The LDS Daily WOOL© Archive - Family History

"Through family history we discover the most beautiful tree in the forest of creation - our family tree. Its numerous roots reach back through history, and its branches extend throughout eternity. Family history is the expansive expression of eternal love. It is born of selflessness. It provides opportunity to secure the family unit forever."—Elder J. Richard Clarke, "Our Kindred Family--Expression Of Eternal Love", General Conference, April 1989

"Missionary work is not limited to proclaiming the gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people now living on the earth. Missionary work is also continuing beyond the veil among the millions and even billions of the children of our Heavenly Father who have died either without hearing the gospel or without accepting it while they lived on the earth. Our great part in this aspect of missionary work is to perform on this earth the ordinances required for those who accept the gospel over there. The spirit world is full of spirits who are anxiously awaiting the performance of these earthly ordinances for them. I hope to see us dissolve the artificial boundary line we so often place between missionary work and temple and genealogical work, because it is the same great redemptive work!"—The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.540 (77-01)

"One of the most thrilling results of being involved in family research and genealogical research is becoming intimately acquainted with our ancestors their challenges and achievements and then showing our gratitude by performing for them the ordinances that will allow them to obtain the greatest of all gifts: the gift of eternal life."—Elder David B. Haight, "Linking The Family Of Man", General Conference, April 1991

"Not only must the gospel be taken 'to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people' here in mortality, but it must also be preached to all of our departed ancestors in the spirit world. A great missionary campaign must go forward until all who have died without the law of the gospel will have the opportunity to accept or reject it. Temple work will not be completely effective without missionary work. In fact, the people in the spirit world have to learn the various gospel truths, receive the gospel plan of salvation, repent of their sins, and prepare themselves to receive the temple ordinances which have been performed for them vicariously before that great work reaches a fulfillment and gives to the people the blessings that they should receive."—Milton R. Hunter,Conference Report, October 1951, p.143 - p.144

"The Lord is stirring up the hearts of many there, and there is a perfect mania with some to trace their genealogies and to get up printed records of their ancestors. They do not know what they are doing it for, but the Lord is prompting them; and it will continue and run on from father to father, father to father, until they get the genealogy of their forefathers as far as they possibly can."—Discourses of Brigham Young, 15:138

"Great activity has been manifest during the year 1908 on the part of the saints in their temple work.... The saints should take advantage of every opportunity to obtain the records as far as possible of their ancestors, that their redemption through the ordinances of the House of God might be obtained."—James R. Clark,Messages of the First Presidency, Vol.4, p.193 - p.194

"Why smite it [the earth] with a curse? Because the people are careless and do not look after the salvation of their dead, do not let their hearts be drawn out after their ancestry, do not seek to perform those ordinances that are necessary for their redemption, that they may be redeemed by law. If we would not be smitten by a curse, let us seek after the redemption of our fathers, as well as of ourselves, for says the Apostle Paul, 'they without us can not be made perfect, neither can we without them be made perfect.' We may do all that we please for ourselves, and yet if we, through our carelessness and indifference, neglect to seek after the salvation of the dead, the responsibility will be upon our own heads; and the sins of the dead will be answered upon us, because we had the power to act for them, and we were careless and indifferent about using it."—Orson Pratt,Journal of Discourses, Vol.16, p.261

"In this Church we are not hobbyists in genealogy work. We do family history work in order to provide the ordinances of salvation for the living and the dead." Dallin H. Oaks, "Family History: 'In Wisdom and in Order,'" Ensign, June 1989, p. 6

"We are a covenant-making people. These eternal blessings are for all who wish to worthily receive of them, both the living and the dead. In the mercy of God we are privileged to receive these blessings by proxy for our deceased ancestors who did not have this privilege in life. They, of course, may choose whether to accept these blessings. Our duty is to search out our forebears and give them the opportunity to accept and receive these blessings. As the Prophet Joseph Smith said, 'The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us is to seek after our dead.'" James E. Faust, "Eternity Lies before Us," Ensign, May 1997, p. 20

"Yet there is an abundance of role models who can be found much closer and who can have much deeper influence upon each one of us. Most of us, with relatively little effort and much less cost, can provide for our families a veritable list of important role models. This list can be created from a modest search into the lives of our ancestors." Monte J. Brough, "Search for Identity," Ensign, May 1995, p. 41

"Yet there are many members of the Church who have only limited access to the temples. They do the best they can. They pursue family history research and have the temple ordinance work done by others. Conversely, there are some members who engage in temple work but fail to do family history research on their own family lines. Although they perform a divine service in assisting others, they lose a blessing by not seeking their own indred dead as divinely directed by latter-day prophets." Howard W. Hunter, "A Temple-Motivated People," Ensign, Feb. 1995, p. 4

