Family history data can now be submitted on computer diskette

Home computer owners can hasten the work of redeeming the dead with recent refinements in the "Personal Ancestral File," a Church-originated software program.

Named "Release 2.1" to distinguish it from earlier versions of the Personal Ancestral File, Releases 1.0 and 2.0, which are no longer available, the new version has all the features of the previous versions. In addition, it enables users to do the following:* Submit information on diskette for inclusion into the Family History Department's Ancestral File. The Ancestral File is an automated data base that eventually will be available to all those interested in genealogical research. It consists of the four-generation genealogy that Church members and others have been submitting for the past eight years. When it is finally developed, it will allow researchers to discover common links in their ancestral lines and facilitate their working together on family history.

  • Submit information on diskette to be processed for temple ordinances.

Like its predecessor, Release 2.0, (see Church News, Feb. 2, 1986), Release 2.1 has a variety of programs. One of them is the Family Records Program that allows a user to assemble a pedigree and compile a wealth of genealogical information about each ancestor.

Another program in Release 2.1 is the Research Data Filer that helps the user manage large volumes of original research data and search it, sort it or print it out by place, date, event, name of person, or relationship to others.

And Release 2.1 includes the Genealogical Information Exchange (formerly called GEDCOM), which allows information to be sent to and received from another personal computer user via telephone or by exchanging diskettes. With the new release, this program was enhanced to allow submissions to be prepared on diskettes for the Ancestral File and temple ordinances.

Glen Harris, supervisor of Ancestral File Operations, said more than 9,000 copies of Release 2.1 have been sold since April 1.

John Jarman, director of the Family History Department's Names Processing Division, added that some submissions from patrons have been received by the Family History Department with errors, and patrons should be careful to follow instructions when filling in the various computer fields. "If it's a name field, they should put a name in it, and not some other code or identifier," he explained.

A total of 55,000 copies of Releases 2.0 and 2.1 have been sold. Assuming each of those users has a data base with 400 names, that would amount to more than 20 million names that could be added to the Ancestral File, Harris speculated.

Although the Family History Department does not encourage Church members to buy a computer just to use the Personal Ancestral File, the software has helped those who already own computers.

"We've received many telephone calls from people who used to have no interest at all in genealogy or family history," said Lance Jacob, team leader in the Ancestral File Operations Unit. "Then an aunt or uncle or other relative gives them a copy of the program. That sparks their interest, and they get involved. They see what they are missing, and they want to do even more."

Some users, Jacob added, have commented that the program allows them to more quickly spot ancestors who have not had temple ordinances performed in their behalf.

The program's potential for facilitating research is illustrated by the experience of Donald G. Millett, high priests group leader in the Mesa (Ariz.) 38th Ward. He encourages families in the ward to bring their genealogical information to his home, where the material is organized onto diskettes and sent to the Family History Department.

The information is then processed for temple ordinances and, on ward temple nights, ward members perform the temple ordinance work for ancestors they have researched, Millett said.

Release 2.1 is the same price as its predecessor, $35. It is available from the Church Distribution Center and can be ordered toll free by calling (800) 247-3892 outside Utah; (800) 782-8866 within Utah, and 240-2504 within the Salt Lake dialing area. Release 2.1 is available for MS-DOS computers and will soon be available for Macintosh computers.

Users of Release 2.0 can update their program so it has the same capabilities as 2.1. A limited supply of update packages will be available for $25.

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