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Friday, Nov. 21, 2014

Researching Family History: It's a day of a flood of family history records, documents

By Russell Bangerter, For the Deseret News

Published: Tue, July 22 10:17 p.m. MDT

 President Henry B. Eyring, first Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, stands outside the Salt Lake Temple.

President Henry B. Eyring, first Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, stands outside the Salt Lake Temple.

(lds.org)

Since I was small and young, my family has been heavily involved in genealogy. My father used to take me and some of my sisters and brothers to family meetings held in the extended Bangerter family once a month.

I also remember times going with him to visit my Grand-Aunt Anna, who received our ancestral and other relatives' names researched by professionals in Switzerland. The researchers would send to her the names and data they found on our relatives. She in turn, turned them over to Dad. He would take them home, type up the names and dates on the huge family group sheets and pedigrees.

During most nights, Dad would type out the names and data of our ancestors on the old Olympic typewriter with the long roller carriage. I can still see him sitting at it typing away at family group sheets way into the night. Many nights we helped him proofread all the names and data. Identified on these sheets were the sources where the records came from and the relationship each person was to the direct line of the family.

Most Saturdays, Dad and I went into the former Montgomery Ward Building, which had been changed into the Family History Library, in Salt Lake City years ago. We went in seeking out ancestors of ours in some of the records on microfilm and books on some of our English ancestors. This took hours and days to do. Not always were the records we needed available.

Reeling forward to today, things have changed through the years as technology has increased. Those nights on the typewriter are now replaced by minutes on keyboarding. Proofreading against the records still takes place for accuracy. Now printouts of pedigree charts and family group sheets on 8.5-by-11-inch papers have replaced the huge sheets in the large rectangular Books of Remembrance for inserting and compiling. Submission of relative and ancestral names no longer requires a form destined for a committee to approve for temple ordinance work, but replaced with the program known as Family Tree to print out Family Ordinance Requests for printed cards at the temple.

Digitization of genealogical records and being made available on the Internet has made the research easier and faster, and in fine, more efficient to store the data and names and to process them for temple ordinance work on ancestors.

Just recently, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints may get free of charge access to all the digitized records from Ancestry.com, MyHeritage.com and FindMyPast.com. These three websites are prolific with helping the searcher or researcher find information and histories about ancestors and other relatives.

It seems as though at the press of a button almost, I gain access to many digitized records and photos in less than a second in some cases, which used to take months if not years to find.

LDS President Thomas S. Monson shared with us the First Presidency message for June titled "Hastening of the Work" where he declares that missionary, genealogy and temple work has hastened and is fulfilling prophecy.

In the July First Presidency message titled "The Promise of Hearts Turning" by President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, was the following statement: "The Lord has provided ways for us to feel love in families that can continue forever. Young people in the church today are feeling their hearts turn to their families. They are searching for names of family members who did not have the opportunity to receive the ordinances of salvation in this life. They take those names to the temple. When they enter the waters of baptism, they have the opportunity to feel the love of the Lord and of the family members for whom they are performing proxy ordinances."

This is not all, but at the RootsTech Conference in February, Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve taught youths how they could find their cousins and gave them the challenge to do so, and that they process and preserve all the names they find of their deceased cousins. (See "Find Our Cousins" remarks by Elder Andersen at RootsTech.)

Right now, we are experiencing the work of rescuing our dead and its importance through saving ordinances and keeping our families forever families.

The Lord is giving to us, through living prophets, everything we need to seek out our kindred dead by hastening the work, FamilyTree, digitized records accessibility and most importantly the hearts being turned to the fathers and the children.

Speaking of the dead as well as the effect on living relatives, the Prophet Joseph Smith wrote in Doctrine and Covenants 128:18 "For we without them cannot be made perfect; neither can they without us be made perfect."

Is it possible we are without excuse from doing this work because of the flood and surfacing of records? If we wish to seek out our ancestors, there is nothing greater we can do for them or our own extended family than to seek them out of the records, or have them sought out, if we cannot. The work has hastened and my family and I do not want ourselves left without our ancestors.

Genealogy graduate Russell Bangerter is president of Ancestral Connections Inc. at ancestralconnect.com. He is a professional genealogist, author and speaker and adviser to Treasured Souls to Keep, at treasuredsoulstokeep.com.

Recommended
1. Mona
Beaverton, OR,
July 22, 2014

I remember writing letters to record repositories in various states and countries, including in them my dollar or two for copies of the record, then waiting weeks for a reply. Trips to the mailbox were full of excitement and anticipation. Now I experience those emotions almost daily sitting at my computer, and for free!

2. Johnny Triumph
American Fork, UT,
July 22, 2014

It's time to ramp up what we're doing and to get our kids involved as well!

3. bellsandbells
Columbia, MO,
July 23, 2014

Ha...do I have memories. My mother was a convert but her childhood was filled with a desire to know her family history. So, when she joined the church, she already had more information than most people beginning their research. I remember going to the tops of the West Virginia mountains searching for long lost head stones. For some reason, our ancestors were always buried on top of the mountain and they were full of blackberry bushes. I was a little girl and picked and ate blackberries while the adults hunted for head stones. I remember my mom copying books by hand because they did not have access to ways of printing without great expense and then it was poor quality reproductions. There is no excuse today! The hard work has been done for us. All we have to do is harvest the names and verify and write their stories. Make your family tree alive with stories and pictures.

4. Anchovey
Provo, UT,
Aug. 3, 2014

I'm trying to wrap my head around all of the technology available for doing family history research. Yes, the Lord is truly hastening His work! Exciting times!