Friday, September 29, 2017

Saving Consultant Planner Lessons as PDF Files to Share with Members

When the consultant planner first came out, it saved our lesson plans automatically as PDF files. This was really nice, since it allowed consultants to email the lesson plans to members. Of course, we can still print the lesson plan and give it to members when we work with them, and I encourage that. But I do miss having the PDF version. So, if you are wishing you could get those lesson plans as PDFs again and are not a tech guru, here is a work-around.

This post shows how things look using Mozilla Firefox on a Windows 10 computer. Some details might be a tad different on different browsers and I confess to complete ignorance as to Mac computers, but hopefully the Apple folks among us will know how to interpret the basics to fit the Mac.

Go to your Consultant Planner and click the title of a lesson plan you have already created. In the top right, click Print.

This opens your print dialog box. At the top, you will most likely see your default printer. Click the little down arrow to the right of it to see other options.

In the list, click Microsoft Print to PDF. I assume an Apple product has a similar option. Then click OK.

On the next screen, tell your computer where to save the lesson plan and give it a name. 

Choose where to save it using either the list on the left or the drop-down arrow at the top. In the File name field, give it a name that means something to you--something like Johnson Lesson 1. Click Save. And... ta da!... you now have a PDF version of your lesson plan that you can save in a folder or that you can email to the member you are working with for them to easily refer to in the future.

By the way, the next time you want to print something, your computer will probably default to the save as PDF setting on your print dialogue box, so you'll need to re-select your printer.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Using the Consultant Planner on the Android Family Tree App

A recent update to the FamilySearch Family Tree app for Android mobile devices now gives you access to the Consultant Planner.  Here's how to get to it and use it:

Open the app and sign in if prompted. In the top right corner, tap the 3 lines icon.

Tap Help, near the bottom of the list and then Consultant Planner--again near the bottom of the next list.

You might be prompted to sign in again. You need to sign in with an account that includes a Church Membership Record Number.

You see what would be the center panel of the planner if you were using a web interface.
From this portion, tap Understand Your Calling to be redirected to the page on for consultants. Tap Invite Person or Add Person to invite or add folks to your planner. The Tips link at the bottom right seems to not be working right not. 

To get to your current list of invited or added folks, tap the tiny arrow at the top left of the screen.
Just as with the web interface, tap a name on your list to open the window where you can preview the tree and make your lesson plans for the member as well as keep notes about your visits. 
While the smaller screen might not be the most convenient, it is nice to have options and taking a mobile device with you when you meet with a member might be more convenient. You'd still have access to your lesson plans and all the resources of the planner. 


Monday, September 4, 2017

What if someone asks me for help researching in a country I know nothing about?

Temple and family history consultants are encouraged to change their focus from a pre-set set of lessons to asking members what they want to do and helping them meet those goals one-on-one. This can be a rather scary thing to do. You never know what those goals will be or what the member wants you to help with.

My goal with this post is to try to take some of the fear away by showing you that you have resources. You don't need to know all there is to know about every aspect of temple and family history work. After all, I suspect that even the most experienced researcher or helper has many areas where he or she lacks knowledge and experience. All you really need to know is where to turn for help when you need it.

Let's take an example. Suppose I contact a member and ask what she would like to do when we get together. And suppose she says she'd really like help to track down her Ukrainian ancestors. And let's suppose I have absolutely no idea even where to find Ukraine on a map, let alone how to go about finding family history records for the country. Do I throw up my hands and ask to be released? Do I say, "Yes, well, that's an interesting goal. Want to pick one we can actually do?" Or, do I say, "That will be an interesting challenge. Let's set a date to get together and I'll do some research to see what I can learn." (In case you didn't guess, the 3rd answer is the right one).

Now you've accepted the challenge. Where do you go from here?

First, of course, you add her to your consultant planner. You look at her tree to see what she has on her Ukrainian ancestors so far and what sources she has attached. You hope and pray that you can do some searching right there in FamilySearch records and find some more stuff that you can show her how to find so she can move forward. You get a feel for how experienced she is based on whether she is the person who added records to Family Tree and what you see about her activity level on the consultant planner. (Check out my table of contents for other posts about using the consultant planner if all this is Greek to you.)

What if you need to dive deeper? Here are some places to go for help.

