Kathryn Grant, a recent presenter at the 2014 BYU Family History Conference, said there are two important concepts to remember for researchers and contributors to FamilySearch’s Family Tree. The first point to remember is that a goal of Family Tree is to provide “one complete, accurate record for each person who has lived on the earth, linked to other records by correct relationships (parents, spouses, children) [emphasis added].” The second important concept to remember is that the records that have been submitted to Family Tree have been contributed to FamilySearch and its predecessor organizations over at least 100 years by many people and by many different means, bringing errors into the system and confusion for some researchers.
The goal for perfection or “one complete, accurate record for each person” is attainable, little by little, but we need to keep in mind that those who organized their records using older forms, the records from grandma or Uncle Joe, FamilySearch, New FamilySearch, and finally into FamilySearch’s Family Tree, are fallible, and mistakes were made (And mistakes are continually made today by beginners and “experts” alike). The engineers who have brilliantly built the FamilySearch system are working to make everything as easy as possible. They respond quickly to the concerns of the users and fix problems as they arise.
Grant says, “A duplicate in Family Tree is any record that represents the same person as another record in Family Tree.” These duplicates cause confusion, erroneous research, duplicate ordinances, and lost time that could be used in other research. Grant explained that the records in Family Tree come from three main sources: (1) New FamilySearch, the first foray of TempleReady online, which included the IGI, extracted vital records, and LDS member submissions, such as the three 3- and 4-generation sheets, and GEDCOMS; (2) LDS Church Membership Records, and (3) other user submissions.
Grant emphasized, “Family Tree was never meant to be an ongoing source of family names so we don’t have to do our own research; rather, it’s a collection of data gathered over many generations which needs to be validated and corrected so that we can find and add additional names.”
She goes on to explain how to find and correct the duplicates in your common ancestors in the FamilySearch Family Tree. Her free training video explains how to take care of duplicates and gives examples and forms that can be used by researchers. The website is http://www.usabledesignmatters.com/fh/index.html.
Grant’s concluding advice is to know our families, be accurate and reasonably complete as possible in our research and contributions to the online Family Tree. “With care, attention, and the help, we can resolve duplicates. Then we can do work for those who really need it, and we can be confident we are creating a record ‘worthy of all acceptation.”