SALT LAKE CITY — Family history enthusiasts had reason to rejoice Monday when the Church History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced a collaborative project between the Joseph Smith Papers Project and FamilySearch.org.
FamilySearch.org users can now easily access documents in the Joseph Smiths Papers Project that mention their direct ancestors. The aggregation provides people with information about interactions between their ancestors and Joseph Smith in addition to other early members of the LDS Church, according to a news release.
“Using the power of FamilySearch.org and the scholarship of the Joseph Smith Papers Project, descendants of early Church members can now connect to original source documents where their own progenitors are mentioned,” LDS Church Historian and Recorder Elder Steven E. Snow said in a statement. “Seeing our ancestors in the original papers will provide insight and inspiration as we see how our own lives intersect with the sacred history of the Church.”
The new website, free of charge, searches for names of ancestors on each FamilySearch account and compares them to digitized pages of Joseph Smith’s papers.
Seeing our ancestors in the original papers will provide insight and inspiration as we see how our own lives intersect with the sacred history of the church.
–Steven E. Snow, LDS Church Historian and Recorder
Each user can then access original historical documents from Church history containing their ancestors’ names and search additional related historical records on FamilySearch.org.
“The majority of the papers that were written by the Prophet Joseph Smith or written on his behalf were about people,” Reid L. Neilson, managing director of the Church History Department, said in the news release. “These people have living descendants. Now you can see how your ancestor once interacted with the Prophet of the Restoration.”
FamilySearch patron Ben Godfrey made several family discoveries about his fourth-great-grandfather John Tanner.
Godfrey heard an old family story about Tanner, claiming he made a generous financial donation to the church that helped prevent foreclosure on the mortgage for the Kirtland Temple block. Godfrey recently confirmed that story in the Joseph Smith Papers online.
“Seeing the sacrifices that John Tanner made inspired me as his descendant,” Godfrey said. “It gives me courage to face the daily challenges in my own life and to understand how we might be the answer to another person’s prayers.”
The Joseph Smith Papers Project is a continuing effort will publish, according to accepted documentary editing standards, documents Joseph Smith created in addition to documents created by staff whose work Smith directed, including journals; revelations and translations; contemporary reports of discourses; minutes; business and legal records; editorials; and notices. The project also includes papers owned by his office, including correspondence.