Family history is no longer dates and places and a sort of static experience. It comes to life through photos and stories. —Brad Lowder, Family Search
SALT LAKE CITY — The Mormon church's family history research center is launching a social media campaign encouraging youngsters around the world to share their best stories about their grandmothers.
The #MeetMyGrandma campaign is the latest effort to push young Mormons to capture stories from and about older family members before it's too late.
The program is being run by Family Search, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' nonprofit organization. The goal is to get 110,000 new stories logged in family trees on the organization's website in 10 days starting Sept. 20.
Some stories will come from grandmothers who are still alive while others may come from family members reciting an inspirational or funny story they remember about grandma, said Brad Lowder, international marketing manager for Family Search.
"We're trying to give as many people around the world an opportunity to recall how special their grandma is to them," Lowder said. "When you know those stories, whether it's hilarious or something touching or sweet or sentimental, there's something so connecting about it."
The focus on genealogy by Mormons is rooted in their belief that families should be the focal point of their lives, and that family relationships continue into eternity.
Salt Lake City is a hub for genealogy enthusiasts. The church's Family History Library is considered the world's largest repository of genealogy records and is visited by 700,000 people annually.
Each year, Family Search hosts a conference called Roots Tech that brings together people with various levels of experience in genealogy to learn how websites, software and other technology can help people find, organize, preserve and share family history
The grandma stories are already rolling in. One young person found out that her 80-year-old grandmother loved skydiving. Another found out her grandmother ran a business from her bed despite fighting cancer for 20 years. A 90-second video on the website features some of the other touching stories from around the globe.
After people put their stories online in their family trees on the Family Search website, they are encouraged to share the tales on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms.
A smartphone app is available to help people capture the stories. The app features 20 questions to ask your grandmother, and allows people to take a selfie or record audio with their grandmother and upload it to the family tree on the website.
"They can go to their grandma and say: 'Tell me how you met grandpa. Tell me your love story,'" Lowder said. "Then, grandma in her own words and her own voice records the story of how she fell in love."
This new initiative will hopefully lure people into genealogy who find the old ways of documenting family trees to be clerical and boring, Lowder said.
"Family history is no longer dates and places and a sort of static experience," Lowder said. "It comes to life through photos and stories."
Family Search: familysearch.org