How One Teenager’s Passion for Family History Changed Lives

January 5, 2021  - by 
teenage boy on familysearch on ipad

Luke Morrison is one of those rare teenagers who, at age 16, spends more time on the FamilySearch app than on Facebook. According to him, his passion for family history began at birth—actually, before birth.

“It all began in the womb,” Luke joked, trying to pinpoint when his love of family history started. “It might be because both my mom and dad were temple workers when my mother was pregnant with me. I am as obsessed with temples as I am with FamilySearch. I love everything about temples.”

Whether it started before he was born, Luke’s interest in family history definitely started young. Not only that, but his passion for genealogy has led to hundreds of indexed records, the discovery of family stories even his parents didn’t know, and inspiring of countless people around him to explore their family history.

The Beginning of a Lifelong Passion

luke morrison at computer

Luke’s fascination with temples started with his parents but took flight after a Primary trip to the temple grounds when he was just 5 years old. Enthralled by the temple’s beauty and the people he saw coming and going from the building, he became interested in what was happening inside.

After explaining the ties between the temple and family history, Luke’s father began sharing family stories and showing Luke pictures of his ancestors. By age 10, Luke was begging for opportunities to search genealogy records online and eagerly looked forward to the day when he could have his own FamilySearch account.

By the time Luke turned 12, he had 10 family names prepared to take with him on his first youth temple trip. Nothing would stand in his way for this temple trip; he even arranged to be ordained at 6 a.m. on the morning of the trip. For the next two years, Luke continued to search and gather names and got as many ordinances done as he could for family members. 

“Can I Do This at Home?”

Luke soon learned that there was even more that he could do with family history. One day, while sick, Luke was sent to his grandparents’ house. He was bored, and his grandfather asked him how well he could read cursive handwriting. 

“Come help me on my computer, Luke,” his grandfather said.

The two of them found an old record from Illinois. It was not easy at first, but his grandpa helped him to eventually understand and index the records. Luke asked, “Can I keep doing this at home?” 

Within the year, Luke completed over 500 records.

“Indexing helped me learn how to do research to find more ancestors,” he said. “Research has now become my favorite activity. I feel a bit like a detective. I find facts and use supporting sources to prove family relationships.” 

“Family History Has Helped Our Family Grow Together”

Luke’s mother, Christina, takes no credit for her son’s passion.

“Luke has done this completely on his own,” she said. “He loves it so much. We call him ‘the supplier’ because he supplies our entire family with stories and information about all the relatives. He has even helped my parents learn more about our family history.”

At family gatherings, Luke will entertain everyone with family stories, especially ones his family hasn’t heard before. Christina recalled a time when Luke shared a story about her great-grandfather, who had been in a serious car accident that had been featured in the local news. Luke had found the news clipping on Newspapers.com.

luke morrison with family

“No one knew about that (car) incident, and it gave us more insight into my great-grandfather’s life,” Christina said. “It is a blessing for Luke to have family history work as his passion. It helps our family grow together and ties us to our extended family.”

Getting Others Involved

Luke’s passion is infectious, and he finds every opportunity to involve others in family history.

“I’ve learned that one-on-one is the most effective way to teach about family history,” he said. “Another important technique is to make family history as simple as possible. Don’t use complex terms that can be confusing.”

Before meeting with those he helps, Luke does extensive research about the lives of the person’s relatives: where they were from, difficulties in their lives, food they might have eaten, clothing they wore, their likely daily activities, and even the weather.

“Knowing these things helps me connect with them and understand the whys behind how they lived their lives. They become real people, not just a name on a page,” Luke explained. “I pray before I work with someone. When I pray, I am often prompted to find things I know I would never have found otherwise.” 

Youth Can Find Great Satisfaction in Doing Family History Work

luke morrison with families

Luke believes that more youth would find great satisfaction doing family history if they knew how to get started.

“It’s all in the approach,” Luke said about how to engage youth in family history. “Youth like to be with other youth. And it is important to keep them interested and entertained.”

Luke offered a suggestion for how to get youth interested in family history—ignore the years, dates, and statistics, and tell the stories.

“The more cool, obscure, or weird things they find out about their ancestors, the more they will keep doing research, and those ancestors will keep them engaged,” he explained. “Youth have time at this point in their lives. Instead of wasting time on social media when they are waiting in line or riding in the car, they could be using those brief moments on the FamilySearch app.” 

“We Are All in This Together”

When asked “Why do you do it?” Luke expressed his feelings this way, “I feel like this is my little part in building the kingdom. My contributions are just a 100th of a percent in comparison to what others do. We are all in this together, and I just strive to do my part.”

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Comments

  1. Luke will be a terrific missionary. He will be able to use his Family History experience as he teaches the Gospel to investigators. We found our full-time Elders and Sisters in our mission having many people interested in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by introducing them to their own Family Tree and their ancestors. The point of Families will be together forever was a great teaching tool. Awesome young Man.

  2. Please prepare a straightforward lesson manual to review before entering folks. The goal should be to research and enter new names. Teach how to review hints , how to estimate ages, investigate census , marriage, birth, death records. Today I carefully merged 17 people that were each duplicated many times. Unfortunately many of the merged folks had temple work done for each of those merged. Mop

    1. Hi Peter! Thank you for your feedback. I’ve passed it along to those who are over this area. Thank you for reading the blog!

  3. I’m so inspired by Luke story, I want to share his story with my children thank you for the tips too