All lessons

Lesson 1

    New FamilySearch and Temple Work


        The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints created the new FamilySearch system (NFS) to make family history work easier and more accurate. The information in NFS comes from the church’s previous submission programs (Ancestral File, Pedigree Resource File, and the International Genealogical Index) as well as current member contribution and temple records. The system was designed to encourage communication between researchers, reduce duplication, and enhance the ease and speed of preparing names for temple work.

      Getting Started

      To get to new FamilySearch go to For help using the new FamilySearch go to the guides under "Learn How To Use FamilySearch".

      To register and become a user, visit the new FamilySearch home page at  You will need to provide the following information: 

      • LDS Church membership record number (available from your ward or branch clerk)

      Currently, only certain areas of the world have access to the new FamilySearch, as the program is not yet completed. The general public will be able to use the new FamilySearch system at a later date.

        “See Me and My Ancestor”  – Your Pedigree

          After logging in, click on this link in the main menu. The page that will come up is your pedigree. Your name should be in the first box. If you are married and your spouse is not listed, you will need to enter their information into your pedigree. Directions on how to do that are included under the heading Adding People to Your Pedigree below. Once you have entered information for all of the people in your spouse’s line that are still living, you can search for the first deceased ancestors. By attaching them to your tree, it should bring in their complete lines as well.

            After you, your parents should be listed in the second box of the pedigree, your grandparents in the third, and so on.

                    Adding People to Your Pedigree

                If people are missing from your pedigree that you believe should be there, you have one of two options. 

                  • First, search for the individual in the system to see if there is a record for them that just needs to be linked to your pedigree. This can be done by clicking the “Add or Find ____” link on your pedigree. Fill in the requested information and click “Search”. Some information may already be filled in for you. Always search for the individual first (exception: living individuals; see Living People below). Once you find and select your relative’s record, all of the individuals connected to that record should also connect to your tree. (For example, if you find and connect your grandfather’s record to your pedigree, any record connected to him, such as your great-grandparents or great-great-grandparents, will also be connected to you.) 

                    • The second option is to add the individual’s information. Only do this if no record was found after searching. This can be done by clicking the “Add or Find ____” link. When the search box comes up, go to the top left and click the “Add New Individual” tab. Then fill in as much information as you can and press “Continue”.

                            Living People

                        • If an individual is living, you will not be able to find his or her record with a search even if a record already exists. This is the case to protect the privacy of living people’s information. If you need to connect living people to your pedigree, enter their information by hand. Include enough information that the duplicate record you are creating can be easily combined after the person’s death.

                          • People already in your pedigree are indicated as living if their name is in italics. If a person is living, you can only see their name and gender (unless you add more information which you do not need to do). Again, this is to protect privacy. You will only be able to see living people if you are a direct descendant from them. In other words, your siblings will not be listed on your pedigree as your parents’ children unless they are already deceased (because you are not their direct descendant). Don’t add your siblings just because they don’t show up on your pedigree.


                            • Two stick figures with a plus between them to the right of a name on the pedigree àclick to see other spouses
                            • A snowflake in a box to the left of a pedigree boxàclick to see other parents
                            • Thick arrow in a box to the left or right of a pedigree boxàmove the pedigree box to the root position
                            • Small triangle arrow in a blue circle to the left of a name in the pedigreeàclick to move the person one generation closer to root position
                            • Temple with a green arrowàtemple work ready to be completed in the family
                            • Temple with a yellow warning signàfamily temple work in progress
                            • Temple with a blue check markàtemple work complete


                            Using New FamilySearch

                            Because information in the new FamilySearch system can be input by anyone, be aware that all information may not be correct: people make mistakes and research carelessly. You can contact submitters and ask them where they got the information or substantiate the information with your own research. Just keep in mind that new FamilySearch is a starting point, not a final authority.

                            Search tab

                              Users may search for an individual in two ways:

                                  1. Search by Name

                                Users may enter in information they know about an individual and search the system for any possible matches. Search results are ranked with the “star” method—five stars being a high probability match to the information the user searched with. (Stars are listed under the name of each search result.)

                                    1. Search by Personal Identifier

                                  Each individual in the new FamilySearch system is assigned a personal identifier.  Searching by personal identifiers allows users to find the exact individual they are looking for. Choose this search option on the tab under the page heading “Search for Deceased Ancestors” on the top left-hand corner of the search page.


