Temple work and family history work go hand in hand; we can’t do one without the other. Tell me if you recognize these words- “Microfiche,” “Pedigree Charts,” “Family Group Sheets,” “Four Generations,” “Treasures of Truth.” Who remembers those? “Book of Remembrance,” “Diaries,” “Genealogy,” Some of these you might remember, some of them you may not.
What about the “Internet?”
- Internet made me think of Facebook. In some ways you could count that as a journal.
Yes, that’s great. “Internet,” “Facebook,” “Twitter,” “Wi-Fi,” “Family Search,” “Family Tree,” “Find a Grave,” “Online Search,” “Google,” “Census,” “Apps,” This might be familiar to some and maybe not so much to others.
It has come a long way. From going to the genealogy centers, looking at microfilm with your grandma, to doing it on your kitchen table. The Lord has revealed His knowledge for us, our ancestors, and our descendants, and family history leads us to the temple.
Elder Cook who spoke at a Roots Tech conference said, “Family history work, heaven blessed by technology, has dramatically increased in the past few years. We would be unwise to become complacent about this divinely appointed responsibility and expect that Aunt Jane, or some other committed relative, will take care of it. Let me share President Joseph Fielding Smith’s jarring comments: “None is exempt from this great obligation. It is required of the apostle as well as the humblest elder [or sister]. Place, or distinction, or long service in the Church … will not entitle one to disregard the salvation of one’s dead.””
That is pretty profound. I don’t have an Aunt Jane, but I have a grandmother that I worked with in genealogy and she did a lot. But, it is our responsibility.
What is family history? When you think of family history, what do you think of?
- Temple work
- Family pictures and stories
- Scrap booking
- A challenge
- Learning (and learning every day, because even in the last few years, the process, the technology has changed.)
- It’s sad to say that I learned things about my father at his funeral that I never knew before and isn’t that sad to wait until that time to find out? (You are right, because we always think there’s going to be time.)
I want to have us listen to one thing that Sister Burton talked about, “We all live busy lives. We all take care of children or aging parents or work full-time jobs. We faithfully fulfill church callings, or serve neighbors in the community. Did you ever think that while you’re raising your children or caring for a parent that you’re actually creating family history? What you’re doing is good. You’re putting an eternal puzzle together, piece by piece. It’s receiving an inspired thought here and acting on it, then receiving that gentle nudge there and acting on it. Many of you here today are young mothers. You might be weighed down by all the things you need to do, or want to do. Many of you might be single, you might be divorced, or widowed, or may not have married just yet. You may question what you’re doing with your life. You may be losing hope for the future. It’s hard to go through the daily trials of life by yourself. Just hang in there. Keep doing the simple things that you do each day and it will make all the difference. You are doing family history work as you create memories with your children.”
I thought that was cool about how we’re making family history right now. I thought that was neat how she said that. We think, ‘I don’t have time for this,’ but you are creating family history every day. It can be done on Facebook, like she said. My son-in law sends an email about his family and that’s his [record] of family history. He tells us what all the kids and his family are doing.
The one thing I did like she said, when you feel ‘a gentle nudge.’ I like those words, ‘a gentle nudge.’ You don’t have to have a lightning bolt. You don’t have to have someone screaming in your face, ‘do it, do it, so it!’ When you have that gentle nudge to do your family history. I think that’s wonderful.
I’ve asked [a sister in our ward who specializes in and teaches family history] to share some thoughts that she has about family history.
“President Nelson challenged us to read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year and so I have been working on that. I’ve been noticing that there always telling the people to remember their family history. Remember what happened to your forefathers, remember what God did for your forefathers. Constantly. Every time they start out on missionary work, they talk to them about the past and their family history. The Book of Mormon is one long family history.
I started a long time ago and I have seen the changes between it taking days and months to get information to now, you can get it in minutes or an hour. Huge changes. In the indexing, when it brings you a hint, it’s already searched records for that person’s name. We used to spend a lot of time and travel distances to try and find records with that person’s name in it. Right now, it’s at your fingertips with Family Search.
The changes are monumental. This is an example of the old way- this is a copy of an old land record that they used to make on a large piece of paper. They would make two copies and cut the copies in half. One party would get one copy and the other party would get the other. We found these records [in a historical society archive] written on parchment paper. We asked if we could make a copy and they told us, ‘no, you can’t make a copy because one of the reasons is our copier isn’t working.’ My husband told her if she gave him a screwdriver and a pair of pliers he would try to fix it. He then fixed their copier and his reward was a copy of these sheets.
This document is what confirmed to me that my Quaker [names of relatives] had originally come from Pennsylvania. I had originally found them in North Carolina in those Quaker records and some thought that might be a whole different line, but when I found out that he came from Pennsylvania, I found the rest of his family! So, this is the way we used to have to do it. We had to travel to places and talk to people, to historical societies and try to get copies. Now we do it online. The digitizing and the indexing make it really simple.
