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Ordinances Ready: FamilySearch App Feature Helps Find Temple Ordinances for Your Ancestors

Mon, 09/17/2018 - 15:57

For Church members, the ultimate temple and family history goal is to provide saving ordinances for their ancestors.

This can happen whether you are able to serve as proxy for an ancestor in person or if you share the ordinances with the temple for someone to perform in your (and your ancestor’s) behalf.

But, for various reasons, it can sometimes be difficult to identify an ancestor needing ordinances.

The new Ordinances Ready feature in the FamilySearch Family Tree app can help. Here’s how it works:

Ordinances Ready searches FamilySearch Family Tree, as well as temple reservation and shared lists, to find available ordinances for people you are related to. It verifies that the person:

  • Is related to you.
  • Was born at least 110 years ago.
  • Has chronologically consistent birth and death dates as compared with family relationships.
  • Is not a duplicate, based on the information available in the tree.

In the near future, the Ordinances Ready search will expand to include ordinance reservations from the temple inventory, ensuring that anyone that uses it will be able to find and request ordinances to perform in the temple.

A Boost for Consultants

Consultants can use Ordinances Ready to find temple ordinances for the members they work with in an efficient way, leaving more time in their preparation to focus on other areas of family discovery like photos, stories, or homeland research. It can also be used as a simple way to introduce the members you work with to the joy of family history, which may instill in them a deeper desire to connect with their ancestors.

Give it a try, and see what it finds for you.

How to Request Ordinances Using an iOS Device

Using your iOS device, download the FamilySearch Family Tree App, and sign-in. From the bottom of the home screen, tap the Temple icon.

Ordinances that are already reserved will appear as a list on the Temple screen. If no ordinances have been reserved, you’ll see: “You have no reserved family names. We will find some names for you.” To search for available temple ordinances, tap on the green Ordinances Ready button. Then pick which ordinance type you’d like to search for.

The Ordinances Ready feature will generate a list of available ordinance reservations for you to reserve and take to the temple. From there, you will be able to print temple cards or write down a Family Ordinance Request (FOR) number. Note: Temple workers prefer that patrons bring in printed cards if possible, but the FOR number will help them print the ordinance reservation cards if needed.

How to Request Ordinances Using an Android Device

Once you have downloaded the FamilySearch Family Tree App on your android, open the app. Sign in, and in the upper left corner, tap the menu bar. From the drop-down options, select Temple.

If you already have reserved ordinances, you will see that list appear on the Temple screen. If not, your screen will say “You have no reserved family names. We will find some for you.” Either way, tap the green Ordinances Ready button.

Now select an ordinance type so that FamilySearch can create a list of ordinance reservations for you.

Once you have your list, you will be directed to print the cards for your relatives or write down a Family Ordinance Request (FOR) number for each reservation you take to the temple. Again, keep in mind that temple workers prefer that patrons bring in printed cards if possible. If not, bring the FOR numbers to get help printing ordinance cards at the temple.

The Power of FamilySearch Family Tree

Ordinances Ready is fueled by the family information found in the branches of FamilySearch Family Tree. Every time you add to the tree, you not only preserve part of your family story, but you may also be directly helping someone else gain the blessings of family history and temple work. Here are some simple ways you can make Ordinances Ready and the Tree even more powerful for yourself and others:

  • Discover new persons to add to the FamilySearch Tree by talking to (or texting) relatives or using record hints.
  • Help with indexing to make vital records available for families with gaps in their family tree. Indexing makes record hints possible.
  • Search out stories and photos from living family members, and add them as memories to people in the FamilySearch tree.
Tips for Using Ordinances Ready
  • If you request ordinances using the new feature, be sure to take them to the temple on your next visit or give them to family, friends, or ward members. Under certain circumstances, ordinance reservations might expire after 90 days or longer.
  • The Ordinances Ready feature will help generate just a few ordinance reservations at a time to make them easier to sort through and use for each new temple trip. If you need more ordinance reservations than you find on your first search, consider encouraging others try the feature for themselves for a fun family history experience.
  • The first step when using Ordinances Ready is to select the ordinance type you are looking to perform. Notice if the results include other remaining ordinances for that person. Depending on the circumstances, these other ordinances can be shared with a family member or the temple, so others may do them. You can also unreserve the ordinances to make them available in Family Tree.
More about the FamilySearch Family Tree app

To learn about more FamilySearch Family Tree App features, see the following articles:


Día de Muertos: A Day to Honor Your Ancestors

Fri, 09/14/2018 - 14:16

How do you remember tus antepasados—your ancestors? Do you have those memories preserved so they can be passed on to future generations?

Recently, I told my children the story of a man who recorded all his knowledge on the walls of a cave with the hope that one day this knowledge would be passed on, and others would remember him. The drive to be remembered and to remember your ancestors is powerful. That is why so many cultures have holidays and festivals to celebrate the memories of deceased loved ones.

If this man in my story were living in the 21st century, his journal may have been a notebook, video, blog, or album full of pictures. His children may have added their memories of him as they gathered around their ofrenda or wrote calaveras literarias. We take these memories of our ancestors and celebrate them, share them with our familia, our family. Do you have memories from tus abuelos—your grandparents? What about tus padres—your parents? How can you pass on your own story?


Honor and Remember Your Ancestors


Día de Muertos—Celebrating Day of the Dead and All Saints Day

If you celebrate a holiday such as Día de Muertos or Día de Difuntos, you already have traditions for keeping the memories of your ancestors alive and retelling their stories. Or maybe you haven’t participated in these rich traditions but find them interesting after learning about them from secondary sources such as the Disney movie Coco. Exploring both old and new traditions is a great way to begin remembering your ancestors as unique individuals.

