Are Church members still asked to submit their four-generation family group sheets?

“Are Church members still asked to submit their four-generation family group sheets?” Ensign, Feb. 1992, 52

Are Church members still asked to submit their four-generation family group sheets to the Church’s Family History Department?

David M. Mayfield, director of member services, Family History Department, and bishop, Grandview First Ward, Salt Lake Wilford Stake. Yes—and no. Yes, members are still encouraged to contribute family history information to the Family History Department. But we are asking for this information on floppy disks, not on paper, and we are asking for information not on four generations but on as many generations as members have recorded. If members work together to contribute their collected family history information, they will be able to realize their own hopes of providing temple ordinances for their ancestors. Let me explain why.

Ancestral File™

I hope every member of the Church becomes familiar with this computerized collection of genealogies. It links individuals into families and pedigrees, showing their ancestors and descendants. The file contains genealogical information about millions of people from throughout the world. It is now available at hundreds of family history centers throughout the United States and Canada as part of FamilySearch®, an automated system that greatly simplifies the task of family history research.

With FamilySearch, you type in an ancestor’s name, and the computer system searches through the millions of records in Ancestral File in a matter of seconds and displays the results of that search on the screen—names of individuals, their family relationships and pedigrees, and the dates and places of their birth, marriage, and death. If no information on that name has been contributed, the system will not display any information.

Contributing Information to Ancestral File

Ancestral File depends almost exclusively on individuals’ contributions of family history information in order for the file to grow. You can obtain a brief instruction sheet titled Contributing Information to Ancestral File at your local family history center. Keep in mind the following suggestions:

  • Coordinate your efforts with the efforts of relatives and others who may be researching your family line. This will enable you to obtain the information they have and avoid duplicating research.

  • Contribute all the information you have. We originally asked for only four generations of family information. Now you are encouraged to contribute information for many more generations—as far back as you may have traced your family lines. If you wish to contribute information from the period before A.D. 1500, please contact the Medieval Families Unit 2WW, Family History Department, 50 East North Temple Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84150.

  • Contribute your information on computer disks. To assist you in computerizing your information, the Church has developed a basic inexpensive software program for personal computers called Personal Ancestral File.® The inexpensive program is available from distribution centers. If your family does not own a computer, there are other options.

First, many family history centers and genealogical societies have Personal Ancestral File loaded on their computers.

Next, stakes throughout the United States and Canada have been authorized to put Personal Ancestral File on every Church-owned computer in meetinghouses.

Some family organizations are entering their family records onto computer disks as a joint effort.

Finally, wards or branches can organize service projects allowing youth and others to help members convert their family history information and contribute it to Ancestral File.

You may still wonder why you should contribute. This sounds like a lot of work—and it is. But keep in mind that Ancestral File not only simplifies the research process, it is a cooperative effort that enables you to learn what others have already discovered about your ancestry. As a contributor, you join with millions of others, both members of the Church and those of other faiths who are sharing what they have found. In time, this will change forever the way family history work is done, making it simpler and more accessible to practically everyone.

NOTE: FamilySearch, Ancestral File, and Personal Ancestral File are trademarks of the Corporation of the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.