Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Saturday, November 30, 2013

4 Generations is the key to genealogy

Some years ago,  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints initiated a four generation program. Subsequent programs involve submitting an additional fifth-generation and auditing and correcting the originally submitted four generation family group sheets. These submissions, constituted the basis for the presently available Ancestral File on Now once again, there is an effort by the Church to implement what is essentially another for generation submission program. The recently introduced booklet entitled "My Family: Stories That Bring Us Together" is a simple outline for entering the first four generations of a family history. In contrast to the original submission, the new booklet encourages submitting photos and stories.

I believe that emphasis on submitting or otherwise requiring a four generation family group record is essential to establishing a reasonable basis for genealogy in the Church and otherwise. For example, I would suggest that every new Church Service Missionary called be encouraged to work on a four generation family group record as part of their Service Missionary calling. In many cases this would simply mean becoming aware of work that had already been done by previous generations, but in other instances it would involve considerable research. I would suggest that the idea is not to complete research on for generations but to be actively involved in genealogical research.

The Church has extremely adequate support materials and online resources to allow at least English-speaking members and missionaries to complete a four generation family group record. To be clear about what I consider for generations, the compiled family group records and resulting pedigree chart would include the individual, the individual's parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. The compilation would include all of the children from all of the marriages for each of the direct line ancestors. Two areas that are often neglected in this process are the inclusion of all marriages and all children from all of the marriages.

Since my own interest in genealogy originated with participation in one of the earlier four generation programs, I can see the value of doing a four generation research project even if it ends up being simply a matter of copying existing information. With our present genealogical tools, in many instances establishing a four generation pedigree would be readily available on's Family Tree program. But my recent experiences in reviewing dozens of Family Tree entries for various members of my own Ward,  indicate that a renewed emphasis on compiling for generations would be immensely helpful in increasing genealogical activity.

I am concerned that the new booklet that has been introduced, at least in established Wards,  will be just another book that is put on the shelf and ignored. It appears to be a very effective tool for new members or those who have done no genealogical research but I question whether or not it will be a motivation for established members absent some programs emphasizing updating the information and verifying the information in Family Tree.

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