Ancestral Family Organizations
and Their Importance
BFO Research Committee
First published in October 2004
Updated on 28 March 2016
Description of Ancestral Family Organizations
Ancestral Family Organizations are larger
than parent or grandparent family associations and include the descendants
of a common ancestral couple.
Importance of Ancestral Family Organizations (AFO's)
The Brough Family Organization
(BFO) is one of the largest Ancestral Family Organizations--or AFO's--in
the world. Based on more than forty years of genealogical and historical
efforts by many BFO officers and members, R. Clayton
Brough, BFO Vice-President and Genealogist, has stated the following
about the importance of AFO's:
"Ancestral family organizations are
often able to accomplish much more than individual families or 'grandparent'
family associations. Because of their extensive membership
and databases, AFO's are often able to
locate and obtain genealogical and historical
information much faster and cheaper than individual families or grandparent
"Also, AFO's often know about--and
can find and acquire from different
parts of the world--unique genealogical data and historical records, such
as those found in family bibles, personal journals, private
indexes and photographic collections.
These sources can provide genealogical information not commonly found
in ecclesiastical or government records.
"Finally, because of its broad membership
and extensive number of contributors, AFO's can usually afford
and support extensive research by professional
genealogists much easier and for longer durations than can most individual
families or grandparent family associations."
Ancestral Family Organizations Encourage Friendship and Sharing
Genealogy work and family history often
crosses many political borders and lines of faith. According to Richard
L. Brough, BFO Board Member: "While the doctrines of the LDS
Church teach the eternal significance of genealogy work and family history,
people of all faiths and walks of life can enjoy the friendship and love
that comes from being involved in such work. In fact, the many different
families and religious beliefs within the BFO have only added to its strength
BFO officials regularly encourage their
members to visit each other and to share their genealogical information
and histories. This is done through personal visits, reunions, telephone
calls, emails, website listings, social media sharing, and publications
The BFO - One of the World's Largest and Oldest Ancestral
The Brough Family Organization (BFO)
is one of the largest, oldest, and best
known ancestral family organizations in the world. Since 1969, the
BFO--which is a U.S. non-profit, tax exempt family history and genealogical
organization--has conducted extensive genealogical research on the Broughs
of the British Isles--with specific emphasis on the ancestors, descendants
and relatives of Richard Brough (born 1786) and Mary Horleston (born 1799)
of Staffordshire, England.
On June 20, 1840, Richard
Brough was baptized at the age of 54 into The
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (or "Mormon"
or LDS Church) at Frooms Hill, Herefordshire, England. Richard was the
first "Brough" in England to join the LDS Church. He was a brickmaker
by trade and had served seventeen years in the Royal Artillery Service
of the British Army. Richard married Mary Horleston in 1825. After Richard
joined the LDS Church, five of his eleven children were eventually baptized
into his new faith. Eventually, three of his children--Thomas,
Elizabeth and Samuel--emigrated
from England to Utah, while descendants of some of his other children
spread out across western Europe or emigrated to Australia.
Today, descendants of these children make up much of the BFO.
However, the BFO doesn't include only descendants
of Richard Brough and Mary Horleston. Since 1969, the BFO has
conducted extensive research on the genealogies
and histories of the many Brough
Families of the British Isles. Currently there are thousands of descendants
of these Brough families living throughout the world, and the BFO has
active members in many countries--including the United States, United
Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand and South Africa. Since the
1980's, many Brough descendants have provided extensive genealogical information
about their ancestors to the BFO--including such individuals as Catharine
Ann Brough Hind, whose husband, Stanley
M. Hind (deceased), was a well-known Reverend Canon (Vicar) Emeritus
in the Church of England.
Today, the BFO includes Mormons, Anglicans,
Catholics, and Protestants from four continents, and the organization
has numerous supporters and family members.
Its website, www.broughfamily.org
is one of the most detailed and exhaustive ancestral family "surname"
websites in the world. The website has extensive photographs, genealogical
data and histories on the ancestors and descendants of the Broughs of
the British Isles, and the site receives hundreds of hits (or visits)
each day from people in many different countries.
The Universal Appeal of Family History and Genealogy Work
Kent L. Brough,
former BFO President, has stated the following about the universal appeal
and importance of family history and genealogy work: "Like many other
people, our Brough ancestors faced many challenges and experienced many
events. They were faithful to their families and contributed much to their
civic and religious communities. In most cases, the beliefs we now have
and the freedoms we enjoy today are largely a result of their efforts
and sacrifices. By better understanding the lives of our ancestors we
can appreciate more fully what we now have and enjoy."
