Picturing the Past
August 2005

“Picturing the Past,” Ensign, Aug. 2005, 38–41

Picturing the Past

And [Elijah] shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers” (D&C 2:2).

Old family photographs have the power to draw our thoughts into the past. When we see how our ancestors looked, dressed, and lived, we catch a glimpse of what their lives were like. We remember that they were real people like us, and our hearts are turned to them. We want to know more about them. We may even wish we could do something for them.

As Latter-day Saints, we believe in the eternal nature of families. In fact, it is a gospel principle for us to provide the sacred temple ordinances and covenants for our ancestors. Looking into the faces of specific ancestors often draws us to them and further motivates us to make the temple covenants available to them.

In my early teens I sat next to Grandmother on the davenport, and together we looked at her family photos. I felt like I was in heaven as she told me the names of the people and how I was related to each one. I think those sessions with my grandmother are what caused me to have such deep feelings about my ancestors.”

Jimmy B. Parker, Bountiful 43rd Ward, Bountiful Utah Stone Creek Stake

I have distinctive facial features. One day I came across an old family photo of some of my Danish ancestors standing in front of their log cabin. As I looked carefully at each face, I recognized the same distinctive features again and again. My heart leaped inside me, and immediately I felt a part of this family that had lived and died long before I was born.”

LaRene Gaunt, Willow Canyon Eighth Ward, Sandy Utah East Stake

Treasuring Old Photos

Have your family photographs been stuffed into drawers or boxes over the years? If so, make a commitment to organize, display, and preserve them.

Light, moisture, oil, and acid from paper are the enemies of photographs. To protect your pictures:

  1. Display copies of your favorite old photos, not the originals.

  2. Invest in professional photo restoration for your rarest photos.

  3. Store photographs in acid-free storage boxes or steel file cabinets.

  4. Mount photographs on acid-free paper with a safe adhesive.

  5. Write names, dates, and places on a label instead of on the back of the photograph.

  6. Wear latex or cloth gloves to protect photos from oils in your skin.

  7. Share printed or electronic copies of your family photos with others.

Why Elijah?

Elder Henry B. Eyring

“It is important to know why the Lord promised to send Elijah. Elijah was a great prophet with great power given him by God. He held the greatest power God gives to His children: he held the sealing power, the power to bind on earth and have it bound in heaven.”
Elder Henry B. Eyring, “Hearts Bound Together,” Ensign, May 2005, 78.