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25-plus tools to make family history simple and fun

BYU Education Week presentation highlights tools for personal history, family history and genealogical records

A family in Japan looks a photographs together.

A family in Japan looks a photographs together.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints


PROVO, Utah — Olivia Lyman Jewell’s perspective of family history was forever changed after acting on an invitation Sister Wendy W. Nelson extended during BYU Women’s Conference in April 2015. 

“Would you be willing to try an experiment?” Sister Nelson asked. “What would happen if … we each selected a 21-day period of time and then did whatever it took in order to make a sacrifice of time to the Lord by increasing the time we spend in temple work and in family history work during those 21 days? What blessings, miracles and other positive changes would come to our lives?”

As Jewell participated in this 21-day invitation, she realized that family history didn’t have to be about research, dates, records and charts. “I discovered that it could be done in simple ways and it didn’t have to be a big commitment of time,” she told BYU Education Week attendees on Aug. 15. 

President Russell M. Nelson has promised: “Nothing opens the heavens quite like the combination of increased purity, exact obedience, earnest seeking, daily feasting on the words of Christ in the Book of Mormon, and regular time committed to temple and family history work.”

Jewell, a professional family history educator and presenter, titled her BYU Education Week class “‘Family History, I Am Doing It’: Tools to Make It Simple and Fun.” She listed several resources available to provide help in three areas — personal history, family history and genealogical records. 

Recording your personal history

Journaling

Taking and sharing photos

Former Primary General President Joy D. Jones taught: “Children resonate to meaningful stories and love discovery experiences. Temple and family history consultants can lead young people into a world of family history along with their parents and other family members. Working with children might require different methods than working with adults. But I promise you that it’s worth the effort and the necessary adaptations and creativity. Plus it can be fun!” (2018 Temple and Family History Leadership Instruction).

A mother of four children, Jewell added, “I have had so much fun trying to connect the kids in those ways and saving those things.”

Compiling your family’s history

Grandparent and parent interviews

  • Storyworth: sends prompts via email to collect stories and memories
  • Tales: collects memories via phone call and creates a podcast
  • FamilySearch Memories App: record and upload audio
  • Audio call recorder apps for iOS and Android

Digitizing and organizing

Genealogical records

FamilySearch’s new Get Involved experience is a hybrid web tool and mobile app for users to review names indexed by handwriting recognition artificial intelligence.  

Jewell also pointed to “Recommended Tasks” found on the right panel of a user’s homepage in FamilySearch. 

With help from FamilySearch partners, one’s family tree can be built across various platforms — such as Ancestry, MyHeritage and FindMyPast. Use their hinting features, Jewell suggested. 

For help with cousin and descendant research: 

Jewell concluded her presentation with a quote by President Henry B. Eyring, then first counselor in the First Presidency, in April 2017 general conference: “Of course, all of us have many pressing and important responsibilities that need our attention and time. All of us find parts of what the Lord expects us to do beyond our abilities.

“Fortunately, the Lord provides a way for each of us to gain confidence and satisfaction in all our service, including family history service. We gain strength to do what He asks through our faith that the Savior gives no commandment ‘save he shall prepare a way for [us] that [we] may accomplish the thing which he commandeth’ (1 Nephi 3:7). I know this is true from experience.”

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