Family History Library | The Geneva Convention: Family History Library

Friday, August 15, 2014

Family History Library

LDS Temple Salt Lake City

When I started making semi-regular trips out to Salt Lake City, my father once suggested to me that I visit the Family History Library. Although it's true that the miniscule amount I know about my heritage has been a mild frustration to me over the years, it hadn't occurred to me to take advantage of the library. But I mentioned it to James on my most recent trip, and he took to the idea enthusiastically. He invited along his cousin to guide us, as she's much more familiar with Temple Square, but hadn't quite made it to the library yet, either.

It was a great experience, if a bit overwhelming. Members of the LDS church can give you a much better understanding of why genealogy is important to them than I can, but the material point for me (and for the rest of the world) is that they have the most impressive records I have ever heard of, and provide it to the public for free, along with a website that allows patrons to reconstruct their family trees.

How little I know about my own heritage became very clear very quickly. As I created an account on Family Search, struggling to remember exactly what year my parents were born, and realizing that I didn't know the first names of any great-grandparents, I must admit I felt a little behind. After all, I was sitting between two cousins whose relatives had already done extensive work on their trees -- James got the identification number for his grandfather on the Mormon side and immediately retrieved a tree that ran straight back to the 1500s!

In some ways, I'm jealous, but I'm mostly excited to start digging into my own family history. With my parents help, because I'm still a little unclear on the names and dates! If you've ever been interested in learning about your own history (no matter where in the world you are), you should check out Family Search. The religious aspect has the potential to scare people off, but let this very non-Mormon girl assure you that it doesn't mean missionaries stopping by your home -- just accuracy and integrity. Starting in Temple Square gives you access to records they have yet to digitize, as well as volunteers to help you out (although volunteers are also available to help at Family History Centers all over the world). Still, the site is pretty easy to figure out on your own and all the most recent records are available online. Happy history hunting!

*The photo is of the Salt Lake City LDS Temple. It is near the library, and much prettier.

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