In 1966, the Genealogical Society of the
LDS Church published the following statements about "Family Organizations"--which
are as applicable today as they were decades ago:
"The genealogical family orgnization
has as its major goal the compiling and recording of genealogical and
historical information pertaining to the common ancestors of its members.
Cooperation in genealogical research through the family organization is
one of the most successful means of extending and proving pedigrees and
compiling family genealogies. The family organization promotes coordination
of research among individuals researching the same family lines, affords
opportunities for specialization in research, pools time and money resources,
channels wise use of resources, and fosters fellowship and understanding
among its members.
"Throughout the world, people are increasingly
becoming interested in finding out more about their families. Individuals
want to know about the lives of ancestors--their occupations, accomplishments,
what their names were, and where they lived. In discovering ancestors,
individuals seem to discover themselves and are better able to define
their own goals and know what they want and expect out of life. Frequent
association with other family members in family organizations, through
both personal contact and through correspondence, brings on definite feelings
of concern for the family and a greater appreciation of family ties. By
working in family orgnizations, people become 'family oriented' and feel
they are a part of a big family operation." (Genealogical
Instruction Manual, Genealogical Society, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1966,
LDS Ancestral Family Organizations
Family Organizations (AFOs) are larger than a parent or grandparent
family and includes the descendants of a common ancestral couple.
Religious leaders and publications
of The Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormon church) have often mentioned the
importance and purpose of ancestral family organizations.
The following information about LDS ancestral
family organizations is posted on this webpage for easy reference and
LDS Ancestral Family Organizations
us, therefore, as a church and a people, and as Latter-day Saints, offer
unto the Lord an offering in righteousness;
and let us present in his holy temple
a book containing the records
of our dead, which shall be worthy of all acceptation.
(D&C 128: 24.)
text has been bolded below for emphasis and easy reference. Compilation
as of 28 March 2016)
Create and Maintain Family Associations or Organizations
a family association or organization is a great way to bring people together
to accumulate, coordinate, learn, preserve and publicize genealogical
and historical information among related family members. Family associations
can be organized on different levels, such as immediate families--which
include a husband and wife and their children; grandparent families--which
include the descendants of siblings; and ancestral families--which
include the descendants of an earlier common ancestral couple.
List of Mormon Family Organizations
In 1978 the church
asked all families to organize themselves at three levels: as "immediate"
families, "grandparent," and "ancestral." Individual
or immediate families are regularly encouraged to hold weekly Family Home
Evening and participate in family councils. More formal family organizations
consist of the descendants of a common ancestor. The purposes of such
family organizations may include coordinating family efforts in promoting
welfare, education, conducting family history research, holding reunions,
compiling family newsletters and publications, and other family-related
LDS practices. Commemorating family heritage and legacy is another
typical purpose and activity for family organizations.Formally constituted
family organizations figure prominently among descendants of some Mormon
pioneers and other early converts to the LDS Church. The longevity
of and degree of organization found among many Mormon ancestral family
organizations is noteworthy. For example, the Jared Pratt Family Organization
was founded in 1881, making it one of the oldest family organizations
in the United States in continuous existence.
- Ensign - The Joy of Redeeming the Dead, by Elder Richard G. Scott,
had been overwhelmed with the thought of the huge task ahead of me to
gather all my ancestors research records from family organizations
to get them all in the computer for the first computerized distribution
of the Ancestral File. And there they all were, beautiful, organized and
laser printed and sitting there on the desk before me.
- Ensign - It's All Been Done, by Loretta Evans, July 2007
A family organization
is a good way to coordinate family history research. These groups
may hold reunions, publish newsletters, host Internet sites, and sponsor
research. Your family organization can coordinate submissions to Pedigree
Resource File to share family information. Some
descendants of early LDS ancestors have excellent family organizations,
while others do not. If no organization exists, you might want to contact
other relatives about creating one. If you have one, pay your dues and
offer to help.
- Liahona - Your Family History: Getting Started, by Boyd K. Packer,
are to organize our families and hold meetings and reunions.
- Ensign - The Importance of the Family, by L. Tom Perry, May 2003
The Church has
established two special times for families to be together. The first is
centered around the proper observance of the Sabbath day. This is the
time we are to attend our regular meetings together, study the life and
teachings of the Savior and of the prophets. Other appropriate Sunday
activities include (1) writing personal and family journals, (2) holding
family councils, (3) establishing and maintaining family organizations
for the immediate and extended family, (4) personal interviews between
parents and children, (5) writing to relatives and missionaries, (6) genealogy,
(7) visiting relatives and those who are ill or lonely, (8) missionary
work, (9) reading stories to children, and (10) singing Church hymns.
