The Roots of Family History
In March of 2000 Elder D. Todd Christofferson gave a talk, The Roots of Family History, at a BYU Family History Fireside. He talks about the many new tools that we have to help with our genealogy research but then switched to what is really at the "roots" of family history work.
Now, having talked by way of introduction about these exciting developments and future possibilities, let me talk about what is really behind "roots mania." I think you know. It is the Holy Spirit moving in the hearts of people across the earth, turning their hearts to their forebears. This divine influence leads people, in a spirit of love and without their fully understanding why, to prepare what will be needed to open the door to salvation for their predecessors. The fact that this influence is now being so widely felt simply means that the Lord is hastening His work in its time (see D&C 88:73).
It is vital that we maintain a firm doctrinal foundation in family history. Otherwise, we might focus only on tools and techniques and become simply hobbyists. The spirit and divine purposes that underlie family history must, for us, guide what we do and how we do it. By analogy, in archeology, the tools of the trade, the pick and shovel, trowels and brushes, have been supplemented with the camera (film, digital, and video), computers, infrared technology for looking under the surface, and satellite locating and mapping capabilities. Still, the fundamentals do not change. A dig must proceed with a certain order and care. A record must be kept. Artifacts as they are discovered, must be identified and labeled, their characteristics and location in relation to other things carefully noted. So in family history and temple work, the standard tools of pen and paper, heavy deed books and musty records, have been supplemented with microfilm and computers and the Internet and e-mail. Yet the fundamentals remain. There should be an order to research and a focus on one's own progenitors. A careful record must be kept. Accuracy, insofar as humanly possible to attain, is essential to the integrity of our work. And the doctrines of redemption must be both our motivation and our control.
Elder Christofferson later goes on to quote President Hinckley many times and I suggest reading the rest of his talk.