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

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Youth and Family History is building a library of stories, talks, videos and other media items for use in helping the youth of the Church become involved in family history. Lately there has been a movement to integrate programs into You can see this on the page called FamilySearch Youth and Family History. Since and are both massively large websites, it would be interesting to see what percentage of the visitors use the specialized type pages. In my experience, helping members of my own Ward become familiar with FamilySearch Family Tree, I would guess that the percentage of members who are even aware of the resources would be very, very small.

From my viewpoint, one of the keys to youth involvement in family history is the Indexing program. Watching videos and listening to talks may be motivational but there is no substitute for actual participation at a useful level. Another challenge is the issue that even if youth become interested in family history it is unlikely that they would seek help from the existing genealogical structure. I see a vanishingly small number of youth spontaneously visiting the family history centers unless they are participating in group activities. I would also guess that it is very rare for Ward Family History Consultants to be actively involved in youth activities.

Whenever I make these kinds of observations, I frequently receive comments from readers contradicting my observations based on their own experience in their own Ward. My observations are based on years of experience serving in a major FamilySearch library and from visiting quite a number of Wards around the United States.

One of the most promising developments is the encouragement received from the Church to involve the youth as Family History Consultants. I have not yet personally seen this happen but I am certain this is one way to break down the barriers between the generally older adult Family History Consultants and the youth in their Ward.

Another very successful program initiated by the Mesa FamilySearch Library has been to organize a structured and very active Boy Scout Genealogy Merit Badge program.  This program alone has resulted in hundreds of young men visiting the Library.

I think there are some wonderful programs out there for involving the youth and genealogy and family history but I think we still have a long way to go before a substantial percentage of the youth become involved.

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