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

Thursday, January 7, 2016

What to do when people come out of the FamilySearch Family Tree private space

I had an interesting question recently. A friend's family member died, in this case an aunt, and so my friend entered the death information into the Family Tree. Up until that time, the aunt was considered to be alive and therefore the information in my friends portion of the Family Tree was inside my friend's Private Space.The Family Tree "Private Space" includes all living people and their relationships and are not visible to anyone outside of the Private Space. Once a person dies, then technically they are no longer part of the Private Space and they should be visible to everyone.

NOTE: Every person in the Family Tree must be marked either living or dead. If the person is maked dead, then they can have a death date. Removing a death date without marking the person as living, does not automatically make the person living.

The information about the Private Space comes from a Help Center article entitled appropriately, "Understanding Private Spaces." One key to understanding the effect of the Private Space is the statement in the article as follows:
A living person can be represented in multiple private spaces as a different Family Tree person, and each instance has a different ID.
It is also important to understand that anyone not marked as deceased or without a death date is automatically included in the Private Space of the person entering the information. Further as indicated by the article:
Family Tree does not compute the likelihood of people being living, even after they are older than 110 years. Users need to mark individuals as deceased and then search for any possible duplicates.
So what happened to record of my friend's aunt? When the death date was entered the record immediately became visible to anyone viewing the Family Tree. This raises another issue that was not yet a problem for my friend. What if multiple family members have created the same record for the same aunt and they all begin marking their record with the death information? Apparently, all of these duplicates pour over into the Family Tree. But, of course, this will not happen all at once. So it is imperative that when someone dies and you have that person's record in the Family Tree, that you search for duplicates as soon as you mark that person deceased and all the family members may have to continue looking for duplicates for some time.

But there seemed to be another serious problem. This particular aunt was a life-long member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But all of the ordinances she did during her lifetime were not showing. The notation was that they were "Not Available." Well, it is back to the Help Center on

The article on this subject is called "Membership record not showing for recently deceased member in Family Tree." You may have to be signed with an LDS account to see this particular article. The solution from the article is to contact FamilySearch Support at The article further provides that you may also click Get Help in the top right corner, and under Contact Us, select Call Us, Live Chat, orSend Message. You will be asked to send an email message with the information below to better ensure the death information appears on the respective record in Family Tree:
  • The full name of the deceased member.
  • Birth date and birthplace.
  • Death date and death place.
  • Full names of parents and spouse (or spouses).
  • Supporting documentation for the death date. Acceptable forms of proof include: death certificate, obituary, funeral program, or official death index. Scan and attach documentation to the email message.
  • Your Family Tree helper information (your username and your helper number). See the document Where can I find my Helper Access Number in Family Tree? (53973) to find your helper number.
  • Enter the case number provided by the support agent on the subject line of the email message and send to
The reason this is necessary is that the Family Tree is no longer automatically connected to a membership record and therefore entering the death date in the Family Tree does not update the membership record. Likewise, even if the date is entered by a ward or branch clerk, the information is no longer sent to FamilySearch. 

FamilySearch indicates that they are working on a resolution of this problem. Meanwhile, it appears that every time someone dies, all the potential "live entries" for that person will have be merged and the information updated manually by FamilySearch. 


  1. At one time Ron Tanner said they would work on making it possible to form family groups for living private spaces, where folks opted in to the group and were able to see just one instance of a living person's record. It seems that would be a good idea to avoid creating hundreds of duplicate records .... again! I think shutting down nFS is occupying all available time, and this idea will have to wait.

    1. I understand that is still a possibility.

  2. Thanks for explaining how that works. I had a vague understanding of it before, but this helps clear it up for me. My question is this: If FS is no longer connected to membership records, how does the temple ordinance information get entered for a person who dies? This is not an editable field in FS, is it? Any ideas on why the membership records are no longer connected? Thanks!

    1. I can only speculate, but probably one at a time manually. I have some good ideas why the membership records are no longer connected, but none of them are for public consumption.