The second time is Monday night. We are to teach our children in a well-organized,
regular family home evening. No other activities should involve our family
members on Monday night. This designated time is to be with our families.
- Ensign - Random Sampler: Planning for Family Unity, by Carol
L. Clark, February 2003
100 years ago, my great-great-grandfather Ezra Thompson Clark organized
a family association to help his descendants plan family reunions and
preserve the familys history. Today the association continues to
unite our extended family, as evidenced by the 400-plus attendance
at a recent reunion. Focusing on four key areas, the associations
simple outline has withstood the test of time and can serve as an effective
model for organizing family associations today. ...For generations, many
family members, including my immediate family, have been involved in the
association. I now serve as president, and my involvement in the association
has deepened my appreciation for the blessing of eternal families. Because
of the unity my family feels with extended family, we have a heightened
gratitude for our forebearsa kinship we share largely because of
my great-great-grandfathers foresight over a century ago.
- Ensign - Building Unity through Family History, September 2001
The Holy Ghost
will guide us as we prayerfully seek to participate in family history.
Contributions include receiving our temple endowments, being sealed as
couples and as families, researching family history data and stories of
previous generations, submitting names for temple work, attending the
temple as regularly as possible, teaching children and other family members
about temple and family history work, participating in family organizations,
and compiling personal and family histories.
- Ensign - Extending the Family: Keeping Reunions Simple, by Gerald
Haslem, July 1995
have a treasurer, and everyone contributes to the family organization
to cover the minimal costs of research and printing. ...We also provide
our family members with updated or new family group sheets and pedigree
charts. And we have been fortunate enough to have a genealogist do on-the-spot
research in England, partly supported by family funds. One of his most
exciting finds has been an ancestral tombstone in the overgrown parish
churchyard of Humbleton, Yorkshire.
- Ensign - Everyone's Blessing, by Monte J. Brough, December 1994
Nothing any of us
can do removes from us the obligation to be individually involved in finding
our own ancestors. But there are wonderful, meaningful service opportunities
that can be done in addition to that work. Many of those opportunities
are described in A Members Guide to Temple and Family History Work,
including: serving in family record extraction; serving in the temple,
a family history center, or as a family history worker; participating
in family organizations; keeping a personal journal; and preparing
- Ensign - The Key of Faith, by Thomas S. Monson, February 1994
years ago, prior to my call as a General Authority, it was my good fortune
to respond to a call to serve as a member of the Priesthood Genealogy
Committee and to have the privilege of visiting stakes and missions, speaking
to the membership of the Church relative to this sacred subject... Out
of the series of conferences we held then, one of the great measures of
good was the development of family organizations.
- Ensign - Meeting Our Relatives on Paper, by Laurie Williams Sowby,
is a genealogy book, not with names and dates on family group sheets,
but with pages revealing the lives of real peopleour people. It
testifies of the individuality of each family within the larger family
organization, a book whose value is sure to extend beyond the lives
of those who wrote it. It has helped bind us together. Hopefully, the
ties formed by this brief history project will continue into the coming
Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Family Organizations, by Phillip R.
Kunz, B.Y.U., 1992
Latter-day Saints think of
families with respect to both this life and the next. They strive to organize
family groups at the individual family level and in extended family relationships
and organizations. Family organizations provide social and familial support,
historical awareness, instruction, and genealogical information necessary
to bind generations together by temple ordinances (see Genealogy, Family
History; Temple Ordinances).
the early days of the Church, LDS families have regularly established
family organizations, held reunions, and worked to make strong family
identity. In 1978 the Church asked all families to organize themselves
at three levels: immediate families, grandparent families, and ancestral
The immediate family consists of husband
and wife, and begins when they are married. Later, if a couple is blessed
with children, the size and concerns of this unit grow. When the children
marry and have children of their own, the grandparent organization is
initiated. Beyond that, each family is ideally involved in an ancestral
organization, which consists of all the descendants of an earlier common
The immediate family holds family home evenings
and family councils, encourages and assists in missionary work, family
preparedness, family history, temple work, and teaching the gospel, and
provides cultural and social activities for its members. The grandparent
organization is involved in similar activities, but is also concerned
with family reunions, which include the grandparents' children and grandchildren.
The purpose of the ancestral organization is to coordinate genealogical
activity on common lines. Such organizations frequently raise money for
family history research, publish family histories, and generally direct
the activities of the larger family.
