FamilySearch CEO to Discuss Family History Innovations and Future

Family history is not a stagnant field, as we discussed in last year’s Connections. Research and technology over the years have transformed the field into an interactive activity that anyone can do from almost anywhere in the world- and it’s still moving forward. Steven T. Rockwood, FamilySearch CEO and guest speaker at BYU’s 2017 Family History Week,  is one of the individuals heading these innovations.

Rockwood, who previously worked at creating unique service opportunities for MasterCard International, AT&T, Disney, Office Depot, and Citibank international customers, has applied his knowledge and ingenuity to family history and genealogy. As the President and CEO of FamilySearch, which owns the largest collection of genealogical and historical records in the world, and managing director of the family history department for the LDS church, Rockwood has seen both organizations through major changes. Recent additions and transformations to FamilySearch include, but are not limited to:

  • the creation of family trees that are more user-friendly, with interactive online pedigree charts and fan chartsfhweek2017
  • an increase in the ability of users to search millions of historical records and catalogs
  • the creation of an indexing system to make historical records and documents searchable online
  • the move to mobile-friendly versions of FamilySearch and various associated family history resources
  • the ability for users to share photograph, stories, recipes, and other information about ancestors


The ability to share recipes is something that Rockwood is passionate about, in particular. At a 2017 rootstech speech, Rockwood shared his own personal memories of his mother’s fudge at Christmas and of drinking rootbeer with his grandparents. Because family history is more than putting names and dates on a page; many say that it is the ability to link memories and experiences with certain ancestors that has increased the popularity of genealogy exponentially in the last several years.

Steven Rockwell will address the importance of family history and its development and future at BYU Family History Week’s guest speaker event Thursday, September 28 at 11 am in JKB room 1102. Learn about new ways to do your family history and find the motivation to do it.




Men Who Do Housework, and Men Who Don’t

If you’ve been following FHSS‘s blog for long, you’ve seen our posts about sociology professor Dr. Renata Forste and her research on the gendered division of housework. She gave the 2016 Cutler Lecture on this subject, her area of expertise. More and more women are joining the workforce (accounting for 46.8% of the U.S. labor force), which means that families are evolving to share responsibilities between parents. During her Cutler Lecture, Dr. Forste cited Arlie Hochschild’s book The Second Shift, which suggests that men who do housework…

  • have a strong male identity.
  • have a more holistic, nuanced notion of their role as fathers.
  • have wives who facilitate their involvement in household chores.
  • don’t work late hours at the office.
  • have learned not to view housework as women’s work.
  • have happier family lives.

And the media is catching up too. Marketers are beginning to target men in advertisements for cleaning products, Dr. Forste said, and today’s men “have a more elaborate notion of fathering than previous generations.”

Dr. Forste’s full lecture is available here.

This post is thirtieth in a series of videos available in our new BYU Social Sciences YouTube channel! The channel contains tidbits of many of our most popular lectures and useful, succinct, research-backed advice on relationship, political, religious, media, and financial issues. Follow us there to stay up-to-date on wisdom that will help you and your family live better lives.

Students: Attend the Cousin Reunion & Save the World?

“‘Genealogical consciousness’ means seeing how past, present, and future are connected,” said Amy Harris, a BYU History professor in a recent BYU devotional. “Because developing genealogical consciousness requires that we think about strangers in the past, it develops the possibility of thinking about strangers in the present, and strangers in the future, to think about how our relationships and actions will last beyond death, will echo into future strangers’ lives.” In that sense, she asserts that family history, or the kind of awareness and activity one develops while doing it, just might “save the world.” And, “in a world of turmoil and uncertainty,” said L. Tom Perry, “it is more important than ever to make our families the center of our lives and the top of our priorities.” Thus, there is reason aplenty to attend Family History Week activities, and the Cousin Reunion in particular!

What and When is the Cousin Reunion?

The Cousin Reunion will take place on Tuesday the 26th at noon in the Brigham’s Square Quad between the ASB, HFAC, HBLL, and JKB. Participants will be able to use their cell phones to find extended family members through Those interested in attending should, before the even:

  • know or get their account login credentials
  • go to,
  • find and join the group BYU FHWEEK17 (password: BYU)

There will be prizes, and participants’ chances of winning will increase by logging into RelativeFinder and joining the group. Follow BYUFHProgram on Facebook if you have questions about the event, or problems with logging in.

