Sunday, November 27, 2011

I was Saved from a Fire

"As you participate in and love this holy work, you will be safeguarded in your youth and throughout your lives." - Elder Bednar, "The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn," October 2011. 

Note: The student in this story was at home for her "off track" in Fall 2010. While at home, she interviewed family members and took distinctive notes on family stories. On the way back to BYU-Idaho, her friend's car burst into flames.

We were carpooling from North Carolina to Idaho in my friend's jeep, a completely normal thing to do. What happened next was totally unexpected.  

We were on our way to pick up another girl to join the carpool. My friend had a metal luggage rack attached to his jeep's hitch. On the rack were boxes, bags, and containers with mostly his belongings and some of mine. One of my things was a bag with pedigree charts that I had been working on for about four months. The stories I had been told by my great aunt were with those charts. She had told me stories about everyone she remembered from her family, most of which I hadn't entered into new FamilySearch. This information existed only on  these paper documents. Also in this bag were my scriptures and two Preach My Gospel manuals. 

We were traveling on the interstate in West Virginia when heat from the jeep's tailpipe caught the cardboard boxes on fire. The back right side of the jeep and my friend's stuff on the rack were in flames by the time someone flagged us down and he got pulled over. He jumped out and threw all  the stuff off the rack onto the ground (which was easy since the ropes had all melted). His jeep was still ablaze and we couldn't do anything but watch it burn. Suddenly a man miraculously showed up--it seemed like out of nowhere--with a fire extinguisher and put the jeep's fire out. About 10 minutes later the cops and firemen showed up, saturating all the smoking hot stuff with a liquid.

Results: There was serious cosmetic damage to his jeep; lots of his stuff burned that was on the rack; my scripture case burned, but the scriptures themselves were not touched; the borders of my Preach My Gospels manauls were burned, but all the letters still readable; and my family history pedigree charts were burned on the edges without destroying any of the actual data. It was a miracle! I believe my family on the other side of the veil was watching over me and helping me to complete their family history work. 

Submitted by a current BYU-Idaho student
Edited by Michael W. McCormick, Web Presence Specialist

Friday, November 18, 2011

Ancestors are Real People

Each day, students have experiences at the Family History Center that testify of the guidance given to those who diligently seek their ancestors.

A volunteer couple, Brother and Sister Stowell, were scheduled to attend a training session.  As they were preparing to go to the training, they felt inspired to stay at the center instead, and attend the next session of the training two days later. This is their story: Note: Professor Harrell gives his students an assignment to write a paper about an event in history that involved one of their ancestors.

As told by Sister Stowell:

St. George Temple
Leaving us in the FHC yesterday was a great move!  A young man from Professor Harrell's English class had just come in and Sister Harrell, Professor Harrells's wife, one of our missionaries, wanted us to give him some help.  While I worked with him, Brother Stowell, helped another young woman with her class project.  But here's the fun part. The young man I was helping was looking for some information on a man whom he thought was a great grandfather (turned out to be a third great granduncle). The last name was McAllister. As we did a Google search, and researched in and the Harold B. Lee Library online at BYU, we found it was John McAllister, who was the first counselor to President Wilford Woodruff in the St. George Temple, and it was he who baptized President Woodruff for the signers of the U.S. Constitution. John was later called as the 2nd president of the St. George Temple. The story had been passed down in the family, but some of the details had been lost.  We also found that our Brother McAllister was the author who wrote the original text and music for the primary song "The Handcart Song." The young man was very excited about finding all this information, is now researching the background of baptisms for the dead in our dispensation, and had several references to cite before he left at 3:30 p.m. His ancestors are no longer just names on a pedigree chart but real living examples of those who were faithful and changed the world for the better.

Also, this young man is from Wyoming. You may remember that our son, Todd, from Cedar City, had applied for a job in Cody. Matt is not from Cody but was giving me his 18 year old view on Cody when Brother Stowell received a call from Todd saying he'd been given the job in Cody! That was amazing!

So we were where we needed to be, although the training was going on downstairs!
Submitted by Sister Stowell, Family History Missionary
Edited by Douglas Poole, FHC Director

Saturday, November 12, 2011 - A fun way to search your family tree is a search engine like Google except that it specializes in genealogy searches. Google only indexes approximately 5% of the available free genealogy content on the web according to Mocavo founder Cliff Shaw.

One of the fun, time-saving features that students will appreciate is the ability to upload part of your family tree as a GEDCOM file (a file format that can be exported from databases like RootsMagic or Member Trees and shared with other programs) and then Mocavo will search the tree for you. Try it at You simply need to create a free account or click the "Connect with Facebook" button before uploading a file. If you need help with using GEDCOMs come to the Family History Center and we can show you what to do.

For an article about using Google and other search engines to find genealogical data click here.

Remember that these searches only include a small fraction of the genealogy data available online and a much smaller fraction of the data you may find offline. Still, it is a good place to start for a free, simple search.

© Michael W. McCormick, Family History Center Volunteer and Web Presence Specialist

Conducting Internet Searches for Family History

Ever wonder how others can find information doing a web search but you cannot?   
This FamilySearch handout will turn you into a web search guru.
Mastering search engine techniques can improve your results in finding information about your family on the internet.

