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

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Challenge and the Status of the FamilySearch Family Tree

In a recent blog post from the AncestryInsider entitled, "Ron Tanner Fields Questions at - #BYUFHGC" Ron Tanner was quoted as saying that FamilySearch is getting "rid" of If you try to go to the website, you get the following notice:

This notice was updated 3 February 2015. So, here we are at the end of August, 2015 and still waiting for the real "end" of I have heard that it might take until some time in 2016, to finally make the complete transition. As stated in the above notice, "This step allows FamilySearch to begin the final phase of the transition, which includes the transfer and synchronization all of the remaining data from to its replacement, FamilySearch Family Tree."

One of the most prominent problems encountered in the operation of the Family Tree because of the continued link to is the inability to resolve some of the obvious duplicates.

My perception, that comes from constantly using the program, is that the Family Tree is coming along fairly well. There are some duplicate issues that have yet to be resolved, but by and large the Family Tree is almost completely operational.

The real issues with the Family Tree are not going to be resolved merely because the transition from ends. The underlying issue with the Family Tree is the condition of the data. My response has been and continues to be to systematically work through each of the families in the Family Tree and do the following:
  • Correct all the duplicate information as much as possible 
  • Correct the names of any family members as shown in the Alternative name section
  • Eliminate duplicate individuals when allowed
  • Standardize dates and places
  • Add as many sources as can be found from my own records and from online
  • Make sure that all dates agree and all places actually existed at the time 
  • Delete any unsupported relationships
Granted this is a slow and somewhat tedious process, but until all the corrections have been done, the information is blatantly unreliable. As a result of "correcting" the data in the Family Tree, I am reasonably confident that the information for my lines is mostly accurate back six generations on all my lines. In addition, most of the descendants of these six generations have been verified and corrected. There are one or two of the lines that are inaccurate in the seventh generation, so I am currently starting on the seventh generation families.

I realize I live in a family history world where some people wish they had my problems, but by the seventh generation, the numbers start to be come a major challenge.

In short, I am no longer "waiting" for the complete transition away from I feel that enough progress has been made in stabilizing the Family Tree to allow me to do much of the work that needs to be done to correct the entries. There is no longer any valid reason to wait for further developments. The few cases where the duplicates cannot be merged can continue to be ignored, but otherwise, it is time to get to work and correct the Family Tree.


  1. Thanks for the list. This is what I too have been doing so good to see I am on the same path as an expert (you), although I usually do them in a different order. By standardizing the dates before the duplicate person check, you can get more potential duplicate people because FS can do a better match on the people.

    It all really doesn't matter though, as until all the issues are resolved with a person and family unit, you need to keep going back to them to make sure things remain in a clean status.

    Thanks for this article and all your articles. They are so helpful.

  2. You are so right on here. I just wish everyone in the family history department and those advising consultants knew what you have outlined here. They seem to be soooo anxious to attract new users and increase participation on Family Tree that they sometimes deceptively entice new users by saying it is so easy now. Well, I guess some things are easier - certainly sourcing is much easier. But fixing spurious data and relationships takes dedication, time, hard work and care. And I guess that discourages new users. It is a great blessing that those in charge higher up still keep funding Family Tree even though participation is slow in growing.

  3. One other thought. Because the data is so blatantly unreliable, so also are the Apps that pull from that data. The new FH Discovery Centers really use those a lot to entice new users. I am shaking my head, and sighing heavily.

    1. Cathy, "blatantly unreliable" is a kind way to put it. In truth, really not much worse than other web-hosted tree agglomerations. But it is a reason that the emphasis of a newly released /The Family History Guide/ on doing research specifically on the FS-FT is rather ill-advised.

    2. I don't see what you are talking about. The Family History Guide doesn't advocate doing research in the Family Tree. See
      There are clearly instructions to add sources.