Family History: Three Easy Steps

Recently, (this last November) the Phoenix temple opened. I live fairly close to this temple. In fact, I think that it is the closest I’ve ever lived to a temple. It is such a blessing.

Phoenix Arizona Temple
Phoenix Arizona Temple

The temple and the ordinances performed in the temple are very sacred and center around the Savior and families. Naturally, knowing your own family history is an important aspect of temple attendance. So, I have been doing more family history research recently.

I’m blogging today to say – Do your family history! Here are a few easy steps to get you started.

One – Start!

Just try it out. Go to and just start.
This website is free to anyone. There are millions of records and chances to find your own family.

I will freely admit that Family History is overwhelming. I won’t even say “at first” because I don’t think that there is ever a time when family history work isn’t overwhelming. However, just don’t think of your generations of family. Don’t think of this looming project or idea of whatever is in your mind of what Family History is supposed to be. Just go to family, and start somewhere. Devote a period of time – 30 minutes or so – to kind of play around. Look for pictures. Look for experiences. Just look around. You don’t need a plan.

You don’t need to know what you are looking for. You don’t need to look for opportunities or things that need research. Just mess around. Click around. See what is there. See if your family tree is there. See who is in your family tree.

Two – Do It Again and Follow Your Intuition

Most likely, you won’t find everything about your family and family history in one 30 minute period of study.

So, you will have to do it again. After completing step one, you have now experienced family search. While you may not be an expert at the website, it, at least, isn’t completely foreign.

This time while you are on the Family Search website, be careful. Listen to your intuition. I can guarantee you that some kind of curiosity will present itself as you begin to search. Just click through, and follow your intuition. I can’t really tell you how this part will go because it will be different for everyone.

Just go to the website again, and listen to where your heart and where the Spirit are trying to guide you.

Three – Honor Your Intuition and Search!

As you begin to feel inclinations, follow them. I know – this is so vague. But trust me, it works!

A few days ago, I went online. I didn’t really have a plan to “search” for anyone. I wasn’t expecting all that much. Instead, my plan was to upload some pictures of my ancestors to the website.

One of the pictures I added was this one:

My Grandpa and His Cousin
My Grandpa and His Cousin

This is a picture of my Grandfather (The taller one) and his Cousin (The one in a hat). In my family history information, I have no records of my Grandfather’s cousin. Yet, I know that this is a picture of my Grandpa and his cousin taken in the Philippines during World War II. (He wrote it on the back).

I was entering this information in, and feeling pretty frustrated. How would I find this information?

I was also feeling a little frustrated by the entire family search program because it has changed so much recently. I know, I’m not supposed to say that. But I was just feeling like I didn’t know what I was looking for.

I said something about this to my husband. I told him that I was frustrated, “Here is my Grandpa with his cousin, but I can’t find his cousin in my records, and I’m not sure where to find it. I can’t remember if I had this information in the past, or not.”

Okay. So that was that. I moved on, and then entered in more photographs. While still venting a little frustration.

As I was doing this, I felt a little curiosity come up about a certain name. I wanted to prove a point to my husband about my frustration, “Watch. I’ll search this name, but I don’t think that it will—” I stopped talking mid-sentence – engrossed by the information that came up in the search results.
“What Catania?”
“Wait a minute. I think that I just found something.”
I clicked on the result to the search – where I found a census record that showed my Great-Grandfather’s family – including his siblings – which were the parents of Dick Hanley, my Grandpa’s cousin.
“What do you mean?”
“Well. I guess I should stop complaining because I just found something.”
“Found what?”
“I found Dick Hanley’s parents!”

So – I said that step three was to “honor your intuition.” My example above is bad because I wasn’t really honoring the intuition I was having. But I learned from it.

Since then, I have had similar experiences repeatedly. It isn’t easy. I can’t give you specific instructions on how to do your research – other than what I have already said. Just follow your intuition to see where it will take you.

Basically, family history feels like a puzzle – but you don’t have the “map,” you are missing some pieces, and it is a very intricate puzzle with thousands of pieces.

The puzzle seems pretty impossible, but it can be done.

You just have to look at the puzzle pieces. You have to guess. You have to try to fit them together. You don’t need to have a plan. You just need to sit down and start experimenting. Most of the time, things won’t work out, but if you just listen to your intuition and stay persistent, you will find pieces that fit together perfectly. (Yay!!!)

I encourage you to try out family history. While there are times when it is confusing and overwhelming, if you are persistent, then there will be times when things work out, and they are amazing. You will learn more about your family, and, therefore, yourself as you do this work.

*Have you started doing any of your family history? What kind of experiences have you had while doing this work?


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