In Guatemala, where I live, the end-of-the-year holidays are very popular. There’s “All Saints Day” or “Day of the Dead” in November (Día de todos los Santos or Día de Muertos). There’s Día de los Niños, “Day of the Children,” in October. We even include remembering our ancestors as part of our Christmas celebrations in December. The way people celebrate these holidays depends on where they live. Mi padre was born in the west part of Guatemala, and I was born in Guatemala City. The traditions we have for Día de Muertos are different, but both are very rich and significant, focusing on family relationships and remembering ancestors.

Cometa—Sending Messages to Ancestors

My father was raised with the tradition of making cometa, or kites, for Día de Muertos. He would search for straws in the dried stalks to help mi bisabuela (my great-grandmother) make kites and sell them to friends and neighbors. A few weeks before the Day of the Dead celebration, the rain would slow and the wind would start to blow to make the kites fly. Mi padre learned the kites symbolized sending messages to loved ones who have left this life. Later, my great-grandmother would let my dad make his own kites, which he loved to fly.

Cempasúchil, Calavera, and Fiambre—Decorating the Tombs of Ancestors

Day of the Dead celebrations, regardless of the country, are filled with cempasúchil, flowers, and calavera, skulls. Both are symbolic of the temporary nature of mortality and the immortality of the soul or human spirit. Many people use marigolds during Día de Muertos, preferring them for their rich colors and aroma. Mi abuelo made stone flowers for people to use, and I remember selling both with my family for the holiday.

Families spend a lot of time preparing the graves of deceased ancestors with marigolds, calavera, photos, memorabilia, and the ancestor’s preferred foods and drinks. All these practices are believed to attract the spirit of the deceased ancestor, who is believed to visit living family members during the festivities.

Three or four days before Día de Muertos, mi abuelo would buy paint and make a mixture with a water base. He would send my dad with his brothers to the San Marcos cemetery to clean and paint our ancestors’ tombs. We honor our ancestors’ resting places and appreciate the heritage of family recipes. Today mi familia prepares a fiambre, a special plate for the Day of the Dead. The fiambre is a mix of cultural recipes with Creole and native flavors from the region, and it’s a way to bring families together.

Recordando a los Muertos Comienza con los Vivos—Remembering the Dead Starts with the Living

More than 33 years ago, mis padres started to write a family journal in a blue notebook. It was in this journal that the history of my life first began to be recorded, including details from before my birth.

Today we have Instagram Stories, Facebook Biographies, Memories on FamilySearch, and thousands of other applications that offer easy and simple solutions for keeping a diary of our lives. Why do we share so much on social media?

The other day I found the answer in something a youth said: “We share stories because we want to be remembered.” Simple.

At the birthday of my third child, we decided we would start a new tradition in my family. I asked family members to look for a connection with our ancestors by sharing a memory they have—one that others might not know. During the activity, I could see my family members were each having a significant experience, especially with the connections they were making between themselves as they spoke about their ancestors. It was like an invisible power was bonding them together as they told stories to each other.

How can you remember your ancestors? Do you have a place to store all these memories of your family, both the living and the deceased?

Using FamilySearch to Remember Your Ancestors 

FamilySearch has an app you can use to help you record, preserve, and share these family stories. With the Memories app, you can gather and preserve the stories of tu familia and each of your ancestors. Download the app, and consider these five tips for how you can preserve memories during Día de Muertos—or any time you want to honor your ancestors.

  1. Preserve memories as they are celebrated. When your family places your ancestor’s photo on your ofrenda, have you thought to preserve that photo somewhere you can see it any time? You can upload the photos of your ancestors—and much more—to the Memories app as you honor your ancestor year after year. Favorite recipes from tu bisabuela, pictures of her decorated gravestone, poems you write for her, and all sorts of memories can be stored and shared with the Memories app. You can tag these memories with your ancestor’s name so all your relatives can experience your great-grandmother’s traditions as well.
  2. Record stories as they are shared. Do you have a tradition of sharing family stories? Would you like to start one? Every time a story is passed on, there’s an opportunity to record it and place it somewhere you and your family can revisit any time. You can record a story or memory as text or audio right when you hear it and then upload it to the FamilySearch Memories app.
  3. Upload memories as they are created. Your deceased relatives are not the only ones worth remembering. All of us cherish precious moments with our children, siblings, parents, or whomever we consider our family. The photos you save on your phone, the stories that come from family gatherings, events, and random life moments—preserve those memories now so your family will have them to look back on. The great thing about the Memories app is that you can use it to collect all your family stories in one place, and you can do it from your phone or other mobile device.
  4. Make preserving memories part of your tradition. You and each of your family members have so many stories to share. Día de Muertos, Día de Todos los Santos, and every tradition for remembering your ancestors are perfect opportunities to help build a collection of your family stories. When you start or participate in family traditions, use the Memories app or your family’s choice medium to grow this precious family history.
  5. Start now! Using the Memories app is very simple, and it is freely accessible. With the Family Tree app and the desktop site, you can upload and access your family’s memories on your FamilySearch tree. This resource is a great way to preserve and look at the stories of tu familia from each generation.

Family history is something that is worth sharing. Through it we are remembered, and we remember our ancestors. They deserve to be remembered, as do you.


