In the keynote address at the annual Conference on Family History and Genealogy convening this week at BYU, Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander explained some of the key Mormon doctrines that drive the intense interest of the church and its members in researching names of their dead kindred.
"Knowledge of the historic context in which our ancestors lived, the details of their lives and the experience that shaped their personalities are essential to understanding of ourselves," Elder Neuenschwander said.
"For the Latter-day Saints, there are powerfully beautiful doctrines that provide not only the foundation for the identification of our ancestors, but for their salvation as well," he said. "The plan of salvation and the atonement of Jesus Christ are the very backbone of genealogical research."
For ancestors who have died, Christ's atonement provides for them the exact same hope as it does for those who are now living, Elder Neuenschwander said. Hence there is a need to identify them so their descendants may perform vicarious baptism and other essential ordinances in their behalf for their salvation, he explained.