FamilySearch Family Tree – Getting Started

You probably haven’t heard of FamilySearch Family Tree (FSFT). It really isn’t a secret  but FamilySearch has not made a public announcement as of yet. It is an advanced on-line linked family tree. The data in FSFT has been contributed by thousands of people over many years. It contains all the data from the old Ancestral file, Pedigree Resource file and IGI. It also contains data that was submitted to “New Family Search”  that has only been available to LDS members for at least 3 years.

FSFT was started about a year ago. At first it was only available to LDS members to work out some of the bugs. I was able to get an invitation as a Beta tester in February. I didn’t do very much work on it at first because it was very limited. They kept adding more functions over time and I have been working on it more as new functions  have been added. Somewhere around the beginning of October, you no longer needed an invitation to get on FSFT. I expected that an announcement about public access would follow but that still hasn’t happened. That could be because they don’t want to have the website crash from too many new users at once.

To get on FSFT, go to the FamilySearch website ( Then on the upper right corner on the webpage click on “Sign In.” If you don’t have an account at FamilySearch you will have to create one and be verified before you can sign in. Once you are signed in, a new tab “Family Tree” should appear on the top of the page. Click on that and the first time you sign on you will see this welcome screen (click on any graphic for larger view):


Then  you should click on “View Training and watch some of the videos that they have that will show you about FSFT. You can also download or view on-line some reference manuals.The full reference manual is slightly over 150 pages.


Once you have viewed the videos. You can start to look around. First you will get an empty family tree with just you on it. You can start adding your ancestors but what you probably may want to do first is click on “Search” and see if any of your ancestors are already in there. I searched for my ancestor Dewitt Clinton Halsey and got these resulting choices:


My ancestor is the third one down on this list. I clicked on his name and a small window pops up that give me choices of “View Tree” or “View Person.” I started by viewing the tree and this is what I got to start:

My family tree

You can move the tree around on the screen to view parts of large families that aren’t visible. You can also click on those tiny circles with an arrow in them to expand the tree. I was able to continue expanding my tree to view 14 generations all at once. At any time, you can click on any name and it gives the choices of viewing a tree for that person or the person’s detail. These are the details for Dewitt C. Halsey:

Dewitt C. Halsey

That shows the basic vital facts and also parents and their children and Dewitt’s children. Over on the box on the right it shows that I changed the death date a couple of weeks ago. In future posting, I’ll discuss editing data, adding data, adding sources, merging duplicates and something else that was added just this week.