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

Friday, December 16, 2016

Are you lost on the FamilySearch Family Tree? Relationship Links help

Most genealogists have only a vague understanding of their complex system of family relationships. On the Family Tree, navigating through the complexity of descendants and multiple spouses and children from more than one marriage or union can be befuddling. Most of the time when I am showing someone how to find new people, the person watching me click through the family stops me and wants to know how they are related to the people where I have landed.

The newly instituted "View My Relationship" links help, but only if you know how to interpret the diagram. I think an illustration is in order. I recently went through a series of posts entitled, "How to Actually Find New Names to Take to the Temple." The last person in that series was named James Turner from Rolvenden, Kent, England. So how was I related to this individual? Hmm. Maybe a better question is whether I was related to him or not. I can see this relationship by entering his ID number in the Find by ID menu and going to his detail page.

Now, if I look at the links under his name, I will see the new link to "View My Relationship." By clicking on this link, I can see the following relationship chart.

It turns out that my relationship to him is rather straightforward. He is the husband of my 1st Cousin, Anne Bryant who is four generations removed. But what is even more important than the number of removed generations, is that I now have a really clear map of how to get to this person by clicking through the pedigree chart representation on the Family Tree. I no longer have to sit there are try to remember how I clicked back to get to this person.

More importantly, this chart gives me a graphic representation of those people that I need to verify before I can really claim any relationship at all. Here is a chart that shows what happens when there is no real relationship, even when people are present in the Family Tree. I can't get the whole chart into this screenshot, but here is the top part of the chart. I am off the chart down a few more generations down from the last person at the bottom left.

Hmm. There is a problem here. The chart doesn't show the red warning exclamation icons. But if I look at the dates on the pedigree I can start to see some problems.

Elizabeth Williams, at the top of the Relationship Chart, would have been twelve years old when she mothered Richard Morgan. But more importantly, as the warning message points out, Edward Morgan would have been a six-year-old father. Perhaps, these new Relationship charts could add the existing warning icons? But it is still important to look at the dates and go back to the pedigree charts to see the status of these people before assuming a relationship. So, the Relationship Chart may show how I might be related, but it doesn't imply that the links connecting me to this person are correctly entered into the Family Tree.


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