  1. The FamilySearch wiki. Go to In the search box near the top of the screen, enter Ukraine. The page for this particular country is FANTASTIC. It has links for getting started; links for research tools; maps; countries that border present-day Ukraine (VERY important for these Eastern European countries whose borders and names have changed so much over the years). Every country page in the wiki has 2 valuable buttons:

The Online Records one takes you to a page full of links to online records. Ask the Community takes you to the wiki page about Facebook research groups where you can find the link for the country you need help with. Experienced researchers will help you move forward with your research.
You'll find maps and information about jurisdictions in the country as well as other FamilySearch resources. Don't overlook the value of the FamilySearch wiki.
2. The Family History Guide Countries/Ethnic projects. You won't find every country or ethnic group here, but you'll find a lot. Access it at Scroll down to find the countries and ethnic group of interest and click. I went to Eastern Europe and was happy to see they have one on Ukraine. Click the country. As with all the projects on the Family History Guide, they break it down into goals and each goal into smaller sub-goals. This is a nice way to learn in small bites. Each sub-goal gives you information and links to places to learn as well as tasks to complete as you apply what you learn. 
These are my favorite 2 places to go when I need to learn how to help someone. You can also do google searches and I've done that sometimes with good results too. And there are undoubtedly other valuable resources out there I have not used, such as other family history sites that have research helps. As you learn, you can help the other person learn too. Remember to take things one step at a time. Don't dump all you learned on your poor unsuspecting student in your first meeting. Helping them explore these resources is a good option. Looking at resources together; learning together; praying about next steps together; deciding what to try next together--these are ways to help and empower the member.

So, don't let a lack of current knowledge stop you. Have an inquiring mind and go looking for answers. And, have fun!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

View My Relationship on the Mobile Apps

I much prefer the View My Relationship option on the Android and iOS FamilySearch Family Tree apps to what I see on the web interface of FamilySearch Family Tree. On the web, I see a diagram tracing back to a common ancestor. But on the apps, it tells me in words how closely we are related. I especially like to use this when working on the Ancestors with Tasks or Descendants with tasks lists.

NOTE: The screenshots below are from an iOS device. But the feature is very similar on Android devices.

For example, here is part of my Ancestors with Tasks list (gotten to by tapping Tasks at the bottom of the screen on iOS and by tapping the 3 lines in the top left and then Ancestors with Tasks on Android.) I have no idea who Jefferson Franklin Echerd is or how I might be related. So I tap his name on the list, which takes me to his details page.

From his details page, I tap the 3 dots in the top right, whether on Android or iOS. The only differences in Android from the screen shot below is that the dots are a vertical stack and in a green bar rather than white.

I click View My Relationship in the list. 

And I see both the handy-dandy diagram AND words telling me what the relationship is so I can better decide whether I feel this person is closely enough related to me that I want to work on his record.

I imagine they'll get to this on the web interface one of these days, but for now the mobile apps are the place to see it. Often, when I am working on the web interface on a more distantly-related family, I have the mobile tree open too in case I want to check a relationship.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Pondering Our Teaching Methods

I was looking at some materials for temple and family history consultants recently and the point was being made that people start on the sidelines and our task is to help them into the game until they are self-sufficient and become actively involved in the work.

As I was pondering that, I couldn't help but wonder how often our well-intentioned teaching techniques could be a reason a person gives up in frustration or lack of interest.

My mind went back to the very first genealogy class I attended (which is what we called it back in those unenlightened days). I was a 21-year-old university student. I was relatively recently baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and full of new convert enthusiasm. I had a genuine interest in learning more about my ancestors and excited to be invited to attend the class. But my enthusiasm soon left. We had a very knowledgeable instructor--BUT.... He talked to us a lot. He told us all about court houses and state archives and writing letters and traveling overseas to track down elusive records and genealogical proof standards. He told us long stories about multi-year quests to find a record to confirm something on his own tree. I sunk in the firehose of information he shot at us and was frankly bored with his interminable stories. Nothing was hands-on. We were just supposed to absorb all his knowledge and then go do the same stuff he had done. The only useful thing he said was in the very first lesson where he told us to talk to our oldest living relatives to find out what they knew and get that recorded. So, I wrote a few letters to grandparents and aunts and uncles and got some stuff from them--and that was the end of that.

