Thursday, December 29, 2016

How to Restore Deleted People in Family Search

Recently I was researching a relative and trying to find more information about her husband. I started with only his name and the town where his family lived, but with that information I was able to find them in two censuses and learned that his parents and siblings had already been added to Family Search, although I had to do some merges to get them all together.

I added my relative's husband to their family as well. I had found and merged some duplicates for him, but none of them had any temple work done. However, as I looked through this person and all his siblings I noticed that he was the only one who hadn't hadn't had any ordinances completed. I thought this was odd because it looked like their records had been created in an extraction project, which means this person should have been included in that project. When I searched for him using Find no other people on Family Search came up.

This was when it occurred to me that he might have existed on Family Search at some point but been deleted for some reason. So I started searching to see if I could find the deleted person.

I started by going through the father's list of changes. If you click "Show all" in the Latest Changes box, you can see all the changes that have been made to a person since they were created in the Family Tree.

After scrolling through the changes I found the following deleted relationship: 

Here is the summary card you see if you click Lars Nielsen's name:

By clicking "Person" you can still view a deleted person's page. Unfortunately I didn't take a screenshot the first time I found the deleted person, but here is what it looks like now:

The christening date was exactly the same as for the Lars Nielsen I was researching, so I concluded that the birth date was a typo or error (the birth place was right) and restored the person. To do this, you click Restore Person (circled in red above), and then you give a reason for restoring the person.

After restoring the deleted person, I found that before he was deleted he already had all of his ordinances done. It was pretty clear to me that he was the same person, so I merged the restored person with the Lars Nielsen who I had been working on, and when I did that he was deleted again and replaced. The surviving person, who previously didn't have any ordinances, now has all of his ordinances complete.

Yes, maybe this was a little time-consuming, but think about how long it would have taken to re-do his ordinances. For my husband to do just his endowment would have meant a two-hour drive to the temple, two hours in an endowment session, and then driving back home, all for somebody who had already received the ordinance. I'd rather have all that effort go towards somebody who needs it rather than doing it to fix a clerical error.

As a side note, I was glad I took the time to find the deleted person because he had a burial date, whereas I had been unable to find death information about this person. It only took me a couple of minutes to find the burial record using the date and verify that it was the right record.

This is also really useful to know when someone does an incorrect merge. If you find that somebody has incorrectly merged your relative, you can go through the list of changes, find the deleted person, and click Restore Person as I showed above. This makes it so you don't have to put back in all the information you've added about a person and redo their ordinances.

Danish Family History Tips, Part 2: Research Strategies

Recently I uploaded my family tree to My Heritage, and immediately I had several hundred Record Hints about the people on my tree. Some are clearly wrong, but several seem to be correct and could give me clues to finding people I have been looking for.

One person on my tree is Peder Christian Jensen, born 27 June 1849 in Lille Kousholt, Dronninglund, Dronninglund, Hjorring, Denmark. His ID on Family Search is 21JN-2TG if you're interested. I have already traced him living with his parents in Lille Kousholt until 1860, but at some point after that he apparently left home and I had been unable to find him.

My Heritage gave me several record hints for a Peder Christian Jensen living with his wife Maren Jensen (born/fodt Thomsen), in the 1901190619111916, and 1921 census records in Albaek Sogn (Parish). His birth date is the same and some of the census records say he was born in Dronninglund Sogn, so it seems likely that he is the same person. On Danish Family Search I was also able to find the same couple in Albaek in 1880 and 1890. Because the birth date and place are the same I am fairly confident that I've found the right person, but to make sure I would like to find their marriage record and the children's birth records to see if any witnesses on these records are people I recognize from his family.

I decided to start with the oldest child listed on the 1880 census, who is Jensine Tomine Jensen, age 4, which would put her birth date in about 1876. The census says she was born in Albaek. I go to and open up the Albaek Parish records, then start looking for Jensine's name in 1875 (census records are often a year ahead on birth years). It only takes a couple of minutes to find her birth record in 1875 since I already know approximately when she was born. Here are some screenshots of the record:

This screenshot has her birth date, name, christening date, and parents:

This screenshot shows her parents on the left and on the right are the godparents/witnesses. One of the witnesses is Ungkarl (single man) Niels Kr. Jensen of Kousholt, Dronninglund Sogn, who I know is the brother of the Peder Christian Jensen who I am looking for, which makes me more confident that I have found the right person.

