Is there anyway we can have New FamilySearch without clicking on so many arrows? Use a third party program to have your file on the desktop. They will be having a new user interface for the pedigree portion of the program. SharingTime overlay.

Question: What new technology will have the most impact on family history in the near future? The power that comes from the Spirit of Elijah.

Question: What about documentation in New FamilySearch for place names at the historical time? Suggestion to have two fields one for current place and one for historical place. They are working on the problem of changing boundaries but do not have a suggested solution. Working on pushing the data creation at local level to get more collaboration. New FamilySearch is still a Beta program.

Question: What about on demand digitization of microfilm? FamilySearch is trying to get there as quickly as possible.

Question: Duplication of work on New FamilySearch? Project is going very well. They are working on fixing the problem of cleaning up the data. Will be able to select the correct lines.

My comment: Wow!!!


  1. One comment in particular caught my eye:

    "FamilySearch is trying to change the entire way that people in the Church do family history. They are not going in the direction of the academic genealogists."

    Can you expand a bit (if possible) on the context here? In particular, what do you think he meant by "not going in the direction of academic genealogists?"

  2. Thank you so very much for taking the time to post this. However, it seems that some of the answers were evasive.

    I found it interesting that Family Search is discounting the professional sourcing protocols in coming up with a new way for beginning and moderate level Church members to compile their family histories. As an FHC Director, I want to maintain a flexible approach for all members I serve but some members are so negligent in sourcing or at least checking the basic information that I know garbage is still being thrown into the NFS system.

  3. Thank you, James. Well done! Fast and furious note-taking is a skill.

  4. It may be that FamilySearch has done some Source Citation studies with various programs (like I have on in recent months) and has concluded that a way to ensure "decent citations" in FamilySearch, through the affiliated software programs, needs to be proposed and implemented in the GEDCOM successor. I have some ideas that I'll post soon.

  5. This was a good review of the session. I was in attendance and it was a profoundly personal and spiritual experience for me. I thought some of the best ideas came from the audience. At first, I wanted to hear more from Elder Scott. But it turned out to be a very good format. A variety of perspectives made it very rich. Every word that Elder Scott said seemed to be wise and profound. Thanks to my good bishop I was able to share this experience with my ward council the next day and challenge them all to read the Leader's Guide to Temple and Family History.

  6. Thank you for the notes. I was at the temple and forgot the meeting. My husband and I are directors and we updated the portal and love that we have for patrons. We want more members to come and research. We will pray for the spirit of Elijah in our stake also. Thanks again...

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