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Researching Family History: Our 'covenant responsibility' to our ancestors

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 18 2011 5:00 a.m. MDT

Isn’t it interesting? Nowadays if you want to know something about computers or digitization, your kids know more than you do. All we have to do is have our teenage daughter or some of her siblings help us with questions about the computer. I confess, I was born in an analog day and live in a digital time. Of course, my background in genealogy has not left me and my generation in the dark. There are some things we do know about computers and their relationship to genealogy.

We have come a long way since the huge Olympic typewriter with its long roller carriage. I recall vividly the huge pedigree and family group sheets that my father used to type with all the information on our common ancestors. These typewritten sheets filled up the huge binders titled Book of Remembrance with page after page of our ancestors’ names, families, vital information, sources, etc.

I remember what it was like to open one of those, just stand there and read names, dates and places of our ancestors we use to proofread to Dad.

Over time, I began to lose interest in it. Soon after, things began to happen that changed my perspective back and sparked my interest back to it again. This time, I became even more involved in the work.

Eventually, the personal computer was made available for less and less money. Alas! Finally, there was the hush of the old typewriter from its "clack, click, clack" sound. We got our first computer and moved our family genealogy into it.

One day, a neighbor came to our door. She was an elderly woman who had a keen sense and love for genealogy. She told me that she knew the time would come where I would become very interested in it. She taught a Primary class and gave me the book titled "24 Days to Zion." I read the book and my interest rejuvenated. I thought of pioneer ancestors and connected to them.

I saw clearer with the computer on the genealogy scene what it would likely do to increase the efficiency of the work, and knew I needed to be a part of it. My brother and I would meet and we would work on research in the Family History Library.

The thing that really got me going in it was when my parents came to me and asked if I would help them with the names of our ancestors we had helped proofread from years before. Many of those names I recognized from the proofreading we did. Dad asked if I would oversee the temple work by getting other family members to attend the temple for our ancestors and to do all this by example.

I felt a bond with many of my ancestors. I became more convinced than ever of the blessings of doing this great work. I saw in other relatives' lives as well as my own powerful things take place as we helped do this great work.

"We have our covenant responsibility to search out our ancestors and provide for them the saving ordinances of the gospel," said Elder David A. Bednar.

In addition to our own database, our teenage daughter and her sister registered for the New Family Search and have had their own Family File Temple Cards during the past year and a half. As a family, we have learned these cards which show names of our ancestors, "are more than just a name on a card." They are our treasured souls to keep.

"I now invite the attention of the young men and young women and children of the rising generation as I emphasize the importance of the Spirit of Elijah in your lives today," Elder Bednar said.

Anyone who wishes can and should do genealogy in any way ancestors can be found. We do whatever it takes to find our ancestors. There is no age or other requirement to do this or have it done. One thing is for certain, it is more than just a hobby, it is a labor of love to seek and find our beginnings.

Genealogy graduate Russell Bangerter is president of Ancestral Connections Inc. at www.ancestralconnect.com. He is a professional genealogist, author and speaker and he is adviser to Treasured Souls To Keep at www.treasuredsoulstokeep.com.

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