After this I can read through the Albaek parish records to find birth records for the rest of the children found on the census records. The census records will help since they have birth dates for all the children, sometimes exact dates.

It's a good idea to look through the entire parish record in case there are any children who died without being recorded in a census. In this case, there was a child born in 1877 (Karl Johan Jensen) who was not listed on any of the census records I had. Since he is not in the next census, that's a clue that he died before 1880, which I verify by finding his burial record (line 25). If there are gaps of three years or more between children there is potential that there is a missing child.

I'm still not sure of the marriage date and place for Peder Christian Jensen and Maren Tomsen, but most likely they were married before 1875 because the birth record for Jensine Tomine Jensen doesn't say the parents are single (ugift). The first places to look would be the parish records for Volstrup (where Maren was born), Dronninglund (where Peder was born), and Albaek.

Since I'm already looking at the Albaek parish records I start by looking at the marriage records (copulerede) there, starting at 1875 and going backward. It turns out they were married at the beginning of 1875. You can see the entire page here.

Here you can see Peder and Maren's names. It's clear this is the right person because it says Peder is from Lille Kousholt, Dronninglund Sogn and his birth date matches the one I already had.

Here are the witnesses. One of the witnesses is Jens P. Pedersen of L. Kousholt, Brudgommens Fader (bridegroom's father), who I already know is Peder's father.

The 1916 and 1921 censuses have a plejbarn (foster child) living with Peder and Maren named Bernhard Sigvard Jensen, born 13 June 1911. I have found that often plejbarns are grandchildren or other relatives, so if possible it's useful to try to find their birth records. Bernhard's birth date is later than 1906, which means I can't do temple work for him, but I might as well add him into the tree now while I'm thinking about it, plus his christening record may have information about other members of the family. In this case it's easy to find since the census gives the exact date and place (Albaek). Here is his birth record:

From the first image I learn that the mother is Karen Jensen, who is one of Peder and Maren's children. Karen is unmarried and no father is listed.

I can get information about two more of Peder and Maren's children from this record because they were listed as godparents. I learn that their daughter Annine was living in Agersted, Voer Sogn at the time, and their daughter Martine was living in Sønder Grønheden, Volstrup Sogn.

So this will give you an idea of my general strategy when doing Denmark Family History. Since many census records are indexed I will use those to find people using what I already know about them. If I find someone who seems like a likely match to the person I'm looking for, I will use parish records (like christenings and marriages) of other people in the household to see if it's the same person. Residences and witnesses listed on the records can give a better idea if they are the person I am looking for. Then once I'm confident I've found the right person I will start looking for other census records and finding birth records for any spouses or children who were living with them in the census records. This general strategy will work for doing family history in a lot of other places too.

Danish Family History Tips, Part 1: Basics

Earlier this year I started doing family history work on some of my Danish family lines, with a great deal of success. I have decided I want to write some posts with tips about doing Danish family history.

I'll start with some basic things that are important to know.


In Denmark you will find that almost everyone used a system of patronymics, which means that a person's surname is based on their father's name, with -sen or -datter added to the name. So if a person's name is Hans, his sons' surname will be Hansen and his daughters' surname will be Hansdatter.

Around the mid-1800s, there was a transition to using -sen for their surname, regardless of gender. Many women who were christened with -datter continued to use the suffix, while others changed to -sen, but in general the patronymic system continued.

In the late 1800s, for most families the surnames began to be fixed. For example, the children of my ancestor, Jens Peter Pedersen, all had the surname Jensen. But his grandchildren had the surname Jensen regardless of the father's name. In addition, many people began changing their surnames to names that did not have the -sen suffix, often with the surname reflecting their residence or another characteristic about them. For example, Jens Peter Pedersen's son, Jens Christian Jensen, inherited the family farm, which was named Lille Kousholt, and around 1910 all of his children's surnames were changed to Kousholt. Often this name change will be noted in the person's baptism record.

My observation has been that women generally kept their patronymic surname up until the early 1900s, and then an increasing number of women started taking their husband's surname.

