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Temple records sometimes show important clues about Latter-day Saint pioneers and their ancestors that cannot be found in other records. This includes the names, birth dates, and birthplaces of parents, grandparents, and other relatives. You can also verify information about an endowment, sealing to parents, and sealing to spouse. During the 19th century many pioneer women took out their endowments using their married names and not their maiden name, therefore, you should search for female endowments using both a women’s maiden name and married name. These records will help you identify ancestors who may still need ordinances, and avoid unnecessary duplication of ordinances for others. You can also find proxy temple ordinances completed by pioneers for their ancestors.
Temple records were created to document completed ordinances. Some ordinances were done in special places. For example a few proxy baptisms were done in the Mississippi River, and sealings to spouse were done at Winter Quarters in Iowa, and at various places after the pioneers arrived in Utah.
The earliest "temple" records are proxy baptisms for the dead performed in the Mississippi River in 1840. Many early Latter-day Saints went to the temple in Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1845 or 1846 to receive their own endowments. You can find temple records of sealings to spouse and a few sealings to parents as early as 1846 in Nauvoo. Proxy endowments for the dead began in 1877 in the St. George Temple in Utah. For additional details about early temples see the following Early Temple Record Chronology table.
|Temple||Baptisms for the Dead||Endowments for the Living||Endowments for the Dead||Sealings to Parents||Sealings to Spouse|
|Pre-Nauvoo||Sep 1840 - 31 Oct 1841||4 May 1842 Red Brick Store||
|Nauvoo||21 Nov 1841–9 Jan 1845||10 Dec 1845–7 Feb 1846||
||11 Jan 1846–4 Feb 1846||7 Jan 1846–7 Feb 1846|
|Winter Quarters, & President’s Office||
||8 Nov 1846–1855|
|Endowment House||25 Jul 1867–26 Oct 1876||1855–1876, 1878–1884||
|St. George, Utah||9 Jan 1877–||11 Jan 1877–||11 Jan 1877–||22 Mar 1877–||11 Jan 1877–|
|Logan, Utah||21 May 1884–||21 May 1884–||21 May 1884–||21 May 1884–||21 May 1884–|
|Manti, Utah||29 May 1888–||30 May 1888–||30 May 1888–||6 Jun 1888–||30 May 1888–|
|Salt Lake City,Utah||23 May 1893–||24 May 1893–||24 May 1893–||8 Apr 1893–||23 Apr 1893–|
|Hawaii||2 Dec 1919–||3 Dec 1919–||3 Dec 1919–||3 Dec 1919–||3 Dec 1919–|
|Alberta||6 Nov 1923–||29 Aug 1923–||29 Aug 1923–||29 Aug 1923–||29 Aug 1923–|
|Arizona||26 Oct 1927–||27 Oct 1927–||27 Oct 1927–||27 Oct 1927–||27 Oct 1927–|
For information about temples from the Kirtland Temple (1836) to the Oakland Temple (1964) see Laureen Jaussi’s Genealogy Fundamentals cited fully in LDS For Further Reading.
Jaussi, Laureen R., and Gloria D. Chaston. Register of Genealogical Society Call Numbers. 2 vols. Provo, Utah: Genealogy Tree, 1982. (FHL book 979.2258 A3j; fiche 6031507). These volumes contain the film numbers for many (but not all) membership and temple record films.
Temple records correctly record the ordinance being performed but other information is not always accurate. For example, if asked for his baptism date, a temple visitor may have depended on his memory to estimate a date. Also when a pioneer ancestor was cut off by his family for joining the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints he or she would have themselves sealed, as a child, to one of the Church Leaders. Where possible, genealogical information listed in temple records should be verified in original records.
When you use temple records, you are likely to see the following key terminology:
or F.R.: This usually means the submitter, however, sometimes it refers to the heir.
For the dead
An ordinance performed by a living person acting as a proxy for a dead person.
The name of a family member (usually one of the first members of the Church in a family) in whose name temple work was submitted. A small "d" after the name means the heir is dead.
In the instance of
or inst of: Some temples used these terms as a synonym for heir. In other temples, it means the actual submitter.
An ordinance performed by an individual during his or her lifetime, even if he or she is now dead.
The couple is at the temple to be married and sealed at the same time.
A couple who were married earlier in a civil ceremony are now at the temple to be sealed.
An individual who acts in behalf of a deceased person in receiving temple ordinances.
A register of couples who were married civilly and then sealed in the temple. They signed a signature book and wrote down the date and place of the civil marriage. See "Signature Books" in the "Vital Records" section in the wiki.
Access to Temple Records
Most temple records are available to the public. For example, about 75 percent of temple records have no restrictions and can be used at the Family History Library and at Family History Centers.
Only about 20 percent of temple records are restricted, especially records that include information about living people. Restricted temple microfilms are housed in the Special Collections room in the Family History Library, on the B2 floor, and do not circulate to Family History Centers. The hours for Special Collections is the same as for theFamily History Library.
