Genealogy

Topic

Genealogy, the study of one’s ancestors or family history, is one of the most popular hobbies in the world. People of all faiths and nationalities enjoy discovering where they come from. For members ofThe Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, however, learning about one’s family history is more than just a casual endeavor. Latter-day Saints believe families can be together after this life. Therefore, it is essential to strengthen relationships with all family members, both those who are alive and those who have died.

Latter-day Saints believe that the eternal joining of families is possible through sacred sealing ceremonies that take place in temples. These temple rites may also be performed by proxy for those who have died. Consequently, for Mormons, genealogical research or family history is the essential forerunner for temple work for the dead. In Latter-day Saint belief, the dead have the choice to accept or reject the services performed for them.

Since 1894, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has dedicated time and resources to collecting and sharing records of genealogical importance. Due to cooperation from government archives, churches, and libraries, the Church has created the largest collection of family records in the world, with information on more than 3 billion deceased people. This effort was originally facilitated through the Genealogical Society of Utah and now through FamilySearch, a non-profit organization sponsored by the Church.

FamilySearch provides access to information from 100 counties, including birth, marriage, and death records, censuses, probates and wills, land records, and more. These records are made available to the public free of charge through the FamilySearch.org website, the world-renowned Family History Library in Salt Lake City, and through a network of 4,600 local family history centers in 126 countries.

The crowning sacraments of Latter-day Saint temples are the sealing ceremonies that unite men and women and children in eternal family relationships. Latter-day Saints believe that these sealings and other temple rites may also be performed by proxy for those who have died. Consequently, genealogical research or family history is, in Latter-day Saint belief, the essential forerunner for temple work for the dead.  In Latter-day Saint belief, the dead have the choice to accept or reject the services performed for them.

  • From early in its history, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints encouraged its members to research their family history. In 1894 the Genealogical Society of Utah was established for that purpose. During the 20th century, extensive negotiations were conducted with governments and custodians of public records to preserve birth, marriage and death records by microfilming them. More recently, microfilming has given way to digital technology.
  • Recognizing that millions of people throughout the world have their own reasons to be interested in family history, the Church makes its collections of microfilmed and digitized records freely available to everyone.
  • The Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, is the largest genealogical library in the world and provides access to many collections of records, with more than two billion names of deceased people. Over 700 staff and volunteers assist patrons with family history work. Approximately 1,900 people visit the library each day.
  • The Church has established over 4,500 family history centers in 70 countries, with access to many of the resources at the main library in Salt Lake City, Utah.
  • The Church also operates one of the most popular genealogical services on the Internet free of charge at www.familysearch.org.  The site contains a billion names from over 110 counties and territories including the 1880 United States Census, the 1881 Canadian Census, the 1881 British Census, the Ellis Island database and the Freedman’s Bank Records.  However, most of the Church’s vast collection of genealogical resources is yet to come online. The Church is undertaking a massive digitization project to bring most of the additional collection of the Family History Library online over the next few years.
  • Because genealogical records are irreplaceable, the Church has constructed a climate controlled storage facility in Utah which houses more than 2.3 million rolls of microfilm and 180,000 sets of microfiche.

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