Salt Lake City/Utah: Genealogy with the Mormons | Culture| Arts, music and lifestyle reporting from Germany | DW | 29.10.2001
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Culture

Salt Lake City/Utah: Genealogy with the Mormons

The Mormons believe that their families live eternally in a genealogical circle. That's why researching and documenting family roots is so important to them.

The Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City

The Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City

People from all over the world come to Salt Lake City, Utha, to research their family trees. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, better known as the Mormon Church, has compiled the most comprehensive collection of genealogy source material in the world.

The Mormons believe that their families enjoy eternal life in a perpetual genealogical circle. That's why they are eager to trace their ancestors from generation to generation.

The Family History Library was founded in 1894 to collect and archive genealogical material, and to aid members of the Mormon Church in tracing their family histories. Today the Library contains more than two million rolls of microfilmed records, almost 750,000 microfiche, 300,000 books and 4,500 periodicals.

Yet, it is not only Mormons who want to know more about their family history. Many Americans of German descent use the Family History Library to find out more about their ancestors. Some 2500 users come here every day. One of them is Ken McCrea.

Ken McCrea

Dedicated to tracing his ancestors: Ken McCrea

Ken is very much into tracing his ancestors. "It's kind of an obsession. It's sort of like the thrill of the hunt in a way you're really into the process of trying to find this stuff."

Ken has been exploring his family history for a couple of years now. He has been able to find out something about relatives in England and Germany back to the 15th century.

He even fancies himself being related to Charlemagne and the Mountbatten-Windsor people, better known as the British royal family. Yet he knows he is so far removed in the lineage that there is no way he could ever claim a right to the British throne.

It's just sort of an interesting fact. It doesn't mean anything in general. It doesn't make me different. It's just interesting to know that some of your ancestors were people that other people would have heard of."

Ken has traveled to Salt Lake City all the way from his home state Pennsylvania. He has not done much sightseeing, though. Every morning, when the archives open at 7.30 a.m., Ken descends down into the vaults and reading rooms. He only resurfaces around closing time at 10 p.m. Ken is screening as much material as he can.

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