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

Monday, August 8, 2016

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

When we think about the topic of "cleaning up the Family Tree" there is an intial level where the user has to realize that "cleaning up" is even necessary or possible. I need to start by repeating my first rule of accuracy for 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.

This leads me to the next rule:

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.

I realize the rules essentially say the same thing, but they are looking at the issue of accuracy from two different perspectives. Too many people who approach the Family Tree come to their initial experience with an expectation that the information in the Family Tree has been "verified" by someone or some organization. They assume that because the information in the Family Tree is being provided by "FamilySearch" or the "Church" that it is "correct." The real situation is that the information in the Family Tree is an accumulation of over 100 years of unverified and sometimes very sloppy contributions mingled with genuine, highly sourced and well-supported research. The trap is going back to that same unverified, unsupported and sloppily done work of the past to support changes in the Family Tree today. 

Just because you have a venerated family surname book outlining your family's "genealogy" does not mean that the information is correct or even believable. Then again, it might be very accurate. But it important to remember that all of the errors in the present day Family Tree came from people who entered wrong information into a family group record or other method of submitting records that ended up included in the present Family Tree program. Those red icons shown above indicate duplicates but also indicate inconsistencies in birth, marriage and death dates, i.e. children born after their parents died and birth dates after marriage dates. These mixed up dates were not spontaneously generated by FamilySearch, they came from submissions made by your relatives and ancestors and you and your family are now responsible to do the research to correct the mess created by this type of work. 

It is important to realize that these error messages are opportunities. Researching the correct information and then correcting the Family Tree will often result in finding new Temple opportunities.

Look for the previous posts here:

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