Welcome to the Mormons’ Genealogy website! Here, you will be learning:
- The meaning of genealogy
- The importance of genealogy
- Why the Latter-day Saints (Mormons) are so renowned for genealogical research
- How to start your own genealogy work
- Where to find free genealogy resources
- And many more exciting truths!
What Does Genealogy Mean?
Genealogy comes from the Greek words genea, meaning “generation”, and logos, meaning “knowledge” — so the literal translation is “generational knowledge.”
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, genealogy means “an account of the descent of a person, family, or group from an ancestor or from older forms.” Therefore, it is the study to identify ancestors, family histories and the tracing of the lineages.
The term “family history” is often used interchangeably to refer to genealogy. Yet, it is somewhat different. Family history is the researching of the details and life events of our ancestors. It includes birth date, birth place, whom they married, where they came from, and so forth. You’ll find that genealogy and family history go hand-in-hand when researching our progenitors.
Why Are Genealogy and Family History So Important?
Knowing who your ancestors are plays a vital role to your existence. When you learn about our ancestors’ lives, you can understand your family’s diverse personalities, understand yourself, feel the sense of belonging to an unseen generation, and look forward to your posterity.
As stated by Irish philosopher Edmund Burke,“People will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors.”
It is so exciting to learn about our ancestors’ stories. You may learn lessons from their experiences that will be very beneficial to your present situation, and perhaps you will find that you are part of a royal family. You can appreciate the noble lives your grand parents, great-grand parents, or great-great grand parents have lived.
Doing genealogy and family history work is an act of gratitude for the noble generations before us, for without them, we would not be here to enjoy being alive.
What is Mormon Genealogy?
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly known as the Mormons) feel greatly concerned with doing genealogical work, because the teachings of the church emphasizes the importance of family relationships. “Families Can be Together Forever” is their catchphrase. They believe in the “Post-Mortal Life”, meaning, that after our life on earth, we will continue to live, through all eternity together with our loved ones.
They believe that the Gospel of Jesus Christ will be preached among those who are now on the other side of the veil, as this is what the apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 4:6 — “For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.”
For this reason, the church encourages everyone to do their genealogical and family history work. The LDS church program sponsors 4,600 local family history centers in 126 countries around the world to help you trace your ancestors. They not only include information about people of the Mormon faith, but people of all faiths and religions. These family history centers are available free of charge to anyone who would like to use them. Most of them have limited hours, as they are staffed by volunteers.
Starting Your Own Genealogy Work
Getting started seems so hard to do, but it can become very addictive once you get going. You’ll begin by gathering important information, such as: name, birth date, birth place, name of spouse, death date and death place of your ancestors.
The best place to start is with your living relatives. Most of them know the information you need. You can also find this information in old photographs, the family bible, and even on postcards and letters. Much family history is passed down by parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. It may seem so awkward to conduct these interviews at first, but the results are very promising.
While you research, be sure to document everything. Record your conversations, if possible. (Be sure to get the permission of the person you are speaking with first!) Have a pen and some paper handy to take back-up notes, even if you are recording the conversation. You can also take pictures and make photocopies of the documents you find (wills, land deeds, immigration records, birth, marriage and death records). Visiting places where your family once lived can be helpful too.
Where to Find Resources for Free?
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has Family History Libraries that house billions of records worldwide, to use in your genealogy and family history research.
Go to www.FamilySearch.org to learn more, or visit a Family History Center near you. There are volunteers who will be willing to help you with your research. You can order microfilms, so that you can see the old documents of your beloved ancestors that have been photographed and digitized over the years. Even non-members of the church are very welcome to visit.
Enjoy your journey through the past…
“The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us is to seek after our dead.”
- Joseph Smith, Teachings, p.356
Have you ever felt so alone doing your family history and genealogy work? Well, there is no need to worry! Whenever you need someone to help you accomplish your work, just visit a Latter-day Saints Family History Center near you. Check for the centers in your area.
What is a Local Family History Center?
