LDS Church To Host Family Discovery Day For Greater Chattanooga Area

Saturday, February 10, 2018 - by Phil Smartt
<>The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) invites everyone in the greater Chattanooga area to attend a Family Discovery Day – an event featuring renowned genealogist Jim Ison – and workshops to help anyone and everyone find their ancestors.  This free event will take place on Saturday February 24, 2018 from 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at the LDS Stake Center located at 3067 Ooltewah Ringgold Road, Ooltewah, Tennessee


For 12 years prior to his retirement, Jim Ison worked as a manager at FamilySearch – the largest genealogy organization in the world, and a nonprofit organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Mr. Ison is an Accredited Genealogist.  He is a past board member of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) and past Trustee of the John Parker Historical Society.  He has presented at the National Genealogical Society (NGS) and Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) conferences, Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society (AAHGS) annual conferences, International Black History Summits (IBHS), National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Region IV annual Black History conferences, and other prominent genealogy conferences.  His articles have appeared in the NGS Magazine and in Crossroads.  He is a graduate of the University of South Carolina, and George Washington University.  He lives in Westerville, Ohio.


In honor of Black History Month, Family Discovery Day will also include workshops on Four Key Resources for African-American Research, and The Freedmen’s Bureau Records Project.  The Freedmen’s Bureau was organized by Congressional order in 1865 at the end of the Civil War for purposes of assisting freed slaves.  Freedmen’s Bureau records include marriage registers, census lists, labor contracts, hospital registers, some birth, death and burial records, educational, and other information.  According to the NARA, these records contain “some of the most valuable records of the black experience in the second half of the 1800s” (


The original documents – nearly a century and a half old – are preserved in the National Archives Building in Washington, DC – torn, crumbling, and some in good shape (  In 2015, about 19,000 volunteers from the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society’s nationwide chapters, the Smithsonian, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints partnered with the NARA to digitally index the records.  The indexing effort was unprecedented.  In over 100 indexing events and by 2016, nearly 1.8 million records relating to African Americans directly following emancipation have been digitally indexed.  The LDS Church presented the historic Freedmen’s Bureau Database to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in December 2016.  The records are also available on

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