Moment: A Fortuitous Visit Helps Family History Research

Contributed By By Frank Hanosek, Church News contributor

  • 27 February 2014

“Gone are the days when this sacred work was done only by specialists. No matter your situation, you can make family history a part of your life right now.” —Elder Russell M. Nelson

As director of the Bozeman Montana Family History Center, I was at work on April 11, 2013, when a sister came in to do some family history research, as she did not have a computer at home. This sister has family ties to Poland, a land where most of the staff had little expertise, so we were not much help to her.

Then, a young woman who was not a member of the Church came into the center. She told us she was a graduate student at Montana State University, doing a paper on genealogy as part of her coursework for a degree.

One of her requirements was to visit a family history center of some kind to observe what is done there. She just happened to be nearby and felt prompted to stop in.

The graduate student is from Poland and offered her help to the sister who had come to research her family history. The sister gave a town name from a letter she had received from a relative. The graduate student looked at the letter and said the spelling was incorrect. She knew because she is from a nearby town.

We on the staff marveled that the graduate student felt prompted to stop in to the family history center just at the time she was needed.

My colleague asked the graduate student if she would like to volunteer to do online indexing of records at the Church’s Internet site, I helped her sign in. Sure enough, there were three Polish-language projects available for indexing.

By the time she had indexed three pages of entries, she told us she was hooked and would make time in her busy schedule to do more indexing.

She told us she would be available to help anyone at the family history center translate Polish and Russian documents.

We Church members felt the Spirit that day, and I think the graduate student did too. —Frank Hanosek, Bozeman, Montana