Just last night I was working on a family in Delaware and I found them on a census. Whoever had entered that census had only attached it to their mainline people [connected to them]. There were other children on that census who were not listed on the Family Search tree. I attached them and then submitted them for temple work. That work [of entering the census] had been done a long time ago and that child had been missing along with other relatives listed on the census. There were stories included about these people that I found.
These are the stories that I love to find. You find them when you research. Look at the records, look at the sources, look at the records that are attached and you might get the story of their lives. The census is fun because you see the families grow as the children are born and then shrink as the children leave home and get married. It’s fascinating to see what happens in their lives. We are who we are, we are where we are because of decisions made a hundred years ago by our ancestors.
Our children need to learn this historical perspective. Things have not always been the way they are now. They need to know things have changed from way back when and things are not always going to be the way they are now. Things will change for our children and they will have a totally different experience. We need to let them know from the family stories that you just keep doing what you’re supposed to do, keep following the Savior, keep trusting in Him, you keep praying and listening to the Spirit and you will get through all the changes just fine.
My perspective from doing research isn’t that it’s hard, it may be a little time consuming and that’s one of the reasons we are getting an extra hour on Sunday so we can apply some of that time to this. You can get your kids and grandkids to spend time looking at stuff on there and especially putting on pictures, putting on documents, etc. You can put it on there and they can look at the documents from the olden days, and see that these people left a record and they actually existed, that they were real people. And when they take a name to the temple, it should be more than just a name.”
You can see that she enjoys it and that’s great! I know a lot of you have worked with family history and sometimes I avoid it because it’s so time consuming, but then I get so involved and have so much fun. Going along with the census, I enjoyed seeing what my ancestor’s livelihood was.
In your families, what have you done to make family history important in your life?
- We’ve tried to include the kids. The kids can help us- our seven-year-old can index with us next to her. Something that I’ve thought about doing, is as I take the names through the temple, I’ve thought about making a temple journal and say that I went through for [a name] who I felt this… You’ve probably experienced this, but when you take the name through the temple, no matter what ordinance you’re doing, you can kind of sense their excitement. To individualize each one like she was saying. It’s so important to know who you’re going for and their trials and sacrifices. And to have the kids involved and to come home and say, ‘it’s completed.’ And you can learn about them one by one.
- Serving in the temple, I’ve seen a great change. Just Tuesday I commented to my coordinator that I helped 7 sisters at the veil, I had one temple file card and the rest were all families. It’s just a short time ago that it was the other way around. We would occasionally get a family file.
- It’s probably because I’m the youngest child, but I’ve asked my mom what was it like when you had me and she was like, ‘I don’t remember.’ So, with my kids, I started when they were born, I started their own journals. Like I wrote about the experience on a mom level when I had them. I’ve just slowly added to it over the course of the years because I’ve forgotten things that my kids have said or done. This way they can have their own and one day I’ll give it to them and they can add it to their own journals. I don’t really remember the first ten years of my life, but if my mom would’ve wrote in a journal.
- I’ve been trying to write my own life history because I’ve been trying to get my mom who is 91 to write hers and she gets so busy. I thought maybe in a hundred years my kids or grandkids may be interested. It’s interesting as you write, different things return to your memory.
Like she said earlier, the Book of Mormon is like a journal and we’ve been told forever to keep journals. I know I’m not as good at it as I should. Any other comments?
- My mom is really into writing and she likes to do the family history and she’s put a lot onto Family Tree. She had an uncle that died on his 20th birthday during World War II, so he wasn’t married and didn’t have kids, and one of the things she put on there was a letter from his commander to his family. It told of the circumstances of him dying and how much they appreciated his help. To me, those documents are equally important, if not more important because he has nobody to remember him. So, if we forget him, there’s nobody. I feel like having those documents is just as vital as having the personal history.
- That just reminded me of the movie, Coco. There’s this one part where this guy and he just starts withering away because they’re in the after world and then he disappears. They said, once there’s no one to pass on their memory they are forgotten forever. There are a lot of cute little things from that movie.
- I had gotten a couple of my cousins together, this was quite a while back, just before my grandfather died, and my dad had thirteen siblings and we started up this big reunion. We had a book made. We went to each of the brothers and the sisters that was still alive and asked them if they would write a life history. We had a couple that had passed away, so we had a son or a daughter do a history on them. I met with my grandfather and taped it, about a 4- or 5-hour interview with him. So, I wrote everything that he had talked about. He talked about his grandfather and his father. About growing up and then having 13 children. So, we got all these family histories and had it made into a beautiful family book. We’ll cherish it forever. A few years after that for the reunion, I got recipes and made up a recipe book and it’s called, “Cooking with Granny’s Kids.” I’m really proud of this family history book that we made. Now all of the brothers and sisters are gone.
And you don’t even have to get it published, you can put it on Family Search and then everyone can see it. I read a talk on family history and they said, ‘yes, you have to worry about those in the past, but start now with your family. So, I put my family pictures on Family Tree and am I correct in saying that only I can see those?
