Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Dealing with the Duplicates -- Where is the Master File? Part Two

In my first post on this topic, I think I sufficiently distanced myself from the vast majority of genealogists and probably left a few wondering what I was talking about. The point of my first post was simple; the issue of duplicate family tree submissions has been around for a long time. I was more than used to dealing with duplicate entries that disagreed about everything from the spelling of the ancestor's name to the number and names of children. The process I went through to sort out all this conflicting data took years. Little did I know at the time that I was seeing only the barest minimum of what would become a major genealogical issue.

The procedures and methodology I used more than 30 years ago still apply today to the proliferation of online family trees although the magnitude of the problem has increased dramatically. Just one example, I searched on for one of my New England ancestors, Phillip Taber (b. 1646, d. 1693). There is also a common alternate spelling of the name as "Tabor." There were 14,859 entries in the Public Member Family Trees for this ancestor. Incidentally, in the first 100 of these entries, only a very few had even one source. Almost all of the first 100 entries were "unsourced."

Despite the proliferation of duplicate entries in family trees, there is very, very little original research. On a website such as Public Member Trees, there is simply no reason to go through this vast number of returns when it appears that almost all of the results lack sources. There are much better ways to spend my time.

The core answer to the entire issue is keeping one master file of all of your genealogical information. I am not particular about which program I use for my master file, arguments can be made to use any of the well-known genealogical database programs available today. As I have mentioned many times in the past, I have several programs on all of my computers. But the key question raised by the commentator was how to keep all of those different versions of the program in sync. As I mention in my first post, I don't even try. I use the online programs primarily to gather sources and make connections with other family members. I use the different database programs on my computers for their individual strengths. Over the years, I have changed my master program several times. I am still not completely decided, but I will probably use's Family Tree as my master program if they get the merge issue working sometime in the future. I have been moving all of my sources from all of my individual programs into Family Tree now since FamilySearch added that capability. From time to time, I take down one or more of the online family trees and substitute a newer copy from the master database. This seems to work well for me.

In comparing the duplicates between online family trees, does a really good job of showing the user the differences between what is on the suggested family tree and comparing the information to what is on your own tree. Their tools for comparing different entries in different family trees are much more complete and powerful than any of the other online websites. In addition, I can synchronize all the data I find on to their free local database program, Family Tree Builder.

The advantage of focusing on's Family Tree program is that promise that it will be a one stop clearing house for possible duplicates. Since it is a unified family tree, theoretically, there cannot be any duplicates. At least, if there are duplicates, there will be a way to merge the duplicates into one unified entry for each individual ancestor.

Right now this process involves a pretty heavy degree of manual labor. When I do find new information from one of the online databases, it is time consuming but rather simple to add that new information or source to my master program. Either one of the programs on my computer or FamilySearch Family Tree, whichever I feel like at the time. My personal genealogical main activity for the past few years has been adding in all of the huge number of sources and scanning and organizing even more documents, photos and other items. It is when I make statements such as this, I become apprehensive that most of the genealogists in the world will simply not relate to my challenges. From previous comments I am painfully aware that most people cannot dream of having tens of thousands of researched ancestors with hundreds of thousands of pages of source documentation. So my solution to the issue of duplicates may not work for you with your database. You may have so few entries and copies out there, that you can process all of them for content.

Back to a question I raised in the last post. My initial survey of the Family Group Records in the Family History Library left me with a minimum of six verified and sourced generations of ancestors on every single family line with some lines going back 19 generations. I am not presently in a position, absent a workable online program, to make any further inroads into my ancestors. I am waiting for Family Tree and hopefully, I will not have to wait too much longer.

1 comment:

  1. In this condition I used DuplicateFilesDeleter effectively. This software will let you get a huge amount of space for your use by deleting the files that were at multiple locations.