Many families use the ancestral organization
as a repository of photographs, journals, family histories, and other
materials that might be used by family members or general researchers
as they prepare their own histories. Some families occasionally have an
ancestral family reunion, but more usually they have representatives who
meet to coordinate family history and genealogical activities. Some may
be organized as nonprofit corporations or trusts that may be recognized
as charitable organizations if their purposes are limited to religious
The benefits of a family organization can
be significant. One benefit is that involvement with family organizations
increases one's sense of identity and heritage. For example, in a recent
survey of university students who were LDS, Catholic, Protestant, or of
no particular religion, the number of ancestors' names and origins known
by the LDS students was significantly higher than for the other groups.
- Ensign - Redemption: The Harvest of Love, by Richard G. Scott,
File comprises the four generation submittals from members
and friends. These data have been carefully matched and coupled one with
another, providing a powerfully rich source of family-linked information
that simplifies research and reduces duplication. It contains names and
addresses, enabling coordination of research with other submitters. Means
now exist that permit you or family organizations to enter all
of your family-linked information for permanent preservation and use by
- Ensign - News of the Church: Policies and Announcements, February
families and the Sabbath, the following counsel was given when the consolidated
meeting schedule was introduced: Because the new schedule will give
families time together on Sundays, parents should plan activities for
the Sabbath that will spiritually strengthen the family. Suggestions
included were gospel discussion and instruction, writing personal and
family journals, holding family councils, family organization efforts,
personal interviews between parents and children, writing to relatives
and missionaries, family history work, visiting relatives and those who
may be ill or lonely, missionary work, reading stories to children, and
singing Church hymns together. Leaders should avoid scheduling too many
extra meetings on Sunday which will keep families from having time together
on the Sabbath.
- Ensign - Doing Genealogy: Finding..."Balance", by George
D. Durrant, April 1985
As you get together
with relatives, you will discover that some family members will be better
at genealogical research than others. ...Before
or after an ancestral family meeting, you could talk or write to your
brothers and sisters and your parents, if they are living, and tell them
of the genealogical plan. ...By now you may be sufficiently enthused that
you want to organize or join several ancestral family organizations.
Dont do it. You will be biting off more than you can chew. Your
active involvement in one or two will be enough to keep your gospel life
balanced. To expand the family effort, encourage your brother to become
involved in an ancestral family organization on another of your family
lines. Your sister could work with yet another line.
- Ensign - Family Fun with Genealogy, by Ginger Harner, September
addition to increasing the involvement of your immediate family, a newsletter
will be an excellent means of helping distant cousins get acquainted.
If you have no family organization yet, the newsletter can begin
recording an ongoing family genealogybirths, deaths, and marriages.
As time passes, arrangements can be made through the newsletter for extended
family members to share in research and to become part of an official
- Ensign - ...A Report from an Ancestral Family Organization, by
Noel R. Barton, June 1982
On 8 March 1898,
five months before his death, Christopher Layton formed an organization
that is still functioning todaythe Christopher Layton Family Organization.
His posterity has grown to more than 15,000 family members.
What were the
purposes for organizing and for continuing the family organization? At
that first meeting in Thatcher, Arizona, committees were formed to write
Christopher Laytons life story and to research his genealogy. Since
then, the family has worked together to complete those assignments. His
autobiography was printed in 1911, and from the 1920s to the 1950s the
family did genealogical and temple work for Layton names, although most
of them werent on his direct lines. In 1958 a committee was also
formed to search out his posterity.
On 4 April 1965, a historic family reorganization
meeting took place in Salt Lake City. Several goals were set: to hold
reunions more consistently, to edit and reprint the autobiography, to
bring the posterity lists up to date, and to earnestly seek out the direct
ancestors of Christopher Layton. I was appointed family genealogist, and
research began. After several research trips to England, we completed
the genealogical work on Christopher Laytons direct lines as far
back as we could gointo the 1600s. We printed pedigree charts and
family group records and made them available to the family at reunions.
Then when members of the Church were asked
in 1980 to verify and resubmit four-generation records, the family organization
submitted the records in behalf of the whole familyeven records
extending beyond four generations. Over the years since our initial research,
we have uncovered new facts, dates, and sources of information and are
making this material available to the family. And although we went back
as far on Christopher Laytons lines as we could at the time, weve
now found some more possibilities for further research.
As a large ancestral family organization,
weve encouraged family members to form their own smaller family
organizations. Weve told them that well take care of genealogical
research as a larger family group, but that each smaller organization
is to keep the posterity lists up to date and to have frequent reunions
to encourage family fellowship and togetherness. Those kinds of activities
are more successful on the smaller, more personal organizational levels.
