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

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Where are all the hidden duplicates on the FamilySearch Family Tree?

If you are spending any time researching families on the Family Tree, you are probably becoming fairly well acquainted with duplicate entries. Here is one example of about fifty of these I have resolved in the last week. 

When I started looking at this individual and his family, the Family Tree did not show any possible duplicates. I can only surmise, but the reason for this is that the information for this individual was incomplete and partially inaccurate which means that considering what was in the Family Tree there would be no match to someone with different information even if one or the other of the information was correct and accurate. As soon as I did some research and began adding in more information, the duplicates started to appear. 

This particular family had a lot more problems than just a bunch of duplicates. Given the fact that the family was living in the 18th Century, it is surprising that I was able to find so many original source records. Later on, when I had done more research and found the correct wife for Thomas Heath, I ended up with the following duplicates.

I ended up with two duplicates for the wife. Considering that I have already resolved quite a number of duplicates (sorry I didn't keep a count) I was not a bit surprised that I had more. Once I get to this stage of the research, these extra duplicates start magically showing up. 

Bear in mind, that if I had not been doing extensive research in both FamilySearch and about this family, none of these duplicates would have been found. In fact, I added Elizabeth Peen as a new person because the program could not find any duplicates so had I not pursued the research, the duplicates would never have shown up. 

Speculating again, these duplicates in England probably come from either submissions with insufficient information or from the extraction program that added records to the International Genealogical Index. 

After resolving the duplicates entries for Elizabeth Peen and adding in the Record Hints, there were more duplicates. 

Moving on the resolving the duplicate child, however, there is another issue that arises because some of the Record Matches are to extracted records or indexes rather than the original parish register. Fortunately, there are multiple sources for the birth records and the issue can be resolved. Here is where the issue arises.

If it seems like I am writing this as I do the research and look at the entries, that would be correct. The only way to show this type of issue is to work through the problems as they arise. Once I have resolved the duplicates and added the sources, there is no real way to go back and show what happened. 

In the image above, the answer is August, not July. I look at several other records some of which are from the original images. 

I had resolved all of the potential duplicates for Elizabeth Peen and I started adding in another Record Match. This is what I saw.

The fact that this particular record shows that it was attached to another Elizabeth indicates another potential duplicate. I am sure by this point, you like I have lost count of the number of duplicates. I am waiting for FamilySearch to start awarding a prize to the person who resolves the most duplicates every month ( I assume I will have to wait a long time).

I can find out the identity of the person who has previously eluded the FamilySearch duplicate search program by clicking on the Detach link and copying the ID number. I do not want to detach the record at this point because there may be another issue involving the record being attached to the wrong person and not a duplicate.

In fact, the record was attached to the wrong person. This is an issue that arose early on with this family when the children were shown as born in two different counties. Both the families looked similar with the husbands and wives with the same names but this Elizabeth was Christened in London and not in Kent County. Considering these events all occurred in the mid-1700s, it was highly unlikely that some of the children were shown as being born in Kent and some in London. The research I did found the mother who was born only six miles from the husband. 

I still have a lot of work to do on this family because I now need to make sure all of the children do not have duplicates or are wrongly attached. I also have records that show Elizabeth Peen's parents that may add more duplicates. There is really no end to the research since I will then see which of the children had families and so forth. 

You can see by this long example that the duplicate problem in the FamilySearch Family Tree is far from resolved. This particular family turned out to be a prime example of the issues but these issues occur in every country with almost all the older incompletely researched entries. Take heed.


  1. It seems I am spending more time matching duplicates, which requires a fair amount of research and source citing, that I am having less time to research any undiscovered relatives.

    1. The more time I spend cleaning up the Family Tree, the more new people I find to add.

    2. Well, I guess that's right for me too. Thanks for the reminder.