A Year of Family History Quotes

Family History Quote

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Sometimes we feel we just don't have time to write in our journals. I wonder. President Kimball stood before the World Conference on Records last August and said:

"By now, in my own personal history, I have managed to fill seventy-eight large volumes, which are my personal journal. There have been times when I have been so tired at the end of a day that the effort could hardly be managed, but I am so grateful that I have not let slip away from me and my posterity those things which needed to be recorded."

“News of the Church,” Ensign, Oct. 1980, 72  (Report on "The World Conference on Records: Writing the History of the Heart") 

"In all of us there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage—to know who we are and where we have come from. Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning. No matter what our attainments in life, there is still—an emptiness, and the most disquieting loneliness."

Famous "Roots" Author, Alex Haley. Reader's Digest, May 1977, pp. 73-74

"Our motive is to help members of the Church and others find their roots. The doctrine of the eternal nature of the family is one of the most important and sacred of our teachings. As I learn more about my own ancestors who worked so hard, sacrificed so much, it increases my sense of identity and deepens my commitment to honor their memory. Perhaps there has never been a time when a sense of family, of identity and self worth has been more important to the world. Seeking to understand our family history can change our lives and helps bring unity and cohesion to the family."

President Gordon B. Hinckley, Deseret News, "Unveiling of a Heritage", 17 Apr 2001

"The words 'family history' should probably never be said without attaching the word 'temple' to them. Family history research should be the primary source of names for the temple, and temple ordinances are the primary reason for family history research."

Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander of the Seventy

"Latter-day Saints are encouraged to prepare family records as a Book of Remembrance, containing patriarchal blessings, records of ordinations and other sacred information, as well as personal and family histories, spiritual experiences, and other evidences of God's goodness and love."

Encyclopedia of Mormonism


"We also wish to impress upon you the value of your personal example. By mastering the processes of family history research and the preparation of names for the temple, you provide much needed proof that this can be done by ordinary Church members. Please be assured that your accomplishments give much needed hope to those who once stood or still stand on the outside of family history looking in. Even in this age of exploding technology, the human element is and always will be the key ingredient in a successful program of family history."

Elder Marlin K. Jensen, BYU Family History and Genealogy Conference, August 1, 2006, "Making a Case for Family History"

"If temple ordinances are an essential part of the restored gospel, and I testify that they are, then we must provide the means by which they can be accomplished. All of our vast family history endeavor is directed to temple work. There is no other purpose for it. The temple ordinances become the crowning blessings the Church has to offer."

President Gordon B. Hinckley

"Make a habit of going to the house of the Lord. There is no better way to ensure proper living than temple attendance."

President Gordon B. Hinckley - Ensign, May 2005, 102

"...let me remind us all that just as "love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage," family history and the temple are inseparably connected by sacred doctrines having to do with the eternal nature of marriage and families. Family history research should be the primary source of names for temple ordinances, and temple ordinances are the primary reason for family history research. Family history is much more than just a hobby. President Gordon B. Hinckley has said: 'All of our vast family history endeavor is directed to temple work. There is no other purpose for it' (Ensign, May 1998, p. 88). In the commercial vernacular, family history "ships" and the temples "receive!"

Elder Marlin K. Jensen, BYU Family History and Genealogy Conference, August 1, 2006, "Making a Case for Family History"

"Every hour spent on genealogical research, however unproductive it appears, is worthwhile. It is pleasing to the Lord. It is our testimony to Him that we accept the doctrine of the resurrection and the plan of salvation."

Boyd K. Packer (pg 255 "The Holy Temple")


"What could you do better for your children and grand children than to record the story of your life, your triumphs over adversity your recovery after a fall, your progress when all seemed black, your rejoicing when you had finally achieved?"

Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 351

"I believe, strongly too, that when the Gospel is preached to the spirits in prison, the success attending that preaching will be far greater than that attending the preaching of our Elders in this life. I believe there will be very few indeed of those spirits who will not gladly receive the Gospel when it is carried to them. The circumstances there will be a thousand times more favorable."