- Ensign - News of the Church: Ancestral File, November 1981
members are encouraged to expand their genealogical research beyond four
generations. To avoid duplication, it would be helpful if records were
submitted through family organizations. A family organization might consist
of a couple and their children. It may be expanded to include grandchildren.
Ancestral family organizations may also be developed from descendants
of any common ancestral couple. They can coordinate genealogical activity
on common ancestral lines and provide resource material from which families
can draw to complete family histories.
- Ensign - Beyond the Fourth Generation, by Paul Simmons, October
with your family, even if it is with distant relatives as the Munos did,
establishes a foundation for continuing research through a family organization.
A family can be organized at any levelimmediate family, grandparent
family, or ancestral family, taking in any number of generations. The
organization can be formal or informal, depending on the size and the
needs of the family. The only requirement is a common interest in a common
- Ensign - Suggestions for Individual and Family Sabbath-Day Activities,
appropriate Sunday activities include (1) writing personal and family
journals, (2) holding family councils, (3) establishing and maintaining
family organizations for the immediate and extended family, (4) personal
interviews between parents and children, (5) writing to relatives and
missionaries, (6) genealogy, (7) visiting relatives and those who are
ill or lonely, (8) missionary work, (9) reading stories to children, and
(10) singing Church hymns.
- Ensign - The Five Sons of Jared & Charity Pratt, by R. Steven
his death in 1881, Orson [Pratt] was sustained in 1874 as Church Historian;
in 1877 he published the Book of Mormon in England in Pitman phonetic
characters, returning to England the next year to publish the Book of
Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants with verses, references, and footnotes.
His collected pamphlets, The Orson Pratt Works, had been published in
1851, and his Key to the Universe was published in 1878. Diabetes plagued
his last years even though he continued to serve as Speaker of the House
for the Utah Legislature and helped organize the first Pratt
Family Organizations reunion on 21 July 1881; the family still
meets as close as possible to this date annually in Salt Lake City. He
died on 3 October 1881, on his deathbed asking Joseph F. Smith to place
these words on his tombstone: My body sleeps but a moment; but my
testimony lives and shall endure forever.
- Ensign - Worthy of All Acceptation, by Ezra Taft Benson, November
First, I mention
some things which have not changed:
1. The Lords mandate given in section
128 of the Doctrine and Covenants has not changed: Brethren, shall
we not go on in so great a cause?
Let us, therefore, as a
church and a people, and as Latter-day Saints, offer unto the Lord an
offering in righteousness; and let us present in his holy temple
a book containing the records of our dead, which shall be worthy of all
acceptation. (D&C 128:22, 24.)
Our responsibility to keep a journal and to write our own personal histories
and those of our ancestors, particularly those who belong to the first
four generations of our pedigree, has not changed.
3. Our responsibility to make certain that
all living family members have the opportunity to receive the ordinances
of the temple has not changed.
4. Our responsibility to compile our books
of remembrance, including the submission of the names of our ancestors
for at least the first four generations, and to have the temple ordinances
performed in their behalf has not changed.
5. Our responsibility to organize our families
at the immediate family level begins when a couple is married. The grandparent
family organization develops as children from the immediate family marry
and have children. Through such family organizations, every family in
the Church should become actively involved in missionary work, family
preparedness, genealogy and temple work, teaching the gospel, and cultural
and social activities. These vital responsibilities certainly have not
Next, consider some things which have changed:
1. The four-generation program has changed
in a very significant way. In the past each individual was responsible
for the submission of his or her four-generation family group record forms.
December 1978 marks the end of the old (current) four-generation program.
Beginning July 1979, the Church will accept newly prepared pedigree charts
and family group record forms from family organizations, rather than from
individuals. In the interim between now and July 1979, members of the
Church are encouraged to organize as familieseach individual with
his brothers, sisters, and parentsto compare the information on
the family group sheets which they have in common, check the accuracy
of the information, verify the dates, and formulate one record to be submitted
on behalf of all family members appearing on the group sheet. This process
repeats itself next with the parents (if still living), and so on until
all generations are completed, verified, and corrected as necessary. You
can readily see the importance of the family organization.
2. A second major change is that original
research beyond the four-generation level will be accepted but will no
longer be required of individual members or individual families in the
Church. Instead, the Church has assumed the responsibility to begin a
massive record-gathering and extraction program in order to prepare names
for temple work.
