I’m excited to be sharing a new series with you about how to find names for the temple. This follows the chapters in our new book, Find Names for the Temple: A Step-by-Step Method for Success. To view all the articles detailing each step, click here: Find Names for the Temple Articles. Here are each of the steps:
Part 1: Review the Accuracy of Your Tree
Part 3: Analyze Descendancy Trees
Part 6: Reserve Temple Ordinances
To view all the articles detailing each step, click here: Find Names for the Temple Articles.
The Importance of Accuracy
“Let us present in his holy temple, when it is finished, a book containing the records of our dead, which shall be worthy of all acceptation.”
– Doctrine and Covenants 128:24
The first step to finding names for the temple is to ensure the links in your family tree are accurate. Temple work should only be completed for our own relatives! Think of this step as building a firm foundation. We don’t want to build our temple work on a sandy foundation that gets washed away when we realize we are not related to an ancestor that was added erroneously.
FamilySearch Family Tree is a collaborative family tree. You may not know how other contributors came to their conclusions. This is why it is important to review the relationships in your family tree to make sure you agree with the conclusions and the ancestors who have been added.
Below are some basic steps to do this. It may be helpful during this process to print a fan chart to keep track of who you have reviewed. Once you confirm that the parent-child relationship looks correct, you can check them off. For those who you cannot confirm, add a question mark or make a note to return to that ancestor later.
I printed the fan chart for my grandpa’s side of the family to start there. I checked off all the relationships that know are correct. The ones that I didn’t know, I viewed the sources in FamilySearch. When there still wasn’t enough info to verify the relationship, I made a note or a question mark.
Review Each Ancestral Relationship
Start with yourself and work your way back to your great-grandparents. If you don’t have firsthand knowledge of these relationships, ask your close relatives. Your grandparents or other relatives may have added “memories” to FamilySearch which contain biographies and life sketches of ancestors. I have found many biographies of my ancestors which a distant cousin uploaded. Often they were written by a the ancestor’s child or grandchild.
Review the Sources
Once you have traced your tree backward to ancestors whose names you don’t recognize and no one you know remembers, you can review sources. The sources attached to your ancestor’s person page in FamilySearch can help determine the accuracy of the parent-child relationships.
FamilySearch Family Tree has a section for sources in each profile. Click on every source and read the transcription and reason statement telling why it was attached. Click on the image and read the actual document.
I have created a video that walks you through the process of looking at the sources attached to your ancestors and deciding if the parent-child relationship is correct.
For example, I wanted to review the relationships on my Great Grandmother’s side. Her name is Ettie Belle Harris. I have heard stories about Ettie Belle Harris. She died when she was only about 50, so my mom didn’t know her, but we know she was a kind woman who shared freely of what she had even though she and her family were migrant workers during the Great Depression. I have a picture of Ettie and her mother, Alice Frazier, so the relationship between Ettie and Alice is proven by photos and memories of people that I know.
Alice’s parents’ names, Richard Frazier and Nancy Elizabeth Briscoe, which are listed in FamilySearch Family Tree, are not familiar to me.
I checked the sources listed on Alice’s person page to make sure the relationship between her and her parents is correct. I also reviewed the sources attached to her parents and siblings.
The person page of Alice Frazier shows five sources. I clicked on each source, and read the transcription. You can also view the original image of the documents, if available.
Here’s the evidence I found in Alice’s sources:
- 1900 Census: Alice Frazier is listed as “daughter” of Richard Frazier and Nancy E. Frazier. Several siblings to Alice are also listed. This seems to match what is listed in FamilySearch.
- No marriage record was attached to Richard Frazier and Nancy E. Briscoe, so I wasn’t sure where the information for Nancy’s maiden name came from.
- When I checked the sources for Nancy E. Briscoe, I found a death record for one of her sons (Alice’s brother William Coloway “W.C.” Frazier) which lists his mother’s name as “Nancy Brisco.” Now I know where the maiden name information came from!
This census shows Richard and Nancy E. Frazier were the parents of a daughter named Alice, and that they had several other children as well, including William, whose death record contained his mother’s maiden name.
Nancy E. Briscoe’s person page shows a source for her son W.C. Frazier’s death record. That death record contains the maiden name of Nancy.
The evidence in the 1900 census and the death record of Alice’s brother make it clear to me that Alice Frazier is the daughter of Richard Frazier and Nancy Elizabeth Briscoe, so I’m ready to move on. I can check off the relationship between Alice and her parents as confirmed.
Locate Sources of Information
If there are no sources attached to one of your ancestors, this is a clue that they have not been thoroughly researched or the research was not shared on FamilySearch Family Tree. There are several things you can do to determine which sources the information came from.
- Contact the FamilySearch users who are listed in the recent changes of your ancestor’s profile and ask for the sources they used.
- Look for research that has already been shared on other family tree sharing sites. These include Ancestry, MyHeritage, Wiki Tree, RootsWeb, FindMyPast,
- Research the person to find original records. I will go over how to start a research project in part 4 of this series.
Tools That Help
FamilySearch Family Tree Icons
When in landscape, portrait, and descendancy views, FamilySearch Family Tree displays icons next to relatives who have record hints, research suggestions, or data problems.
The icons in FamilySearch landscape view can help you find data problems, record hints, research opportunities, and more.
You can use these icons to help you determine the accuracy of relationships. For example, if your sixth great grandfather is showing the red data problems icon, click the icon to learn more. The message might read, “Birth before father could have children: the child’s birth year occurs before the father was at least 12.” Review the sources and evidence between this child and father before proceeding to research beyond this relationship.