I also recalled a story a fellow consultant shared with me. She was totally committed to the new one-on-one approach to helping people and especially to determining what the helpee wanted to accomplish rather than just going in with a plan of what the consultant thinks the person SHOULD want to accomplish. She had been assigned by her high priests group leader to work with a sister in the ward. So, she made contact to set up an appointment and learn how she could be helpful. The sister told her that, really, she just wanted to understand the FamilySearch website--how to navigate it and do basic things. So that's what they did--on more than one visit by the consultant. The consultant sat by her side and suggested places to click to discover what happened and to answer questions. She basically had the sister explore the website with the safe feeling of having someone by her side in case she messed somethings up. It was a good experience in every way and the sister grew in enthusiasm and confidence.

You get the idea. As consultants, we need to be careful and thoughtful and learn to be good teachers. We need to move away from the Step 1, Step 2, Step 3 approach to temple and family history work and towards a "what desirest thou?" approach.

It's not enough to have a lot of experience or a strong opinion about the "right" way to do temple and family history work. What is enough?

It is enough to have a sincere desire to help. It is enough to be a person who listens and communicates clearly. It is enough to have the dedication to your calling to continuously study and learn. It is enough to follow the direction of our leaders and use the resources and instructions they have provided us. It is enough to pray--a lot. Pray before making contact. Pray while looking at the person's tree to find ways to help. Pray before preparing your lesson plan. Pray before you leave for the visit. Pray with the person before you begin. It is enough to use the Principles for Helping Others. It is enough to be more concerned about helping the member meet his or her temple and family history goals and to feel the Spirit in the process than about your own personal agenda. It is enough to be flexible and explore the aspects of the work that are of initial interest to the member and then, when they are ready, moving on to other aspects of it that you might have thought should have been the starting place. It is enough to remember that becoming converted to temple and family history work is like being converted to any principle of the gospel. It takes time and more than one meeting to move most people from little or no involvement to full conversion and a love of the work.

We can do it. We just need to rely more on the Lord and the whisperings of the Spirit and on our knowledge and skill. And we can help others to come to love the work and experience the joy of the work of being gathers in the kingdom.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Show Me How--New Learning Option on is quietly introducing a new way to learn how to use various aspects of the website. Right now, it's only on the Wiki page, but I understand that they are hoping to add it other places in the future.

When you go to, notice on the right border the words "Show Me How".

When you click it, a box flies out where you can click one of the choices to indicate what you want to learn about. Or you can enter a question in the search box. Let's try the Country Page Overview to see how it works.

It jumps to Sweden Genealogy and we click Next to begin the tour.

The tour takes you to various parts of the page and provides an explanation. To progress through the tour, you just click Next on each explanatory box. You can also click Back if you want to return to an earlier box. Or click the small x in the top right to leave the tour.

It's a nice way to get a feel for various aspects of the wiki that you might not have stumbled on on your own. When you finish a tour, a box pops up with possible  next steps. 

It's nice to see more tools to help us understand how to get the most from The folks there are trying to make it as easy for us as possible. 

And, as long as I'm writing about ways to learn to use the website, you might also notice the lightbulb icons in the lower right corner of Family Tree pages, Record Search, the Memories Gallery, and (for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) your Temple reservation page. Click the icons to learn how to use the page you are on.

You no longer need to wonder how to do the basic FamilySearch tasks. Help is at your fingertips.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Relatives Around Me--Fun Feature of the Family Tree Apps

FamilySearch has recently added a Relatives Around Me feature to the Family Tree apps -- both iOS and Android. This can be fun to use at youth activities, family reunions, a Family Discovery Day, or any gathering of folks who happen to have the app. Here's how to use it:

  1. Everybody who is participating needs to open the Family Tree app on an Android or iOS device and sign in if prompted.
  2. People need to be within about 100 feet of one another -- or you can move around in a bigger crowd and scan again.
  3. On an iOS device, tap More at the bottom of the screen. On an Android device, tap the 3 lines in the top left. 
  4. Tap Relatives Around Me.   
  5. Tap Scan for Friends
  6. A message pops up asking if Family Tree can access your location--you need to allow it or it can't do the scan. 
  7. The scan starts and shows names and relationships of the people it finds.
Note: Don't take what the scan tells you as absolute truth. Especially for relationships like 17th cousin or something sorta remote like that. The results are only as reliable as the data in FamilySearch Family Tree and we all know that this data can be dubious--especially as you move back before about 1800. 

Have fun!