How Will You Benefit From Attending?


At last year’s Family History Conference, keynote speaker Paul Cardall spoke on the connection between family history and missionary work. “As for those whose hearts have turned, I believe we will see greater faith among people if we do the family history work,” he said. Beyond developing greater faith, though, there is the benefit, as Dr. Harris said, of “building lasting relationships and connections with other people, [which is] is the only way to live happy and meaningful lives. We are built to cooperate with and belong to not just our kin, but all humanity.” Check out for more information about this event, and others during that week that can help students live happier, more connected lives.


Think Fast: Family History Week’s Got a Lightning Round Question Corner

Did you know that Princess Diana had her own royal blood and wasn’t just grafted onto the queen’s family tree? Did you know that Robert Pattinson, Twilight‘s star vampire, has family connections to Vlad the Impaler, the man who inspired Dracula? There might be equally interesting stories and fun facts on your own tree, but you’ll never know until you’ve done more family history work. The History Department and Center for Family History and Genealogy are sponsors of BYU’s Family History Week, which is when you’ll have the chance to ask questions and learn more about genealogy. This event is open to all FHSS majors and students across campus.


Family History Week runs from Tuesday, September 26, to Thursday, September 28. Wednesday’s event — the Lightning Round Question Corner — will give you a safe place to ask questions about family history. You’ll hear new ideas and information about available courses at BYU, and there will even be free food at the event.

The Lightning Round Question Corner begins at 5 p.m., but you can come and go as you please. The Q&A session is an open house, so drop by any time before 7 p.m.

lightning round
Courtesy of BYU Family History Week.

And if you’ve got questions about family history careers, you can also attend the Family History Fall Reception and Mini Job Fair later that night, between 7 and 8 p.m., to find out what it takes to be a family historian.

What would you like to ask a family history expert?

Comment below to give our experts an idea of how they should prepare for the big event.

Honored Alumni Larry Eastland to Speak on His “Decade of Decisions”

Larry Eastland is a bit of a renaissance man to say the least. He plays multiple instruments at a professional level, is a combat-decorated US Marine Corps officer, BYU graduate, USC political science masters and doctorate graduate, has served four US Presidents in a number of national and international positions, has held numerous church callings, leads an international business advisory group, and is a loving husband, father, and now grandfather to 16 grandchildren.

While individuals may think that Eastland’s greatest decisions might have occurred while working in the White House or developing his business, he personally feels that “the decade from 18 to 28 is when the great decisions of life are made.” Between mission, marriage, family, career, education, and testimony, when individuals are in their 20’s they are determining the rest of their lives with the decisions they make, big and small, every day. 

The  impactful experiences that arose in Larry Eastland’s life were all possible because of the decisions he made in that very important decade, he says. In that important decade, he was a BYU student involved in campus organizations, served a mission in Berlin, Germany, served in the United States Marine Corps, fulfilled numerous callings in the church, worked in the U.S. Senate, married his wife, and began his further education in Political Science at U.S.C.

Eastland’s determination to stay close to the spirit and his love for service guided him to make the decisions that blessed his own life and allowed him to further bless his country and those around him. The choices made in Eastland’s youth led to experiences and blessings that affected not only him and his family, but everyone and everything he has been involved with.

“For most people, the rest [of life] is fulfilling what was laid as a foundation during this decade, ” Eastland shared. Larry Eastland laid his foundation well and has had incredible opportunities as a result.

What kind of a foundation have we and are we laying with the decisions we make? Share your thoughts below and continue pondering how your own decade from the ages of 18-28 have and will impact your life at Dr, Eastland’s Alumni Achievement Lecture, “My Decade of Decisions.” The lecture will take place Thursday, October 5 in room 250 in the Spencer W. Kimball Tower at 11 am. All are welcome to attend.


Family History: Are You Doing it? Get Involved at BYU Family History Week 2017

No matter how many miles separate us and the personalities of the individuals involved, we all have family, and those families help define who we are. Our family helps explain who we look or act like, who we spend time with, what languages we speak, and where we call home. But “family” isn’t just the people we take selfies with at reunions; they include our ancestors who lived hundreds of years ago. At BYU’s annual Family History Week, discover new family members and ancestors, learn new ideas and genealogical guidance, and find inspiration and motivation to do your own family history work.