So that’s it! You may just want to start by reviewing the first four generations of your tree. If you have a very full tree, you may want to wait to review the rest of the relationships until you have decided which line to focus on with your descendancy research. At that point, it’s a good idea to review each relationship leading to the ancestor who will be your starting point.
Preview of Part 2: Analyze Your Pedigree
Next week I will share the next step in the process to find names for the temple: Analyze Your Pedigree. This step is about determining whether your tree is partial or full. If your tree is partial, and you can proceed with ancestral research, that’s what you’ll do next. If your tree is full, then you’ll proceed with descendancy research. If your tree is very full with many early Mormon ancestors, then you’ll trace each line of your tree back to the first LDS convert, then make a list of their parents and relatives who were not LDS. You will start with these non-LDS ancestors for your descendancy research. See you next week!
No more Find-A-Record. I was working through this blog post to make my own Family Search lesson for church tomorrow, and saw the Find-A-Record paragraph, searched for Find-A-Record, and found this:
Basically, it says they are no more. Guess the only constant is change, huh? I’m still trying to work out just when it is we are supposed to teach Family History in 2019! Everything changes!!
I’ve used your technique for a number of years as I hit some of my own ancestral brick walls and started looking at descendents. I’ve been impressed that the church has improved some of their tools to assist in doing descendency research by highlighting sources, and reading through already placed sources and seeing if it makes sense, or is plausible. There are still many who enthusiastically attach people who have similar names, but don’t use some of the positive and negatives clues that can help sort things out.
One site that I’ve used for helping to excite people is https://puzzilla.org/ (Puzzilla.org) which has a “freemium” model and is a trusted associate with familysearch.org. Some functionality exists as a free user (with your familysearch credentials) and there are premium (paid-subscription) functions as well. They have a video that shows you how it works, but basically there are two “modes”. One is a fan-chart mode, similar to what you’ve seen elsewhere and shows ancestors of a desired person (you can pick anybody). One is a “generational descendency” mode that is entered when you select an ancestor from the fan-chart mode, and then select Descendents. That descendent is placed in the middle of a chart that fans out and shows descendents in concentric rings going outwards. In other words, the first “level” shows immediate descendents (children) of that initial ancestor you wanted to explore descendents of. The next ring (or level) is THEIR children (grandchildren of the selected ancestor). The next ring is the great-grandchildren, etc.
Now, this won’t show mistakes, but you can look for “negative space”, or places where it is empty, and suggests that there may be descendents to look for there (unless you find the person died without having children). But you can quickly see the descendents of a selected person, and that can excite people as to the possibilities!
In addition, there are options to show sources, and in my quickly looking there tonight, it appears they have a new feature that can analyze sources to look for “new persons” that don’t exist in their family tree structure. I haven’t analyzed this, but it’s described here: https://puzzilla.org/newPersonService.pdf and has pictures as well to help explain. My guess is that it checks all attached and possible sources shown attached to a person, and steps through them one by one to see if there are any names that show up in those sources that may not be reflected in the tree. That can occur when someone has partially attached a source to a family. Or a source is seen with names attached that aren’t seen in the family tree.
This graphically allows people to easily look at their tree upward and downward for many generations, and can excite people to see just how big descendency trees can get – from just 1 ancestor! So there is LOTS of potential for work to be done in the temple!
I did an experiment once with an ancestor born in 1805 and choosing 4 generations and took a screen chart and counted the number of descents that were visible in the chart (82 total, including the selected ancestor). Then I started doing source information on descendents, and when I was done, I found:
3 new descendents 2 generations down,
18 new descendents 3 generations down
33 new descendents 4 generations down
And while I regretfully didn’t look at 5 and 6 generations down before I started, I had:
22 new descendents shown 5 generations down,
3 new descendents shown 6 generations down (this got into living people, hence the fewer numbers)
I now had 161 people shown! Imagine looking for a sibling to that ancestor (because they’re a descendent of your ancestor’s parent), and all THEIR descendents. The possibilities are STAGGERING!
The visual format of this makes if very easy to show the sheer numbers of descendents an ancestor, and you’re BOUND to find SOMEONE, if you look methodically!
I also tie in my research with newspaper articles. I attach them as sources as well either hand, or by using a VERY handy tool attached to a browser bar called “RecordSeek” (https://recordseek.com/) which can use to EASILY attach a source to a person in familysearch or Ancestry! It works in MANY browsers!
Nicole, thank you (and your mother) for sharing your wisdom and knowledge! My first exposure to you both was a podcast where you and your mother spoke about becoming an accredited genealogist, and making up detailed books/binders for localities and records. It was very extensive and “exciting”. My wife says I should do this work for others and get paid, but there are a number of reasons I don’t. (I’m working full time right now, and family history work is a fun hobby, and I don’t want to spoil the fun part of it by working for others.) I’ve had work done for me by other genealogists in areas I couldn’t get to easily, and the quality was…. less than hoped for. If they had asked me what I had already found and what sources I had, it might have gone further in finding new materials. They delivered mostly already-found records, although they found originals, not the extracts and compiled resources I had found. I love that you have a book out there to advance the research skills of others, and I hope they take advantage of it!
This is incredibly valuable information! The process, strategy, and approach is as applicable today as it was in 2018! Finding and taking a family name that you have researched and sourced is so rewarding! Already, I can see how this process will help create connections for me. I have a lot of clean-up work with Swedish records and it is so easy to get confused. Thank you!