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How to Read a 1790 U.S. Census Form

Sat, 12/08/2018 - 23:11

A 1790 census record can give you a small snapshot into your 1790 ancestor’s family and lifestyle. Although the handwriting might seem hard to decipher at first, 1790 census forms are simple and can be very easy to navigate.

Use this quick guide to help you find your early U.S. ancestors in the census and learn a little more about them.

1790 Census Record at a Glance

The 1790 census has the following information about each household a census taker visited: 

  • Name of the head of the household or the head of the family.
  • Number of free white males ages 16 years and older, including heads of families.
  • Number of free white males under 16 years of age.
  • Number of free white females, including heads of families.
  • Number of all other free persons in the household (except nontaxed Indians).
  • Number of slaves in the household.

1790 census records will also have a location written somewhere on the page to indicate where that census was taken. The census location and head of household name can help you identify your family on a 1790 census record and give you clues about where the family lived.

The arrangement of families on a census schedule was normally in the order in which the census taker visited the households. So the names next to your ancestor might be the neighbors.

What If the Record I Found Doesn’t Look Like This One?

Census takers for the 1790 census actually created their own forms, following instructions from Congress. Because of this variability, individual 1790 census forms may look slightly different from one another. The census forms should still contain the same basic information, but you might find some records with information beyond what was required by Congress.

Examples of different 1790 census records:

Try It Yourself: Search the 1790 Census

On, you can search the 1790 United States census for free. The search results will show you information that has been extracted from the record (such as names and locations), and you can also see the actual images of the census records.

Looking at an image, you can find your ancestor’s name, how many people were in the household, and what the makeup of the household was (male or female, old or young, slave or free).

Finding your ancestor in the 1790 census can put you on the path to important discoveries about your family! To learn more about searching the census, read “How to Find Families in the 1790 Census” on the FamilySearch blog.

1790 U.S. Census

Learn about the 1790 U.S. census records.

Find People in the 1790 Census

How to find your family in the 1790 U.S. census.

Sharon is a retired IT executive and enjoys keeping up with and writing about advancements in genealogy-related technology. She is currently serving as a writing missionary for FamilySearch. She and her husband live in Virginia.


How to Find Families in the 1790 United States Census

Sat, 12/08/2018 - 22:54

The 1790 census was the first census taken after the United States became an independent country. These census records may be some of the first records to give information about your early ancestors who lived in the United States.

Locating an ancestor in a 1790 census entry has a few challenges to it, but you can search the 1790 census online for free. Use these tips to conduct a successful search in the 1790 census.

What the 1790 Census Can Tell You about Your Family

The 1790 United States census contains very limited information about individual family members, especially compared to later censuses, but it can tell you:

  • The full name of one of your ancestors (the head of household)
  • How many adult males were in the ancestor’s household
  • How many male children were in the household
  • How many females were in the household
  • How many slaves and other persons were included in the household

1790 census records lists the names of heads of households, with marks representing the number of people in each category in the household. The full count for your ancestor’s household could include visitors, servants, relatives, and of course, the members of the immediate family.

Some members of the household may have been absent, living abroad or cared for by others when the 1790 census was taken. In that case, they would have been recorded as part of the household in which they lived on the day the census was taken.

Who Counts as the Head of a Household?

The father in a family was normally listed as head of household in the 1790 census, even if an older male (like a grandfather) was present in the home. When the father in a family was deceased, a son would usually be listed rather than the surviving widow. However, some women and widows were listed as the head of household, depending on the circumstances.

Start with a Simple Search

Pick one of your 1790 U.S. ancestors who may have been listed as head of household and  head over to (or another major genealogy site) to find your family in the 1790 census.

Search the 1790 Census

Once there, type in your ancestor’s name, and click Search. You can also try searching with a location to help narrow your results.

What to Do If You Don’t Get Results Right Away

If you didn’t get the results you wanted in your first search, don’t give up! Here are some other things you can try.

Use a different ancestor’s name. Only one ancestor’s name per household was listed in the census. Try searching for another (typically male) name in your family tree.

Use creative spellings. Names may have been misspelled by the census taker or misread by the indexer. Try searching with different variations of your ancestor’s name. For example, the name “Bisby” may have been spelled “Bisbie,” “Bisbee,” “Bisbey,” or “Bisbuy.”

Search with the right location. Verify your ancestors’ location using other records or maps. Be aware that some 1790 census data was lost between 1790 and 1830. Locations with missing information include areas in the present-day states of Delaware, Georgia, New Jersey, North Carolina, Virginia, and Kentucky.

If you are more sure about your ancestor’s location than a name or name spelling, you can try searching the 1790 census by image. On, the images of the 1790 census are grouped by state, county, and then specific location.

How to Find the Right Family

If you have a lot of search results from the 1790 census, there are some things you can do to narrow your results.

Look at the original census record. Use the images of handwritten census documents (likely linked in your search results) to get more information about each census entry. Compare household sizes, neighboring families, and other information with what you know about your ancestors. Learn more about how to read a 1790 census form on the FamilySearch blog.

Verify with information from other records. Try collecting more information about your ancestor’s family from town records, land dealings, wills, and local histories. Focus your census search on households that most closely fit your ancestor’s circumstances. (Keep in mind that household counts on the census may include more than just family members.)

Research other families in the area. Try searching the 1790 census for other households that share your ancestor’s surname and live in the same area. It may be possible to link these families using information from other records.

You can also use connected surnames to try and identify your family. For example, if you have an ancestor whose surname is “Jones” and whose maiden name is “Garrick,” finding those two surnames near each other might point to the right record.

Use the 1790 Census to Build Your Family Tree

Although locating ancestors in the 1790 United States census can be a challenge, a census record can provide a valuable puzzle piece in creating a complete picture of your family. For more information on the 1790 census and other United States censuses, check out the following articles on the FamilySearch blog:

1790 U.S. Census

Learn about the 1790 U.S. census and your family.

How to Read a 1790 Census

How to read a 1790 census form and its questions.