"We renew our appeal for the keeping of individual journals and records and compiling family histories.... [S]ome families possess some spiritual treasures because ancestors have recorded the events surrounding their conversion to the gospel and other happenings of interest, including many miraculous blessings and spiritual experiences.... I promise you that if you will keep your journals and records they will indeed be a source of great inspiration to your families, to your children, your grandchildren, and others, on through generations." President Spencer W. Kimball, General Conference, Oct, 1978

"We have a responsibility pertaining to our kindred dead. The Prophet Joseph tells us, and it is on record, that the greatest responsibility that God has laid upon us is that of looking after our kindred dead. Until the Church was organized, and there were temples built, and an opportunity for the living to do something for the dead, there seemed to be no occasion for our forebears to look to us. There was nothing we could do for them. But with the introduction of the Gospel, and the building of temples, the Lord sent his servant, Elijah, as predicted by Malachi he would do, who conferred the keys upon Joseph and Oliver of the turning of the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to the fathers. " Elder George F. Richards, "General Conference Reports", October 1930 p.53

"Personal roots, physical and spiritual, merit gratitude. For my life, I am grateful to my Creator as well as to my dear parents and progenitors. I try to honor them by learning of them and serving them in the temple. (See
D&C 128:15 .) Parents have a responsibility to share knowledge of their personal roots with their children and grandchildren. Learning their history together unifies a family." - Russell M. Nelson, " Roots and Branches ," General Conference, April 2004

"Once you complete your four generations, you are not finished. Continue to search out all of your ancestral lines. The four-generation project becomes a platform for launching further research. In fact, this is one place where you move forward by reaching backward! 'It is our duty,' counseled Elder John A. Widtsoe, 'to secure as complete genealogies as possible, to discover our fathers and mothers back to the last generation, to connect, if it may be possible, with Adam, our first father upon the earth-a duty which we cannot escape' ('Genealogical Activities in Europe,' Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, July 1931, p. 104)." - A. Theodore Tuttle, "Eternal Links That Bind," Ensign, May 1980, p. 40

"The world cannot understand why people converted to our faith should sever the ties of home and kindred, and forsake comfort and ease, to gather with this Church in a far-off land. But the inspiration which had touched our hearts, showed to us that in the land of Zion there was a work to do for our dead. We were shown that the unnumbered dead were not forgotten, and that the sealing of parent and child from generation to generation in an unbroken chain was a scheme for the salvation of the whole of our race. Many persons in this country and in the old world have wondered why, in old times, records of baptisms were kept in the churches, and why, in our own country, so many persons have devoted so much time and labor to compiling their genealogies. Those who have done this have not understood the doctrine of turning the hearts of the fathers and children to each other as we do, but they have been acted upon by an inspiration which has impelled them to perform this work." - John Henry Smith, "Baptism for the Dead," April 8, 1888

"Life is soon gone. Grandparents do not live forever. Parents all too soon become grandparents and in turn pass away themselves. They and their influence will then in part be lost as memories begin to fade. All too soon our imprint in the lives of our descendants begins to dwindle. We can keep that flame of love burning brightly if we write down a personal history of our lives and that of our families. By so doing we can pass on to our descendants in a more permanent form the courage, the faith, and the hopes we felt within us as we lived our lives and solved the problems which faced us. Passing an account of these experiences on to them will provide them with vital guidance and direction.

"In these personal histories we can express to them our love, our hopes, and our desires. We can pass on to them a knowledge of our family ancestry and express to them the pride we feel in our family heritage and the blessings we have received through those who went before us. In this manner we can keep the flame of love burning brightly in our children long after we have gone. When we reduce to writing those things that have strengthened our own faith and courage, we strengthen faith and courage in our children and grandchildren." - Theodore M. Burton, "
The Inspiration of a Family Record ," Ensign, Jan. 1977, 14

"But there is life beyond the veil. Every thought or word or act we direct at this sacred work is pleasing to the Lord. Every hour spent on genealogical research, however unproductive it appears, is worthwhile. It is pleasing to the Lord. It is our testimony to Him that we accept the doctrine of the resurrection and the plan of salvation. It draws us close to those who have gone before. It welds eternal links in family associations and draws us closer to Him who is our Lord and stands in the presence of Him who is our Eternal Father." - Boyd K. Packer, The Holy Temple , p.256

