“And my God put into mine heart to gather together the nobles, and the rulers, and the people, that they might be reckoned by genealogy. And I found a register of the genealogy of them which came up at the first, and found written therein”
– Nehemiah 7:5
When I first started dabbling in genealogy, my focus was on collecting names, dates, places in the old 8½ x 14 pedigree charts and family group sheets. Basically, copying and compiling the work that others had done.
Over time, I learned that while genealogies are critical, family stories motivated me to learn more about my ancestors.
At the RootsTech conference last week, Sister Susan and Elder Gerrit Gong offered six suggestions for attendees to implement in their family search quest.
1. Capture your own story.
As Julie Andrews sang, “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.” After countless false starts on writing my personal history, I compiled my personal history.
I took the route of writing 100 stories from the first 67 years of my life. I surprised myself of how the memories flowed, especially when I dusted off photos and memories from all those shoe boxes.
2. Help capture the stories of loved ones.
We can do this in whatever way we feel most comfortable. Audio and visual recorders are available now at the push of a button on our phones.
Even in today’s age of artificial intelligence and high technology, a notebook and a face-to-face conversation can do the trick. I look back on my life and wish I would have taken more time to visit and record memories of my parents, grandmother, aunts, and uncles.
3. Create or re-create and pass down memories and traditions that have meaning for family.
In Tevye’s words from Fiddler on the Roof:
“For instance, we always keep our heads covered
and always wear a little prayer shawl…
This shows our constant devotion to God.
You may ask, how did this tradition start?
I’ll tell you – I don’t know. But it’s a tradition…
Because of our traditions,
Everyone knows who he is and what God expects him to do.”
Most of us have family traditions. If we do not, we can start one, or two, or three. This is a wonderful way to get to know our family members better and create memories for generations.
4. Visit locations that are important to your family history.
While we may not be in a position today to make a long journey to Germany, Ireland, or the isles of the sea, there is value in visiting towns in our state and nation where our parents, grandparents, and other ancestors once lived.
5. Upload and share memories, photos, and other items to FamilySearch.org.
In recent months, I learned invaluable lessons from collecting and uploading letters, news articles, obituaries, and documents of my family. Even though I am weak on the technology front, it was simple to scan and upload these into the memories tab of FamilySearch.org.
6. Bring family members to the Lord Jesus Christ through covenants in the house of the Lord.
Completing ordinances for my ancestors brings more meaning to my temple visits. It’s important to remember that these are people, not names.
Elder Gong noted, “We know something special happens to us and to our family members when we come to God and Jesus Christ through temple ordinances and covenants.”
Charlie Roberts is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints living in Stansbury Park.