Lesson 1

Worshop 1 - Family Tree

Workshop 1

Welcome and Lab Policies

1. Welcome to the Lab! We’re glad you’re here.

2. Please no food or drink (besides capped water bottles). It is a computer lab.

3. Please use the resources we have.



-The familyhistorylab.byu.edu website (the one you are on)especially these lesson plans, found under the Religion 261 tab.  

           -Lab TAs: you can contact us in a few different ways.

  • Email us at familyhistorylab@gmail.com  This is perfect if you have any quick questions. Unless it is during a workshop, one of the TAs should get back to you fairly quickly during open hours.
  • Follow BYU Family History Lab on Facebook. This is where we will post if the lab will be closing down or if a workshop will be canceled.
  • Come in during Open Lab. There will always be a TA available to answer questions and will often be able to sit down with you to walk you through your questions.


Learning Expectations

The best way to learn how to do family history work is to do it. So follow along with these lesson plans by DOING IT. You will be able to remember things much better if you do more than just read along.


Our Vision

Follow this link (https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2012-12-01-their-hearts-are-bound-to-you?lang=eng) to watch a video from President Henry B. Eyring.

  • What things are you already doing to participate in family history?


5 Step Research Process

The 5 Step Research Process is a roadmap for your genealogical research. It is here to help you as you try to learn how to perform family history research.


Family Search Family Tree helps us fulfill steps 1 and 2 in the Five Step Research Process.

Step 1 is to identify what you know about your family.

You can do this by:

  • Gathering documents you have around the house that pertain to yourself, your immediate family, and your ancestors.

  • Asking your family members what they know or remember about their lives and the lives of their predecessors.

  • Logging on to Family Tree to see what information others have submitted to the church about your family

Step 2 is to decide what you want to learn about your family.

  • Is the marriage date missing for your great-grandparents?

  • Have you always heard that your great uncle had a twin brother that died as a baby? What was his name?

  • Is the information in Family Tree approximated? Do you want to make that information more accurate?

Once you’ve seen what information is there, you can ask questions to determine how you can best contribute to your family tree.



The key here is to be SPECIFIC. When you look at your family tree it can seem big and intimidating. If you focus on one family in the beginning, it makes things a little simpler to handle. Many of you will be practicing this with your semester projects, as you research one family group. From there, go even more specific. For example, say you wanted to find your 3rd great grandmother Lily’s death information. Once you find (or don’t find!) this information you can move on to something different. This is so much easier to research then this goal: “I want to find out everything I can about my dad’s side of the family.”


Family Tree

What it is (and isn’t)

FamilySearch is a website created by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints where one can find records, attach those sources to an ancestor, many of which include a picture and index. Within FamilySearch is Family Tree, a public tree created to connect the whole world and be able to submit names for Temple ordinances.


Registering for an Account

For an LDS account, students will need their membership record number and birthdate.

  • Everyone, regardless of being LDS or not, will follow these directions to create an account:

  1. Go to FamilySearch.org
  2. Click on “Sign in” in the top right-hand corner
  3. Select “Create an Account” in the top right corner of the page
  4. Give the desired information and click “Create an Account”

If you need help with this, come into the lab and one of the TAs can help you.

Once you’ve set up an account, you can get to your family tree from the FamilySearch.org homepage. There is a tab entitled “Family Tree” at the top of the page, or you can select the fan chart or family tree options from the main rotating image.


Navigating through the tree

Some things you will want to note are:

  • Summary Card: You can access this by clicking on a name. It will bring up the person’s summary card—a card that shows basic birth and death information about a person.

  • Tree/Person: These tabs are a quick way to get back to yourself or someone you have recently viewed in case you get lost in your tree.

  • Find: A quick way to search for someone within the entire Family Tree Database

  • Lists: The list of people you are ‘watching.’ We will go over what it means to ‘watch’ someone later in this lesson.

  • Descendancy/Fan View: Gives you a different way to view your family tree. Descendancy can be used for researching forward in time and the fan view just lays out your pedigree in a different format.


Adding People to Your Pedigree

Living People

Due to strict privacy laws, FamilySearch is very careful with what information is available concerning living people. You will only be able to view your direct line (meaning parents, children, and grandparents.)

  • You cannot merge living individuals

  • Adding living individuals just creates duplicates

    • Adding a living individual is acceptable if the living person who doesn’t show up on your tree is your direct line ancestor. You will have to add them before you can connect to their ancestors.

    • It is not necessary in every other situation, including your siblings. Living people are likely in the database, you just cannot see them because their privacy is being protected.


Non-Living People

You will be able to add any deceased individual through the “Add individual” option found in your tree. It will guide you through searching and then adding an individual.

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

    • Always search for a person first before adding them into your pedigree!

    • If you found the correct person you can go ahead and add them into your pedigree and whoever is linked to his/her pedigree will also be linked into your pedigree.

  • Add New Person: 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 bottom 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 and then add the new information into your pedigree. (Keep in mind that if the individual is living, they will not be searchable.)

Individual Page

When you pull up someone’s summary card, you can access their individual page by clicking on their name or on person. On the right side of this page you will notice some features to help you in your research.


Viewing/Editing/Deleting a Person’s full information

On the ‘Person’ page, the information is divided into white boxes. On the top left, under the heading, of each of these boxes, there is an ‘open details’ button. This way you can see the sources for each fact as well as being able to edit it as needed. You will be asked to add a reason why you changed the information.

