Your family becomes your story

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 1:55 PM

Ruth Malan, Standard-Examiner Correspondent

Family stories bring life to genealogy. Stories are fun to listen to and may bring family members closer. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is now emphasizing family history in the form of stories that everyone can relate to.

Stories bring the names on the family tree to life, said David and Sue Packer during a meeting about research and family history.

The Packers are Family History consultants in the Kaysville 20th Ward, Kaysville Crestwood Stake. Each ward throughout the church has its own Family History consultants to whom people may go for help. Also, each area has a Family History Library, where anyone can go for help and to do research. And anyone may go Just click on Family Tree to begin your search, and it will make it easier.

In April of this year, the church launched the redesign of Family Search, making family history research more interactive. And it makes a more personal experience for the users.

According to a news release from April this year, “Family Search, the world’s largest genealogy organization and a nonprofit sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has updated its website to enable individuals to work together with others online to build their family tree, compile and share family photos and stories, create interactive fan charts and access 24/7 online assistance — all for free. The site’s enhancements seek to broaden family history’s appeal to those who don’t consider themselves researchers or genealogists, especially youth who are masters of digital realms such as social media.”

“What is family history? It is the fastest-growing hobby, second only to gardening,” Dave Packer said.

Because of the new updates, finding and preserving your genealogy may all be done online. Family Tree is free, available to everyone. Using this new tool makes it easy to find and share information. You may also compare what you have found and work with others who may be searching the same family lines. Research can go faster if you are working with someone, David Packer said. has more than 2 million paying subscribers. And there are more non-LDS than LDS people searching for ancestors, he said.

Family History is the past, the present, and the future. It is your ancestors, you and your posterity.

“Doing family history is building family ties,” David Packer said. “It is building a tradition of faith and building an eternal family. You are living history right now.”

For members of the church, finding family members is a priority that enriches the family. Members should find posterity and take those names to the temple to have their work done for them, David Packer said.

People all over the world are adding histories to Family Tree. Those files may be searched, so the names can be added to a family.

“Not everything can be found on these genealogical websites, but there is a great tool called Google that can be used,” said David Packer. “Names are more than just names — they are people. Your family becomes your story.”

If you are searching for a family member, such as a sibling, and can’t find them on Family Tree, it is because they are alive, said Sue Packer.

Not only can you contact other people who are working on the same line, but you can edit records if you find an error. And research may be printed for those who want a paper copy,she said.

“You can put photos in and there are stories — real life stories. Imagine the value of reading about an ancestor,” she said. “We all have a story, their story and your story.”

Sue Packer explained that you may want to find an ancestor you want to know more about. You may know where he lived but nothing more. Go to Google and search public records for the last address known. You should start with the U.S. Census, which is taken every 10 years.

David Packer said there are volunteers all over the world who go to cemeteries and gravesites, taking pictures of the gravestones. These may also be searched.

“Every name on your pedigree chart is a real person,” he said.

Searching for families is a tool to interest others in the gospel.

The Packers suggest you pick a relative you want to get to know. You may know that person lived between 1840 and 1920. Gather what you already know and add it to Family Tree, then try to find something new.

“We are custodians of much information. It is up to us to preserve it,” David Packer said.

“If there is something wrong, you should edit it and fix it and put it out there so somebody else can find it,” Sue Packer said.

The Packers encourage others to make family connections through Family Search.

Family Tree is so important to church members that all LDS missionaries take a pedigree chart with them on their missions.

“Family history and family traditions are what it is all about,” David Packer said.

Sue Packer said that young people want to know stories of their ancestors.

The news release on the Family Search redesign states, “Family Search’s commitment to helping people connect with their ancestors is rooted in the Mormon belief that families are meant to be central to our lives and that family relationships are intended to continue beyond this life.”

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