Monday, April 21, 2014

Attaching Historical Records to Entire Families in FamilySearch Family Tree - Part 1

I've been remiss in not keeping up with the latest features which have been continually added to the FamilySearxch Family Tree.

One of those features that I really like is attaching historical records to entire families -- Robert Kehrer wrote about it in A Faster, Easier Method for Attaching Historical Records to Entire Families (posted 18 March 2014 on the FamilySearch Blog).  See the complete instructions with examples on his blog post.

I have been working with this feature for awhile now, and want to share my experience with my readers.  I chose my second great-grandmother, Sarah G. (Knapp) Auble (1818-????) for this example:

Note that this work has to be performed while in the FamilySearch Family Tree or in the FamilySearch Record Collections.  It cannot be done from within a software program like RootsMagic or Legacy Family Tree at this time.

1)  Here is the FamilySearch Family Tree Person profile for Sarah G. Knapp (1818-????):

I wanted to Search for Records for Sarah to attach to her in the FSFT, so I clicked on the blue "Search Records" link on the right-hand side of the screen above, in the "Research Help" area.

2)   That opened the "Search Results" page on FamilySearch for Sarah G. Knapp, with the first name, last name, and a birth range of 4 years already entered in the left-hand sidebar, and the results of the search:

While there were matches, they were not for my Sarah G. Knapp.  She married before 1850, so I edited the "Last Names" Search field and entered "auble" and saw more search results:

The first five of these matches were the census records for Sarah Auble from 1850 to 1900.  I wanted to add the 1900 U.S. Census entry as a source for Sarah and other members of her family enumerated in that record.

3)  I clicked on the blue link for Sarah's name in the list above for the 1900 U.S. Census, and saw the Record Summary:

Do you see the link to "Attach to Family Tree" in blue at the top of the right-hand sidebar under "Sources?"  I wanted to attach this source to Sarah G. (Knapp) Auble.

4)  I clicked on the blue "Attach to Family Tree" and the "Does This Record Match?" window opened:

I picked Sarah G. Knapp from the list (of "Possible Matches" or "History List") and the system showed me Sarah G. Knapp's information - birth, spouse and parents, plus a "Reason to attach source" field:

5)  This is the right person, so I entered a "Reason to Attach Source" in the field, and clicked on the blue "Attach" button.  I received this window:

The "Attached Successfully" window told me that "You have successfully attached the record to the person in the tree.  Other people are referenced by this record also seem to be in the tree.  Do you wish to review them?"

I do!

6)  I clicked on the blue "Review" button on the screen above and the "Attach Historical Records to Family Tree" screen opened:

The screen above has two major columns - one for Parents or Children on the Record, and the other for Parents and Children from the Family Tree.

The screen above shows me that I have already Attached the source to Sarah G. Knapp Auble (the green background), and that I could "Detach" the record if I wanted to.  The screen shows the list of other family members - her husband and her children - in the right-hand column.  In the left-hand column of the screen above, two of the children are listed - Frances M. Auble and Catherine Auble - because they are also in the 1900 U.S. Census record.

6)  I can "Attach" the record to each of the two children who are on the Record by clicking on the "Attach" link between the two columns.  I did that for Frances M. Auble, and the Record information and the Tree information appeared:

I could add a "Reason to Attach Source" but I forgot to do that, and in order to "Attach" the source I have to click on the blue "Attach" button below the "Reason..." field.

7)  I did that and also attached the Record for daughter Catherine Auble and was finished with attaching the Historical Record to all of the appropriate persons in the Family Tree.  The screen showed me:

The background for Sarah, Frances and Catherine Auble are all light green now.

8)  I can go back to the list of Search Matches and add more historical records to Sarah and her family.

9)  Some things I noticed in this example:

*  I had to manually enter the married name for Sarah Knapp to find matches with her Auble married surname.  Unless the user is aware of this, they will miss out on records for the person if the person is female.  This doesn't matter if the user searches on a male head of household because the wife will be found in the search process and the historical record can be attached to her.  But not every record has a male head of household.

*  The process is very functional, fairly fast, and is easy to use.  It is step-by-step, but there are enough helps to get the user up to speed quickly.

*  This is a much faster and easier process of attaching historical records to persons in FamilySearch Family Tree.  It should make the "Source Box" feature obsolete in the coming months. [Reader Geolover commented that the Source Box can be used for non-FamilySearch records and won't go away any time soon.  He's right - thanks!]

I will have several more blog posts about this feature and the resulting entries in the FamilySearch Family Tree.

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver


Geolover said...

Thanks for the tutorial on this beta feature.

It can only be used for records that are indexed with nuclear-family relationships noted. It won't work, for instance, for a grandchild of head of household.

And it won't work for documents in which multiple relationships are noted, such as wills, applications for administration of estates, etc., which are not every-name indexed on FS-Historical Records (and certainly not indexed as to the relationships such as grandchildren or nieces/nephews).

I wonder if it would work for some of the new groups of obituaries being indexed.

So your assertion, "It should make the "Source Box" feature obsolete in the coming months" is rather, er, premature. Note that there presently is no way in FamilySearch-FamilyTree to 'tag' relationships in sources other than (on child-parents page) a child-parent(s) relationship, or (on couple-relationship page) a marital relationship. There is no way to designate a source as pertaining to a grandchild, grandfather, niece, uncle, etc.

One can presently attach a page of an unindexed document to a person as attachment to a source-citation, but there is no built-in way to designate its meaning other than in descriptive text.

Michele Simmons Lewis said...

I learned how to do this just yesterday! I normally work on Family Tree through Legacy but a friend of mine who works at the local Family History Center showed me how to do this up on FamilySearch. Nifty!

Geolover said...

Randy, thank you for noting "Reader Geolover commented that the Source Box can be used for non-FamilySearch records and won't go away any time soon."

I had hoped to emphasize that this family-group-attachment procedure is only set up for records where a person-spouse and/or parent-child relationship is indexed in FS-Historical Records, such as in the US Federal Census enumerations for 1880 and later.

It will not be available where FS-HistoricalRecords does not have these particular relationships indexed. It does not work to attach to grandchildren or nieces/nephews or aunts/uncles in such a US Census household, even when these individuals' relationships are well delineated in FS-FamilyTree, and will not work at all for records where the nuclear-family relationships are not spelled out and indexed.

Jana Last said...

This is such a great new tool in FamilySearch Family Tree. I've used it a few times since last week already. It's awesome!

Jana Last said...


I want you to know that this blog post and Part 2 are listed in today Fab Finds post at

Have a fantastic weekend!