Helps for Family History Consultant

    HOME                                Steps to follow to help people begin doing Family History work

When helping members with their family history it helps to work in steps. By working in steps the member can have a clear set of tasks to do before moving on to the next step. Without this method members might get overwhelmed with all the different things that can be or need to be done. Below is an example of some steps that can be taken to get members started working on their family history. Try these steps for yourself if you have not already done them so you will be able to help the members you work with do them. Read through all the steps, some steps can be done while working on others.

  • Gather what family history information you have or can get from your family. Sometimes a family member may have already downloaded information from the church and updated the sources. If you can get that information from them or from a family organization it can save many steps which may have already been done by others. Request this information in a GEDCOM file with Notes and Sources included. If your family member or organization provides you a file, skip the steps below where you download from Ancestral File, if this has already been done.

  • Install PAF 5.2 (Personal Ancestral File) on your computer.

    You can download PAF from: (Click on Family History then Software Downloads)

  • Learn how to use PAF by entering your own family and your parents. To get help using PAF there is a BYU tutorial available at: Family History Consultants can take PAF training classes at: This requires the User Name and Password that you received from the Church.

    (Do not enter other names until you check and see what is available to download, this will save a lot of typing and merging)

  • Visit the FHC (Family History Center) and download from Ancestral File what the Church already has about your family lines in Ancestral File. You will need to bring the names and birth dates of Parents, Grandparents, and possibly Gr-Grandparents. Skip this step if you obtained this information in a GEDCOM file from someone else.

    (The Ancestral File version at the FHC includes some LDS ordinance dates, the online version does not)

  • Import the downloaded GEDCOM files from Ancestral File or the GEDCOM files you obtained from other Family Members into your PAF file. (You may need to do a lesson on importing)

  • If the downloaded files include any of the names you have already entered into your computer you will need to merge these names to connect the imported names to those you have entered.

    (In PAF, click Tools – Match Merge, you may need help or to take a training course to learn how to do match merges)

  • If there are generations missing between those you entered and those you imported you will need to enter the missing people.

  • Connect people you have entered to those you have imported by double clicking on the next generation field (RE: Father) and select from the box “Select existing individual”, then click on the “Individual List” and locate in the list the person that you want to attach. Then click “OK”, the person you selected will then be connected along with all those already connected to that new person. (You may need to select the Alphabetical sort to locate the person you are looking for)

  • The next step is to find sources for the names and dates in your files. The Ancestral File does not include Sources. There are several places to locate sources. Sources are important to make sure the family lines you are following are really yours. You do not want to spend a lot of time researching the wrong family lines. The Church asks us to verify information downloaded from Ancestral File and Pedigree Resource File before relying on this information, since it has been submitted to the church from other people.

    • You can contact relatives and see if any of them have sources. If you get a GEDCOM file from a Family Member which contains sources, that information can be merged with your records to link the sources to your records. Information in one file can also be compared with another file in PAF Insight and you can just move additional information without having to merge everything. PAF Insight is available to use at the FHC.

    • You can check on for names in the Pedigree Resource File Index. There may be additional names or sources for names you already have in your files in the Pedigree Resource File. The index is now connected in Pedigrees but sources and notes are only on the CD's at the FHC. At the bottom of a listing in the Pedigree Resource File record, it tells which names contain sources and which disk that information is found on. Pedigree Resource File contains information as submitted by patrons, sometimes people list sources which are not really considered sources. Example: Ancestral File in not considered a vital record source and some submissions to Pedigree Resource File list Ancestral File as a Source incorrectly. A good source would be a: Birth Certificate, Death Certificate, Church Birth or Death record, Cemetery Inventory, Death Index, Birth Index, Parish records, Census, etc. Many sources refer to the library, database, web site, book or film number where the record was found. The idea of a source is to give enough information that someone reading your source citation can find the original record. Under sources in PAF you can list the source information and attach an Image of the record if you have one. Use source citations not notes for sources.

    • Check the IGI, many of the Temple Ordinances were done from extracted vital records. If the name listed in the IGI lists an extracted source you can use that information as a vital record source. Names listed on the IGI that were submitted by patrons do not include the source information, but sometimes list a microfilm you can check to see if it contains a vital record source (most do not).

    • Check at the FHC, there are many databases and CD files which contain source materials, there are also many links available for web sites which contain sources. The FHC also links to or Limited subscriptions to some web sites that contain source documents, Examples: Utah State Archives has free online Death Certificates. A limited version of is available at the FHC and they have some of the US Census and many of the British Census indexes online. Be careful not to list as sources, information gathered into indexes from individual submissions rather than indexes gathered from vital records, unless you find the original source citations from submitters.

    • Try your county library, many public libraries offer Heritage Quest and for their patrons to use. Heritage Quest is often available online through the library with a library card it contains many of the US Census records indexed by Surname only. is only available from within the library.  The version of available at the library contains more databases than are available at the FHC, you can use most of the US and British Census databases indexed by all individuals and many cemetery, birth and death indexes.

    • Many of the submissions to Ancestral File originally contained sources. These sources might be available on the microfilms of the original submissions. The microfilms are available at the Family History Library or can be ordered for use at the Family History Center for a postage fee. The microfilm numbers can be found under submitters details in an Ancestral File record at

    • The Family History Library Catalog lists all the resources available at the Library to look up vital records. Most searches in the Library Catalog are Place Searches. This will give a listing of what records have been microfilmed for a location. By searching these microfilms you can find the people you are looking for. Many records also list parents names which can be used to extend family lines. This Catalog is available online at the catalog also lists books available at the library which contain records.

    • FamilySearch also has a research helps section where you can find help in locating source materials all over the world. Go to FamilySearch and click on Research Helps under Search.

  • The next step is to obtain Temple ordinance dates for work which has already been done. There are several ways to obtain these dates. The online IGI at contains up to date ordinance information. You should check names against the IGI before running the names through TempleReady to take to the Temple, because TempleReady was last updated in the year 2000. You will need a FamilySearch LDS member account to check for Temple dates on the IGI. To set up an account you will need your Church Membership Number (on your Temple Recommend) and your Confirmation Date, get this information from your Ward Clerk if you don't have it.

    • PAF Insight is the fastest way to check the online IGI temple records. If you have not purchased this program it is available for your use at the FHC.

    • Names can be entered one at a time at to get temple dates, but this is the slowest process.

    • Temple Ready can provide ordinance dates for work already done. It is important to check all the names TempleReady clears for the Temple against the online IGI before they are taken to the Temple. Usually you do this before you run the names through TempleReady. Some people use TempleReady to find ordinances which are already done, then check the online IGI later for the names which TempleReady clears. If you use this method you should not take the names cleared by TempleReady to the Temple without running them through TempleReady again after checking them against the online IGI. This method can save some time if done correctly.

  • The final step is to clear names for the Temple in TempleReady at the FHC. Do this step once you find names that you have sources for that do not have Temple ordinences completed. To do this you need to make a TempleReady File or a GEDCOM of the names you want to submit and bring those names to the FHC and run them through the TempleReady program. Make sure all the names have already been checked against the online IGI.

  • Then continue finding more families to extend your lines by searching for souces which lead you to more family members.  To be ready for newFamilySearch we need to get our sources up to date.

  • When newFamilySearch comes to your Temple District many of these steps will be changed.