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Ancestral File

by David M. Mayfield

Ancestral File™ is a large genealogical database published on compact disks (CD-ROM) for use in personal computers. Its purpose is to preserve genealogies of families throughout the world, make these genealogies available to researchers of all faiths and nationalities, and help them avoid unnecessary effort and expense. The file is produced and maintained by the Family History Library of THE CHURCH of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints located in Salt Lake City.

By January 1990 Ancestral File contained approximately 7 million lineage-linked names; it is expected that millions more will be added each year. The distinguishing features of this file are that it:

1. displays and prints ancestors' individual records, pedigrees, family groups, and descendancy charts;

2. uses standardized spelling of names, locality cross-references, and other convenient retrieval techniques;

3. facilitates correcting and updating the data;

4. gives a reference number for a microfilm copy of the original information;

5. contains the names and addresses of persons who contributed the information;

6. enables users to copy family-linked data onto diskettes to be matched and merged with their own files.

Open participation in Ancestral File is essential to its purposes. All researchers can contribute their genealogies by providing additional information on entire families, and by using personal ancestral file or other genealogical software that accommodates the GEDCOM (Genealogical Data Communication) format. Ancestral File is available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and at hundreds of its affiliated family history centers in outlying stake centers of the Church. Mail-order printouts may be obtained by correspondence.

Ancestral File and Personal Ancestral File are trademarks of the Corporation of the President of THE CHURCH of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints.


Mayfield, David M., and A. Gregory Brown. "Family Search." Genealogical Computing (July 1990).

Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 1, Ancestral File

Copyright 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company

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