Those who are acquainted with Latter-day
Saint scriptures and the process of genealogical research will recognize
that the extraction program is but a first step in the overall program
of preparing a Church book of remembrance worthy of
The extraction program is primarily aimed at more efficient identification
and processing of names for individual temple ordinance work. It solves
the immediate need to provide many more names for the operation of the
In the past it was not uncommon for family
organizations to spend an inordinate amount of time, money, and effort
in search of a given ancestor. Now it would seem that once a reasonable,
conventional effort has been made to locate a given ancestor, if he or
she cannot be found, the family organization can assume its responsibility
completed and move on to the next line or ancestor in question, leaving
the processing of the unidentifiable ancestor to the extraction/indexing
may I say a word about ancestral-type family organizations. Ancestral
family organizations are comprised of descendants of a common ancestral
The major purpose for organizing or perpetuating an ancestral family organization
is to coordinate genealogical activity on common ancestral lines. When
ancestral family organizations deviate from this major objective and seek
primarily to provide social, cultural, or other types of activities, they
take over the legitimate domain of the immediate and grandparent organizations.
With the change announced by President Kimball, a gradual but definite
transition should occur so that the genealogical work in progress is completed.
The immediate and grandparent family organizations should then be assigned
the responsibility of reunions and soliciting of funds.
Another legitimate function of the ancestral
organization is to provide resource material from which the immediate
and grandparent family organizations can draw to complete family historiesespecially
on their first four generations. Thus the ancestral organizations may
accumulate, properly file, catalog, and preserve histories, photographs,
letters, manuscripts, diaries, journals, and published books.
Again, I emphasize that every family in
the Church should belong to an immediate and, insofar as possible, a grandparent
family organization. Ancestral organizations exist only for the coordination
of genealogical activity, which includes family histories. Once this
function has been accomplished the ancestral family organization might
well be dissolved, or at least reduced in importance, in favor of the
immediate and grandparent organizations.
- Ensign - Getting--and Keeping--the Family Together, by Marvin
K. Gardner, October 1978
are three natural levels of family organizations, and an individual might
belong to more than one. Immediate families, with the father as president
or natural patriarch and the mother as partner and counselor to her husband,
meet in weekly family home evenings and frequent family councils, creating
an organization to meet the familys particular needs. (The mother
is head of the family if the father is not present.) Grandparent families,
including the parents, their single and married children, and grandchildren,
meet frequently for family reunions. Ancestral families, consisting
of many descendants of a common direct ancestor, meet for occasional reunions.
organizations exist to serve as a resource for family responsibilities
in genealogy, welfare, and missionary work:
They help us compile our four-generation genealogy sheets, verify the
accuracy of the information, promote the writing of personal and family
histories, and encourage temple attendance. They help us keep track of
each other so we can lend spiritual and temporal assistance when necessary.
And they strengthen family ties and increase our love for living and
- Ensign - The "Genes" in Genealogy, August 1978
of the most remarkable spinoffs of the Churchs genealogy program
may be its unique contribution to medical research. Using the four-generation
file in the Genealogical Library, researchers at the University of Utah
Medical Center, the Utah Cancer Registry, and the Bureau of Chronic Disease
Control of the Utah State Division of Health are identifying and tracking
down high-risk families in which diseases are genetically linked.
...What kinds of problems have they run
into? Dr. Williams Smiles: What youd expectinaccurate
pedigree charts. But the advantages are tremendous. Because of the large
families that Mormons typically have, we can more accurately find the
expression of genes predisposing to a disease. Another advantage is
something that some of my non-Mormon colleagues particularly noticedfamily
organizations. Latter-day Saint families can work in prevention programs
because they know who their relatives are and they are concerned about
the health of the whole family. The high level of education among Latter-day
Saints and the kind of cooperation that the researchers have received
are other pluses. In short, those of us involved with this project are
truly proud of Church members because of the unique contribution that
they can make to this area of health research.
- Ensign - The True Way of Life and Salvation, by Spencer W. Kimball,
First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve recently gave careful consideration
as to how we can lengthen our stride in this tremendously important responsibility
[of performing temple work for the dead]. We announce a twofold emphasis.
all members should write a personal history and participate in a family
we want to emphasize again and place squarely upon the shoulders of these
individuals and their families the obligation to complete the four-generation
program. Families may extend their pedigree beyond the four generations
we are introducing a Church-wide program of extracting names from genealogical
records. Church members may now render second-mile service through participating
in this regard in extracting these names in this program supervised by
the priesthood leaders at the local level, where you will receive further
- Ensign - Report of the Seminar for Regional Representatives,
by Jay M. Todd, May 1977
important development contemplated is for genealogical and
temple work to be recorded in family files, and for a
family organization registry so that the Saints may know
whether other branches of the family are doing work, and thus
eliminate wasteful duplication.
