“My work is all done” is probably a phrase you have heard more than once as you ask others if you can assist them with their family history. And from their point of view, they may be correct. In their minds, they see a pedigree or fan chart with all the names filled in and all the temple work completed. Their direct line ancestry is complete as far as they can go and stops at a brick wall of unavailable or non-existent records. When an individual traces only his or her direct line ancestry 7 generations, that equals 127 total people, including the starting individual. That means only one child per couple and tracing the ancestral line directly back seven generations. For many, those 126 ancestors may already be legitimately found, and it is our opportunity to show them the further opportunities that await them.
We absolutely want to encourage them to add the photos, stories, and memories of their ancestors, but we can teach them the opportunities to find their cousins. If, for example, you go back to your seventh generation great grandparents, you have 32 couples. Let’s pretend that one of your seventh generation grandparents had four children, one of the children being your direct line, and the other three relatives we will define as cousins. If each of those four children married and had four children, and this continues for seven generations, you would have a minimum of 10,922 individuals descending from the original couple. Multiply 10,922 by 32 seventh generation great- grandparent couples and that gives you 349,504 individuals. The cousin potential is amazing!
The opportunity to link and seal complete families together is such a wonderful blessing. As Elder Neil L. Andersen stated at RootsTech 2015, “These are your days. You were born in a time of temples and technology. These are your days to more fully turn your hearts to your fathers and bring these saving ordinances to millions within our families. These are your days to prepare for the Second Coming of the Savior.”
The FamilySearch Family Tree currently has 1.2 billion names connected as families. Contrast that with the more than 6 billion searchable names in the FamilySearch records. Some of those 6 billion names are already connected as families in family tree, and those records are attached as sources. While some of these people being mentioned appear in multiple records, there is still at least a probability that at least 1 billion of those names have not been entered and connected in family tree. On average FamilySearch adds 2 million searchable names each day. FamilySearch partners have billions of additional names on their websites that we can search to find our cousins. They are waiting to be sealed as families.
President Henry B. Eyring stated, “There are more resources to search out your ancestors than there have ever been in the history of the world. The Lord has poured out knowledge about how to make that information available worldwide through technology that a few years ago would have seemed a miracle” (Henry B. Eyring “Hearts Bound Together,” Ensign, May 2005, 79).
With all these possibilities, you can more easily teach others to link their ancestors’ names into families on the family tree. To assist you, FamilySearch has built some wonderful tools, such as the Descendancy View, the Record Hints, and Partner Search. These help us discover our cousins, so we can take advantage of the opportunities that await us. Learn how to use these tools here: https://familysearch.org/blog/en/give-research-boost-record-hints/
As we find our cousins, using all the resources we have available to us, I cannot help but think of this wonderful acclamation: “Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory! Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad. Let the earth break forth into singing. Let the dead speak forth anthems of eternal praise to the King Immanuel, who hath ordained, before the world was, that which would enable us to redeem them out of their prison; for the prisoners shall go free” (D&C 128:22).