Monday, September 24, 2012

The Problem with FamilySearch Family Tree

I posted back in July about trying to get the Benjamin Seaver (1791-1825) family correct in FamilySearch Family Tree (see Sorting Out Benjamin Seaver (1791-1825) on FamilySearch Family Tree and Getting Benjamin Seaver (1791-1825) Right on FamilySearch Family Tree).

It was very difficult to figure out how to, and then execute the process, to get the right parents, the right spouse, and the right children for Benjamin Seaver.  There were multiple sets of parents, spouses and children for this one person who, from my research, had one set of parents, one spouse, and one set of four children.

I've been going through some of my families on FamilySearch Family Tree, trying to clean them up as best I can, but it seems to take a long time.  The hope is that FamilySearch will come up with an easier way to do this - and I beta tested one month ago the "Combine Persons" feature that has not yet been released.  That worked, and so I decided to wait to do any more cleanup until that feature was released.

I thought that it might be educational to others thinking about using the FamilySearch Family Tree to see what the basic problem is.  My definition of the problem is that: "There is all of this data for a single person in the Family Tree from undocumented sources - both from Ancestral File trees submitted by LDS members, and extracted data submitted to the International Genealogical Index."

Here is one example - my 7th great-grandfather, Joseph Seaver (1672-1754) of Massachusetts (4 contiguous screens).

As you can see, there are 7 alternate names, ten children, two extra marriages, and four parental families for Joseph Seaver.  He actually had 6 children, one spouse, and one set of parents. Oh, the name of his father is wrong too!  This is typical for persons with multiple submissions in Ancestral File and the IGI.  However, some of the alternate names were used in the records.

I have done some cleanup on the items above, as you can see in the "Latest Changes" box in the first screen above.  I may do some more and try to measure how long it takes to do this task so that I can compare it later when the FSFT "Combine Persons" feature works well.

I thought that I would try to add some source citations before I deleted the alternate names, the extra marriages and the extra parents.  However, I decided not to do that until a Source citation synchronization is available though RootsMagic 5 (I'm assuming (hoping!) that Bruce is working on this...) because of the time it takes to do even a copy and paste process in the FSFT Source citations.  I could use the My SourceBox feature on FamilySearch to add sources, but I haven't done that yet for Joseph Seaver.

What isn't shown in the list above are all of the bits of data for each Fact.  Here is the screen for the Marriage data for Joseph Seaver and Mary Read (2 screens):

There are 15 marriage entries on the list.  The correct date, according to the Sudbury, Massachusetts vital record book (page 265), for the marriage of Joseph Severs and Mary Reed is 13 October 170[torn]:  

It is certainly either 13 October 1700 or 1701, since their first child was born on 29 October 1702. I think that it's probably 13 October 1700.  Unfortunately, the Sudbury births, marriages and deaths are not yet available in the Massachusetts Town Records on; they might enable researchers to narrow down the year, even though the page is likely torn.

In the list of marriage dates in FamilySearch Family Tree, some of the entries give the year as "0170" due to the lack of a fourth number for the year.  When I clean up this person's information, I will have to delete all of the wrong ones above and make sure that I source the correct date.  I'm wondering how I should add the date - should I say 13 October 1700 or 1701?  

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Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver

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