At this stage you will also notice it will inform you if any other users are watching the individual you are about to edit. Remember Family Tree can be viewed by everyone and anyone. Any change you make will be seen by anyone who goes to look at that individual.

  • 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 have just changed, then 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:

  • Scroll down to the Family Members section, and then click on the little pencil next to the name of the child whose parent-child relationship you want to change.

  • Underneath each parent’s name, there will be a “+ Add Relationship Type” button. If there is no relationship type listed, or if that relationship type is wrong, click the button to add a new relationship type. Select the type of relationship from the dropdown list and explain why you are specifying that type of relationship. If you are replacing an existing relationship type, be sure to delete the incorrect option.

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

  • Follow the steps above to bring up the relationship page

  • Click on the “Remove or Replace” link next to the person

You can either remove the person from that family or you if know the correct person, you can replace them with the right mother or father or child. You can also add marriage sources directly to the 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.

  • By adding sources to Family Tree, others can quickly verify the quality of the sources and then move on to research other family members who may still need ordinances done.

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 (and you!) will be able to locate your source, which means they will be less likely to have to redo the research you’ve already done.

  • Any work worth doing is worth doing well. Sourcing is worth doing so do it well! 

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. Not applicable to marriage.

The source 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.

We will go over how to add sources from FamilySearch in a later lesson.



  • 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.

Edit Order

If you want to change the view of the page, simply go to the gear icon in the right corner. Once you do that you will be able to drag and move all of the text boxes, and you can put them where you'd like. It will only change the view for you, not other FamilySearch users.


Research Help

The top box will be Research Help. Here you may see some record hints, which are records that contain information that matched up with your ancestor’s information. You would want to view those hints to see if they are actually your ancestor, and then attach them. You may also see Research Suggestions; these are just notes of possible things you can research. If you aren’t sure what to do, start looking for some of these. Finally you may see Data Problems. These are situations where the system is detecting an issue such as a child being born before the mother. These are things that require a deeper look into. Again, these can be good guides into starting research.


Search Records

By clicking on the links in this box, a general search will be created by transferring the individual’s information to the search engine. This is useful if you are just beginning your research and are unsure what might be available.


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.


Possible Duplicates

Since FamilySearch and Family Tree are online programs that anyone can edit, there is a very high margin for duplicate pages being created for the same person. You will want to check here to see if there is a duplicate for your ancestor. If there is a duplicate, you are able to merge them to one person. This helps combine information, research, and prevents duplicate temple work being done unnecessarily.

Merging Duplicates

  • Review the duplicate matches Family Tree produced. On the ‘Person’ page, on the right side under ‘Tools,’ click on ‘Possible Duplicates.’ 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 record to the selected record in more detail. It will also allow you to merge the information from the selected record with your record and delete the record for 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. NOTE: There is not currently a feature to reverse this choice so use it sparingly and wisely.

  • 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. “Replace” or “Reject” each piece of information. Then scroll to the bottom of the screen and click “Continue.” The records will be merged.

What should you do if you can’t tell whether the record refers to the same person you have selected?

  • Please don’t 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.



Adding photos and stories is a great way to collaborate with others, help others get interested in their family history, and preserve your work and keepsakes. You can access this through the memories tab on an individual person’s screen or on the top of the FamilySearch page.

  • Photos: at the top of an individual person’s information screen, click on the “Memories” tab.

    • Here you can view all photos in which this person has been tagged

    • Click “Add Photo” to add a new photo. This will take you to a new page with all of the photos you’ve added. To add a photo, click on the green plus sign labeled “Upload”

    • Drag and drop or click to find your photo. Be sure to review the upload guidelines and submission agreement before sharing your photos

    • If you have already uploaded a photo of the individual to whom you are adding pictures, you can attach that photo to the individual by checking the small gray box at the bottom of the picture and selecting the “Attach Photos” button at the top right corner of the screen

    • A “GO TO: ______” link should be at the top of the page to return you to the specified person in Family Tree

  • Documents: at the top of an individual person’s information screen, click on the “Memories” tab.

    • The process for adding a document is much the same as adding a picture. The system supports JPG, PNG, and PDF files.

    • Use this to upload maybe a picture you found from a microfilm or a picture you took of a gravestone. Anything that pertains to the person but is not a picture of the person.

  • Stories: at the top of an individual person’s information screen, click on the “Memories” tab.

    • The process for adding a story is much the same as adding a picture. However, you cannot drag and drop stories. Instead, just copy and paste your text into the box and fix the formatting.

    • Additional family members can be tagged in stories and photos can be added to illustrate them

  • Audio: at the top of an individual person’s information screen, click on the “Memories” tab.

    • You can add a MP3 or a M4A.  


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.


Zipping Multiple Documents into a Single Folder to Upload onto Learning Suite

Several of your professors require you to upload your assignments to Learning Suite. Learning Suite will only allow you to upload one file per assignment. If your assignment requires multiple files, you will need to zip those files into a single folder.

  • Open the jump drive or folder where your files are located.

  • Hold down the Shift key and click on each file you need to include in the zipped folder

  • Once all the files are selected, right click on one of the highlighted files, select

Send to → Compressed (zipped) folder

  • Rename your folder if desired