Nauvoo, Illinois: Walking in Your Ancestor’s Footsteps

Fri, 09/07/2018 - 16:28

Visiting the Webb Blacksmith Shop, playing at Pioneer Pastimes, or walking down Parley Street are all memorable experiences you can have when you visit Nauvoo. Your trip can become even more personal, however, by researching your own ancestors who lived in the city. When you visit thinking of your relatives’ lives, trials, and even their spiritual experiences, you can have a unique and strengthening experience for yourself.

Resources to Find Your Nauvoo Ancestors

A little-known resource in Nauvoo is the Land and Records Office. Located on Partridge Street, the Land and Records Office contains information on Nauvoo citizens between 1839 and 1846. Among its collections are property ownership records, marriage records, burial records, census records, occupations, biographies, and much more. Most of these records are being digitized and added to digital record collections.* FamilySearch has a handy tool for learning about your ancestors who have been identified as Nauvoo citizens in the FamilySearch Family Treebe sure to sign in before using this tool so FamilySearch can give you accurate results:


See if You Have Nauvoo Ancestors in Your FamilySearch Tree


Volunteers at the Land and Records Office in Nauvoo can help you learn even more about your Nauvoo relatives. Visit the Land and Records Office with your pedigree of ancestors born between 1770 and 1846, and you can learn if you had relatives who lived in Nauvoo. The data you find can be loaded onto a flash drive or CD for your use; if you don’t have one on hand, the Land and Records office can provide you with either for a small cost. The Land and Records Office also has a “pick-up option,” so your visit to the records office can be quick and smooth. Fill out a record request form before your trip, and mail or email it to the Nauvoo Land and Records Office. The volunteers will have a prepurchased CD or flash drive ready when you arrive in Historic Nauvoo, with your ancestors’ information already gathered.

This invaluable information can help you find the land previously owned by your Nauvoo ancestor or his or her grave in the Old Nauvoo Burial Grounds, and it can help you get to know them better. You might even find out about your ancestor’s daily work or interests—records on community involvement are also included in the Land and Records Office! Keep in mind that parts of Nauvoo are historic re-creations, (re-creation=create again, recreation=swim in the pool or hike in the mountains.) and other parts are “modern day” Nauvoo, where people live and work. (The Nauvoo Tourism Office can help if you have questions about Nauvoo sites that are open to the public and Nauvoo property that is privately owned. You can also visit the Beautiful Nauvoo website for visitor information.)

Even if you reach Nauvoo without filling out your family tree, there are places within the historic town to get help with your family history. Nauvoo has a FamilySearch Center located near the Nauvoo Temple on Knight Street. There, you can get one-on-one help finding information on your ancestors.

Exploring Your Ancestor’s Life in Historic Nauvoo

Once you’ve found information on your ancestors, take the time to visit the historic sites significant to your Nauvoo relative. Perhaps they participated in one of the theatrical productions that Nauvoo citizens performed in the Cultural Hall. Maybe they hauled limestone from the nearby quarry to build the original Nauvoo Temple. Or perhaps they worked at one of the many trades highlighted in the shops along Main Street today. You can see some of these sites on the map here, and you can find more information about Nauvoo historic sites online:

Most likely, your ancestor lived in a log cabin when he or she first arrived in the Nauvoo area. These structures were far quicker and cheaper to construct than brick homes, making them ideal for the impoverished settlers as they arrived. Although log cabins were far more common, most all of Nauvoo’s wooden structures had been destroyed by the elements by the time the restoration of Nauvoo began.

Many early citizens in Nauvoo also went to school in neighborhood homes rather than in a school building. Be sure to visit the re-created Pendleton log home and school for an example of how your ancestor may have lived and learned in Nauvoo. As newlyweds, the Pendletons worked several different jobs in and around their home—typical of Nauvoo citizens in this time period. Visiting this home won’t be the longest stop on your trip, but it may be one of the most impactful. Within this home is a spirit of simplicity and humility that displays the difficult conditions early Nauvoo citizens faced—and the faith or fortitude they must have had to endure it.

Making the Most of Your Visit to Nauvoo

There’s no wrong time to visit Nauvoo, but each season offers a different experience. Visit Nauvoo on February 3, and you’ll be invited to take part in a reenactment of the Nauvoo Exodus to commemorate the anniversary of the first pioneer wagon company that left Nauvoo. Visit in December, and you’ll be able to participate in Nauvoo’s annual Christmas celebration, which includes historic decorations, stories, and activities.

Undoubtedly the busiest time of the year for Nauvoo is the summer. The historic district comes to life with performers and volunteers who put on plays, musical performances, and shows for guests of Nauvoo to enjoy. Be sure to stop by the Nauvoo Visitors’ Center to watch The Promise, a musical production about life in Nauvoo. Another must-see site is the Trail of Hope on Parley Street. At night, missionaries perform vignettes along the trail that recount journal entries and experiences left behind by the Saints.

The summer’s main event is the pageant, a month-long event that includes daily entertainment by pageant performers, pioneer activities at the pageant grounds, and nightly performances of the Nauvoo and British Pageants on alternating nights. The Nauvoo Pageant explores the growth of Nauvoo, including the building of the original Nauvoo Temple and the story of early Nauvoo citizens who followed Joseph Smith. The British Pageant tells the story of Nauvoo citizens who travelled to the British Isles as religious missionaries, inspiring thousands of immigrants to travel to Nauvoo.

No matter when you go to Nauvoo, enter with a heart open to learn. Take in the history, and try to see it from your ancestors’ point of view. By doing so, you will gain a deeper connection with your past and a deeper love of your family history.

