You may have heard about the 63.7 million indexed names added to FamilySearch on Aug 14. In light of the announcement, here's a look at family history across the decades and how it has evolved as reported in past editions of the Church News:
Ye olde records
The Great Domesday Books, records created during the eleventh century under William the Conqueror, were added to the Genealogical Library in Salt Lake City in 1948.
Created in approximately 1086 B.C., the records contained the names and titles of every important property holder in England. The records also included the nature and extent of the properties, some fathers' names, and many of their wives' and children's names. The first volume covered more than 30 counties, while the second volume covered Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk counties. They were printed in 1662 and 1663, with later printings in 1783 and 1811. Copies were created from a photozincography plate made in 1862 under the order of Queen Victoria.
The original text was written with many Latin contractions, which is why many genealogists felt few researchers referred to the volumes. The texts had been translated into English, however, when they came into possession of the Genealogical Library.
The Genealogical Society acquired them from a firm in Chicago, where technicians Terry Allen and Joseph Rostenburg learned how to run a machine that could process more than 40 feet of microfilm a minute.
Not just monkeying around
Elder Jacobsen was a member of the McKinley Ward in the Temple View Stake in 1958, where he had compiled 3,400 family group sheets since 1947. The records stacked up to about two feet and traced his ancestry to 1448 in Denmark, where he also served his mission from 1904-1905.
When asked about his interest in genealogy, Carl W. Jacobsen laughingly responded "I was told I was a monkey once, and I wanted to prove I wasn't."
A family history feast
The World Records Conference was announced for Aug. 5-8, 1969, in Salt Lake City, and was expected to draw 15,000 to 25,000 archivists, genealogists, historians, librarians and technologists.
The World Convention and Seminar on Genealogy was also announced in conjunction with the conference.
Elder Theodore M. Burton, Assistant to the Council of the Twelve, and vice president and general manager of The Genealogical Society of the Church, presided at an announcement banquet that brought together about 360 committee members.
"Never before have we brought together the full force of so many groups to use their knowledge, experience and ability to concentrate on gathering and protecting and organizing the records of man," he said at the 1968 banquet.
Then-Utah Gov. Calvin L. Rampton welcomed guests and expressed the state's interest in the conference, noting the scenic and cultural advantages of Utah that would be of interest to visitors.
President Joseph Fielding Smith, then a member of the First Presidency, was also awarded a certificate "for the leadership shown in enthusing others to become family oriented and genealogically minded," part of the certificate read. President Smith served as president of the The Genealogical Society of the Church for 25 years.
Teaching in Taiwan
In Taiwan in 1967, one woman named Ch'en Fu was feeling "emptiness and despair — despair that could not be overcome through personal strength," when her father passed away, according to a 1978 Church News article.
Then two missionaries knocked on her and her husband's door. Sister Ch'en asked them if they knew where her father's soul had gone and if she would ever see him again. The Ch'en family began meeting with the missionaries and were baptized in 1968.
Her husband, Hua-shun Ch'en, went on to serve as branch president and the public communications director for the stake.
In 1978, Brother Ch'en was genealogy director of the Taipei 1st Ward.
100 million miracles
The Church had performed 100 million endowments for the dead as of mid-August 1988, helping the Church on its monumental task of vicarious work, said Elder Wm. Grant Bangerter, then of the Presidency of the Seventy and executive director of the Temple Department.
"We do temple work because it is a work of reality to bless and benefit those who are to receive it. Everyone ... must pass through the temple to obtain the fullness of the promise of eternal life," he told the Church News.
From dreams to reality
As a child, Margaret Martindale's grandfather told her of a dream he had of her undertaking "a great religious work for our family."
But it wasn't until college that she was introduced to the gospel. After her grandfather passed away, Martindale was given a box of family records by her grandmother, and as other family records became available, she realized the meaning of her grandfather's dream. It ultimately took her two years to organize and do the temple work for the thousands of names.
"Grandfather's dream had become a reality," she wrote in 1998.
Walking the walk
Le Lani H. Moffett shared her story of being unable to find information about one of her ancestors for 30 years. Although she didn't locate the information, she realized she "walked many paths" as she searched for the information, including literally walking on the roads her ancestor may have walked on.
"The lessons I have learned while searching … have been invaluable, and the association of relatives I have come to know has been priceless," she wrote in 2008. "I still have many paths to walk, but now I feel I do not walk alone."