"Brethren and sisters, assembled in this great conference, I believe the Lord requires of us that we all set our houses in order in this respect, that each man and woman, every family, set about to secure, just as completely as may be possible, a record of their dead, so that thereby the genealogies of the human family may be gathered and increased in number, and we may have ample material with which to labor in the temples of the Lord. Such work is not difficult to do. It may be done by any man or woman. The intricacies of arranging names in systematic genealogies may be done by those who are experts in such work, but every man and every woman in Zion may gather names, later to be fully arranged, and should give some little time to such work. With respect to gospel principles, perhaps none is more important in developing spiritual power and strength than that which pertains to the salvation for the dead. Whether we are near a temple or far away from it, we may be able to give some little time to the important work of gathering the names of our dead and arranging them for use in the temples." - John A. Widtsoe, "Conference Report," April 1927, Afternoon Meeting, p.32

"There is an urgency to engage more fully in the redeeming of our kindred dead through more frequent temple attendance. All those who possess temple recommends should use them as often as possible to engage in baptisms, endowments, and sealings for the dead. Other members of the Church should concern themselves seriously with preparations to qualify for temple recommends that they, too, might enjoy these eternal blessings and also act as saviors on Mount Zion. There is an ever-increasing burden of temple work to be done by the Saints, and we should rise to meet this challenge." - Spencer W. Kimball, "Hold Fast to the Iron Rod," Ensign (CR), November 1978, p.4

"As the Lord gave His life to prove His love for His brethren and sisters, the human race, we may show the spirit of love more vigorously than we have done if we will make the small sacrifices necessary to seek out our genealogies, to spend time and money for the work, to take time to go to the temple ourselves for the dead. All such service may entail sacrifice, but sacrifice lifts us toward the likeness of God, the likeness of our Elder Brother Jesus Christ. If we Latter-day Saints have any great ideal, it is that of our Elder Brother. All that we strive for, and all that we have fought for, and all that we pray for, is to become more and more like Him as our days and years increase. As He gave His life, unselfishly for us, so each of us, extending the open door of salvation to the dead, most of whom are but names to us, may then by our unselfishness claim in very deed to be followers of Christ." - John A. Widtsoe, "Conference Report," April 1943, Afternoon Meeting, p.38

“We who live in this day are those whom God appointed before birth to be his representatives on earth in this dispensation. We are of the house of Israel. In our hands lie the sacred powers of being saviors on Mount Zion in the latter days.” - “The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter,” edited by Clyde J. Williams, p. 233

"I know of no work in the Church more conducive to spiritual refinement and communication than temple and genealogical work. In this work our hearts and our minds are turned to those beyond the veil. Such a work helps us to sharpen our spiritual sensitivities." - Boyd K. Packer, The Holy Temple , p. 241

"The Saints have not too much time to save and redeem their dead, and gather together their living relatives, that they may be saved also, before the earth will be smitten, and the consumption decreed falls upon the world." - Joseph Fielding Smith, "Conference Report," April 1948, Third Day—Morning Meeting, p. 136

I invite the young people of the Church to learn about and experience the Spirit of Elijah. I encourage you to study, to search out your ancestors, and to prepare yourselves to perform proxy baptisms in the house of the Lord for your kindred dead (see D&C 124:28–36). And I urge you to help other people identify their family histories. - David A. Bednar, "The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn," Ensign (CR) October 2011

I have learned that those who engage in family history research and then perform the temple ordinance work for those whose names they have found will know the additional joy of receiving both halves of the blessing.

Furthermore, the dead are anxiously waiting for the Latter-day Saints to search out their names and then go into the temples to officiate in their behalf, that they may be liberated from their prison house in the spirit world. All of us should find joy in this magnificent labor of love. - Howard W. Hunter, "A Temple-Motivated People," Ensign, February 1995

If we believe in the restoration of the gospel at all, we must believe also in the mission of Elijah. We declare that he has come to earth and delivered the keys of his ministry to the Prophet Joseph Smith. As a result of his labors, the hearts of both the fathers and the children are now turning to each other, and this vital work is being done.