Here’s what’s happening during family History Week to help you do just these things:

Tuesday September 26- Cousin Reunion

phone searchFor those individuals with less than 15 first cousins, you may feel a little left out when talking to friends about their most recent family gathering. On Tuesday, however, discover cousins that you’ve had all along! Using your cell phone, explore your family line to find family members through Join this new kind of family reunion at the Brigham Square Quad at 12 noon to find your cousins and win prizes.

Wednesday September 27- Lightning Round Question Corner

Wanting to become involved in family history, but feeling overwhelmed, intimidated, or stumped? For some “guilt-free family history guidance,” head to the WSC terrace for a Q and A from 5-7pm to learn more about new family history ideas and information on family history courses. Expand your knowledge and desire for family history as you enjoy free refreshments. If you are interested in family history careers, a Family History Fall Reception/ Mini Job fair will be held from 7-8pm at the terrace.

Thursday September 28- Guest Speaker FamilySearch CEO, Steven T. Rockwood

Finish the week inspired by hearing a guest lecture by FamilySearch CEO and BYU graduate, Steven T. Rockwood at 11 am in room 1102 JKB. Learn about the opportunities available to family historians and the passion behind the growing field.

“Family History Week events are open to all who want to experience the excitement of family history” says Amy Harris of the BYU History Department. “Activities are designed to appeal to people with various family history backgrounds. Beginners will enjoy the great Cousin Reunion on Tuesday. Those who want help taking the next step to learn more about their deceased ancestors will benefit from Wednesday’s open house question corner. And everyone will enjoy Thursday’s talk by FamilySearch CEO, Steve Rockwood.”

Regardless of your current family history interest or experience, see what the family history buzz is all about at BYU at Family History Week.

Benjamin Madley to Lecture on an American Genocide

Genocide, according to the United Nations, is “…acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.”  Benjamin Madley, an associate professor of history at UCLA, applies the term to describe the treatment of American Indians in mid-19th century California in his book, An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe. In two weeks, Dr. Madley will lecture at an FHSS event to argue that California Indians didn’t fare much better than Armenians, Rwandans, or even European Jews during the Nazi regime.

You’re invited

  • Who: Dr. Benjamin Madley, hosted by the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies
  • What: A presentation on the American Genocide
  • When: Thursday, September 21st, from 11 a.m. to noon
  • Where: B192 JFSB (the Education in Zion auditorium)
  • Why: To discuss important historical events that often lack awareness and understanding
Courtesy of the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies.

An American Genocide

An American Genocide, in which Dr. Madley estimates that 9,000 to 16,000 California Indians were killed from 1846 to 1873, has been reviewed by The New York Times, Newsweek, The Nation, and many others. Some of Dr. Madley’s fellow historians have criticized his book for applying the term “genocide” to the conflicts between Americans and California Indians. Gary Clayton Anderson, a history professor at the University of Oklahoma, challenges Dr. Madley’s death toll estimates and characterizes the California massacres as “ethnic cleansing.” The reasoning? Dr. Anderson argues that government policy never supported mass killings, so the genocide label might be inappropriate.

But An American Genocide details murders and massacres carried out by vigilantes, state militias, and the United States Army. Dr. Madley “methodically [gives] examples of each and [tags] the incidents like corpses in a morgue,” according to Richard White of The Nation. A seasoned historian, Dr. Madley also compiles many accounts of the incidents in nearly 200 pages of appendices. Every reader can weigh the evidence and conclude whether or not the incidents were genocidal.

Dr. Madley developed a passion for the interactions between indigenous groups and colonizers during his childhood; he was born in Redding, California, and lived in Karuk Country in northwestern California. Dr. Madley has earned degrees from Yale University and Oxford University, and he has authored many journal articles and book chapters.

Courtesy of UCLA’s Department of History.


How do you think historians should apply the modern definition of “genocide” to historical events?

Envision: Using STEM to Investigate Ancient Cultures, at the MPC

Interact with Archeology at Museum of Peoples and Cultures New Exhibit

If you want to witness archeology in action you aren’t limited to watching Indiana Jones; you can be a part of it right on BYU’s campus at the Museum of Peoples and Cultures. See for yourself the math, science, and technology used to reveal the past in the Museum’s new exhibit Envision: Innovative Exploration in Archaeology.

