Monday, January 07, 2008

Family History Library and Vicinity

Last August, I took a trip and met some bloggy friends in Colorado. It was a great trip, and part of the fun was visiting Salt Lake City, aka "Genealogy Mecca." While there, I captured some of my favorite genealogy sights. Click on the images to get a better viewpoint.

Inside the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake, there's a small Family History Center, much like others found around the country (minus the books, microfilms, and other resources, since the big Library is nearby), staffed by full-time sister missionaries who switch shifts every half hour throughout Temple Square. They come from all over the world and speak a variety of languages from every continent, to be able to guide visitors from any country through the area. My friend Angela served her mission here. Luck-eeeee.

This picture, found on the wall in the Family History Center at the JS Memorial Building, is fun and a little earth-shattering: a chart outlining some of the Howland family's descendants. From three sons of Henry Howland - one came to America on the Mayflower - come these individuals: the Presidents Bush, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, President Gerald Ford, President Richard Nixon, the prophet Joseph Smith, his wife Emma Hale Smith, and Sir Winston Churchill, along with Mr. Joseph Ira Earl, a Utah native - kind of a "If this guy is related to all these people, who might you be related to?" thing. Imagine that family reunion.

In the Family History Library itself, located across the street from the west side of Temple Square and next to the Church History Museum (also a must-visit), this portrait faces the front entrance of the building. It features Christ in the center, a modern-day family discussing their family history, Joseph Smith and the Old Testament prophet Elijah in the lower left corner, spirits of the deceased working on family history in their sphere, and ancestors from different eras in history dressed in period clothing (my favorite). The painting communicates to me the emphasis of all of us being one big family, the importance of "finding" each other (and doing it NOW rather than waiting for a better time), and the family ties that exist throughout eternity.

Also in the Family History Library, on the back (south) wall of the first floor, behind all the tables: a chart similar to the Howland family's, depicting the descendants of Joseph and Emma Smith, some of whom are only now being found. For the founder of a Church so connected to family history, it's sad and kind of amazing that Joseph's family flew to the winds the way it did, but they are being found and documented, and gathered onto this HUGE chart. I had to try several different angles to get the whole thing in the picture and probably looked pretty goofy to the other patrons who watched, but who cares. My dear friend No Cool Story and I have long had the motto, "Anything for the blog."

If you've never been to Salt Lake City to research your ancestors, I would definitely recommend it (beg you to book a trip at your earliest convenience is actually what I'd do). It's absolutely worth the time and money spent, and you can even search the Family History Library Catalog before you go, to get the most from your time there. I'm counting the days till my next visit!


  1. I love that painting over the desk that is so cool.

    I have some JS links, but very very perifial and only the most dedicated LDS geneologists (read: Grandma) would find it, lol.

    Apparently Ronald Reagan was a 4th cousins twice removed or something like that. And he never once sent a Christmas card!

  2. How rude. You must not have contributed to his campaign fund.

    That painting over the desk is HUGE and hits me hard every time I see it. There have been times they've had to revive me with smelling salts, I was so overcome by it. ;)

    I read an Ensign article about a lady who joined the Church, started her family history, and found out she was a granddaughter of Joseph and Emma's. After that revelation, I think I would need smelling salts.

  3. I am actually related (through marriage) to "Joseph Ira Earl" and we were shocked to see him on that board! (Your comment made me laugh...) Thanks for posting this.