family history (that your grandma probably doesn’t do)

Family History.

Just seeing the words causes so many different feelings. Joy? Stress? Guilt?

Do you do family history? My grandma does it. My mom does it. Even my dad does it. But why and how should I do it?

Elder Bednar said “I know the youth of the rising generation have a key role to play in this great endeavor” (The Hearts of The Children Shall Turn, Oct. 2011).

Uh oh… That’s us.

As a Mia Maid, one of my value projects was family history research. I enjoyed it and found it fulfilling, but didn’t keep doing it after I got my required hours (oops).

In college I did some indexing. Once.

Now, as a young adult, my family has become genealogy OBSESSED. My dad was called as the ward family history leader, then the stake family history leader. We all attend family history conferences. My sister documents family history using her photography talents, and my brother is working on a family history app. Needless to say, with my family, it is family history all the time.


So, now to the good stuff. Based off of what I’ve learned from the many more qualified people in my life, here are my ideas on how you and I can get involved.

Treat family history like social media.

We are all on our phones updating everything all the time. There is an overload of information about us everywhere. But what happens when you are gone? Unfortunately, much of what you have uploaded could be lost to the cyber graveyard or so spread out across the web that nobody ever takes the time to find it all. So here is my solution.

Download the app “Memories” that the church has created. It is built to connect with the FamilySearch App (which you can also download if you feel so inclined).

By using this app, you can essentially create your own personal history as you go, and also help fill out information about other people’s histories.

When you upload a picture to Instagram, upload it here! Here is a screen shot from my feed:

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As you can see, there are some slightly embarrassing photos I’ve found while looking through scrapbooks, but also some more recent photos I have uploaded from family trips or events. You can add a caption to the photo with information and a date.

When you go into FamilySearch, these photos will show up under your profile. You can even tag other people in the photos so they show up on their profiles! See my dad’s page with some tagged photos I have added of him:

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See my mom’s page with the photos that have been added of her by my grandma:

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It’s like our own little personal Instagram!

In addition to photos, you can add written “stories.” Maybe try adding an excerpt from a journal entry on a big day in your life. Maybe you wrote an essay for school referencing something important in your life or a family member’s life – add it here! You could also write something specifically for the app – maybe the story of when you first met a younger sibling that came home from the hospital? Or a favorite activity you and your siblings did as children? A favorite memory of a trip with your parents or grandparents? Anything – the sky’s the limit!

Another fun option that can really bring a person to life is the “audio” part of the app. You can record audio of the actual person talking, or someone else talking about the person. My dad recently ran into a man that had his father, Rees, as a teacher in high school. The man started talking to my dad about his memories of Rees, so my dad broke out the app and started recording! My dad has now really taken the recording option to heart and has started recording his own memories of his father as well.

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You see the first recording of Duane talking about Rees as a high school teacher, then two other recordings my dad has made sharing memories about his father.

Perhaps your brother is giving his farewell talk for his mission, or your mom is bearing her testimony? Break out the Memories app! Maybe you memorized some scriptures, The Living Christ, or something else for seminary or young women’s requirements – record yourself! What an amazing thing for your family members to hear. Or maybe you want to record yourself bearing testimony about a spiritual experience you had. Then, you can look back on it for years to come and remember those feelings you felt and hear the conviction in your own voice.


There are many ways to get involved in family history and doing these things certainly doesn’t replace the amazing experience of attending the temple, especially when it is a name you find yourself. I encourage you to continue to work on family history in that aspect and to continue to strive to attend the temple on a regular basis.

My hope with this post is to broaden your mind on what family history is – it isn’t just for old people. We can effectively do it on a day-to-day basis just by documenting our lives for future generations!

So, what ideas do you have? What are some other ways you can use this app or other resources the church has in order to do family history? What has worked for you?

Author profile

I'm the type of person who has too many interests for their own good. I am spread thin, but luckily, I function well that way. I write music, currently sing in a show at Disneyland and am launching my own online home goods shop, Class Room LA. I love cooking, eating and subsequently, running. Born in Salt Lake, I now live in Los Angeles and love the weather, the food and the unique people.

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  • TaylorBerhow
    May 14, 2016 at 11:54 am

    This is great! I heard LDSliving picked this up? What a rockstar!

  • Mary H.
    May 15, 2016 at 9:34 pm

    Good to know. Thanks. Also, who are the family in the 19th century photo? I am trying to remember where I have seen that photo before.

    • Taylor Olson
      May 16, 2016 at 12:55 am

      It’s David O. McKay and his family!