A Local Family History Center is a branch of the Salt Lake City Family History Library. The center provides access to most of the microfilms and microfiche in the Family History Library to help patrons identify their ancestors. Everyone is welcome to use Family History Center resources, free of charge. Most of the centers are located in the meetinghouses of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Preparations Before Visiting the Family History Center
Before visiting a Family History Center, you need to prepare the names of your ancestors you want to research. Having a notebook to keep detailed notes of the sources searched and the information you find is a great way to preserve all that you find in the center’s archives. You will need this to properly document the sources of your findings later on your family group sheets, pedigree charts, etc. Properly documenting your research is important — not only from a basic research standpoint — but also to help the future generations answer their questions and prevent any concerns that may arise if conflicting information is found in another source in the future, which sometimes occurs.
During Your Visit
You will be assisted by the volunteers in the Family History Center; just feel free to ask questions and ask their help whenever you need it. For further research, you can order microfilms from the exact town where your ancestors lived. These records can be requested on loan for you by a volunteer at your FHC from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. There is a small fee (for postage) required to borrow materials from the Family History Library, around $5.00-$7.50 (local and state taxes additional) per film. Once requested, the record will usually take anywhere from two to five weeks to arrive at your local center and will remain there for three weeks for your viewing before being returned. All the facilities of the center are free to use. You can stay at the center as long as you want, during operating hours.
Saviors Upon Mount Zion
“We will not finish our work until we have saved ourselves, and then until we have saved all depending upon us; for we are to become saviors upon Mount Zion…. We are called to this mission. The dead are not perfect without us, neither are we without them.” – Church President Joseph F. Smith
5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
FamilySearch.org is a non-profit genealogy and family history website, run by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is also one of the most popular websites under the “genealogy search” category, where millions of people have searched their ancestry for free, and solved the mysteries of their family lineage.
You’ll trace your roots by sifting through billions of century-old records from all over the world. These records, collected for over 100 years, have been photographed, digitized, indexed and published online to become easily accessible, anytime, anywhere. These efforts are funded by the donations of generous people to continually preserve one’s history for the generations to come.
The organized effort of gathering and preserving records began in 1894. At first, the collection consisted primarily of books. Then, in 1938, microfilming began — enabling newspapers, photographs and other documents to be cataloged and saved. By the early 1950s, it became clear that a permanent facility was needed to store and protect the growing collection of microfilms. The site that was chosen is located in the mountains near Salt Lake City, Utah. Exploratory work at the site began in 1958. Construction got underway in 1960, and the project was finished in 1965. The vault was designed to protect the collection of genealogical records from decay, natural disasters and man-made calamities.
How the Records are Preserved
The vault lies under nearly 700 feet of solid mountain stone and consists of a series of tunnels. These tunnels comprise over 65,000 sq. ft., including the vast record vault. Near the front of the facility is an operations area with work space of about 60 staff members. Entrance to the six archive areas is guarded by heavy vault doors.
Nature helps keep the underground temperature inside the vault at a consistent 55 degrees, year round. Relative humidity is controlled to 35 percent. An elaborate circulation and filtering system keeps the fresh air moving through the storage area and minimizes dust and airborne particles. Under these ideal conditions, it is estimated that microfilm can last 200 years. The natural features of the mountain, together with human ingenuity and foresight have combined to create the ideal storage conditions for these priceless records.
The Granite Mountain Records Vault
Deep inside the mountain are six archival chambers carved from granite, and lined with steel. The records here are secured for generations to come. Within these massive vaults are stored approximately 3.5 billion images, 2.4 million rolls of microfilm, and an equivalent amount of digital media — and there is still much more room to grow! The records stored in these granite chambers provide links to billions of people from over 100 countries, representing more than 170 languages. Many of the records kept here are irreplaceable. In some cases, the documents stored here are the only surviving copies in existence. The use of the vault is just one example of FamilySearch’s commitment to preserving and sharing the records of the world.
FamilySearch’s Commitment Fulfilled
It is difficult to get a sense of this collection’s enormity, but what is most amazing is that the information stored here is accessible from all over the world. Copies of the microfilms are available through more than 4,000 family history centers, and digital images are becoming available with a click of a mouse through the FamilySearch.org website. Copies of records from all over the world, can now be made available to anyone, anywhere. Learning family history is for everyone regardless of ethnicity, race, age and religion.
FamilySearch.org offers free courses for beginners, intermediate and advanced genealogy enthusiasts. You can search different subjects of your interest. There are lots of online lessons to suit your needs, and to move forward with your genealogy research and family history work. Click here to access the free courses or request assistance here.