Researching Family History: Genealogy is more than just a hobby

Published: Tuesday, March 13 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

Geneologist Mark Gardner (R) works with Walter Williams at the LDS Family History Library in Salt Lake City Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

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There is a great deal of excitement and a certain urgency among people in recent years to do their genealogy. Never before has this work been so available to anyone as it is now. It should continue to be that way as the years go on.

One website refers to genealogy as "the best hobby ever," since it connects ancestors and enthusiast workers learn who they are. It can keep you entertained and can be a lot of fun as a hobby.

Others feel it is more than a hobby. Genealogy enthusiasts Larry Stephens and Griff Collier both said the same thing, "Genealogy is more than just a hobby for me."

Many advances during recent years have enhanced genealogy's popularity, including the availability of digitized records online and the New FamilySearch program created by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Genealogy has been high on the priority lists of various media companies, with TV shows such as "Who Do You Think You Are?" The program, now on its second season, has 12 episodes this time. Yet another season of 20 episodes are slated after this one. "The Generations Project" found on KBYUtv offers case studies of individual families research and family history.

The digitization of records has expedited the work in research and has made genealogy much more user-friendly and more understandable for everyone. It is now possible to see original documents with names, dates and places of ancestors on those records, more than ever before.

When doing the "raw research" on original or digitized records on a line, there are times that the help of a professional researcher will be needed. Analytical techniques and skills learned at conferences such as RootsTech as well as experience, will need to be used to get through those "brick walls" on the lineage. Other people who do not have the time to do research themselves may want to call in a professional researcher to do most or all of the work.

Elder Russell M. Nelson, of the Quorum of the Twelve, talking about the FamilySearch program, said, "Gone are the days when this sacred work was done only by specialists."

It seems the more genealogy is discussed and published, the more records are digitized and made available. People searching for their roots can find information on births, marriages and deaths, as well as the origins of their ancestors. In doing so, it helps connect them to their ancestors and helps them find out more about themselves.

Nothing is more disappointing than not finding that ancestor you have been looking for years. Nothing can be more exhilarating than finding your own ancestor or having a professional researcher find some for you. Many people who get involved in researching their ancestors find they cannot put it down. After locating an ancestor, there is always another one to find.

Salt Lake City just experienced the second annual RootsTech Conference, on Feb. 2-4 in the Salt Palace. People from all over the U.S. and various parts of the world came to learn more about advances coming into the genealogy and tech fields. Classes were taught having to do with genealogy, technology and FamilySearch from what lies ahead in the future and what is presently available. Skills of researchers, consultants and technologist were sharpened or learned.

New and exciting things are being developed in both fields for the advancement of genealogy and with it comes more records being unearthed and made available than ever before.

You can have fun in doing this work, but when someone takes more of a serious approach to it, it's nice to know there are professional genealogists, the Family History Library and centers' volunteers, consultants and others who will help. This is because they stay on top of the cutting edge in the advancements being made at such an unprecedented rate.

Looking back on how genealogy research has evolved, we have come a long way and I am sure we have a long way to go yet.

Genealogy graduate Russell Bangerter is president of Ancestral Connections, Inc. at www.ancestralconnect.com. He is a professional genealogist, author and speaker, and adviser to Treasured Souls to Keep, treasuredsoulstokeep.com.

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