Family History for the Non–History Buff

“Family History for the Non–History Buff,” Ensign, July 2018

Digital Only: Young Adults

Family History for the Non–History Buff

Wouldn’t you want to know if you were dating your cousin? or if you were royalty? or about the countless blessings that can be yours?

Family history can definitely seem intimidating, time-consuming, and, to be honest, downright tedious if you aren’t a history buff like your grandma. But did you know there are all sorts of reasons to dive into family history that can make it actually—wait for it—fun? That’s right. Family history can actually be entertaining, enlightening, and engaging. Of course, it may also cause you to do a double take when you find out you’re related to your date. (Did you know there’s an app that can instantly tell you that?) Here are five reasons you should dive into family history work.

1. Find out if you’re dating a distant cousin

The FamilySearch Tree app has a new feature that allows you to instantly see your relationship to other people! To see how you are related to another person, both of you need to sign in to the FamilySearch Tree app. Then hit the “Relatives Around Me” option. Anyone who is signed in to the app and within range will show up on your device, and you will show up on theirs. You can both bring up pedigree charts that show your common ancestor and your relationship to one another. This feature is a lot more fun when you use it around a bunch of people. Try it out with your friends and coworkers or on your next group date. The relationships you find might surprise you!

2. You might be royalty

“Map My Ancestors” is a feature on FamilySearch.org and the FamilySearch Tree app that literally “maps” your relatives by pulling up a map of the world filled with the pictures of each of your ancestors who have been registered on FamilySearch. The map allows you to easily see where your ancestors were born, where they lived, and where they died. This feature is especially interesting because you can find out a lot about your heritage and what makes you you. You might also find that you’re related to some important people from different countries, like Church leaders, pioneers, or even royalty!

3. You can share vital information (like your famous cheesecake recipe)

Not only can you see fascinating memories of your ancestors on FamilySearch, like old photos, journals, and stories, but now you can also easily share your own important memories! You can create a specific link to share items through the FamilySearch Tree app on your mobile device via email, text, or even social media (some of these sharing options are also available on FamilySearch.org). Want your future children to know what your grandma’s house looked like? Take a photo of it and share it on your grandma’s bio page. Do you think everyone should be able to taste your famous double chocolate cheesecake? Add the recipe to your own profile! And you know how your dad is always boring you to death with stories about his childhood brushes with death? Use the audio feature to record his stories and share them with the family. You can preserve these treasured memories for yourself and future generations at the touch of a button.

4. Finding names to take to the temple has never been easier

Have you ever wanted to take family names to the temple but you aren’t sure who needs work done, or you don’t even know where to start? Well, if you have a FamilySearch account, download the app Take a Name. Take a Name searches through your entire family tree for ancestors who need temple ordinances done and delivers the names to you within minutes. This feature can save you hours of endlessly searching through your family tree. How awesome is that? Family history work is almost effortless nowadays. These tools are just waiting for you to take advantage of them.

5. Trust me—you’ll want all these blessings

Apart from all the fun features above, family history can truly bless multiple areas of your life. According to Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, here are just some of the amazing blessings you can receive from doing temple work for your ancestors:

  • “Increased understanding of the Savior and His atoning sacrifice;

  • “Increased influence of the Holy Ghost to feel strength and direction for our own lives;

  • “Increased faith, so that conversion to the Savior becomes deep and abiding;

  • “Increased ability and motivation to learn and repent because of an understanding of who we are, where we come from, and a clearer vision of where we are going; …

  • “Increased joy through an increased ability to feel the love of the Lord; …

  • “Increased protection from temptations and the intensifying influence of the adversary; and

  • “Increased assistance to mend troubled, broken, or anxious hearts and make the wounded whole” (“Family History and Temple Work: Sealing and Healing,” Ensign, May 2018, 47).

I don’t know about you, but as a young adult who is trying to navigate the world, find answers and direction, and do my best to make good decisions, I want these blessings. I need these blessings. I can truly say that when I’ve set aside time in my busy schedule to read about my ancestors, to appreciate their sacrifices, and to do their temple work for them, I have seen countless blessings unfold in my life. Knowing what my ancestors gave in order for me to have the things I do today, knowing where I came from, and knowing that they are cheering me on as I weave my own story into our family tapestry is an indescribable feeling. As I’ve performed temple work for my ancestors, I have been blessed with strength in times when I have none, I’ve felt my heart soften and heal when I’ve been hurt, I’ve learned to better discern that still, small voice from the loudness of the world, and I have truly grown closer to my Savior and my Father in Heaven.

Family history can truly change both your life and the lives of your ancestors who are waiting for you. There are so many new resources that can motivate you and enable you to get started and enjoy this noble work. Take a chance and dive in if you already haven’t. A treasure trove of blessings awaits!