How to Use FamilySearch.org


Here are some commonly asked questions about using FamilySearch.org. If you need help with doing any of the items below or have more questions, contact your ward temple and family history consultant. To find out who this person is, go to FamilySearch.org/ask/help.


How Do I Sign In to FamilySearch.org?

What Is Family Tree?

What Are the Different Ways to View Family Tree?

What Does None, Some, and Many Mean?

Why Am I Not Connected to Anyone in the Tree?

How Do I Add a Person to Family Tree?

How Can I See the Life Details about an Ancestor?

How Do I Add or Edit Information?

How Do I View Possible Duplicates and Merge Records?

How Do I Know If My Ancestor Needs Temple Ordinances Performed?

Who Can I Do Ordinance Work For?

What Additional Information Do I Need About an Ancestor If the Ordinance Page Says “Needs More Information”?

How Do I Print a Family Ordinance Card?


How Do I Sign In to FamilySearch.org?

Sign in with your FamilySearch username and password. If you don’t have a FamilySearch account, in the upper right, click Join For Free, and fill out the form. You will be sent an email to verify your email address. In the verification email, click the link to activate your account. You can also use your LDS account username and password to sign in.

If you can’t remember your username or password, click “Forgot your username or password?” and follow the instructions on the screen.

For more information, visit “The Family History Guide,” Project 1, Goal 1, Choice A.

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What Is Family Tree?

Family Tree is the part of FamilySearch.org that displays generations of your family and has information about those people. In Family Tree, you can see how the generations fit together. You can also see specific information about an ancestor, such as his or her name, family members, vital events, photos, and stories.

When you are signed in to FamilySearch, the system displays a pedigree chart with you in the main position. Your ancestors are on the right; your descendants are on the left.

Family Tree is a collaborative tree, which means everyone is contributing to the same tree. When someone adds or changes information, it changes information on your tree, and everyone can see the changes.

For more information visit: “The Family History Guide,” Project 1.

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What Are the Different Ways to View Family Tree?

When you select Tree, you can see different views that show the relationships between multiple generations of ancestors.

Click the View button in the upper-left, and select one of the following views. (If you are on a person’s Details page, click the person’s name, click Tree, and then click View.)

 

Landscape: This is a horizontal pedigree with a husband and a wife listed together with lines that connect them to their parents and their ancestors.

When you first go to Family Tree, your name is in the main (center) position. Your ancestors are on the right; your descendants are on the left. To move an ancestor to the main position, click the person’s name, and then click Tree. To expand the tree by two generations, click an arrow on the right. To view the couple’s children, other spouses, or other parents, hover your cursor over the couple’s names. Click the arrows that appear.

This view is good for adding new people to Family Tree.

 

Fan Chart: This is a colorful way to view your ancestors. Children are below the main person; ancestors fan out above. To move a different person into the center, hover your cursor near the name, and click the fan chart icon that appears.

This view makes it easy to see where you could add more generations to a family tree.

 

Portrait: This is a vertical pedigree with the pictures of your ancestors that users have added to Family Tree. Click the arrow pointing up to expand the tree two generations. To put a person in the main position, click the person’s name, and then click Tree.

This view helps you connect to your ancestors and makes them real.

 

Descendancy: This is a vertical list of a person’s descendants. To see a person’s descendants, put the person in the main position. Then to see the spouse and children, click the arrow pointing to the right. If the system identifies possible research or data problems, you will see the research suggestions icon:  or the data problem icon: . Click the icon for an explanation.

This view makes it easy to see people in your ancestors’ families who need information corrected or added.

 

For more information visit: “The Family History Guide,” Project 1, Goal 5.

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What Does None, Some, and Many Mean?

You may hear your pedigree chart be referred to as a None, Some, or Many Tree. These terms refer to how much information you have in your family tree.

None means your parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents are not in the family tree.

Strategy: Start by adding any missing information about your parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents.

Some means a few, but not all, of your parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents are in the family tree.

Strategy: Use records published on FamilySearch.org to find ancestors in the next few generations of your tree. The landscape view has direct links to record hints and research suggestions within the tree.

Many means you have many or most generations of my family tree are complete.

Strategy: Use descendancy view to look for the descendants of your early ancestors.

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Why Am I Not Connected to Anyone in the Tree?

Your Family Tree may come up blank because FamilySearch doesn’t have data to connect you to your ancestors. For privacy reasons, FamilySearch won’t display records of living people. You will need to build a bridge by adding in the names of the living people in between you and your deceased ancestors.

To learn more, watch this video:

 

 

For more information visit: “The Family History Guide,” Project 1, Goal 1, Choice F.

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How Do I Add a Person to Family Tree?

Adding a living person:

  • To add parents, go to Landscape view. Click Add husband or Add wife.
  • To add a child, go to the parent’s Details page (click the parent’s name and click Person). In the Family member section, click Add child.
  • When you click Add, the Add or Find Person screen is displayed.
  • If the person is living, do the following:
    1. Click the Add Person tab.
    2. Enter what you know about the person.
    3. Click Living.
      • Important: If you do not know if a person is deceased and the person was born in the last 110 years, click Living. After 110 years, you can assume they are deceased.
    4. Click Continue. The person is added to Family Tree.
      • Important: On Family Tree, only you will see the living people you add. This helps protect the privacy of the living people.

