On February 16, 2017, representatives from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints presented historically important microfilm records to officials from the Government of the Independent State of Samoa.
The presentation was made in Malifa, Apia during a special meeting with Government and Latter-day Saint representatives.
Resulting from an agreement dating back to the 1970’s between the Church and the Government, the presentation was made by senior Latter-day Saint leader, Elder Meliula Fata, and Michael Higgins, Family History Pacific Area Manager.
Officials from the National Archives and Records Authority of the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture received the records on behalf of the Government and the people of Samoa.
Those present from the Ministry included the Honourable Loau Solamalemalo Keneti Sio, Minister of Education, Sports and Culture; Afioga Karoline Afamasaga Fuata’I, Chief Executive Officer; and Afioga Fanuea Amela Silipa, Assistant Chief Executive Officer.
For many Samoans, genealogical knowledge is passed down orally from generation to generation. These microfilm records of birth, death and marriage certificates covering the years 1869 to 1992, will add to oral histories and existing government records.
Church officials are hopeful that the partnership with the Government will continue, including the possibility of digitizing, preserving and sharing records for public access.
Genealogy, the study of one’s ancestors or family history, is one of the most popular hobbies in the world. People of all faiths and nationalities enjoy discovering where they come from. Its purpose is to collect, preserve and share records of genealogical significance.
For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, however, learning about one’s family history is more than just a casual endeavour. Latter-day Saints believe families can be together after this life. Therefore, it is essential to strengthen relationships with all family members, both those who are alive and those who have died.
President Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has said: “Every human being who comes to this earth is the product of generations of parents. We have a natural yearning to connect with our ancestors. This desire dwells in our hearts, regardless of age.”
He added, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints proclaims, promotes, and protects the truth that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children. ‘The Family: A Proclamation to the World’ and our vast family history efforts are but two evidences of how this Church brings hope and help to the sacred institution of the family.”
Since 1894, the Church has dedicated time and resources to collecting and sharing records of genealogical importance. Due to cooperation from government archives, churches, and libraries, the Church has created the largest collection of family records in the world, with information on more than three billion deceased people. This effort was originally facilitated through the Genealogical Society of Utah and now through FamilySearch, a non-profit organization sponsored by the Church.
FamilySearch provides access to information from 100 countries, including birth, marriage, and death records, censuses, probates and wills, land records, and more. These records are made available to the public free of charge through the FamilySearch.org website, the world-renowned Family History Library in Salt Lake City, and through a network of 4,918 local family history centers in 153 countries.