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

Monday, April 18, 2016

When will merging be completely possible on the FamilySearch Family Tree?

The last time I checked the calendar, it was April, 2016. introduced the Family Tree program at RootsTech 2012, now more than four years ago. From its sort of rocky beginnings, the Family Tree has grown into a huge and valuable resource. But it is a resource with a basic flaw. As shown by the notice above, there are still a huge number of duplicate entries that cannot be duplicated. As shown by this explanation from the Family Tree Product Manager, this inability to merge some duplicate records is a symptom of a deeper issue: the conversion of the data from the older, program to accommodate the expanded functions of the Family Tree.

Let's suppose that you encounter a duplicate such as the one above marked with the "Can't Be Merged At This Time" notice. What are you supposed to do? The answer is essentially nothing. There is nothing you can do. This is an especially interesting problem when you find the following notice and then can't merge the people found.

To discover a more complete explanation of the merging process and its limitations, you can view "Merging duplicate records in Family Tree." This and other interesting instructions are found in the Help Center located on a pull-down menu from the Get Help link in the upper right-hand corner of every screen. There is, at least, one other extensive explanations of the problem: "Cannot merge duplicate records in Family Tree." In this article, there are five reasons given for a failure to merge two records:
Ultimately, the solution is to contact FamilySearch with the issue and let them deal with the situation and usually resolve it. But what about this issue of duplicates?

In fact, there are more than 200 duplicates for Nathaniel Potter and I also get the following for the same person, in addition to the the 99 results shown.

Now, what can I do with this tangle? Nothing. There are others of my ancestors that are equally as tangled more recent than Nathaniel Potter on my ancestral lines. 

This merging issue is really merely a symptom of a much more complex issue that has captured FamilySearch's attention for the past four years. Progress has been made, but the final resolution of the issues is still an elusive goal. 

In my case, I can concentrate on those portions of the Family Tree that do not have these particular problems. But, ultimately, in many cases, I am stopped by the Cannot Merge At This Time wall. Like many of you, I am still waiting (rather impatiently) for the solution. I will certainly write about the solution when it appears. 


  1. When duplicates are obvious can't there be a way to just delete them?

  2. I have had success in merging by each individual's membership ID.