Same Name is Not Enough

In the 1800s and earlier, there was not a lot of variety in names. So if you find a record with the right name and date you can't just assume it's the same person. Even within the same Sogn (parish) you will often find multiple people with the same name born in the same year. So when you are looking at records you should look for other clues in addition to the name:

  • Relationships: Research entire families at the same time rather than focusing on individuals. If you know the names and dates of the parents and siblings it is easier to tell if you have found the right person in a census record because you can compare the entire family to what you already know. In parish records check the names and homes of the witnesses or godparents because often these will be family members. If you are reading a marriage record and you recognize one of the witnesses' names as the father, or in a christening record you recognize names of grandparents or aunts or uncles, then you can be more confident that the record is for the person you are researching.
  • Location: Whenever possible you should know location all the way down to the village or farm where somebody lives. Continuing with the example of Jens Christian Jensen, reading through parish records I can find many parents with that same name, but I can quickly tell that they are not the same person because their residence is not Lille Kousholt. People did move around some, but generally they didn't move much farther than adjacent parishes, which would be less than 15 miles. So if you are researching someone who lived in northern Denmark (Hjorring), it's extremely unlikely that a record from Copenhagen (100 miles away, and across a body of water) is about the same person.

In Denmark places are generally broken down like this (from biggest to smallest): Country (Denmark), Amt (County), Herred (Hundred), Sogn (Parish), By (City/Town), and sometimes the farm name/house number/street. When I am entering places on Family Search I try to include each of these as much as possible.

To get a better sense of the geography I recommend playing with the Denmark clickable map on's Denmark Genealogy Research Wiki. Clicking on the Amt (county) will take you to that wiki page, which will generally have another clickable map showing the parishes with borders around the herreds. Many parishes' wiki pages also have a list of placenames within the parish. I actually highly recommend reading everything on the research wiki about Denmark Genealogy because there is a lot of useful information there.


The most useful records you will find in Denmark are parish records and census records. Parish records can tell you names, birth/death/marriage dates and places, parents, and other relatives. Census records are very valuable for finding whole families and giving you a general year and place of birth.

Census records are partially indexed and can be found on (click Nordic census on the right side) or Danish Family Search is useful because you can either do a general search by adding the basic information, or you can search within specific parishes by first name, surname, or placename. On Danish Family Search, many censuses are indexed but for some reason don't get included in searches, so you have to find them by going to that parish's census list. The censuses available on MyHeritage all seem to be indexed and searchable, but sometimes it can be hard to find a person in a search if their name was indexed incorrectly.

Many (not all) Danish parish records were indexed by the LDS church and the indexes are available on This can be very useful, but it's important to look up the image because it's actually not that uncommon for there to be two couples in the same parish with the same names, so you will need to look up the name of their farm or village.

Many Danish parish records are also indexed with images on

Images of Danish parish records are also available on and I feel that the interface of Arkivalieronline seems to be more usable for browsing through images, but both are good and seem to have pretty much all the available parish records. I use these two websites constantly when I am doing Danish family history.

Recently I uploaded my family tree from RootsMagic onto to see if I could get any record hints. Looking through the record hints they have given, I am very excited because there are many record hints that give me information about people I was stuck on. This feature will be an enormous help for my research. MyHeritage has many census and parish records indexed and mapped to the images.


Danish records in the 1800s and earlier were written in Gothic handwriting, which is similar to the cursive handwriting we are used to, but has many differences. When I first tried reading Danish parish records I almost gave up because the handwriting was so difficult to decipher.

The Family Search Research Wiki has a page with links about reading Gothic handwriting, which was very helpful to me. I would also suggest starting with people whose birth date and place you know, then find their birth records and try to read them. Since you already have a general idea of what the records say, that will help you start to get a sense of what the letters look like. Also keep in mind that there wasn't a lot of variety in names, so look for familiar names (Jens, Hans, Christian/Kristian, Soren, Anders, Margrethe, Karen, Maren, Mette, Kristine, Ane, Marie, etc.) to get a sense of what the letters look like.

It takes a while to get used to the handwriting, but the best way is to keep practicing.


