“Off the Dusty Bookshelf,” Ensign, March 2019
I was raised in a remote farming community in southern Alberta, Canada, and as a young girl I watched my mother diligently sort through rare family photos and record bits and pieces of family history using only the materials that were available to her at the time: short, stubby pencils and odd, misshaped pieces of paper that she would carefully file into an old shoebox.
Preserving our genealogy and stories seemed so very important to Mother, and I couldn’t help but have similar feelings as the Spirit touched my heart. As I got older, I followed her example and began to copy from her records and gather historical facts for my own personal book of remembrance.
While raising my young family, I too diligently recorded the milestones for each of our seven children. My passion for collecting and recording events through photos, letters, and stories expanded and soon included documentation of their births, travels, schooling, callings, missions, and marriages. Over the years, increased technology helped me collect and share family history information with my immediate and extended family.
Over the years my diverse collection of rare photos, stories, and journals of my ancestors increased beyond capacity. I felt that the information that I had preserved needed to be categorized into individual binders for each of my ancestors. I got to work, and a large closet in our home was rebuilt with long rows of shelves to hold these binders. I arranged my collection of binders on the shelves for display with my children and grandchildren in mind. I felt certain that they would visit me and request to spend time studying and devouring my immense collection of family history offered for their enjoyment from my personal library.
Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles promised the youth: “As you respond in faith to this invitation [to participate in family history], your hearts shall turn to the fathers. The promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will be implanted in your hearts. Your patriarchal blessing, with its declaration of lineage, will link you to these fathers and be more meaningful to you. Your love and gratitude for your ancestors will increase.”1
Those are the promises that I wanted my grandchildren to experience.
I soon realized that the sacred pages of antique photos and rich stories that I had spent the last 65 years compiling were gathering dust on my bookshelves. I needed to do something different. My descendants were bustling about serving as missionaries and in callings, earning a living and raising families, and in the process, they were lukewarm toward the wealth of information waiting and all but forgotten on my bookshelves.
The answer came in 2013, when a new initiative to upload photos and stories to FamilySearch began. I could share my work—and through the accessibility of modern technology, my family could share in my work as well. My heart soared at the knowledge that I had the capacity to share my great wealth of information with my posterity and could help them be a part of this hastening of the Lord’s work.
Now I simply scan the information from my collection, upload it to an ancestor’s page, and press “save.” Family members all over the continent have instant access: my grandson in Seattle, Washington, USA, or my granddaughter in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, can each pick up their devices and at the touch of a finger access any of the many stories I have uploaded to FamilySearch.
Moving the records from my dusty bookshelf means my beloved ancestors are now being carried around in the pockets and purses of my posterity—it is a modern-day miracle. Off the dusty bookshelf … into the hands of the youth!