© 2011 IRI
Mastering search engine techniques can

BYU-Idaho BillionGraves Team

Billion Graves is a community of volunteers working together to make family history research more accessible to everyone. You can help by becoming a member of the BYU-Idaho BillionGraves Team.

Billion Graves is a website with a goal of posting GPS tagged photos of one billion graves that can be searched through for free. In order to make this possible, the photos and transcriptions are added by volunteers.

If you have a phone or tablet that runs on Apple (iPhone, iPad) or Android operating systems, you can help by taking photos of graves. The cemeteries in Rexburg have been photographed, but there are other cemeteries close by which still need to be done like one in Idaho Falls.

If you don't have such a device, you can help by transcribing photos that others have uploaded.

Click the following link to learn more about the BYU-I BillionGraves Team and the team competition:

© Michael W. McCormick, Family History Center Volunteer and Web Presence Specialist

Friday, November 4, 2011

Students Order Microfilm/fiche Online

Thanks to volunteer indexers and FamilySearch missionaries, many family history sources are digitally available online at Some sources are not online, but are available for order on microfilm from the Family History Library. Students are encouraged to order these records to help them find their ancestors.

Recently FamilySearch announced that all patrons will order microfilms at Family History Centers in the United States now will all receive microfilms only through this online system. The former method required family history consultants or directors to order for you. It was less automated, requiring patrons to fill out a form and necessitating the family history consultants or directors to enter data about each film ordered.

This new system maintains a list of the films being held at your local center using the Family History Library Catalog data. Anyone who tries ordering a film that is already in stock at their center will be warned by the online system.

Features that are being planned for the online system include:
  • Links in the catalog that allow you to click "order" instead of having to always type the film number on the order form
  • A feature that allows you to see a list of close-by Family History Centers that have the film you want to order--instead of checking for the film only at your local center.
Instructions on using Online Microfilm Ordering



After you sign in click "Ordering Help" towards the top center of the window
Help includes:
User's Guide, Sign In handout, Place an Order demo (recommended), and Cancel an Order Demo

Ordering a Film Online for the First Time
  1. Go to
  2. Sign in using your LDS Account (at top right of window) Note: The public uses their FamilySearch account to sign in
  3. The first time you sign in a box appears asking you to select a family history center | click the link, in the box, "select the family history center," select Country: United States | State: Idaho | click Search, Scroll down and select Brigham Young University-Idaho Family History Center - Public Library | scroll on down to the bottom and click Save
  4. To change the default Family History Center | click the word change next to the house icon below the top right of the window | then go through the above procedure again
  5. Place an order: (Missionaries are not allowed to set by the patron when they order.) Students may order from home or from any computer with an Internet connection. 
What You Need to Know

Loan Types:
  • Extended Microfiche Loan: $4.75 per microfiche set, any number of fiche - Stays in the Family History Center
  • Short-term Microfilm: $5.50 - Must be returned within 90 days of shipping date
  • Extended Microfilm: $13.75 - Stays in the Family History Center
  • Short-term Microfilm Loan Renewal: $5.50 - Renews the loan for an additional 60 days
  • Extended Microfilm Loan Renewal: $13.75 - To convert a short-term loan to an extended loan
Continue the Ordering Process
  1. Enter film #: | Enter the film number | click Search Note: If the film is in the Family History Center the patron will get a message, like: “The film you requested is already at your selected Family History Center. Please contact your Family History Center for viewing.” Anyone can use the film, without cost, but the one ordering the film has first priority.
  2. If the film is not in the center click Add to Cart
  3. Click Proceed to Checkout or click Continue Shopping
  4. If checking out: Enter the Billing Information | Continue
  5. Enter the Payment Information Note: You may pay using any MasterCard or Visa: credit card, debit card, or prepaid card or you may use PayPal. 
  6. Click Continue | Review the Order and read the Microfilm Use Agreement | Accept
  7. Click Place Order | check the Payment Information | click Place Order | print a copy of your order
  8. You will receive emails when the film is ordered, shipped or backordered and when it is checked in at the Family History Center
  • The Family History Center will receive emails telling them that a film has been ordered and one telling them it has been shipped or back-ordered.
  • When the film arrives, the Family History Center will check it in and the patron/student will automatically be sent an email.
  • The patron/student has 24 hours after they place the order to cancel it. After that no money will be returned.
  • Short-term Microfilm Loans must be returned within 90 days after it is shipped unless it is renewed. Short-term renewals are for 60 days. The Family History Center staff will return the film when it is due.
  • It is not legal to make digital copies of some of the films. Read on the box for the restrictions and follow them. For example, copying for the purpose of publication and profit is inappropriate.
Microfilm Use Agreement - Summary
...You agree that you will not remove microfilms from the FHC to which they are shipped. You agree that you will not make any unauthorized copies of the images on a microfilm in any format (photocopy, digital or analogue photos, video, etc.). [Personal copies for research are encouraged.] You agree to handle all microfilm with care and as instructed by FHC staff members...

How to material © Douglas and Aldene Poole, Family History Center Directors and Missionaries 
Introduction and editing © Michael W. McCormick, Family History Center Volunteer and Web Presence Specialist