Opening on Monday September 11, 2017 with a reception from 6:30-8:30 pm, individuals will be able to interact with technologies like the solar-powered supply trailer used in excavations and thermal imaging cameras, as well as learn about modern research methods. Visitors can complete circuits using a solar panel and simulate separating contaminants from DNA fragments. Families and individuals will see how STEM plays a part in archaeological exploration and innovation.

“We anticipate exhibition visitors will come to envision archaeology in new ways as they learn about the innovative trends in this field” said Brianna Selph, MPC Guest Services Assistant. Museum staff hope that all visitors will, through their interaction with the exhibit, come away equipped with the knowledge and tools to make connections between archaeology, STEM fields, and their own lives.

The Museum of Peoples and Cultures’ Mission is to “inspir[e] students to life-long learning.” Learn, experience, and understand archeology on a new level at Envision: Innovative Explorations in Archaeology, open September 11, 2017. This exhibit will provide ample hands-on experience to individuals looking to make connections between themselves, science, and the ancient peoples and cultures we continue to learn more about every day.

The exhibit, which will run until February 2018,  is free to the public. For more information about the exhibition or reception, visit

Housework and Family Satisfaction: A Short Video

One may be surprised to learn that over half of married couples cite shared housework as paramount to a successful marriage. They place it above income, children, religious beliefs, and concordance in political beliefs.  Sociology professor Dr. Renata Forste has researched the stalled revolution of gendered division housework and how our modern culture devalues that work. At the 2017 Cutler Lecture, she further illuminated this pressing issue.

She found that in terms of housework, both women and men were more likely to do the chores stereotypically associated with their gender; women did laundry, cleaning, and cooking while men took out the trash, mowed the lawn, and acted as the handyman. She further found that “women…report doing more than their fair share of housework whereas men report doing less than their fair share.” It is clear that both genders understand that the imbalance of housework is unfair.

“If both the partnership do laundry, buy groceries, and take care of sick family members the workload is reported as fair. Especially if both partners share in cleaning the house, respondents were almost three times more likely to perceive the distribution of household work as fair. So sharing housework is predictive of doing one’s fair share, which is predictive of family satisfaction,” said Dr. Forste.

This post is twenty-fifth in a series of videos available in our new BYU Social Sciences YouTube channel! The channel contains tidbits of many of our most popular lectures and useful, succinct, research-backed advice on relationship, political, religious, media, and financial issues. Follow us there to stay up-to-date on wisdom that will help you and your family live better lives.

Affected by the Constitution and Supreme Court? Come to This Panel About Both

On Friday September 22, 2017 from 1-2 pm, the BYU Law School will host a panel to discuss A Changing Supreme Court:  The Future of Constitutional Interpretation in the Moot Court Room (Room 303) of the J. Reuben Clark Building (JRCB).  This panel is part of both the University’s Constitution Day celebration and the Law School’s annual Supreme Court Review, at which former Supreme Court clerks on the BYU faculty and other expert faculty discuss the direction of the Supreme Court and some of the important decisions of the Supreme Court’s most recent term.

Students, faculty members, and Americans—anyone affected by the Constitution—will benefit from learning about how the future of Constitutional interpretation might affect their lives.

The 1 pm panel will feature BYU Law Professors Elizabeth Clark, John Fee, Aaron Nielson, Michalyn Steele, and Lisa Grow Sun, who will discuss how the recent appointment of Justice Neil Gorsuch and other potential future appointments will affect the Court’s constitutional interpretation across different areas of the law, including issues of separation of powers and the administrative state, freedom of religion, federal Indian law, and criminal law. From 2:10-3:10 pm, there will be a final panel focused on significant opinions from the 2016 Supreme Court Term.

This year’s Supreme Court Review also features a keynote address from 11:50-12:50 pm by BYU Law Professor Justin Collings, who will explore the ways in which constitutional courts invoke–and help shape–national memory in the process of constitutional interpretation.  Specifically, his talk will discuss the ways that the constitutional courts of Germany, the United States, and South Africa have engaged with the legacies, respectively, of Nazism, slavery, and apartheid.