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

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Using FamilySearch's Community Trees Program

Very few family historians know about the FamilySearch Community Trees website and it is seldom mentioned or promoted by FamilySearch. The Community Trees website has two sections of family history information the community trees themselves and oral genealogies. Here is the description of the Community Trees project from the website:
Community Trees are genealogies from specific periods and localities that have been linked according to family lineages. Many trees include associated documents and images. Each community tree is a searchable database that allows views of individuals, families, ancestors, and descendants and gives various options for printing. 
The scope of projects may involve members of a small villages or townships who work together to form a family tree of all known residents of the community for a given time period. Some are projects involve genealogical and historical societies that work with FamilySearch to index several sources of data to link them to common, lineage-linked genealogies of a targeted geographic area. 
The scope could also be focused on a particular record set and locality. The goal may be to identify and reconstitute all families of a particular place from a village, county, or even a country. Many of the current projects were produced by FamilySearch's Family Reconstitution team and are for communities from medieval times. 
GEDCOM downloads of the community trees may be available, depending on restrictions that have been set for access to the records. No information for living people is usually available in the public views of these community trees. Edits and corrections to the databases are usually restricted by project partners; please contact these partners to offer suggestions, corrections, and new information. Some partners may have additional information or enhanced versions of the genealogies on their own websites. These databases will be updated if they are a work in progress.
These files are comprehensive, but very focused and therefore limited in scope. They are helpful if the community trees cover the time and place where your ancestors lived, otherwise, they are only interesting. This is essentially a grab bag. If you happen to have ancestors in these studies, then you will find a lot of information. If not, then nothing. Some of these files are updated regularly but some are completed and no more information is being added.

For some areas, Community Trees contains the definitive information on a subject. For example, the oral histories pages may contain the only recorded information about the genealogy of the area where the histories were recorded. Here is a partial list of the places covered in the oral histories:

  • Austral Islands
  • Cook Islands
  • Fiji Islands
  • Ghana
  • Leeward Islands
  • Marquesas Islands
  • Nigeria
  • Samoa
  • Tahiti Islands
  • Tonga
  • Tuamotu Islands
  • Tuvalu Islands

In the Community Trees portion of the website, here are some of the more interesting and comprehensive genealogies:
  • Paget's Heraldic Baronage
  • British Isles Families with Peerage, Gentry, and Colonial American Connections
  • Royal and Noble Houses of Europe
  • Iceland Historical Family Trees
  • Early Irish Families
  • Jewish Families (Knowles Collection)
  • Peruvian lineage-linked families
You need to look carefully at the lists of studies on this website. 


  1. I've looked at some of the Norwegian projects in the collection of community trees which are all extractions of various Norwegian Bygdebøker and so can be great resources if someone has family from one of the areas covered, However a couple of cautions need to be kept in mind:

    1) Since they are transcripts, one needs to check the community tree against the original bygdebok to check for typographical errors.

    2) Some of the bygebok are very well done by authors who were very good researchers. But even the best bygebok I have worked with have errors. The Community Trees will contain these errors.

    3) Some of the bygebok are full of research errors and typographical errors and really have to be treated with caution. These Community Trees will be close to useless.

    4) Everything in a bygdebok still needs to be checked against the original parish records.

    5) Many bygdebok authors did not bother to include children who died in infancy or childhood. (I've run across people in Family Tree who keep deleting a child from a family who is well documented in the parish records because "he is not in the bygdebok.")

    I have seen too many family groups in Family Tree where different contributors merely copied out of the bygdebok and did no other research, leading to very incomplete information and a lot of duplicates. Family Tree needs to be better than these Norwegian Community Trees, not be made to match those Community Trees

    1. Your comments apply to all resources and documents of all kinds. Thanks for the insight.

  2. Thanks for highlighting this group of records. I knew the Historical Families Reconstitution zone has been doing great work for decades, and saving to Legacy. But I didn't know they posted their results on Community Trees. I am waiting for the day that the well researched families of European royals will be put on Family Tree and replace the multiple records for the same folks there which is not carefully researched. Let's have only one correct record for royals too!

  3. Where do you find community trees on It used to be searched under genealogies. But I can't see it there anymore next to how to add GEDCOMs.

    1. Thanks for both of your comments. The Community Trees website is not part of, it is a separate website: