I recently had the occasion to look at a particular family
in the Ancestral File and my eye was drawn to their second
child. The Ancestral file representation of this family is
obviously the result of merging the contributions of several
people. The first child appeared to be born 11 years before
the marriage of the parents; three of the children had the
same name and about the same birth date but there were
enough differences that the computer created three different
people out of the one child. But the second child was the
strange one. The sex of this child is U meaning the sex is
unknown; the given name of the child is: See Text.
Father: William Shattuck b. 1621
Mother: Susanna Hayden b. 1621
marriage date: 1643
1. (F) Susanna, b. 1634
2. (U) See Text, b. About 1645
10.(M) Benjamin b. 1659, Watertown, Middlesex, MA
11.(M) Benjamin b. Abut 1660, Watertown, Middx, MA
12.(M) Benjamin, b 1660, Watertown, Middlesex, MA
It seems obvious to me that child number 2 is not a child at all, but a place-holder to give the PAF user a place to put some notes, perhaps about a missing child or children, perhaps as a device to remind him or her of some research that they wanted to do in the future. But the contribution was made to the Ancestral File, and this fake person wound up as child number two when the records were merged.
Now comes the problem. Some people, however well meaning, are misguided in generating names for the temple. Since they CAN download information from the Ancestral File and with a few simple steps they CAN run that same information directly into TempleReady without any research, and even without looking at the data, they think that they SHOULD.
In looking at the ORDINANCE INDEX, I find that "See Text Shattuck" has been baptized 10 different times (once in London, once in Mexico, once in Salt Lake, twice in Logan, once in Washington, and four times in Jordan River)! In eight of those instances, the other ordinances of endowment and sealing to parents have also been completed for this fictitious person.
What a waste! A waste of the Saints' time who go to do temple ordinances; a waste of the temple workers' time who are assisting the saints who come to do temple ordinances; and a waste of our temples and the church assets which support the temple work. Remember, the devil cannot stop the temples from operating, but if he can lead us into doing repetitive and worthless things like that listed above, then he is accomplishing his purposes.
I plead with those of you who assist others in family history, whether in a Sunday School Class, or in their home, or in a family history center or just in giving informal advice. My plea is this: Use the Ancestral file for what it was intended a way of getting a "jump start" on your research and also as a way of finding other people who are researching the same family lines. Do not use it as a source of names to submit directly to TempleReady without research. Then do enough research to determine that the person actually existed. If you find families for whom the temple ordinances have not been complete, write to the contributor of that information and determine if they are members and if so, ask them if they already submitted the names to a temple.
I repeat: JUST BECAUSE YOU CAN, DOES NOT MEAN YOU SHOULD!
Return to Selected Articles
Return to UVTAGG Home Page