A word of cau­tion while search­ing

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Thank you for your in­ter­est­ing ar­ti­cle in the De­cem­ber is­sue about the Fam­il­y­Search web­site, run by the Church of the Lat­ter-day Saints, and their world-class record de­pos­i­tory in Salt Lake City, Utah.

I would like to high­light three points. Firstly, the rea­son that Fam­ily His­tory Cen­tres ex­ist in the first place is be­cause Lat­ter-day Saints be­lieve in posthu­mously bap­tis­ing all an­ces­tors of cur­rent day Mor­mons into the Church, ‘ by proxy’, hence their in­volve­ment in pre­serv­ing ge­nealog­i­cal records.

This prac­tise is to the great ben­e­fit of non-Mor­mons, as ex­plained in the ar­ti­cle, as the Church makes its Fam­ily His­tory cen­tres avail­able freely to all, re­gard­less of re­li­gious af­fil­i­a­tion (or not).

Se­condly, as a re­sult of many peo­ple us­ing the site in a hap­haz­ard fash­ion, re­searchers must re­alise that many re­sults found on fam­il­y­search.org are, at best, sec­ondary sources of in­for­ma­tion and, un­less pri­mary doc­u­men­ta­tion is at­tached, must be ver­i­fied – as al­ways – with orig­i­nal sources.

Some peo­ple use the web­site to patch to­gether fam­ily his­to­ries of likely sound­ing/lo­cated ‘nearly’ rel­a­tives and as­sume con­nec­tions. If you find an ap­par­ent match in some­one

else’s ge­nealog­i­cal chart, I ad­vise that strong cau­tion be ex­er­cised un­til you have checked for ac­cu­racy. Many per­sonal charts are scant due to lack of in­ves­ti­ga­tion and con­fir­ma­tion.

Thirdly, for the many am­a­teur ge­neal­o­gists lo­cated over­seas (my­self in­cluded), it would pay to check with your lo­cal LDS Fam­ily His­tory Cen­tre to find out the process for order­ing mi­cro­films which can be sent to many coun­tries, not just the UK. In New Zealand, we can or­der on­line, se­lect­ing the Fam­ily His­tory Cen­tre we wish to view the films at, and then re­ceive au­to­mated up­dates as to the progress of our or­der. As noted in the ar­ti­cle, records are avail­able to ex­plore at your cho­sen Fam­ily His­tory Cen­tre for 90 days from re­ceipt.

LDS Fam­ily His­tory Cen­tres and the main ar­chive in Utah are ex­tremely im­por­tant re­sources for the fam­ily his­to­rian and I, for one, am so grate­ful that they are freely avail­able. As the records col­lec­tion and ar­chiv­ing work of the LDS Church con­tin­ues, I ex­pect to see Fam­ily His­tory Cen­tres rise in promi­nence to be­come pri­mary re­search venues. Me­lanie Pem­ber­ton Fisher, Auck­land, New Zealand

Edi­tor replies: All very good points, Me­lanie. As I say in my fea­ture this month about on­line parish records, it is al­ways sen­si­ble to ex­er­cise cau­tion and com­mon sense when deal­ing with tran­scrip­tions. Es­pe­cially when some records in the IGI ( In­ter­na­tional Ge­nealog­i­cal In­dex, the orig­i­nal Fam­il­y­Search data­base) have been gen­er­ated from peo­ple’s per­sonal re­search.

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