News Release

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.

On the Isle of Man in the UK members of the Douglas congregation of the Church held a Family History Open House at their chapel which was supported by the Isle of Man Family History Society and the Manx iMuseum, both of whom helped with the displays and the resources on offer.  Additionally, the iMuseum provided a free subscription so that visitors could also make use of their online Manx Newspaper records from 1792 through to 1960, as well as other records and Parish Registers and Registered Deeds Indexes.  Along with displays set up by the Church members there were also information boards provided by the Isle of Man Family History Society detailing how their services may be accessed by those wanting to learn more about family history. As the event was held the day before Remembrance Sunday, Church members’ displays focussed more on World War One records and memorabilia as well as a display on the history of the Isle of Man Constabulary.

Another local Family History Event was held at  Linthouse Lane, Wednesfield in the West Midlands with over 200 people from the local community attending with displays and advice by The Birmingham Heraldry Society and The Guild of One Name Studies. There were volunteer specialists helping with starting family history, the use of, the chance to search parish registers and censuses, the parish chest, organising wills and completing indexing.  Event Organiser Keri Rubery said; “I am so pleased with the turn out from the local community, it is great to be able to share our resources and enable people to search and find their ancestors. I am also very grateful for the attendance of the outside agencies, it is wonderful to be able build links with other Family History organisations.” 

Such is the interest of members of the public that at the recent 50th anniversary celebrations for the Stockport chapel near Manchester the personal family history for the Mayor of Stockport, Councillor Chris Murphy, and his wife, was researched and presented to them by local bishop, Richard Shuttleworth.

See additional resource  - Connecting Generations: Tools and Resources

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