Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Friday, May 16, 2014

What is the Ancestral File?

The Ancestral File is a huge pedigree linked online database with about 40 million people. It is presently searchable on from the search page. Here is a screenshot showing the link from the Search page called "Genealogies" that gives access to both the Ancestral File (AF) and the Pedigree Resource File (PRF).

Clicking on the link brings up a page to choose which of the two database files to search, either individually or together. You choose which of the files to search by checking or unchecking the boxes next to the names of the files.

Detailed information about the Ancestral File is found in the Research Wiki article, appropriately titled, "Ancestral File." The Ancestral File was included in the original version of the website back in 1999. Many people believe that the Ancestral File program disappeared when the present website was introduced, however, as you can see, the file is still alive and well on

The Ancestral File is a compilation of Family Group Records, Pedigree Charts, and even GEDCOM files submitted to FamilySearch over the years. All of the submissions were examined closely and then merged to eliminate errors and duplication. About 100,000 of the individuals in about 25,000 families in the Ancestral File date from before 1500 A.D. All of this pre-1500 information was carefully scrutinized before it was included in the file.

The Ancestral File has some significant limitations. These are outlined in the Research Wiki article as follows:
  • It contains no notes or sources.
  • Submitters are responsible for the accuracy of the information. FamilySearch did not check the accuracy of any submission.
  • Submitter information, previously available, is now hidden for privacy reasons.
  • Ancestral File contains many errors and corrections are not accepted.
  • Unlike the new FamilySearch Tree and Pedigree Resource File (PRF), Ancestral File is static.
  • As previously mentioned, information in Ancestral File is second-hand. Verify the information before accepting it.
It is unfortunate that sources were not included with the original file as the users of Family Tree are now adding sources to those same individuals. 

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