Legacy Tree Genealogists is a genealogy research firm with expertise in helping people find their ancestors. Founded in 2004, the company provides full-service genealogical research for clients worldwide, helping them discover their roots and personal history through records, narratives, and DNA.


The 1790 United States Census

Sat, 12/08/2018 - 22:19

The United States took its first census in 1790, just a year after George Washington was inaugurated as the first president. For such a young nation, the 1790 census was a staggering feat given the country’s lack of experience and limits in printing and transportation. Over the course of 18 months, census takers gathered and recorded data for about 3.9 million people almost entirely by hand.

Were your ancestors among the 3.9 million people counted on this historic census? Find out by searching for their names in the 1790 census on FamilySearch.

Search 1790 Census Records

Find People in the 1790 Census

How the 1790 census can help you find your family.

How to Read a 1790 Census

How to read a 1790 census form and its questions.

United States History and the 1790 U.S. Census

While the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 declared the United States as an independent nation, it took several years, battles, and political decisions for a new nation to truly be born. The Revolutionary War ensued for several years, with the Battle of Yorktown in 1781 sealing a victory for the thirteen American colonies. The British government officially recognized the United States as a separate nation in the 1783 Treaty of Paris.

Over the coming years, the new federal and state governments charted their shared path to the future. Delegates debated and drafted a new Constitution in a Constitutional Convention held in Philadelphia in 1787. The Federalist Papers followed shortly after to promote the new Constitution, which was ratified in 1788 (with the 13th and final state signing it in 1790). With a new government outlined in the Constitution, Revolutionary War hero General George Washington was elected the nation’s first president in 1789.

The Constitution called for a national census to be taken every 10 years. With the new government established, this decennial census began in 1790. Its purpose wa s to allocate seats for each state in the House of Representatives and, at least initially, to calculate each state’s share of the Revolutionary War debt. Today, however, the 1790 census can help you find your ancestors who lived during these fascinating times.

Life at the Time of the 1790 U.S. Census (1776–1790)

Most U.S. residents at the time of the first census lived on small farms in the eastern states, with a small number of people running large Southern plantations, migrating west in the Appalachians and Northwest Territories, or living in cities. Only about 4% of the population lived in the United States’ few early cities, with the largest being New York City (population of 33,131), Philadelphia (population of 28,522), Boston (population of 18,320), Charleston (population of 16,359), and Baltimore (population of 13,503).

Everyday life for most people in early America involved hard work. In this early point of U.S. history, most formal occupations were filled by free, white, property-holding men, who earned an average of $259.86 per year and included shoe makers, farmers, shopkeepers, silversmiths, fullers (who cleaned wool), and more. Free, white women most often did their work from home, including tasks such as running a household and supervising servants, raising children, making food and clothing, and many other household chores.

About a fifth of U.S. residents in 1790 were enslaved, mostly on small farms in Southern states. These men, women and children were compelled to labor in fields, take care of livestock and serve in homes. Some enslaved people worked as semi-skilled and skilled craftspeople. In cities and towns, many worked in factories, on docks, and in other businesses.

Daily aspects of life were often practical and simple. Meals were often dependent on the season and climate. Fashions were deliberately simple, compared to those in Europe; residents of this young democracy didn’t want to dress like aristocrats. Commonplace aspects of life today such as news, education, travel, and luxury goods were more easily accessible to city-dwellers.

Famous People in the 1790 U.S. Census

Some of the era’s most famous names appear in the 1790 U.S. census, including:

Thomas Jefferson’s entry in the census doesn’t include tally marks for all the individuals in his household, as was normal. Instead, scrawled across a line with his name is his occupation: “Sec of State to the U.S.” The next name under Jefferson’s, Edmund Randolph, also skips the household tally in favor of his job title as the nation’s first Attorney General.

Eli Whitney was only 24 when the 1790 census was taken. Still a student at Yale, he dreamed of becoming a lawyer, but his mechanical aptitude would soon take his career in another direction. Within 4 years, he would patent his famous cotton gin, revolutionizing production and leading to his career as a pioneer in industrial technology.

Do your own ancestors appear among these famous names in the 1790 U.S. census? Search the census here.

Sunny Morton is an award-winning teacher of personal and family history. She is a Contributing Editor for Family Tree Magazine, Editor of Ohio Genealogy News and former Contributing Editor at The Genealogy Gems Podcast. Sunny speaks at events around the United States and has authored Story of My Life: A Workbook for Preserving Your LegacyGenealogy Giants: Comparing the 4 Major Websites and a forthcoming book on finding your family in U.S. church records. She has degrees in history and humanities from Brigham Young University.


New Records on FamilySearch from November 2018

Thu, 11/29/2018 - 16:51

FamilySearch expanded its free online archives in November 2018 with almost 90 million new indexed family history records and almost 300,000 digital images from around the world. New historical records were added from Benin, Chile, Costa Rica, The Dominican Republic, England, Germany, Honduras, Ireland, Lesotho, Liberia, Nicaragua, Peru, and the United States, which includes California, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Native American Enrollment Records, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington. New digital images were added from BillionGraves .

