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The Purpose and Scope of a Family Organization

Organizing a family association or organization is a great way to bring people together to accumulate, coordinate, learn, preserve and publicize genealogical and historical information among related family members.

Some families may wish to organize around a husband and wife and their descendants. Others, like the Brough Family Organization and Osmond Family Organization, may decide on a much larger agenda (see below). 

According to the Encyclopedia of Mormonism (David H. Ludlow, 1992, pages 497-498), "In 1978 the [LDS] Church asked all families to organize themselves at three levels: immediate families, grandparent families, and ancestral families.  The immediate family consists of husband and wife, and begins when they are married.... When the children marry and have children of their own, the grandparent organization is initiated.  Beyond that, each family is ideally involved in an ancestral organization, which consists of all the descendants of an earlier common progenitors couple."  Additional information on these three types of family "levels"--or organizations--and their functions and purposes is detailed in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism.

Also, the book Mormon Doctrine (Bruce R. McConkie, 1966, Second Edition, page 274), states the following about family organizations: "Church members who are descendants of common ancestors should form family organizations. These organizations serve four particular purposes: 1) They create family solidarity and honor the patriarchal system. Desires to work righteousness are enhanced, and members of the rising generations are encouraged to keep the commandments and look forward to temple marriages and the fullness of the blessings of the priesthood. 2) They make it possible for large groups of saints, having a common purpose, to pool their skills and means in organized genealogical research. Incident to this research the preparation of family histories is a proper and desirable enterprise. 3) They keep current family genealogical data. 4) They make recreational opportunities available to groups bound together by a common tie. ...In keeping with the spirit of love and unity which should always exist in Latter-day Saint families, it is proper for families, both large and small, to hold frequent family reunions. Regular family organizations, as an aid in carrying out their important work, should hold these affairs from time to time."

A list of well-known Mormon Family Organizations is posted in Wikipedia, and two of these organizations--the Belnap Family Organization and the Brough Family Organization[1]--have their own documented articles in Wikipedia.

Examples of Large Ancestral Family Organizations (AFO's)

Importance of Ancestral Family Organizations (AFO's)

The Brough Family Organization (BFO)--one of the largest and oldest ancestral family organizations and surname associations in the world--has stated the following about Ancestral Family Organizations (AFO's):

"Ancestral family organizations are often able to accomplish much more than individual families or 'grandparent' family associations. Because of their extensive membership and databases, AFO's are often able to locate and obtain genealogical and historical information much faster and cheaper than individual families or grandparent associations.

"Also, AFO's often know about--and can find and acquire from different parts of the world--unique genealogical data and historical records, such as those found in family bibles, personal journals, private indexes and photographic collections. These sources can provide genealogical information not commonly found in ecclesiastical or government records.

"Finally, because of its broad membership and extensive number of contributors, AFO's can usually afford and support extensive research by professional genealogists much easier and for longer durations than can most individual families or grandparent family associations."

For an example of what an AFO can do, visit: http://www.broughfamily.org/ancestral_family_organizations.html

AFO's Can Accomplish Unique Extraction Projects

In 2011, the Brough Family Organization and Osmond Family Organization successfully participated in and completed a Surname Index and Relationship Project (SIRP).

Surname Index and Relationship Project (SIRP) is a "structured extraction and research system used to identify individuals and combine them into family units". In 2011, SIRP was successfully used by two of the world's largest ancestral family organizations to identify and connect hundreds of individuals living in two countries.

SIRP acquires online genealogical data from multiple sources on individuals having the same (or similar) surname in a designated geographical area, then inputs all such names and their associated dates and places of births, christenings, marriages, deaths and burials into a PAF-style (and GEDCOM friendly) database. Once this database has been compiled, then analysis, screening and merging tools are used to match and link individuals together into related families and larger ancestral lineages.

