How Do I Search the Mormon Church Genealogy Database?

A sound understanding of searching the Mormon Church genealogy database is a valuable skill for any genealogist to acquire. The Mormon Church is well known and respected in the field of family research, and has compiled an international database that consists of various resources from around the world. In this series of articles I will reveal its structure, how it has evolved, and how it continues to grow. To effectively utilize this important genealogical tool, it is best to have an in depth understanding of exactly what the Mormon Church genealogy database is.

What is the Mormon Church Genealogy Database?

The Mormon Church refers to its database as New FamilySearch, and it can be accessed at New FamilySearch was developed at the request of LDS (Latter Day Saints) President Gordon B. Hinckley to minimize the duplication of temple ordinances of the Mormon Church. Genealogy has always been important to the Latter Day Saints and the development of this database and associated workings will make genealogical research easier, faster and more accurate.

The software that drives the Mormon Church genealogy database is built with an open architecture that will allow it to expand in its functionality. More and more features will be added to it in the years to come, so if it is well worth any long term genealogist becoming familiar with its features and how to effectively use them. The database is accessible to anyone, whether or not you’re a member of the Mormon Church.

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Genealogy According to the Latter Day Saints

The importance of genealogy to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the official name of the Mormon Church) is naturally scripturally based. Beginning with Adam and Eve, the Mormons believe that we are all related, and they refer to Adam as "the most recent common ancestor of mankind". Theoretically, according to Mormon Church genealogy beliefs, we should all be able to trace our ancestry back to the original man.

Scientists, on the other hand, argue that our most recent common ancestor (MRCA) can be traced back to northeast Africa, about two hundred thousand years ago. The Mormons have not overlooked the value of scientific studies in the construction of their database, and consequently the integrity of Mormon Church genealogy practices is well established. For instance, they do not overlook the studies of Yale University professor Joseph Chang and his associates Steve Olson and Douglas Rohde, whose investigations point to a more recent date to mankind's most common ancestor. Though these findings suit the theological beliefs of the Mormon Church, the genealogy database is affected only by the scientific findings of the respected scholars.

Mormon Church genealogy students regard the efforts of Joseph Chang as invaluable in developing a deeper appreciation for family research. Chang studied European statistics regarding migration patterns, wars, demographics and diseases to conclude that about twenty percent of Europeans alive in 1000AD have no descendants alive today. That being said, those who have developed the Mormon Church genealogy database believe that eighty percent of Europe's population at that time is the ancestor of every person alive today who has European blood. That is an amazing theory, and I share it with you to demonstrate the professional dedication of the Mormon Church to genealogy. The studies of Joseph Chang go back as far as 600BC, and his findings are considered very carefully by the trusted researchers who spearhead the compilation and management of the Mormon Church genealogy database.

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How Large is the Mormon Church Genealogy Database?

The database of New Family search is composed of Mormon Church temple records, which they refer to as the International Genealogical Index, individual Mormon temple records, the LDS Ancestral File, the Pedigree Resource File, and LDS membership records. It is an extensive network of data that consists of approximately one billion records. In the next article I will discuss how having an historic overview of your ancestry will help you to gain a further appreciation of the Mormon Church genealogy database, and further instruct you on its use.

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