Obviously if you don't know Danish then the language will be a challenge. On the Denmark Genealogy page of the Research Wiki, there are word lists that have common words that you would see on records, which is really useful. Google Translate is also a very helpful tool. You don't have to be fluent in Danish to do Danish family history. Learning the words that are most commonly used on the records and using the word lists and Google Translate will get you pretty far.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

"My Family History Is All Done": How to Find Family Names for the Temple

Like many members of the LDS church, on all of my family lines I am descended from Mormon pioneers, with the exception of the Tyler line which joined the church in the early 1900s, and my great-grandmother did a lot of family history work for that line. For much of my life I thought my family history was all done and I would probably never have a chance to do temple work for my own family members.

It turns out I was wrong.  Two weeks ago, for the first time I did initiatories for my own relatives who I had found myself, and currently I have ordinances reserved for 37 people on Family Search*. If you believed this myth too I can almost guarantee that you can find family names if you're willing to work for it, and I'm going to tell you how.

Step 1: Start with yourself and work back.

I know you probably want to get on Family Search and start where the family lines end, but you don't want to do that. If you haven't already, make an account on Family Search (your login is the same as your login). Make sure you are on there and that your dates and relationships are correct. Take some time to write at least a brief life history of yourself and upload it as a story to the "Memories" section, or add some photos. Then move back to your parents and check their pages for accuracy, and add some memories or pictures about them too. Then move on to your grandparents and check their pages for accuracy. Keep going.

Ask family members if they have old photos or life histories and add these to the Family Search Memories as well. These things are treasures and it's a real treat to be able to look at an ancestor on Family Search and see what they looked like or read about their lives. Doing this will also help you get comfortable using Family Search.

As you're getting started doing family history, it's really helpful to do indexing. Go to and click Indexing to get started. There are a few reasons to do this: One is that it helps people who are doing their family history (including you!). If a set of records is indexed, it is a lot easier to find people because you can just type their name to search for them instead of reading through the records page by page. Another is that it will help you get a sense of what information is helpful while doing family history and it will help you learn about the types of records and information that are out there. Plus, it's actually pretty fun, and much more fulfilling than Facebooking.

Step 2: Add sources!

As you do this, make sure to document whatever information you have with sources, especially as you move back generations. Find birth certificates, death certificates, and census records. A lot of these are available on or their partner sites (you can get accounts with MyHeritage,, and Find My Past for free through Family Search, which gives you access to many great records!). The reason for this is so that anybody else who gets on Family Search (including you) can see why the dates, places, and other information you have added are correct. A lot of what I did for the first few years of doing genealogy was adding sources to people who were already on Family Search and had their temple work done, but there was nothing to verify any of the dates and places.

Don't assume that just getting a date is good enough and you can stop there. The more information you find, the better. A couple of months ago I found the youngest child of a family in a census record. I had already found a lot of information about that family, and if I had stopped before finding that record I would have missed him.

As you move back in time, you will probably find that people's pages get less accurate. I think for me this happened a lot more around six generations back, but it could be earlier for you. By the way, by that point I wasn't systematically going through each generation, but instead I was focusing on specific lines as led by the spirit. Sometimes Family Search will have a red exclamation mark to point out blatant problems like children born after their mother died, marriages at extremely young ages, children born before the parents were old enough to have children, etc. But other problems you will have to find yourself. Here is one example in my family tree:

One obvious problem is the three sets of parents. The marriage in Norway is probably not accurate because Norway to Denmark is a long distance to travel at that point in time, and the other two sets of parents might be a duplicate of each other. Possibly none of the parents are correct. There isn't much information there. At some point I will need to find sources to figure out where and when she was born and who her parents were, but right now I'm still working on her descendants.

I have found that as I correct these problems I tend to find more family members who need temple work done. I would recommend starting with your American or British lines because the sources will be in English and a lot of them are indexed, which makes things easier. Family Search often gives record hints to help you (although you should check to verify that they make sense before adding them as sources to your ancestor).

If you need help learning more about checking for accuracy and finding appropriate sources, go to your local family history center or talk to your ward family history consultant and ask for help.

Step 3: Do descendancy research.

