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

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Merge obvious duplicates in the FamilySearch Family Tree

As I work back generation by generation correcting information in the Family Tree, I tend to find some obvious duplicates. Here is an example from one of my lines:

There are two Mary Boorman entries listed, each with its own Personal Identification Number (ID number). Both of these duplicates show a daughter, Elizabeth Tarbutt, with the same ID number. It certainly appears that there are duplicate entries for Mary Boorman. The ID number is important because of the following statement from the Get Help section of the website:
The identification number (ID number), formerly called the person identifier number, is a unique string of letters and numbers identifying each person in the Family Tree. It appears on the Landscape view of the tree, the Summary card, and the Details page. The ID number does not change over the life and death of the person.

Note: The system randomly generates ID numbers to help keep track of a record. You cannot use them to determine specific information about the person or the source of the information.
What has apparently happened is that there were two different entries for the mother of Elizabeth Tarbutt for the same person; Mary Boorman LC9Z-D5B and Mary Boorman LKKM-3GH. These two entries need to be merged. In addition, this also means that there are two sets of parents for Elizabeth Tarbutt, one with a father and one without a father. The first step is to merge the two mothers.

I suggest writing down the two ID numbers of the duplicates so if something goes wrong, you can easily find either or both of them. I would begin by selecting the entry with the most information as a the target for the merge. In this case, the Mary Boorman LC9Z-D5B has the most information and children.

Open the person's Detail Page and click on the Possible Duplicate link.

In this case, the duplicate entry comes up with the search for possible duplicates.

You need to be aware of the ID numbers. The duplicate entry found by the program happens to be the same one observed previously. There are also no other duplicates found. I would then click on the Review Merge link. In this case, I received a statement informing me that the I needed to switch the Primary Person. I continue the merge by clicking on the Switch link.

The next step is very important, I need to focus on preserving the surviving information. If I do nothing and do not replace the information, if needed, then the default is that the information is rejected. The idea is to not lose any information.

I click on the Replace link to add some or all of the information to the surviving individual on the left.

Once I have added in all the appropriate fields and rejected the duplicates or ignored them, I can Continue Merge by clicking on the link at the bottom of the page.

 I should then add in a reason why I made the merge and click on the blue link to Finish Merge.

In this case, because there was a child, Elizabeth Tarbott, with an extra father designated as "Unknown" or missing, it is further necessary to delete the relationship of this child to the unknown parent, realizing that the father is known and identified. At this point the mothers in the two entries now have the same ID number.

I click on the editing link next to the name of the child.

I need to remove the child from this couple showing the wife with an ID number and no father, because I know the name of the father right there from the program. This person is not the child of a mother with an unknown father and so the relationship of the child needs to be deleted. This action will not affect any of the relationships with the known father and mother.

Once I do this, the entry is now correct for the mother and the child.

This is all there is to do with this entry right now. Of course, you may wish to check any of the other individuals in the family for duplicates.


  1. Very good information. Would you be able to address the issue of duplicate records that cannot be merged?

    1. The answer is that until all of the records etc. have been moved over from to the Family Tree, these items will not be able to be merged. There is no date yet on when the transfer will be complete.