As members of the church, we’re taught to do our genealogy and to submit their names to the temple. However, there is another reason for doing it, and often it’s that reason that motivates me to keep going.
Mormons teach that families are forever. This doesn’t just mean the family we knew in our lifetime. It refers to everyone on our pedigree chart going all the way back to the very beginning. When we die, we’ll be reunited with all those people and, as someone who isn’t very good with strangers, I don’t want to arrive and find myself surrounded by people I don’t know anything about. I want to feel encircled by a loving group of friends, even if I never met them during my own life. I think of it as being a little like meeting my online friends in person, or perhaps the famous person I admire and that I’ve read a great deal about.
For this reason, genealogy isn’t names and dates for me. It’s about people—people who really lived, and who had dreams and hopes and disappointments. They lived in the historical events that went on in their lifetime and were affected by them. If there was a famine, they were not just a nameless statistic about the number of people who were hungry—they are my family, and they were hungry. They worried about their sons during the Civil War and some had slaves and some were abolitionists even in the same family, which created stress and arguments, but also sometimes created stories of love and family that overcame politics. They gathered their courage and crossed an ocean when it was very dangerous to do so and found themselves in a world they were sometimes not well-suited for. They were orphaned and widowed. They had children and lost them.
If done correctly, those names on the charts can become real people and even if they didn’t leave behind a journal, their stories can become known to you, at least in part. You’ll find yourself thinking about them, worrying about them, and knowing them. When you finally meet them in the eternities, you’ll greet them as friends and sit down to find out how they really felt about all those amazing experiences they lived in their lifetime.
That’s part of what I hope to show you through this site, even as we explore the basics and the advanced aspects of family history.