*Digital Resources and Databases for Nauvoo Genealogy Research

New Records on FamilySearch: August 2018

Thu, 09/06/2018 - 10:46

Untitled Document

FamilySearch expanded its free online archives in August 2018 with over 13 million new indexed family history records and over 13 million digital images from around the world. New historical records were added from Chile, Dominican Republic, France, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Peru, Portugal, Russia, Sweden, Ukraine, and the United States, which includes California, Delaware, Georiga, Illinois, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, Texas, and Virigina. New digital images were added from BillionGraves, Italy, Peru, Russia, Louisiana, and Wales.

Find your ancestors using these free archives online, including marriage, death, church, military, and civil registration records. Millions of new genealogy records are added each month to make your search easier.

Country Collection Indexed Records Digital Records Comments Chile Chile, Civil Registration, 1885–1932 573,607 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection Dominican Republic Dominican Republic Civil Registration, 1801–2010 44,317 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection France France, Brittany, Public Records, 1793–1896 26,623 0 New indexed records collection France France, Finistère, Quimper et Léon Diocese, Catholic Parish Records, 1772–1894
10,968 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection France France, Ille-et-Vilaine, Cancale, Census, 1836 4,951 0 New indexed records collection France France, Vienne, Military Draft Cards, 1867–1921 143,016 0 New indexed records collection France France, Yonne, Military Records, War of 1870 2,846 0 New indexed records collection Honduras Honduras, Civil Registration, 1841–1968 42,692 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection Hungary Hungary, Jewish Vital Records Index, 1800–1945 2,292 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection Iceland Iceland Church Census, 1744-–1965
8,236 0 New indexed records collection Italy Italy, Chieti, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1809–1930
0 3,209,343 Added indexed records to an existing collection Italy Italy, Palermo, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1820–1947 0 4,331,932 New browsable image collection. New Zealand New Zealand, Archives New Zealand, Probate Records, 1843–1998
0 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection Other BillionGraves Index 325,185 3,251,185 Added indexed records to an existing collection Peru Peru, Amazonas, Civil Registration, 1939–1999 1,975 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection Peru Peru, Áncash, Civil Registration, 1888–2005 110,989 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection Peru Peru, La Libertad, Civil Registration, 1903–1998
33,913 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection Peru Peru, Puno, Civil Registration, 1890–2005
2,724 400,930 Added indexed records to an existing collection Portugal Portugal, Setúbal, Catholic Church Records, 1555–1911
9,141 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection Russia Russia, Samara Church Books 1748–1934
107,788 311,104 Added indexed records to an existing collection Sweden Sweden, Household Examination Books, 1880–1930 20,720 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection Ukraine Ukraine, Kyiv Orthodox Consistory Church Book Duplicates, 1734–1930 0 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection United States California, County Birth and Death Records, 1800–1994 4,617,174 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection United States Delaware Vital Records, 1650–1974 30,727 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection United States Georgia, Atlanta City Census, 1896 80,935 0 New indexed records collection United States Illinois, Macon County, Decatur Public Library Collections, 1879-2007 10,716 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection United States Louisiana, Orleans Parish Vital Records, 1900–1964 16,442 311,104 Added indexed records to an existing collection United States Missouri, Jackson County Voter Registration Records, 1928–1956
135,806 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection United States North Dakota, County Marriages, 1872–1958 28,276 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection United States Ohio, County Naturalization Records, 1800–1977 29,913 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection United States Texas, Houston, Historic Hollywood Cemetery Records, 1895–2008 40,870 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection United States Virginia, Birth Certificates, 1912–1913 301,108 161,758 New indexed records and images collection United States Virginia, Death Certificates, 1912–1987 2,682,595 1,043,790 Added indexed records to an existing collection United States Virginia, Divorce Records, 1918–1988 763,910 200,235 New indexed records and images collection United States Virginia, Marriage Certificates, 1936–1988 2,510,423 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection Wales Wales Court and Miscellaneous Records, 1542–1911 0 4,242 Added indexed records to an existing collection

Over 6 billion searchable historic records are available from around the world on Records are published with the help of thousands of volunteer indexers who transcribe digital copies of handwritten records to make them easily searchable online. To help make more historical records from the world’s archives available online, volunteer with FamilySearch Indexing.

Learn how to search the records on FamilySearch to find exactly what you’re looking for.


Changes in Family Tree Shed New Light on Your Ancestors’ Lives

Tue, 09/04/2018 - 15:57

FamilySearch’s newly released update to the person pages in Family Tree will make learning about your ancestors easier than ever before. Streamlined menus mean using the person page is now faster and more intuitive. New ways to view your ancestors’ lives and information, including maps and time lines, will expand your understanding and enable you to identify and fill in missing information more quickly.

Here are some of the most exciting changes you’ll find on the Family Tree person pages. (We’ve also provided links to more detailed instructions if you’d like to dive even deeper!)

Streamlining the Family Tree Person Pages

When you log in to your FamilySearch Account and make your way to the person page for one of your relatives, you’ll notice right away that it looks a little different. FamilySearch has updated this page to make it cleaner and easier to navigate. With the new updates, your relative’s information is also easier to edit!

As an example, the header and main menu at the top of the person page are now a lot simpler. Instead of the two-layer menu you saw before, all the choices have been incorporated into one menu. Most tabs take you to sections similar to what you’ve used before—just improved, spruced up, and renamed. You may also notice the new Edit tags in sections that didn’t have these before. You can easily edit your relative’s vital information and much more by clicking on these tags. There’s also an exciting new tool you can explore with this update! The Time Line tab introduces you to a completely new tool.

