Suggestions to a New Family History Consultant

Helps for new consultants on getting started

If you have been called as a Family History Consultant in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you probably share some similar experiences with many, many others called to the same position. It is very likely that you have little or no experience doing genealogical research. It is also very likely that the person who called you to this position in the Church also has little or no experience doing genealogy. How can I guess that this is the case? Because most of the estimates of the number of contributing genealogists in the Church cite figures that list less than 5% of the entire Church population as contributing names for ordinance work in the Temple. Quoting Dennis Brimhall, managing director of the LDS Family History Department and the FamilySearch website, in an online article from the Church News entitled, "Family History Now Focuses More on Heart, Not Charts" only 8 percent of Church members have logged on and used FamilySearch.

My own personal experience would also support these statistics. But I would guess that in most wards, the numbers are substantially lower unless you count everyone who has ever submitted names for ordinance work at any time in the past.

Why is this the case in the Church given the strong religious-based teachings of the importance of family history? You might note at this point that I use the terms family history and genealogy interchangeably. That is, despite recent attempts to differentiate between the two, they are for all purposes the same activity. Emphasizing one name or the other does not change the basic activity involved; seeking out the identity of one's ancestors.

The above article goes on to note the following:

Looking at the LDS membership outside of the United States, only 27 percent of members have both parents in their family tree and only 12 percent have grandparents in that tree. Less than five percent have great-grandparents recorded in the tree.

In an attempt to address this issue, the Church has issued a booklet, available from the, called "My Family: Stories That Bring Us Together." By filling out the information requested by this booklet, anyone, member or not, can essentially gather the information necessary to complete a four generation pedigree.

So, my first suggestion to the Family History Consultant is get some copies of the new booklet and start working your own way through it.

Next, I would suggest that you begin watching all of the orientation videos contained on the website under Family History Callings. Then go through the resource links at the bottom of the page. You need to have an LDS Account with a user name and password, but when you sign in you can view all of the resources available. If you make the effort to go through the material, you will have more information about doing family history or genealogy than the other 95% of the members of the Church.

Written by James L. Tanner. Used with permission.

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