My interest in family history began after my retirement from the Foreign Service, during my MA program in English, which started at George Mason U in Virginia and finished at BYU. Carol and I ended up settling in Utah and finished our degrees at BYU, she in anthropology and I in English. I wrote a family history thesis, which included a short biography of John Horne Miles, my great grand-father and my family’s pioneer Mormon. Carol and I both received our degrees in 1994 and have worked on family history ever since. A decade or so ago, my brother and I divided up one of our Church mandates: he is doing our family’s genealogy and I am doing our family history.
In 1997 when I was in charge of the temple and family history for Cherry Hill 1st Ward, we began an essay project to encourage people to write family history. I was surprised to have people say the Church wanted us to do only genealogy and take names to the temple. We could have avoided that disruption had we begun our project by reading this essay from the Ensign to our high priest group.
We compiled a book of essays and poems written during the eleven years our essay project lasted. Our bishop authorized us to publish an essay in the Monthly Ward Newsletter and Carol and I worked as the essay editors. We published our first essay in August of 1997, and during the eleven-year life of the project, 60 members of our ward wrote about 95 essays and poems. When the bishop who began the project moved from the ward at the end of 2011, Carol and I gathered the essays from our computers, published a book, and gave it to our former bishop as a going away present. We also made a pdf copy of the book and have given a pdf copy to whomever is interested in reading the essays.