“Variety Marks World Conference on Records,” Ensign, June 1980, 76–77
The August 12–15 World Conference on Records in Salt Lake City will feature a wide display of topics that can help anyone interested in any aspect of family history or genealogy.
Thousands of members and nonmembers, from all over the world, are expected to attend the conference. Information on the conference is available from: The World Conference on Records, Genealogical Society of Utah, 50 East North Temple Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84150 USA.
Speakers for the general assemblies will be President Spencer W. Kimball, author Alex Haley, Elder G. Homer Durham of the First Quorum of the Seventy, and the Osmond family.
President Kimball has long encouraged Latter-day Saints to be diligent keepers of family and personal records. In nearly every general conference since he became President of the Church, he has mentioned record keeping—particularly personal and family histories. Among his many comments about record-keeping are these:
“Let us then continue on in this important work of recording the things we do, the things we say, the things we think, to be in accordance with the instructions of the Lord. For those of you who may have not already started your books of remembrance and your records, we would suggest that this very day you begin to write your records quite fully and completely” (Ensign, Nov. 1979, p. 5).
Author Alex Haley, whose Roots sparked interest in genealogy for millions, has said that he expects the World Conference on Records to be “the epoch event in family history in our time.” Mr. Haley has said this about the family-history urge:
“In all of us there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage—to know who we are and where we have come from. Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning. No matter what our attainments in life, there is still a vacuum, an emptiness, and the most disquieting loneliness.”
A major purpose of the conference is to interest people in writing personal and family histories.
In last April’s general conference, Elder John H. Groberg of the First Quorum of the Seventy commented on the reasons for the World Conference on Records:
“We have an obligation to follow the counsel of the prophet. President Kimball has made it abundantly clear that it is very important to write our personal and family histories. It is so important that this August the Church is sponsoring, in Salt Lake City, a great World Conference on Records to help all of us, and the whole world, better understand the vital importance of these histories and to learn much about how to write them.”
And why is history-writing so important? Elder Groberg gave this answer:
“By writing personal and family histories and doing the research required thereby, we inevitably have our hearts turned to our fathers as well as to our children.” Also, he said, “we are helped immeasurably in gaining a true, eternal perspective of life.” In addition, “Writing our histories will certainly help us keep our eyes on the most important of all goals—even the goal of eternal life” (Ensign, May 1980, p. 48).
The theme of the World Conference on Records is “Preserving Our Heritage.” Nearly three hundred seminars on that topic will be taught by noted authorities, with instruction in such a wide range of topics as family history, personal history, genealogical research, and demographic studies.
Seminars are in the following areas: personal and family history (general), United States and Canada, Great Britain and Ireland, continental Europe, Scandinavia, Spanish and Portuguese language areas, Asia and the Pacific, Africa, South Asia, the Middle East, and demography.
The range of diversity is wide. For example, the Africa section includes seminars on oral traditions, west Africa, eastern Africa, southern Africa, west African culture, culture of the British slave trade, traditional religion and the family, the impact of urbanization and modernization, black and white African families, slave family life in the American South and Brazil, black family life in Utah, a comparison of the African great trek and the Mormon pioneer trek, tracing heritage to Africa, tracing family history from South Africa through written sources, sources in the Arab world, Islam and the family in the Arab world, and Islam and the Moslem family.
A similar diversity is planned for all other geographic areas mentioned, covering source availability and life-style.
Those attending the conference will participate in a general assembly, a plenary session, and five seminars of the person’s choice each day. In addition, there will be cultural, ethnic, and commercial exhibits on the theme of the conference.