A Faster, Easier Method for Attaching Historical Records to Entire Families


When you find a historical record about your ancestor, that record often contains information about other family members. Census records, particularly, mention several family members.

Until now, attaching a historical record to all of the family members required you to deal with each person one at a time. Many of you have requested a faster way to attach a source to all of the appropriate family members. We have heard your requests and have a new feature that does just that.

Attaching Sources—the Basic Process

When you find a record about an ancestor that is not yet attached to anyone in your tree, here’s how you would attach that source to the person and all of the other family members mentioned in the record.

1. Conduct your search, and display the indexed details of that record.

2. Click Attach to Family Tree.

If this record is already attached to someone in Family Tree, there is an option to review matches. If you want to see whether the rest of the family is also attached, click Review Attachments, and skip to step 7.

FamilySearch searches Family Tree to see if it can find a matching person. First it looks for possible matches. Second, it compares the list of possible matches to your Family Tree history list.

  • If a possible match is also on your history list, the site shows you the person. You can then begin attaching the source.
  • If a possible match is found but is not on your history list, the site shows you the list of possible matches. If the person is on that list, click the person’s Select button.
  • If no possible matches are found, the site displays your history list.

If the person wasn’t found and you know the person’s ID number, you can enter it to find the person directly.
3. In this case, the person was identified as a possible match but was not on my history list. I click Select for that person.

4. Once the system knows which person I want, I can:

  • Enter a reason statement that details how I know that this particular record is about this person in Family Tree.
  • Indicate which pieces of information the source should be tagged to.
  • Indicate whether I want this source also saved in my source box.

5. Click Attach.

This is where it gets fun. "If the historical record contains additional people that can be linked to, or added to, the Family Tree, you will be asked if you would like to review them.

6. Click Review.

You’ll see a screen with two halves. On the left are the people who are mentioned in the historical record you found. On the left is the matching family in Family Tree. It may take a few seconds for all of the information on the screen to appear.

7. Compare the first person shown on the screen who has an Attach link.

Important! Some records (especially census records) can get very confusing, such as when a household contained live-in relatives, guests, servants, etc. Be sure to study and compare the information carefully.

If you need to see more details, you can get them in two ways:

· Clicking the name gives displays the details from Family Tree in a popup card:

· Clicking Details shows you the details about a person from both the historical record and Family Tree.

The Details link is located at the far right side of the Family Tree record:

Here is what the details look like when opened:

8. If the person on the historical record (the left side) is the same as the person in Family Tree (the right side), click the Attach link, which is located between the columns.

A screen appears for your reason. Just like you did previously, can enter a reason statement, select tags, and save the source to your source box.

You can also add the event of this record to the person’s record in Family Tree. In this example, you could add the event of “Census” to the record of Niels Johnson. It would show up in the “Other Information” of his details page. This gets very useful if you, for example, found a birth record. You could add the source, the birth date, and birthplace to Family Tree without having to type it in manually.

9. Enter your reason statement, adjust the tagging if needed, and click Add if you want to add the event information from the historical record to the Family Tree record.

10. When you are ready to attach the source, click the Attach button.

11. Repeat steps 7 to 10 for each person that has an Attach link. Adjust your reason statement and other information if needed.

12. Click Return to Record when you are done. (This link is located in the upper-left corner of the screen.)

The following sections give you some tips for how to use this process and a few of the screen’s less-visible features.

Changing the Person of Focus

You can change the person of focus on both the historical record and on the Family Tree record. If, for example, you have the wrong family listed from Family Tree, you can find and display the correct one.

Displaying a Different Spouse

If a person was married more than once, according to Family Tree, and if you need to display one of the other spouses, you see a little triangle next to the name.

To switch to a different spouse:

  1. Click the triangle.
  2. Click the name of the spouse you want. Remember, if you are working with the record of a married woman, Family Tree usually lists her maiden name. The record may use her married name, as this example shows.

Now the record can be linked to the correct spouse:

Move Mismatched People to Their Correct Spot

FamilySearch does its best to match the people from the record to the people in Family Tree. But it may make a mistake.

If the people on the left and right aren’t correctly matched up, you can hover your mouse over one of the people. The mouse will turn to a cross-hatch. Click the mouse button, and drag the person to the correct spot.

This tip works only when the source is not attached. If you find an incorrect source attachment, you need to first detach the source. You can then move the person to the right place.

Sources That Cannot Be Attached

If a source cannot be attached, you see a triangle with an exclamation point instead of an Attach link. If you hover your mouse over the triangle, you will see an explanation. (In this case, I am not showing the complete screen shot to protect privacy people who are listed in both the 1940 census and in Family Tree and who are also still living.)

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