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(Screen shot from FamilySearch.org Family Tree.)

At RootsTech 2015, Elder Neil L. Andersen expanded his previous challenge — which was for Church members to “prepare as many names for the temple as you perform baptisms in the temple”—to include teaching others to do the same.

With this extra focus on temples and family history, many Church members wonder what they can do to find family members’ names that they can take to the temple. Here are five FamilySearch hacks to help you find names successfully without becoming a family history expert first.

1. Look for “Opportunities”

The best place to look is usually the most obvious. FamilySearch has a built-in “Temple Opportunities” tool to help Church members identify direct ancestors within five generations who need temple ordinances.

After signing in to FamilySearch, look at the top navigation. Choices include “Family Tree,” “Memories,” “Search,” “Indexing,” and “Temple.” If “Temple” has a red star next to it, the system has identified temple opportunities. Click “Temple,” then click the green arrow next to the temple icon to reserve ordinances for an individual. If you need help, use this page.

Note that you should always check for possible duplicates before completing temple work for an ancestor.

2. Use Descendancy View

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This screenshot shows the “Descendancy” view of Lucinda Churchwell. The green temple icons indicate that both Richard C. Brumley and Willis Brumley need temple ordinances. The yellow/brown icons mean there are record hints available, and the blue icons indicate there may be gaps in their records.

FamilySearch’s new Family Tree “Descendancy” view reveals temple opportunities that have historically been difficult to find. Navigate your family tree back a few generations and click on a person’s name. Once you see the person’s information, click “Family Tree” just below his or her name. Then, in the upper-left corner, change “View: Traditional” to “Descendancy.”

This screen displays all the descendants of a person, including those who are not your direct ancestors. These are distant aunts, uncles and cousins. Look for a green temple icon on the right, which signifies temple work is needed for an individual. Reserve ordinances by clicking on the green temple icon and following the instructions.

3. Use record hints

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All four of these people have both record hints and research suggestions that may help expand their family tree.

It might be tempting to skip over a person without a green “Temple” icon. However, other icons indicate that many more people may need ordinances. Especially if a person is listed as single, entire families may need to be added.

The yellow laptop-with-a-magnifying-glass icon in Descendancy View indicates that FamilySearch has “record hints” for a person. This means that FamilySearch has indexed records that may help you learn more about an individual.

The blue list-with-a-question-mark icon indicates that FamilySearch has “research suggestions” for a person. Usually, this means there is a person missing from FamilyTree (perhaps a spouse or child), and, by association, someone who may need temple work completed.

4. Research people with incomplete profiles

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This is an excellent example of an incomplete record. Further research may reveal a date and place of birth and death, a spouse, and children.

Sometimes, researchers identify a person on a census record but never get around to learning more about the person. These people may have marriage, death and family records available to help you learn more about them. If you’re not sure how to begin, look for people with no death date (just “deceased”) listed.

5. Find a spouse

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More information about “Mrs Mary Wallen” would expand the family tree and likely reveal more individuals in need of temple ordinances.

Family trees stop when information about a spouse is missing. Find dead ends on your family tree and search for newly indexed records on your oldest known ancestor. Finding maiden names and parents’ names can expand your family tree through generations.

Another great way to identify family members is to find the spouses of people listed as single. If you can’t find a record of a certain woman past the age of 20 or so, it’s possible she got married and is listed under a different name. In order to be sealed, these couples must both be listed in the system—and they may have children in need of ordinances, too.

8 Responses

  1. Great tips, however, please remember the 110 year rule. Always get permission for those that were born after 1905. This past few weeks I have been busy helping people get their parents work back off “family members” who are doing the work without permission. One sister was waiting for the one year anniversary of her mothers death, to find that a distant cousin had already taken the name to the temple – she was in a different time zone and (her excuse) she said she didn’t know that she had other members of her family in the church and she wanted her relatives to receive the temple ordinances! It is heart breaking to see this happen.


  2. I love the excitement for family history and finding our family names to take to the Temple. However, I am concerned when the only interest is finding a name…..and not actually knowing that the information on FamilySearch is correct. We all know that there are mistakes on FamilySearch. I have found several of my family names that had been connected to parents that were not correct. There were no sources for the information. Once I found some sources, I found the mistake and made the correction. Some of the connections had been made by automatically by FamilySearch. I realize that FamilySearch is trying to help connect families with the information they have from indexed records, but it is just their best guess. I think we always need to verify the connections automatically made by FamilySearch from indexed records. We all know that sometimes mistakes are made in indexing. So please keep in mind to make sure the information you are using has the sources to verify the accuracy of the information. We don’t need to do the work for someone, just to do work…..we need to do the work that actually needs to be done.

  3. Again, why do we feel WE are the most important aspect of this work? IT IS NOT ABOUT US, PEOPLE! It does not matter who does the work, as long as it gets DONE. As expeditiously as possible. If someone did my mother’s work before I could get to it, AMEN! This is NOT about us. This is ONLY about those SUFFERING souls in SPIRIT PRISON. They tell us that if you compare the entire proxy ordinance work needing to be done in the world before the end of the Millennium to the size of a football field, then the work we have done in the church the past 150 years is only the size of a postage stamp. With so much to do, let’s just roll up our sleeves and get to work. As fast as humanly possible.

    1. Robert Williams,
      I disagree – and I know I am far from being alone in this 🙂
      There is a rule there for a reason.
      Someone in the USA has added people to one of my trees without permission or checking. Their information is wrong. This now gives me extra work. I only hope nobody else copied it.
      Too many people are not asking permission. Believe it or not, there are people living who do not want their deceased family members part of our “work” 🙂

  4. Robert Williams,

    I agree with you in the need to get to work. Unfortunately, though, when people disregard certain rules, other mistakes are likely to follow. If you don’t search for a person before adding them, you will sometimes duplicate work. A man once went through and did work for every name he found in a cemetery – most 9 whom had done work for themselves as they died active members in good standing. So observing the 110 year rule has its place as well. by bothering to ask, this sister who was un aware of other family would make a connection and have more people to help her accomplish the work. In my case, someone did the same thing for my uncle before I had a chance to ask his children or my Dad for permission. When I found out, I was excited someone had already asked, only to realize they hadn’t bothered. Failing to follow that rule has led to the newer requirement that proof be provided. Failure to get such permission can also lead to temporary or permanent suspension of rights to use the reservation system. My bigger pet peeve, though, as I said, is when people add names without checking first, so I generally agree with your point that we need to get to work. My only point here: rules exist and should be followed. It may not be important who does the work, but it is important that the work be done properly to avoid such duplication and to avoid having your rights suspended.

  5. Just to clear the air: I agree that these are great suggestions. I will definitely be using them. I also agree with Linda that it is good to be sure it is correct. There is to much to be done to duplicate work or do it improperly. Great post, though.

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