                                      The new FamilySearch system has drawn—and continues to draw—information from multiple resources. Often times this results in duplicate information.  The ultimate goal is to have one file (or folder if you will) for each individual within the system, and to have each record linked to one central family tree.  Therefore, when duplicates of an individual are found, users should combine them into one file.  Think of a folder with various sheets of paper in it. I can put two different pieces of paper in the same folder, in effect combining their information. Each piece of paper maintains its information separate from the other while at the same time they can both be viewed by going to the one folder. Combining duplicates on new FamilySearch uses the same concept. You can combine records under one individual’s name while keeping the sources separate.

                                        The next step is to “clean up”  the data.  This means that, if needed, additional research may be performed and documented through credible sources. That research will then be displayed for all FamilySearch users to view. Through this process, most cases of conflicting information can be resolved.

                                             Combining Duplicates

                                            To combine duplicates, pull up an individual’s record in your pedigree. On the left-hand side there is a list of links. Select the one titled “Possible Duplicates.”  This will do a basic search to look for similar records. If no records show up, or if you believe there may be more duplicate records, click “Advanced possible duplicate search” near the bottom of the screen.

                                              Once you have found a record that looks like a duplicate, click the box next to the name of the record you want to look at, and then click “Compare in More Detail.”  This will pull the record you selected and the NFS record up side-by-side so that you can compare the information. If the two records are a match, click “Yes, combine the information” at the bottom of the screen. If the records do not closely resemble one another, click “No, or I cannot tell.” Then click “Done.” When the next screen appears, confirm your decision by clicking “Combine the Records”  (even if you are combining zero records).

                                                   Separating Combined Records

                                                  At times, records that do not refer to the same person are erroneously combined. Because the originality of each record is preserved during the combining process, it is possible to separate them after the fact. When viewing the information for an individual, users may see multiple names, dates, or places listed for a single person or life event. Such multiple entries are the result of discrepant records being combined by other users who thought they were duplicates or differences of opinion about the same individual.

                                                    To separate incorrectly combined records, click on the individual’s “Details” tab. Then, scroll to the bottom and click the “Combined records” link. The different records are listed vertically across the top. The original NFS record is in its own column on the far left. Simply check the gray box next to the record number you want to separate, and then click “Separate Selected Records.” Confirm the action.


                                                      Overviews and Guides

                                                            FamilySearch has created many resources to provide help and guidance to those using the system and submitting names for temple ordinances.  Audiovisual tutorials are available.  Additionally, printable versions of the same topics covered within the tutorials, as well as other helpful documents, are available in PDF format. 


                                                         To find answers to specific questions, access the Help Center.  Search for topics or keywords, submit feedback, view prior “cases” you have submitted, or access additional training and resources.   

                                                      Contacting FamilySearch

                                                        If you are unable to find the answer to your question/problem through the guides and helps, you may contact FamilySearch Support as follows: 

                                                      1. Submitting feedback directly through the Feedback link on the new FamilySearch website. 
                                                      2. Email:
                                                      3. Telephone FamilySearch Support (North America):  1-866-406-1830; 1-800-346-6044; or, 1-800-453-3860, ext. 2-2584.

                                                      Policies and Guidelines for Submitting Names for Temple Work

                                                      Policies for Submitting Names for Temple Ordinances

                                                      • Generally, you may perform temple ordinances for deceased persons one year or more after the date of death without regard to the person's worthiness or cause of death. If you have questions, please contact your bishop or branch president.
                                                      • Before you perform ordinances for a deceased person born within the last 95 years, please get permission from the closest living relative. Relatives may not want the ordinances performed or may want to perform the ordinances themselves. The closest living relatives are, in this order: a spouse, then children, then parents, then siblings.
                                                      • Do not perform ordinances for people you are not related to (such as famous people, Holocaust victims, etc.).

