What is Essentialist Genealogy (part 1)

After dedicating my last five years to higher education, feeling compelled to learn all I could about genealogy and family history research, I have come to one basic conclusion: Essentialism in this field is the key to success.

In the last few years this multi-million-dollar industry has become complicated, regulated, expensive and confusing for the new genealogists, and even the professionals. New ways to cite, store, and share documents have had to be agreed upon by the leaders in the field. Privacy issues have also complicated the work. Just as with the medical field, a professional genealogist must now have a specialty, a focus of study. The field has become too vast to be an expert in genealogy. Now you are only an “expert” or certified in a specific geographical region.

There are millions of hobbyist genealogists who like to search databases to find records and create trees just for the thrill of the hunt. Lately, even this pursuit has become costly. We are told that if we want to find our own family members and ancestors, we need to spend thousands of dollars each year to gain access to the public records online, attend conferences, test our DNA, and store family trees with the “Big four”. We are also told that we need to have gray hair and be retired or close to it to have time to do this work.  I think there is a better way.

I belong to many family history and genealogical online groups where most are concerned with one main issue; what will happen to all the personal research completed after they die. Many wonder, where to keep it. They ask, What child should I will it to? Who will appreciate it?  Many feel the drive to complete the work, but do not know as to what ultimate end they are doing the work.

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.[1] As members we are asked to make genealogy a priority in our life.[2] We do not do this work just to find our roots or learn about our ancestors. We do this work to bring to past the immortality and eternal life of all mankind.[3] [4]  You see, we believe that we are all God’s children and he wants us to experience this mortal life in order to learn and grow, to untimely return to him.  God has given us a path home. We call it, the ordinance path. It begins with baptism and ends with marriage and sealing the family group together in an effort to live again as families after this life. We believe that the Atonement of Jesus Christ has an infinite reach.[5] We do this ordinance work for our ancestors in the temples that are located all over the earth.[6] It is important to note that just because we do the ordinance work for our ancestors, they still have the ability and option to accept or reject the work we do. Everyone has agency to decide for themselves if they want to live by God’s plan. We do not judge anyones decisions, we just want to make a decision possible for everyone. One thing we know now is that these ordinances can only be done on the earth.[7] So, finding our ancestors, learning about each one and allowing them the opportunity for not only salvation – an individual matter, but also exaltation – a family matter, is our motivation to complete this work and make it a priority in life.[8]  However, to do this I have discovered that I must become an Essentialist.

What is an Essentialist you ask?  According to Greg Mckeown in his book; Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, an Essentialist is someone who makes the wisest possible investment of time and energy in order to operate at the highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential. I encourage you to read his book today.[9]

By applying this concept to genealogy in today’s fast paced, overwhelming, information drowning society, I have been able to create a research method that will simply utilize the modern technology found on the smart phones to methodically collect and document evidence needed to prove familial relationships at a minimal cost and effort. Using this method will ensure correctly documented tree connections and sealing ordinance work done in the temples to be our best effort possible.  Join me at FamilyHistoryTechCoach.com as we continue to learn the Essentialist Method.


[1] https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/?lang=eng

[2] 2019 Temple and Family History Leadership Instruction, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/family-history?lang=eng .

[3] Moses 1:39, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/pgp/moses/1.39?lang=eng

[4] Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, What is the Difference Between Immortality and Eternal Life?, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/new-era/2006/11/what-is-the-difference-between-immortality-and-eternal-life?lang=eng

[5] Elder D. Todd Christopherson, The Redemption of the Dead and the Testimony of Jesus, November 2000, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/2000/11/the-redemption-of-the-dead-and-the-testimony-of-jesus.p18?lang=eng

[6] Map of Temples,  https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/temples/map?lang=eng

[7] About Temples, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/temples?lang=eng

[8] Elder Russell M. Nelson, Salvation and Exaltation, April 2008, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2008/04/salvation-and-exaltation?lang=eng

[9] https://www.amazon.com/Essentialism-Disciplined-Pursuit-Greg-McKeown/dp/0804137382/ref=sr_1_1?crid=32O9B8X498K8W&keywords=essentialism+by+greg+mckeown&qid=1559694468&s=gateway&sprefix=essentialism%2Caps%2C186&sr=8-1

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