How to Start a Family Tree on FamilySearch: Adding the First Four Generations

June 12, 2019  - by 

If you’re ready to get started learning about your family tree, then is the perfect place to do it. Opening your own free account is a cinch. Once you have your account set up, you might find yourself wondering, “Now what?”

The best way to get started is to add first four generations of your family. Building your own tree will help you find where you connect to FamilySearch’s global family tree. With one link, your small family tree could suddenly stretch back hundreds of years!

Gathering your family information into a family tree can also help you preserve memories and information about your living family. Besides just entering dates and places into your family tree, you can also upload precious family documents, store photos, or even preserve audio clips.

Creating your own family tree couldn’t be simpler! Here are some steps you can take right now to get started.

Start with Yourself

In the menu at the top of the FamilySearch home page, hover your mouse pointer over Family Tree, and, in the drop-down menu, click Tree. Your family tree will show on the screen. Your name, just as you entered it when you signed up for your account, should appear in the center spot. Remember that FamilySearch protects the privacy of living people. Nobody else will be able to see what you enter about yourself or other living family members. You also won’t be able to find yourself anywhere else on the tree—even if other relatives entered information about you. Information about living people must be entered into each family tree.

a model that shows how to add family in the FamilySearch family tree.

Click your name to go to the person page. From there, you can add more information to your page, including dates and places as well as notes and memories (such as photos, documents, and stories).

Add What You Know about Your Family

With yourself in the center spot on your tree, you are ready to start adding family relationships. To add your mother, for example, simply click Add Mother. A box like this one will appear:

the "add mother" box that appears when you select "Add mother" on the tree.

Enter as much information into the form as you know.

You can add information about other family members—spouses, children, and parents—in the same way. The goal is to reach a deceased ancestor. When you add a deceased ancestor to your tree, FamilySearch will automatically search its vast tree to link you to the FamilySearch global tree.

Ask Relatives for New Information

As you move further back on your tree, chances are you won’t be able to fill in every blank. Don’t let a little missing information stop you! Enter everything you know, leaving parts of your tree blank if necessary. Once you’ve exhausted what you know, you are ready to move to the next phase—searching for new information.

The best way to start your search for new information is to reach out to your family members. If you’re missing information about living people, the obvious solution is to ask them! To find missing information about deceased ancestors, ask older living relatives or relatives who may have known those people.

a family speaks together in the doorway of a home.

Once you have collected what your family knows, it is time to search FamilySearch’s vast collections of records to learn even more about your family. Be sure to let others know where your information came from by adding sources. Learn more about how to add sources here.

Link to Other People in Family Tree

Once you move from entering information about living people in your tree to entering information about deceased ancestors, it is possible to connect with people already entered in the FamilySearch Family Tree. Making this sort of connection can be a huge timesaver. Instead of having to enter in all the information yourself, you can take advantage of information that others have entered.

Ready to get started? Follow these suggestions to add the first four generations of your family into Family Tree. But why stop with four generations? You might find that building your tree is so fun that adding four generations is only the beginning of your family history journey!

Leslie Albrecht Huber

Leslie Albrecht Huber has written for dozens of magazines and journals on genealogy and other topics. She currently does communications consulting and contract work for nonprofit organizations. Leslie received a bachelor's degree in history from Brigham Young University and a Master of Public Affairs (MPA) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has worked as a professional genealogist, helpingothers trace their families, and has spoken on genealogy and history topics to groups across the United States.

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  1. Birth names not married names, if no dates are available assume kids are born when parents are 25 years old that will get you close

  2. I tried using your site. There was a major problem. I understand you are able to put a tree on without a DNA, but when a known adopted adult puts a very bad, and misleading tree on your site it is shown. I found out in 2017 I was conceived out of an affair. Broke my heart but through Ancestry DNA I was able to find the biological father. Things are better emotionally now but I had a friend helping me with her Facebook. I will not have a connection to facebook anymore. I was able to track down a person Lisa Estes that lived in that area. She was nice at first but it became very weird and very bad. She began to do your site and the free Ancestry site putting all kids of a mess on there. I was able to track down a half niece that lives in Ohio. Lisa was adopted and has known all her life. Lisa gave me so a hard time and I soon found out she and household have criminal dealings. I cut it off, even though she told me she had 5 buckets of pictures I would love to see. But sometimes we have to let go. Lisa is still on your site with a total mess. I stayed with Ancestry since and have some issues with it but overall it’s good. I have bee wanting to let you know this for some time. Other wise I would have gone with your company. I am 59 and don’t need that drama and crazy in my life. Best regards, Eleesa Goins biology Carpenter

    1. Eleesa, your long post deserves a reply.
      In all walks of life there will be those that for their own reasons destroy the hard work of others; they go by many names spoliers, vandals, grifters, psychos, trolls etc. Familysearch is certainly not alone is suffering from this problem.
      Fortunately for familysearch family tree, the correct use of documented sources can establish which links are true. Most family tree researchers will however come across primary sources that they know or strongly suspect are falsified, in particular to do with illegitimacy. There is no reason that you cannot enter DNA results as a way to prove the correct biological parentage (or at least disprove otherwise seemingly documented ancestry).