Every year at RootsTech we look forward to hearing from FamilySearch CEO Steve Rockwood, and interviewing him afterward in the media hub. His insights are always spot-on. How does he do it ? By evoking memories – memories that make us all feel eager to share.
One year he got personal, his own moving story of his father, named True. Rockwood shared how special Christmases were in his family and how hard his parents worked to make sure they got the greatest gifts, also sharing how his dad shot a bb gun in the living room on Christmas Day! Things became more serious as Rockwood then shared how his father shared his feelings one Christmas and his thoughts of spiritual things. “Little did we know that would be the last Christmas we would have with our dad,” Rockwood said. His father passed away a mere six months later on Father’s Day. He shared that none of his four boys ever got to meet their Grandpa True. “But they know him. They know the pictures and stories of his life,” Rockwood said. This is because in his family they wanted his children to know their grandfather. “Who is the Grandpa True in your life?” Rockwood asked the audience.
Who is the Grandpa True in your family roots?
Things became quiet as Rockwood encouraged each audience member to think of someone – someone they knew or someone they knew in their family history through beloved stories passed down through the generations. He then gave everyone one minute to share a treasured memory about that person. As the crowd grew to a bit of roar with talking, Rockwood stopped them and said, “You just did some family history!”
He also advises folks to start with humor as a hook, “You can start with funny stories to get your family to listen.” What great advice!
We are all heart specialists
Rockwood has also said, “Rootstech is a gathering of heart specialists. You are the heart doctors of your families.” He encourages us to start thinking of small ways to introduce family history to their families – with stories. “You can start with funny stories to get your family to listen.” He notes that millennials and teens are the most “prolific journalers of our time. “They just call it social media,” he said as the audience laughed.
Related article: Remember who you are – getting youth to turn off tech and think about family stories
In the media hub after his keynote, Rockwood gave us this insight about how we can move the work of our ancestors forward, “We can stand on their shoulders and be doers of the work.”
There is room for everyone around the family history table
“There is plenty of room for accredited family historians and novices,” he said of recording family history work. Many people think they need to know so much more about the roots of genealogy than needed to be a part of FamilySearch and family history itself, he added. Sometimes it just takes small things to get families hooked. He talked about finding a great-grandfather through a search of missionary journals on a new site the LDS church launched. “I found that connection and I just wanted to learn more,” he said. He thinks everyone can find a small seed and their desire to learn about their families and their stories will grow.
In 2018, Rockwood shared even more insights about bringing youth into family history work. Watch this excerpt from our interview with him:
Stories help people know who they are
He believes that stories are the hook for family history, “We want people to tell the stories and find out who they are. They can do that with family history and family stories,” Rockwood said.
There are several levels of family history and he wants to reach all those levels. He noted that regardless of religious affiliation, people should prepare themselves spiritually to do family history work. “Family history can get very mechanical very quickly. The first thing you need to do is ask for the spirit,” Rockwood suggested. He hopes that as we learn each others stories and tell our own stories people will teach in the same way Jesus Christ taught, humbly and meekly, but with power.
Rachel J. Trotter is a senior writer/editor at Evalogue.Life – Tell Your Story. She tells people’s stories and shares hers to encourage others. She loves family storytelling. A graduate of Weber State University, she has had articles featured on LDSLiving.com and Mormon.org. She and her husband Mat have six children and live on the East Bench in Ogden, Utah.
More Steve Rockwood quotes: