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

Monday, May 23, 2016

Loss of Life Sketches on Merger?

I got the following comment from one of my daughters as she was cleaning up some entries in the Family Tree. I would suggest that there should be a work-around or at least a warning to prevent this problem. Here is issue the note:
Here is a potentially annoying problem that I discovered this morning.

FamilySearch is currently importing a huge Church Membership database. Although many “new” duplicates are appearing in FamilySearch, this seems to be good news, since it means we are one step closer to having all the various databases available on FamilySearch. Maybe at some point, when all the various bits of information are imported, we will be able to deal with the IOUS records.

This morning, I began to work on merging records to resolve these new duplicates. I started with Charlotte Stapley which had an obituary posted in the life sketch section. Since I had not seen that obituary before, I took special note of the life sketch.

When I began to merge the duplicate record for Charlotte, FamilySearch informed me that "These two people can be merged, but only if the possible duplicate is the surviving individual. These two people can be merged if they are switched." In other words, I had to keep the newly imported Church Membership record, instead of the record with all the memories, sources, etc.

I have seen this message before, and so I chose the “Switch” button, and continued with the merge. Since the old record had more information, I transferred all the information over. All the sources, photos and memories transfer automatically with the merge. I finished up the merge and looked at the merged record.

The life sketch had disappeared! I was pretty sure that I had transferred it, but maybe I had made a mistake. Fortunately the obituary was attached in the “memories” section of Charlotte’s record.

This family had 5 new duplicates, so I went to the record for Charlotte’s husband. Worried that FamilySearch was deleting Life Sketches during a merge, I copied his life sketch into a Word Document and merged his duplicates, making sure that the life sketch was being included in the merged information. When the merge was complete, the life sketch was gone. I posted what I had copied back into the record.

I now know to copy the life sketch before a merge, but I see this programming glitch as a potential problem for those who have spent time writing life sketches that will be lost in the transfer. I am worried that less experienced FamilySearch users will not notice the lost life sketches, especially since the FamilySearch Merge function shows the sketch being transferred. I may not have even noticed the missing life sketch if it had not caught my attention just before I merged the records.

I am undecided as to how important this is. Hopefully people will post the life sketches in “memories” as well as in the life sketch section.
Be advised.


  1. This should have the attention of the engineers / programmers of FS - FT. We have been given the promise that information in all the entry fields will not be lost in such a merge. Some programmer goofed and this should be classified as an urgent "bug" to be repaired ASAP.

    Please let the engineers know through a notice in "Get Satisfaction".

    This problem illustrates the need to keep a personal database with all of your important data in it. Then when someone comes along and changes things with a merge or edit, you can get a notice because you have a "watch" on the person. You can then evaluate and decide if the change reveals data that you have missed or if someone is munging the individual's identity.

  2. Yes, I have experienced exactly the same problem. After switching the duplicate record to the left and then merging, the Life Sketch disappears. As your daughter suggests, I have learned to always copy the Life Sketch to Word before merging. I have pretty much given up on trying to bring these issues to the attention of FamilySearch so I guess we are just going to have to live with it. Unfortunately, it another indication of just how buggy the program still is!

  3. We informed the engineers today. They'll be on this one.

  4. Nice to bump into you (virtually) again, Cathy!

    Any news on this bug? I faced the same issue, and attempted to undo the merge and redo it the other direction, only to discover the reason the merge had been done the direction it was.

    Do we really have to keep the *newer* record? This is counter to my history-preserving ways; yes, I know the history isn't truly deleted, but it is obfuscated. I believe the older record be the canonical source--it was there first. {end rant}

  5. Okay, I resolved not to just rant here, but to submit my suggestion of keeping the older record.