- To assist the Saints to obtain genealogies of their ancestors.
- To secure from all nations and people, so far as possible, genealogical records, and deposit them in suitable quarters where they may be preserved for the perusal and benefit of members of the Society.
- To provide a place where the Saints may be instructed in the best methods of keeping accurate and intelligent records of their Temple work, and be assisted in the clerical labor.
- To increase the interest of the Latter-day Saints in the important work of salvation for the dead.
See The Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, Genealogical Society of Utah, 1922, Volume 13, page 75.
Elder George Q. Cannon in a talk given in General Conference on April 18, 1894 stated,
There has been a disposition manifested among our people, to some extent, for some men and women to gather up all the names of families, whether they were related or not, and perform ordinances for them. I am a believer in this when it does not interfere with the rights of heirship. We should do all we can for those for whom we have friendship, or to whom we are attached in any way, and to have no living representatives that we know of in the church. But you can see the advantage of pursuing now the course that is pointed out by the word of God to us. It will make everyone careful to obtain the connection, and to get the names properly of the sons and of the daughters of men, to have them sealed to their parents. It will draw the line fairly. It will define the lineage clearly. "But," says one, "that may take a long time." Well, we have got 1000 years to do it in. We need not be in such a hurry as to create confusion. The Lord will give us time enough to do it all; and when we have gone as far as appears possible, He will give to us opportunities that, at the present time, we are ignorant of; and we will find that everything will be made plain, and each man will trace his genealogy clear back, and we will know our connection, and what to do in relation to these matters, for the Lord will reveal it to us.See Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, Genealogical Society of Utah, 1922, Volume 13, pages 156-157.
This statement was made by Elder Cannon in the context of the revelation given to President Wilford Woodruff concerning the Law of Adoption, where the members were told to be sealed to their own parents rather than, as was the practice, to seal people to leaders in the Church. See Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, Genealogical Society of Utah, 1922, Volume 13, page 145 and following. You might note that the previous counsel concerning doing Temple work for those outside of our families has now been changed. The current Church policy is contained in a First Presidency letter to members of the Church dated October 8, 2012. This policy was also discussed in 2008 in an LDS.org Newsroom background document entitled "Background Explanation of Temple Baptism" which states, in part, as follows:
Although the Church believes everyone must ultimately have the opportunity to receive the sacraments of salvation, Church members are encouraged to request temple baptism only on behalf of their relatives. However, well-meaning Church members sometimes bypass this instruction and submit the names of non-relatives for temple baptism. Others — perhaps pranksters or careless persons — have submitted the names of unrelated famous or infamous people, or even wholly fictitious names. These rare acts are contrary to Church policy and sometimes cause pain and embarrassment. They are also extremely difficult to prevent because the temple baptism process depends on voluntary compliance by millions of Church members around the world. The Church nearly always learns about problems after the fact.We are now in that time spoken of by Elder Cannon, when the Lord has given us opportunities to extend our family lines. However, the mandate to do so carefully and accurately has not been abrogated. The issue here is not the numbers of names submitted, but the accuracy of the work. A goal of doing so many names in a month or a year should not override the need for accuracy. As Elder Cannon states, "We need not be in such a hurry as to create confusion."