News Story

Generations Connect Through Personal Histories and Life Stories

“In all of us,” wrote Alex Haley, author of the popular novel Roots (based on his own family history), “there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage — to know who we are and where we have come from.”

That “hunger” is growing throughout the world. People are discovering that to understand better who they are, they must know the stories of family members who went before them. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are among those who have a desire to connect in a personal way across generations by researching their family history, gathering written personal histories, preserving oral histories and recording interviews of the life experiences of elderly family members for the benefit of posterity.

Mormons believe the family is ordained of God. They also believe the family is the fundamental unit of society and central to God’s eternal plan for His children. This belief impels older members of the Church to share the important, life-changing moments of their lives with children and grandchildren who, upon hearing and preserving these experiences, develop a stronger sense of family and belonging. With the knowledge of their forbearers’ accounts of strength over adversity, children and grandchildren become better equipped to overcome difficult challenges in their own lives.

“As we contemplate what those before us have gone through that we might be here, as we sense their faith and courage and feel their love for us and our love for them, we realize what is really important,” said former Church leader Elder John H. Groberg to a worldwide conference of Latter-day Saints in 1980. “We realize that so-called problems are only what we see when we take our eye off our eternal goal.”

Latter-day Saints focus on their family history for another reason — their belief that families can be together after this life. They research names and other information so sacred ceremonies and rites can be performed in behalf of their ancestors in Latter-day Saint temples, thereby exercising faith that they will be linked to loved ones as an eternal family.

Mormon youth worldwide are becoming more involved in seeking out personal histories and stories of their family members.

“It is no coincidence that FamilySearch and other tools have come forth at a time when young people are so familiar with a wide range of information and communication technologies,” said Elder David A. Bednar, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, one of the senior governing bodies of the Church.

Examples of such tools are the Family Tree and Memories features recently launched by FamilySearch. The new Memories feature allows users to easily upload and manage family photos online and to tell their favorite ancestor stories. With photos, faces can be identified and linked to the respective ancestors’ profiles in a user’s family tree, ensuring they will be accessible for future generations. Photos and stories can also be seamlessly shared via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and email.

Huge increase in attendance at the Dublin Family History Centre following Genealogy Exhibition

“Back to Our Past” is an annual Irish heritage event which focuses primarily on genealogy and family history. This year’s show (the fourth since the event was established in 2010) ran from Friday 18th to Sunday 20th October 2013 in the RDS, Angelsea Road, Dublin. The show attracted over 20,000 visitors with presentations covering a variety of historical and genealogical topics of interest to the amateur and the professional genealogist. FamilySearch secured a stand at the exhibition which was staffed by 21 members along with full-time missionaries and youth from the Dublin Ireland Stake.

Missionaries excited by positive comments

Many visitors to the stand identified us as the “Mormons” but what was most exciting was that they also had very positive comments about what the church was doing to help people with their family history. The missionaries working on the stand were overwhelmed by the positive feelings people had for the church when it came to Family history. The Dublin Ireland Stake is now organising Family history workshops in each of the wards as a service to the community to which the missionaries can invite people they contact.

Big boost to the Dublin Family History Centre

Each visitor to the stand was given a “FamilySearch pass along card” or a “How Do I Start My Family History? Flyer”. Many of those who visited the stand were already aware of the website but were not aware that there was a Family History Centre in Dublin which was staffed by volunteer consultants who could help them in their search for their ancestors. Almost 1000 FamilySearch pass along cards were handed out, each with the address and opening times of the Dublin Family History centre. Staff at the Family History Centre reported a large increase in the number of patrons attending in the weeks following the event.

Many visitors expressed an interest in indexing

For some visitors, the exhibition was their first opportunity to learn about and the great resources available to help them find their ancestors. For those who had used the site before their gratitude was evident. Many asked if there was something they could do to help contribute to this great work. It was the perfect opportunity to introduce them to the indexing program and they left excited at the prospect that they could get involved and give a little something back to

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