Find Names for the Temple Part 3: Analyze Descendancy Trees
This is week 3 in the Find Names for the Temple Series! You can find the other posts here:
Part 3: Analyze Descendancy Trees
To view all the articles detailing each step, click here: Find Names for the Temple Articles.
After making a list of ancestors for starting points in descendancy research in Part 2, it’s time to create descendancy trees for each of them. You’ll then count the number of Puzzilla targets, which are suggestions for research starting points. These targets or starting points are relatives who have no spouse or children listed. If you can find a spouse or a child, then you have found a new person needing temple ordinances!
Here is the list we created in the last step.
As you can see, we need to finish filling out the last two columns, “# of Targets” and “Candidates for Further Research.” You can find the # of targets by viewing a Puzzilla tree. You can find candidates for further research by viewing either the FamilySearch Family Tree in descendancy view, or a Puzzilla descendancy tree.
View Descendancy Trees
There are two main ways to view a descendancy tree, Puzzilla and FamilySearch Family Tree descendancy view. A descendancy tree places an ancestor or ancestral couple at the top and lists their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and so on. You can choose how many generations of descendants to view.
FamilySearch Descendancy View
One way to view a descendancy tree is to use the FamilySearch Family Tree in descendancy view. Choose one of the ancestors on your list and find them in Family Tree. Click on them to view their family tree. Switch to descendancy view and you will see a page of up to four generations of descendants for that ancestral couple. You can choose how many generations you would like to view at a time. You can also click “options” to show or hide the portraits. If you hide the portraits, your descendancy view will be more compact.
One of the benefits of using FamilySearch descendancy view is seeing which relatives have data problems, research suggestions, and record hints. These brightly colored icons appear next to a person’s name in Family Tree. This is helpful as you identify candidates for further research in the next step. A good candidate for further research has a research suggestion and record hint icons.
FamilySearch descendancy view also displays temple icons indicating if temple ordinances are ready to reserve. If you find ordinances ready to reserve in this step, verify the information and sources for your relative using the method in part one, review the accuracy of your tree, then reserve the ordinances.
Puzzilla Descendancy Trees
Puzzilla is my favorite way to view descendancy trees. It’s a FamilySearch partner app that allows you to view ancestry and descendancy family trees from a bird’s eye view to find new research opportunities. Go to their website, Puzzilla.org, and sign in with your FamilySearch account.
Watch this video to see how to create a Puzzilla descendancy tree and count the number of targets. Don’t miss the part where I show you how to hide the lines with man LDS descendants! This will make it a lot easier to see the research opportunities of the non-LDS lines. I will also show you how to determine if a person is a good candidate for further research, and how to add them to your list.
List Candidates for Further Research
Now that you have viewed two kinds of descendancy trees and counted the targets in the Puzzilla tree, it’s time to make a list of candidates for further research. I showed you how to do this in the video above, but let’s review it.
Not all the targets you have counted will be good candidates, and not all good candidates will be marked as a recommended research target, but the targets are still a good place to start.
There are several things to look at when determining if someone is a candidate for further research. If they meet the qualifications below, add them to your table in the column “candidates for further research.” Here’s what my “Candidates for Further Research” column looked like after I finished reviewing several targets in Edward Kelsey’s descendancy tree:
You can see that I made a note of what information I would want to find. This will be helpful when it’s time to start a research project – because you need to start with a specific research question.
How to Determine a Candidate for Further Research
A person is a good candidate for further research if:
- they lived in a place where you can read and understand the language on the records(i.e. if you can’t read Danish, you probably won’t be able to research ancestors born in Denmark until you learn more about Danish research).
- they lived in a time when recordsare available (generally, there are not many records available to research before 1600 in most localities)
- enough information is already known about the person so that he or she can be uniquely identified (i.e. a name, at least one date and place)
- FamilySearch has already found record hints that might be a match, as shown in the top right portion of the FamilySearch person page called “Research Help”
- they lived long enough that they could have been married; and/or reached childbearing age
- the person’s spouse is already known so you just need to find their children
A person will not be a good candidate for further research if they died before they reached childbearing age. Another reason a person would not be a good candidate for further research is if they have been well researched with many sources attached but none of the sources show they were married and had children (i.e. someone who stayed single their entire life).
A good candidate for further research lived in a time when records are available. So how can you know if there are records available in a certain time and place? To learn about the place you are considering researching, go to the FamilySearch Wiki (https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Main_Page). Look up the country or state where your relative lived and see if there are any record collections in the correct time frame. Once you have become familiar with a specific country and the usual records used for research, you may not need to look up that country or region each time. For example, those familiar with research in the United States in the late 1800s know that census, state birth and death registration, and marriage records are some of the most common records used in genealogy research.
Beyond the Research Targets
Some people who are not marked as a research target in a Puzzilla descendancy tree may still be good candidates for further research. Only people who reached childbearing age and have no children are listed as research targets.
After you check each research target, look for other people in the Puzzilla descendancy tree who could be candidates for further research. They might be people who have just a few children listed and are missing censuses or other pertinent sources. Add these additional candidates for further research to your list.
Select a Candidate to Research
Now that you have several candidates to start researching, review your entire list and choose the most promising one. Follow the Spirit and choose a branch that has missing spouses, missing children, available records, and a language you are familiar with. Prayer can be a powerful help in deciding who to research. Elder Richard G. Scott said,
This work is a spiritual work, a monumental effort of cooperation on both sides of the veil, where help is given in both directions. Anywhere you are in the world, with prayer, faith, determination, diligence, and some sacrifice, you can make a powerful contribution.”
Research Questions for Descendancy Research
After choosing a candidate, you should create a research question to guide your research.
From my list above, here is an example research question:
When and where did Ann Kelsey get married?
After you decide on a research question, you are ready to start a research project. Now I’m ready to proceed to part 4, Research, and learn how to find the answer to my research question!
Would you like to have all the steps in one handy guide? Check out our book, Find Names for the Temple: A Step-by-Step Method for Success on Amazon in either eBook format or paperback. If you have any questions about how to find names for the temple, I would love to hear from you in the comments or by email, at email@example.com. If we can help get you started on a research project, check our our professional genealogy services. We can analyze your tree and create a research plan for you.