You can also do temple work for descendants of your ancestors who were born over 110 years ago. So as you work your way back on a family line, don't just work on your own ancestors--look for any siblings and do their temple work, and also find spouses, children, and grandchildren for these siblings. It's actually a good idea to work on entire families at once because that way you don't miss people and you can find information about people through records about their siblings or children. For example, birth certificates or christening records often tell who the parents were, and many church events have godparents or witnesses who are also relatives.

Especially for people with a lot of pioneer ancestors, this is where you will find a lot of people who need temple work. A very useful tool is, a website affiliated with that generates descendancy trees of people on Family Search. It's only as accurate as Family Search, which has a lot of mistakes, but it can be helpful to use it to see good places to start doing descendancy research.

Here is my family tree on Puzzilla back 12 generations. Not all the lines go back that far, but many of them go back even farther.

I chose a random person from the twelfth generation and pulled up her descendancy chart on Puzzilla. This image only shows five generations of her descendants, but I stopped it at five because it would have taken a really long time to load all of her descendants. Already the people in this image number in the thousands. The yellow line shows how I am related to her. The red squares represent people who don't have any children entered into Family Search--children who could potentially be found and receive the blessings of the temple. Of course I'm not going to jump in and start looking at these people yet because I haven't verified the family lines back to Hannah Barsham yet, so I'm not actually sure if I'm even related to her. But look at how much potential for family history work there is here!

Step 4: Check for duplicates and merge them.

The information already on Family Search comes from a lot of different sources. Remember 20 years ago when your ward family history consultant was hounding you to submit your four generation chart to the church? That's on Family Search, and so are the ones your siblings, your parents, and your grandparents submitted, which results in a lot of duplicates. The trees from the IGI, PRF, and Ancestral File are also on there.

Extraction projects have been frequently used in the past to supply names to the temples since not everybody has their own family names, and this means that some people have duplicate records. For example, the brother of one of my ancestors had about seven different profiles on Family Search because extraction workers found his children's christening records and created new profiles for the parents with each child. I had to merge all the duplicates so that they appeared on Family Search as what they were--a single family.

To check for duplicates, go to the person's page on Family Search and scroll down to "Possible Duplicates" on the right side of the page. Click that link. Sometimes Family Search will show you some possible duplicates. However, sometimes for some reason it misses duplicates, so you should also do a search with the person's name and birth date under "Find" to make sure there are not other duplicates.

I have found that if there are duplicates, the people I find may have already had their temple work done, and there's not really a point in doing their temple work a second (or third, or seventh) time. But I have felt often that even if there isn't temple work to be done, these people appreciate having their records and families set in order on Family Search. I really believe that someday when Christ comes, Family Search is the "book" that we will be presenting to him with all the genealogy and temple work we have done, so it is important to get these families in order as much as we can.

Step 6: Find names and take them to the temple.

If you follow these steps, you will find family members who need temple work. (I don't like to refer to them as "names" because these are real people, but sometimes that's the phraseology that is used because it's convenient.)

Notice that one of the keys to all this is verifying the accuracy of what is already on Family Search and backing up everything you add with sources.

There are apps that will systematically look through your tree on Family Search to find people who need temple work done (for example, one is available as a Google Chrome extension at I don't often recommend them simply because I think it's important to recognize that family names don't just appear out of thin air; they are found through research. However, there are people like me who have time and ability to do the research but can't go to the temple often, and there are other people who can go to the temple often but don't have so much time or ability to do the research--and these apps make it possible for both types of people to help each other. So if you want to use the apps, that's fine. I would, however, recommend that you take some time to look at the people who the app finds and see if there are possible errors or duplicates.

I'm not going to lie, it did take a lot of work to verify enough generations to finally find opportunities for temple work, and even now finding people takes time and effort. I've spent hours and hours reading through Danish parish records trying to find all the children in a family. But it was also fun and interesting because I learned so much about my ancestors, and now I am finally seeing the fruits of my labors. Already I have enough names to last me for a long time and I am planning to share them with my family members and ward, and I can see now that there is lots of potential. I seriously doubt I will run out of family history work to do in my lifetime.

*Update 12/10/17: Currently I have ordinances reserved for 94 people. I'm at the point where I'm considering sharing with the temple system or un-reserving some of the earliest ones so other users can reserve them because there's no way my husband and I  can do all of this by ourselves.