Behind the Scenes: Creation of the Book of Mormon Genealogy Chart
How We Created the Book of Mormon Genealogy Chart
If you are looking for the actual chart, please visit our Book of Mormon Genealogy Chart page.
I noticed how hard it was to keep everybody separate in my mind while reading the Book of Mormon and decided a chart would help me and others. I began slowly reading through the Book of Mormon, attempting to identify every individual mentioned by name or referred to as an individual person (like Teacum’s servant). Once I identified a person, I sketched their name onto a series of large sheets of paper by the book in which their name first appeared. At the same time, I tried to link the name to their parents and descendants. I reread the Book of Mormon and made corrections over and over again. When things began to solidify (fewer corrections per each additional reading of the Book of Mormon), I transferred my hand drawn charts to Microsoft Publisher. Then I continued to reread the Book of Mormon making corrections. As time passed, I changed computers and charting programs and continued to edit. When it started looking better, about four years after I began, I spent another year working on it about 20 minutes every morning I could. Then we really turned the heat up for several months.
I have not yet been able to find our actual start date in my notes, but I know it was way before November 2005 because we had already worked a rough draft into a large computer chart by then. My guess is that we were probably at it about 7 years off and on.
As we searched for similar efforts, we found A Dictionary of the Book of Mormon Comprising its Bibliographical, Geographical and Other Proper Names by Elder George Reynolds and James E. Talmage and began to call it the “Yellow Book”. The “Yellow Book” lists each individual by name, describes them, and often lists their parentage or ancestry. We determined genealogy (parentage and descendants) directly from the scriptures when possible. When questions arose as to a specific individual being a son or just a descendant, we used the “Yellow Book” as the final word. Dotted lines represent descendants in our Book of Mormon Genealogy Chart while solid lines represent direct parentage.
Some references use numbers to refer to individuals with the same name (Nephi 1, Nephi 2, etc.). We elected to only used numbers for the individuals most traditionally numbered (Nephi 1, Nephi 2, etc.) We generally relied upon “the younger” or “the elder” or “son of _____” to aid in distinguishing individuals with the same name. Our methods are similar to those used in the “Yellow Book.”
We also used the “Yellow Book” to decide if certain names used in the Book of Mormon actually represented a person, or if they represented a place. Those representing a place, were left off the chart, or added as notes.
As a closing step, we began at the top of our chart and for every single person we list, we identified the corresponding entry in the “Yellow Book”, put a check mark by the name on our Book of Mormon Genealogy Chart and beside their name the “Yellow Book”. We also verified the ancestry we list with that provided by the “Yellow Book”. As part of that process we found about half a dozen names were misspelled in the “Yellow Book”. They did a great job. Its hard to imagine and undertaking like that sitting at a typewriter.
Next, we went through the “Yellow Book” and made sure every single name had a check mark by it (to make sure every individual they had listed also appears on our Book of Mormon Genealogy Chart).
Then began the long process of adjusting all the name boxes to consistent sizes and positioning them within a certain distance of each other side to side, vertically, from the lines representing ancestry, and from the lines dividing the individual books in the Book of Mormon. That took a long time.
Once we finished, we rested a bit, printed off a large paper copy at the local Kinkos and started showing it to a few of our friends for their input. We also supplied a few of them with .pdf copies for feedback on how well the chart looked on smaller devices like iPads. With very positive feedback from our friends, we spent some time selecting a URL to host this and several other LDS chart projects and applied for MormonCharts.com in late July 2011. With a URL in hand, we began constructing the site in early August and were interrupted many times by our other duties for several weeks.
Then we saw a notice on LDS.org the October 2011 Ensign and Liahona were going to feature the Book of Mormon and decided it was time to bring it all together. Now five plus years since conception of the idea to create a Book of Mormon Genealogy Chart, the MormonCharts.com was launched September 23, 2011, along with the Book of Mormon Genealogy Chart.
Hi there, I’d like to feature your Book of Mormon Genealogy Chart in The Book of Mormon Forum this month…would you be willing to do an interview with me? – Jocelyn
Hi – I love the Genalogy chart. One error that I just found and you may want to correct. You have Zemnarihah listed as Chief Captain of all the Nephites. He was, actually, a leader of the Gadianton robbers.
Thanks for all your hard work!!
Thank you very much for spotting our error. I corrected it today. After this project I much better understand how errors crept into the Bible over time.
The good news is, our eagle eyed viewers like you have hopefully spotted almost of our errors by now. Prior to your report it had been almost 7 months since someone spotted one. Thanks again very much for letting us know about our mistake.