Deseret News Archive

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been encouraged to keep a journal, diary or personal record for decades. The following list is a collection of quotes from general authorities on the topic of writing a personal history. Related story: Tips, guidelines and principles: How to write a personal history your posterity can't put down

President Wilford Woodruff
Deseret News Archive

“There is one subject I wish to speak upon and that is the keeping of a journal with respect to the dealings of God with us. … When the Prophet Joseph organized the Quorum of the Twelve, he counseled them to keep a history of their lives, and gave his reasons why they should do so. I have had this spirit and calling upon me since I first entered this church. I made a record from the first sermon I heard, and from that day until now I have kept a daily journal. Whenever I heard Joseph Smith preach, teach, or prophesy, I always felt it my duty to write it; I felt uneasy and could not eat, drink, or sleep until I did write.” (in Matthias F. Cowley, Wilford Woodruff: History of His Life and Labors[1964], 476–77)

Related story: Tips, guidelines and principles: How to write a personal history your posterity can't put down

President Spencer W. Kimball
Deseret News Archive

"Your journal is your autobiography, so it should be kept carefully. You are unique, and there may be incidents in your experience that are more noble and praiseworthy in their way than those recorded in any other life. There may be a flash of illumination here and a story of faithfulness there. … Your story should be written now while it is fresh and while the true details are available. … What could you do better for your children and your children’s children than to record the story of your life, your triumphs over adversity, your recovery after a fall, your progress when all seemed black, your rejoicing when you had finally achieved? Some of what you write may be humdrum dates and places, but there will also be rich passages that will be quoted by your posterity. … Get a notebook, a journal that will last through all time, and maybe the angels may quote from it for eternity. Begin today and write in it your going and comings, your deepest thoughts, your achievements, and your failures, your associations and your triumphs, your impressions and your testimonies. Remember, the Savior chastised those who failed to record important events. ... This is what the Lord has commanded and those who keep a personal journal are more likely to keep the Lord in remembrance their daily lives." (New Era, Oct. 1975)

Related story: Tips, guidelines and principles: How to write a personal history your posterity can't put down

President Spencer W. Kimball
Deseret News Archive

“I urge all the people of this church to give serious attention to their family histories, to encourage their parents and grandparents to write their journals, and let no family go into eternity without having left their memoirs for their children, their grandchildren, and their posterity. This is a duty and a responsibility. ... Those who keep a book of remembrance are more likely to keep the Lord in remembrance in their daily lives. Journals are a way of counting our blessings and of leaving an inventory of these blessings for our posterity.” (General Conference. April 1978)

“People often use the excuse that their lives are uneventful and nobody would be interested in what they have done. But I promise you that if you will keep your journals and records, they will indeed be a source of great inspiration to your families, to your children, your grandchildren, and others, on through the generations. … Each of us is important to those who are near and dear to us – and as our posterity read of our life’s experiences, they, too, will come to know and love us. And in that glorious day when our families are together in the eternities, we will already be acquainted.” (President Kimball Speaks Out on Personal Journals, Ensign, Dec. 1980)

Related story: Tips, guidelines and principles: How to write a personal history your posterity can't put down

Elder John A. Widstoe
LDS Church

“As I view it, in every family a record should be kept. … That record should be the first stone, if you choose, in the family altar. It should be a book known and used in the family circle; and when the child reaches maturity and goes out to make another household, one of the first things that the young couple should take along should be the records of their families, to be extended by them as life goes on. … Each one of us carries, individually, the responsibility of record keeping, and we should assume it.” (Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, July 1920)

Related story: Tips, guidelines and principles: How to write a personal history your posterity can't put down

Elder John H. Groberg
Deseret News Archive

"Why is the writing of personal and family histories so important? There are many reasons. I will focus on just a few. ... By writing personal and family histories and doing the research required thereby, we inevitably have our hearts turned to our fathers as well as to our children. ... Also, by writing personal and family histories, we are helped immeasurably in gaining a true, eternal perspective of life. Writing our histories with the proper blend of fact and feeling (and so often, feelings in spiritual things are the real facts) gives us a deep spiritual insight into the meaning and purpose of our lives. ... Writing our histories will certainly help us keep our eyes on the most important of all goals — even the goal of eternal life. ... There is something eternal in the very nature of writing, as is so graphically illustrated by the scriptures themselves. In a very real sense, our properly written histories are a very important part of our family scripture and become a great source of spiritual strength to us and to our posterity. ... I have a strong feeling that when this life is over, our personal and family histories and the influence they wield will be of much greater importance than we now think." (General Conference, April 1980)

Related story: Tips, guidelines and principles: How to write a personal history your posterity can't put down

Elder Richard G. Scott
Deseret News Archive

“Knowledge carefully recorded is knowledge available in time of need. Spiritually sensitive information should be kept in a sacred place that communicates to the Lord how you treasure it. This practice enhances the likelihood of receiving further light.” (1993 October General Conference)

Related story: Tips, guidelines and principles: How to write a personal history your posterity can't put down

Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander
Deseret News Archive

"A life that is not documented is a life that within a generation or two will largely be lost to memory. What a tragedy this can be in the history of a family. Knowledge of our ancestors shapes us and instills within us values that give direction and meaning to our lives." (General Conference, April 1999)

Related story: Tips, guidelines and principles: How to write a personal history your posterity can't put down

President Henry B. Eyring
Deseret News Archive

"When our children were very small, I started to write down a few things about what happened every day. ... I wrote down a few lines every day for years. I never missed a day no matter how tired I was or how early I would have to start the next day. Before I would write, I would ponder this question: 'Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?' As I kept at it, something began to happen. As I would cast my mind over the day, I would see evidence of what God had done for one of us that I had not recognized in the busy moments of the day. As that happened, and it happened often, I realized that trying to remember had allowed God to show me what He had done.

More than gratitude began to grow in my heart. Testimony grew. I became ever more certain that our Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers. I felt more gratitude for the softening and refining that come because of the Atonement of the Savior, Jesus Christ. And I grew more confident that the Holy Ghost can bring all things to our remembrance—even things we did not notice or pay attention to when they happened.

My point is to urge you to find ways to recognize and remember God’s kindness. It will build our testimonies. You may not keep a journal. You may not share whatever record you keep with those you love and serve. But you and they will be blessed as you remember what the Lord has done. You remember that song we sometimes sing: “Count your many blessings; name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.” (General Conference, Oct. 2007)

Related story: Tips, guidelines and principles: How to write a personal history your posterity can't put down

President Thomas S. Monson
Deseret News Archive

"I would like to share with you just a tiny sampling of the experiences I have had wherein prayers were heard and answered and which, in retrospect, brought blessings into my life as well as the lives of others. My daily journal, kept over all these years, has helped provide some specifics which I most likely would not otherwise be able to recount." (General Conference, Oct. 2012)

Related story: Tips, guidelines and principles: How to write a personal history your posterity can't put down