- Ensign - Organization Begins at Home, by Lyman De Platt, October
activity begins with training the children to appreciate family ties and
heritage. Developing a family book of remembrance which is used, along
with the scriptures, in teaching children; emphasizing membership in
larger family organizations; participating in genealogical research,
temple work, and subsequent activitiesthese are all means to that
- Ensign - Really Getting Together: Your Family Reunion, by Alma
Heaton, June 1975
essential step to successful reunions is organizing the family. A family
organization is not complete until a chairman has been chosen to direct
and supervise reunions for the family. The chairman may keep this position
for many years.
- Ensign - Ocean Currents and Family Influences, by Spencer W.
Kimball, November 1974
of our modern time point out that in a fast-changing world, people suffer
a kind of shock from losing a sense of continuity. The very mobility of
our society means that our children are often moved from place to place
and lose close contact with the extended family of grandparents, uncles,
aunts, cousins, and longtime neighbors. It is important for us also to
cultivate in our own family a sense that we belong together eternally,
that whatever changes outside our home, there are fundamental aspects
of our relationship which will never change. We ought to encourage our
children to know their relatives. We need to talk of them, make effort
to correspond with them, visit them, join family organizations,
- Ensign, Family Organizations, by Howard K. Swans, November 1972
Relative to the article
[in the Ensign on August 1972 by W. Dean Belnap] on family organization,
many readers living in the United States who have founded or desire
to found a family organization may be interested in the following recent
ruling of the Internal Revenue Service:
non-profit organization formed to compile genealogical research data on
its family members in order to perform religious ordinances in accordance
with the precept of the religious denomination to which family members
belong is exempt under Section 501 (c) (3) of the Code. (R.R. 71-580.
Internal Revenue Bulletin 1971-51, 1271, pages 1113.)
A family organization (usually a corporation)
created as a nonprofit venture to sponsor genealogical research so that
temple work may be accomplished may qualify under the above ruling by
satisfying the requirements itemized in chapters 1 and 2 of the U.S. Treasury
publication entitled How to Apply for Recognition for Exemption of an
Organization (IRS publication 557). In addition to these general requirements,
the organization must qualify as specifically provided in the revenue
ruling referred to above. It is important to note that such genealogical
research must be for a religious purpose.
Contributions to an organization that has
been recognized under the above ruling may be deducted from income tax
as a charitable donation pursuant to Section 170 of the Internal Revenue
Code. An affirmative approval of application for each specific organization
is required. Application should be made in the IRS office serving the
area where the principal office of the family organization is located.
Strict compliance with the terms of the code and of the ruling are required.
- Ensign - How To Start a Family Organization...., by W. Dean Belnap,
people need the affectionate, loyal support and the sense of oneness that
come with family ties. For this reason, family organizations are always
springing up. But a worthwhile family organization wont last without
planning and work. Here are some helpful suggestions for creating, improving,
and perpetuating your family organization.
begin with, most family organizations consist of the descendants of
a common ancestorone who lived, lets say, three or four
generations back. Obviously, the farther back the common ancestor, the
larger will be the family group. It is best for each family to adapt the
size of its organization to the number of relatives whom they know and
with whom they can easily communicate. But whatever the size, the organization
should be more than just an instrument for social contact; it should also
be a living service agency for its members.
...Fourth, the family organization can aid
members in doing their genealogy work. Saving the dead is a family responsibility.
Archives and libraries perform an important role, but they are auxiliary
to the family. A family organization, by pooling its resources, can do
work quickly and cheaply that might otherwise be tedious, difficult, and
Families that do genealogical work together
may also plan excursions to the temple to perform ordinance work for their
ancestors. Moreover, family reunions can be places to exchange family
news, gather material for biographies and histories, and do genealogical
research. At such gatherings each member may enrich his book of remembrance
and gain a greater appreciation for its importance.
- Ensign - With Whom Will We Share Exaltation, by Theodore M. Burton,
is a problem in being concerned only about eternal family sealings for
deceased family members. We must also become involved while on this earth
in building family relationships that will make us want to spend our eternal
lives in association with each other.
family organizations or associations may be the answer to this and other
needs that we share in common with our relatives. The first step to take
in this direction is to learn what types of family organizations may exist
so we can evaluate the situation.
single family organization is one covering only the two generations of
a single family unitthe parents and the children in the family.
