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

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

What and Where is the Ancestral File?

The contents of the Ancestral File were part of the original records that were seeded into the database that was used first, by the program and finally, as the basis for the Family Tree. Here is what the Research Wiki has to say about the Ancestral File:
Ancestral File is a computerized collection of genealogies that links families into pedigrees, showing ancestors and descendants. It contains information for about 40 million people from throughout the world. It shows individuals’ names, family relationships, dates and places of birth, marriage, and death. Ancestral File was created from thousands of user submitted pedigree charts, family group sheets, and GEDCOM files. Submissions were merged to reduce duplication and submitted corrections were applied to rectify errors.
  • The current site contains 40 million, 5 million more than the previous website.
  • Information is not displayed for living individuals, including submitters.
  • Pedigree charts will soon be supported.
The program is found in the main Search menu under the selection for Search Genealogies. There is a further pull-down menu that will let you search all of the four collections on this page or each individually. Here is a screenshot of the link to the menu:

There are, of course, some limitations on the data in the Ancestral File. First and foremost it is not considered a "source." All of the information is user submitted and therefore only as reliable as the researcher who submitted the information. Here is a summary of the issues with the database from the Research Wiki:
The Ancestral File has several key limitations.
  • It contains no notes or sources.
  • Submitters are responsible for the accuracy of the information. FamilySearch did not check the accuracy of any submission.
  • Submitter information, previously available, is now hidden for privacy reasons.
  • Ancestral File contains many errors and corrections are not accepted.
  • Ancestral File also contains duplicates which were not identified and merged (often due to inconsistent or scanty data).
  • Unlike the new FamilySearch Tree and Pedigree Resource File (PRF), Ancestral File is static.
  • As previously mentioned, information in Ancestral File is second-hand. Verify the information before accepting it.
Despite these limitations, the Ancestral File can be a good place to start your research.

1 comment:

  1. 'First and foremost it is not considered a "source."'

    If someone foolishly copies Ancestral File data it is, indeed, their source for it and must be cited as such. Lots of baseless material is copied into trees or other databases, and the source of this should be cited.

    Like other material, the elements of the source must be evaluated as to pertinence and accuracy and whether to utilize as evidence. This analysis is quite a different matter than where it was copied from.