                                                      Guidelines for Submitting Names for Proxy Temple Ordinances

                                                        • For baptisms and endowments, you must have your ancestor's name, gender, an event date (or an approximate date), and an event place. (Examples of events include birth, christening, marriage, death, or burial.) An event place could be a U.S. state, Canadian province, or a foreign country. (The ideal is to have an exact date and place.)
                                                        • For sealing to parents, you must have the information required for baptism and endowment plus the name—the given name or the surname—of at least the father. (Also provide the mother's name if you have it.)
                                                        • For sealing of husband and wife, you must have the name of the husband (but not necessarily the wife), marriage date, and marriage place.
                                                        • An individual must be deceased for more than one year (unless the individual was a worthy member of the Church who died before age twenty-one or who, for reasons beyond the individual's control, was unable to go to a temple in mortality). You may submit temple work for the following individuals:
                                                          • Immediate family members
                                                          • Direct-line ancestors (parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and so on, and their families).
                                                          • Biological, adoptive, and foster family lines connected to your family.
                                                          • Collateral family lines (uncles, aunts, cousins, and their families).
                                                          • Your own descendants.
                                                          • Possible ancestors, meaning individuals who have a probable family relationship that cannot be verified because the records are inadequate, such as those who have the same last name and resided in the same area as your known ancestors.
                                                          • You may submit the names of individuals with who you shared a friendship. This is an exception to the general rule that members should not submit the names of individuals to whom they are not related. Before performing ordinances for a deceased individual who was a friend, you should obtain permission from the individual's closest living relative.
                                                        • For ancestors born within the last ninety-five years, if there is anyone more closely related to the deceased individual you should obtain the relative's permission for the ordinance work, even if the relative is not a member of the Church.
                                                        • Do not submit names of individuals for temple work who lived before A.D. 1500, or who are members of royalty, without first consulting with the Family History Department in Salt Lake City.
                                                        • If you find that the Ordinance Index or IGI misspells your ancestor's name or lists incorrect ordinance dates or places, do not resubmit your ancestor's name for temple work. The ordinances are still valid. However, please contact the Family History Department if the gender is incorrect.
                                                        • Do not submit names of persons who are not related to you, including names of famous people or names gathered from unapproved extraction projects, such as victims of the Jewish Holocaust. For Jewish Holocaust victims, LDS Church members cannot do the ordinances for these people except under the following conditions:
                                                          • They are an immediate family member of the deceased (defined as parents, spouse, or children)
                                                          • They have permission of all living immediate family members
                                                          • They have the permission of the closest living relative if no immediate family members are living

                                                        IN SUMMARY: Students who follow these Guidelines, and work on their OWN family lines will find greater meaning in family history work, and will be following and sustaining the teachings and council given by the leaders of the Church.

                                                          Determining What Ordinances to Perform 
                                                          Use the following policies to help you know what ordinances need to be performed:

                                                          • When ordinances are not needed:
                                                            • Children who are born after their mother has been sealed to a husband are born in the covenant. They do not need to receive the ordinances of sealing to parents.
                                                            • Temple ordinances are not performed for stillborn children. However, a child who lived even briefly after birth should be sealed to his or her parents.  In some countries, particularly in Europe, children who died shortly after birth were often recorded as stillborn.  Children listed as stillborn on records from these countries may be sealed to their parents.  The FamilySearch Internet site will let you know if a sealing ordinance needs to be performed for a child who was recorded as stillborn.  You should record all births, indicating any stillborn children.
                                                            • No baptism or endowment is performed for a child who died before the age of eight.  Only sealings to parents are performed for such children.  If the child was sealed to parents while he or she was living or if the child was born in the covenant, no vicarious ordinances are performed. 
                                                          • Sealing couples with undocumented marriages
                                                            • Use the FamilySearch Internet site ( to prepare these names for temple ordinances without any other approval process.
                                                          • Deceased women married more than once
                                                            • You may have a deceased woman sealed to all men to whom she was legally married. However, if she was sealed to a husband during her life, all her husbands must be deceased before she can be sealed to a husband to whom she was not sealed during life. 
                                                          • Deceased persons who had mental disabilities
                                                            • Temple ordinances for deceased persons who had mental disabilities are performed the same as for other deceased persons.
                                                          • Persons who are presumed dead
                                                            • A person who is presumed dead after 10 years have passed since the time of the presumed death. This policy applies to:
                                                              • (1) persons who are missing in action or lost at sea or who have been declared legally dead
                                                              • (2) persons who disappeared under circumstances where death is apparent but nobody has been recovered. 
                                                            • In all other cases of missing persons, temple ordinances may not be performed until 110 years have passed from the time of the person’s birth. 
                                                          • Other policies:
                                                            • Please see your bishop for information about the following:
                                                              • Temple ordinances involving living people.
                                                              • Temple ordinances to seal the living to the dead.
                                                              • Any policies not covered above.

