Adding Records and Sources to Family Tree

In earlier posts, I’ve talked about adding sources to your records on Family Tree by using the TreeConnect tool.   Now let’s look at some features in Family Tree itself.  pedigree_chart_graphic

If possible, please log in to Family Tree at this point.  It will make it easier to understand the instructions in this post.

Once you are logged in, the initial screen shows a pedigree chart with you at the center of the page.

  • Click on the name of one of your deceased ancestors. Their record now shows in a small popup window.
  • Click on the word “Person” on in that window.
  • Now the screen shows their record full screen, including their family, photos, stories, ordinances and SOURCES that have been added to their record.
  • Look on the right side of the screen under Research Help and click on “Search Records”.
  • A new tab was just launched in your browser. The focus of the search results in that tab were based on the name and information about your ancestor.  They weren’t further refined by the inclusion of the parents name and the name of the spouse because that can actually eliminate some results that might otherwise show in the initial search.  We’ll add those search criteria later.
  • In the search results list, look for a record that pertains to your ancestor and click on the name of your ancestor.
  • The record now appears.  If it pertains to your ancestor, let’s tie it to their record as a source document.  On the right side under Sources, click on “Attach to Family Tree”.
  • You just attached a source to your ancestors record in Family Tree!  Badda Bing!  To confirm it, go back to the tab showing their record, refresh the screen and click on the word “Sources” in the gray bar under “Details”.   That took you down the page to the Sources section of their record.  Click on the name of the source to see the full source entry.  If you want to go to the source record, click on the URL link.
  • Typically, I right click on the name of my ancestor back in step 6, rather than just clicking on their name.  That leaves the search results tab open and opens the source record for review in a new tab.  It makes it easier than having to keep clicking on the back arrow to bring the search results back for viewing.


Refine your search

On the Search Results page, you can easily further refine your search if you are getting too many hits in the initial search.  That situation often occurs if the name of your ancestor is fairly common.  To refine the search, go to the left side of the screen and click on “Spouse” or “Parents” or “Death”, etc.  Add information to any or all of those fields.

I always start with the initial ‘general’ search because I want to look for oddities in spellings, locations other than those currently stated in the record, etc.  Once that list is reviewed, I add additional search parameters to refine the results.  You don’t want to miss pertinent source records about your ancestor because you’ve locked your search terms down so tight that any oddities are missed in the search.

Rule of thumb for records searches:  Start wide then go narrow in your searches.


How Can I Add Sources to Family Tree?

Family Tree offers another of methods to add sources to records in the Tree:

  • Use the powerful “Search Records” method we explored above.  It is a very easy to use tool that searches all of the Records Collections on FamilySearch and her partners sites.
  • Use the “Tree Connect” tool that we talked about last month.  I use it constantly when I want to add a source record from a site that isn’t on FamilySearch.  For example, when I find a memorial on about someone in my ancestral family, I simply click on the “Tree Connect” link on my browser tool bar, login to Family Tree on the popup screen, add the source details and click OK.  The Find-a-grave memorial source was just added to the record in Family Tree.  Badda Bing!  (Remember you are a genealogy nerd, so it is OK to say that phrase.)
  • Use your FamilySearch+ approved installed genealogy program to add sources from your database to Family Tree.  Legacy Family Tree, Ancestral Quest, RootsMagic and other genealogy programs are currently “+” certified.  More should in the near future.  The programs let you directly upload the sources you’ve created on a record to the corresponding record on Family Tree.
  • Manually enter the source.  UGH! Is this bad?  No.  Not at all.  If you are a serious researcher, you’ll quickly encounter sources that don’t fit the typical mold that is built into the other source additional tools. 
    • Example:  Your ancestor was born in the South and most if not all primary or vital records about them were burned during the Civil War.  How can you prove the existence of your ancestor?  It is often done by finding a collection of circumstantial records.  Add them up and you end up with a fairly solid proof of their life, marriage, parents, etc.
    • Manually adding these circumstantial records along with your comments about how they prove facts about your ancestor is best accomplished using this method.  You can make your case right in the source notes. 

Have you followed along and added some sources to the records of your ancestors on Family Tree?

Congratulations!  You just moved into the realm of ‘real researchers’ who prove their records and can defend their assumptions and stated facts.


Possible Duplicates

While on your ancestors record, click on “Possible Duplicates” on the right side of the page.  You may be surprised how many duplicate or possible duplicate records exist for your ancestor.   WARNING: This is a powerful tool.  It destroys duplicate records, so use it with care … but use it.

When you compare a duplicate record to the one you’ve been working on, a list of differences will appear on the right side of the screen.  Click on any difference you want to add to the record you’ve been working on and it the item will slide to the left to ‘your’ record.  It will overwrite or fill in a blank on the record on the left. 

If there are people on the right that are indeed part of your family, add them too!  You’ll later go back and look for duplicate records for them and combine those records too .. to resolve the duplications.  We will talk at length about this tool next month.  For now, be careful and read the users guide


About Lee Drew

Family history research is a favored avenue of relaxation. It is a Sherlock-like activity that can continue almost anywhere at any time. By leveraging a lifetime involvement in technology, my research efforts have resulted in terabytes of ancestral data, earning me the moniker of Lineagekeeper. And yes - We are all related to Royalty.