Be sure to also take a moment and look over the options on the sidebar on the right side of the page. Some of these have been rearranged and reorganized so you can accomplish many of the most common Family Tree tasks much easier. For example, you can now merge ancestors by ID as well as edit labels from this right sidebar. There’s even a newly added Data Problems alert that will appear if there are possible problems with your ancestor’s information, such as possible duplicates.

These changes will save you time as you explore your family history and add your discoveries to your family tree!

Time Lines and Maps: A New View of Your Ancestor’s Life

One of the focuses of this FamilySearch update is to help you put the events in your ancestor’s life in context. New time line and map tools are keys in doing this. These tools not only allow you to understand your ancestor’s life better, they also enable you to more easily identify missing events and possible errors in your ancestor’s information. Even better, the new tools take the next step by integrating record hints, leading you to sources that might help you solve problems you identify.

Clicking on the Time Line menu tab will take you to a screen that looks something like this:

The time line displays all the major events in your ancestor’s life, allowing you to get an overview in just one glance. Click on the Show button to filter which events and relationships you would like to view. Icons, such as a baby for birth or rings for a wedding, identify what type of event it is. If an event is a relationship that involves another relative in your family tree, that relative’s picture and information will show up as well! Record hints may be included in their correct chronological place along the time line, such as this hint for a birth record.

You can also toggle the Map function inside the time line tab to view a map beside the information. Here, markers show you where these events in your ancestors’ lives took place. The time line displays all the major events in your ancestor’s life, allowing you to get an overview in just one glance. Click on the Show button to filter which events and relationships you would like to view. Icons, such as a baby for birth or rings for a wedding, identify what type of event it is. If an event is a relationship that involves another relative in your family tree, that relative’s picture and information will show up as well! Record hints may be included in their correct chronological place along the time line, such as this hint for a birth record.

You can also toggle the Map function inside the time line tab to view a map beside the information. Here, markers show you where these events in your ancestors’ lives took place.

Record hints will also appear on the map, to give you clues as to a hint’s accuracy.

Now that you’ve gotten the overview, head over to FamilySearch, and look at some of your ancestors’ tabs to experience the exciting new changes! With these new tools and improved organization, it won’t be long before you’re identifying a missing piece of information, following a record hint, or making new discoveries about your relatives and adding them to your tree.

Try it now!

U.S. Census Records

Tue, 09/04/2018 - 12:15

Does your family tree have any generations that lived in the United States? If so, FamilySearch’s U.S. census records may help you discover more about your ancestors. Census records are an integral source for family history research; they contain valuable information that can connect generations.

Every 10 years, the United States Census Bureau conducts a national census. Since the first U.S. census was taken in 1790, 23 censuses have been recorded in the United States. Of those 23 census collections, 16 are now available to the public. A census record can tell you not only where and when your ancestor lived, but may also describe their occupation, other members of their household, and even small details about their life, such as previous military service or whether they owned a radio set.


Search Free U.S. Census Records


How to Use U.S. Census Records

How do you read the different U.S. census records throughout the years? How can you use them in my genealogy research? Find out by reading more.


Why Is a Census Taken?

One reason a census is conducted is for taxation purposes. However, the impact of a census can be felt at all levels of a community. When a country takes a census, it allows officials to see the growth and change impacting the nation. With this information, a government can see where to allocate federal and state funds. The United States also uses census information to determine the number of representatives each state receives in state and federal legislatures.

Since its first years as a declared nation, the United States has grown significantly in population. If you’re a student of American history, you’re probably familiar with many of the historical and political changes that have contributed to this staggering growth.

In 1790, the U.S. consisted of only 13 states, and the population was already around 3,929,214. Eighty years later, 37 states were considered part of the United States, and the population had risen by over 800 percent. In 1940, when the population was over 132 million, the U.S. was almost at it its current state count (missing only Alaska and Hawaii). By 2010, despite the addition of only two states, the population had increased by more than 150 million from the 1940 figure. This increase means that in 2010, the United States population was nearly 8,000 percent higher than the population estimated in the first census!

Federal and State Census Records

Historically, two main types of censuses have been taken in the United States: the federal census and state censuses. These two types of censuses were often taken five years apart from each other. However, not every state conducted a state census, and no state has conducted a census since the Massachusetts state census in 1985. These state census records can be especially useful in family history research, however, as some states or territories may not have been completely covered in a federal census, or the federal census may have missing information. By searching both federal and state censuses, you can gather an understanding of where your ancestors lived and who they were.

Find Your Ancestors in Census Records and FamilySearch Collections

Search Federal U.S. Census Records by Year 1790 1830 1870 1910 1800 1840 1880 1920 1810 1850 1890 1930 1820 1860 1900 1940

Find U.S. state census records.

How Does the United States Census Change?

Questions and recorded information change with each census. These changes most often reflect current events in the country. They can also reflect socioeconomic changes or political changes the country is going through during a decade.

Typically, census records have become more detailed each year. The first United States Census recorded information only about the heads of households; other household members were counted according to gender. Census records since then have added increasingly detailed information on every individual as the country has grown and society has changed.

How censuses are taken has also changed over the years. If you lived in the United States in 1940, you may have been asked to fill out a longer census form than your neighbor. The census takers (enumerators) used a more detailed questionnaire for only a portion of the population. 1960 was the first year the U.S. census was processed almost entirely by computers after it had been gathered.

