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Researching Family History: What are you willing to sacrifice to obtain the family genealogy?

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 21 2012 12:00 p.m. MDT

Finding family records can be simple but sometimes is may require sacrifice.

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Have you ever wondered what you would do if you could find out where your family records are? What would you give to get them? Often, no one knows of a relative who may have records with pertinent names, dates and places.

Maybe you have a tight schedule. It may be necessary to consider hiring a professional researcher to get the research under way. He can check records at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City first, then check in a home country for records not available at the library.

Some genealogical and historical societies sell CDs showing transcribed records from which can be found information in certain counties of England, for example. Other societies have microfiche containing names and dates for births, christenings, marriages and deaths.

If you are going to take the “do-it-yourself approach,” then perhaps a trip to the Family History Library or local research center may be in order. The friendly and knowledgeable staff can show you how to get started, though they cannot do the research for you.

If you have any information on your family genealogy, but are not able or willing to share it with relatives who may have no family records, you might want to consider the good that can be accomplished by sharing or exchanging information. Why not create an organization in which all the relatives can share information? Perhaps you may help bring down a brick wall on your line that has obstructed family members for years. You can have fun sharing genealogy with kin.

In recent years, there has been an unearthing of more information and records never found before. But there is yet much more to be done. Many new records are being posted online at an unprecedented rate. Some websites regularly provide new information as it is discovered and shared.

Is it time to quit feeling guilty over what has not taken place on lines which have just sat there for years with no activity? Maybe it is time to get going on a line that has been long deserted. Look to the future with the work in your family for the good of the family.

Our family took on this challenge a number of years ago. Over the years, we had some records sent to us by researchers in the fatherland. We could not get back before about 1660 with my direct-line ancestors. Our family knew we did not have all the records from previous research; we had to obtain earlier records and share more with our relatives.

Turning to the Lord for guidance, our family organization determined to do something about our lines. My dad retired from full-time work for the government and sold a camper and some other nice earthly possessions, which enabled him and my mom to use the funds to go to the fatherland to research and obtain our family records. They went the “extra five miles” and did more than their part. Other family members likewise sacrificed by adding to the family fund, giving what they could. It was a stretch in many instances, but no one had to go so far as to sell his or her home, for instance.

The blessings and miracles that came from their faith are still being realized in our family's lives today. This was not because of the amount of funds raised; it was due to the faith increased from the sacrifices in the hearts of all who contributed and the sharing of information never uncovered before.

With proper guidance and background, my parents broke through the “brick wall,” opening up the family tree, pushing our main line back from about 1660 to 1507, the dawn of the Reformation in Europe.

Remember the Book of Mormon prophet Nephi, who with his brothers went to see Laban, who had the plates containing the genealogy of their fathers. Nephi and his brothers took all the precious possessions from their vacated home in Jerusalem to exchange for the plates. Laban lusted after the precious things of Nephi and decided he would not exchange the plates; at the point of a sword, he chased Nephi and his brothers out of his house, taking ownership of the precious things and threatening to kill Nephi and his brothers (1 Nephi 3:23-27).

In our day, it may not be necessary to hire a genealogist or go to the fatherland. The objective is just to get going on your line. The principle remains the same, though, only with a slight change: What are you willing to sacrifice to share the genealogy with family?

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

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