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

Friday, August 8, 2014

Duplicates in FamilySearch Family Tree

There is a very interesting statement in a recent blog post entitled, "Duplicates in FamilySearch’s Family Tree: Why They’re There, How to Find Them, and How to Resolve Them" by Karen Hanna. It quotes Kathryn Grant, a recent presenter at the 2014 BYU Family History Conference and says:
Grant emphasized, “Family Tree was never meant to be an ongoing source of family names so we don’t have to do our own research; rather, it’s a collection of data gathered over many generations which needs to be validated and corrected so that we can find and add additional names.”
The post also references a presentation entitled "Duplicates in Family Tree: Why They're There, How to Find Them, and How to Resolve Them." Unfortunately, neither the blog post nor the presentation acknowledge the following excerpt from the guide to the program entitled, "Using the FamilySearch Family Tree: A Reference Guide (18 October 2013) LDS Version where it states at page 152:
Some records in Family Tree cannot be merged. You cannot merge records in the following situations:
  • The gender on one record is male, and the other is female.
  • One record indicates the person is alive; the other is deceased.
  • Both records come from the membership records of The Church of Jesus Christ of
  • Latter-day Saints.
  • One of the records came from, where it has been combined with too many other records.
  • The duplicate record has already been deleted due to another merge.
  • One of the records has restrictions that would prevent it from being changed.
If Family Tree has already identified possible duplicates that cannot be merged, they appear beneath the list of possible duplicates.

It is interesting the FamilySearch is acknowledging that Family Tree cannot and should not be "mined" for names to take to the Temples, but it seems that the message has yet to reach many Wards and Stakes where the leaders are still challenging members to go to Family Tree and find a name to take to the Temple.

It is also unfortunate that the reasons that mergers still cannot be made in Family Tree are not more well known. There is presently another limitation of the program that if frequently encountered: individuals that were wrongly combined in the now old program cannot yet be corrected. See page 160 of the Reference Guide.

During the past week as I have taught classes at the BYU Family History Library, I have encountered several very frustrated users of the Family Tree due to both of these limitations. It is well to be reminded periodically as stated by the blog post:
The goal for perfection or “one complete, accurate record for each person” is attainable, little by little, but we need to keep in mind that those who organized their records using older forms, the records from grandma or Uncle Joe, FamilySearch, New FamilySearch, and finally into FamilySearch’s Family Tree, are fallible, and mistakes were made (And mistakes are continually made today be beginners and “experts” alike). The engineers who have brilliantly built the FamilySearch system are working to make everything as easy as possible. They respond quickly to the concerns of the users and fix problems as they arise.
Patience is advised.

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