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

Saturday, September 3, 2016

No More GEDCOM Files in the FamilySearch Family Tree?

Recently and from time to time in the past, I have been questioned about how to upload a GEDCOM file to the Family Tree. The requests are always accompanied with statements by the potential contributor about "managing their tree and keeping their information" on the website. After I explain the process, I often get statements of frustration from the potential contributor that the file would have to be examined for duplicates already in the Family Tree and that probably, the process would require the individuals in much of the file to be examined one-by-one. Oh, by the way, I always offer to sit down with the potential contributor and help them look at the Family Tree to see if their information is already there, but I do not recall ever having my offer accepted.

In almost every single instance where I have been asked about how to upload a GEDCOM file, when I have asked whether or not the person has examined the Family Tree and knows what is there already, the answer has been no. I have yet to talk to even one person who knows that the information they want to add to the Family Tree is not already duplicated by entries in the Family Tree.

The Family Tree is not a dumping ground for surplus GEDCOM files. Just in case, you don't know what a GEDCOM file is, it is a text-based copy of some of the contents of personally created genealogical database containing information exported from a program such as Personal Ancestral File or some other commercially available program. It is probably also important to note that there are at least two programs, RootsMagic and Ancestral Quest, that accept GEDCOM files and then will allow you to add individuals directly to the Family Tree without retyping the information. However, both these programs will also require you to examine each additional entry to determine if there is already a duplicate copy of the individual in the Family Tree.

No, I am not going to explain how to upload a GEDCOM file to the Family Tree. Even when I am asked personally, I limit my comments to the fact that the process can be done, but that I am opposed to uploading GEDCOM files to the Family Tree and they will have to seek help elsewhere if they need assistance.

Now, hypothetically, there may be someone who has done some unique research that has never been previously duplicated by someone in the existing Family Tree. In that case, the existing procedures for uploading a GEDCOM file are adequate for protecting the Family Tree from rampant duplicates. Right now, I am still finding a huge number of duplicate entries in the Family Tree and I do not relish the idea that someone could add another batch of duplicates to my family lines by simply adding another un-needed GEDCOM file.

Please refer to this extensive article about "Finding and merging possible duplicate records in Family Tree."


  1. I see GEDCOM in the comments field on people occasionally. I am never sure if it is their GEDCOM or where the data came from and if it is any good. Same when I see Many times these are duplicates of people I thought I had already cleaned up. Frustrating.

  2. I found GEDCOM entries frequently - and these GEDCOMs already made a mess of the records already in Tree, nightmare of cleaning up the mess of wrong persons, wrong dates, wrong places, etc., etc.