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

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Duplicate Ghost Records on the FamilySearch Family Tree

The Family Tree has come a long way since it began with its burden of the database and program. It has now been more than a year since the program was completely cut-off from the older program and we could begin to resolve the issue of millions of duplicate records. Because so many duplicate entries have been resolved, you might get the impression that duplicate entries were no longer a problem in the Family Tree. However, while working on the Family Tree, many of us who are doing intensive research still find significant numbers of duplicates.

When connecting new entries to or when searching for records using the link to, both of these programs will often show duplicate entries that are unable to be detected by a search using the resources of the Family Tree. In other words, there are still a number of "ghost" entries in the Family Tree that are undisclosed. In addition, as research reveals additional facts about a family it is fairly common to find additional duplicate entries of the family members.

One common source for finding these new entries comes when working with a family from England. I often find what appears to be a person who is not married. Some basic research soon produces a spouse. Further research shows that the couple had children. However, upon adding the names of the children, I find that individual ordinances were done for the children and are recorded in the International Genealogical Index (IGI). When I add those children into the family, I often find duplicates. The reason for this is quite simple. Since those children have never been included previously in the family, no one has ever done a search for duplicate entries.

There are also third-party programs that can assist in finding random duplicates. Even though I have been systematically checking for duplicates and merging them when appropriate, there is still a considerable number of duplicates out there waiting to be resolved. Here's a screenshot of the search using Find-A-Record, a useful utility program.

This list of possible duplicates was still produced after more than a year of work by me and my family to systematically attempt to resolve all of the duplicates in our lines. The first entry had an immediately identifiable duplicate. Here is a screenshot showing the duplicate entry from the Family Tree.

By looking at the history of this entry, it is evident that this record came from the nearly inexhaustible source of duplicates existing in the database. Since there has not been as much emphasis lately about the duplicate entries in the Family Tree, perhaps it is time to retrench and get back to the basic issues of the data set used by the Family Tree and remind all of the users that many duplicates still exist.

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