The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has the largest genealogical library in the world. Just from this fact alone it is obvious that the Church believes genealogical work (now more commonly referred to as Family History) is important, but why? The doctrine of the Church teaches that after death spirits still have the opportunity to learn about the gospel, and accept Jesus Christ as their redeemer. But to be able to be counted as a member of Christ’s church they must be baptized and have other ordinances performed. This is the job of those who are still living. They are baptized, or have other ordinances done on behalf of those who have passed away. This gives that person the opportunity, if they choose it, to become a member of Christ’s Church. This is why genealogical work is so important. Every person that has ever lived has a right to make that choice.
The Church also teaches that remembering those who have gone before is vital to our salvation. In Malachi 4:6 it says, “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 as curse.” The turning of the hearts is genealogy work.
The LDS Church gathers genealogical information in two ways; through people who submit names of members of their own families, and from public records. These two ways of gathering information are called submitting names and extracting names. The work in both of these areas has become much easier because of computers and computer programs. People submitting names used to have to fill out by hand long pedigree charts. This can now all be done on the computer.
The Church also sends volunteers all over the world to find local history records like parish records, vital records (tax and census), military records, and immigrations records. These volunteers take pictures of the records so that they can be put on microfilm or turned into digital copies and stored. The originals stay where they were found, the master copy goes to the genealogical library in Salt Lake City, Utah and other copies are sent to libraries and individuals all over the world.
Many people outside of the Church are now becoming interested in doing their own family history. So how do you get started? The best way to start is by writing down what you know, then talk to parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles; anyone that would be able to give you information you are missing. After doing this you can visit one of the 3,700 family history centers that the Church provides. You can call any LDS Church in your area to find out when the center is open. There are volunteers that work at the family history center that can help you learn how to use the software and equipment. You can also look for information on the Internet through . Most of the information stored in the Genealogical Library can also be found here. You can also begin just by writing your own personal history or histories of close relatives. Doing this is just as important as finding your ancestors.
Other Links: Church Publications Search http://www.lds.org/site_main_menu/frameset-global-fam_his.html http://www.genhomepage.com/FHC/fhc.html http://genealogy.about.com/library/weekly/aa042400a.htm