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

June 12, 2019  - by 
a young woman does family history on her laptop.

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!

Read More about Joining the Family Tree

a young boy explores the online family tree on the FamilySearch Family Tree app.

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. Hello John, After you follow the instructions provided by Amy “Please check out this Help Center article for information and instructions: How do I add an unconnected person to Family Tree?” “”Add Unconnected Person”” you will create a New Person OR identify a person in the Family Search System that has already been assigned a PIN by another researcher.

      From the data source you provided‘ this Family Tree individual will have parents, a husband including his parents as there is numerous personal information available:
      1. The birth record identifies her parent’s full names, their year of birth, and their birth places in addition to her birth information.
      2. Often the FamilySearch System provides additional data source hints called “Similar Historical Records” on the lower righthand side of the page below the source image if provided and information for the current data source. For this particular person there are five (5) additional record hints;
      2a. California Birth Index, 1905-1995
      2b. United States Census, 1930
      2c. California, County Marriages, 1850-1952
      2d. California, County Marriages, 1850-1952
      2e. United States Census, 1940
      3. At the present time I don’t know if FamilySearch has instructions on how to add these sources to the person in question but we can attach these sources as well. The trick is you have to know how to get back and forth from the Source Linker to the next data hint
      3a. Make note and keep the persons ID number handy in case you back out of or off of the data source page
      3b. When you access the next data source hint to add the record the system will ask you to select the proper person by name and ID. Select the appropriate person and the Source Linker screen will appear
      3c. After you have added the source, click the BACK ARROW until you return to the initial data source page.
      3d. Click on the next Data Source Hint and repeat steps 3b and 3c
      4. Sometimes these data source hints may also appear on the Detail Page as ‘pending hints’ on the right side of the page under RESEARCH HINTS.

      The step I provided above are based on a website. I do not know how additional source hints will display from a data source using a “mobile app”.

    1. Hi Shari! Thank you for your question. The best suggestion is to encourage your other family members to create their own FamilySearch account. They will then be able to see all the same deceased relatives you are able to see. They will not be able to see anyone in your private space (living people) as you will also not be able to see these records in their private space. You can also share printed charts with them if this is something they are interested in.

  1. First Name: ENTER both first and middle name
    Last Name: ENTER Spanish father then mother last name. Other only need last name
    Create a person only once. Use code for additional usage.
    Other inputs from relatives can be added to your information including correction and updates.

  2. I jumped into genealogy and built my tree rather fast and loose. So I have made many errors in dates of birth and probably screwed up brothers, sisters and cousins. How can I most efficient move forward to here.

  3. Just curious…I have tree on but it stops at my 11th GG grandparents (est). I see on family search that my line goes back more than another 12 generations. Were those added by family search? Thank you.

    1. Hi Tina! Thank you for your question. The generations add to FamilySearch are by other contributors to the shared tree. The initial creation of the shared tree in 2012 came from records that other contributors have shared over the past 125 years. If the contributor name in the Tree is listed as FamilySearch, this is from a data load from prior contributor submissions. You should verify all generations in your line by adding any and all applicable source documentation.

      1. Thanks for the info. Can you also tell me how to print my tree so I can Verify info and make notes for late updates?

          1. Thanks again. O was able to print a fan chart, but only to 7 generations. One line goes back an est 28 generations so I can’t seem to print more.

            1. Hi Tina! If you want to you can take the ancestors from the 7th generation and create a fan chart for each of them – that will take you back another 7 generations on each line. You can continue to repeat this process for each subsequent 7 generations.

    1. Hi Constance! Thank you for your question. If you want to record all the known last names for a person you can record them in the Other Information section under Alternate Name.

  4. I have a family tree created in Roots Magic, is it possible to upload this to