Ancestral File

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History of the Ancestral File

The Ancestral File contains lineage-linked names and other genealogically important information, such as the dates and place names for the;births, marriages, and deaths of millions of individuals. Ancestral File data consists of member-submitted information from around the world. Names are organized into family groups and pedigrees. Because of privacy laws, personal information about living individuals is not be displayed.

Records in the Ancestral File were submitted by members who often provided contact information. Most of these records were submitted before 1991, so the contact information for many submitters may be out of date or the person who submitted the original information may no longer be living.

Data in Ancestral File do not include notes and source information. Submissions have been merged with other data files and data from other submitters. Additions and corrections to the data from the orginal Ancestral File is no longer possible. Data in the File has not been verified and should only be used as a starting point for additional research.

Each record in Ancestral File is given a unique Ancestral File Number (AFN). The existence of an AFN in the source field of a FamilySearch record indicates that some or all of the information came from the Ancestral File. The AFN number is often useful when merging duplicate records, because a matching AFN indicates a high probability that the record is a duplicate. Some genealogy programs, such as Personal Ancestral File (PAF), can automatically merge duplicate AFNs.

To enable AFN editing in your PAF database, follow these steps:

  1.  Open PAF 5.2.18 and select Tools from the top menu 
  2.  From the Tools drop down menu, select preferences 
  3.  On the General Tab select: Allow AFN edit by placing a check mark in the box.  Press OK

To access Ancestral File, follow these steps:

  1. Go to
  2. Click on the Family Trees link 
  3. Enter your query - the results will include Ancestral File results