Lesson 2

Family Tree

What is Family Tree?

FamilyTree is the newest program of the LDS Church to create a family tree for the whole world. Through this website we can add names, dates, and other information for our ancestors. It is also through this website that we can reserve temple ordinances for our family members.

Where does Family Tree it into the Five-Step Research Process?

As you look through your tree, you are identifying what is already known about your family members. This is Step 1 of the Five-Step Research Process. You are also identifying what is not known and deciding what you want to know or verify. This is Step 2 of the Five-Step Research Process.

Why would you want to use both Family Tree and RootsMagic if both of them cover the same steps of the Five-Step research process?

Having your own file that no one else can make changes to allows you to see what you’ve researched and what you still need to do. It also give you a place to make speculations and work through problems before you share that work with others. Family Tree can be edited by anyone, and it can be hard to know what you’ve contributed when other are making changes. Also, since Family Tree is public, you only want to share sourced, valid information there.

Registering for an LDS Account

Students will need their membership record number and birthdate.

  • Go to FamilySearch.org
  • Click on “Sign in” in the top right-hand corner
  • Select “Create New Account” at the bottom of the page
  • Select “LDS FamilySearch Account”
  • Give the desired information and click “Next Step”
  • Follow the prompt boxes to set up a username and password


Navigating through the tree

The Top Ribbon

Tree - Ancestry and descendancy are shown in a tree-like (or pedigree) view.

Person - Information, sources, and relationships for a single individual are available on the Person view. More information is available about an individual on the Person screen than on the Tree view.

Search - Search for an ancestor by name and information or by Personal Identifier (the unique, seven character sequence [xxxx-xxx] found underneath an individual’s name on their Person view or their summary card).

Watch List -  This is a list of people in your tree for which you want to be notified if any changes are made to their records.

Temple - This is where a list of all temple ordinances you have reserved can be found. Here you can print ordinance request cards or reassign the work to the temple.

History - Clicking on History will allow you to quickly navigate through the people you’ve clicked on recently or to get easily back to yourself. Whichever person you select will become the root person in the tree.

Summary Card: By clicking on a name, it will bring up the person’s summary card—a card that shows basic birth, death, and temple ordinance information about a person.


Living People

The viewable information is limited for individuals still living. You cannot merge living individuals in Family Tree. Adding living individuals just creates duplicates. However, you may add a living individual if he or she does not show up on your tree and you need them to link you to more distant, deceased generations. In other words, if your living, direct line ancestor is not in Family Tree, then you may add them in order to connect to their deceased ancestors. What are cases where adding living people is not necessary? Basically all other situations, including adding siblings. Doing so will just create duplicates.


Adding People to Your Pedigree

If people are missing from your pedigree you can search for them to see if they already exist in the database. You can start by clicking on the add husband/wife button and performing a search this way (simply clicking the “Search” tab at the top of the screen will not allow you to add the person you find into your pedigree).

Some things to note:

  • You should always search for a person first before adding them into your pedigree. They may already exist in Family Tree.
  • If you find the correct ancestor, go ahead and add them into your pedigree. Then, all of the ancestors already linked to that ancestor will also be linked into your pedigree.

If your search comes up with no matches, you will need to add that individual’s information into the family tree database.

  • Click “Add” at the top of the search results.
  • Type in the information about the individual that is asked for and select “Continue.”
  • The system will search again for duplicates to verify that the record does not already exist, then it will add the new information into your pedigree. (Keep in mind that if the individual is living, they will not be searchable.)

Merging Duplicates

In order to search for and merge duplicates for a person, you need to be on the individual’s Person view. To get there

  • Click on a person’s name in the pedigree view to bring up his or her summary card.
  • Select the “View Person” button at the bottom of the card. This will bring up the Person view screen for the individual.

Near the top of the individual’s information screen on the right-hand side, there should be a box titled “Tools”. Click on the link in the box titled “Possible Duplicates”. This will take you to a screen with a list off all the possible duplicates for that person.

Review the duplicate matches Family Tree produced. Two links will appear to the right of the possible match: “Review Merge” and “Not a Match”.

  • “Review Merge” will allow you to compare your ancestor to the selected ancestor in more detail. It will also allow you to merge the information from the selected ancestor with your ancestor and delete the selected individual.
  • “Not a Match” will eliminate that record as a possible duplicate. It will no longer appear when you search for possible duplicates.

If one of the records has information similar to your ancestor’s, click “Review Merge” and compare the information in further detail to determine whether or not they are the same person.

  • If you decide to merge the records, choose which information from the selected record you want to combine with your record. Then scroll to the bottom of the screen and click “Continue.” The records will be merged.
  • Do not combine records if you’re not sure they are the same person. By the same token, please combine them if they are the same. If you’ve done your research, it should not be difficult in most cases to determine which records are duplicates. If you can’t tell, that might mean you need to wait to combine until you’ve done a little more research.

