New Family History Products and Procedures
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“New Family History Products and Procedures,” Ensign, Jan. 1999, 78–79

New Family History Products and Procedures

Millions of family records dating back more than 450 years are now available in two CD-ROM packages recently released by the Church. The North American Vital Records Index and the British Isles Vital Records Index contain church, civil, and parish records from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Ireland. The Church has also released Personal Ancestral File® Companion Version 2.0, an upgraded version of the software that allows users to print charts and reports from the Church’s Personal Ancestral File® program on Windows-compatible printers.

In other family history news, the Church has implemented new procedures in temples for handling Family Files which contain names of deceased ancestors for whom individuals desire to perform ordinances vicariously.

Vital Records Indexes

The Church is currently developing products for home use that simplify genealogical research, making it faster and easier to access needed information and trace family histories. In addition to the new CD resource files described below, the Church released two CD resource files last year: the three-county 1851 British Census (item no. 50096; $5 U.S.) and the Australian Vital Records Index (item no. 50095; $20 U.S.).

The new North American Vital Records Index lists nearly five million names from sources in the United States and Canada dating from 1620 to 1903. The seven-CD set (item no. 50029; $19 U.S.) includes six discs of marriage records and one disc of births and christenings.

The new British Vital Records Index contains nearly five million names from parish registers, civil registrations, and other record collections dating from 1538 to 1888 in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. The five-CD set (item no. 50028; $15 U.S.) includes four discs of birth and christening records and one disc of marriages.

Minimum system requirements for the two new CD resource files include a Pentium processor (or equivalent); Windows 95, 98, or NT 4.0 plus; a minimum of 8 MB of RAM, with 16 MB recommended; a CD-ROM drive, with 8x recommended; an SVGA monitor with 256-color video card; and 25 MB of hard-disk space.

Each vital records index will be updated periodically as more information becomes available, with millions of new names added in each future volume. Resource files scheduled for release later in 1999 include the 1880 U.S. Census and the 1881 British Census. For more information, members living in the United States and Canada may call 1-801-240-2584 or 1-800-346-6044; members living elsewhere may contact their area information system manager.

Personal Ancestral File Companion Version 2.0

The Church has released Personal Ancestral File® Companion Version 2.0 (item no. 50041; $10 U.S.), an upgraded version of the software that allows users to print charts and reports from the Church’s Personal Ancestral File® program on Windows-compatible printers.

Features of the new software include the Outline Descendant Report, which prints descendants by generation; Kinship Report, which prints all the relatives of an individual; Ahnentafel Register Report, which prints a register report of an individual’s ancestors; Family Ordinance Summary, which summarizes ordinances performed for individuals; Pedigree Chart, which prints the family group records associated with pedigree charts; Family Group Record, which prints multiple family group records for a selected number of ancestral generations; and History List, which saves a list of the last 80 individuals viewed for each data file.

Minimum system requirements for the software are Windows 3.1 or higher (including Windows 95 or Windows NT); Personal Ancestral File® 3.0 or later; 4 MB of RAM; a VGA monitor; a CD-ROM drive or 3.5-inch, high-density floppy-disk drive; and 6 MB of available hard-disk space.

New Family File Procedures

Until recently, each temple maintained a Family File of cards bearing names of deceased ancestors for whom individuals desired to perform ordinances vicariously. However, new procedures have recently been implemented that reduce temple involvement in handling Family Files. After initial processing at a temple, Family File name cards are now turned over to the person who submitted the names rather than being kept in the temple.

This new procedure shifts responsibility for the Family File to individual members and gives them flexibility to have each ordinance performed in the temple they choose. Benefits for temples include less space occupied by cards, less time spent by workers, and fewer errors. The new procedure has already been implemented in temples in the United States, Canada, and England and will be implemented in other temples in the near future.

Although members have responsibility to keep track of name cards, safeguards are in place to protect against loss. When name cards are initially printed at a temple and whenever an ordinance is subsequently performed, the data are sent to a central file at Church headquarters. Up-to-date reprints of name cards can be arranged through a temple, but extra time is needed because the reprints come from Church headquarters. To help individuals keep track of name cards and ordinances performed, a Family Names Tracking List is provided.

The method of preparing names for temple work remains essentially unchanged. If at any point a patron is not able to arrange for others to help with performing ordinances, name cards may be submitted to a general temple file to be completed by other patrons.

New family history software includes the North American Vital Records Index, British Vital Records Index, and Personal Ancestral File® Companion Version 2.0.

The Church is developing software and CD resources to make family history work easier and faster.