How to Find Your Relative on the Shared FamilySearch Family Tree

July 26, 2019  - by 

FamilySearch Family Tree is the world’s largest shared family tree. This free, public tool strives to have one public profile for every deceased person who has ever lived. You can search for information and find your ancestors here, even if you’ve never visited FamilySearch or connected yourself to the Family Tree.

Gather what you know about your deceased ancestor—such as his or her name, birth or death information, and perhaps the name of a parent, spouse or child—and follow the steps below to see if he or she is in the Family Tree.

Find Relatives Using the Tree Search

If you want to search for a relative who may be in the Tree (even if you haven’t used the Family Tree before) you can go to FamilySearch, and under the Search tab, choose Family Tree. From here, you’ll either need to log in or create a free FamilySearch Account.

Screenshot showing the Search Family Tree option on FamilySearch.org.

On the search screen, enter what you know about your deceased relative:

Screenshot of deceased ancestor search on FamilySearch.

1. Names

For the best results, fill in both the First and Last Names boxes. When you fill in the First Names box, you can include given names, middle names, initials, and nicknames. You can also enter multiple surnames into the Last Names box (including maiden names, birth names, maternal and paternal surnames, etc.).

2. Male or Female

Choosing Male or Female, if known, can help narrow your search results.

3. Life Events

Under Search with life event, enter what you know about the person’s birth, marriage, where he or she lived, and his or her death.

Note: The Birth information box will appear automatically. Open the Marriage, Residence or Death boxes by clicking on each word.

4. Relationships

Under Search with relationship, enter what you know about that person’s spouse or parents. The Spouse information box appears automatically, but you can click the Father or Mother box to add data.

Note: It is not generally recommended to click the Match All Exactly box, since a person’s information may not appear exactly as you enter it.

Once you have entered the information you know, click Find to search for your ancestor’s profile on the Tree.

When the search results appear, you can check each name to see how closely it matches the information you entered. Click on a name to see a summary of that person’s information. Click on the name in the popup window to navigate to the person’s full person page.

Screenshot of search results in ancestor search on FamilySearch.org.
Screenshot of popup for ancestor summary on FamilySearch.org
Screenshot of ancestor's person page on FamilySearch.org.

Tips for Finding the Right Person

If multiple search results appear similar, they may represent the same person with a duplicate profile. Click to review these as well, since they may reveal additional information if it is about your relative. (Here’s how to merge duplicate profiles for the same person, if you feel confident the profiles are definitely the same.)

If too many results appear, or if the information just doesn’t seem to match, try entering more information.

If no matching results appear, you may need to broaden your search—or the person may not have been added to the Family Tree yet. If that is the case, you can add them and help others learn what you know about your shared relative.

Finding and Adding Relatives from Your Tree View

If you already use the FamilySearch Family Tree—or if you want to start—you can search for your relatives from within your tree view. First, log in to FamilySearch. Under the Family Tree tab, select Tree,and choose the Landscape view on the top left portion of the screen.

Screenshot of the family tree view on FamilySearch.org.

From here, if you know who a person’s mother or father was, click Add Father or Add Mother to enter his or her information, and check if there is already a profile for him or her in the Family Tree.

You can also search for known children of a couple by clicking on the down arrow by Children and selecting Add Child. Enter his or her information, click Next, and look for a profile that matches.

Note: From the Tree view, you can also click Find up at the top to open the full Search feature for the Family Tree.

Searching for Unknown Relatives in Records

If you don’t know much about a relative, you may have to do additional research to identify him or her. If you’re looking for a parent, child, or spouse of someone who already has a Family Tree profile, go to the known person’s profile. Here you can explore Record Hints and search for additional records about the known person to see if the unknown person is named in records about the known person. Use these additional record search strategies once you have a little information about someone.

Ready to learn something about one of your ancestors? Pick a deceased relative, and see whether he or she is among the 1.2 billion names in the FamilySearch Family Tree!


Sunny Morton

Sunny Morton teaches personal and family history to worldwide audiences. She's a Contributing Editor at Family Tree Magazine, past Contributing Editor at Lisa Louise Cooke's Genealogy Gems, and the author of How to Find Your Family History in U.S. Church Records (co-authored with Harold Henderson, CG); Story of My Life: A Workbook for Preserving Your Legacy; "Genealogy Giants: Comparing the 4 Major Websites," and hundreds of articles. She has degrees in history and humanities from Brigham Young University. Read her work at sunnymorton.com.

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