                                                          Temple Ordinances

                                                          • Select the individual whose ordinances you want to do
                                                          • Click the temple ordinance symbol (next to their name and dates at top) to indicate you want to do these ordinances.
                                                          • Select the specific ordinances you want to do.
                                                          • Check for duplication
                                                          • FamilySearch will check to see if it has other records for that ancestor. Other records may show that those ordinances have already been completed.
                                                          • Print family ordinance request
                                                            • This lists the ordinances you have chosen to do.
                                                            • Note, once you have reserved these, no one else will be able to do them.
                                                            • THIS IS WHAT YOU TAKE TO THE TEMPLE
                                                            • Later, view completed ordinances



                                                          Lesson 2


                                                              What is RootsMagic?

                                                                RootsMagic is a Windows® based computer program you can use to record, organize, print and share genealogical information. It allows you to create a computerized family tree (known as a database or a family records data file) beginning with yourself and continuing back through your parents, grandparents, and as many generations back as you are able to find. This is separate from any other program (New FamilySearch, PAF, etc.) and can only be accessed by you (unless you share your information).

                                                                  Downloading RootsMagic

                                                                    Having RootsMagic on your personal computer will greatly enhance your ability to store and organize your family history research. When downloading RootsMagic, you will find that there is both a free version (RootsMagic Essentials) and a full version that costs about $30. To download the free version:

                                                                      • Go to
                                                                      • Products → RootsMagic Essentials
                                                                      • Click on “Free Download”
                                                                      • Enter your name and email address if you want to receive updates from RootsMagic, then click “download”
                                                                      • Click the link and hit “Save File”
                                                                      • Follow prompts

                                                                      RootsMagic can be found on the computers in the Family History Lab in 1031C JFSB and also on the computers in the Family History Library in the HBLL.

                                                                        For more information and free tutorials of RootsMagic and RootsMagic Essentials on the RootsMagic website:

                                                                          Using RootsMagic

                                                                            • Open RootsMagic
                                                                              • Click to create a new file.
                                                                              • Give your file a name
                                                                              • Be sure to select LDS support and NFS support buttons
                                                                            • Add your Preparer Information
                                                                              • Go to the Tools Menu and click towards the bottom of the list where it says File Options
                                                                              • Click on the Preparer tab
                                                                              • Fill out the appropriate “prepared by:” information (this will appear whenever you print reports and is required for most classes)
                                                                            • Import your new FamilySearch file
                                                                              • Go to the File menu and go down to where it says FamilySearch Central
                                                                                • Click Import at the top of the screen
                                                                              • Select 4 ancestors and 0 descendants. The more generations you want to import the longer it will take, exponentially. 
                                                                            • Adding Individuals
                                                                              • Click on a box where you would like to add the individual
                                                                                • A box will appear. You can begin entering in the desired individual’s information
                                                                                • Click OK
                                                                              • To add other information to that individual double click them and the edit screen will appear, click Add a fact.  
                                                                            • Adding a Marriage Event
                                                                              • Open up the edit screen for either one of the individuals and select Add a Fact
                                                                                • Find the marriage fact type and select it
                                                                                • [Note: Just because a spouse is added, does not mean that the marriage event is automatically added. Be sure to do this step.]
                                                                            • Adding other significant facts
                                                                              • Open the edit screen for the individual by double clicking them and select Add a Fact.
                                                                                • Find the desired fact type and select it
                                                                            • Sources
                                                                              • Select the fact for which you would like to add a source, click the Sources button
                                                                              • Select an appropriate source for your information
                                                                              • Type in the basic information that you would like for your source
                                                                            • Edit a Family Unit/ Adding Children
                                                                              • Highlight the husband or wife of the family unit and select the Family view
                                                                              • To add Children: Click in the space labeled “+ Click to add child

                                                                            RootsMagic: Match/Sync with New FamilySearch

                                                                              • Click on any NFS icon to sync that person with NFS
                                                                                • When you click on the icon it will bring up the Match/Sync window
                                                                                • If a match is found you can either compare the person in more detail with the one in your file or you can match and sync the individual.
                                                                                • If a search for your RootsMagic person doesn’t turn up any matches you can add the information to new FamilySearch yourself. By clicking on the Add to FamilySearch button RootsMagic will add an individual’s data to NFS for you.