- It’s not strictly true on the “Memories” part. You do want to be careful [with adding pictures of the living.]
There’s lots of things that you can start with- there’s your history, go to Family Search and spend a day with Family Search. Have a day, get your drink of choice and your chocolate and spend a day with Family Search [laughter]. It’s great!
- This isn’t directly related to recipes, but things that grandparents leave behind. My grandma gives every great grandchild a blanket. So, we tell them that grandma made this and they may not remember them, but my oldest still has hers and it’s fun to remember. I can remember better than they can.
That made me think that I love cemeteries. I don’t know why it is, but my grandmother took me to all of the cemeteries and told this is where great-great so and so is, so I would try to do that with my grandkids and make kind of a fun day of it. If you start when they’re little they get used to it and by the time they’re older, maybe they’ll remember some of those names. There’s “Find a Grave” a lot of people have gone and documented all the graves.
- My grandmother passed away when she was 98 and when my grandfather passed away he was about 64, so she was alone for a long time. I think she had been preparing to pass away the whole 34 years, but every time someone would buy her a gift, she would put a post-it note on the bottom of the item. So, when she did pass away, she had said that anybody that gave me a gift gets that back. It was kind of cool to go through and it was her family history of the five years she spent collecting China dolls and the ten years she did macrame and all those fun things. It was a fun connection in between.
Stress to your teenagers- I was a teenager when my great-grandmother lived next door and she was from a polygamous family, and I didn’t have the wherewithal or knowledge or care to talk to her about her mom and the other moms, so talk to your teenagers and make sure they talk to grandma! That’s a plug for grandmas!
- You asked for experiences and one that is a favorite for me is my son likes to go through the library in Salt Lake and one night he was going through some records and he was looking for his family names and there were two girls names and he said that he wrote their names down, and later he found out, as he looked into it, that their family had all been sealed, but these two girls had been born across the river in another township in England. They weren’t included in the family [records]. Probably, while he was going through those records, they saw somebody there and thought, ‘here’s our chance.’ And they got their names written down and eventually sealed to their family.
There are stories like that, I mean you don’t have to have great big, grand stories, but you might get impressions about who to find and what to do.
- My mom was doing some family history for her mom and found some things out that she never knew. I was ten when she [the grandmother] passed away and the whole time I knew her she was very sick and I didn’t know her very well. Hearing stories that my mom would tell me – her third husband disappeared in California. He was working at a gas station at night and just disappeared in the middle of one night. It turns out, grandma had a wild side, this was her third husband and they got married in Tijuana, which wasn’t legal. He was already married to someone else and that’s where he went. He went back to his wife. She [my mom] found out through family history a few years ago trying to figure out who to seal her to. He lived 40 miles away with his wife. I wish I had had a chance to know grandma when she was alive.
Family history always leads to the temple. We couldn’t do the temple work without the family history. There’s so much you could do and I could tell you all the ends and outs, but I’ll let you find it out for yourself.
How many temples are in the world today? There’s 159 right now and in Utah how many are there? 17. Under construction there are 11 and 20 have been announced.
The temple is the house of the Lord. I was thinking with President Nelson’s admonition to get off social media I thought, ‘what did I do this week?’ If I replaced it with Facebook or like my son-in-law said, ‘I don’t do Facebook, but I check ESPN every chance I get.’ I think it’s not just Facebook, but other things that may be addicting. Did we use that time to maybe do an hour of indexing, or an hour of family history, or writing your own history?
Thank you to all of those who participated and I know we’re short on time, but this family history and temple work, we could spend hours on it and next week we’ll discuss it more with our lesson. In the meantime, go to familysearch.org and look at the opportunities, even if you just read about it. You don’t have to do everything right now. Like Sister Burton said, small and simple things and changes in your life. Get your family involved in it.
What I want to do right now is if you were able to put the Family Tree on your device, go to “More” [bottom right corner], then select “Relatives Around Me” and let’s see if we’re related. You have to have it open [be logged in]. Oh! I’m going to tell you what I got… [There were sisters in the room that were related and didn’t know it! Come next week and we’ll do it again to see who is related!]
You can also go to familysearch/discovery and you put your picture in there and then you can select “Compare a Face” and then it’ll bring up who you look like. I did it and it was spot on- I look just like my grandmother. There are other things you can do on there. I do know that Family Search is important and I’m sorry we just ran through this, but make a plan for your family today. In your Family Home Evening do some family search, tell some stories, tell about yourself, and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Action Plan for October:
- Go to familysearch.org and familiarize yourself with the different features.
- Install the “Family Tree” app on your device and discover the different things you can do on it. (We will use the last few minutes of class next week to see who we are related to in the room!)
- As a family, establish a family history/temple work goal and then create a plan on how you will achieve it.
- If you haven’t done so already, begin writing your own personal history.
NEXT WEEK: Please study the following talk, “Family History and Temple Work: Sealing and Healing” by Elder Dale G. Renlund (Gen. Conf. Apr 2018)