You, today’s young adults, are curious, tech savvy, and undaunted. Never has a generation been so well prepared to use the tools for finding and sharing information about their ancestors. Here’s a sampling of how family history is blessing the lives of your peers. Since things are changing so quickly online, we’ve supplemented their experiences with some of the latest helps available.
I Search Original Records
I thoroughly love digging through dusty records like maps, newspapers, microfilms, charts, photographs, documents, journals, and books. The sense of satisfaction that comes is similar to the reward of mining for buried treasure—occasionally you strike a rich vein of golden information. Now many of my ancestors and their families have received their temple ordinances.
Cassandra Nielsen, Utah, USA
New: At FamilySearch.org, there are over 3 billion historic records easily searchable online, with 500 million more added yearly.
I Realize We Need Each Other
The importance of family history hit me in a college religion class when I realized that we cannot be made perfect without our ancestors (see D&C 128:15). For the first time in my life, I marveled at how much I could learn from the courage, failures, and faith of my own forefathers. I realized that family history is as much about discovering who I am as it is about doing vital temple work for them. I will be forever grateful for the class lesson that taught me we cannot attain perfection without our ancestors.
Shannon Kelly, Utah, USA
New: Go to Family Tree at FamilySearch.org to see if someone may have added interesting stories or photos of your ancestors. Or you can add your favorite stories or photos for others to enjoy.
I Do Temple Work for My Ancestors
When I moved away from home to attend college, I brought along index cards, each with the information about one of my ancestors. As I did the baptisms for my ancestors in the temple, a feeling of selfless love came into my heart (see D&C 2:1–3). Doing this work also helped me feel connected to my immediate family while I was living far from home.
Sister Denali Lathrop, Arizona Tempe Mission
New: To see what ordinances still need to be done for your ancestors, go to Family Tree at FamilySearch.org and select “Temple,” followed by “Opportunities.”
I Gather Stories from My Grandma
As a 23-year-old going to school and working, I didn’t think I had much time for family history. During the summer of 2013, however, I found a surprisingly convenient opportunity to preserve my grandmother’s life story. Several decades ago, she had ridden her bicycle across America, so my sister and I decided to do the same that summer. Of course we wanted Grandma with us, so she drove the car behind us as we biked from California to Florida. (See picture below.) Coming home, we rode in the car with Grandma. I loved the stories Grandma told us about her life, so I made an audio recording of them. Later I gave each family member a book containing transcriptions of these stories as a Christmas present.
Matthew LeBaron, Virginia, USA
New: See familysearch.org/myfamily for the booklet My Family: Stories That Bring Us Together, available in 25 languages. It can help you start gathering family stories.
We Do FamilySearch Indexing
As newlyweds my husband, Daniel, and I went to Chile and gathered our family history, resulting in temple ordinances for 3,000 ancestors. Back in Utah, we became so involved in our college studies that we had little time to do family history, so we started doing indexing instead. Most mornings Daniel did indexing, while our 22-month-old son sat nearby with his toy computer, imitating his father. It changed the spirit in our home, and our efforts will give deceased children of our Heavenly Father a chance to enjoy the blessings of the gospel.
Rose Marie Stewart, Cachapoal, Chile
New: See familysearch.org/indexing. Volunteers have extracted more than two billion names worldwide from scanned documents. This indexing makes historic records searchable online. Exciting new changes have recently been made to make indexing even easier. You will love them.
I Write the Stories of My Ancestors
When I was a child, my family gathered around the tombstones of my third great-grandparents, and my father told us story after story about this pioneer family. My curiosity about my ancestors never left me. Because so many of the temple ordinances had been done for my ancestors, I prayed to know what I could do. Writing stories of my ancestors came as an answer to my prayer. In the process of doing this, I have come to know, love, and cherish them.
Katherine Olson, Utah, USA
New: At familysearch.org/photos/stories, you can use a simple automated process to write an ancestor’s story right online and link it to the person’s Family Tree profile—preserving it there for future generations.
I Write in My Journal
As I face life decisions, I write in my journal pertinent scriptures, conference quotes, and summaries of Church magazine articles that meet my spiritual needs. These give me strength and direction. During trials, I reread my journals and find uplifting reminders of the Lord’s hand in my life. The records I’ve kept of both the pleasant moments and the difficult ones show me how the Lord has always blessed me in the past, is assisting me in the present, and will always be there in my future. My journal does not depict a perfect person. It is a record of my journey of self-discovery and becoming. I also “write the things of my soul … for the learning and the profit of my children” (2 Nephi 4:15).
Theresia May, USA
I Meet a Newly Discovered Relative
I have had muscular dystrophy since age seven, so I am unable to lift my hands, write with a pencil, move my legs, or hold up my head and neck. Yet I know God sent me here with a purpose, so I place my trust in Him. Every day I prop up my computer to do family history. While researching my Garcia line, I discovered I was related to a professional football player, Joe Kapp, who was known for his toughness and leading his team to the Super Bowl. His mother was a first cousin to my great-grandma. I emailed him and he came to visit me. He signed a football for me, and I gave him a Book of Mormon. We talked about his glory days as a football player and about my life. As we did, we both recognized that we had strength and determination in common. I don’t know how long the Lord will continue to preserve my life, but I am determined to use all my strength to accomplish the Savior’s work. After all, now I know toughness runs in my family.
Raj Sidhu (pictured above), California, USA
New: Search engines such as Google, Yahoo, or Bing can provide clues. Try typing in an ancestor’s name and see what happens. The Church also continues to make agreements with commercial family history websites. By fall 2014, members will be able to create free personal accounts and access billions of records on Ancestry.com, MyHeritage.com, and findmypast.com.