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

Friday, January 23, 2015

Speaking of Green Arrows

One of the most recurrent topics of conversation among those who are "genealogists" and the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints concerns the existence of hints on the Family Tree program in the form of Green Arrows or Green Temple Icons. The idea of these hints is to give people opportunities to perform Temple ordinances for their ancestors who have not yet received the ordinances.

Now, there is an awful lot that could be said about this subject and I have said a lot in the past. But what I am seeing in the not-too-distant future is that green arrows, including the green Temple icons, will become as scarce as hens' teeth. Here is a list of the reasons this will happen:

  1. The number of duplicate records in the Family Tree is finite. Although there seem to be a huge number of duplicates now, in the future, the number will decrease mainly due to the design of the Family Tree. You have to remember that the Family Tree is a wiki and there is only one spot on the tree for each person that ever lived. 
  2. The reason the number of duplicates is not dramatically decreasing presently is that FamilySearch is still in mode of transitioning data from the huge pile of data on process is scheduled to be concluded in 2016.
  3. The difficulties with the merge program failing to find all of the duplicate copies will be solved as soon as the data is finally and completely moved over from
  4. As soon as all of the data has been transferred and is finally taken off-line, people like me will go on to Family Tree and eliminate all of the duplicates, which will include the vast majority of the green arrows, from the system.
  5. Without a concerted effort by significant numbers of users, the Family Tree will eventually be entirely devoid of Temple hints, absent a concerted effort to add new, previously unavailable names.
One of the most obvious things happening on Family Tree presently is that many people with "gateway" ancestors also known as legacy ancestors or IOUSs (individuals of unusual size) cannot merge obvious duplicates. Once this particular obstacle is removed when is retired then that will open up opportunities for those who are involved to clear out many of the duplicates now floating around in the system.

 Let me give an example of what I'm talking about. Here is a screenshot from a descendent CPU of one of my great uncles, a descendent of Henry Martin Tanner.

In the screenshot, there are five dark blue Temple icons and one green Temple icon. One of the dark blue Temple icons has a red caution icon. With a little investigation, we can see that a wife listed for Milton Ray Tanner is Susie Christine Nolty, who died when she was about 16 years old. There is a marriage for Milton Ray Tanner to Hermina Louise Nolty who was, from the 1940 U.S. census apparently his second wife. He was divorced in 1938. At first, this situation seems complicated and there does appear to be the opportunity to do ordinances, however, as information is added to these records, there apparent lack of ordinance information disappears. The only candidate for ordinances is Rosemarie Tanner who was born in 1926 and died in 2006. The only people who can legitimately do these ordinances, assuming they are available, are members of her immediate family. Even if the rules were completely disregarded and some performed the ordinance, the other information will clarify the other possible ordinances and all this will eventually disappear. 

Many of the current "green arrows" arise from just such complicated circumstances. These situations are caused by the fact that the information has come from multiple sources with only partial information in each source. As the issues shown above are reconciled, the apparent Temple opportunities will disappear, either because they never actually existed or because family members will do the ordinances. Those falling within the 110 year rule, will just have to wait unless the designated family members agree to have the ordinances done or do them themselves. 

Just a reminder, here is the 110 year rule:

110 Year Rule:

To do ordinances for a deceased person who was born in the last 110 years, the following requirements must be met.
  1. The person must have been deceased for at least one year.
  2. You must either be one of the closest living relatives, or you must obtain permission from one of the closest living relatives. If you are not a spouse, child, parent, or sibling of the deceased, please obtain permission from one of the closest living relatives before doing the ordinances. The closest living relatives are an undivorced spouse (the spouse to whom the individual was married when he or she died), an adult child, a parent, or a brother or sister.
Verbal approval is acceptable. Family members should work together to determine when the ordinances will be done and who will do them.


  1. Many folks, like me, have been working on cleaning up duplicates on our family lines since the beginning of nFS and now FT. Anyone who is not a recent convert unfortunately will find hundreds of duplicate records for ancestors. The old name extraction program was one reason dups were created. Example: if a name was found on a marriage record, a nFS record was made for that ordinance to be performed. Then if the same person was found on a birth record, another record was made on nFS. And so on. Another huge way dups were inserted on nFS was by way of GEDCOMs, either inserted into Ancestral File, or moved into nFS/FT from 3rd party programs. This has since been stopped. But without searching to see if ancestors were already on the program, folks just GEDCOMed them in. The old Temple Ready program caught some of these. The combination of records, which many folks did incorrectly, caught many more. Without training on how to Merge correctly on FT, and how to add ancestors, we may be looking at similar dup situations. The dups for the rich and famous are quite numerous, still.

    1. Thanks for the comment. I contributed to the duplicates by uploading my file to the Pedigree Resource File twice.