Correct Mistakes on the FamilySearch Family Tree

October 29, 2019  - by 

Our goal at FamilySearch is not only to connect individual families, but to connect the human family. In order to accomplish that goal, we need everyone’s help. For this reason, FamilySearch Family Tree is a shared tree, which means that it is open for users to contribute what information they have.

Why Are There Changes That I Didn’t Make in My Family Tree?

Using a public or shared tree means that other people can add to or even modify information about the ancestors or relatives that they have in common with you.

We believe that the more people work on FamilySearch Family Tree, the faster it will grow—and the more accurate it will become. However, sometimes well-meaning users make changes in the tree that are incorrect. Thankfully, you can correct mistakes that you see in your tree.

What If There Is a Mistake in My Family Tree?

Mistakes in your tree might include incorrect relationships, an incorrect record attachment, or—one of the more tedious issues—an incorrect merge. Thankfully, every change made in the family tree is archived, and mistakes made in the tree are reversible.

What If a Mistake Keeps Popping Up after I Fix It?

There are a few ways you can prevent individuals from creating these errors in the information once it has been corrected. FamilySearch provides tools that can help you clarify information and collaborate with others. These include the notes section, discussions, and FamilySearch Messaging.

Give Good Reason Statements

When you make a change, you can write a reason statement that lets people know why you’ve corrected the information. For example, the FamilySearch user below explained why she removed a mother relationship from one of her ancestors. She also explained why she merged this person with another.

Screenshot of good reason statements on FamilySearch that can help you correct mistakes

You can find the history of an ancestor’s changes and corrections on his or her person page by navigating to the right of the page and clicking Show All under the Latest Changes column. When making changes to the person yourself, you have the option to write a reason statement for making the change. This reason statement will appear in the Latest Changes list for others to see.

A history of changes and reasons for these changes can help others see why you made the corrections that you did and prevent future mistakes.

Write a Life Sketch

Sometimes, writing a life sketch for your ancestor can help prevent any future errors or misconceptions about your ancestor. In this life sketch, you can paste in the person’s obituary or any other quick outline of the person’s life, explaining details that could prevent future incorrect changes.

Screenshot of life sketch on FamilySearch

For example, you could explain in your great-great-grandfather’s life sketch that he married a woman with the same name as his previous spouse. This explanation might prevent others from accidentally assuming that the two wives with the same names were the same woman and merging them.

How to Correct Mistakes

As for how to smooth out the wrinkles you’ve come across in Family Tree, here are some tools, tips, and tricks to help you maintain accuracy in the information about your ancestors.

All about the FamilySearch Family Tree

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  1. Family TREESEARCH is one huge mistake God did not command it …it is your business leaders that ordered it for the MONEY

    1. Family treesearch is not family search. I was a missionary with familysearch and never a charge or nickel was involved. Families are important to us and we want the record correct and complete. The church spends money to obtain some of this information and trades resources with other entities for it but doesn’t charge anything to use the program.

  2. I like the comments and try not to do things that don’t fit It would help if people would look at a file or tree to see if their names they just found are already there.

  3. I have experienced changes to the details and temple ordinance work for my own parents, thus is first generation and also others. Having been naive to the open forum of this data. To say I have lost faith in all thus is an understatement. I am really angry with how others have ignored what was already there and have changed it WITHOUT checking with me.
    The changes need to be agreed and this could make corrections unnessasary

  4. Would like to do the sealings on my family tree after the other ordinances were done in the shared with all the temples area. It is difficult to print these names, when shared with all the temples. Can you give us the opportunity to print these ordinances that are in this shared area. It is complicated to pick up the large number of sealings that could be done right now. There are so many sealings that needs to be done. Please consider my request that would probably help others too.