When you are searching through census records, it can be useful to consider how each year’s records were different and what information might be available in the census records you are viewing.

The 72-Year Rule and Other U.S. Census Facts

A unique rule prevents census records from becoming available to the public until 72 years after the census was taken. This rule helps protect the identity of people enumerated in past censuses who are still living. Currently, all census records are available up to the year 1940; the 1950 census will become available in April 2022.

You can learn other interesting facts about the census as you dig into its history. The United States Census Bureau wasn’t a permanent government agency until 1902. (The secretary of state was in charge of the first censuses.) Many employees and volunteers for various organizations have worked behind the scenes to gather the census record collections and make them searchable. Each census offers a wealth of genealogical information that can connect generations.

United States census records up to 1940 are available for free on, and the collections are fully indexed. Every time you do a general records search for one of your ancestors, FamilySearch will search through all the federal censuses from 1790 to 1940, many of the indexed state collections, and other helpful records as well!


Learn How to Use U.S. Census Records

Tue, 09/04/2018 - 09:00

U.S. census records can offer you a window into your ancestors’ stories—and clues about new relatives to add to your family tree. Here’s how to use U.S. census records to reconstruct your family history.

When searching for information about ancestors who lived in the United States, federal census records should be one of the very first sources you consult. Census records can help you reconstruct entire family groups and identify previously unknown relatives. Sometimes you can even discover interesting details and stories that help you better understand their lives.

Every major English-language genealogy website should have U.S. census records from 1790 to 1940, and the entire collections for these censuses are free to search on FamilySearch. So there’s no reason not to explore them!

Search U.S. Census Records

About U.S. Census Records

Here’s more on what you should know about U.S. census records and how to search them:

Differences between U.S. Censuses

Censuses have been taken by the U.S. government every 10 years since 1790. Remarkably, nearly all have survived—except for the 1890 census, which was lost in a fire, and a few lost fragments from other years. The most recent census available to the public is the 1940 census.

Census details vary from year to year, with some of the more recent ones offering the most details. Since 1880, censuses can often help you reconstruct your family tree because they provide genealogy-rich information like names, relationships, approximate birth years, marital status, birthplaces, and parents’ birthplaces. Some details shed light on your ancestors’ immigration and naturalization, homeownership, literacy, education, childbearing history, neighborhood makeup, and more.

1790 U.S. Census Record

1940 U.S. Census Record

Older censuses aren’t quite so detailed. In 1850, 1860, and 1870, you’ll find each family member listed, but not their relationship to the head of the household. You can often guess at the family structure, though, since the father was supposed to be listed first, then the mother, then their children beginning with the oldest, then other relatives followed by nonrelatives, such as boarders or servants. (You’ll want to consult other records to confirm those inferred family relationships.)

Before 1850, censuses included only skeletal information about each household. The head of household is named, but others are tallied only by category, such as the number of free white males and females, enslaved people, and others. Often, you’ll need to use these census entries in combination with other records to reconstruct your family tree.

Tips and Tricks to Search U.S. Census Records

These tips will help you get the most out of U.S. census records for your genealogy.

1. Search for every relative in every census.

Different census entries for the same person may reveal unique information, so it’s worth finding and studying each one in which that person appeared. Details you learn from each one can help you more confidently recognize your relatives in the next entry you see.

For example, Andrew and Rose O’Hotnicky of Olyphant, Pennsylvania, first appear as a couple in 1910 with their newborn baby, Edward:

All census entries shown here are from the population schedules for Pennyslvania, Lackawanna County. Digital images are from

In 1920, 3 children are listed—but no Edward, who had died:

In this entry, the parents appear on the bottom of one page, and the children appear on the next page; we’ve cropped and stitched them together for easier viewing. You may need to page forward or backward through the online images to see a family’s full entry.

Ten years later, in the 1930 census, Andrew’s widowed mother Caroline appears in their household:

Learning Caroline’s identity makes it easier to jump back in time and identify Andrew in the 1900 census. Here he appears as a child in his mother’s household, along with several siblings and even his maternal grandfather (who, again, appears on the following page, so you have to page forward to see him in the household):

By default, censuses generally reported the man as head of household (column 4). But here, Caroline’s marital status (reported in column 9) identifies her as a widow, so she is head of household. The last 2 columns shown reveal how many children Caroline had borne (11) and how many were still alive at the time (7). All 7 living children are named in this entry. If you wanted to reconstruct her entire family, you would look for evidence of her deceased spouse and children in earlier records.

2. Look for Variations in Entries

When you’re searching censuses, you may find relatives identified at different times under their first or middle names, by nicknames, or by their initials. Their ages may be reported inconsistently, too. Name spellings in original records especially vary before the 1900s and for immigrant families during the early 1900s. Names may also have been transcribed differently (Andrew’s surname has been indexed as O Hatnicky, Ohotinsky, Ohotoricky, and even Shotnicky.)

Sometimes your genealogy website search engine will recognize these variations and present them to you in your search results, which you can then click on to explore in more detail. Other times, you may need to search several name variations (and even different genealogy websites, where the indexing and search engine may be different) before you locate an ancestor’s entry.

3. Read the Entire Entry and Even Those of the Neighbors

If you read the details in census form columns further to the right than the snippets shown above, you’ll learn several more things about Andrew and Rose, including that their parents were Eastern European immigrants and that Andrew’s career evolved between censuses from coal mining to driving a fire truck. Studying the entries over the years also reveals that the couple lived for decades in the same neighborhood, surrounded by other working-class families of Eastern European descent.

