Most people are curious about their ancestry - in our age of information, genealogical research has become one of the most popular activities in the world and the Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is one of the most important resources. Started in 1894, the Mormon genealogical project has grown to include 2 billion names, 2.4 million rolls of microfilm, and 278,000 books - making it the worlds largest collection of genealogical information. Donald Akenson explains and evaluates the history and functioning of this massive undertaking, in the process providing an insightful study of the Mormon scriptures and their implications for genealogical work. One of his central arguments is that there are four basic genealogical forms. The supporting evidence runs from the Solomon Islands to classical China to ancient Ireland. Highly significant on its own, it also provides the information needed to assess the Latter-day Saints' efforts to provide a single narrative of how humanity keeps track of itself.
Appendices cover topics of vital interest to historians, genealogists, and ethnographers - the use and limits of genetic data in genealogy, the reality of false-paternity as a widespread phenomenon in genealogical lines, the vexing matters of incest and cousin-marriage. Taking a unique perspective on a neglected topic, Akenson draws far-reaching conclusions about the stories cultures tell themselves. "Some Family" will be of interest not only to religious scholars but also to anyone who has ever used the Family History Library of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to explore their ancestry.
Donald Harman Akenson is Douglas Professor of Canadian and Colonial History, Queen's University, the world's leading scholar on the Irish diaspora, and the author of several major works on the history of Judaism and Christianity.