Family History for the Rising Generation
October 2014

“Family History for the Rising Generation,” Ensign, October 2014, 20–23

Young Adults

Family History for the Rising Generation

The author lives in Utah, USA.

Welcome to today’s world of family history filled with technology, dramatic stories, and family photos.

young woman at computer

As young adults, you are a part of the “rising generations” spoken of in Doctrine and Covenants 69:8. As with every new generation, you have unique gifts and opportunities. Included in those opportunities is your chance to become involved at an early age with family history and temple work. As Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, “It is no coincidence that FamilySearch and other tools have come forth at a time when young people are so familiar with a wide range of information and communication technologies. Your fingers have been trained to text and tweet to accelerate and advance the work of the Lord.”1

Start Your Story

Focusing on the people in your life is the easiest way to get started with family history. Ask your parents or grandparents about their family photos. Story after story will flow as they talk about their memories. For example, Travis Jordan of Utah, USA, wanted to know more about his great-grandfather, so he asked his father some questions. His father shared photos and stories with Travis and Travis’s young family for a family home evening. Learning that their second great-grandfather was the first man to own a car in his town made a lasting impression on Travis’s children.

What stories or photos will you discover that will leave a lasting impression on you and future generations? Today is the day to write down the memories of your parents and grandparents. Writing a few sentences can capture a story that would otherwise be lost. And with mobile devices, it is easier than ever to capture stories and family photos. Doing this has the power to turn your heart—and the hearts of your posterity—to your fathers (see Malachi 4:6).

Finding Lost Family

While growing up, Brian Boice of Illinois, USA, never knew he had a half brother. Although as a teenager he learned of his older brother, he didn’t develop a real desire to learn more about him until he attended a family history class in his ward.

“By searching through records on FamilySearch, I was able to get in touch with my half brother,” says Brian. “I believe the spirit that accompanies this work can mend hearts and heal old wounds.”

Look for your long-lost ancestors by going to FamilySearch.org and clicking the “Get Help” feature at the top of the page. Many types of assistance are available, from live phone calls to how-to videos in the Learning Center.

screen capture showing Get Help link

Climbing Your Family Tree

Rosana Cattaneo of Utah felt prompted to ask for help finding the name of her second great-grandmother, who had emigrated from Spain to Argentina in the 1800s. With the assistance of a consultant at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Rosana was able to use the names of her second great-grandfather and his children to find her second great-grandmother’s name within 15 minutes.

“Then I went to Family Tree and entered in the newly found name,” says Rosana. “I found a connection to 23 complete pairs of grandparents and many of their children. This witnessed to me the fulfillment of the promise of ‘hastening the work’ in the last days.”

You can start climbing your family tree by going to FamilySearch.org and clicking “Family Tree.” Exploring your tree and adding stories and photos are easy, and you can add more information anytime.

screen capture of Family Tree

Preparing Names for the Temple

Technology has made a dramatic difference in the process of preparing names for temple ordinances. Now you can prepare names from home using Family Tree online. That’s right! You can identify ancestors who need temple ordinances, compare them against duplicate entries, and then print out a paper with a bar code that can be scanned at the temple. Family name cards are then printed at the temple for use in ordinance work.

You will need your LDS Account username and password to look through the temple ordinance data for your ancestors on FamilySearch.org. If you don’t already have an account, you can create one at FamilySearch.org by clicking “Sign In” and then “Create an Account.” Once you’ve signed in with an LDS Account, click “Temple” to find out if any ordinance opportunities are currently available for your ancestors.

Building a Fan Chart

With several design options available, sharing your family pedigree with others is more visually exciting than ever before. The popular fan chart at FamilySearch.org is interactive, so you can focus on different ancestors and expand their personal charts. This tool helps you see what information is known and what still needs to be discovered.

You can print a small copy of your fan chart for personal use or a large copy to display in your home. One family even printed and laminated copies of their fan chart to use as place mats on the dinner table. It certainly prompted great mealtime discussions.

You can discover more about building a fan chart by going to FamilySearch.org. Make sure you’re signed in, then click “Fan Chart.”

screen capture of fan chart

The Divine Nature of the Family

As we discover our roots, the spirit of Elijah testifies of the divine nature of the family. By using the tools developed for this time, we can accomplish the divinely appointed responsibility we have of discovering family members and preparing their names for proxy ordinances. “For behold the field is white already to harvest” (D&C 4:4), and the way has been made possible.

Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said that the spirit of Elijah is “a manifestation of the Holy Ghost bearing witness of the divine nature of the family,”2 reminding us that doing family history and temple work has eternal significance.

As you of the rising generation try your hands at this great endeavor—hands with fingers that “have been trained to text and tweet”—you will help hasten the work of salvation in family history and temple work just as our prophets have asked.


  1. David A. Bednar, “The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn,” Ensign, Nov. 2011, 26.

  2. Russell M. Nelson, “A New Harvest Time,” Ensign, May 1998, 34.