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

Country Collection Indexed Records Digital Records Comments Benin Benin, Civil Registration of Deaths, 1891–2014 3,236 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection Chile Chile, Civil Registration, 1885–1932 184,959 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection Costa Rica Costa Rica, Civil Registration, 1823–1975
75,801 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection Dominican Republic Dominican Republic Civil Registration, 1801–2010 1,852 15,107 Added indexed records to an existing collection England England, Derbyshire, Church of England Parish Registers, 1537–1918 450,288 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection Germany Germany, Lutheran Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1500–1971 79,319,959 0 New indexed records collection Honduras Honduras, Civil Registration, 1841–1968 2,421 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection Ireland Ireland Census, 1901 3,483,120 0 New indexed records collection Ireland Ireland Census, 1901 896,582 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection Lesotho Lesotho, Evangelical Church Records, 1828–2005 27,034 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection Liberia Liberia, Marriage Records, 1912–2015 17,980 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection Nicaragua Nicaragua Civil Registration, 1809–2013 43,885 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection Other BillionGraves Index 291,984 291,984 Added indexed records and images to an existing collection Peru Peru, Áncash, Civil Registration, 1888–2005 162,255 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection Peru Peru, Diocese of Huacho, Catholic Church Records, 1560–1952 50,440 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection Portugal Portugal, Aveiro, Civil Registration, 1911–1915 7,871 0 New indexed records collection South Africa South Africa, Transvaal, Civil Marriages, 1870–1930 75 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection United States California, Pioneer Migration Index, Compiled 1906–1935 6,410 0 New indexed records collection United States Georgia, Fulton County Records from the Atlanta History Center, 1827–1955 286 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection United States Georgia, World War I, Statement of Service Cards, 1920–1929 100 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection United States Iowa, Death Records, 1904–1951 130,375 0 130,375 United States Michigan Mortality Schedules, 1850–1880 73 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection United States Minnesota, County Deaths, 1850–2001 395,947 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection United States Montana, Lewis and Clark County, Military Records, 1904–1918 49,446 0 New indexed records collection United States Montana, Toole County Records, 1913–1960 54 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection United States Native American, Eastern Cherokee Enrollment Records, 1908–1910 378 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection United States New York, County Naturalization Records, 1791–1980 1,380,342 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection United States Oklahoma, School Records, 1895–1936 2,447,651 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection United States Oregon, Baker County Records, 1862–1950 1,990 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection United States Oregon, World War I, Veteran State Aid Applications, 1921–1938 35,690 0 New indexed records collection United States Tennessee, Confederate Pension Applications, Soldiers and Widows, 1891–1965 27,951 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection United States Texas, Cooke County, Deeds, 1895–1924 30,962 0 New indexed records collection United States Washington, Native American, Census Records, 1880–1952 105 0 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.


Light the World 2018 with Family History

Wed, 11/21/2018 - 19:15

As the holiday season approaches, we look forward to the joy of family gatherings, shared meals, and celebrations. Whether you celebrate with presents under the tree, wooden shoes stuffed with straw, or a bonfire made from dried thorn branches, it is a season of joy and togetherness.

The Christmas season is an opportune time for breaking down barriers and for connecting with those who lighten our lives or whose lives we can make lighter through helpful service. Whether driven by personal convictions of faith or love for mankind, we choose to light the world.

Here are some ways that family history can help you light the world this Christmas season. For even more ideas of how to reach out to friends, neighbors, and loved ones, please revisit our suggestions from last year.

Week 1—Light the World

Join with others in making December 1 a worldwide day of service by aiding someone in his or her family history quest. Many people visit out of a desire to know their ancestors better. So help light the world by choosing to help someone learn about their ancestors during this first week.

How you can light the world—This week, help someone learn more about family by recording a family story or sharing a family photo. You can also add more information about your ancestors in FamilySearch Family Tree. Who knows? You could help relatives solve a puzzle that they have been trying to answer for years!

Consider volunteering your time by indexing names online. FamilySearch’s cool record hints feature uses indexes to help users make ancestral discoveries. The efforts of hundreds of thousands of selfless volunteers have made more than a billion records easily searchable online through FamilySearch indexing.

Week 2—Light the Community

Many family traditions—especially holiday traditions—have roots in cultural customs. These customs, while dear to us and our families, can seem strange to those unaccustomed to them. (For example, doesn’t kissing under mistletoe seem quite strange, when you think about it?) It doesn’t have to be that way!

How you can light the world—Share your family’s heritage with friends and neighbors by inviting them to participate in a holiday tradition your family enjoys. (Personally, I’d skip the mistletoe.)

Week 3—Light Your Family

The holiday season can be hectic. For as much time you can spare, focus on connecting with family and learning more about their lives—and, in the process, they will come to understand how much you care about them.

How you can light the world—Sit down and talk with someone who is important to you. Learn about this other person. Consider using the questions in 52 Stories or the FamilySearch Memories app to record for future generations what the person has to say.

Week 4—Light Your Faith

As we learn about our family history, we become connected to our ancestors’ lives. Because of the lives they led, we have been blessed.

How you can light the world—We invite you to consider the gifts you enjoy because of your ancestors. Take time to reflect—individually and as a family—on how you have been blessed through your ancestors’ lives. Jot down some thoughts in your journal (or on your ancestors’ pages on about how you benefited from time spent with them or their work and sacrifice. In so doing, you can enjoy a greater appreciation of the timeless gifts you have been given through your family.

Invite Others to Light the World

To light the world this holiday season, consider learning about or sharing a favorite faith-based holiday tradition with a friend or neighbor. Of course, we suggest helping someone make a family history discovery—and, in the process, you can make one too!

The gift of family history is a gift that keeps on giving. The joy of discovery has no seasonal boundaries. It enlightens individuals and strengthens the family with each additional insight. So, as you think about how to light the world, remember that these are only a few suggestions. There are many ways to light the world this season! We wish you the best as you spread love and understanding through family history. Please let us know how it goes by leaving a comment below.


8 Holidays around the World

Wed, 11/21/2018 - 12:54

Written by Laurie Bradshaw and Maddy Stutz

Holidays and celebrations are some of the best times to gather with family to create lifelong memories, and families around the world cherish many traditions together. Here are a few of these traditions from holidays around the world.

1. Christmas in Finland—A Time of Remembrance

On Christmas Eve in Finland, families place a single lit candle in the snow next to the graves of their loved ones. The candles are a symbol of resurrection and a reminder that ancestors will live again. In this way, Christmas in Finland is a family-centered holiday. It is a time of remembrance and peace.

2. The Diwali Festival of Lights—The Triumph of Good over Evil

The Diwali Festival of Lights is a five-day festival celebrated in autumn by Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains worldwide. Although the holiday is celebrated around the world, it holds a different meaning and significance for each of the regions and religions that practice it. For some, it is a celebration of the return of Lord Rama after his exile. Others relate the holiday to the goddess of prosperity and wealth, Lakshmi, and still others celebrate the triumph of Lord Vishnu over the demon king Bali.