Adding a deceased person:

  1. Click the Find Person tab to see if the person is already in Family Tree.
  2. Add the person’s information, and search for the person.
  3. If you see the correct person in the search results, select the person. If the person is not in the search results, click Not a Match, and add the person to Family Tree.
  4. To display your spouse’s ancestors in your tree, first add your spouse and any of your spouse’s parents or grandparents who are living. After you have added the living people, add the deceased people as explained above. When you add a deceased person, the system will now display that person’s ancestors.
    • Tips for Adding a Person:
      1. For dates, you can use “About,” “Before,” or “After” with a year if you don’t know the exact date.
      2. If you need to enter names in Spanish, Portuguese, Cyrillic, or an Asian language, click Template, and select the language.

For more information visit: “The Family History Guide,” Project 1, Goal 7.

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How Can I See the Life Details about an Ancestor?

Using the Summary Card:

 

In Family Tree, when you click a person’s name, a summary card is displayed. Use the summary card to see different information about the ancestor. This is especially handy when you want to move from seeing generations to seeing information about a specific person.

  • To see generations of the person’s family, click Tree.
  • To see information about the person, click Person. This takes you to the person’s Details page.
  • To see the sources (records that provide information that have been attached to the person, click Sources.
  • To see the photos, stories, and documents that have been attached to the person, click Memories.

Using the Details Page:

 

The Details page shows information about a specific person. On the summary card, when you click Person, the system takes you to the person’s Details page.

On the Details page, you can:

  • See information about the person, including important events and family information.
  • Print pedigree charts, fan charts, and family group records.
  • Add people and information to the ancestor’s family.
  • Find possible records about the person.
  • Add sources to the person.

If you click Memories near the top of the screen, you will see the Memories page with all the photos, stories, and documents that users have added for the person.

For more information visit: “The Family History Guide,” Project 1, Goal 2.

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How Do I Add or Edit Information?

Any user can add or edit information. Where possible, attach sources to verify the information. When you add or edit information, you can explain why it is correct in a note.

  1. To edit a person’s information, go to the person’s Details page (click the name, and then click Person).
  2. On the person’s Details page, click the information, such as the name or date, and then on the right, click Edit. To add information, click the Add link.
  3. To edit marriage information, in the Family Members section, click Edit Couple. You can add or edit marriage or divorce information for the couple.
  4. To edit the relationship between parents and a child, hover the cursor over a child’s name, and click Edit Parents. Relationships can be adopted, biological, foster, guardianship, or step.

For more information visit: “The Family History Guide,” Project 1, Goals 6, 8, 9, and 10.

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How Do I View Possible Duplicates and Merge Records?

In Family Tree, sometimes a person has more than one record. These are called possible duplicates. You can merge the records into one record and keep the best information.

  1. To check for possible duplicates, go to the person’s Details page (click the name, and then click Person).
  2. On the right, click Possible Duplicates. This will show information from the record you started from and from the possible duplicates.
  3. Select Review Merge (if you think it may be a duplicate record), or Not a Match (if the records are not about the same person).
  4. When you select Review Merge, the record you started with is on the left, and the possible duplicate is on the right.
    • Important: When you are finished, only the information on the left is kept.
  5. Compare each piece of information, and decide which information you want to keep. If the information on the right side is more complete or accurate, click Replace or Add to move it to the left side. If the information on the right side is the same as or not as good as the information on the left side, click Reject.
  6. When you are done, scroll to the bottom, and click the button to finish the merge.

For more information about duplicates visit “The Family History Guide,” Project 1, Goal 11, Choice A.

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How Do I Know If My Ancestor Needs Temple Ordinances Performed?

  1. On the Summary Card, you can see what ordinances have been performed and which ones are still available.
    • The different colored boxes will show you what stage each ordinance is at.
  2. If your ancestor needs an ordinance to be performed, click on the ordinance.
  3. The Ordinance screen will open. Click Request Ordinances.
  4. Select the ordinance you want to perform and click Request.
  5. Review Church Policy for requesting ordinances. Check the box next stating you have read and will comply with Church Temple Ordinance Policy.
  6. Click Add to Temple Ordinance List. When you are ready to print the Family Ordinance Card, click Temple at the top of the screen.

For more information visit: “The Family History Guide,” Project 1, Goal 1, Choice B.

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Who Can I Do Ordinance Work For?

For persons born in the last 110 years, the following requirements must be met:

  • The person must have been deceased for at least one year.
  • You must be either one of the closest living relatives, or you must obtain permission from one of the closest living relatives. If you are not a spouse, child, parent, or sibling of the deceased, please obtain permission from one of the closest living relatives before doing the ordinances. The closest living relatives are an undivorced spouse (the spouse to whom the individual was married when he or she died), an adult child, a parent, or a brother or sister.

Verbal approval is acceptable. Family members should work together to determine when the ordinances will be done and who will do them.

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What Additional Information Do I Need about an Ancestor If the Ordinance Page Says “Needs More Information”?

To reserve an ordinance, you need the following information about your ancestor:

  • First or last name
  • Gender
  • Date of birth, christening, marriage, or death
  • Place of birth, christening, marriage, or death
  • Death status

A symbol may also cause Needs More Information error. For more information visit, “Names and symbols causing Need More Information error.”

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How Do I Print a Family Ordinance Card?

You can print Family Ordinance Cards from your home printer and take them to the temple to complete the ordinance.

  1. At the top of the screen, click Temple, and click All Reserved. The ordinances you have reserved are listed.
    • Tip: The ordinance box colors indicate the status of the ordinances. To see what each colors means, click Legend near the top right of the screen.
  2. Click the check box next to each name you want to print. Then click Print. (Note: The Print button does not display until after you click the check box.)
  3. Select Print Family Ordinance Cards to print the ordinance card at home.
  4. Click Continue, and follow the instructions on the screen.

To learn more, watch this video:

 

 

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