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

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Linking Living Individuals to Deceased Ancestors in FamilySearch Family Tree: Understanding Private Space

One of the more common problems encountered with's Family Tree program is the need to link living individuals with those who are deceased. When a new user registers for the program or investigates it for the first time, they may encounter a situation where they cannot see any of the people who may already be in the program. This is especially true when the person has more than one generation back to the first deceased individuals, i.e. when their parents and grandparents are still living. This may also involve the "Private Space" created by Family Tree.

According to a blog post published in September, 2014, FamilySearch states the following: is currently in the process of doing the following:
  • Moving the data of all living people from to Family Tree.
  • Removing links that tie information about living LDS Family Tree users to their Church membership records. (This is the case only for those tree users who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Those who are not members of the LDS Church never had these links to begin with.)
  • Giving each person a private space for viewing their own private information.
 From the same post, here is an explanation of the Private Space:
Each Family Tree user now has a private space that allows them to manage their own private information. The information in that space can only be seen by the individual user and no one else. All living people, their relationships, and their data will be stored in that space. For example, I can view information about myself and my close living relatives that I have added to Family Tree in this private space but no one else can. Information that someone else has added about living people, their relationships, and their data will be stored in their own private space.
Essentially, the Family Tree program adds a unique Personal ID number for any living individuals who are added by a user. This means that the program creates a duplicate entry for any living person who is already listed in the program. So, for example, if you find that your parents are not visible in the program and they are still living, you can add them in but only you will see the new entries and if they are already listed in the program, the new entry will be a duplicate. These duplicates will have to be merged into the original entry when the person dies.

However, in order to link a living individual to deceased people who do not automatically appear, it is necessary to add these duplicate living people to the Family Tree. One way to do this is to search and find find the first deceased ancestor in the main surname line. This means that you will use this direct line ancestor to create a link back to yourself by adding in the living people between you and the deceased ancestor. So, if your great-grandfather was the first deceased person in your line, you would add your grandfather and father, who are still living, as children and then add yourself as a child. Here is an outline of the procedure as found in the Help Center:
  1. Find the nearest deceased father and deceased mother.
  2. Take note of your ID number.
  3. Take note of the number of generations between yourself and the nearest deceased father and mother for each line. There are four generations in this example. Those marked with hashed lines presently are not linked to you and will be added.
  4. Start with the nearest deceased parent. Edit that family by adding the direct line living child (select Add Child).
  5. Create a new record (select Add Person) showing only the name, gender, and birth information of the living person.
  6. For the living person you just added, go to his or her Person page, scroll down to the Family Member section, and select Add Spouse to complete the couple. Repeat step 5 to add the spouse's information as a living individual.
  7. Repeat steps 4 through 6 for each couple until you are ready to add yourself, using your ID number.
  8. Finally, add yourself to your parents by clicking Add Child (see step 4) and selecting the Find by ID Number option. Enter your ID number, click Find, and then click Select on the next screen.
There are several things to note, also from the Help Center:
  • This is a temporary record for linking purposes only and can be updated and merged when the person is deceased.
  • In the event the spouse is deceased, you can select Add Spouse or Find Person or Find by ID Number (if you know his or her ID number).
  • You can link your living mother to her nearest deceased ancestors using the appropriate steps above to build your pedigree on both lines.
It is really a lot less complicated than it sounds. The main idea is to connect a deceased person with the living user of the program by adding in all the necessary generations of ancestors. In the past, adding in one line would add in all of the other lines, however, with Private Spaces, this may not happen and you might have to repeat the process for each line of ancestors. 

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