News Release

Family History, The Oral and Written Records of the Africa Southeast Area

Much of the family history available in Africa is in the memory of older family members. Brother Van As indicated that, “an African proverb says, every time an old man dies it is as if a village burns down. The history of the village is gone unless the memories of past generations are passed on. This makes collecting those memories and making a written record critical.”


FamilySearch currently has volunteers and employees visit villages interviewing older residents to digitally record their family history memories. Prior to talking with village residents, permission is obtained from community leaders. Once memories are collected they are transcribed into written records and stored in the FamilySearch data base. Brother Van As said that already in 2018, over 3,000,000 African oral memories have been recorded with hopes of recording millions more by the end of the year. The website for FamilySearch states, “Our vision is carried out by a dedicated team of employees and volunteers who work tirelessly to preserve and share the largest collection of genealogical and historical records in the world.”

In partnership with governments and organizations through-out Africa, FamilySearch and the Church are also actively pursuing the preservation and collection of written population records.

In Brazzaville, Congo, the Central African National Archives suffered significant damage to buildings caused by water erosion, in October 2017. They needed help to quickly update a new building and transfer critical family history files from the damaged building. The Church Humanitarian department arranged to help update the new building and local congregations used Mormon Helping Hands projects to transfer the family records from the damaged building to the new building. The written records can then be digitally added to the FamilySearch data base.


In response to the question, why do the Church and FamilySearch put such great emphasis on preserving oral and written family histories? Brother Van As said, “Family is the cornerstone of society. FamilySearch and the Church provide a no cost resource for individuals to search out their family histories. Knowing who our ancestors are helps us better understand ourselves and provides the critical information necessary to accomplish the sacred temple ordinances that bind families together forever.”

Currently there are more than 4,000,000,000 records available to review through FamilySearch. Brother Van As indicates the number of records available for research grows every day.


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