Going Beyond Birth and Death Dates in Family Tree

June 6, 2020  - by 
Mother and two sons emigrating by ship.

One of the most rewarding parts of doing family history is discovering the stories of ancestors. The next most rewarding thing is having the chance to share those stories with others. What unique details make up your ancestors’ stories? Did your ancestors come from a noble or titled family? Did they leave one country and start a new life in another? Was an ancestor married or never married?

As you search through historical records, it can be easy to focus mostly on vital information, such as dates, locations, and relationships. While these are important parts of an ancestor’s story, records may hold other rich details as well. Is there a place on FamilySearch.org to record these details, so they don’t stay hidden in an attached source? Absolutely!

When working on an ancestor’s profile in Family Tree, you can add events and facts to both individuals and relationships to help fellow FamilySearch users understand more about your shared ancestors. These facts and events give other people a helpful overview of that ancestor’s life, with more of the rich details included. You’ll find this feature in multiple places.

Other Information

The Other Information section for each of your ancestors has a place to add many fun and important details, such as occupation, title of nobility, and military service. To find this section, navigate to your ancestor’s profile. The page should automatically open on the Details tab. If not, be sure to select Details from the options beneath your ancestor’s name.

Details tab on FamilySearch person page.

From there, scroll down until you find the Other Information box. To add an event or fact here, select Add Information at the top. In the mobile Family Tree app, simply tap on an ancestor in the tree, and then tap the green plus sign.

Other Information panel on a FamilySearch person page.

Recently two new items were added to the list that pops up: “Immigration” and “No Couple Relationship.” This kind of information helps others who may be researching your ancestor and can prevent the wrong individuals from being attached as family members. This information can also help someone distinguish between two people with the same name in Family Tree.

Here are examples of the events and facts you can add in the Other Information section:

Events

  • Affiliation
  • Bar Mitzvah
  • Cremation
  • Immigration
  • Military Service
  • Title of Nobility
  • Occupation
  • Religious Affiliation
  • Residence
  • Stillborn
  • Custom Event

Facts

  • Caste Name
  • Clan Name
  • National Identification
  • National Origin
  • No Couple Relationships
  • No Children
  • Physical Description
  • Race
  • Tribe Name
  • Custom Fact

Relationships

You can also add important facts and events when working on relationships in Family Tree. For example, when you add a child to your ancestor’s page, you can mark the relationship as adoptive, biological, foster, guardian, or step.

Editing a parent-child relationship on FamilySearch.org.
Showing a child is adopted, biological, foster, step, or under guardianship on FamilySearch.

You can add facts and events for couple relationships as well. For example, you can add when a couple had an annulment, common law marriage, divorce, lived together, or were married. These event options will appear as you are creating or editing relationships in Family Tree.

The FamilySearch Family Tree can help you share your ancestor’s life story and ensure that the important details aren’t lost with time. As that story is shared, these extra details will help others connect with their ancestors and make more accurate contributions. We need everyone’s contributions, and we hope that these features encourage growth and deeper understanding about family ties.

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Comments

  1. Writing a Life Sketch is also a helpful thing to do in going beyond the vital statistics, because it causes us to think, reflect and better understand the context of our ancestors’ lives and usually gives us greater feelings of compassion and love towards them.

  2. Alberta Jones took care of me, and my two sisters as children.
    She was married to Sam Jones and he is deceased for many years.
    Sam and Alberta gave birth to one child, a son

  3. Recently discovered through DNA that my paternal grandmother was pregnant with another man’s child when she moved in with a man who was subsequently known as her husband and was the biological father of 8 children after the birth of my father. After 45 years of searching I have been unable to find a record of any marriage to the man I thought was my paternal grandfather. My father was born in 1896 so he did not have a birth certificate or any bible record of his birth. I am preparing a written record of all that I have found to add to the family history and share with my relatives. What do I call the relationship between my father and the man who was the father of my dad’s half brothers and sisters? My father is deceased so I have no way of knowing if he knew any of this. (If it is of any interest, I was lucky to find a DNA match immediately to a first cousin and found my biological grandfather. My new first cousin and I share more than 600 Centamorgans. Unfortunately, she doesn’t understand DNA and has suggested that I remove her grandfather’s name from any list of possible candidates. )

    1. Hi, maybe your grandmother was never married, but in a common law marriage? Hence no marriage record. Tthe father to your dad’s half-siblings would be his step-father. As for the newfound cousin’s request to remove your grandfather, that really is up to you after all it is your family tree not hers. Is it because she was unaware your biological grandfather fathered another child, or had another wife? Best of luck in finding answers.

      1. Thank you so much for the feedback. With regard to my new cousin — she asked that HER grandfather be removed from my list of candidates. It has not dawned on her that her grandfather had a child by another woman when he was very young. My new cousin is the only descendant of “our” bio grandfather and she and I share 838 centimorgans so there is absolutely no doubt about the DNA. I was trying to be discrete and hoped that she would think about the possibility of another child. But I think it is going to be necessary for me to tell her the obvious. I know it is going to be difficult for her to accept. Wish me luck!!!

  4. I found that my great great grand father was in the civil war and I found a lot of in for on him they took his land and I am still searching for more in for on him I am very proud of him

    1. My family name is Briggs. I’ve got them back to the mid-1700s in Tennessee, after that in Texas. If you want to share states where your Briggses were located, drop me a line. I’m a newbie-this stuff is TIME-Consuming, huh? I don’t even know how to set up a website! Best wishes.

  5. i am looking for Ray John Mullock or John Ray Mullock he was born in Colorado and was married to Matilda A. Anater who was born in New Jersey in 1902 and died 1998 in Whittier, CA – her father was Nicolas Anater don’t know her mothers name – i know she had a brother named Nick a sister named Lillian and another brother named Edward and they all lived in Sacramento, CA

  6. Would love to see an option that shows the mother of the listed children without having to show the father as the spouse. They never married, are no longer together. I had to list a man not the father to lists the children w the mother.

    1. Hi Kathryn! Thank you for your feedback. You do not need to list a mother with a father in order to list the children. You can list children attached just to one parent.

  7. Looking at a birth certificate, a mother is usually listed by name. This puts her in a specific place and time and may be the only facts we have about her besides her name. Is is appropriate to create a custom event “gave birth” so that her life story can be fleshed out?

    1. Hi Tracy! Thank you for your question. You can do the custom event if you’d like. You can also just add her child to her (the one from the birth certificate). Then you can click on the Timeline link at the top of her personal page and you will see that she had that child in her timeline.

  8. I just started using this feature. I absolutely love it. If you discover that a person never married it saves another a whole lot of searching. Thank you.

  9. My father was born to parents that were older, he had siblings that were grown. His sister raised him and in a lot of documents he lists her as his mother. I don’t know much about his side of the family and have found reasurch confusing and frustrating. I’m hoping that your resurch tools will make it a lot easier for me