(President Lorenzo Snow, October conference of 1893)

"When the full measure of Elijah's mission is understood—that the hearts of the children will be turned to the fathers, and the fathers to the children—it applies just as much on this side of the veil as it does to the other side of the veil (see Malachi 4:5-6).

If we neglect our families here in having family home night and we fail in our responsibility here, how would heaven look if we lost some of those through our own neglect? Heaven would not be heaven until we have done everything we can to save those whom the Lord has sent through our lineage.

So, the hearts of you fathers and mothers must be turned to your children right now, if you have the true Spirit of Elijah, and not think that it applies merely to those who are beyond the veil.

Let your hearts be turned to your children, and teach your children; but you must do it when they are young enough to be schooled.

And if you are neglecting your family home evening, you are neglecting the beginning of the mission of Elijah just as certainly as if you were neglecting your research work of genealogy."

"Teachings of Harold B. Lee," p. 281

"When you were baptized, your ancestors looked down on you with hope. Perhaps after centuries, they rejoiced to see one of their descendants make a covenant to find them and to offer them freedom. In your reunion, you will see in their eyes either gratitude or terrible disappointment. Their hearts are bound to you. Their hope is in your hands. You will have more than your own strength as you choose to labor on to find them."

Elder Henry B. Eyring, Hearts Bound Together, April 2005 General Conference Address

"We do not know how many millions of spirits are involved. We know that many have passed away in wars, pestilence, and various accidents. We know that the spirit world is filled with the spirits of men who are waiting for you and me to get busy...We wonder about our progenitors—grandparents, great-grandparents, great-great-grandparents, etc. What do they think of you and me? We are their offspring. We have the responsibility to do their temple work...We have a grave responsibility that we cannot avoid, and may stand in jeopardy if we fail to do this important work."

Spencer W. Kimball, "The Things of Eternity—Stand We in Jeopardy?" Ensign, January 1977, p. 5


"There are some members who engage in temple work but fail to do family history research on their own family lines. Although they perform a divine service in assisting others, they lose a blessing by not seeking their own kindred dead as divinely directed by latter-day prophets. ...I have learned that those who engage in family history research and then perform the temple ordinance work for those whose names they have found will know the additional joy of receiving both halves of the blessing."

President Howard W. Hunter - Ensign 1995

"Then, in a spirit of love and consecration, we must extend ourselves in the work of redemption of the dead through service in the temples of the Lord. This service more nearly approaches the divine work of the Son of God, who gave his life for others, than does any other work of which I know."

Gordon B. Hinckley - "He Slumbers Not, nor Sleeps" - "Ensign," May 1983, 8

"We renew our appeal for the keeping of individual journals and records and compiling family histories.... [S]ome families possess some spiritual treasures because ancestors have recorded the events surrounding their conversion to the gospel and other happenings of interest, including many miraculous blessings and spiritual experiences.... I promise you that if you will keep your journals and records they will indeed be a source of great inspiration to your families, to your children, your grandchildren, and others, on through generations."

President Spencer W. Kimball, General Conference, Oct, 1978

"In our preexistent state … we made a certain agreement with the Almighty. … We agreed … to be not only saviors for ourselves but measurably, saviors for the whole human family. We went into a partnership with the Lord. The working out of the plan became then not merely the Father's work, and the Savior's work, but also our work."

John A. Widtsoe, Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, Oct. 1934, p. 189

"No work is more of a protection to this Church than temple work and the genealogical research which supports it. No work is more spiritually refining. No work we do gives us more power. No work requires a higher standard of righteousness. Our labors in the temple cover us with a shield and a protection, both individually and as a people."

Elder Boyd K. Packer: The Holy Temple, p. 265


"Those who give themselves with all their might and main to this work [of genealogy] receive help from the other side, and not merely in gathering genealogies. Whosoever seeks to help those on the other side receives help in return in all the affairs of life."

