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Getting Started with Family History

Here are the main things you need to know as you get started.

First, start filling in the blanks.

Just enter what you know about your parents and grandparents. We'll help you add details to your family story.

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My Family History Consultants:

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My Family History Center(s):

What is Family Tree and how do I use it?

Family Tree is a social network that connects people with their ancestors. This free, community-based family history tool provides a single place for people to store information about their ancestors and collaborate with others working on the same family lines.

All the names, dates, photos, stories, and sources saved in Family Tree will be preserved, making them available for generations to come.

View My tree

What information is needed to submit a name?

Information needed for temple ordinances
  • the given name or the surname of your ancestor
  • the person's gender
  • enough informaiton to uniquely identify the person (such as dates, places, and names and relationships of other family members).
For a sealing to a spouse
  • the given name or surname of the spouse.
For a sealing to parents
  • the given name of the parents.


As you identify ancestors, record as much information about them as you can. Details can provide clues to help you discover more information about your ancestors.

If a deceased person was born within the last 110 years, permission from the closest living relative must be obtained. The closest living relatives are a spouse, children, parents, and siblings.

For whom can I perform ordinances?

You may perform temple ordinances for deceased persons one year or more after their date of death.


  • 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.

*If a deceased person was born within the last 110 years, permission from the closest living relative must be obtained. The closest living relatives are a spouse, children, parents, and siblings.


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.

Where can I find more information on my ancestor?

There are two main places to search for details about your family story:

Family Tree
Explare Family Tree to discover what has already been added about your ancestors. This includes names, dates, photos, stories, documents,s and any sources that have been added to verify information.

Family Tree also provides person-specific, automated searching in the form of Record Hints, found throughout Family Tree, and Research Help, found on an ancestor's person page.

The Search tab, available from any page in FamilySearch, allows you to examine historical records for details about your ancestors. These resources include official church (i.e. birth, marriage, death) and governmanetal (i.e. census) records that can help fill in gaps in your family story.

Why is some information about my living ancestors missing?

To protect the privacy rights of living people, Family Tree limits the amount of informaiton you can see about them. Some things to understand:

  • Your tree contains information from your church membership records.
  • Some living relatives to whom your Church membership is connected may have also been added.
  • Changes made in Family Tree will not update any membership information.
  • You can add information about living individuals to your Family Tree. When you add them you will be the only one who can see your copy of that individual.