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'Stories that bring us together'

'My Family' booklet connects generations, makes collecting family history easier

With FamilyTree, the new Stories and Photos functions and the convenient and quick means of preparing ancestral names for temple work, it’s an exciting time for those whose hearts have turned to their fathers.

Trouble is, these tools haven’t been of much use for people without an adequate Internet connection and without an essential degree of computer literacy — until now, that is.

On Nov. 12, the Family History Department launched a new tool, a booklet called “My Family: Stories that Bring Us Together,” as a way of reaching out to the vast majority of the membership of the Church worldwide — including some 25 percent of Church members in the United States — who either do not have broadband Internet access or who, for whatever reason, choose not to acquire the skills to use it, said Paul M. Nauta, marketing manager for FamilySearch.

In short, the booklet is a convenient, step-by-step way for Church members without easy Internet access “to share their family memories and save those memories for future generations and also to identify their ancestors and prepare their names for temple work,” Brother Nauta said.

With the booklet, the user with pen or pencil in hand starts out by telling his or her story.

“You capture a few things you would like future generations to know about you,” Brother Nauta explained, “hobbies and interests, favorite traditions and photos.”

Members can do that for themselves, ward family history consultants can assist or children can help their parents, grandparents or other relatives fill in the booklet.

The completed booklet can then be taken to the Family History Library or one of the Church’s thousands of family history centers located worldwide, or simply to a friend or relative who has the necessary Internet access. Using a help feature on FamilySearch.org, (www.FamilySearch.org/myfamily) the information is entered into the FamilySearch website.

Peter, left, Lauren and Nicola Fagg, Chorley 2nd Ward, Chorley England Stake, are among members who have tried out a new booklet, "My Family: Stories that Bring Us Together."
Peter, left, Lauren and Nicola Fagg, Chorley 2nd Ward, Chorley England Stake, are among members who have tried out a new booklet, "My Family: Stories that Bring Us Together." Photo: IRI

Thereafter, the photos, stories and precious memories are available to descendants and other family members who use FamilySearch.org. Names of ancestors are added to FamilySearch FamilyTree, where they can be researched by relatives doing their own family history research or prepared for temple ordinances.

New "My Family" booklet facilitates persons who lack broadband Internet access sharing their family history information and memories to the Internet.
New "My Family" booklet facilitates persons who lack broadband Internet access sharing their family history information and memories to the Internet. Photo: IRI

Brother Nauta said that in testing, the new booklet has shown a side benefit of strengthening family relationships.

“What it is doing is compelling people between generations to talk to each other,” he said. It provides an occasion, say, for grandparents to consider the stories and memories they would like future generations to know and to share them with a grandchild who is helping them complete the booklet.

For example, Brother Nauta said his daughter has been visiting her grandmother one Sunday each month, taking along a smartphone and a list of questions about her grandmother’s history.

Markel Dawkins, Crystal Palace Ward, Sunderland England Wandsworth Stake, enters information on-line gathered with the help of the new booklet "My Family: Stories that Bring Us Together."
Markel Dawkins, Crystal Palace Ward, Sunderland England Wandsworth Stake, enters information on-line gathered with the help of the new booklet "My Family: Stories that Bring Us Together." Photo: IRI

“Grandma looks forward to the visits,” he said. It’s a special experience for them both. They are bonding and having some discovery moments as memories are shared across two generations.

The booklet is being introduced in 26 languages. “We think it will have tremendous impact internationally,” Brother Nauta said.

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