BYU Record Linking Lab ties families together worldwide

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Director of the BYU Record Linking Lab, Joseph P. Price IV, taught Education Week participants about the many tools at their disposal through Family Search. Price and his colleagues and family have already added millions of families and names to the broader Family Tree on Family Search. (Joshua Rust)

The BYU Record Linking Lab has connected millions of people to relatives through Family Search tools.

Lab director Joseph P. Price IV said his colleagues and family began utilizing the “Add Family” tool on the Family Search website to add millions of names to the genealogical database. Through this tool, he said, people can add entire families and their accompanying names to Family Tree. Afterward, newcomers to Family Search can instantly connect themselves to the Family Tree.

Price said he spoke to a missionary who had served in Puerto Rico and helped a local resident join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The day the resident logged into Family Search, hundreds of names were instantly connected to his personal tree because of the efforts of researchers like Price.

“There’s just something about service that feels more real,” Price said.

Through computer automation, Price and his family worked to add people and families to Family Tree throughout the pandemic. Interest in the technique spread to smaller communities in the form of ward activities and “discovery days.” He compared the effort and the effects it would have on worldwide connection to the Human Genome Project.

Price challenged class participants to follow in the footsteps of communities that held events centered on bringing the historical inhabitants of their respective communities into the Family Tree on Family Search.

He cited Elder Gong who, in an April 2022 Conference Talk, noted in a footnote, “I express appreciation to those who are piloting ways to organize large numbers of family names into family trees. In 2021, some 99 million names were added to public family trees.”

Some members of the Church may be wary of genealogical efforts towards family trees that are not their own. Price addressed these fears with some “guiding principles” of genealogy work.

“The family tree is God’s tree, and anyone can help anywhere on that tree,” Price said, placing special emphasis on this principle in relation to adding non family members to Family Tree.

Annie Watson, a BYU English major, stated she was impressed with the work done so far and acknowledged its importance in the world’s genealogical work.

“Instead of just doing my own extended cousins or a bunch of people in Utah who already have a lot here, it’s fun to think about broadening it (the Family Tree) in places where there’s like a lot of new members coming in,” Watson said.

Those interested in volunteer work or tutorials on the “Add Family” tool can contact the BYU Record Linking Lab at , or visit campus at 1131 WVB Provo, UT 84604.

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