Research Logs: Essential When Doing Your Family History


These days, family history, as we’ve mentioned here, is less about finding information about people and more about organizing the amazing amount of information available to anyone who looks. Access to records has greatly increased in recent years, but it might be a challenge for some to keep track of the research they do to find a particular person or straighten out a particularly convoluted limb of the family tree, even with the many online tools and apps available. One tool that has proven useful for many in past years is logbooks. At their most basic level, logbooks are a simple means whereby people looking for their ancestors can record what searches have been done, what results have been found, and which documents are relevant to the question at hand. Peg A. Ivanyo, in her 2016 Family History Conference class for genealogy beginners said that they can contain notes, citations, stories, and even links to blog posts. But how exactly can they be helpful?

Research logs serve to make things easier. Jill Crandell, a history professor at BYU, says that research logs help to decrease duplication of effort and make one’s searches more efficient. Her own research log website,, serves to help people plan their research, catalogue their findings, and record their interpretations. Of research logs, she says, “[they] logs need to be detailed and kept consistently. If they are, the logs will prevent researchers from searching the same sources multiple times, documents will be organized and accessible, and research analysis will be higher quality. Find a research log format that works for you, one that you are actually willing to use to record your work, then use it.”

Many years ago, she was working on tracing a nomadic family who had lived in New York, Canada, and Scotland, with a common name. The man she was researching never identified his parents in any of his documents. To solve the mystery of who his parents were, Dr. Crandell turned to her research log. Through it, she was able to learn that this man had been traveling with other people who had moved to all of the same places as him. By studying the documents saved in her log, Dr.Crandell was able to further this genealogy.

The benefits of doing genealogy, to both the doer and the ancestor, are plentiful, and logbooks are some of the many tools available to anyone who has a desire to connect with those ancestors. Paul Cardall, the noted pianist who spoke at BYU’s most recent Conference on Family History and Genealogy, spoke of the relationship between family history and missionary work. As Mormons, we believe that families can be together after this life. Therefore, it is essential to strengthen relationships with all family members, both those who are alive and those who have died…for Mormons, genealogical research or family history is the essential forerunner for temple work for the dead.”



What Tips to You Have for Doing Family History?

Rootstech and BYU: Enthusiastic About Family History


Connecting with your ancestors has never been easier and BYU is right there in the action. Students and faculty showcased the good work being done on campus for Family History this weekend through their interactive booth at RootsTech, the largest family history conference in the world.


BYU has participated in RootsTech every year since it began in 2011. This was the first year that most of the BYU departments that participated in the conference came together to form one large booth. This interactive booth encouraged conference attendees to explore BYU’s many resources for family history. It highlighted BYU’s 4-year family history bachelor’s degree, library resources, innovative computer applications, and opportunities to publish family history. Seven departments from BYU participated in the booth:

  • The Center for Family History and Genealogy,
  • Family History Program/Degree,
  • Family History Library,
  • HBLL Special Collections,
  • Computer Science,
  • Print & Mail,
  • Bachelor of General Studies/Independent Studies.

Steve Rockwood, managing director for the Family History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and President/CEO of FamilySearch International, as well as a BYU alum, was a keynote speaker during the conference. He spoke about the ever expanding definition of family history. “The millennials and the teenagers of today, they are a journaling generation like the world has never seen before. They just happen to do it in small little tweets and posts and snapchats,” said Rockwood. He encouraged participants of the innovator summit to think about the potential enhancements of everyday life if family history was used and thought about as frequently as math. He asked if anyone had used an alarm clock to wake up or determined what time to be out the door in order to make it to the conference on time. “You actually did math this morning and you didn’t even know it!” he said. Watch his full speech here.

Family History Portal page.JPG

One focus of the conference was looking to the future. Our own lives will one day be the family history for our posterity. Taysom Hill, a BYU football player, participated in the conference and spoke during the Family Discovery Day Youth and Family Session. In September 2015, Hill suffered his third season-ending injury, this time as the senior quarterback. Many stories have been told of his leadership, determination and influence on and off the field. Hill was asked what stories he thinks will live on with his children and grandchildren. Hill chose to focus on the future, not the past. He said, “As I look back, I’m 25-years-old, you know, I hope that I haven’t hit the pinnacle of my life. I hope that I can still accomplish a lot of really great things that will make my kids proud.”

Check out BYU’s new Family History Portal, where all of the resources we had available at Rootstech, plus many others, are available in one convenient place online. And find out more about our college’s involvement in RootsTech and in the nationwide surge of interest in family history in our upcoming 2016 Connections issue!


Did you attend Rootstech? What was your favorite part?

Fairy Great-Great-Great-Godmother: The Genealogy Fairy


Indexing parties, family history committee callings, and a family history major all make BYU the prime place to get involved with genealogy work. But while these opportunities may bait and hook you, sometimes your dream project is too big a fish for them to hold up. The dream of a fairy godmother to wave her magic wand and fill your empty wallet becomes a prominent one. Family history is about seeking out your roots and putting a name and a face to your lineage. Ultimately, family history is just another form of storytelling, it’s about making your ancestors more than a name on a piece of paper, it’s about making them human again. Don’t let an empty pocket prevent you from doing that.

The College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences does provide a family history major and minor for students who are interested in genealogy but for individual projects a full major may seem too large, and a ward indexing activity too small. However, BYU’s Family History program heavily promotes the Genealogy Fairy as a means to go beyond those limitations.

What is the Genealogy Fairy?

The Genealogy Fairy was created by High-Definition Genealogy’s Thomas MacEntree with the idea to give back to the genealogy community that prospers here in Utah. The grant is sponsored by Genealogy Bargains who, each month, put aside five percent of all revenue to help provide the monetary means for either organizations or individual historians pursuing a substantial project.

This stack of cash that has been set aside is just sitting there waiting to be put into an indexing project, a genealogy conference, or even a publishing project. Any individual can receive up to five hundred dollars in grant money per project, or if desired, can receive an equal amount in consulting advice for genealogy organizations.

How do I Take Advantage of This?

Apply here if you’re interested.


What kind of family history projects do you like to do?