Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

What do we need to do to clean up FamilySearch Family Tree

For over 150 years members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been submitting names to the Temple to do ordinance work for their ancestors. As a result of this work, pedigrees and family histories have been compiled by the members. About the time that the Temple work in Utah was being done in more than one Temple, there began to be a concern about the duplication of both the work and the effort that went into researching ancestral lines. It was noted, even in the late 1800s that the same work was being done by family members in Logan, Utah as was being done in St. George. See Allen, James B., Jessie L. Embry, and Kahlile B. Mehr. Hearts Turned to the Fathers: A History of the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1894-1994. Provo, Utah: BYU Studies, Brigham Young University, 1995 for a more complete explanation of these early concerns.

Because of this concern, there has been a steady stream of innovations and programs in an attempt to diminish the number of duplications. As soon as I can unpack all my books from moving, I will be able to review those historical efforts to resolve the duplication issue. For the purpose of this post, it is enough to know that there have been a series of programs aimed at a solution.

The most recent effort attempting to solve the problem is the Family Tree program. But the reality of the situation is that the Family Tree program has inherited the pre-existing duplications in addition to all of the differences in the submissions since the beginning of the work. In some cases, the number of duplicate pedigrees (not just individuals) is huge, into the hundreds and even thousands. Much of the work of combining individuals has been accomplished in But the flaws in that program enabled additional duplication and did not provide a way to eliminate the remaining errors and duplicates.

Presently, a complete solution to the problem of duplicates is unavailable and will continue to be unavailable until the program is discontinued entirely. There is no publicly announced timetable for this to happen. Notwithstanding this limitation, there is still a huge amount of work that can be done to resolve the existing issues with the program. These issues fall into the following categories:

  • Duplicate entries that cannot yet be resolved for a variety of reasons
  • Duplicate entries that can be resolved
  • Duplicate information for individuals that is unnecessary that can be deleted 
  • Families containing the wrong relationships for children and couples that can be deleted and resolved
  • Sources can be added to document and correct entries
  • Source entries from can be corrected or deleted if inappropriate
  • Dates and places can be standardized where appropriate only when the standardized date or place agree with the place and date as it was at the time of the event
  • Notes can be corrected and fragments or inappropriate notes deleted
  • Names, including capitalization can be corrected
  • Titles included in names can be moved to the other information category
  • Life sketches can be added for all family members
  • Photos, stories and documents can be added for all individuals

This is just a few of the tasks that can be done. Most of these can be accomplished for many individuals even though the duplicate entries are still unresolved. If you suspect that there may be an unresolved duplicate, move on to another ancestor. You may be adding information that will be redundant after the program is fixed and duplicates can be resolved.

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