Elder John A. Widtsoe (Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, July 1931, p. 104) also quoted in February 1988 Ensign, p. 62

"I would hope that we might go to the house of the Lord a little more frequently.... Most of our temples could be much busier than they are. In this noisy, bustling, competitive world, what a privilege it is to have a sacred house where we may experience the sanctifying influence of the Spirit of the Lord. The element of selfishness crowds in upon us constantly. We need to overcome it, and there is no better way than to go to the house of the Lord and there serve in a vicarious relationship in behalf of those who are beyond the veil of death."

President Gordon B. Hinckley, October 2004

"As we learn to be loving, caring families in mortality, our hearts will naturally turn to members of our kindred family in the spirit world. As they continue to live beyond the veil, they wait—they wait for us, their family, to share the blessings of the ordinances of the priesthood. They yearn to belong to the eternal family circle. They are anxious for us to make this possible. Are we not compelled to do so?"

J. Richard Clarke, "Our Kindred Family—Expression of Eternal Love," Ensign, May 1989, 61

"As far as I know, no other people on the face of the earth do the things that have been revealed unto this people in the house of the Lord. It requires unselfishness of a consummate kind to go to the house of the Lord, to act in behalf of someone you have never met, you've never known. . . . You go there in his or her behalf. But something will happen to you when you do that. I make you a promise that every time you go to the temple, you will leave a better man or woman than you were when you went inside the doors of the temple."

President Gordon B. Hinckley - From regional conference, St. George, Utah, Nov. 24, 2002 (Church News - July 2, 2005)

"As parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents in Zion, it has been the shared hope of my wife and me that all of us will be together in the eternities—that all will be worthy, without a single empty chair. That is my fervent hope and prayer for each family in the Church."

Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, Aug. 1993


President Hinckley gave a devotional address to about 4,000 Ricks students and via closed-circuit television to another 4,000 students. "Do not become a weak link in the chain of your generations," he said. "You come to this world with a marvelous heritage. You come of great men and women, of men of bravery and courage, of women of accomplishment and of tremendous faith." He admonished students to "pass on in unblemished fashion to those who come after you the great virtues of those who have preceded you" and "to continue bright and strong the links of your generations."

President Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, Nov. 1999

"Going hand in hand with this increased temple activity is an increase in our family history work. The computer in its various ramifications is accelerating the work, and people are taking advantage of the new techniques being offered to them. How can one escape the conclusion that the Lord is in all of this? As computer facilities improve, the number of temples grows to accommodate the accelerated family history work."

(Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, Nov. 1999, 4-5)

“In our preexistent state … we made a certain agreement with the Almighty. … We agreed … to be not only saviors for ourselves but measurably, saviors for the whole human family. We went into a partnership with the Lord. The working out of the plan became then not merely the Father’s work, and the Savior’s work, but also our work.” 

John A. Widtsoe, Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, Oct. 1934, p. 189

"We offer everyone the privilege of receiving all of the ordinances of salvation and exaltation."

Elder Dallin H. Oaks - Ensign, May 1998, 57

"Each holy temple stands as a symbol of our membership in the Church, as a sign of our faith in life after death, and as a sacred step toward eternal glory for us and our families."

Elder Russell M. Nelson - Ensign, May 2001, 3


"Then, in a spirit of love and consecration, we must extend ourselves in the work of redemption of the dead through service in the temples of the Lord. This service more nearly approaches the divine work of the Son of God, who gave his life for others, than does any other work of which I know."

Gordon B. Hinckley - "He Slumbers Not, nor Sleeps" - "Ensign," May 1983, 8

"We are a covenant-making people. These eternal blessings are for all who wish to worthily receive of them, both the living and the dead. In the mercy of God we are privileged to receive these blessings by proxy for our deceased ancestors who did not have this privilege in life. They, of course, may choose whether to accept these blessings. Our duty is to search out our forebears and give them the opportunity to accept and receive these blessings. As the Prophet Joseph Smith said, 'The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us is to seek after our dead."

