Wouldn't it be great to have millions of people take a little time on Friday to research their family roots? What kinds of things could we discover about our ancestors? I found out that my great grandfather (on my mother's side) published a newspaper in Red Hook, Dutchess County, New York called The Red Hook Advertiser. I also discovered that my great, great grandfather (on my father's side) was given land in Nebraska to homestead, while his son (my great grandfather) had a homestead in South Dakota.
The scriptures tell us to be "anxiously engaged in a good cause" and "bring to pass much righteousness. For the power is in them." (Doctrine and Covenants 58: 27-28) What better cause than to research your family tree? “No work is more of a protection to this Church than temple work and the family history research that supports it. No work is more spiritually refining. No work we do gives us more power”. (President Boyd K. Packer, Ensign, Oct. 2010).
"Do you want a sure way to eliminate the influence of the adversary in your life? Immerse yourself in searching for your ancestors." ~Elder Richard G. Scott
“This work, unselfishly given in behalf of those on the other side, comes nearer to the unparalleled vicarious work of the Savior than any other of which I know. (Gordon B. Hinckley. Ensign Nov. 1985, 60.)
The first step, and sometimes the hardest, is to decide to do something. We are not expected to be experts. We are expected to do our best. “God does not begin by asking us about our ability, but only about our availability, and if we then prove our dependability, he will increase our capability” (Neal A Maxwell, July 1975, Ensign).
“We should understand that in the work of redeeming the dead there are many tasks to be performed, and that all members should participate by prayerfully selecting those ways that fit their personal circumstances at a particular time. Our effort is not to compel everyone to do everything, but to encourage everyone to do something” (Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Ensign, June 1989).
Our prophet, Thomas S Monson counsels: "We, as spirit children of our Heavenly Father, were sent to earth at this time that we might participate in hastening this great work. The Lord has never, to my knowledge, indicated that His work is confined to mortality. Rather, His work embraces eternity. I believe He is hastening His work in the spirit world. I also believe that the Lord, through His servants there, is preparing many spirits to receive the gospel. Our job is to search out our dead and then go to the temple and perform the sacred ordinances that will bring to those beyond the veil the same opportunities we have.…
…As you pursue family history work, you are going to find yourself running into roadblocks, and you are going to say to yourself, “There is nothing else I can do.” When you come to that point, get down on your knees and ask the Lord to open the way, and He will open the way for you. I testify that this is true.
…There are millions upon millions of spirit children of our Heavenly Father who never heard the name of Christ before dying and going into the spirit world. But now they have been taught the gospel and are awaiting the day when you and I will do the research necessary to clear the way so that we can go into the house of the Lord and perform for them the work that they themselves cannot perform. My brothers and sisters, I testify that the Lord will bless us as we accept and respond to this challenge” (President Thomas S. Monson, June 2014, Ensign).
As you make your decision to start researching your family history, you may find yourself asking, where do I begin? May I recommend starting with Elder Boyd K Packer's talk Your Family History: Getting Started."
Elder Packer states:
"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." He continues: "Get a cardboard box. Any kind of a box will do. Put it someplace where it is in the way, perhaps on the couch or on the counter in the kitchen—anywhere where it cannot go unnoticed. Then, over a period of a few weeks, collect and put into the box every record of your life, such as your birth certificate, your certificate of blessing, your certificate of baptism, your certificate of ordination, and your certificate of graduation. Collect diplomas, all of the photographs, honors, or awards, a diary if you have kept one, everything that you can find pertaining to your life; anything that is written, or registered, or recorded that testifies that you are alive and what you have done.
Don’t try to do this in a day. Take some time on it. Most of us have these things scattered around here and there. Some of them are in a box in the garage under that stack of newspapers; others are stored away in drawers, or in the attic, or one place or another. Perhaps some have been tucked in the leaves of the Bible or elsewhere.
Gather all these papers together and put them in the box. Keep it there until you have collected everything you think you have. Then make some space on a table, or even on the floor, and sort out all that you have collected. ... Once you have done this, you have what is necessary to complete your life story.
Family history work has the power to do something for the dead. It has an equal power to do something to the living. Family history work of Church members has a refining, spiritualizing, tempering influence on those who are engaged in it. They understand that they are tying their family together, their living family here with those who have gone before.
You cannot find names without knowing that they represent people. You begin to find out things about people. When we research our own lines we become interested in more than just names or the number of names going through the temple. Our interest turns our hearts to our fathers—we seek to find them and to know them and to serve them.
In doing so we store up treasures in heaven."
How can you read the words of our church leaders and not get excited to search out your family? Are you ready to join the #FamilyHistoryFriday movement? For one day a week are you willing to swarm the worldwide web with articles on family history? Will you write family history posts/quotes/thoughts on Facebook, tweet about your ancestors on Twitter, and share family history related blog-posts on Fridays? Will you join with me on Friday and spread the word by using hashtag #FamilyHistoryFriday as you post to social media on Fridays. Let's get this movement started and see how much family history research we can accomplish!