                                                                              RootsMagic: Match/Merge

                                                                                • The match/merge feature should be used when there are duplicate entries in your file for the same individual.
                                                                                • Click on the Yellow Road sign icon at the top of the screen
                                                                                  • This will open the match/merge feature for whatever person you currently have highlighted.

                                                                                RootsMagic: Printing Reports

                                                                                  • Printing Options/Reports
                                                                                    • Click the Printer icon at the top of the screen or select Reports from the tabs at the top (followed by Print Reports.)
                                                                                    • A conversation box will appear. Listed on the left-hand side of that box are all of the types of reports you may create.
                                                                                    • Choose your report.

                                                                                  Saving Your Information

                                                                                    • Save, Export, and Backup Options
                                                                                      • When you create a RootsMagic file it will automatically begin saving to your My Documents folder. If you want to save a copy of that file to a different location There are three ways to do so:
                                                                                    1. Go up to the File menu and select Copy. This copy can only be opened with RootsMagic 5.
                                                                                    2. Go to the File menu and select Export. This option lets you export a GEDCOM file that will be compatible with other programs.
                                                                                    3. Roots Magic also has a backup and restore feature that can be used by selecting File and then Backup. The file can then be opened by opening RootsMagic and selecting Restore from the File menu.

                                                                                    Root’s Magic: Importing another file type into Roots Magic

                                                                                      • Close the file you are currently working on.
                                                                                      • Select import from the dialogue box.
                                                                                        • Select GEDCOM and locate the GEDCOM file you wish to import.
                                                                                        • Give your file a name and make sure that LDS Support and new FamilySearch support are checked.
                                                                                      • RootsMagic will create a new file using the information that you imported

                                                                                      Some General Notes about GEDCOM

                                                                                        What is a GEDCOM?  
                                                                                        You can receive (import) or share (export) RootsMagic files (RM5) with other people or genealogy programs. To import or export information, RootsMagic uses a computer file called a GEDCOM. GEDCOM stands for Genealogical Data Communications. It is a type of file that takes genealogy information from one program and compresses it into a standard format which can be transferred into any other genealogy program. It was developed by the Family and Church History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to provide a flexible, uniform format for exchanging genealogical data. Almost all genealogy programs will accept a GEDCOM file. Importing and exporting a GEDCOM file is usually the best way to receive or send your genealogical information.

                                                                                          To make a GEDCOM in RootsMagic:

                                                                                            In order to create a GEDCOM file from RM5 you must use the export option. You can access it by clicking File menu and then selecting Export. , see “Saving Information” Step 2 above.



                                                                                              Lesson 3 
                                                                                              Family Search