The David Martin Kimball family organization is comprised of David Martin
Kimball, his wife, and their eight children. David, the father, functions
as the president; his wife serves as vice-president and social chairman;
a son is the genealogist; a daughter is the historian; and another daughter
is secretary-treasurer. The family strives to extend the pedigrees of
the father and mother in the family. This small unit belongs to two larger
family organizations, actively supporting their research projects to avoid
any duplication of research effort. This single family organization will
automatically expand into a multi-generation family organization as David
Martin Kimballs grandchildren come of age and join in the activities
of the organization.
The multi-generation family organization
is an organization covering three generations or more of family members.
Example: The Edward Smallwood and Hannah Cox family organization is an
organization of the descendants of this couple who died in the late 1880s.
The organization is dedicated to compiling records of the ancestors of
both Edward Smallwood and Hannah Cox. In addition, a complete record of
the descendants of the couple is being compiled.
Many members of The Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints have established early LDS convert family organizations.
This type of organization is usually centered around a particular couple
who were early converts to the Church. Or a family organization may
center around a certain patriotic ancestor, or an immigrant ancestor,
or a particular surname with all its spelling variations within a specified
locality. Or the organization may be a limited-purpose organization, usually
a group of officers or committee chairmen elected or appointed each year
to plan the next family reunion.
A List of
LDS Ancestral Family Organizations
The organizations listed below
may be considered examples of active LDS Ancestral Family Organizations
(as of 2016). However, their structure and activities vary widely based
on their purposes and membership.
(Rocky Mtn.) Family Organization
Milo Andrus Family Organization
Israel Barlow Family Association
Belnap Family Organization
Brough Family Organization
Cazier Family Organization
Ezra Thompson Clark Family Organization
Samuel Clark Family
Phineas Wolcott Cook Family Organization
Winslow Farr, Sr. Organization
Hale Family Organization
Nathan Harris and Rhoda
and Ann Prior
Heber C. Kimball
Family Association (Facebook)
Western Association of Leavitt
John D. Lee Family Association
Joseph Stacy Murdock Family Organization
Alexander Neibaur Family
Osmond Family Organization
Sanford Porter Family Organization
Jared Pratt Family Association
John Hardison Redd and Elizabeth
Hancock Family Organization
Charles C. Rich Family Association
Justus Azel Seelye
Hyrum Smith Family Association
Jesse N. Smith Heritage
Joseph Smith, Sr. and Lucy Mack
Joseph Smith, Jr. and Emma
Hale Historical Society
Joseph F. Smith Family Association
George Washington Taggart
Joseph Taylor, Sr. Family
Thomas Tolman Family
Theodore Turley Family Organization
Workman Family Organization
People Get Involved in
LDS Ancestral Family Organizations
In February 2013, R.
Shane Brough, BFO President, stated the following about getting your
people involved in family history work:
"Getting younger family members involved
with genealogical and family history work will be the key to our future
success. They have energy and most of their lives still ahead of them,
and they better understand technology and the internet than many of their
parents and grandparents! The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
has recognized this need and has created a great website to help get youth
interested, motivated and energized in accomplishing this work: https://lds.org/youth/family-history?lang=eng.
Interestingly, on February 17, 2013, the Parade magazine (www.parade.com)
that appeared as a suppliment in the Deseret News newspaper of
Salt Lake City, Utah, published an article entitled 'One Big Happy Family,
which stated the following: When a team of psychologists measured children's
resilience, they found that the kids who knew the most about their family's
history were best able to handle stress [over those who played team sports
or attended regular religious services]. The more children know about
their family's history, the stronger their sense of control over their
lives and the higher their self-esteem. The reason: These children have
a strong sense of intergenerational self--they understand that they belong
to something bigger than themselves, and that families naturally experience
both highs and lows.'
"I recognize that young people may
not like working on 'history' and may shy away from it. But my guess is
they would like to sit with a grandparent or great-grandparent to hear
and record their life story. They would probably enjoy collecting, scanning,
labeling and organizing old family pictures. Indexing could be fun with
the right project that aligns with their interests. They might like to
participate with us in utilizing existing (and future) technologies to
allow us to have real-time virtual reunions and other family meetings.
They might even like to set up a social network dedicated to just...family
members-and I'll bet they could come up with a pretty creative name for
it as well."
A Personal Testimony of Faith and Family History
for a Personal Testimony of Faith
and Family History by R. Clayton Brough,
BFO Vice-President and Genealogist.