Project 3 Goals:  1: Identify Lines   2: Sourcing Tools   3: Puzzilla   4: RelativeFinder        SEARCH

Project 3: Descendants

Find descendants of your ancestors
... your distant cousins.

  Tracker:   Online  or  Word    |  Translated Videos

Goal 1: Use FamilySearch to identify one or more lines to do Descendancy research on. Vault

Descendancy research can be an efficient way to find descendants of ancestors (such as distant cousins). For a detailed look at how cousin relationships work, see "Are Your Cousins Removed?" Remember that FamilySearch does not display information for living people, beyond your immediate family.


A Learn the basics of Descendancy research.

  1. Learn about easy steps for descendancy research.
    FS—Easy Steps, Handout (2 pgs.)
  2. Find additional information on descendancy research here:
    FS—9 Ingredients for Descendancy View

    AC—Descendancy Research—30:23


B Based on what you learned in the article and video, choose a Descendancy ancestor.

The basic steps are:

  1. In Landscape view, find an ancestor several generations back, with a birth date around 1800 if possible.
  2. Set that person as the first-position ancestor (click the name of the person in the tree, and then click Tree in the Summary card).
  3. To switch to Descendancy view, click the Landscape button and select Descendancy. (See Project 1: Goal 5 for details.)
  4. Display the children for that ancestor.
  5. Use the expand arrows to open up lines of descendants that you can view.
  6. For more information on descendancy research in FamilySearch, watch this video.
    BYU—Descendancy Research in FamilySearch—5:35
  7. Refer to Project 1, Goals 6-9 to add and update information for these descendant ancestors.

Instructor Tips

C Use Find-A-Record to identify other descendant ancestor lines to work on.

  1. Log in to Find-A-Record (see Goal 9 in Project 1 for details).
  2. In the "Change the start person" field, type the ID for the person whose ancestors you want to search for.
  3. In the "Who do you want to find" field, select Descendants, and wait while the list is populated.

D Explore descendancy from other views: Landscape, Portrait, and Fan Chart.

  1. Choose Landscape, Portrait, or Fan Chart view.
  2. Use the steps in Choices B and C above to find and update descendancy ancestors.

Goal 2: Use sourcing tools in Descendancy view.

Once you locate relatives in Descendancy view, you can provide sources for their records to validate and verify information.


A Use Descendancy view to find ancestors who do not yet have sources listed for their information.

Note: If you are not familiar with using Descendancy view, see Project 1, Goal 5, Choice C.

  1. Select an ancestor who was born between 1700 and 1900.
  2. Switch to Descendancy view in Family Tree.
  3. In the right side of the screen, look for a light-blue Record Hints icons. (If there are no light-blue icons, scroll down or choose a different ancestor line.)
  4. Click a light-blue icon.
  5. In the Record Hints dialog, to open the Review and Attach screen, click Show Details. Choice B below explains how to review and attach the record in your family tree.

Instructor Tips

B In Descendancy view, review and attach a source to your ancestor's Person page.

  1. Continuing from the steps above, scroll about halfway down the screen and click the ancestor's name (in blue).
  2. Review the information in the record dialog that appears, to verify your ancestor's information.
  3. For the additional steps to follow, see Choice B in Goal 8 of Project 1: Family Tree.

Goal 3: Use to identify one or more lines to do Descendancy research on. offers some unique views that help you view descendants of your ancestors.


A Learn about Puzzilla and how it works.

Puzzilla is a website that displays ancestors or descendants in a flower-tendril pattern, with information nodes for each person.

  1. Watch these videos for an introduction to Puzzilla.
    FS—Puzilla Demo—2:00
    | BYU—Descendancy Research in Puzzilla—6:09
  2. To explore Puzzilla features in more depth, watch this video.
    FS—Puzzilla Training—13:23

B Log in to and browse your family tree in Puzzilla.

  1. Go to
  2. In the upper-right corner, click the Sign-in button.
  3. Sign in to FamilySearch.
  4. Click OK or Accept so your FamilySearch information can be viewed by Puzzilla, and Puzzilla can contact you.
  5. In Puzzilla, move the cursor over the tree nodes (blue and pink squares) to see ancestor information in name boxes.
  6. Move to a node and click it, to keep that ancestor's name box open.
  7. In the name box, click Ancestors to move this person to the primary position and plot additional ancestors.
  8. Change the number of Generations in the drop-down list to the left. (This may take a while to refresh.)
  9. Click a node and select View in Family Tree in the name box. This opens a new browser window in FamilySearch, with the Person Page showing for that ancestor.

C Select an ancestor and go to Descendants view.

  1. Browse to an ancestor born over 100 years ago and click the colored node to keep the name box open.
  2. In the name box, click Descendants to move that person to the primary spot.
  3. Open that person's name box and click Descendants. The FamilySearch descendants of that person appear in the Puzzilla ring.

Instructor Tips

Goal 4: Use the RelativeFinder tool to see how you may descend from famous historical figures, or to create relative groups.

It may surprise you to learn that you may be related to a wide variety of noted people. The Relative Finder tool helps you see those relationships, based on data in your FamilySearch tree. You can also connect with other people who have common ancestral roots.


A Log in to RelativeFinder and find your famous ancestors.

  1. Go to RelativeFinder and click Login.
  2. Sign in to FamilySearch and agree to share your basic tree information so RelativeFinder can access (but not change) your family tree data.
  3. Watch this video for an overview of using RelativeFinder.
    Relative Finder from RootsTech—5:56
  4. Click Relatives. You'll see a checklist of categories to search for.
  5. Make your selections, and then click Show Relatives. You'll see a table with the results (this example shows relationships to U.S. Presidents).
  6. If you want to save your results, click Export as CSV to save the file in a spreadsheet format.
  7. To view the relationship path from you to the ancestor you selected, in the rightmost column click View. A group of boxes appears, with the path highlighted between paternal and maternal lines back to the ancestor you selected.

Instructor Tips

B (Optional) Create a RelativeFinder group to invite others to see your family relationships.

  1. In RelativeFinder, in the top menu, click Groups and select Create.
  2. Fill out the fields on the screen, and click Create Group.
  3. Notify your friends (by email, social media, etc.) and invite them to join the group you created.
  4. To delete a group you created, a) Click Manage Groups, b) Click View for the group you created, c) Click Delete Group; and d) Click OK.