James E. Faust "Eternity Lies before Us," April 1997 General Conference

"Often Church members suffer from a lack of perspective, perhaps understandably, as to the vastness and intensity of the Lord's work in the spirit world. The scope is enormous! Demographers estimate that some sixty to seventy billion peple have lived on this planet thus far. Without diminishing in any way the importance of the absolutely vital and tandem work on this side of the veil, we do need a better grasp of 'things as they really will be' (Jacob 4:13). Otherwise, we can so easily come to regard family history as a quaint hobby and its resulting temple work as something we will get around to later. "Not only does the word vastness characterize the work there, but so does intensity."

Neal A. Maxwell – book: The Promise of Discipleship (2001) – p. 105

"The objective of family history work is to make the blessings of the temple available to all people, both living and dead. As we attend the temple and perform work for the dead, we accomplish a deep sense of alliance with God and a better understanding of his plan for the salvation of the human race. We learn to love our neighbors as ourselves. Truly there is no work equal to that done in the temple. "In addition to the blessings we receive from doing work for the dead, we receive personal blessings as we attend the temple."

(Howard W. Hunter, "We Have a Work to Do," Ensign, Mar. 1995, 65)

 "It is tremendously significant to me that this declaration, this repetition of the wondrous words of Malachi concerning the work for the dead was given to the boy Joseph four years before he was allowed to take the plates from the hill.  It was given before he received either the Aaronic or Melchizedek Priesthood, before he was baptized and well before the Church was organized.  It says much concerning the priority of this work in the plan of the Lord." 

Gordon B. Hinckley, Address given at the 100th anniversary of the Genealogical Society of Utah, 13 November 1994


"President Hunter's classic statement emphasizes the importance of temple work for our own families and helps us to understand the Old Testament prophecy that "saviours shall come up on mount Zion." (Obad. 1:21) This exalting service for others unseen is one of the most noble acts of human kindness."

Russell M. Nelson, CR, Oct. - 1994, "The Spirit of Elijah"

"I wish many times that the veil were lifted off the face of the Latter-day Saints. I wish we could see and know the things of God as they do who are laboring for the salvation of the human family who are in the spirit world; for if this were so, this whole people, with very few, if any, exceptions, would lose all interest in the riches of the world, and instead thereof their whole desires and labors would be directed to redeem their dead."

Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, p. 152

"We are responsible for the blessing, the eternal blessing, of all who have lived upon the earth, the uncounted unnumbered generations of men and women who have lived upon the earth, all who today live upon the earth, and all who will yet live upon the earth. How great is our responsibility. We must stand a little taller and work a little harder to accomplish it."

Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 640

"Yet there is an abundance of role models who can be found much closer and who can have much deeper influence upon each one of us. Most of us, with relatively little effort and much less cost, can provide for our families a veritable list of important role models. This list can be created from a modest search into the lives of our ancestors."

Monte J. Brough, "Search for Identity," Ensign, May 1995, p. 41

"The Lord expects of us all that we do what we can for ourselves and for our dead. He wants us to make the search for our ancestry because he does not do for us what we can do for ourselves. And after we have done all we can, then means will be furnished, or the way will be opened for the finishing of the information which we are unable to discover."

Joseph Fielding Smith: Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 2:149


"But how are they to become saviors on Mount Zion? By building their temples, erecting their baptismal fonts, and going forth and receiving all the ordinances, baptisms, confirmations, washings, anointings, ordinations and sealing powers upon their heads, in behalf of their progenitors who are dead, and redeem them that they may come forth in the first resurrection and be exalted to thrones of glory with them; and herein is the chain that binds the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, which fulfills the mission of Elijah..."

Joseph Fielding Smith: "Conference Report" - April 1948, p. 136

"In this work we cannot fail if we do our part. The Lord will not permit us to fail. This is His work. He will open doors in our genealogical research. He will bless us as we come to the temple. No, we cannot fail."

