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Monday, November 11, 2013

Uploading GEDCOM files to FamilySearch Family Tree -- Pros and Cons

One of the questions I am frequently asked is how to submit a GEDCOM file to FamilySearch Family Tree. Almost without fail, the person asking this question has never examined the information already in Family Tree to see if this is even necessary. When I question their motive for submitting a GEDCOM file they commonly explain that they have all their information in Personal Ancestral File and have never previously submitted information to FamilySearch. They are simply trying to find a way of transferring all their data without having to re-key in all the names. Sometimes these files have 10s of thousands of names.

At this point, I usually become very uncooperative. I carefully explain that I view much of the duplication of effort in the now old program to be derived from uncontrolled uploaded GEDCOM files, both before and after the introduction of the program. I further explain that the process of uploading a GEDCOM file to FamilySearch Family Tree is very cumbersome and involves checking each entry and each fact before moving any information into the Family Tree. I also explain that there are third-party programs designed to assist in uploading files to Family Tree.

The procedures for uploading a file to  Family Tree have been available in the Reference Guide to Family Tree. I recently noticed that the Reference Guide has disappeared from the list of sources in the Help Center for's Family Tree. The Reference Guide is still available, you can find it with a Google search for the title,  " Using the FamilySearch Family Tree: A Reference Guide  (18 October 2013). this latest version of the Reference Guide has just appeared within the last couple of weeks. The Reference Guide instructions for uploading a GEDCOM file began at page 79. as explained by the Reference Guide, the upload process has several parts:
1. Upload your GEDCOM file, and compare it to Family Tree.
2. View the results.
3. Review people who are potential matches. Determine whether they are matches.
4. Review people who can be added to Family Tree. Choose which ones to add.
5. Review people who are already in Family Tree. Determine whether your GEDCOM
file contains more accurate information than the information Family Tree already
Each of these steps is discussed in complete detail in the Reference Guide. You should also be aware that submitting a file to Family Tree involves also submitting the same file to the FamilySearch Pedigree Resource File.

In almost all cases, it is very difficult to tell whether or not the file proposed to be uploaded already has duplicates in the Family Tree program. The uploading process involves searching for matching records for each individual in the proposed uploaded file. Before uploading or attempting to upload the file to Family Tree, I would strongly suggest at least a spot check of several individuals from the file to see whether or not those individuals are already in the Family Tree file. Because of the huge number of names in the Family Tree file it is almost inevitable, especially if the proposed file contains primarily individuals born in the United States of America that there will be duplicates already in the Family Tree file.

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