Wednesday, August 5, 2015

BYU Conference on Family History & Genealogy ~ Keynote Speakers - Days 1 and 2

Last week I attended the 47th annual BYU Conference on Family History & Genealogy, which was held Tuesday, July 28th - Friday, July 31st in the BYU Conference Center. I had a great time!

Each morning of the conference began with a keynote address. Also invited to attend these wonderful keynote addresses were the youth who were attending the myFamily History Youth Camp.

Day 1 - July 28th Keynote Address

Tuesday's keynote was given by Elder Gerald N. Lund, an emeritus member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is also a best-selling author of over 25 fiction and non-fiction books. I have personally read his historical fiction series "The Work and the Glory" and his book "Fire of the Covenant." I very much enjoyed these books and highly recommend them.

Elder Lund's keynote address was titled "They Are Not Dead, Only Living Somewhere Else." His address was wonderful. Elder Lund has seven children, twenty-nine grandchildren, and eleven great-grandchildren. His wife Lynn passed away in 2014. He said that Lynn loved the Savior, family, music, and family history. She also loved to take pictures. Her love of family history was passed down to her from her parents. And that love for family history has also been passed down to Elder and Sister Lund's children.

Here are some snippets from Elder Lund's address according to my notes and recollection:

One of Elder Lund's daughters gave him some advice regarding what to talk about during his keynote address. Paraphrasing her advice, she told him to talk about the doctrine of turning the hearts of the fathers to their children and vice versa, that genealogists love stories, and to tell how characters in some of his books are based on ancestors.

Elder Lund referred to Malachi 4:6 which states:
"And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse."
During a research trip for a book, Elder Lund traveled to the Hole in the Rock Trail. During this trip, one of his little grandsons said that they should "watch out for rattlesnakes and lobsters." Lobsters equaled scorpions. Too cute!

I can't remember when this happened, bur one of Elder Lund's granddaughters was involved in a car accident. She survived and wondered if her Grandmother Lund had been watching over her.

Some of the characters in his books share the same names as some of his own children and grandchildren.

During his address, Elder Lund showed the audience a special framed picture of Malvern Hall in England. I tried to find information about Malvern Hall online and found that it was built by Humphrey Griswold in 1690.1

Elder Lund and his wife Lynn each descend from a member of the Griswold family of Malvern Hall. The Lund's were given this beautiful picture because they both descend from this Griswold family. After his keynote address, I was able to take a photo of him holding this very special gift.

Elder Lund's keynote address was a great way to begin the BYU Conference on Family History & Genealogy.

Day 2 - July 29th Keynote Address

Wednesday's keynote address was given by Robert Kehrer, Senior Product Manager at FamilySearch. Mr. Kehrer worked at Apple before coming to FamilySearch eight years ago.

His presentation was titled "FamilySearch: Past, Present and Future."

Mr. Kehrer said that he has seen a fundamental transformation during the last eight years he's been at FamilySearch.

Mr. Kehrer shared some interesting statistics which include the following:
  • From 2013 to the present, there has been a 234% increase in LDS visitors to FamilySearch.
  • From 2013 to the present, there has been a 1,035% increase in non-LDS visitors to FamilySearch.
  • Regarding records at FamilySearch:
    •  In January of 2012, there were 1,033 record collections. As of July 2015, there are 2,019 record collections. That's a 95% increase!
    • Around 2010, there were 6,750 million indexed names. As of July 2015, that number has increased to 5.2 billion indexed names.
    • In January of 2012, there were 72 countries with records. As of July 2015, there are 91 countries with records.
    • Today there are 3.04 billion historical records, 5.172 billion names in records, 1.02 billion document images, 1.6 million catalog titles, 2.9 million microfilms, 975 million names in compiled genealogies, and 220,000 scanned genealogy books.
Mr. Kehrer shared some upcoming features at FamilySearch including the ability to send a message to someone on FamilySearch. I think this is a great new feature. Right now, if someone changes something in FamilySearch Family Tree, whether it is a positive or negative change, we have no way to contact them if they don't have an email address listed. In the future, we will be able to send that person a message. Who knows, maybe that person is a cousin we haven't met yet. And perhaps they have the family bible, family photos, letters, or stories we haven't heard before.

Another exciting future feature applies to the FamilySearch mobile app. I've installed FamilySearch's mobile app on my tablet and smartphone and it works wonderfully. Users can even search for records using this app. In the future, the SourceLinker feature presently enjoyed on the desktop version of FamilySearch will be available on the app as well.

I love FamilySearch and have enjoyed the many changes and improvements that have been made throughout the years. I also look forward to the future features mentioned by Mr. Kehrer in his excellent keynote address.

I'll be sharing more about the BYU Conference on Family History & Genealogy in future posts.

Thanks for reading!

© 2015 Copyright by Jana Last, All Rights Reserved

1 "Our History and Malvern Hall - Saint Martin's School." Saint Martins School Our History and Malvern Hall Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Aug. 2015.


  1. Thanks for sharing a little of the keynotes with us, Jana. I appreciate it.

  2. I've been wondering about the conference and what all you got to experience. The FamilySearch stats are outstanding! Thanks for posting.




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