Celebrate Your Missionary Heritage: Database Research Tips

June 13, 2017  - by 

How to use the Early Mormon Missionary Database to find resources to help you find your missionary ancestors.

Soon after the Church was organized, thousands of men and women left their homes and families to preach the gospel all around the world. Some of your ancestors could be among them, and now you can get a closer look into their stories. The Missionaries website contains tens of thousands of digitized documents, including journals, letters, photographs, and other resources that can help you better understand your ancestors and their service.

You can search the Missionaries database by following a few simple steps:

  1. Enter your ancestor’s first or last name, mission, or keyword in the Search box.
    Add to the Early Mormon Missionary Database.
  2. If you know your ancestor’s mission or the dates he or she served, you can add those in the box on the left to help refine your search.
    The Early Mormon Missionary Database can help guide you to your missionary ancestors.
  3. Select the correct person in the list of results to learn more about that ancestor’s missionary service, including when and where he or she served, when he or she was called and set apart, and details about the mission he or she served in.


These missionary stories show how the spirit of missionary service can continue through generations to impact our lives.

Find out how learning about your ancestors’ missionary experiences can help shape your own.


Try these activities to get the whole family involved in the missionary spirit.

Check out our ideas to help turn missionary work into missionary fun for the whole family!

Your Missionary Heritage

Learning about missionary ancestors can tell us a lot about ourselves.

Discover your missionary heritage with these research tips, activities, and tools.

Journals and Letters

Missionary journals and letters can provide a window into the past for family heritage.

Learn how you can preserve missionary documents that help tell your ancestor’s story.

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  1. I’m a convert to the Church. I did baptize my sister in 1980, but she died in 1985. I have all my family lines back to the 1600’s and some back to 1444 in Holland. I have not yet found any that were members of the Church. However, there must be some members of the Church that I am not aware of because so much of the Temple work has already been completed before I got to it,

    Don Taylor

    1. My parents and my husband are converts, too.

      Not long after we married, my husband’s mother and father gave us an old genealogical sundial type chart that went back as many as 13 generations on both sides. As I began to research the names on the chart I was surprised to find that the temple work had been completed, starting with my mother in law’s parents and then back on both her maternal and paternal lines for many generations. I was floored to find early members of the Church among his 4th generation ancestors. They were in upstate New York, and then in Kirtland, Missouri, and Nauvoo and then Utah, Arizona, etc. My husband knew absolutely zero about this heritage.

      All that early Church history we read about? Suddenly it was personal.

      This was about 25 years ago.

      Since then, I have met many converts with similar stories. People who had relatives that joined the church often surpressed the fact that there were Mormons in the family tree. At least, they didn’t talk about it. Converting to the Church was not a respected or popular life choice in the 19th and early 20th century. The children of the non-member family lines usually grew up completely unaware of any connection. In fact, I have even been able to identify one ‘lost’ descendant, who has not yet accepted the gospel; my husbands best friend growing up in San Francisco. I noticed his surname and my husband’s mother’s surname together in marriage records. I teased him about ‘being a Mormon’. “Oh no, that’s not possible. Grandmother was a staunch congregationalist,” he replied. His family had arrived in CA quite early. I was curious. And sure enough, one of his father’s direct lines came by covered wagon to the Salt Lake Valley in the early 1850’s. He descends from a woman who died along the trail, along with two of her children. They were buried in an unmarked grave somewhere between Ft Kearney, Nebraska and Ft Laramie, Wyoming. He, like my husband, was completely unaware of his LDS roots. In my own lines we are beginning to discover early members as well. No direct ancestors as yet, but we will eventually find at least siblings of our direct lines. Both my mother’s and father’s ancestors lived in Ohio valley, some in the area around Cleveland, during the Kirtland years of Church history.

      The descendants are being gathered. The Lord doesn’t forget, he keeps His covenant with those who keep it with Him. Like Abraham, they have an eternal familial right to their descendants. Four, five or six generations later, we may not know our family history or how our lineage got separated. No matter, the Lord knows us, and we are being ‘found’ and reunited, gathered back in. One by one, our hearts are turning towards our fathers who embraced the gospel and kept the covenant during their lifetimes. Pretty humbling.

      Keep looking. Start with any lineages you have traced back to before the restoration years began. Work them forward, going wide, explore each generation ‘sideways’, sift through brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins of your direct ancestors. Did any of your non-direct ancestors end up in Utah, Wyoming or Idaho, for example? Pay attention to geographical areas in which your ancestors lived that were near early LDS communities; Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, or the Mormon colonies in Mexico or Alberta Canada. Check out familiy lines that lived near the sites of early church missionary work in Canada or England; you’ll find the connection.