The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), in collaboration with the Mary Vinson Library, will hold free genealogy classes that teach the pathways of tracing family lineage as far back as records will allow.
The class requires prior registration through the library (located at 151 South Jefferson St.) and is slated for May 11 and 18, and June 1 and 8, from 11 am to noon. The library’s computers will be used during class, but participants are welcome to bring personal laptops as well. Church Elders and leaders experienced in genealogy methods will teach the classes. The event is a non-religious activity, according to library staff.
The LDS church maintains the largest genealogical library — the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. This facility is free and open to the public and operates the online genealogy platform familysearch.org, which is also partnered with ancestory.com, findagrave.com, and myheritage.com.
“There is a curriculum set for the class,” said LDS Elder Hunter Harris. “When people sign up for the workshop at the library they are given a pedigree chart to fill in what they already know about their family’s history — parents, grandparents, great-grandparents — whatever information they have is a great start.”
Harris said that participants need to have the chart prepared for the first class. He said that due to privacy laws, Family Search could not give any information on living people but with the relative information entered, the first deceased ancestor can be located.
According to Harris, the first class will consist of connecting the attendees to the Family Search website and teaching them how to maneuver the site comfortably.
The second week’s class will locate resources and teach the research methods such as finding birth records, marriage records, and death certificates of ancestors. The class will concentrate on finding verifiable sources that the people (ancestors) existed.
The third week will continue researching through the partnering websites including Ancestry and Find a Grave. Harris said that these sites are membership-based companies but can give a limited amount of data to members of Family Search. He said by the end of week three; participants will know how to expand their family tree through the shared tools.
According to Harris, the last class will focus on getting to know the ancestors and their life stories. For example, photographs and newspaper articles can be added to the participant’s Family Search account.
“The last session is really getting to know your ancestors and their stories,” said Harris. “Finding sketches of their lives will allow you to know who these people were beyond just a name. That’s where it takes you from just genealogy to giving you a true family history- drawing closer to your family members.”
The class will be taught by one experienced genealogist with several LDS volunteers assisting participants when one-on-one help is needed.
Genealogy is an important component of the LDS church that takes its members on spiritual and emotional journeys connecting to those bloodlines that went before.
“For me, genealogy is our desire to honor the past through discovering who our ancestors were,” said LDS Elder Justin White. “We learn from our past to press forward. Seeking out those records and the names is really a spiritual experience for me and knowing we are all a part of that eternal family here on earth.”
To sign up for the Family Search class, stop by the Mary Vinson Library located 151 S. Jefferson St. For more information on LDS genealogy resources, visit familysearch.org.