Talk:Ancestral File

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If you go to the FamilySearch Product Support page and ask a question such as "What is Ancestral File?" all you will get in the first fifty responses is Personal Ancestral File answers. Nor is there anything about Ancestral File on the Product Support navigaton bar. Since Product Support does not offer information about Ancestral File, the Research Wiki should be allowed to expand its coverage and do a better job of explaining the use of this important product. Diltsgd 16:01, 19 June 2008 (UTC)

It would be extremely useful to genealogical "newbies" to discuss in brief the evolution and timeline of the Ancestral File.  When was it first deployed for use in the Family History Centers?  When was it first published on CD-ROM?  Which versions were made available when?  What happened when the match/merge program was run in 1994 (bedlam, if I recall correctly)?  First Internet deployment was May 1999 (and do I remember that day well!  we crashed the site from our excitement to have it for home use!).  When was the file officially closed?  And, most significant for present proliferation of AF data throughout the genealogical community, when was it first possible to download a GEDCOM from AF?  Genehisthome 22:13, 9 December 2010 (UTC)

It would also be very useful to newbies to know that the information in Ancestral File cannot be relied on to be accurate as it has been supplied by individuals with varying degrees of expertise in family history. As it is now closed, even if the original submitter discovers errors in the information, there appears to be no way of correcting these.

Searching Records

I really don't like the new way to search records.  I can't find a thing. -- Brendacelmer 03:36, 7 February 2011 (UTC)

Who was the submitter?

I'm so glad that Ancestral File is on-line. I just can't seem to find the information that indicates who the submitter was for the particular Ancestral File records. What do I need to do to find that? -- Dnoellee 11:16, 11 February 2011 (UTC)

How to find out who submitted the information

How do I find out who submitted the information and how do I contact them? -- Zeeda3 15:47, 22 February 2011 (UTC)

Accessing Ancestral File

I wanted to be able to see the ancestral file referenced, and the 'see more' did not do this.

I am not certain what you are referring to? Also, you have not left a name or other way to contact you. Please supply more information about your question.

This question or concern is currently unresolved.

December 2011 Rewrite

Here's Robert K's proposed outline:

Content to include:
- What is AF
- Where did it come from, it's history
- What type of data is found in it
- How do use the data
- Tips and tricks for searching it
- Links to manuals, courses, or anything else we have (that is not on the old site)
- FAQ's about the data (see the ones on the pages below)

- - How do I contact a submitter
- Make sure we represent all the meaningful content reflected on the following page so that it can be retired

Resources to assist the rewrite:

(Reminder to self: sign with four tilde's)
Robert 9 December 2011 ...ongoing

Old Contents of This Article

I've put this here as I find it a convenient place from which to cut and paste. Robert 18:17, 13 December 2011 (UTC)

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 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 does 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 are 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 Trees link 
  3. Enter your query - the results will include Ancestral File results

Proposed Image for this article

I wonder if a screen shot from Ancestral File might be worth considering as an image to add. One of the criteria for a wiki article to be featured on the wiki main page is that it have an image. Some pages in the wiki are really improved with an image or two. Those of us that remember Ancestral File would probably like to see a reminder of how it looked.

Darris G. Williams 01:35, 14 December 2011 (UTC)