Despite the differences, there is one common symbolism to the holiday—Diwali symbolizes the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness. Families celebrate by illuminating their homes using clay or oil lamps and creating intricate designs made from rice or flour in front of doorways or shrines.

3. Eid Al-Fitr—The End of a 30-Day Fast

Eid Al-Fitr, meaning “Festival of Breaking the Fast,” is a three-day celebration observed by Muslims worldwide. With Eid Al-Fitr, Muslims celebrate the end of Ramadan, a 30-day dawn-to-sunset fast. On the first day of Eid Al-Fitr, the community gathers for prayer and a sermon. After this gathering, families and friends join together for breakfast, the first meal in a month eaten during the daylight. People give gifts to children, donate to charities, visit family, and honor their ancestors at cemeteries.

4. Festa Junina—A Summer Harvest

Festa Junina is celebrated in Brazil on June 24 to mark the end of the summer and the beginning of the harvest season. It originated as a Catholic holiday and celebrates three Catholic saints: Saint Anthony, Saint John, and Saint Peter.

Families celebrate Festa Junina by dressing in rural, harvest-themed clothes and building bonfires in the street in front of their homes. As June is a colder month, the bonfires help establish a warm area for the community to gather. In Brazil, most corn is harvested in June; because of this harvest, much of the food eaten during Festa Junina is made with corn.

5. Maslenitsa—The End of a Harsh Winter

Maslenitsa is a Slavic holiday that is celebrated right before the Great Lent in March. Also called Pancake Week, Maslenitsa is a weeklong holiday in which the Russian people eat blinis, thin pancakes covered in toppings that can range from sweet to savory.

Blinis represent the sun with their circular shape and warmth and usher in a welcome end to winter. The week of Maslenitsa also includes snowball fights, family gatherings, and community events. At the end of the week, it is traditional to burn a straw effigy, “Lady Maslenitsa,” that represents the winter season.

6. St. Nicholas Eve—Sinterklaas’s Birthday

On December 5, the eve of Saint Nicholas Day, Dutch children are told that Sinterklaas comes to Holland all the way from Spain to deliver toys. Sinterklaas, according to tradition, leaves his steamboat at a port and rides through the town on a white horse. His helpers, all called Piet, help him deliver presents to the children who have been good. Naughty children, by contrast, are said to be taken to Spain for a year to learn to be nice.

St. Nicholas Eve and Christmas are separate holidays in Holland. Christmas Day, known as Eerste Kerstdag, is a more reverent and family-centered holiday, with family meals, church services, and Christmas stories.

7. Tu B’shevat—Celebrating Mother Nature

Tu B’shevat is a tradition celebrated by Jews on the 15th day of the month of Shevat (January or February, depending on the Hebrew calendar). Its purpose is to celebrate the end of the rainy season and to emphasize the responsibility to care for and nurture the earth. People plant trees, eat fruit, and celebrate the beauty and magnificence of our planet.

8. Qingming Festival—Honoring the Past and Celebrating the Future

China’s Qingming festival is a time for families to honor their ancestors and celebrate the beginning of spring. The holiday is also called “Tomb Sweeping day” or “Pure Brightness”—the literal English translation—and usually falls between April 4 and 6.

As the name suggests, the Qingming festival is a time for families to show reverence for their ancestors by visiting, cleaning, and repairing their ancestors’ tombs; sometimes, families also leave wreaths or food offerings in front of the tombs.

Qingming is also a celebration of rebirth and the beginning of spring. During Qingming, people often fly kites or colored lanterns, participate in sports, or simply spend time outside to enjoy the new greenery and blossoms of spring.

What Holidays Will You Celebrate This Year?

The holidays we celebrate and traditions we practice are a significant part of what binds our families and cultures. What holidays from around the world does your family celebrate, and what are your family’s unique traditions?

The FamilySearch Memories App can help you record your family traditions as you are celebrating. Create a deeper bond with your past, present, and future family by preserving your family traditions from holidays around the world.


Connect with Your Family, Past and Present—Famicity and FamilySearch

Tue, 11/20/2018 - 16:55

Famicity gives families a personal, secure place to share photos and memories, connect with each other, and collaborate on a family tree. Here is a taste of what Famicity can do for you, how it works with, and how to create your own free account with Famicity.

Famicity: A Private Family Social Network

A little like Facebook, Famicity offers an easy-to-use social sharing platform—but in a more personal and secure way. When one family member opens a free account on Famicity and invites other family members to join, you create a private family network where you all can have fun sharing pictures and stories. One unique feature of Famicity is that, once you sign up for the free service, you can download your family tree, photos, and memories from and then lock them down on Famicity for “by invitation only” access.

Because Famicity is free of unwanted ads and posts, you can also feel safe allowing your whole family to participate, including the younger children.

Famicity with FamilySearch Family Trees

Famicity users can create their own family tree from scratch or import their family trees from (up to four generations). When you import your FamilySearch family tree, you can share it with your family, make collaborative updates inside your private Famicity space, and then choose when to add those updates to  the FamilySearch Family Tree.

In order to import your FamilySearch tree, register for Famicity using your FamilySearch account. Once your Famicity tree is created using your FamilySearch information, you can add additional stories and pictures of your shared family history.

Famicity: A Place for Family Photos

Many people use the FamilySearch Memories app to preserve family photos and share photos of their deceased ancestors. Once you connect a photo to a deceased ancestor on the FamilySearch Family Tree, the photo can be seen by other FamilySearch users. Famicity allows you to upload and share family photos in a private, secure network.

Many users have said they are using the Famicity platform as a sort of hub for their family to stay connected by sharing current photos and stories. Famicity allows families to have completely private interactions without the risk of having personal photos exposed as they may be on traditional social media outlets.

Sign Up for a Free Account at

Visit Famicity, and click Register in the top right corner. You can sign up using your FamilySearch account, an email and password, or a Facebook account. Remember, if you want to be able to import your family tree and photos from, you need to register for Famicity using your FamilySearch account information.

Setting Up Your Family Tree and Sharing It

If you choose to register for Famicity using your FamilySearch account, Famicity will ask for permission to access your FamilySearch family tree information. After you give permission, your tree will be imported quickly. This process is a really fast way to begin building your Famicity tree!

