At RootsTech in February, Nicole and I had the opportunity to participate in an interview with the executive director of the family history department for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Elder Kevin S. Hamilton. Among the topics he discussed was a new FamilySearch feature called Learn About Your Family. It’s built right into the FamilySearch home page. You will see it prior to login. This tool is available on the desktop version as well as in the Family Tree app. Just remember you have to be logged out to access it.
How to use Learn About Your Family
Elder Hamilton suggested that the Learn About Your Family tool is a great way to engage someone in learning more about their family history anytime, anywhere. The process is as simple as entering basic information about a deceased family member – perhaps a grandfather or grandmother – into the tool and clicking “Search.”
FamilySearch will then generate information about the surname: its meaning, how many people in the shared family tree have that surname, and where in the world it is found.
It will also bring up the top people in the family tree associated with that name, along with information about available records and a few pictures, prompting people to create a free account to learn more.
“Family history spans all cultures,” states Hamilton. When we start helping people discover something new and connect with their ancestors, then engage them with technology, “it fires off feelings of motivation. They catch on fire and start to go.”
Up All Night
Elder Hamilton illustrated this idea with a story about helping a new acquaintance learn more about his deceased grandfather. They entered the grandfather’s name into the Learn About Your Family tool, and when a photo of the friend’s grandpa showed up on the screen, the friend took the phone right out of Elder Hamilton’s hand as he exclaimed, “That’s my Grandpa! Give me that.” Elder Hamilton helped the man set up a FamilySearch account and they spent an hour exploring the man’s family. They also used the Family Tree app to check to see if they were related, and discovered they were 9th cousins. The man became emotional as he discovered more about his family. The next morning, Elder Hamilton received a call. The man had been up all night looking at his family history and had questions. Elder Hamilton was able to point him to the right people for additional help. Elder Hamilton said about helping people experience a taste of family history, “People get compelled. It’s compelling!”
Tool for Consultants
As this story illustrates, learning about your ancestors IS compelling. I’m excited about this new tool so I can begin to share the joy with more people. As a temple and family history consultant, I’m excited to teach youth and adults in my ward and stake how to use this tool too, so they can begin sharing family history with anyone–anytime, anywhere. Technology is such a blessing, and FamilySearch has made it so easy to share. Give it a try and see if you feel like you can use the Learn About Your Family tool with people around you.