                                                                                                • FamilySearch has gone through a number of different iterations. It started with the original website and then grew to include a number of secondary sites such as and In December 2010, a number of the secondary sites were consolidated into the current leaving only and (as well as some other resources such as the FamilySearch Wiki at
                                                                                                • You will find two main types of records while searching online:
                                                                                                  • Compiled Sources:
                                                                                                    • Compiled sources are combined from various sources of data including private research and databases. These include Ancestral File, the International Genelogical Index, Vital Records Index, Social Security Death Index and Pedigree Resource File.
                                                                                                    • These may be inaccurate or incomplete.
                                                                                                    • Carefully evaluate the information you find, and use it to find primary sources.
                                                                                                  • Primary Sources:
                                                                                                    • Primary sources are actual records created at the times of important events in your ancestor’s life.
                                                                                                    • These include actual birth certificates, census records, land records, etc.
                                                                                                    • These can still contain mistakes or misspellings, but are more likely to be correct because they come from actual records created during the person’s life.
                                                                                                • Go to
                                                                                                  • Searching for records
                                                                                                    • There are four different groups of records you can search for: Records, Trees, Catalog and Books.
                                                                                                    • Records
                                                                                                      • Practice by performing a broad search for someone and then play with the various filters on the left side panel.
                                                                                                      • There are different kinds of documents. Some records are merely transcribed, others are just images, and still others include both the transcription and images
                                                                                                      • Go back to the main search screen and scroll down to see a map of the world. Click on an area and you will be able to search by a specific locality or record series.
                                                                                                      • There are new record sets constantly being added to the historical records database
                                                                                                    • Family Trees
                                                                                                      • Most of the family trees in this section come from the Ancestral File and Pedigree Resource File
                                                                                                      • These trees are a compiled record, and even though they can give you information, there are no sources to prove their validity. They are best used to give you information for further research.
                                                                                                    • Catalog
                                                                                                      • The FamilySearch Catalog is associated with the Family Search Library in Salt Lake City and contains microfilm, books, maps, etc. Not everything is online, and if you can’t find what you’re looking for, it may still exist in a physical format.
                                                                                                      • You may search the catalog in a number of ways. These include place search, keyword search, surname search, title search, etc.
                                                                                                      • Go ahead and practice making a few searches to get a feel for the catalog
                                                                                                    • Books
                                                                                                      • The BYU Family History Archive has many published books and histories within which you can search for your ancestors. Try a sample search for a surname and see what results appear.
                                                                                                  • The Learn Tab
                                                                                                    • The most important part of the learn tab is the research wiki. This is similar to Wikipedia and allows users from across the world to post and share information with regards to performing research for specific localities and topics.
                                                                                                    • The wiki is not a place to post or find ancestors names or personal information. Instead, it provides information regarding resources for research in given areas, help with specific types of research or other helpful information which can help with various aspects of the research process.
                                                                                                  • Family Search Centers
                                                                                                      • Family Search centers are located around the globe and allow access to both local records as well as various online databases
                                                                                                      • You can see what resources are available at BYU through
                                                                                                  • Indexing Tab
                                                                                                    • Indexing is free and is an effort by both Church member and non-member volunteers to transcribe and extract various pieces of information from historical document images.
                                                                                                    • Software can be downloaded which provides users with various digitized images known as batches.
                                                                                                    • All indexed names and information are added to the searchable Records database on FamilySearch.
                                                                                                    • To try out Indexing, click on the Test Drive button on the Indexing page.



                                                                                                Lesson 4

                                                                                                Additional Online Resources

                                                                                                There are many online resources you can use to find records of your ancestors. When these records are found, they can prove that the information you already have is correct or incorrect, or they can give you brand new information about your ancestor.  

                                                                                                Searching, US GenWeb, or World GenWeb for a specific place can lead you to many online resources for that place.

                                                                                                • FamilySearch Wiki-
                                                                                                  • This site is just like Wikipedia but for family history. The Wiki is used to look up how to find records in a certain place, not to search the names of your ancestors. The Wiki will tell you about the history of the place and lead you to websites, microfilms, and other records you can use to search for your ancestors.
                                                                                                • The U.S. GenWeb Project -
                                                                                                  • U.S. Gen Web is a volunteer-based project. Volunteers add information to the site about each state and the counties in each state. They want researchers to have free access to genealogy websites. So, it is a good idea to check to see what U.S. GenWeb has for your state because useful documents that may cost money somewhere else will be free on this website.
                                                                                                  • Also, World GenWeb project -

                                                                                                You also always want to check if the state you are researching in has a digital archive. You can usually find a link to the digital archive for your state on the FamilySearch Wiki or you can do a Google search for a digital archive for your state.

                                                                                                  Large Databases

                                                                                                    • Ancestry –
                                                                                                      • is a paid subscription service that provides indexes and images of various historical records. Some of the record types that the database includes are census, immigration, military, and vital. The contents of this website can be accessed for free on any computer connected to the campus internet.
                                                                                                      • Fee: Free on campus internet, paid subscription otherwise.
                                                                                                      • Record Type: Census, Vital Records, Military, Migration and Naturalization, Maps and Gazetteers, Land and Probate, and User Submitted Trees.
                                                                                                    • Fold3 (Formally Footnote) –
                                                                                                      • Fold3 is another paid subscription website that specializes in military records. It includes various other collections but has the richest content when dealing with military related events. It is also free on BYU campus.
                                                                                                      • Fee: Free on campus internet, paid subscription otherwise.
                                                                                                      • Record Type: Census, Vital Records, Military, Migration and Naturalization, Newspapers and Periodicals.
                                                                                                    • World Vital Records –
                                                                                                      • A paid subscription site that focuses on birth, marriage, and death records. The database is accessible for free on BYU campus.
                                                                                                      • Fee: Free on campus internet, paid subscription otherwise.
                                                                                                      • Record Type: Census, Vital Records, Migration and Naturalization.
                                                                                                    • Heritage Quest Online -
                                                                                                      • The main database you will find on this site is the Periodical Source Index (PERSI). You can search genealogy and local history articles for people and places.