Restricted temple records can be used in Special Collections by Latter-day Saints with a current temple recommend (a limited use temple recommend is also approved). Also, members without a current recommend can bring a letter from their Bishop stating they are a member in good standing. Information from Special Collections records is not available by telephone, or through the mail. If you cannot visit Special Collections in person, you can ask a friend or relative with a temple recommend to visit special collections for you, or hire a professional researcher with a temple recommend.
The Membership Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not have access to temple ordinance films. They will, however, provide ordinance information for any member who has died since 1975 and for whom they have verification of death. Telephone the membership department at 801-240-3500 for more information.
General Indexes to Proxy Temple Records
Most temple records are in chronological order. If you do not know the date you will need to use an index.
Ordinance Index (1840–1997).
The Ordinance Index and Ordinances Index pages is part of the FamilySearch. In 1969 the Church started listing all new proxy ordinances in the Computer File Index. Later this became the International Genealogical Index. In 1998 the ordinances from the International Genealogical Index were transferred to the Ordinance Index. Recently many proxy ordinances before 1970 were added. Search the FamilySearch for
Archives Sheets (1942–1969).
This has five million family group record forms submitted for proxy temple work from between 1942 and 1969. The families are listed alphabetically by the father’s name and serve as an index to proxy baptisms, endowments, sealings to spouse, and sealings to parents. These microfilms are not restricted and can be used instead of the restricted ordinance films with the same ordinance dates. For more information see "Family Group Records Collection."
This important source is sometimes called the TIB.
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Temple Records Index Bureau.Endowment Index, 1842–1969. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1973, 1975, 1977–1979, 1991. (On 3081 FHL films beginning with 1267592). It is restricted. This indexes more than 30 million people who received their endowments in life or by proxy from 1842 to 1970. These films are available at Brigham Young University, and in Special Collections at the Family History Library. For more information on how to use this index see:
A Brief Guide to the Temple Records Index Bureau. Revised Edition. Research Papers (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Genealogical Department), SeriesF, no. 2. Salt Lake City, Utah: The Department, 1976. (FHL book 929.1 G286gs Ser. F No. 2 1976; fiche 6031506). This is a 16-page guide.
Before 1958 each temple also kept separate indexes to proxy ordinances performed in their temple. Proxy baptisms, proxy endowments, proxy sealing to spouse, and sealings to parents each have a separate set of heir index. They index the name of the first member of the family to join the Church. This person is referred to by the term heir (or instance of).
The value of heir indexes. The heir indexes will lead you to early proxy ordinances done for the relatives and ancestors of the heirs. This ordinances may have clues about relationships, names, dates, and places which cannot be found elsewhere.
When to use heir indexes. Heir indexes are a "last resort" because they are not easy to use. It is worthwhile to search heir indexes only if you (1) cannot find an ordinance in the general indexes listed previously, (2) cannot find it in the genealogy sources listed in LDS Genealogy, (3) believe the ordinance was completed, (4) believe you know the temple and approximate date of the ordinance, and (5) can determine who the early converts to the Church were (heirs or the family representatives).
How to determine the heir or family representative. To use an heir index you must determine who the heir is. Sometimes there is more than one. The easiest way to find who the heir might be is to try looking up the name of several ancestors in the Individual Search of the Ordinance Index. Some of the people listed on the right side of the results screen have Re: in front of their name. Anyone with Re: (Relative) by their name is an heir you could search for in an heir index.
How to use heir indexes. After each heir’s name is a list of all the pages where the ordinance work appears for the heir’s family (for the years covered by that index). Use this information to look up the original volume and pages of the proxy temple records. Find the name of the heir in the middle of the page, and then look on the left side to find the deceased individuals for whom proxy ordinances were performed.
Be prepared to search several heir indexes. You will have to search a separate set of heir indexes for each ordinance: baptisms, endowments, sealings to parents, or sealing to spouse. You can also look at heir indexes in several temples.
How to find heir indexes. All proxy ordinance indexes before 1958 are heir indexes (except for proxy endowments to 1898 at the St. George Temple). Heir index microfilm numbers are mentioned in the same Family History Library Catalog entry as the proxy temple records they index. Look in the Subject Search under:
TEMPLE RECORDS— [TEMPLE]
Proxy Temple Records
If you do not know the temple or the date, use the Ordinance Index to find this information.
You can find film numbers for original temple records in the Subject Search of the
TEMPLE RECORDS— [TEMPLE]
Now look for the ordinance you want to check. At the beginning of the entry, you will find the film numbers for heir indexes to those ordinances. Most proxy ordinance records are on microfilm at the Family History Library, and at Family History Centers, except as noted below.
These volumes also may contain the film numbers for many (but not all) temple record films.
Jaussi, Laureen R., and Gloria D. Chaston. Register of Genealogical Society Call Numbers. 2 vols. Provo, Utah: Genealogy Tree, 1982. (FHL book 979.2258 A3j; fiche 6031507).
Proxy baptisms were recorded in registers from the 1840s to the 1940s. The registers may list the following information for the deceased person: name, birth date and place, date of death, when baptized, the name of heir or proxy, and their relationship to this person, by whom baptized, by whom confirmed, the witnesses, and the recorder. Males and females are often listed separately.