Noticing those who lived nearby sometimes leads you to additional relatives. Rose’s maiden name was Krankota, as revealed by her marriage license application, but her parents weren’t named. However, in 1910, an older Krankota family lived on the same street as Rose and Andrew. The mother in that family reported having 4 living children, but only 3 lived at home. Further research revealed this to be Rose’s family of origin and helps expand the ancestry in her branch of the family tree.

For More on How to Use U.S. Census Records Where to Explore U.S. Census Records

Try it yourself: Visit FamilySearch or another favorite genealogy website, and search for your relatives in U.S. census records. If you have a tree on the site, search from a relative’s individual profile (so you don’t have to enter all of their personal information), and limit your search results by record type to census records. Otherwise, enter a relative’s name in the main search box, and again limit search results to census records.


RootsTech London 2019 Conference Announced

Tue, 08/28/2018 - 05:38

RootsTech has announced that the highly popular family history conference is expanding its international borders, beginning with the United Kingdom in 2019. RootsTech will host RootsTech London 2019 from 24–26 October, 2019 at the ExCeL London Convention Centre. For more info go to

“We are incredibly excited to take the learnings and excitement of RootsTech to London, and to our friends in the United Kingdom and beyond,” said Steve Rockwood, FamilySearch International CEO. “Interest in discovering one’s family is growing throughout the world, particularly throughout Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, and this event will provide many people who are unable to attend the conference in Salt Lake City with the same excitement, resources, learnings, and motivation to discover more about their families and themselves.”

The RootsTech London 2019 convention will follow a similar model to the one that has proved successful in Salt Lake City, Utah for over 9 years. RootsTech London will offer more than 150 informative lectures taught by industry experts, an exciting exhibit hall where vendors from around the world will display family history technology and services, entertainment, and inspirational keynote sessions.

“This event model has proven to be a great way for people to engage in family history, regardless of age or genealogical skill level. Everyone is welcome at RootsTech,” said Jen Allen, event director. “We are excited to further position RootsTech as a global community for anyone to discover their family and deepen their sense of belonging that we all yearn for.”

The RootsTech London 2019 convention will not replace the annual conference in Salt Lake City but will serve as an additional RootsTech event. All sessions of the RootsTech London conference will be conducted in English. Registration for RootsTech London will open in February 2019. To learn more, visit


Your Italian Heritage

Thu, 08/23/2018 - 08:47

From the Roman Empire to the Renaissance to the modern day, Italy has influenced cultures globally with its great achievements. With such a rich history behind them, Italians around the world today are deeply proud of their Italian roots. With anywhere from 60–140 million people with Italian heritage worldwide, Italians are among the most populous ethnic groups in the world. It’s possible that you too have Italian ancestry.

Search for Your Italian Ancestors


Italy Emigration

A history of Italian immigrants and immigration records

Italian Last Names

Common Italian last names and their origins and meanings

Italy Records Research

FamilySearch’s free archives make it easy for you to find your Italian ancestors’ names. FamilySearch has the largest collection of Italian genealogical records (images and indexes) in the world, and its collections continue to grow by millions yearly. FamilySearch’s work with archives throughout Italy has digitally preserved more than 150 million images of historical genealogical records to make them freely accessible online. These records currently contain more than 500 million names—and it’s likely your ancestors might be among them.

As digital images are created and indexed, these records become available in multiple locations on the FamilySearch website, so start with FamilySearch’s Italy Research Page when looking for Italian records. Here you can easily find information about all of the Italy collections and learning aids on one helpful reference page. Be sure to explore the indexed historical records, image-only historical records, and catalog material to discover the extensive inventory of vast Italian genealogical records available to you on FamilySearch.  

Do you know when Italy first started recording censuses, military drafts, and civil registrations? Several types of Italian records may help you find your ancestors, and each one has a historical beginning. For example, finding an Italian birth record or death record for an ancestor may help answer a lot of questions regarding your Italian family history, and you can find those types of records in Italy starting in the 1500s. Check out the time line on “When Did Italian Historical Records Begin?” to find hints about what record collections you can use to search for your ancestors. The best records to start with might be civil registration and church records, since they are accessible from the early 1800s to the 1940s.

Italian Culture and Emigration

Around 50 million people with Italian heritage live in Italy today, and up to 140 million people worldwide can claim Italian heritage.1 It doesn’t matter if you live in Europe, South Africa, or even Australia, if you say “pasta” instead of “spaghetti,” listen to Andrea Bocelli and Enrico Caruso frequently, or your friends joke that if they tied your hands it would make you speechless, you probably are among the many Italians whose family traditions are alive and strong. Even if you’re not as sure about your Italian ancestry, you’re in good company wherever you may be! There are people with Italian heritage just about anywhere you might go.

Why is Italian culture and the worldwide Italian population so widespread? Italy has had a few major emigration waves, the largest of which occurred in the 19th and 20th centuries. If your family was among these early emigrants, they likely moved to new home countries for better work and living conditions or to escape political pressures during times of upheaval. This time line shows some of the major factors that prompted and slowed this mass migration.

Whatever their reason for moving to and from Italy, Italian immigrants throughout history have brought rich cultural traditions of Italian food, fashion, music, and a zest for life to many countries and have left genealogical footprints for their descendants to trace:

  1. “Italians,” Wikipedia, last modified August 4, 2018,
Additional Sources:
  • Trafford R. Cole. Italian Genealogical Records: How to Use Italian Civil, Ecclesiastical, and Other Records in Family History Research (Salt Lake City: Ancestry Incorporated, 1995). 


