Monday, October 29, 2007

A Guide to Mormon Family History Sources

I wrote earlier about Kip Sperry's new book "A Guide to Mormon Family History Sources". Today I actually got a chance to read the book. Originally I thought it would be primarily for those with pioneer ancestry and I was way off. I have no pioneer ancestors but I can see already how I can benefit from this book. Here is my synopsis of what the book contains:

A Guide to Mormon Family History Sources
  • Chapter 1: Historical Background - Contains a chronology of historical events that pertain to the LDS Church year by year. It will list the membership totals, new programs and services that came out, buildings and when they started in use. The time line tells you such things as when PAF was developed and mentions the new FamilySearch. I would seem like a wealth of knowledge if I could just remember all these facts - or cheat and just refer to them.
  • Chapter 2: Beginning Your Research - this is kind of obvious it gives steps on how to begin doing you genealogy research. There are excellent tips and it goes into depth on doing a preliminary survey and the sites useful for that. I like the fact that it reminds people that getting things off Ancestral File is the beginning and not the end to research.
  • Chapter 3: Indexes, Finding Aids, and Guides -28 different indexes to look at from early 19th century to present. Each indexes is in alphabetical order with Title, Format, Location, Description, Contents, and Internet address if available. I really like how you can see at a glance all the locations where you can find the indexes. The following locations are mentioned: Church History Library, Family History Library, Harold B. Lee Library, Family History Centers, Marriott Library and University of Utah.
  • Chapter 4: Compiled and Printed Records -24 very large collections that have been compiled for family histories.
  • Chapter 5: Original Records - 18 collections, i.e. Church Census Records, Minutes of Meetings to 1984. I really want to look at these Church records so I can get the history of the small branch in Upstate New York that I come from. These are just priceless records.
  • Chapter 6: Migration, Emigration, and Immigration Records -15 collections accounting for some 80,000 Mormons that migrated west to Utah from 1846-1869. Such as the Perpetual emigrating fund, accounts and biographical sketches. This is a great section especially if you have pioneer ancestry.
  • Chapter 7: Computer Resources and Databases -some of the major genealogical databases and websites are described in this chapter. There are 47 entries that name the various software packages that have LDS information, i.e. GospelLink 2001, The Pioneer Heritage CD-Rom published by Ancestry in 1998, Temple Ready to new FamilySearch.
  • Chapter 8: Internet Sites -300 links to a wide variety of Mormon related internet sites. I was intrigued by this one "Ask a Librarian, Church History Library" I didn't know I could do that. I also found a link to all the "CES Institute Student Manuals" something that I had just bought on CD from the distribution center. (Wish I had known that before hand!) The internet sites cover a wide expanse of LDS links, it even had the great UVPAFUG mentioned. [grin]
  • Chapter 9: Periodicals, Newsletters, and Newspapers -49 different ones mentioned. I didn't realize so many were created over the years. I already receive "Meridian Magazine" - it's great for keeping current on church and world news. I have to check out the other current ones.
  • Appendix A: Abbreviations, Acronyms, and Terms - very helpful and in depth.
  • Appendix B: Addresses - 100 different addresses of libraries, archives, and historical societies that house LDS genealogical and historical sources.
After looking over this book I just have one thing bad to say about it. The cover on the title is deceiving. Yes, it is a fantastic "Mormon Family History Source" but they could of just dropped off the "Family" part and make it even more marketable. You don't have to be only into Family History to benefit from this book. In fact I have a brother that is not into genealogy at all, but is into church history and this would be an excellent resource book for him.

I really think this is a must have book for any Family History Center. It would be an excellent resource in a Ward Library too. I was pleased to see that if you belong to a society, library or FHC you can call Ancestry at 1-800-531-1790 or order online at and receive this at a drastically reduced price.

For us regular people you can order "A Guide to Mormon Family History Sources" at The Ancestry Store for $16.95.

1 comment:

Ruth Ann said...

Great insights on the book. It looks great. I have a question on another issue. I have been doing genealogy for over 40 years (since I was a teen). I have used the computer and have used PAF since it came out but struggle some using it because I do family history work mostly in the summer when I'm not teaching school. The down time hurts my memory. :) I don't find really good assistance either in my ward or at the family history library. I have a file of about 23,000 names I have been working on over the years. I was asked recently to help a cousin get theirs together. I have been trying to create a gedcom file that would eliminate my mother's line (and my husband's line) so that it just showed the joint line we share and the new line of her mother's that I am putting in.

I don't think PAF is the best software. I'm pretty computer savvy but I have finally decided to change software. My brother uses Legacy. I noted that you like something else. I don't mind spending some money but would like the most user friendly software since my cousin's family hasn't been doing the genealogy.

Question? What do you suggest I use that would be easy for me to pick up and for them to use?