Sunday, August 9, 2009

Latter-Day Saints: genealogical phenoms

For anyone doing genealogy research, one of the best places to start is with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The Mormons are genealogical phenoms. I imagine the basis for that is two-fold: one reason being that when plural marriage was the norm for them, there was a very real need to keep family ties straight, to know who was related to whom by marriage or by blood - when someone can end up being their own stepgrandmother, things can get confusing if records aren't kept. The other reason is that the Mormons seem to be just generally very family-oriented. Members of the LDS are sealed to their families for all of eternity, so it's probably important to them to know who their family is.

In any case, the LDS emphasis on genealogical records extends beyond the Mormon church. They have made huge contributions to recording and preserving all things genealogy. The very first death certificates my father found for his side of the family came from research he did at a LDS Family History Center. There are dozens of these centers scattered around the country, with a huge selection of microfilmed records or access to said microfilmed records. The family tree program I use on my computer is the free one provided by the LDS. And their Web site, www.familysearch.org, has been extremely helpful to me in finding available family records, such as Edward Haase's and Eva Meinberg's birth certificates, and John Ricklefs and Meta Tiedemann's marriage certificate. There is some user-generated content on the Web site that is inaccurate, but if you know which databases are trustworthy, Familysearch can provide you with a wealth of genealogical information, or at least a place to start.

So this is a thank you to the Mormons, who fostered my father's interest in genealogy, who provided me with some important inroads in my own research, and who realize that whether we love them or hate them, and whether we know them or are separated from them by hundreds of years, that family, who we're tied to forever, is the most important thing.

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