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How to Find Ancestors in Need of Temple Work in the Family Tree

Performing temple ordinances for family can be a joyful experience! And today, it’s easier than ever to find your deceased family members who are in need of temple work. It is something that is doable and that will bless your life.

In the April 2018 general conference, President Russell M. Nelson pled with us to “choose to do the spiritual work required to enjoy the gift of the Holy Ghost and hear the voice of the Spirit more frequently and more clearly.” He also provided a formula to receive personal revelation. He said, “Nothing opens the heavens quite like the combination of increased purity, exact obedience, earnest seeking, daily feasting on the words of Christ in the Book of Mormon, and regular time committed to temple and family history work.

Family history is a great way to follow the prophet’s counsel to receive revelation. The Spirit can guide you to know where to work on your family lines. He can help you find missing family members and even avoid mistakes. As you rely on the Spirit in doing family history, you will be more able to hear and follow the Spirit in all areas of life.

Here are some practical approaches anyone can use to find deceased ancestors in the FamilySearch Family Tree, from beginners to those with more family history experience.

a woman and her son use the my family booklet

Ordinances Ready

You may be aware of Ordinances Ready, which is available on and the Family Tree mobile app. Ordinances Ready searches Family Tree for the names of deceased family members you can take to the temple. Ordinances Ready may be a good resource if you are just starting your family history and want a family experience in the temple.

You may even be able to do some research on people found through Ordinances Ready to find missing family members and do the work for them (see “Help Build the Family Tree” below). More information on Ordinances Ready is available here.

Green Temples and Temple Tasks

Sometimes you may see a name with a green temple in Family Tree. Or you may see green temples in the Recommended Tasks section of your home page or when using Helper Resources to help someone else. What should you do?

In addition to following the direction of the Spirit, it helps to do some basic checks to learn a little more about the person:

  • Does the person have a full name, including a surname?
  • Does the information in the Vitals section of the person’s profile look reasonable?
  • Do the family relationships look reasonable?

If something feels off or looks questionable (such as a person christened before birth, or someone with three sets of parents), it’s a good idea to do more checking before performing temple ordinances. Your temple and family history consultant may be able to help.

a woman builds her family tree

Help Build the Family Tree

As of 2019, there were 1.24 billion people in Family Tree. But how many people have ever lived on the earth? Estimates vary, but it’s probably somewhere around 110 billion. That means about 109 billion people are missing from Family Tree!

Every method we’ve talked about so far looks for ancestors who are already in Family Tree. But how would you like to find one of those 109 billion missing people? You could try using record hints; sometimes historical records for one person contain information about other family members. For example, a person’s birth record probably lists his or her parents.

But what if there are no record hints for someone? Perhaps the first thing to check is that your family members are in the tree at all. Draw from your own knowledge of your family; ensure that you have added parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, and uncles to the tree.

Make sure to include all the information you know about your family! Adding this information may even generate the record hints you need.

a woman writes on her computer

Here’s another simple approach you can use.

  1. Pray for guidance; then look at your fan chart, and follow promptings about which family to focus on.
  2. As you do, keep in mind a few commonsense guidelines:
    • Choose a country where you are comfortable with the language. If your family comes from a country with a language you don’t speak, the FamilySearch wiki has lists of genealogical terms in various languages.
    • Focus on people born in the 1800s and early 1900s (records in this period are generally easiest to find and read).
  3. After deciding on a family, look for people without spouses or couples with few or no children.
  4. Check in FamilySearch Historical Records or on partner sites to find records with information about the spouses or children of these people.

You can find more information about these steps in this presentation.

Once you’ve found a missing person, the next step is to add the person to Family Tree.

two youths in front of the temple

Preparing Family Members’ Names for the Temple

After you have added someone to Family Tree, follow these instructions to reserve the person’s temple ordinances. You can also find answers to frequently asked questions in this blog post.

Be Part of the Gathering

We live in an amazing time. We’ve never had so many resources to help us find deceased family members to take to the temple. In addition, our prophet has invited us to make a greater effort to follow the Spirit. Doing family history is a great way to accept that invitation. Whether you want to start your family history or get more involved, this is the time! You can join the effort to gather Israel on both sides of the veil.

Source: Family Search

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