Next, you will be able to access and work on your family tree through Famicity, adding additional pictures and stories of your family members in your family’s private space. Simply click a family member’s name or image and add pictures and stories to make your family story come alive.

Next, invite other members of your family to collaborate by going to the left navigation bar and clicking the Contacts icon.

Once you and your family are all connected, try using the Story feature! This feature looks similar to a timeline or social media feed, where you can ask questions, share recent photos, and talk about recent goings-on.

Want something fun to talk about at your next family gathering? Share your experience using Famicity with your family members and get them excited about staying connected!

Get started with your own private family network with Famicity.

As a FamilySearch Solutions provider, Famicity is one of many providers working with FamilySearch to help provide additional functionality for the FamilySearch Family Tree. Famicity provides a safe, secure network where you can connect with your family and work on your FamilySearch tree together.


FamilySearch Update for Tagging Photos and Editing Portraits

Sat, 11/17/2018 - 23:22

There’s something special about family photos. Recently, I came across a picture on FamilySearch of a Thanksgiving dinner at my great-grandparents’ home with family members seated around a long table. As I studied that photo taken sixty years ago, the past felt very close.

Photos bring out our ancestors’ personalities, paint a vivid picture of their lives and help us connect with them in deeper ways. Now with FamilySearch’s updates to choosing and tagging family photos, making photos part of your family tree in meaningful ways just got easier.

Choosing Your Ancestor’s Portrait Photo

In the upper left-hand corner of each ancestor’s FamilySearch person page is a place for a photo—known as a “portrait.” Until recently, each person saw a different portrait, possibly one she chose by selecting from hundreds of photos that had been tagged with that ancestor’s name. FamilySearch has now streamlined this process, connecting only one portrait to each ancestor.

To see how it works, click on your ancestor’s portrait on his person page. A new menu will appear with options to Edit, Replace or Remove the portrait. If you choose Replace Portrait, a box will pop up with the question: “How would this person like to be remembered?” and a group of photos to choose from. This important question encourages researchers to choose a flattering photo that is representative of an ancestor’s life. The edit option enables you to drag the frame to the correct person or the correct spot in a photo. The menu that appears when you click on a portrait will note when the portrait was last modified and by whom so that if you have a concern or question, you are able to click on that person’s name to contact her directly.

Tagging Photos

Anyone who has done family history knows that adding labels to family photos adds a great deal of value. Tagging photos on your family tree ensures that other users and future generations will know who each of the people in the photos are. FamilySearch’s tagging updates make this process easy.

To tag a person in a photo, access the photo from the “Memories” tab on their person page and click on the photo of interest. As you hover over the photo, other tags might appear. Click on an untagged person and begin typing to create a new tag. You will probably notice that instead of a circular tagging tool, a square box now appears, making tagging people near the edge of photos easier. Square tags also make it easier to tag things besides faces like documents or photos of tombstones.  

As you create new tags, FamilySearch will encourage you to attach the tags to people on your Family Tree. Tagging a person in a photo  won’t create a portrait for them, but if you think the photo you just tagged would make a good portrait, check their person page to view and edit their portrait from there. (You’ll only be able to view their portrait if they are connected to your family tree.) 

You can see all these changes right now on your computer. In a few months, you will be able to see them on your phone in the Family Tree app as well.

Try This in Your Own Family Tree

Family photos are central to our understanding of our ancestors. With these changes, now is a great time to head over to your family tree and take a peek. Take a minute to look at which portraits are connected to your ancestors and, if necessary, replace them with photos that represent who your ancestors really were. You can also update your family’s photos by uploading more. Be sure to add tags so that future generations can get to know their family members.

More Information on Portraits and Tagging

If you have questions about changing FamilySearch portraits and tagging photos, try these simple help articles:

Other New Updates to the FamilySearch Family Tree

Person Page Changes

Changes in Family Tree shed light on your ancestors’ lives.

New Discovery Fan Chart

Explore your family tree in depth with the new fan chart.


RootsTech 2018 Leadership Session

Sat, 11/17/2018 - 22:31

Church leaders shared a renewed emphasis with temple and family history consultants at the 2018 family history leadership session of RootsTech. They noted that part of your calling is to focus efforts on children turning 12 and to partner with ward leadership to work with recent converts. Learn more by clicking below.

Elder Dale G. Renlund

Church members have a responsibility to gather their family on both sides of the veil. Family history service is open to everyone, no matter the age or location.

Learn More

Elder Bradley D. Foster

Temple and family history consultants can follow the Savior’s example and work one on one with families and individuals to help them discover, gather, and connect to their ancestors.

Learn More

Sister Joy D. Jones and Elder Donald L. Hallstrom

Children are important contributors to the work of salvation. Family history provides children an opportunity to feel the influence of the Holy Ghost and become converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Learn More

Additional videos from the 2018 leadership session are available on, including presentations by Elder Patrick Kearon and Elder Brent Nielson and by Elder Quentin L. Cook.

See all 2018 leadership session videos.


Temple and Family History Consultants: At the Heart of the Action

Fri, 11/16/2018 - 23:50

In February 2018, Elder Bradley D. Foster spoke to temple and family history consultants during the family history leadership session at RootsTech 2018. The Executive Director of the Family History Department had great insights to share about how to make the service of consultants more effective and meaningful.

“Everyone deserves to be remembered,” he said. He taught how blessings of healing and peace are waiting for those who gather and connect their ancestors, and he promised divine help to those who help others.

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A Unique Opportunity

Early in his talk, Elder Foster explained how Heavenly Father wants all His children home again “in families and in glory.” He asked temple and family history consultants to consider for a moment the unique role they play in accomplishing this great work. “I’ve learned that if you want to endear someone to you, do something nice for their children,” he said. “Imagine how Heavenly Father will feel about you as you’re doing something nice for His children.”

“Think of how parents and grandparents on the other side of the veil will feel about you,” he continued, “as you help their posterity discover them.”