The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 163

"...My grandfather, being one of a family, searched all his life to get together his genealogical records; and when he died, in 1868, he had been unsuccessful in establishing his line back more than the second generation beyond him. I am sure that most of my family members feel the same as I do—that there was a thin veil between him and the earth, after he had gone to the other side, and that which he was unable to do as a mortal he perhaps was able to do after he had gone into eternity. After he passed away, the spirit of research took hold of men—his family in the West and two distant relatives, not members of the Church, in the East. For seven years these two men—Morrison and Sharples —unknown to each other, and unknown to the members of the family in the West, were gathering genealogy. After seven years, they happened to meet and then for three years they worked together. The family feels definitely that the spirit of Elijah was at work on the other side and that our grandfather had been able to inspire men on this side to search out these records; and as a result, two large volumes are in our possession with about seventeen thousand names."

The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 543

"Many suppose that they are discharging their responsibilities by simply 'going to the temple.' But that is not wholly true. We must go to the temple, of course, and often. If we do not as yet have the records of our own dead kindred, then while we search for them, by all means let us help others with theirs. But be it understood that if we go to the temple, and not for our own dead, we are performing only a part of our duty, because we are also required to go there specifically to save our own dead relatives and bind the various generations together by the power of the holy priesthood."

Elder Mark E. Petersen, The Message Of Elijah, April 1976

"I don't need to tell you the details of where to go and who to see. When you determine you are going to succeed, you will find a way. You will discover those who can help you. I promise you the Lord will bless you in your efforts, for this is His work, and He will guide your prayerful efforts to bring the ordinances and covenants to your ancestors."

Richard G. Scott, CR, Oct. 1990, "Redemption, the Harvest of Love


"This work, unselfishly given in behalf of those on the other side, comes nearer to the unparalleled vicarious work of the Savior than any other of which I know."

Hinckley, Ensign, Nov 1985, 53

"Have we preserved for our children the great stories of how the gospel was brought to and accepted by those early members of our families?"

Elder L. Tom Perry - "Year of Jubilee" - Ensign, Nov. 1999, 76

"Now let me say something to all who can worthily go to the house of the Lord. When you attend the temple and perform the ordinances that pertain to the house of the Lord, certain blessings will come to you: You will receive the spirit of Elijah, which will turn your hearts to your spouse, to your children, and to your forebears. You will love your family with a deeper love than you have loved before. You will be endowed with power from on high as the Lord has promised."

Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 254

"The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us is to seek after our dead. Those saints who neglect it in behalf of their deceased relatives, do it at the peril of their own salvation."

Teachings of the Prophet, p. 193

"Another most significant way to enhance your capacity to understand and live eternal truth is through temple worship. Only by receiving the fullness of temple ordinances and living the covenants made there can you enter into the highest degree of glory and receive the greatest measure of happiness eternally. Temple attendance has a calming, settling, consoling influence that distills peace and contentment. The accompanying family history work to identify ancestors to receive those ordinances yields similar blessings."

Richard G. Scott BYU Education Week, 19 August 1997


"I think that vicarious work for the dead more nearly approaches the vicarious sacrifice of the Savior Himself than any other work of which I know. It is given with love, without hope of compensation, or repayment or anything of the kind. What a glorious principle."

President Gordon B. Hinckley (fireside in Birmingham, England, 29 Aug. 1995)

"The Lord is in this work. He wants it to prosper. He wants us to be successful in our efforts. While living with my grandmother, Louise Ballif Benson, in Logan as a student, I knew she had been working very hard on her research. She kept referring to the fact that there was a gap that she couldn't fill and it worried her. She prayed about it fervently. One day she received a package addressed just 'Benson Family, Utah.' The package contained a printed book which had come from a man in Syracuse, New York, who had done research independently—not as a member of the Church. You can imagine the joy that filled my grandmother's heart when she found that this not only filled the gap, but did much more than that. Her prayers had been answered. Yes, there are many ways to help get the job done."

Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 164

"We renew our appeal for the keeping of individual histories and accounts of sacred experiences in our lives—answered prayers, inspiration from the Lord, administrations in our behalf, a record of the special times and events of our lives. From these records you can also appropriately draw as you relay faith-promoting stories in your family circles and discussions. Stories of inspiration from our own lives and those of our forebearers as well as stories from our scriptures and our history are powerful teaching tools. I promise you that if you will keep your journals and records they will indeed be a source of great inspiration to you individually, your husband or wife, your children, your grandchildren, and mothers throughout the generations."

Spencer W. Kimball, "Therefore I Was Taught," Tambuli, Aug. 1982, 1

"The seen and the unseen worlds are closely connected. One assists the other. Those who fail to partake of the privileges and blessings of temple work deprive themselves of some of the choicest gifts within the keeping of the Church. Temple work begins with genealogy."

John A. Widtsoe (quoted by Boyd K. Packer in his book: The Holy Temple)

"Why is it that sometimes only one of a city or household receives the gospel? It was made known to me that it is because of the righteous dead who had received the gospel in the spirit world exercising themselves, and in answer to their prayers elders of the Church were sent to the homes of their posterity that the gospel might be taught to them, and through their righteousness they might be privileged to have a descendant in the flesh do the work for their dead kindred. I want to say to you that it is with greater intensity that the hearts of the fathers and mothers in the spirit world are turned to their children than that our hearts are turned to them."

Elder Melvin J. Ballard Sermons and Missionary Services of Melvin Joseph Ballard, p. 249


"We are not only to be messengers of salvation to the living, but saviors for our ancestors who went before us and who, though now dead, have paved the way whereby we might receive our present blessings... The promise was made that, even if they were born at a time and place where they could not hear the gospel preached in life, God would provide saviors for them from among their descendants. We are those saviors God promised through whom they can have every priesthood blessing."

Elder Theodore M. Burton, Ensign, May 1975

Righteous spirits, those who have been converted to the gospel in the spirit prison, are still held in the spirit prison until the ordinance work is done (see Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 2:230). These loyal believers are not able to fully progress because, while they can have faith and repent in their spiritual state, such ordinances as baptism and confirmation must be done in mortality, if not by themselves, then by proxies. They too await a day of deliverance. Speaking on this delay President Spencer W. Kimball said:

"Some of us have had occasion to wait for someone or something for a minute, an hour, a day, a week, or even a year. Can you imagine how our progenitors must feel, some of whom have perhaps been waiting for decades and even centuries for the temple work to be done for them?"

"The Things of Eternity - Stand We in Jeopardy?" Ensign, Jan. 1977, p.7

"This is a spiritual work, a monumental effort of cooperation on both sides of the veil where help is given in both directions. It begins with love. Anywhere you are in the world, with prayer, faith, determination, diligence, and some sacrifice, you can make a powerful contribution. Begin now. I promise you that the Lord will help you find a way. And it will make you feel wonderful."

Richard G. Scott, CR, Oct. 1990, "Redemption, the Harvest of Love

"Missionary work is not limited to proclaiming the gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people now living on the earth. Missionary work is also continuing beyond the veil among the millions and even billions of the children of our Heavenly Father who have died either without hearing the gospel or without accepting it while they lived on the earth. Our great part in this aspect of missionary work is to perform on this earth the ordinances required for those who accept the gospel over there. The spirit world is full of spirits who are anxiously awaiting the performance of these earthly ordinances for them. I hope to see us dissolve the artificial boundary line we so often place between missionary work and temple and genealogical work, because it is the same great redemptive work!"

The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.540 (77-01)

"The spirit and influence of your dead will guide those who are interested in finding those records. If there is anywhere on the earth anything concerning them, you will find it."

Elder Melvin J. Ballard Sermons and Missionary Services of Melvin Joseph Ballard, p. 230