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

Monday, May 25, 2020

An Illustration of a Genealogical Train Wreck in the FamilySearch Family Tree

This screenshot from the Family Tree illustrates what I call a "genealogical train wreck." This is the condition of this particular family entry after hours of work. The more work I did on the family, the more confusing and complicated the entries became. Additionally, almost none of the entries have attached sources but there is a long list of Record Hints waiting to be added. 

By the time I add all of the sources, I will be faced with even more duplicate entries. The number of such entries just keeps increasing until additional sources are exhausted. 

The main cause of such confusion is that each of the family members was separately identified and added to the Family Tree causing a long list of duplicates. I started the process of finding all these duplicates by adding a new copy of the Woodust Mitchel b. 1812 and immediately encountered the first duplicate. However, when I originally added the name and date, the program did not find the duplicate thereby allowing me to create yet another one. Not surprisingly, each of the children listed in this entry will also have duplicates. Here is an example of a duplicate found for one of the children. 

Unfortunately, unless you get involved with verifying each and every person and entry and carefully examine the suggested sources, you would not even be aware of the huge number of duplicate entries in this one family. Here is an example of one of the suggested duplicates. Look at what is available from these two entries. The one on the left has complete information about the family with exact dates. By the way, it is extremely unlikely, though not impossible, that the Christening took place on the same day as the birth. Another interesting observation is that the entry on the left with all the detail has no sources listed while the entry on the right with a birth date has a source. 

Here is what happened when I added this one entry suggested as a Record Hint after combining the suggested duplicate. 

Note that this Woodust Mitchel is the son of the Woodust Mitchel I started with above. There are now 17 more potential entries for this one record that includes at least three more duplicates. Given the number of children listed for this family, I am guessing that there are over fifty duplicate entries (possibly many more than fifty) and dozens of Record Hints to add. At this point, I cannot even begin to predict what this family will look like if and when I make it through all the Record Hints and duplicates. 

The only real motivation for doing all this cleanup work is the small possibility that some of the entries may be incomplete and I will be able to reserve and share their temple ordinances. 

How do I get through all of this? I simply keep adding appropriate Record Hints and resolving the duplicate entries until both of these are exhausted. How long will that take? I have spent entire days of over eight hours on one family just adding Record Hints and resolving duplicates. I will likely spend more than that time on this one family. This family may be a new record for the time involved in cleaning up one very short part of a family line. 

Am I related to these people? You do well to ask that question frequently. But in this case, even if one of the added family members seems to be unrelated, I end up being related to the newly added spouses. Cousins marrying cousins. 

I wish there was a simple way to quickly resolve this type of mess but then that would take all the fun out of doing genealogy. 

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