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

Monday, May 11, 2015

A Brief Chronology of Family History in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Introductory Note

The modern doctrine of salvation of the dead as taught by the prophets of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints dates back into antiquity with several references in the Bible. It is surprising that there are so few published timelines that focuses on this specific aspect of LDS doctrine and practice showing milestones in the development of the doctrine and practice and including modern technological developments that have proved to impact both the doctrine and the practices associated with the that doctrine. The following is an attempt to begin a timeline with that focus. I have omitted specific references to many of the doctrinal developments and mainly listed those events and procedural changes that make up the actual practice of doing genealogical or family history research and submitting names for Temple ordinances. I have used the Church History section of Timeline and the book:

Allen, James B., Jessie L. Embry, and Kahlile B. Mehr. Hearts Turned to the Fathers: A History of the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1894-1994. Provo, Utah: BYU Studies, Brigham Young University, 1995.

I have added to and expanded the brief timeline contained in the book and added in some more events from the technological developments outside of the Church.  See Computer History Museum (, History of Computing (, History of Personal Computers (, History of the Internet (, Internet Hall of Fame, Internet History (


  • June 1829-April 1830 – The Melchizedek Priesthood was restored.
  • 6 April 1830 – The Church is organized in Fayette Township, New York.
  • 27 March 1836 – The Kirtland Temple was dedicated.
  • 3 April 1836 – The sealing keys were restored by the ancient prophet Elijah to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.
  • 15 August 1840 -- Baptisms for the dead were publically announced by Joseph Smith in Nauvoo, Illinois and the first baptisms for the dead performed in the Mississippi River.
  • 4 May 1842 -- First endowments were given in the Nauvoo Temple, in Nauvoo, Illinois.
  • December 1845-February 1846 -- Temple ordinances were first administered in the Nauvoo Temple.
  • 5 May 1855 – The Endowment House in Salt Lake City, Utah was dedicated.
  • 6 April 1877 – St. George Temple was dedicated and the first proxy baptisms for the dead were performed in the Temple.
  • 1890 – Herman Hollerith invents the punch card system for processing the 1880 U.S. Federal Census.
  • 6 April 1893 – The Salt Lake Temple was dedicated.
  • 13 November 1894 – President Wilford Woodruff received an important revelation regarding the necessity of sealing families by virtue of the Priesthood authority. The Genealogical Society of Utah was founded to advance this work.
  • 1910 – First publication of the Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine.
  • 3 October 1918 – President Joseph F. Smith receives Vision of the Redemption of the Dead, now contained in Section 138 of the Doctrine and Covenants.
  • 1927- 1969 – The creation and use of the Temple Records Index Bureau card index for checking name submissions to the temples. 
  • 1938 – The Genealogical Society of Utah began its monumental microfilming effort of records around the world. 
  • 1941 -1942 – J. V. Atanasoff and Cliff Berry, build the Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC), a computer with memory at the Iowa State College (now University).
  • 1943 -1946 – John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert build the first commercial computer at the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator (ENIAC) at the University of Pennsylvania.
  • 1944 – The United Kingdom develops the Colossus at Bletchley Park.
  • 1947 – William Shockley, Walter Brattain and John Bardeen create the first semiconductor transistor.
  • 1948 – Claude Shannon publishes The Mathematical Theory of Communication and identifies the “bit” as the basic unit of data.
  • 1948 – 1957 – IBM designs the IBM 610, the first personal computer.
  • 1951 – The first UNIVAC I delivered to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • 1953 – Grace Hopper invents the first computer language later known as COBOL.
  • 1956 – IBM develops and sells the first hard drive memory storage system.
  • 1958 – Jack Kilby creates the first integrated circuit at Texas Instruments.
  • 1958 – The first large-scale computer network, SAGE or Semi-Automatic Ground Environment, was developed.
  • 1958 – Bell Laboratories invents the modem. 
  • 1958 – U.S. Government develops the Advanced Research Projects Agency or ARPA net, the precursor to the Internet. 
  • 1961 – The Church began its Records Tabulation program for extracting names from original records for temple ordinances. 
  • 1963 – The Granite Record Vault was completed.
  • 1963 – The American Standard Code for Information Exchange or ASCII is developed.
  • 1964 – The Church opened its first Family History Centers. 
  • 1964 – 1967 – The Rand Corporation develops the first packet switching of message blocks to revolutionize data communications. 
  • 1965 – The first Wide-Area Network (WAN) is developed by Lawrence Roberts at MIT and Thomas Marill. 
  • 1966 – The Church began the Four Generation program. The records submitted became the Ancestral File. 
  • 1969 – The Church held the first World Conference on Records in Salt Lake City, Utah. 
  • 1969 - 1990 – The Church implemented the Genealogical Information and Name Tabulation system or GIANT program for automated name processing and included the data in the International Genealogical Index.
  • 1969 – UCLA team sends the first data packets.
  • 1972 – Ray Tomlinson invents email. 
  • 1973 – Ethernet Invented at Xerox Parc. 
  • 1974 – Vint Cerf and Robert Kahn publish “A Protocol for Packet Network Interconnection” and use the term “Internet” for the first time. 
  • 1977 – Apple Computer is incorporated.
  • 1977 – First commercially successful home computers; TRS-80, Apple II and Commodore PET.
  • 1978 – The Church began the Stake Record Extraction program
  • 1981 – IBM releases the first IBM PC.
  • 1981 – Temple work was automated through the Temple Recording System.
  • 1984 – Apple releases the first Macintosh Computer.
  • 1989 – The Genealogical Information System (GIS) was renamed FamilySearch.
  • 1989 – Tim Berners-Lee creates the World Wide Web. 
  • 1989 – Brewster Kahle invents the Wide Area Information Server or WAIS.
  • 1990 – The Temple Recording System was replaced by the Ordinance Recording System. 
  • 1990 – 1993 – The GIANT system was replaced by TempleReady.
  • 1990 – The FamilySearch compact disk technology provided automated access to the Ancestral File, the International Genealogical Index and the Family History Library Catalog.
  • 1991 – World Wide Web is opened to the public.
  • 1993 -- Mark Andreessen and Eric Bina create the Mosaic browser at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA).
  • 1994 – Family Record Extraction and Stake Record Extraction were combined in one program.
  • 1998 – FamilySearch began digital imaging of records.
  • 1998 – The first blogs appear online. 
  • 1999 – The website was opened to the public and immediately crashed. But it was soon in operation and 1.5 billion hits by October, 1999.
  • 2001 – Work began on the website.
  • 2005 - 2014 – began beta testing. The program never was finally released and was discontinued in 2014 still in beta. 
  • 2006 – FamilySearch Indexing program is introduced.
  • 2011 – First RootsTech Conference held in Salt Lake City, Utah. 
  • 2013 – Family Tree formally introduced at the RootsTech Conference.
  • 2014 – FamilySearch announces partnerships with, and
As I got into this project, I realized that there was virtually no end to the detail that could be included. You are free to make comments and added additional significant events you feel are pertinent. 


  1. How about the partnerships with GenealogyBank on obituaries and the latest with American Ancestors. I think it would also be helpful to list the dates when FamilySearch tree started, then new.FamilySearch and now, FamilySearch Family Tree.

  2. This is an excellent resource! Thank you!