Some of the genealogical sources used by SIRP include the following:
1) LDS Ancestral File - available at some Family History Libraries and/or on earlier (DOS-style) computer disks.
2) Pedigree Research File (PRF) - available at Family History Libraries and/or on earlier computer disks.
3) International Genealogical Index (IGI)
4) FamilySearch.org (including New FamilySearch and FamilySearch Family Tree)
5) Available online Government Indexes of Births, Marriages, Deaths and Burials, such as the British GRO (for England and Wales); and the UKBMD Search .
6) Available online Name Indexes and Databases from commercial sites, such as Ancestry.com ; FindMyPast.com ; and Non Conformist & Non Parochial Records  (These three websites can be accessed free-of-charge at Family History Libraries throughout the world.)
7) Available GEDCOM files from known and reliable Family Members and Related Individuals.

In 2011, the Brough Family Organization (BFO) and Osmond Family Organization (OFO) used SIRP methodologies to compile databases of hundreds of "Brough" and "Osmond" surnamed individuals who had lived from 1800 to the early 1900's in New Zealand and in New South Wales, Australia. Subsequent analysis, screening and merging of these databases resulted in the rapid identification of numerous linked individuals and multiple family lineages.

In 2012, SIRP methodologies were used to successfully document and link hundreds of military servicemen (and women) who died while serving their countries in World War I and World War II to their families and ancestors.

At the present time, the BFO and OFO are applying SIRP methodologies to identify and combine thousands of individuals and their families who lived in the 1800's and early 1900's in England and Wales.

AFO's Can Produce Family History Vidoes

On November 17, 2009, the Brough Family Organization (BFO) freely released worldwide a 37-minute high-quality video documentary entitled "A Thousand Years of Family History", which detailed the Brough ancestry of England and their descendants in Europe, America and Australia.

In several ways, this video is a "first" of its kind: It describes nearly a thousand years of history related to a well-known family surname in England--without dwelling on royalty or celebrities. Also, the documentary uses over two dozen narrators and commentators, along with historical photographs, artifacts, and computer graphics, to succinctly tell the story of the Broughs of England and their descendants--who eventually embraced different religions and spread across several continents. In addition, the video describes how genealogical research and recent DNA tests have been used to clarify family relationships and better understand family traditions.

This video is family-friendly and faith-promoting, and is a good example of what other ancestral organizations around the world can do to visually show and explain their heritage to family members and relatives. The video can be freely viewed on YouTube at:

Family History video on YouTube: A Thousand Years of Family History

Also, additional information about the video--including its entire audio script--is available on the BFO website at: http://www.broughfamily.org/family_history_video.html.

AFO's Can Produce Monuments Promoting Faith and Family

In 2010-2012, the Brough Family Organization (BFO) and Osmond Family Organization (OFO) produced physical memorials and historical monuments to their ancestors--which tell in considerable detail (or more than most gravestone inscriptions do) the faith and history of some of their ancestors.  Examples of these extensive memorials and monuments can be viewed here:

Brough Family Monuments to Mormon Pioneeers - erected in 2011 and 2012 in Utah.

Olive May Davis Osmond Cabin & Museum dedication in Samaria, Idaho, May 3, 2010 (Deseret News)
Olive May Davis Osmond Cabin & Museum in Samaria, Idaho, April-May 2010 (YouTube video)
Olive May Davis Osmond Cabin and Museum dedication and plaque photos - Osmond website, 2012

The importance of erecting faith-promoting memorials and monuments has often been mentioned by LDS Church leaders.  For example, in the LDS Church News of November 26, 2011 (page 10), Richard E. Turley Jr., assistant LDS Church historian, stated the following about the recent Granite Monument erected to the Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon in Liberty, Missouri: "It may, with good sense, be asked, 'Why do we build such monuments?' 'It is to remember important events in the history of the Church, events in God's ongoing relationship with His children.' God's people are commanded to keep records, and those include not just books and manuscripts 'but also art, artifacts and historic sites....' 'The tradition of creating monuments and sacred places goes back almost to the beginning of the Bible,' Brother Turley noted, citing references in Genesis and Joshua. He said he has been on every continent except Antarctica and has seen monuments around the world commemorating events of Church history. 'The purpose for which we erect this monument is 'to remember the great things the Lord has done for His children,' and that phrase appears again and again in the Book of Mormon, Brother Turley observed. 'It appears there because the Book of Mormon tells us that having monuments like this and recording the information about the history of the Church helps to build faith and pass it on from generation to generation'."

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  • This page was last modified on 11 July 2014, at 16:35.
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