Discovering Your Family Tree

by | Oct. 02, 2007

LDS Life

Ancestry has become a huge topic today, even outside of the Church. People all over the world are looking for their families--for their heritage. In 2000, a Maritz poll showed that about 35 million people had used the Internet for family history research. That means that nearly half of all Internet users at the time had done genealogy online. In the Church, however, family history is not simply a matter of popularity, but a work of charity and love. When 16-year-old Kellianne Dymock started her Laurel project, she was only expanding on principles she'd been taught for years. She decided to create a photographic pedigree chart, and began gathering pictures from her family's albums. In the end, she created a five-generation family tree consisting of thirty-one photos that she copied and sized individually. Some had to be minimized and others had to be enlarged. She trimmed each picture by hand, mounted them on small squares of cardstock, and designed the overall look of the family tree. The project took about eighty hours to complete, and the finished product hung in the entryway of the Dymocks' home to the admiration of all those who saw it. It wasn't long before she had family members asking her to do the same for their families. With a growing love for the work she was doing, Kellianne began working on her second family tree--a present for her Grandparents that showed five generations of ancestry and posterity, including all of the grandchildren in the family. She was still working by hand, and there's no telling how long this extensive project took. "She is very meticulous and quite a perfectionist, and so many of the pictures were reworked several times," says her father, Paul. It was the Dymocks' friend Barbara Jenkins who nudged them toward making the projects into a business with her conviction that many would want to have such beautiful family displays in their homes, and setting up shop was the only way to share what they were doing with the world. So, the family put together an office and computerized the whole process. As Kellianne left for college, her mother Shirlene took over the work. With the help of a few graphic designers and a contract with Chad Hawkins (an LDS artist who has created beautiful pictures of dozens of temples), Family Tree and Me offers clients the opportunity to have pictures of their entire family all in one place. And with the gorgeous variety of backgrounds, these family trees are not only heirlooms, but works of art. After having Shirlene create a five generation family tree for her, Shirley Allen Hatch said, "It makes the family come to life seeing the pictures rather than just reading their names and dates on a pedigree chart. My Allen Family Tree features my children, my parents, grandparents, great grandparents, siblings, and my nieces and nephews. It is thrilling to see all 35 of their faces and get to know them better." While they use outside vendors for framing and have contracts with graphic artists, Paul says, "We are still a small family business. Most of the work is done out of Shirlene's office in our home." And Shirlene truly feels that this is more than a business--"it is a mission for her," says Paul. "She is helping to 'turn the hearts of the children to the fathers.'" Go to to see some of the beautiful work Shirlene is doing.
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