3 Easy Steps to Starting on FamilySearch.org

How To Start on FamilySearch

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Welcome to Tenacious Genealogy! I’m glad you’ve arrived! I’m your guide, Laura Nelson, and in this blog post, I’m going to focus on FamilySearch.

This is going to be the first of several posts on various genealogical websites.  If you are already familiar with FamilySearch, check out my other blog posts here. This post, however, I intend to be a basic introduction to FamilySearch.

FamilySearch 101

 5 awesome things to know about FamilySearch:
  • FamilySearch.org is one of the two major genealogy websites used in the United States. (The other being Ancestry.com)
  • It is free to join and free to use.
  • Run by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) (AKA Mormons), it has a lot of genealogical information behind it.
  • It has been around since 1999, so it is also one of the more established websites out there.
  • Because it is operated by the LDS Church, it offers (free) access to one of the largest collections of genealogical records in the world. (It doesn’t have everything, but enough to get most people started.)

One of the big things to remember about FamilySearch, whether you are a newbie or veteran, is that it is the genealogical equivalent of Wikipedia. That is… most of the information on the website is crowdsourced, so to speak. Members of the website can add, edit, and delete information (such as names, vital record dates, relationships, etc) to the different ‘ancestor’ records. This is why I recommend having more than one family tree (either on another genealogy website or via pen and paper) with your genealogical information in it. I’ll explain more in my future Tips and Tricks post, but viewing FamilySearch as a crowd-sourced genealogy website will help immensely in using the site. Another way in which FamilySearch is like Wikipedia is that ideally, each ancestor is supposed to have ONE record – just as there is one page per subject on Wikipedia.

1) CREATING AN ACCOUNT

First things first, however. Head over to their website on FamilySearch.org. Click on the ‘Free Account’ button.

NOTE: If you are LDS, just click the ‘Sign In’ link next to the ‘Free Account’ button. You can then sign in with your LDS Account. It’s easy, simple, and secure. (Plus you have one less password to worry about.)

Then, on the signup page, go through the three step process to sign up.
Either way, once you are finished, you will end up on the ‘Sign In’ page, which looks like this.

Sign in with your Username and Password OR if you have an LDS Account, click on the ‘Sign In with LDS Account’ below. (Technically, you don’t have to sign in with your LDS Account, if you don’t want to, but it makes things easier.)

Once you are in, you’ll immediately see your dashboard. (If you are just starting, you won’t all the boxes I have here, those will generate as you expand your family tree and add information to relatives.)

Move your mouse over the ‘Family Tree’ button at the top and you will see five options in the pull-down menu. The first will be ‘Tree’ and that’s the option you’ll want to click on first.

Here is where you will start creating your family tree.

2) ADDING FAMILY

Since you most likely won’t have any people connected to you, start with your immediate family – parents, (spouse and children if those apply), grandparents, etc.
You can do this by either clicking on the ‘Add…’ icon or clicking on the ‘Children’ button, and scrolling to the ‘Add Child’ option.
When you go to add a person (for example, a parent), a screen (like the one below) will pop up where you can fill in basic information like name, birth date, location, etc.

 

Depending on whether the person you are adding is living or deceased, the process can go two ways:
  • If the person is identified as living, the date of death and place of death are grayed out. The next section will usually tell you that there are no other matches, allowing you to create a new person/record.
  • If the person is identified as dead, you will see a list of ‘possible matches’ based on the information given (as shown below). Click the ‘Add Person’ (if one of the matches is your relative) and the record will be attached to your family tree. Otherwise, the top box is the information you input, and you are able to create a new person/record from that information.

 3) SEARCHING

The last step is to search for records about your ancestor. (If your family is anything like mine, you’ll end up doing this step quite a bit.) Thankfully, searching on FamilySearch is more user-friendly now as the website has been updated over the years.

The easiest way to start searching for information on an ancestor is to either:

Option 1: go to the Search page via the icon at the top of your dashboard

 Or Option 2: go to the individual’s record and check for record hints in the right-hand box designated ‘Research Help’ or search for records at any of the four genealogy sites listed in the ‘Search Records’:

The biggest difference between these two methods is that:
  • Option #1 lets you manually fill in all the information for an ancestor, regardless of whether FamilySearch has that information.
  • Option #2 auto-fills all the information in that ancestor’s FamilySearch’s record into the Search function of whichever site you choose. It will also show you possible records for your ancestor that are in FamilySearch’s collection.
 And that’s how you start with FamilySearch!

If you are curious for more tips and tricks, or more advanced ways to use FamilySearch.org, check back to see my future post that delves further into navigating the website and its resources.

Questions or comments about FamilySearch?

Feel free to leave your question or comment in the comment section below!

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