Moments of Discovery

One of the most important things a temple and family history consultant can do is to create personal moments of discovery for the people they help. To illustrate, Elder Foster told a story from the Book of Mormon about the prophet Lehi. After Nephi had obtained the brass plates, Lehi studied them and discovered his family’s genealogy recorded there. “At that moment of discovery,” Elder Foster pointed out, “[Lehi] was filled with the Spirit and his heart was turned to his fathers.”

Elder Foster then said, “You, as temple and family history consultants, will strive to help all members have their own moment of discovery.” The spirit they feel as they experience these moments will propel them to the next step—which is to gather and prepare names for temple ordinances.

“This family effort connects and binds us together in love on both sides of the veil,” Elder Foster explained. “It heals us and ultimately seals us for eternity through the covenants and ordinances of the temple.”

Following the Savior’s Example

“Temple and family history consultants,” Elder Foster said, “Heavenly Father wants you to follow the Savior’s example as you work with these you’ve been called to help.”

He went on to explain how during Jesus’ visit to the Nephites, everyone who was present was invited to come to Him—one by one—so they could know and bear record of Him.

“The Savior made sure they had their own individual experiences,” Elder Foster said—including children—so that they could all testify later of what they had seen and felt. His actions are a model for everyone to follow, of course, but especially for those engaged in helping others discover, gather, and connect their families.

Angels Standing By

Before concluding, Elder Foster encouraged consultants to take advantage of the many resources available on to help them in their callings. In addition, he made them a special promise: “Under the direction of your priesthood leaders, as you minister to those you are called to help, angels will accompany you and them,” he said. “As one of 81,000 temple and family history consultants around the world, this is the privilege you’ll have in this one great work.”

View a full transcript of Elder Foster’s address.

Other Messages from the 2018 Family History Leadership Session

RootsTech 2018 Elder Dale G. Renlund Leadership Session

RootsTech 2018 Sister Joy D. Jones and Elder Donald L. Hallstrom Leadership Session

Help Wanted: The Importance of Involving Children in Temple and Family History Work

Fri, 11/16/2018 - 23:39

Family history work blesses the lives of Primary children—now, and when they get older. And teaching them how to engage in family history work can be fun!

Sister Joy D. Jones, Primary General President, and Elder Donald L. Hallstrom, a General Authority Seventy and Executive Director of the Priesthood and Family Department, shared these ideas and more during the family history leadership session of RootsTech 2018.

Sister Jones said that children who participate in family history are more excited and prepared to go to the temple when they turn 12, “not only to experience the sacredness of the Lord’s house, but also because they feel a connection to their ancestors and want to perform their ordinances for them.”

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Eye on the Temple

Children often learn differently than adults. That shouldn’t surprise anyone. And so Sister Jones encouraged temple and family history consultants to be creative in their approach to engaging children in the work: “Acting out a meaningful family story, learning about their family culture or even family recipes, viewing pictures of their relatives as children, or talking about and recording their four generations in the My Family booklet are all simple ways to begin connecting with children,” she said.

But family history involves more than just looking at photos, as Sister Jones was quick to note. President Nelson himself recently said when discussing the topic, “If our collections of stories and photos should ever become an end point in themselves—if we know who our ancestors are and know marvelous things about them, but we leave them stranded on the other side without their ordinances—such diversion will not be of any help to our ancestors who remain confined in spirit prison.”

Blessings of Family History Work

“So what are the some of the specific benefits of children participating in family history?” Sister Jones asked. She mentioned several, including the following:

  • Greater confidence and improved self-esteem. “Studies actually demonstrate that children who are more familiar with their family narratives show more resilience,” she said, “more self-control, and less anxiety.”
  • A closer relationship to living parents and siblings. Sister Jones noted that through temple and family history work children gain a greater sense of belonging.
  • An improved ability to feel and listen to the Holy Ghost and to follow promptings.
  • Opportunities to strengthen and share the gospel with other family members. Family history is a powerful missionary tool that connects people on both sides of the veil.
  • Opportunities to succeed and grow spiritually. “Children often have a pure and simple faith that helps them to be successful as they do family history research,” she said. Such experiences are often life changing and form the foundation of a person’s testimony.  
Part of the Plan

In conclusion, Sister Jones bore her testimony of the important role family history can play in the lives of today’s youngest members of the Church: “I testify that our Heavenly Father has provided this special way for our children to receive greater protection, increased power to resist sin, and a more deeply rooted love for their families.”

Understanding the Big Picture

Sister Jones was followed by Elder Donald L. Hallstrom. Elder Hallstrom likewise spoke of the importance of inviting children to participate in family history and the conversion that occurs when they experience for themselves the heart-turning influence of the Holy Ghost.

Elder Hallstrom taught how family history helps people, including children, understand God’s plan better. “The gospel teaches us our true identity as a son or a daughter of God and the indispensable role of our Savior Jesus Christ and His glorious Atonement,” he said.

“When these eternal truths go from our heads to our hearts to our souls, we transform from those with faith, to those with testimonies, to those who are converted. Family history is a superb vehicle for this magnificent process.”

Doing the Best You Can

Elder Hallstrom referred to the recent decision to modify the Primary’s former “Priesthood Preview” held annually for 11-year-old boys to include 11-year-old girls and to teach about the temple. “Boys and girls have a need,” he said, “to learn about the priesthood and the temple and to prepare to qualify for limited-use temple recommends preparatory to receiving temple recommends that will for a lifetime represent the keeping of covenants.”

He then described the ideal family history scenario as one that simultaneously involves parents and children researching their ancestry together, collecting stories, preparing names for temple ordinances, and visiting the temple as a family to perform the needed baptisms and confirmations for ancestors.

Of course, the ideal isn’t always possible, in which case Elder Hallstrom encouraged consultants as well as families to “just do your best.”

“Engaging them from the youngest of ages,” he testified, “. . .  will bless them forever.”

View a full transcript of the Sister Jones and Elder Hallstrom addresses.

