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

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Read Only on FamilySearch Family Tree

I was surprised recently to find the my Great-grandfather, John Hamilton Morgan, was marked "Read Only" in the FamilySearch.org Family Tree. Here is a screenshot of the page:


This will likely occur more and more frequently in the Family Tree and it is important to understand why and how it happens.

The current basic reference is found in the Help Center for FamilySearch.org. The article is entitled, "One of my relatives has a restricted record." Here is a screenshot of part of the article:


You should be aware that these entries can and do change frequently. It is always a good idea to check with the Help Center entries before becoming frustrated over any change on the FamilySearch.org Family Tree.

What is happening here and only partially explained by the article, is that the Family Tree is a moderated wiki. This means that changes to the tree are not a Wild West shoot out, but the individuals in the Family Tree are subject to being "locked" and there are and will be more such locked individuals in the future. As the article explains, any changes to a "Read Only" individual must be submitted by the users and approved by FamilySearch.

In my case, the reason is likely because this particular ancestor was prominent in Utah history. Historical figures and other frequently changed individuals may also fall into this category. You need to be aware of this trend and realize that much of what we see today in the Family Tree is subject to revision.


6 comments:

  1. I call the Family Tree schizophrenic. On the surface it claims to be a full wiki open edit, anyone can change anything format. But as you discovered, various records, and more increasing all the time, are read only. I worked on creating read only records for the 5th Century Merovingian Kings' families, founders of France, and predecessors to Charlemagne while in Data Quality.
    What you should know about read only records is that there are professional, semi-professional and well trained volunteer genealogists, using the best sources, historical records the Church can acquire, who create brand new, clean, correct records for these historical figures. There used to be a zone in the Family History Library SLC called the Medieval Zone whose folks worked on these. Then that group was moved to the Joseph Smith Memorial Building and was called the Historical Families Reconstitution Zone. What I love about this little known group and their activities is that they create the best well researched records and attach the earliest temple work to them, if it can be ascertained that the work was intended for the person, and if any exists. The only thing I really, really wish they would also do is delete, or at least hide the many, many duplicate and incorrect records for these historical figures. Now you hear various volunteers and employees working on "Special Projects" in conjunction with the Church History Department to verify data and relationships for prominent Church leaders, and others, like your relative. When they say, well no one should change President Hinckley's (or any other Prophet's) record. Everything about him is verified, known, settled, and this justifies the read only status. But many users also feel that they have verified and settled their own grandfather or mother's records, and these should also become read only. So it's controversial.
    What I have seen that upsets people when they discover one of their ancestors with a read only record is that very frequently the prominent Church leaders practiced the old, and now defunct, Law of Adoption, where men were sealed to many, many deceased women, they never knew. This makes the Family Section of the Person Page very long and very surprising. Sometimes folks will see children with totally different surnames sitting in a family for their ancestor, and want to delete the relationship, but can't because it's read only and the child has been sealed to the man. So this is a bit of a problem. Showing sealing only relationships on read only records causes all kinds of anxiety in unknowing descendants, who want to clean up their ancestors' records. Thus schizophrenia's double personality exists in Family tree.

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    1. Thank you for a very detailed and informative comment. Actually, the ability to freeze records (i.e. make them read only) is a basic function of the Wiki. Many records on Wikipedia are locked due to unreasonable changes. I understand that the number of Read Only records will continue to increase, which I think is a very good thing.

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  2. So what do you do when you find incorrect information? It is on my great great grandfather Andrew Jackson Pope. I have substantiating documents to add more children and 1st wife but his records is locked. This is very frustrating and if I can't get it unlocked, my only solution would be to detach his record and create a new one for him which will be a duplication.

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    1. Either wait or send the information to FamilySearch and ask that the entry be unlocked and the updated information added.

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  3. So, how do you send information or question to FamilySearch? I have an ancestor who appears 6 times and it would be good to merge them but they are read-only. Of course, his wife is the same as well as his children so it could be tedious. Thee are also a couple more versions which are clearly just suppositions.

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    1. There is a feedback link at the bottom of the pages. Send the ID numbers and an explanation and ask them to be merged.

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