Her Tip of the Iceberg
March 1999

“Her Tip of the Iceberg,” Ensign, Mar. 1999, 69

Her Tip of the Iceberg

Next time you push a computer button at a family history library and see a name appear, remember that what you’re seeing is merely the tip of the iceberg, and remember people like Bliss Anderson.

A member of the Spanish Fork Fourth Ward, Spanish Fork Utah Palmyra Stake, Bliss extracts names for the Icelandic department of the Church’s family history program. She was one of the first to set up a microfilm reader in her home to extract names and has become an expert on ancestral research.

Years of work by devoted people like Bliss now make it possible for us to have access to literally millions of names through the Family History Library’s Ancestral File™. Sister Anderson has been eager to work on Icelandic names because she is part Icelandic herself.

Her grandparents joined the Church in Arness County, Iceland, and immigrated to Spanish Fork, Utah, with their family. So Bliss has set a lofty goal for herself: she intends to submit for temple work the names of everyone who has ever lived in Arness County, Iceland. “I figure that when I get through, I will have done the work for all of my ancestors,” she says with the same enthusiasm that keeps her working.

Before Bliss began working with the computer, she arranged the names of all heads of households listed in the 1801 census of Iceland into one big alphabetical list. She wrote every name on a three-by-five-inch card, then worked with her sister to arrange all the cards in alphabetical order and type the names on 400 sheets of paper.

The enormity of her Icelandic iceberg has not slowed Bliss down at all. In fact, now that she uses a computer, entry processes and research work that formerly took hours and days now take only minutes. For example, she has alphabetized the names listed in Iceland’s 1816 census, with the help of other family members, providing a database of 41,832 names. One week she turned in 125 family group sheets for temple work. And along with four others, she entered some 35,000 Icelandic family group sheets with over 148,000 names into the Ancestral File.

“My husband, Keith, has been such a patient and loving support in this work I’ve taken on,” says Bliss. As to the tip of Bliss’s iceberg? Well, she has completed family group sheets for 1,500 Icelandic families—one-tenth of the 16,000 families she hopes to list eventually. That puts her well below the iceberg’s visible tip, and she’s just warming up.—Susan Koyle, Rancho Cucamonga, California