Latest Changes

This menu allows you to see what has recently been changed on an individual’s page. This is also where you would come to reverse incorrect changes you or another person made.

Viewing/Editing/Deleting a Person’s Event Information

  • View Person
  • Click on the information you want to change
  • Click edit
  • Change it, then add a reason why
  • If you decided that the information you just added is incorrect, a small box with the heading Latest Changes will show all the recent changes that have occurred for that individual. You can click ‘show all’ and select the information that you just changed, and click ‘restore’ next to that information. This should revert that individual's information back to what it used to look like.


Editing Relationships

You can modify the type of relationship between family members (biological, adopted, guardianship, or step). To do so:

  • Open the details page of the child, father, or mother
  • Scroll down to the Family Members section, and hover your mouse over the name of the child whose parent-child relationship you want to change. An Edit Relationship link appears
  • Click on that link to bring up the relationship page.
  • Underneath each parent’s name, there will be a “+ Add” button. If there is no relationship type listed, or if that relationship type is wrong, click the “+ Add” button to add a new relationship type. Select the type of relationship from the dropdown list and explain why you are selecting that type of relationship. If you are replacing an existing relationship type, be sure to delete the incorrect type.

You can also delete relationships on this page. All relationships between persons must be deleted before individuals can be deleted. To delete a relationship:

  • Follow the steps above to bring up the relationship page
  • Click on the “Delete Relationship” link

Note: The above steps will allow you to edit a parent-child relationship. To delete a marriage relationship, go to an individual’s details page, scroll down to the Family Members section, hover over a spousal relationship, and click on “Edit Relationship”.

Creating a new source

Why do you think it is important to add sources to Family Tree? Why are sources significant?

  • Without sources, information is just family tradition. Family traditions must be verified which means as long as there are no sources, every generation will be repeating the same research that has been done countless times before.

How much information should you include with your sources? Is a URL enough?

  • Anything is better than nothing. However, the more information you add, the more likely others will be able to locate your source, which means they will be less likely to have to redo the research you’ve already done.

Add a new Source

  • Source Title - what you want to title this source (i.e. Birth Record for Henry Martin Tanner)
  • Web page - a URL or link to the record
  • Where the record is found - a thorough description of where to find the source. This should be thorough enough to be able to track that record down physically if the internet died tomorrow.
  • Describe the Record - type in the information you acquired from the source (i.e. on a census, you might fill in all the family members’ names. On a death certificate, you could type in birth and death dates, etc.) [Consider copying and pasting the transcription right into the box.]
  • Reason to Attach to person - why this source is useful (i.e. Shows his birth information from government records)

This will only add the source to the person. To relate it to his birth, select the source, click “Tag” and check any information this source is applicable to. Then when you click on that fact (e.g. the death date for your person), the source will appear at the bottom of the box as evidence.

Any source you add is kept in your source box.

  • If you wanted to cite a source you have already entered for a new individual, click on the individual you want to source, scroll down to the sources section, and select “Go to Source Box”. From here, check the box next to the source you would like to use and click “Attach” on the right.


  • Discussions: found at the bottom of every person’s information screen.
    • Add comments
    • Discuss errors or points of controversy
    • Collaborate with other people
  • Watch: click on the “Watch” button at the top of a person’s information screen to be notified when there are changes to that person.

Family Tree—In Progress

Family Tree is a new program—released in October 2012. As a result, it’s still a work in progress. Problems are being fixed and things are being added every day. If you stumble upon a problem as you’re using Family Tree, feel free to submit feedback using the green “Feedback” button on the side of each page. Also remember to be patient. Sometimes you may not understand how to get the program to do what you want it to. Or maybe it doesn’t yet have the capability. Stay calm, ask questions, and keep working. The Lord is hastening His work; just think: we get to be a part of it.


Interfacing with RootsMagic

You can download your Family Tree pedigree into a RootsMagic file. To do so

·         Create a blank RootsMagic database. Be sure you’ve enabled FamilySearch Family Tree support (small gray check box on the right-hand side of the set up screen)

·         Click on the big blue FamilySearch tree icon at the top of the screen or got to FileàFamilySearch Central

·         Log in with your FamilySearch account

·         Click “Import” at the top of the FamilySearch Central dialog box

·         Start with yourself or another person whose PID number you’ve obtained from Family Tree and set the number of ancestral generations at 4 (this number is suggested; the more generations you want to import, the longer it will take, exponentially)

·         When the dialog box closes, close the FamilySearch Central window and your pedigree should appear in your RootsMagic database

See also Lesson 1 under the heading “RootsMagic: Match/Sync with FamilySearch Family Tree” and “Using RootsMagicàImport your FamilySearch Family Tree file”