Lawmakers give nod to Family History Month

Genealogy archive helps improve health care

A U.S. Senate resolution designating October as Family History Month was unanimously approved and the resolution's sponsor, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, was warm in his praise for the Church's accomplishments in this area during a visit to the Family History Library Nov. 2.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson, left, accompanies Sen. Orrin Hatch, center, during the lawmaker's visit to the Church's Family History Library. At right is library's director, David Rencher.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson, left, accompanies Sen. Orrin Hatch, center, during the lawmaker’s visit to the Church’s Family History Library. At right is library’s director, David Rencher. Credit: Photo by John Hart

Sen. Hatch was welcomed by Elder D. Todd Christofferson, executive director of the Family and Church History Department. Elder Christofferson of the Presidency of the Seventy noted that the library has an archive of 2 billion names and serves 2,500 people daily.

In the introduction of Sen. Hatch, Elder Christofferson quoted a statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley outlining the Church's interest in family history:

"Our motive is to help members of the Church and others find their roots. The doctrine of the eternal nature of the family is one of the most important and sacred of our teachings. As I learn more about my own ancestors who worked so hard, sacrificed so much, it increases my sense of identity and deepens my commitment to honor their memory. Perhaps there has never been a time when a sense of family of identity and self-worth has been more important to the world. Seeking to understand our family history can change our lives and helps brings unity and cohesion to family. There is something about understanding the past that helps give our young people something to live up to, a legacy of respect. We are grateful to be able to make a significant contribution to that."

Sen. Hatch said that Resolution 160 recognizes "something very important in our land, especially at this time. Since the events of Sept. 11, families have been getting together, people have been drawn to each other; there has been a spiritual renewal in this country."

He said that the Church had presented family histories to "a significant number" of leaders at the nation's capital. "In every case they valued it and cherished it," he said. "And that work was done right here in this library. As we all know, the genealogical system of the Church is the greatest in the world."

In the resolution, which praises the institution of the family, it is noted that "approximately 60 percent of Americans have expressed an interest in tracing their family history" and "as individuals learn about their ancestors who worked so hard and sacrificed so much, their commitment to honor their ancestors' memory by doing good is increased."

Sen. Hatch said also that the archives of the Church helped improve health care "because we can do genealogical research way back on people with health problems. With the complete mapping of the human gene, we are now finding that this is one of the most pertinent spots on earth" because of the Church's genealogy archive.

"And, as you all know, from a spiritual standpoint, those of us who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we think caring for our ancestors is one of the most spiritually sublime things we can do."