Other Messages from the 2018 Family History Leadership Session

RootsTech 2018 Elder Bradley D. Foster Leadership Session

RootsTech 2018 Elder Dale G. Renlund Leadership Session

Strengthening Those New and Tender in the Gospel: How Temple and Family History Consultants Can Help

Fri, 11/16/2018 - 22:54

During the family history leadership session at RootsTech 2018, Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles encouraged temple and family history consultants to reach out to children turning 12 as well as new members—whom he and other Church leaders have recently described as “new and tender in the gospel.”

He said that consultants should work closely not just with the bishop but with ward mission leaders, Primary and youth leaders, parents, and anyone else, for that matter, “who loves a child and wants to see him or her stay on the covenant path.”

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What It Means to Be Gathered

Early in his talk, Elder Renlund taught that temple and family history consultants help gather God’s family. He then explained what the word “gather” in this context means—to help another person receive, in person or vicariously, baptism, confirmation, and the ordinances of the temple.

Why is being gathered so important? Because it protects members of the Church from the pressures of the world and the temptations of the adversary. Quoting from the book of Alma, Elder Renlund said that those who are gathered “shall not be beaten down by the storm at the last day; yea, neither shall they be harrowed up by the whirlwinds; . . . yea, neither shall they be driven with fierce winds whithersoever the enemy listeth to carry them” (Alma 26:6).  

Inviting All Youth and New Converts

“We invite all new converts and new 12-year-olds to discover and gather their families and become active participants in the plan of salvation,” Elder Renlund said.

According to Elder Renlund, even children younger than 12 can begin participating in family history work and preparing for a limited-use temple recommend. “We encourage everyone to get on the covenant path as soon as possible—even and especially when they are new and tender in the gospel—and then stay focused on the blessings of the temple.”

These blessings include increased faith and strengthened resolve in the face of challenges. Elder Renlund shared research suggesting that new members are more likely to remain in the Church when they participate in family history work. The same can be said about children turning 12.

Overcoming Distances

Elder Renlund reminded consultants that although gathering involves going to the temple on behalf of deceased ancestors, it involves other important activities as well, such as preserving family memories and recording important family information. These are tasks that can be worked on at home, at church, or some other location—good news, of course, for people who can’t visit the temple because of distance.

As Elder Renlund put it, “Involvement in family history helps these members feel close to the temple. . . . It’s not a matter of geography.” He emphasized that the distance between a 12-year-old or a new convert and the temple “does not affect his or her ability to participate in family history work or to be worthy of and obtain a limited-use recommend.”

A Blessing for Temple and Family History Consultants

In conclusion, Elder Renlund described the halo effect that blesses people who strive to involve new converts and new 12-year-olds in temple and family history work. “Faith in the Savior of the families and friends who help will increase,” he said. They will be blessed with greater capacity to help those they are serving.

View a full transcript of Elder Renlund’s address.

Other Messages from the 2018 Family History Leadership Session

RootsTech 2018 Elder Bradley D. Foster Leadership Session

RootsTech 2018 Sister Joy D. Jones and Elder Donald L. Hallstrom Leadership Session

Connecting with Your Swedish Ancestry

Mon, 11/12/2018 - 15:07

What comes to your mind when you think of Sweden? Is it ABBA, the Swedish pop group that gained worldwide fame in the 70s? Or is it Sweden’s breathtaking, frigid landscapes with spectacular views of the northern lights? If you are Swedish or have Swedish ancestors, you may think of the patronymic surnames in your family tree, something that is common both in Sweden and in other Scandinavian countries.

If you have Swedish heritage, you’re not alone—over 14 million people worldwide are Swedish or have Swedish ancestry. FamilySearch’s online Swedish records collections can help you connect with your ancestors. Whether you’re trying to learn more about the lives of your family members or find new branches of your family tree, there is so much you can discover.

Search for Your Swedish Ancestors

Swedish Family History

Learn how to start researching your Swedish ancestry on FamilySearch.

Swedish Surnames

Discover the significance behind Swedish surnames in your family tree.

Swedish Church Records

Learn how to use Swedish parishes that date back as far as 1686.

Traditional Swedish Foods

Connect with your Swedish ancestors by trying these Swedish dishes.

Historical Insights from Sweden’s Records

FamilySearch’s freely accessible archives make it easy for anyone to search for Swedish ancestors. FamilySearch has over 60 million Swedish records and images available online that have millions of searchable names. More records and images are being added as they become available through indexing.

Looking through Sweden’s records can provide you unique insights on the history of Sweden and what life may have looked like for your ancestors. For example, Sweden did not fully adopt the Gregorian calendar until 1753. Before then, Sweden used their own calendar (which was most similar to the Julian calendar, the calendar most used by the Romans). This calendar shift affects how genealogists interpret dates from Swedish records created before and after the 1750s.

Other historical events such as the establishment of the Lutheran church and the unification (and later dissolution) of Norway and Sweden also affected Sweden’s records. Many of the most valuable genealogical records from Sweden were created by the Lutheran church.

Sweden Emigration

Sweden’s records can give you a look at the trends of emigration (people leaving the country) and immigration (people entering the country). A significant portion of Sweden’s population left between 1850 and 1930, with emigration during the period coming to a high point in 1887. Those who left accounted for nearly one-fifth of Sweden’s total population. They traveled to countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.

In recent years, Sweden has seen another surge of emigrations and immigrations. Emigration in 2011 broke the record made in 1887; over 51,000 Swedes left the country. Those emigrating from Sweden in recent years have mostly gone to neighboring countries such as Norway and Denmark. In 2016, immigration rates to Sweden also peaked.

Many people worldwide have strong Swedish heritage. Are you curious about your own Swedish ancestry?

Use the FamilySearch fan chart to discover what countries your ancestors were born in. If you’re just starting to build your family tree, search for your ancestor’s names in millions of records for free on

Types of Swedish Church Records

Mon, 11/12/2018 - 15:04

Did you know that Swedish parishes have been keeping records since 1686? Although individual parishes may have a few records from earlier dates, church law required Swedish church records to be diligently recorded after this time.

Search Swedish Church Records

Sweden parish staff used many types of records to account for the people living in the parish boundaries. The ones that are most useful to family history work are christening and birth records, engagement and marriage records, burial and death records, household examination records, and moving-in and moving-out records.

