President Obama on Monday hosted at the White House the leader of the Mormon church, who presented the president with detailed volumes of Mr. Obama’s family history.
Mr. Obama said he enjoyed the meeting and was grateful for the genealogical records, which he said he would read through with his daughters, Malia and Sasha.
“It’s something our family will treasure for years to come,” Mr. Obama said in a statement.
Thomas Monson, president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Elder Dallin Oaks, chairman of the LDS Church genealogical committee, met with Mr. Obama. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat and a Mormon, arranged and attended the meeting.
White House aides said Mormon leaders traditionally have met with newly elected presidents, presenting them with genealogical records of their family history. The Utah-based church has compiled some of the world’s most extensive and detailed genealogical files.
A source said the church presented Mr. Obama with five large leather-bound volumes that go back through generations of the president’s family. Mr. Obama’s father was born in Kenya. His mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, was from Kansas.
The meeting was closed to the press and first was announced Sunday night.
The church described the meeting to reporters as a “courtesy visit.”
Several prominent church members attended the Obama inauguration six months ago.
According to the Deseret News, Mr. Obama canceled a planned campaign visit to Salt Lake City before Super Tuesday in 2008 because it coincided with funeral services planned for the late LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley.
Republican Mitt Romney, a potential 2012 challenger for Mr. Obama, is Mormon.
The visit comes as a small but vocal group continues to question Mr. Obama’s citizenship with unsuccessful lawsuits challenging the legitimacy of the president’s birth certificate. Mr. Obama was born in Hawaii.
The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Mr. Obama’s mother was baptized posthumously into the church by a member in 2007, according to researcher Helen Radkey. It is unclear whether that was discussed at Monday’s private meeting.