But each of us must do our part for our own deceased relatives. It is so essential that it must be given a high priority in our daily lives. - Mark E. Petersen, "The Message of Elijah," Ensign (CR) May 1976

But what about you? Have you prayed about your own ancestors’ work? Set aside those things that don’t really matter in your life. Decide to do something that will have eternal consequences. Perhaps you have been prompted to look for ancestors but feel that you are not a genealogist. Can you see that you don’t have to be anymore? It all begins with love and a sincere desire to help those who can’t help themselves. - Richard G. Scott, "Redemption: The Harvest of Love," Ensign (CR) November 1990

Any work you do in the temple is time well spent, but receiving ordinances vicariously for one of your own ancestors will make the time in the temple more sacred, and even greater blessings will be received. The First Presidency has declared, “Our preeminent obligation is to seek out and identify our own ancestors.” - Richard G. Scott, "The Joy of Redeeming the Dead," Ensign (CR) November 2012

Why is the writing of personal and family histories so important?…

Writing our histories will certainly help us keep our eyes on the most important of all goals—even the goal of eternal life. - John H. Groberg, "Writing Your Personal and Family History," Ensign (CR) May 1980

The doctrine of the family in relation to family history and temple work is clear. The Lord in initial revelatory instructions referred to “baptism for your dead.” Our doctrinal obligation is to our own ancestors. This is because the celestial organization of heaven is based on families. The First Presidency has encouraged members, especially youth and young single adults, to emphasize family history work and ordinances for their own family names or the names of ancestors of their ward and stake members. We need to be connected to both our roots and branches. The thought of being associated in the eternal realm is indeed glorious. - Quentin L. Cook, “Roots and Branches,” Ensign (CR) May 2014

The more connected we feel to our righteous forefathers, the more likely we are to make wise and righteous choices.

And so it is. Each of us will be greatly blessed if we know the stories of faith and sacrifice that led our forefathers to join the Lord’s Church. - William R. Walker, “Live True to the Faith,” Ensign (CR) May 2014

The more I have to do with genealogical work, the more difficulty I have with that word dead. I know of no adequate substitute. I suppose departed would suit me as well as any. I have had too many sacred experiences, of the kind of which we never speak lightly, to feel that the word dead describes those who have gone beyond the veil. - Boyd K. Packer, “Covenants,” Ensign (CR) May 1987

One of the grandest concepts in the gospel of Jesus Christ is the concept that men can and should be more than passive observers in the cause of saving souls. One Church leader taught: "In our preexistent state … we made a certain agreement with the Almighty. … We agreed … to be not only saviors for ourselves but measurably, saviors for the whole human family. We went into a partnership with the Lord. The working out of the plan became then not merely the Father's work, and the Savior's work, but also our work" (John A. Widtsoe, Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, Oct. 1934, p.189). - Carlos E. Asay, "Salt of the Earth: Savor of Men and Saviors of Men," Ensign (CR), May 1980, p.42

The honest person finds greater meaning in life by the Prophet's answers to the philosophical questions, Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going? Because of revelations given to Joseph, the memory veil between this life and our premortal existence becomes almost transparent at times. And the veil between this life and the spirit world becomes thinner, causing family ties to become stronger, sweeter, and more meaningful as the hearts of the children turn to their fathers and the hearts of the fathers turn to their children. - Robert E. Wells, "Our Message to the World," Ensign (CR), November 1995, p.65

I think of all Christian service vicarious work for the dead is the most Christ-like. It often entails great sacrifice. The beneficiary is not here, even to give thanks. It is true benevolence. - Stephen L Richards, “Conference Report,” April 1938, Afternoon Meeting, p.24

With regard to temple and family history work, I have one overriding message: This work must hasten. The work waiting to be done is staggering and escapes human comprehension. Last year [1995] we performed proxy temple endowments for about five and a half million persons, but during that year about fifty million persons died. This might suggest futility in the work that lies before us, but we cannot think of futility. Surely the Lord will support us if we use our best efforts in carrying out the commandment to do family history research and temple work. – “The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter,” edited by Clyde J. Williams, p.234

As President Boyd K. Packer has said, “If you don't know where to start, start with yourself. If you don't know what records to get, and how to get them, start with what you have.” You will learn about the phenomenon that is you. It can be more fascinating than any movie you might see or any computer game you might play. - James E. Faust, “The Phenomenon That Is You,” Ensign (CR), November 2003, p.53

I promise you protection for you and your family as you take this challenge to ‘find as many names to take to the temple as ordinances you perform in the temple, and teach others to do the same.’ - Dale G. Renlund, address at RootsTech conference, Feb. 6, 2016

We do not know what marvels God will inspire people to create to help in His work of gathering His family. But whatever marvelous inventions may come, their use will require the Spirit working in people like you and me. This should not surprise us. After all, these are beloved sons and daughters of God. He will send whatever inspiration is needed to give them the opportunity to return toHim. – Henry B. Eyring, “Gathering the Family of God,” Ensign (CR) May 2017

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