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Find your Mormon family history

BBC Tees' Chantalle Edmunds
Chantalle Edmunds
BBC Tees

Bishop Tony Atchison from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Billingham spoke to BBC Tees about the recent drop in locals wanting help with their geneology.

People are now turning to the internet to trace their family tree, but Bishop Atchison thinks these people are missing out by not using their local Mormon church.

Mormons believe you can save your deceased relatives, and find out about your family's future by researching your past, and will offer help to Mormons and non-Mormons alike.

Bishop Tony Atchison
Bishop Tony Atchison is offering to help retrace your family history

Bishop Tony Atchison explains: "It's important to do work for our ancestors, those who have previously passed on, and perhaps didn't know about the church and the saving ordinances that can be done for them."

It is free to use, but over the last two years the centre has seen big changes, not least in the numbers of people coming to use it.

Sid Crawford is Director of the Family History Centre: "More people are now using the internet to trace their family tree rather than using the centre for research.

"Seventy-five-percent less people now use the centre compared to two years ago."

With such a massive choice of websites offering users the chance to trace their geneology, it's small wonder the numbers are in decline, but this has opened fresh doors for the centre, correcting inaccuracies from DIY online research.

The church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
The church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Billingham

Sid explains:"There's no one to verify information if you do it online. We have experts here, all of which have years of experience.

"Many people using the centre come along to seek their grandparents, which can be difficult because of incorrect birth dates... as often women didn't want others to know they were older than their husbands!"

Over the years, Sid's come across many interesting stories.

He recalls how one of the ladies who was using the centre to trace her great grandfather had a sudden breakthrough after five years of searching: "She happened to complain to one of the family history centre assistants that she was having no luck.

"He listened and said 'do you mean so and so?' It turned out that her great grandfather was actually his grandfather and so the mystery was solved!"

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