These multiple entries and records for the same individual are called duplicates. Duplicates happen because information in the Tree comes from a variety of sources and because users can enter their own information directly into the Tree.
What Do I Do If I See a Duplicate?
While looking at multiple versions of your great-grandma can be confusing, there is a solution to the duplication problem: merging the duplicated records.
Merging, although not difficult, can feel intimidating—particularly if you are new to it! But no worries, finding and merging duplicates can be a relatively easy process. Here are a few simple steps to get you started.
How to Merge
The most straightforward way to locate duplicates on your tree is from a person’s details page using the Possible Duplicates tool. To find duplicates this way, do the following:
Step One: Find Possible Duplicates
- Go to an ancestor’s person page. (You can do this by clicking on the person’s name on your family tree and then, in the pop-up window, clicking Person.)
- On the person page, you will see on the far right column a Tools box. From this Tools menu, click the Possible Duplicates option.
- Note: Not every ancestor will have duplicates. There will be a number beside Possible Duplicates that represents the number of potential duplicates for this ancestor. Click through different ancestors until you find one where the Possible Duplicates number is above 0.
A new page will open. If there are possible duplicates, you will see a red bar labeled “Data Problems” and below it a red exclamation point icon that signals each possible duplicate.
Possible Duplicates search doesn’t catch everything. If you suspect an ancestor has duplicates, try searching from the Find option located in the Family Tree menu at the top of the screen. If you find possible duplicates, you can use Person IDs and the Merge by ID tool to resolve duplicates.
Step Two: Review Merge
Now that you’ve found possible duplicates, you are ready to review the information for a potential merge. Click on the blue Review Merge button to the right of the possible duplicate. A Merge Persons screen will open.
On the top of the screen, you will see the overview of the two records being compared. You will merge the record on the right into the record on the left. If you would like to use the record on the right as the primary record, simply click Switch Positions.
Scroll down the screen, comparing each piece of information as you consider the following questions:
- Is this person a match? If you do not think the person is a match, scroll down to the bottom of the screen, and click Not a Match. If you are unsure, don’t merge the two records! Simply cancel the process.
- For each field, do you want to add, replace, or reject the information? Arrows offer you choices for each field. You have three options to choose for each item of information:
- Replace—The information on the right will replace the information in that category on the left.
- Reject—The information on the right will be deleted when the records are merged.
- Add—If there is no information in the corresponding field on the left, you can choose Add to add the information.
Some pieces of information are automatically merged into the preserved person, and both sets of information are kept. This information includes sources that are shown at the bottom of the comparison.
If you don’t want that information saved, in the Sources box, click Undo. Also, although anything stored in Memories (including photos, audio files, and stories) is not displayed on the Review Merge screen, this information is automatically stored with the preserved record.
Step Three: Merge Duplicates, and Provide a Reason
When you have finished choosing which information to accept, reject, or add, from the bottom of the screen, click Continue Merge. Before you can complete the process, you will be required to fill in a box labeled “Reason This Merge Is Correct.”
Although it may be tempting to simply type “Same person” or something similar, take a moment to give a more thorough explanation. For example, Including the Person IDs of both records can be helpful.
When You Can’t Merge
FamilySearch does not allow you to merge:
- Records of two living people.
- Records of one living person and one deceased person. If needed, change the information on the living person’s record to indicated that he or she is deceased, and then merge the two records.
- Records of two people whose information came from Latter-day Saint membership records.
- Records of people of different sexes.
When Not to Merge
Not all records can or should be merged! For example, be wary of merging children of the same parents who have different birth dates. Sometimes the family wanted to ensure a family name survived and would give more than one child the same name to increase the chances of the name continuing.
It’s important to check each possible match carefully. If there are records you aren’t sure about, do some more investigation before moving forward.
How to Unmerge
If you merge two records and then later learn you shouldn’t have merged them, all is not lost! You can undo merges.
Now that you know how to merge, visit your family tree, and click through your ancestors’ person pages to find possible duplicates!
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