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

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Dealing With the Deluge of Duplicates in the FamilySearch Family Tree

In the last few weeks, many users of the Family Tree have seen a dramatic increase in the number of duplicate entries found by the program. In some instances while working with some research on a particular family, I have been faced with as many as a hundred or more duplicates that must be merged before I can adequately proceed with research. These duplicate entries are not immediately apparent. They only appear as you do research and add information from records found from  Here is a screenshot of part of the list of changes I made to one family in England recently that developed as a result of the numerous duplicates that appeared.

The original entry was a single individual with very little information and no discoverable duplicate entries. As I added information and each time I corrected the entry, as many as five or more duplicate entries would appear. The screenshot shows less than half of the list of changes that had to be made because of the duplicates that appeared each time information was added. Many of the merges produced even more occurrences of duplicates that had to be merged. I estimate that I had to resolve more than a hundred duplicates to clean up this one family.

I can speculate about what is happening. It appears from consulting with others who are experiencing the same issues, that FamilySearch has added a significant number of additional individuals to the database. Perhaps this comes about as a result of opening up more links to the original data in moving away from the program? In one case, a duplicate record appeared that could only have been added by the user many years ago.

There are some important issues here. One is that an entry that appears to be without any duplicates, could have many duplicates if some additional research is done and information added. So, for example you find a relative where the entry shows Temple work needed but there is very limited information available. If you do some very basic research, such as adding a birthplace or date or adding a spouse, the Family Tree program will immediately begin finding duplicates that were previously not discoverable. As more information is added, duplicates will continue to appear.

In one case, we assumed that this phenomena was caused by having huge IOUS or multiply submitted entries. However, I have seen instances where duplicates start appearing in lines where there has been very little research and a very limited number of submissions.

What is the solution? Keep carefully merging entries until the duplicates run out. There is apparently no other solution. It is significant that these duplicates have now begun to appear. They have been in the program all along but not found when searching. Now they are being found. This must mean we are closer to separating and the end of the ultimate problems with the data may be in sight.


  1. Most of the new duplicates originated from Temple Records, created from submissions to Temple system between 1983 and 2000. The reason I know it is from them is because these submissions were from me and no one else in family doing them. I recognized every one of them and I had been forced to switch to these ones because these duplicates were marked "LDS Membership" even these individuals were never been LDS members, going back at least 6 generations. Now my own pedigree is showing all PIDs starting with LL instead of early ones. This brought up several treads in . I think the duplicates stopped coming to overload once strong voices prevailed against being forced to switch the merges for no good reasons.

    1. That is probably one of the reasons, however, we are also seeing duplicates that come from the Ancestral File and others that come from the 4 and 5 generation submissions years ago.

  2. I've had the same situation as the comment by David Samuelsen with duplicates showing up as LDS membership records when my father-in-law was the only one family member of 10 children that ever joined the church. I use to avoid standardized text when I saw that it was created by as an LDS membership record, showing that this person had joined the church. Now I realize that I can no longer count on that being accurate and I standardize text wherever I see necessary to get rid of the red exclamation point!

  3. Up until a month or so ago I was able to send support a message asking the membership department to merge duplicate membership records. Then I started getting return emails saying to wait on these as "I would be able to do it myself SOON". So FS obviously is nearing the end of the process of separating the Membership File from the tree.