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

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

More thoughts on Managing Your Part of the FamilySearch Family Tree

My first post on managing your part of the Family Tree focused on standardizing the entries and tidying up the long lists of "Birth Names." You can see the first post here:

In this post, I am moving beyond strict housekeeping and looking at the content and reasonableness of the entries.

The entry above shows a person named "Elizabeth L. Milton" who has a speculated birthdate and an indeterminate death date. Granted, there is some housekeeping that needs to be done with this entry. The brackets that appear around the assumed birthdate are a holdover from the paper family group sheet days. Removing them does not change the undetermined birth year, but it would be better to use the term "about 1751" rather than just leave the date without supporting records.

There are only three sources showing for Elizabeth:

  • The Douglas Register
  • Eliz. Milton in an entry for Gerard Morgan, "Virginia Births and Christenings, 1584-1917"
  • The Life and Ministry of John Morgan
Here is the issue in managing the entries. It is important to examine all of the sources cited to see if they actually apply to this particular ancestor. The first source listed does not have a link to any specific information. The reference is to an entry showing a marriage date of October 1772. So, I uploaded a copy of the document with the reference. 

Although this does not substantiate the date of birth, it does establish her name and a marriage date. 

The third source listed is a book. Unfortunately, there are very few sources mentioned for those portions of the book that write about the ancestry of John Morgan, b. 1842, d. 1894. This particular book falls into the category of a general biased history of a prominent person. For example, my Great-grandmother married John Morgan and is only mentioned once in a short paragraph of the book. The book is certainly a source for John Morgan, but it is not helpful for Elizabeth Milton. 

At this point, it is time to start doing some serious research. 


  1. If I may offer one possible clarification, let me note that as far as I am aware, the angle brackets were instituted as a marker that the date or place enclosed by the angle brackets were a computer calculation done if possible on submissions that lacked certain data.

    In the example you give in this post, the original submission would have had no birth year at all. The spot on the paper form or in the data file would have been blank. The computer took her marriage date, subtracted 21 years, and created a birth year of <1751> for her.

    This is important, because these computer created dates can be particularly bad and misleading since they have no researcher reasoning behind them at all. My inclination would be to take the date out completely. Changing the date to "about 1751" implies that a human researcher had some basis for thinking she was about 21 years old at the time of her marriage. (Ideally that would have been more than just the standard convention used to get a birth year on the submission form so you could get temple work completed.)

    1. Good point. I usually clean up the entries and if there are no supporting sources, I blank out all the unsupported fields. Some of the dates come from the old Family Group Records. I have seen the angle brackets online since the PAF days.