Ancestral File

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Description and brief history of the Ancestral File product.

The information found in the original Ancestral File is now part of the FamilySearch database. It contains lineage-linked names and other genealogically important information, such as the dates and place names for the birth, marriage, or death of millions of individuals. Ancestral File contains submissions from all around the world. Names are organized into family groups and pedigrees. Because of privacy laws, personal information about living individuals will not be displayed.

Records in the Ancestral File were submitted by patrons who often provided contact information. Most of these records were submitted before 1991, so the contact information for many submitters may be out of date or the person who submitted the original information may no longer be living. Because of that, some of the contact information may no longer be accurate. 

Data that was submitted to Ancestral File does not include notes and source information. Submissions that were added to Ancestral File have been merged with other data files, some of which were submitted by other submitters. Additions and corrections to the data from the orginal Ancestral File is no longer possible. Data in the File has not been verified and should only be used as a starting point for additional research.

Each record in Ancestral File is given a unique Ancestral File Number (AFN). The existence of an AFN in the source field of a FamilySearch record indicates that some or all of the information came from the Ancestral File. The AFN number is often useful when merging duplicate records, because a matching AFN indicates a high probability that the record is a duplicate. Some genealogy programs, such as Personal Ancestral File (PAF), can automatically merge duplicate AFNs.

To access Ancestral File, either click here, or follow these steps:

  1. Go to
  2. Click on the Family Trees link 
  3. Type in your query - the results will include Ancestral File results