Lesson 17: Keeping Family History Records

Young Women Manual 2, (1993), 60–62


Each young woman will learn how to keep important family records.


  1. 1.

    Bring a completed pedigree chart of your own—one that includes pictures if possible—and a completed family group record. Be prepared to tell briefly about several of your ancestors whose names are shown on the pedigree chart. Also bring a pencil, a blank pedigree chart, and a blank family group record for each young woman. If you do not have access to these forms, make copies of the ones at the end of the lesson.

  2. 2.

    Make a paper chain by cutting colored paper into at least seven strips approximately six inches long and one inch wide. Staple, tape, or glue the strips together to form a chain. Make the links representing past generations one color, one link in the middle representing the young women a second color, and the links representing future generations a third color. If possible, put a picture of one of the class members on the middle link.

  3. 3.

    Write on a poster or on the chalkboard: “The earth will be smitten with a curse unless there is a welding link of some kind or other between the fathers and the children” (D&C 128:18).

  4. 4.

    Assign a class member to tell a brief story about an ancestor.

  5. 5.

    Assign young women to present any scriptures, stories, or quotations you wish.

Note to the teacher

Find out what family history resources the young women in your class have available to them—family records and family organizations, for example. In this lesson, the young women should have many opportunities to show things they have and to participate in other ways. Be sure to allow enough time for the class to complete the activities.

Prepare yourself for this lesson by making sure that you know how to fill out a pedigree chart and a family group record. The ward family history consultant or someone else with experience in family history work could help you present this lesson.

Suggested Lesson Development


Object lesson

Show the paper chain, and explain that each link represents a generation in a family’s line. Those in earlier generations are called our ancestors. Those in future generations are called our posterity.

  • Whom does the single link in the middle represent?

Point out that the middle link represents a living person who helps bind past generations to future ones through family history and temple work.

You Can Be a Binding Link in Your Ancestral Chain

Object lesson

Break the chain apart.

  • What happens if temple ordinance work is not completed for those represented by the links? (The ancestral chain breaks.) Tell the young women that they will learn today how they can help bind generations together.

Pedigree chart display

Show a completed pedigree chart to illustrate that young women have many links that connect them to past generations.

  • How many grandparents do you have? How many great-grandparents? Point out that the number doubles with each generation.


Explain that just as we look to our ancestors for their examples and wisdom, so our posterity will be interested in us and the records we keep.

  • What records do you have that contain information vital to your posterity?

Stress the importance of keeping accurate records and preserving important documents now.

Explain that we keep records and documents and do research so we can submit information to the temple and have temple ordinances performed for our ancestors. Point out that our ancestors will be able to choose whether or not they will accept the gospel, but it is up to us to give them the opportunity to do so.


Read the following statement about the importance and purpose of this work:

“The Prophet Joseph taught that you and I are to become saviors on Mount Zion. We are to gather, build temples, seek after our dead, and perform all the vital ordinances. This work welds eternal links that bind us to each other and to our fathers. We are exalted as family units.

“The Prophet Joseph said, ‘It is necessary … that a … welding together of dispensations … should take place … from the days of Adam even to the present time’ (D&C 128:18)” (A. Theodore Tuttle, in Conference Report, Apr. 1980, p. 57; or Ensign, May 1980, p. 40).

Family Records Begin with a Pedigree Chart and Family Group Record

Pedigree chart discussion

Give a blank pedigree chart to each young woman, but do not give them pencils yet. Explain that the chart is a map or a picture of ancestors. The chart begins with an individual. Ask the young women to find the space on the pedigree chart where their own names would go.

Point out that each generation is shown on a step back from the individual, with each bracket representing a marriage. Ask the young women to find the spaces on the chart where the names of their parents should be placed. If you brought a pedigree chart or a picture pedigree of your own family, show it to the young women.

  • What can you learn about your relatives from the information on a pedigree chart?

Briefly tell about several of your ancestors, using facts from the chart you brought.

Refer again to the pedigree chart.

  • Where do your brothers, sisters, aunts, and uncles fit on the pedigree chart?

Point out that the pedigree chart shows only our direct-line ancestors—in other words, parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and so on. They do not show other children of parents.

  • Where do we record the names of the other children—our brothers, sisters, aunts, and uncles?


Show the class a completed family group record, either one of yours or one you have borrowed from someone else. Explain that after a young woman records her own name on line 1 of the pedigree chart, she lists herself as a child on her first family group record. Her parents, who are on lines 2 and 3 of the pedigree chart, are listed on the family group record as husband and wife, the parents of the family. Going back another generation, the parents are then listed as children on two separate family group records. Each set of parents on a pedigree chart is listed as husband and wife on one family group record and as children on other family group records.

The information on pedigree charts and family group records can be used to perform ordinance work for deceased ancestors. Ward family history consultants have further information about how to do this.

Teacher presentation

Refer back to the paper chain with the link representing a young woman. Explain that each young woman has the responsibility to complete any blank spaces she finds on her own pedigree charts and family group records. The Lord made clear to the Prophet Joseph Smith the importance of each person doing family history research, preparing a record, and completing temple work for her own ancestors. He said that baptism for the dead is a necessary ordinance for all of our Father’s children: “For we without them cannot be made perfect; neither can they without us be made perfect” (D&C 128:18).

Poster and discussion

Display the poster of Doctrine and Covenants 128:18, and discuss the meaning of the scripture. Demonstrate how the broken paper link can be attached again to the other links by staples, tape, glue, or paper clips. Then explain that a temple sealing joins parents and children together forever by the power of the priesthood. This sealing ordinance is performed only in temples. It is most sacred.

Class activity

Distribute pencils and blank family group records to the young women. Ask each young woman to fill in as many spaces on her pedigree chart as she can from memory. Have each class member do the same with the family group record, listing her parents as husband and wife, with herself and any brothers and sisters as children.


Class member presentation

Ask the assigned young woman to tell briefly about one of her ancestors and, if possible, show where he or she fits on her pedigree chart.

Lesson Application

Ask the young women to take their pedigree charts and family group records home and check the information they have written for accuracy. Ask them to complete as much as they can from available family records and bring the sheets back next week. This lesson should help each young woman want to do further research to complete her pedigree charts and family group records. Suggest that the class members learn more about the basic principles of family history research and learn what temple work has been done for their ancestors.