                                                                                                      • Immigrant Ancestors Project -
                                                                                                        • The Immigrant Ancestors Project uses emigration registers and other documents to locate information about the birthplaces of immigrants to the United States and other countries. People can volunteer to assist in the transcription of the records.
                                                                                                      • Ellis Island –
                                                                                                        • A free website that contains a searchable index of persons who immigrated through Ellis Island (1892 to 1954).
                                                                                                        • A free registration is required to use this site.
                                                                                                      • Castle Garden -
                                                                                                        • A free website that contains a searchable database of persons immigrating through Castle Garden (1820 to 1913).






                                                                                                              • This is an atlas of historical county boundaries. It is interactive and allows you to see how county lines have changed. This can be useful if you cannot find in ancestor in a place you think they should have been. You may not be able to find them because the county or state boundaries changed. The person could have stayed in the same place but the jurisdictions changed.
                                                                                                            • David Rumsey -
                                                                                                              • David Rumsey has one of the largest historical maps collections on the web.


                                                                                                            Tips for searching online

                                                                                                              Sometimes it can be helpful to search for different spellings of a name because the record of your ancestor could have been transcribed incorrectly or spelled differently on the document.

                                                                                                                • Use an asterisk (*) after the first few letters of a name to search for all names with that beginning and any other ending.
                                                                                                                  • Example: Name = Heimbigner, Search = Heim*
                                                                                                                • Replace one letter of a name with a question mark (?) to search for all names that have any letter in the place where the question mark is.
                                                                                                                  • Example: Name = Smith, Search = Sm?th (Will bring up results like Smyth, Smuth, etc.)




                                                                                                                Case Study Lesson

                                                                                                                  Part 1 – Searching the Census Worksheet

                                                                                                                    Answer the Following Questions

                                                                                                                      Finding Information in the Census (Federal and State)

                                                                                                                        1. Download the Gedcom of August Heimbigner.
                                                                                                                        2. Look at the birth date and birth information for August and answer the following questions:
                                                                                                                          1. In order to find out more information on his parents, why would we want to search the census first?


                                                                                                                          2. Which census should we check first and why?


                                                                                                                          3. At which websites can we search this census?


                                                                                                                        1. Go to either of the websites you have listed and search the 1910 census. Put in as much information about August as you can and then search for him; he should be among the first results to pop up. View his record and answer the following questions
                                                                                                                          1. How do we know that this is the right August Heimbigner?


                                                                                                                          2. What are August's parents’ names?


                                                                                                                          3. What can we learn about them?


                                                                                                                        If you struggle reading the column heads view the census templates available at

                                                                                                                          1. At this point you should have at least John and Anna's birth dates, marriage date, and immigration dates. Enter and source this information in the RootsMagic file.
                                                                                                                            1. Enter the information by selecting the event from the pull down menu under “Add a Fact.”
                                                                                                                            2. For one of the events you have entered add a census source citation:
                                                                                                                              1. Click on the event to be cited.
                                                                                                                              2. Click the “Sources” button.
                                                                                                                              3. Click on “Add a new Source.”
                                                                                                                              4. Select “Census, U.S. Federal (Online Images)” from the template selection
                                                                                                                              5. Enter the information in the boxes following the guidelines provided in gray lettering
                                                                                                                                1. In the credit line you should enter the roll number. In Ancestry this can be found on the right hand side in the source citation box. FamilySearch does not provide this information for most of their census records.
                                                                                                                                2. Civil division refers to the name of the precinct.
                                                                                                                                3. Enumeration district numbers can be found on the top right hand corner of the image.
                                                                                                                              6. Give the record a master source name that will be broad enough to be reusable, but narrow enough to be pertinent to all the information contained in the yellow master source box.
                                                                                                                            3. Now that we have found one census, why would you want to search another census for a different year?


                                                                                                                          1. You may search for the family in 1900 or 1920, select a census year and complete one of the following options.

                                                                                                                          Option 1: 6-8

                                                                                                                            1. Search the 1920 census for John or August. Put in as much information as you can and they should be towards the top. Find the record, open it and then answer the following questions...
                                                                                                                              1. What happened, why is some of the information correct and familiar and the rest different?


