Assure your Family History Records are Accurate

As a ward Temple and Family History consultant, I have looked at your family history records in FamilySearch. I have prepared some suggestions.

A letter from The First Presidency to all Church members in September 1995 stated, "We desire that all adult members of the Church ... identify their ancestors, and perform temple ordinances for those who wait beyond the veil. Because of the sacred nature of this work, members should be diligent in assuring the accuracy of all information submitted."

Before a member submits any relative’s name for ordinances, whenever possible, it is most important to first verify the accuracy of each individual record and determine the relationship between you and the relative before you proceed to do their ordinance work. Second, click to review a FS article titled Individuals for whom I can request temple ordinances.

OBJECTIVE: Seek to verify the person's relationship to you.
1. Source documentation and notes should provide proof of each person's identity.
2. Look for documentation proving the person's relationship to the others in the family, i.e. parents, spouse(s), children and siblings. Resolve serious data errors and discrepancies.
3. Finally check for possible duplicates in the database.

Consider reserving a name before researching it to avoid someone reserving it while you are researching. Only after you assure the accuracy of the identity of the person and their relationship to you should you then submit the name for their ordinance(s). If you can’t assure accuracy, then enter an explanation in the "Discussions" field and unreserve it.

Please review the following comments and articles about sources:

Original Records created near the time of an event by someone with first-hand knowledge of the event are more reliable than biographies and abstracts done by others. When found, copy original records, quoting important information in your records, and reference and file them in an orderly and safe system. Original Vital (government) Records are testimonies of birth, marriage and death (birth information on a death certificate is a secondary source). Civil Court proceedings are good original records. So are Church Records that testify of Christenings and Marriages, Death and Burial. Cemetery and Government Population Census Records contain errors but are valuable. Consider Probate court records (wills, deeds), as well as land, military, and immigration records. Most original records are found in the residence areas where the person lived.

Secondary Records include almost all published works. These "compiled records" include records of previous research by others, such as biographies, letters from descendants, area and family histories, printed genealogies or indexes, and abstracts of records. Bible records and tombstone inscriptions are good secondary sources. A cited secondary source is simply an indicator to a researcher that points in a certain direction.

We have high expectations for FamilySearch Family Tree contributions, and we should help and encourage others to improve their skills if they don't meet those expectations. Of course, it must be done in a kind and considerate manner, but we need to patiently create a record that is to become "worthy of all acceptation."

In President Monson stated, "The Lord expects you and me to perform our family history work well. I think the first thing we must do if we are to perform our work well is to have the Spirit of our Heavenly Father with us. ... We are going to make mistakes, but none of us can become an expert in family history work without first being a novice. Therefore, we must plunge into this work, and we must prepare for some uphill climbing. This is not an easy task, but the Lord has placed it upon you, and He has placed it upon me."

The article Purpose of FamilySearch and Family Tree states that "the goal of Family Tree is to create the best-sourced genealogy in the world." The same article also states, "Family Tree is designed to provide a place to show one complete, accurate record for each person who has ever lived on the earth."

The article states "Family Tree is intended to become a genealogical record that is correct, that includes supporting sources, and that endures longer than any of the people who add information to it." What constitutes a source is described in

To make ancestors more real, you could describe the setting of the ancestor's culture by placing them in history using a timeline and explanations of their community. Explain any significant events that shaped their destiny such as a war, the consequences of religious values, illness, or tragedy. See if you can tell of the character of the ancestor that would reflect their tastes and feelings about events and the setting of the story of their life. Most localities have written local histories and public documents. Some family members as well have the "good stuff" in photographs, journals and other "old papers". Trust no data without checking it out.

One of the biggest challenges of family history research is to conduct it in such a way that collection, analysis, and interpretation of information is carried out with maximum objectivity. This means that any conditions which might introduce bias or prejudice must be avoided if at all possible. Any conclusions should be written in such a way that a skeptical or interested investigator has enough information to be able to repeat the research and either confirm or invalidate the reported results.

Principles of Family History research:

Table of Contents:
Step 1: Identify What You Know
Step 2: Decide What You Want to Learn
Step 3: Select Records to Search
Step 4: Obtain and Search the Records
Step 5: Evaluate and Use the Information

Lessons on how to use FamilySearch Family Tree:

The following are two lesson presentations and two handouts, along with one-on-one instruction to help LDS Church members learn to love family history, learn basic family history skills, find names to take to the temple, and learn to be accurate.

1. Getting Started: FamilySearch Basics provides a summary of the doctrine of family history and temple work along with an overview of the FamilySearch website. FamilySearch Family Tree Basics is a companion handout. A print and digital copy of the handout, as well as a digital copy of the presentation is provided for each class member. During subsequent class periods, class members are encouraged to complete the steps on the handout. The goal is to get to know ancestors who are already in Family Tree, and seek inspiration as to which ancestors might have relatives who need temple work.

One-on-one help should be available for each class member, preferably the same person each week. Helpers should have some basic computer and family history skills but need not be experts. However, it is best if someone with more advanced computer and family history skills is available to assist those who are helping. The number of class periods for learning basic skills can be flexible depending on class member needs. Additional meetings in your home during the week are also available for each class member.

2. Once basic skills have been learned, Sharing Temple Blessings With Your Ancestors is presented. The companion handout is Find, Take, Teach. Prior to this class period, each class member is asked to prayerfully select a "target" person. A consultant then reviews each class member’s Family Tree (focusing on the target person), and prepares a personalized lesson plan. Digital and print copies of the lesson plan and handout are given to each class member, along with a digital copy of the presentation. One-on-one help is provided to complete each step.

(Multiple class periods will likely be needed to complete the above two lesson plans.) Again, the number of class (or home) sessions can be flexible.


It is recommended that consultants use the Consultant Planner. Here is a sample lesson plan.

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