“My Family” Booklet Brings Generations Together
By R. Scott Lloyd, Church News staff writer
- The new booklet My Family: Stories That Bring Us Together gives members a convenient way to work on their family history without the Internet.
- The person filling out the booklet can highlight personal hobbies, interests, traditions, and photos for future generations.
- Completed booklets can be taken to a family history center, where the information will be entered into FamilySearch.org.
“What it is doing is compelling people between generations to talk to each other.” —Paul M. Nauta, FamilySearch marketing manager
Collecting and preserving your family history is easier than ever before these days by virtue of some new Internet tools on FamilySearch.org, the Church’s genealogy website. With FamilySearch FamilyTree, the new Stories and Photos functions, and the convenient and quick means of preparing ancestral names for temple work, it’s an exciting time for those whose hearts are turning to their fathers and posterity.
Trouble is, these tools haven’t been of much use for people without an adequate Internet connection and without an essential degree of computer literacy—until now, that is.
On November 12, the Family History Department launched a new tool, a booklet called My Family: Stories That Bring Us Together, as a way of reaching out to the vast majority of the membership of the Church worldwide—including some 25 percent of Church members in the United States—who either do not have broadband Internet access or who, for whatever reason, choose not to acquire the skills to use it, said Paul M. Nauta, marketing manager for FamilySearch.
In short, the booklet is a convenient, step-by-step way for Church members without easy Internet access “to share their family memories and save those memories for future generations and also to identify their ancestors and prepare their names for temple work,” Brother Nauta said.
With the booklet, the user with pen or pencil in hand starts out by telling his or her story.
“You capture a few things you would like future generations to know about you,” Brother Nauta explained, “hobbies and interests, favorite traditions, and photos.”
Members can do that for themselves, ward family history consultants can assist, or children can help their parents, grandparents, or other relatives fill in the booklet. They can also write down everything they remember about their ancestors and turn to older family members to fill in the stories and people they don’t remember themselves.
Georgina Campbell, Granollers Ward, Barcelona Spain Stake, reads the booklet My Family: Stories That Bring Us Together.
The completed booklet can then be taken to the Family History Library or one of the Church’s thousands of family history centers located worldwide, or simply to a friend or relative who has the necessary Internet access. Using a help feature on FamilySearch.org (www.FamilySearch.org/
myfamily), the information is entered into the FamilySearch website.
Thereafter, the photos, stories, and precious memories the booklet helps capture are always available to descendants and other family members who use FamilySearch.org. Names of ancestors are also added to FamilySearch FamilyTree, where they can be researched by relatives doing their own family history research or prepared for temple ordinances.
Brother Nauta said that in testing, the new booklet has shown a side benefit of strengthening family relationships.
“What it is doing is compelling people between generations to talk to each other,” he said. It provides an occasion, say, for grandparents to consider the stories and memories they would like future generations to know and to share them with a grandchild who is helping them complete the booklet.
For example, Brother Nauta said his daughter has been visiting her grandmother one Sunday each month, taking along a smartphone and a list of questions about her grandmother’s history.
“Grandma looks forward to the visits,” he said. It’s a special experience for them both. They are bonding and having some discovery moments as memories are shared across two generations. His daughter is then writing her grandmother's personal history and stories and will save them for future generations at FamilySearch.org.
In a keynote address at the RootsTech 2013 Conference, Dennis Brimhall, CEO of FamilySearch, shared FamilySearch’s vision to empower people to share their family memories and save them for future generations. “Imagine if your ancestors had easy access to computers, digital cameras, and family history websites that allowed them to upload, preserve, and share important family memories through photos, stories, and vital names, dates, and places? How amazing would that be?” Brimhall said. The My Family: Stories that Bring Us Together booklet and corresponding Internet tools are installments towards making that happen.
The booklet is being introduced in 26 languages. “We think it will have tremendous impact internationally,” Brother Nauta said.
For more information or to order the booklet, go to familysearch.org/myfamily.