Group of women on laptops

Family History: Why Is This Even a Thing?

Why should sorting through the names of people I don’t even know be important in my own life?

Family history. We’ve all heard of it. But several friends have mentioned to me that family history work just seems too complicated and, honestly, just not worth their time. Since I am a trained family historian myself, I cringe hearing this because I know from my own experience how important family history work is. As we participate in family history work, we come to better understand our ancestors and offer them the ability to live forever with their families in the presence of our Heavenly Parents.

In 2014, Elder Quentin L. Cook gave a talk entitled “Roots and Branches.” In this talk, he mentions three benefits of doing family history work.

"Much of the heavy lifting in hastening the work of salvation for both the living and dead will be done by you young people." —Quentin L. Cook

Photo by Andrew Neel

The first benefit is that we are providing our ancestors with the opportunity to receive sacred saving ordinances, including baptism with the proper authority. Elder Cook quoted President Thomas S. Monson as saying that our ancestors are waiting to “go into the house of God and perform that work…that they…cannot perform.”

The second benefit is that we can help our families be connected for all eternity. Elder Cook quotes Wilford Woodruff in saying that, by doing the saving ordinances for our own ancestors, “we will have our fathers, our mothers, our wives and our children with us…in the Celestial Kingdom.” 

Finally, the third benefit is that we will feel happier in life. Elder Cook, borrowing from scripture, proclaims, “Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad. Let the earth break forth into singing… for the prisoners shall go free” (D&C 128:22). 

I can personally testify to all three of these benefits because I have experienced them during my role as a family historian. But especially, I can testify to the happiness that comes while doing my own family history research. There have been several times when I was in the process of finding a person’s spouse, or a couple’s little baby who died soon after birth, or a person’s correct parents, and have felt both the guidance and the gratitude of those specific people from the other side of the veil.

Read Elder Quentin L. Cook’s full talk “Roots and Branches” to learn how to receive even more blessings from family history work.


—Michael Pulsipher, Latter-day Saint Insights


Find more insights

Read Emilee Pugh Bell’s Latter-day Insights article “Family History: Level Up” to discover the benefits of using FamilySearch.

Read Shantel Fitzgerald’s Latter-day Insights article “Computer Screens and Big Blessings” to learn more about the blessings of family history work.

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One Comment

  1. Jarene Fluckiger

    This is so true. Doing family history brings me joy and energizes my life. When we get to the other side, I am so excited to meet the people for whom I was able to help by doing family history!

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