9 Questions for David Rencher, FamilySearch CGO and New Family History Library Director

Tue, 08/21/2018 - 21:42

The world-renowned Family History Library in Salt Lake City has a new director, David Rencher, FamilySearch’s Chief Genealogy Officer (See news release: FamilySearch CGO David Rencher New Family History Library Director). Rencher will continue to serve in both roles and sees them as very complementary. 

This will be Rencher’s second time at the helm of the world-renowned library (he was the director from 1999–2002). And since that time, he has been around the block a time or two. And, well, the world for that matter as his leadership responsibilities for FamilySearch have demanded.  He actually started his career at the library 40 years ago as a British Reference Consultant, and although his role and responsibilities have changed over the decades, the genealogy bug in him is vibrant as ever.
We polled the FamilySearch community to see what questions you’d like us to ask David considering his new appointment as the library’s director. Here are the 9 top questions and his replies.

  1. This is not your first time as the director of the Family History Library (FHL). Why the return now, and what are some of the biggest changes you see?
    I was the library director 1999–2002. During that time, we did an extensive remodel in preparation for the 2002 Olympics. Since that time, the FHL has had another major renovation adding the Discovery Experience (See Family History Library Unveils Salt Lake City’s Newest Attraction) on the main floor as well as the addition of computers on other floors. My return to the library will allow the current director, Diane Loosle, to fill a role in the newly created Business Development area, and together we can tag team on the development and operations of new business units.
    The biggest change is the shift to a younger demographic. Transitioning this new generation of interested family seekers into users of the broader set of FamilySearch products and services will be a key focus of the library.
  2. Will you also continue as the FamilySearch CGO? How will you balance/manage the two roles?
    I will continue my role as CGO with the current CGO staff. This is a very seasoned team with years of experience in the genealogical community. They will all continue to engage in their present functions and assist in other areas of the library. We have added Thom Reed to the team for African-American community relations. We are also adding Todd Knowles to the team for his network in the Jewish community. As we move forward, others will be given CGO functions to expand and build the network of relationships throughout the community.
  3. What have you seen and learned as the FamilySearch CGO that will influence you as the library director and might impact future initiatives at the library?
    In the CGO role, I have had a lot of interaction with the development teams at FamilySearch. Particularly the Family Tree and Search teams. New initiatives at FamilySearch will continue to be integrated into the assistance provided in the FHL and throughout the FamilySearch library system (FamilySearch has over 5,000 satellite branches globally called “Family History Centers” and hundreds of affiliate libraries).
    Future initiatives in the FHL will focus on the patron experience for those of all levels of research skills. We have a great team with an extensive amount of genealogical expertise that will be supplemented with the domain expertise from throughout the department.
    Of necessity, we will continue to look at possible renovations that will move the patron experience forward and continue to expand the number of people assisted each year. Visitor experiences must include all ethnicities. For example, we are currently experiencing a growing number of Chinese visitors, and we anticipate this number to grow. We want to give them personalized discovery experiences.
  4. How has technology impacted the FHL? Family history centers?
    Technology has completely changed the landscape of genealogy in the last ten years. While only a small portion of the world’s historical records have been digitized and posted online, the coming years will see that effort grow exponentially (See UPDATE: FamilySearch Digital Access Replacing Microfilm). With that, our ability to index and publish online material will need to keep pace. New historical record collections will require better integration of the experience in the FHL and family history centers.
  5. What do you see as the future role of the FHL?
     The library will be the flagship of the FamilySearch in-person experience for all ages and skill levels. This experience will extend quickly to the regional FamilySearch Centers and family history centers. it will also be a great experience on mobile devices. This will invite more people to enter their living memory into the system and share across generations of enthusiast.
    There will be a renewed emphasis on the professional development of the staff. We will be exploring different models to include other domain experts in the reference experience, including many others in the community, both local and beyond. Events will celebrate the cultures of homelands around the world. A key component will include online training drawing from the knowledge and expertise of the community at-large.
  6. What are the biggest challenges in planning for the FHL’s future?
    The biggest challenge will be keeping up with technology and people’s expectations of what can be done with their ancestry. DNA will take family history to new heights and family connections will become easier to make with distant cousins. Augmenting DNA connections with historical genealogical records will create a well-sourced history of the human family.
  7. Will you, as the FHL director, also be responsible for FSCs, FHCs?
    As Director of the Family History Library, I will also be responsible for the Regional FamilySearch Centers and the guest experience in the family history centers. Operations in the family history centers regarding updates to computers and furnishings will be handled by the operations function.
  8. Can you recall the moment or experience when you first realized you had a passion for FH?
    My passion for family history sparked at a young age. I transferred to Brigham Young University, noticed the family history classes in the catalog and began taking them. Although I was a business major at the time, I changed majors within a couple years.
  9. How will the FHL compete with the growing access to online?
    The FHL will embrace technological advancements where applicable to expand the reach of its resources to more patrons and grow with it. The FHL also has access to a wealth of resources that are not available online and images of historical record collections which may only be viewed in one of our facilities. Hundreds of thousands of microfilms still need to be digitized and published as well as maps and other media types. The professional expertise to use, interpret, and connect families is still available in the FHL.
    Live classes are taught in the FHL by both resident staff and visiting genealogical experts from throughout the world. Both young and old are having an incredible opportunity with the immersive Discovery Experience on the main floor. From there, they can go directly to other resources in the library and continue their search.