Gateway: Living

Faith: Discover your ‘roots’ and more at Family Discovery Day on Aug. 6

It is called Family Discovery Day, and one person describes it as “a mini Genealogy Roadshow.” It is in Gig Harbor and it is free.

If you have felt the desire to discover more about your ancestry, how to organize your effort, or how to use modern technology to make connections over the centuries, this event may be for you.

Family Discovery Day is four hours of fun and informative workshops from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 6, hosted by my friends at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at their beautiful building at 12002 Peacock Hill in Gig Harbor.

Admittedly a rank amateur at family history efforts, I did once tape an oral history interview of my beloved maternal grandmother when she was 80 and blind, and when I typed it up it became a family treasure. But traveling to Denmark and England to search headstones and parish records for my ancestors was out of the question. Things have changed. Now we live in the wonderful modern world of digitized records and marvelous online resources.

Motivated by the belief that through the atonement of Jesus Christ families can be together forever, members of the LDS Church have been collecting records from all over the planet for decades. Someone recently quipped that if you get serious about genealogy research, “all roads lead to Salt Lake City.” Today the Church has made all of those genealogical records free to the world via the internet.

So, what about Family Discovery Day on Aug. 6? Bring a laptop or tablet to the event if you wish, or just pen and paper, and discover how to access the world of Family Search on the internet. There is something for folks at all levels of family history interest or research — young and old, from beginner to more experienced persons who want to keep up with the technological advances of recent years.

Among other presenters, my friends Sara McDaniels and Amy McMenimen, who is teaching the 12-week Family History course I am enrolled in on Sunday mornings, will be teaching a class on “Preserving Memories” at the Aug. 6 event. This should be fun!

“If you are like most people,” says McMenimen,” you have bins of old loose photos and old photos glued to photo albums that are falling apart. It seems like such a daunting task to try and identify the people in the photos, much less add them to Family Search. We will be challenging participants to spend a few minutes every day adding a photo of their great grandfather, a letter from their grandmother, or audio of their favorite uncle telling stories of his youth in Mississippi. Bringing to life their relatives who have gone before, it allows people to connect in a visual way that a simple name can’t; realizing they share their great grandfather’s chin or their great, great, great grandmother’s eyes; reading the stories of faith and hardship in their own handwriting, or hearing the stories of their youth told with their soft southern drawl; bringing to life their history — their family.

“We will show how easy it is to upload photos and documents using scanners and mobile aps,” she promises. “We will encourage people to ask their children and grandchildren to help them with their projects by using the technology they use every day to communicate with their friends. Our goal is to encourage people to start with just one photo. That’s all it takes.”

Invite family members and friends to the event, presented as a gift to the community. A nursery will be available for children from 18 months to 3 years, and a children’s activity room for youngsters 3 to 11, again at no cost to attendees. A BBQ lunch will be provided.

For more information, contact me at 253-851-1099.

On Faith columnist Alfred Gunn, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at Gig Harbor, can be reached by e-mail at For more information,