What Is the Four-Generation Program?


Have you completed your four-generation program assignment?

“How do I know?” you ask. “I don’t know what the four-generation program is.”

In 1965, the Priesthood Genealogy Committee announced the three-generation program. Each family in the Church was asked to prepare documented family group record forms for the first three generations: one form for you and your spouse and your children; one form for your parents, with you appearing as a child on the form; and two forms on your two sets of grandparents, with your father appearing as a child on one form and your mother appearing as a child on the other form.

Later this program was expanded to include the fourth generation—families of great-grandparents with each of the four grandparents appearing as a child on one of the four forms.

Each adult member of the Church is to document (not just copy) a family group record form for each family in the first four generations of his ancestry—seven sheets for each individual plus one for the immediate family of the husband (or wife) and children, making fifteen sheets per family (seven sheets only for single individuals).

The forms are to be submitted to the ward, where they will be checked by the ward records examiners, and then sent to the stake, where they are alphabetized for the stake and submitted at the end of each year to the Genealogical Society. These forms are microfilmed and filed in the patrons section, and microfilm copies are sent to branch genealogical libraries.

To the question, “Should everyone submit the forms when they have already been submitted?” the answer is yes. Each adult should submit the sheets on his or her family. Once an individual has submitted them, he need not do so again.

There are several reasons for the decision to have each individual person prepare and submit the family group record forms for his ancestry. Eight of these are outlined in the booklet A Continuing Priesthood Program for Family Exaltation.

The four-generation program was developed to provide—

—stimulation and encouragement for all Church members to become actively engaged in the work of family exaltation.

—research experience and training for every family in the Church through actually searching for the records of their immediate family.

—organization of these records onto family group record forms for a personal book of remembrance, thus to develop through visual representation a close affinity with immediate and near ancestors and their families.

—an opportunity for Church members to verify the accuracy and completeness of existing family genealogical records.

—necessary information for temple ordinance work that has not yet been completed. Thus temple ordinance work can be performed for eligible families for whom no temple ordinance work has yet been done.

—a reference file for future generations and for new converts coming into the Church to assist them in getting started with their genealogy work.

—a file that, by a process of microfilming, can be made available to branch genealogical libraries all over the Church to assist in coordinating this work.

—motivation for the Saints to catch the spirit of family exaltation work and by righteous living to qualify themselves to go to the temples to complete the temple ordinances for themselves and for those whose names they have identified and submitted for processing as a result of the four-generation program.

After the four-generation program assignment has been completed by an individual, that person has the foundation necessary to continue into research. He should determine what lines need his attention and obtain the direction or training necessary to proceed.