Swedish Birth and Christening Records

Records of each child born or christened in the parish. In Swedish, these are called födelse och dop anteckningar.

Information you can find in these records:

  • Name of the child
  • Parents’ names
  • Parents’ residence
  • Names of the godparents

Learn more about Sweden christening and birth records.

Swedish Engagement and Marriage Records

Records of each bride and groom that were engaged or married in the parish. In Swedish, these are called lysnings och vigsel anteckningar.

Information you can find in these records:

  • Name of the bride and groom
  • Date of public announcement (banns)
  • Date of the wedding
  • Other information, such as character references for the bride and groom

Learn more about Sweden engagement and marriage records and finding marriage information in all types of Swedish records.

Swedish Death and Burial Records

Records of each person who died or was buried in the parish. In Swedish, these are called död och begravning anteckningar.

Information you can find in these records:

  • Name of the deceased
  • Date of death
  • Date of burial
  • Place of residence
  • Age at the time of death
  • Cause of death (when known)

The Swedes have recorded all the deaths in Sweden between 1860 and 2016 and created a database called the Swedish Death Index. This database is a more complete collection of death records than can be found elsewhere, but it is only available in certain formats. The Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, offers free access to the Swedish Death Index at the library. It is not available through the FamilySearch desktop at family history centers. (See the Swedish Roots Bookshop site for more information on how to purchase this database on CD or DVD. To view an English version of this site, look in the main navigation bar.)

Learn more about Sweden burial and death records.

Stockholm cemetery

Swedish Household Examination Records

Records of meetings between the priest and the parishioners. In Swedish, these are called Husförhörslängd.

Information you can find in these records includes the following:

  • Name of the person
  • The person’s knowledge of Martin Luther’s Small Catechism
  • When the person took communion

These records might also include the following information:

  • Place of residence
  • Age or date of birth
  • Moving information

Sweden has indexed all the household examination books from 1860 to 1930. These books include information about every member of a parish and were recorded every year, so they are a great resource for starting your Swedish family history. You can go to to access most of this database (1880 to 1930) for free. To search for your ancestors’ names in the full Household Examination database, visit or

Learn more about Sweden household examination records.

Swedish Moving-In and Moving-Out Records

Records of every person who moved into or out of the parish. In Swedish, these are called Inflyttnings och Utflyttningslängder.

Information you can find in these records includes the following:

  • Name of the person who moved
  • Where the person came from
  • Where the person was going
  • Date of the move (or at least when the priest was notified)

Many times, these are records of people who moved outside the chapelry (pastorat). If a person moved from one parish to another within the chapelry, the move might not have been mentioned in the moving records.

Learn more about Sweden moving-in and moving-out records.

Additional Resources

Need help getting started with your Swedish family history? Read “Swedish Family History for Beginners” on the FamilySearch blog. You can learn even more about Swedish record types and how to access them on the Sweden Church Records page on the FamilySearch wiki.

Swedish records are available for free online on and the Swedish National Archives website. You can also find Swedish records on,, and ArkivDigital.

More about Swedish Ancestry

Swedish Family History

Learn how to start researching your Swedish ancestry on FamilySearch.

Swedish Surnames

Discover the significance behind Swedish surnames in your family tree.

Swedish Ancestry

Learn about your Swedish ancestors and their lives in Sweden.

Traditional Swedish Foods

Connect with your Swedish ancestors by trying these Swedish dishes.


Remembering World War I

Mon, 11/12/2018 - 08:23

From 1914–1918, millions of brave men and women around the world left their homes to fight for their countries in the Great War. It’s likely that someone in your family tree was among them. Do you know their story? Draft and service records from World War I can be a rich source of information about your ancestors, including physical descriptions, vital information, and details about their involvement in the war. Discover the part your ancestor played in the war to end all wars, preserve their legacy, and find out how it lives on in you.

Search World War I Records

Discover your relative’s WWI draft card.


Find Your Ancestors in WWI Records


Find out how to uncover and share your WWI ancestors’ stories with records on FamilySearch.

Armistice Day and the End of WWI


November 11, 2018 is the centennial of armistice, which marked the end of World War I.


WWI: Indexed Records Connect Families


Military records can provide insights into your ancestors’ lives and the lives of those around them.


Access US Soldiers’ Records from WWI


Learn about some of the most valuable WWI records with this presentation from RootsTech 2018.

The Significance of Poppies in WWI


Poppies are a symbol of respect and remembrance of those who died in World War I.

WWI Records and Genealogy

There are plenty of records available to help you learn about your ancestors who fought in World War I, including draft and service records, local newspapers, burial registers, and more. If you know where your ancestor was from or what unit they served in, you can look for them in United States World War I State and Local Histories or United States World War I Unit Histories. Dive into FamilySearch’s collections to see what you can discover. Or, help others find their ancestors by helping to index WWI records.

Find more information about United States World War I military records.

WWI Time Line: A Brief History

World War I began on July 28, 1914, when Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Russia and Germany soon joined the conflict, followed by Britain, France, and Italy. On April 6, 1917, the US declared war on Germany, and 2.8 million men were drafted to fight. Over the course of the next eighteen months, more sixty million troops worldwide and 4 million US troops were involved. By the end of the Great War on November 11, 1918, the violence across Europe resulted in an estimated thirty-seven million casualties and more than sixteen million deaths (including both civilians and military personnel).

The Harlem Hell Fighters

One group of men who served on the front lines was the 369th infantry of the 93rd division, a group of African American soldiers better known as the Harlem Hellfighters and Men of Bronze, nicknames given to them by the French. These men were known for their fierce combat, fighting longer and harder than any other infantry. The tenacity and toughness of the Harlem Hellfighters continue with us today as we remember and honor their lives and the lives of all who valiantly served in the military.

Continue reading . . .

Military Dogs in the War

More than 50,000 military dogs served in World War I, including the famous Sergeant Stubby. World War I was the first war in which military dogs were mobilized on a massive, organized scale.

Continue reading . . .

WWI Files to Download and Print

You can download and print this poster and rack card to spread the word and invite others to honor and remember those impacted by WWI.

Download here
Download here