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

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Help Them Where They Are!

One of the most common complaints made by "experienced" genealogists concerns errors, lack of documentation and duplicates added to family trees, particularly the Family Tree. Since I do not know about any babies who are born with a complete knowledge about how to do genealogy, I assume that we all began at some time in our lives to learn the basics. The main difference today is that when some of us learned, we did so in absolute isolation. It is only the miracle of technology that let's us see the learning curves of so many neophyte genealogists.

When I was just starting out, I learned of a new technology where I could "upload" a GEDCOM file to something that came to be called the Pedigree Resource File and have a semi-permanent, backup copy of my files. Since I was mainly backing up to 3.5 floppy disks, that sounded like a really good idea, so I uploaded two full copies of my entire file. It was only much later that I figured out that the "copies" of my early attempts at documenting my family had been preserved on CDs and were available to the entire world. Many of the entries on my files were incomplete and lacked documentation. The two uploaded copies constituted two duplicated copies of my entire database. That is, two duplicate copies of the entire, unsourced and mostly incomplete data.

Time passed and the program was introduced. I soon figured out that my two preliminary database copies were entirely included in the NFS database. Including copies of my submissions to the Ancestral File and membership records, I had five copies of my own personal record in the NFS program. Now, it is old news, but the entire NFS database has been incorporated into the Family Tree program. So, today, I am living with all my own novice errors.  Of course, over time, I have corrected a lot of the information. But it is only with the recent upgrade to the Family Tree that many of the errors can now be corrected, the duplicates eliminated and all the documentation added.

My own experience perhaps gives me a perspective into what it means be a rank beginner. Had the technology been available to me that we have today, I would have been in exactly the same position to be criticized by the more knowegeable genealogists. The only reason I was not censured at the time was because no on had any particular access to my data.

So instead of becoming irate at the apparent errors and duplications in the Family Tree, just remember that but for the passage of some time, you might be the one adding the information.


  1. Excellent observation and one I've thought of many times. I'm grateful that you brought it up again. Let's be more tolerant of people as they're learning. It takes time.

  2. I know you have written about this before, but one thing I continue to see quite a bit is people who extend lines and clear temple work simply by adding a "Mr." and "Mrs." to the end of the line with a made-up date and location. So if the end of a line is "Peter Bradburn" they will add Mr. Bradburn and Mrs. Bradburn as his parents, make up dates and locations based on his birth, then clear the temple work.