Starting in the 1940s microfilms of "Baptismal Certificates/Statements" do not show baptisms and are of no genealogical value. Do not order proxy baptism microfilms after the dates in the following table. After the dates below, the baptism date became part of the endowment record.
Proxy endowments were first performed in the St. George Temple in 1877. The endowment registers may list the deceased person’s name, birth date and place, the date of death, date baptized and confirmed, heir or proxy, and their relationship to the deceased, and by whom ordained to the Melchizedek priesthood.
Men and women are listed separately. You may need to check the same film in several places or you may need to check separate films.
During the 1940's, temples began to use a new recording system without separate registers for proxy baptisms and endowments. Baptismal dates were stamped on the endowment card. When the endowment was completed and the date recorded, these cards were then filmed in chronological order. Men and women are often listed separately. These films may be difficult to use.
You might be more successful if you use the Archive Section instead. The archive sheets have the same information, and are arranged alphabetically by the father’s name. Women would be listed under their father’s or husband’s name. Men may be under their own name or under their father’s name. Rubber stamped dates are considered valid. See LDS Genealogy for more information.
Proxy sealings to spouse in this period are restricted, because they included couples where one spouse was alive. These records give the name of the individuals who were sealed, when and where born, when died, the name of heir or proxy, when sealed, by whom, and the witnesses.
Proxy Sealings to Parents (Pre-1940's).
Proxy sealings to parents in this period are restricted, because living and proxy ordinances are mixed together. These registers list the names of persons sealed, when and where born, when died, to whom sealed, the name of the heir or proxy, by whom sealed, the and witnesses.
Proxy sealings for this time period are restricted, because living and proxy ordinances are mixed together. These microfilms contain family group record forms and are difficult to use.
If someone on the sheet was alive. The ordinance records are usually arranged by date of the ordinances. You may have to search the ordinance records name by name.
If everyone on the sheet was dead. For proxy ordinances where everyone on the sheet was dead, use the sheets in the Archive Section instead. The archive sheets have the same information (but not restricted), and are arranged alphabetically by the father’s name. Rubber stamped dates are considered valid. See LDS Genealogy for more information.
Proxy Temple Records (1970–1991)
Ordinances from 1970 to 1991 are difficult to verify. Ordinances were processed using many different systems. Each type was put on a separate set of films. For more information see Laureen Jaussi’s book Genealogy Fundamentals cited fully in "For Further Reading. Chapters 26 to 34, pages 214–324 give a fairly accurate explanation of how to verify ordinance dates in this time period. These chapters also give the history of names processing.
Proxy Temple Records (1991–1997)
Verifying the proxy ordinances after 1991 with a microfilm is not useful. All of the information that is currently available about each ordinance is loaded directly from temple data into the Ordinance Index. This same information is then filmed. The film contains exactly the same information as the Ordinance Index. No additional information is given. The information about who submitted the work, or what source was used, is not available.
Living Temple Records
An ordinance is considered "living" if the person did the ordinance during his or her lifetime. This includes people who are now dead.
Respect Privacy. Please respect the privacy of people who are still living. The best way to do this is to ask a person to help verify her or his own temple ordinances. It is unethical to research the temple ordinance information of another living person without his or her express permission.
Living Baptisms (1829–present)
While most living baptisms are not performed in the temple, baptism is part of the information often verified by submitters before contributing four-generation information to Ancestral File.
Baptisms (Before 1983). See LDS Membership Records for more information.
Baptisms (After 1983). Information concerning your baptism is only available to you from your current ward or branch clerk. You may also get baptism information for your immediate family if they are under 18, living in your household, unmarried, and in your custody.
Salt Lake Tabernacle Baptisms (1907–1960). Some people living in the Salt Lake Valley were baptized in the Salt Lake Tabernacle. Their baptism was recorded in:
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake Tabernacle. Baptisms of the Living, 1907–1960. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1961. (FHL films 241136–40). Names are listed by year and alphabetically by stake. These records are not restricted.
Records of living endowments in the Nauvoo Temple are not restricted and are available in the Family History Library and to Family History Centers:
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Temple Records Index Bureau. Nauvoo Temple Endowment Register: 10 December 1845 to 8 February 1846. Salt Lake City, Utah 1974. (FHL book Q 977.343/N1 K29c; fiche 604126). This is a typescript of handwritten Nauvoo endowment and sealing records. Includes index . Women are usually listed by their married name, and sometimes by their maiden name. This was indexed in the Early Church Information File.
All other endowments for the living are restricted and are only available in the Special Collections room of the Family History Library.
Living Sealing to Spouse Records (1841–present)
Living sealing films are restricted. The sealing information for the Nauvoo Temple, President’s Office and the Endowment House have been extracted and appear on the Ordinance Index. You may want to view the original records to see if there is additional birth or parent information which does not appear in the Ordinance Index.
It is easy to look in the wrong section for the sealing you need. Check the catalog and the film to see if licensed sealings and previously married entries are:
- mixed together on one film.
- on the same film in separate sections, or
- on separate films.
Also see Signature Books in LDS Vital Records.
Living Sealings to Parents Records (1846, 1877–present)
Sealings to parents are restricted and only available in Special Collections at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.