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Family history accorded its own month

Senate action promotes the popular hobby

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WASHINGTON — When most people think of October, they envision fall leaves or Halloween. Sen. Orrin Hatch and the U.S. Senate now want them to also think about family history.

The Senate passed by voice vote Wednesday a resolution by Hatch to designate October as "Family History Month." Hatch noted that genealogy is a habit dear to the hearts of many Utahns.

"Experts say that in the United States, genealogy is now the second most popular hobby next to gardening. It is believed that more that 80 million Americans are currently actively searching for more information about their ancestors," Hatch, R-Utah, said.

"Last month alone, more than 14 million Americans used the Internet to research their family history. Genealogy Internet sites are some of the most popular sites on the World Wide Web. My church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has family history information on nearly 500 million individuals on its family history Web site www.familysearch.com," he said.

Hatch's bill, which was co-sponsored by Robert Bennett (R-Utah), commemorates October as Family History Month and encourages President Bush to issue a proclamation calling upon Americans to observe it with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

"Essentially, we are all immigrants to this country. Our ancestors came from different parts of the globe," Hatch said. "By searching for our roots, we come closer together as a human family."

He added, "Researching ancestry is a very important component of identity. It can lead to long-sought-after family reunions or allow for lifesaving medical treatments that only genetic links will allow. For all of these reasons, I encourage people across this nation to find out more about where they came from."

E-MAIL: lee@desnews.com