From antiquity God has commanded his people to keep records. In the days of Adam the people wrote a book of remembrance "by the spirit of inspiration" (Moses 6:5) to identify the faithful, to "know" their fathers (Moses 6:45-46), to define "the right of priesthood" (Abr. 1:31), and to promote literacy (see Moses 6:6). Biblical records indicate similar practices (see Ezra 2:62; Neh. 7:5; Ezek. 13:9; Mal. 3:16). Nephi 1, in the Book of Mormon, stressed the importance of family history. In 1 Nephi 3-5,the Lord commanded Lehi to obtain the brass plates containing a history of his ancestors before leaving Jerusalem, to "enlarge their memory" (Alma 37:8) so that his posterity might know whence and from whom they came and might not lose the language of their fathers. Later, the Savior admonished the Nephites to be accurate and complete in their record keeping (3 Ne. 23:7-13). He also quoted Malachi 3:16-18,which includes a statement about keeping a book of remembrance (3 Ne. 24:16-18).
Latter-day Saints are encouraged to prepare family records as a Book of Remembrance, containing patriarchal blessings, records of ordinations and other sacred information, as well as personal and family histories, spiritual experiences, and other evidences of God's goodness and love (D&C 85:9;128:7-8, 24). As a latter-day prophet said, "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" (Spencer W Kimball, "Listen to the Prophets." Ensign (May 1978), p. 76).
President Kimball Speaks Out
On Personal Journals
His own journal was 33 black binders on the shelves of his personal study when President Spencer W. Kimball was called to be President of the Church in 1973. Since then, he has frequently counselled and exhorted members of the Church to keep personal journals.
"On a number of occasions I have encouraged the Saints to keep personal journals and family records. I renew that admonition. We may think there is little of interest or importance in what we personally say or do—but it is remarkable how many of our families, as we pass on down the line, are interested in all that we do and all that we say.
"Any Latter-day Saint family that has searched genealogical and historical records has fervently wished its ancestors had kept better and more complete records. On the other hand, some families possess some spiritual treasures because ancestors have recorded the events surrounding their conversion to the gospel and other happenings of interest, including many miraculous blessings and spiritual experiences. 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.
"Would every family, as they now hold their home evenings, train their children from young childhood to keep a journal of the important activities of their lives, certainly by the time they begin to leave home for schooling and missions?
"From time immemorial the Lord has counselled us to be a record-keeping people. Abraham had a book of remembrance, and Adam had one. You may think of them as not being as highly educated as we are, but they were well-trained people. Adam spent much effort being the school teacher for his children. He and Eve taught their sons and daughters. He taught them the gospel in their home evenings, and he taught them reading and writing and arithmetic. And they kept their books of remembrance. How else do you think Moses, many hundreds of years later, got the information? These records had been kept, and he referred to them and got the history of the world, which wasn’t in any library other than that. Can you see your responsibility?
"Early in the American life of the family of Lehi, his son Nephi said: “Having had a great knowledge of the goodness and mysteries of God, therefore, I make a record of my proceedings in my days. …
“And I know that the record which I make is true; and I make it with mine own hand; and I make it according to my knowledge.” (1 Nephi 1:1, 3.)
"This great record included not only the movements of his people, but his own personal life."