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LDS Church Holds News Conference in Atlanta to Announce Availability of Census Data

  By David Winters

(Atlanta, Georgia) -- October 23, 2002
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held news conferences across the United States on Wednesday, October 23, 2002 to announce the availability of the 1880 U.S. census data. This announcement was the result of a 17-year project that took over 11.5 million man-hours to complete. The news conference in Atlanta was held at the Fulton County library in downtown Atlanta. Many distinguished guests and media participated in the event.

President Fred D. Woolf of the Roswell Stake gave the introductory and closing remarks and also introduced the various speakers and dignitaries. In President Woolf’s introductory remarks, he mentioned key facts about genealogy research as well as details regarding the 1880 census project. Elder Devn Cornish, an Area Authority Seventy, discussed the importance of family history work. "It gives meaning. It gives identity. It gives legacy." He went on to mention that as a Church our great desire is to bless and bind families together through our search for ancestors, but that we cannot do that "if [we] can’t find them."  The availability of the 1880 data, helps us find them.

Atlanta genealogists as well as Reverend Michael Jones, who represented Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, also spoke at the press conference. Karen Opp, one of the speakers, had also personally done the genealogical research for several VIPs who were in attendance. President Woolf presented each of the VIPs their genealogical research, along with an original "Tree of Life" drawing , which contained a four-generation chart of each individual’s family tree.

President Woolf closed the event by talking about the importance of family history. "I started out addressing all of you by referencing us as brothers and sisters. This is particularly appropriate as we think about our genealogy and of our roots. When we think about our ancestors and their sacrifices we find ourselves wanting to continue on their legacy and continue making sacrifices for those who will follow us. That is what family history is all about. To bless all of God’s children who come to the earth. When we search and see our heritage and the many countries which all of us come from, it helps bridge distances, and bonds countries and people together. Peace and appreciation can begin with us and then cross all ethnic backgrounds and countries resulting in more peace throughout the world. Through Family History we can begin or continue to bond together as the human race. May that be the desires of all our hearts."