                                                                                                                              2. What does this imply about Anna M?


                                                                                                                              3. View the original record at this point and determine what new information we can find.


                                                                                                                            1. Notice that Catharina's immigration occurred before she was born. This as an example showing why you can't always trust the census. Another thing to notice is that the 1920 census doesn't list years married. Every census is different and that's why we don't just settle for checking one. We won't worry about Catharina too much more in this exercise so just keep her name in mind.


                                                                                                                            1. Enter the new information you have found in RootsMagic.


                                                                                                                            Option 2 (9-10)

                                                                                                                              1. Search the 1900 Census for August or John Heimbigner at
                                                                                                                                1. Notice that the record we find of them has two names to tag it. The first is incredibly misspelled and explains why we cannot find it at FamilySearch.


                                                                                                                                2. Enter any new information you may find in the RootsMagic file.


                                                                                                                                3. Compare the 11th and 12th columns on the 1900 census and the 10th and 11th columns on the 1910 census for Anna M Heimbigner. What does this indicate about the Heimbigner family? 


                                                                                                                              1. Enter any new information you have found in RootsMagic.



                                                                                                                              Case Study Lesson

                                                                                                                                Part 2 – Looking for Original Sources

                                                                                                                                  In this case study we will use the information obtained from the first case study to locate original records of the events described. 

                                                                                                                                  1. Download the GEDCOM for the second case study.
                                                                                                                                  2. Obtain and open the Research Log from Case Study 1. We will use the information gathered here in order to find more records for the family.


                                                                                                                                  Immigration Records

                                                                                                                                    1. In class we have talked about several immigration records websites including and Based on the information we have obtained from the censuses, which website would most likely have the immigration information for John Heimbigner?


                                                                                                                                    1. Search the appropriate website for John Heimbigner. If you do not obtain any results try using alternate spellings of the name or the * wildcard option. Remember that John immigrated in 1878 and would be about 16 years old. Record your results below.


                                                                                                                                    1. After this, search the website again for all people of the same last name as above in 1878 and record the first names below.


                                                                                                                                    1. Enter any new information you have found into RootsMagic.


                                                                                                                                    Marriage Records

                                                                                                                                      1. Investigate the Marriage collections available at and FamilySearch for Washington State.
                                                                                                                                        1. Explain why we are not able to find the marriage records for John and Anna
                                                                                                                                          1. (Hint: look at the source information) 


                                                                                                                                      1. Go to and search for John Heimbigner. Select the marriage portion of the results. There you will find the records for John's marriage to Anna and Catherina (Katherine).


                                                                                                                                      1. Go to the original documents by pressing on the image link on the right hand side of the page.


                                                                                                                                      1. Enter any new information in RootsMagic.


                                                                                                                                        Death Records

                                                                                                                                          1. Go to


                                                                                                                                          What types of records can we search in order to find death information? 

                                                                                                                                               Where should we start looking for John and Anna's death records? 

                                                                                                                                              1. Browse the records and go down to the state of Washington. Click on the Washington Death Certificates Collection and perform a search for Anna.
                                                                                                                                                • Important questions to ask when looking...
                                                                                                                                                  • Where was she living?
                                                                                                                                                  • Who was she married to at the time?
                                                                                                                                                  • Between what years must she have died?
                                                                                                                                                  • She should be listed as Anna M. Heimbiguin.
                                                                                                                                                  • Enter any new information in Roots Magic
                                                                                                                                              2. Search for John at FamilySearch keeping in mind the same questions as above.
                                                                                                                                                • You will find that there are a number of records. They are all either John Heimbigner or his children with him listed as a father. The actual John Heimbigner certificate is the one where his spouse is listed as Katie Heimbigner (Katie being short for Catherina, who we found earlier).

                                                                                                                                              Obituary Records

                                                                                                                                              1. Go to and then go to the state of Washington. Select Adams county. Select Adams county obituaries. Find the year of John's death as listed on his death certificate, (select 1927 part 4) and he will be the first name on the page.


                                                                                                                                              2. What new information do you obtain from the obituary?


                                                                                                                                              3. Enter this information in the Roots Magic File.