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

Monday, August 22, 2016

What to Look For in Cleaning Up the FamilySearch Family Tree: Part Three

Some people are overwhelmed with the obvious errors in the Family Tree. They immediately conclude that the Family Tree is either not working or there are so many errors that the job itself of cleaning up the Family Tree is overwhelming. Neither conclusion accurately represents the reality of the Family Tree. Yes, there are a lot of problems, but these problems are really opportunities to correct the Family Tree and thereby add individuals who need Temple ordinances.

I will repeat my first two Rules for cleaning up the Family Tree:

Family Tree Accuracy Rule No. 1:
You and your family are responsible for the accuracy of your portion of the Family Tree.

Family Tree Accuracy Rule No. 2:

No one has or will verify the accuracy of your portion of the Family Tree except you and your family.

Now I will add another rule:

Family Tree Accuracy Rule No. 3:
Accuracy in the Family Tree is like cleaning a house. There are different perceptions of what is already clean and what needs cleaning.

Looking at the screenshot above, you can see some very obvious issues. The red exclamation icons indicate serious errors. Using the house cleaning analogy, they are mold and dirt. But the purple tree icons are also serious indicators of problems. Usually, they indicate either no sources or missing children. These icons are a first line indication that this section of the Family Tree needs some major cleaning. What do we get for cleaning the Family Tree? The answer is almost always additional individuals added that were previously overlooked or lost.

We have a good analogy in the parable of the lost coin from Luke 15:8:
8 Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?
Some of those searching in the Family Tree think it is possible to ignore all these obvious warning signs and proceed to "harvest the green icons" without regard to the consequences. What are those consequences? One of the most likely consequences is that the person with the green icon is not your relative at all. Of course, you are probably benefiting someone else, if the person actually exists, but you are certainly not doing your own family history work. 

On the other hand, by doing the Family Tree cleaning, you will almost always find additional family members who have been overlooked in the past.

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