Random Thoughts of a Disordered Mind

Cleaning Up the Family Tree

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I know, I know … no new profiles recently. But I’ve been working like a fiend behind the scenes doing database cleanup on my 48 year old genealogy files. I have public trees in several places including Ancestry.com, but my real work happens in FamilyTreeMaker (FTM), which I’ve used since it was a DOS program (yes, I’m old and have been doing this a long time). I’ve also been synching my tree between Ancestry and FTM since the capability was offered, keeping both up to date.

FTM

FamilyTreeMaker Available at https://www.mackiev.com/ftm/index.html

But there are problems. Lots of problems. Importing and merging records over many years gave me a tree full of errors and I hadn’t really done systematic cleanup. I had duplicate names recorded as separate facts, a mishmash of place name formats, and serious errors such as people attached to the wrong parents. Oops.

So that’s what I’m working on now. I joined a Facebook group for FTM Users, which has wonderful resources on working with the software which has developed powerful tools for cleanup that I had no idea were part of the software.  Ancestry doesn’t have them, although I do like their relationship tools better than FTM. Lucky me, I can work in both and synch.

ResolveplacenamesMy trigger for doing all of this was using the new FTM plugin Family Book Creator to pull data from my tree into a book of my father’s ancestors. Looking at the index of place names, individual names, source list, and scanned images gave me a road map of things that need fixing.  I started with the easiest (and smallest) group: duplicate people. Then I worked on reconciling place names, making sure that all elements were present and in the same format of  City, County, State, Country. Although I’ve been careful about this in the last few years, I had decades of old work that needed correction.

Next I went to Manage Facts and was appalled to see that importing records from FindaGrave, Fold3, and Newspapers.com created dozens of new fact labels with data that should have gone into a different field. I worked through these one at a time and have a strategy for working with new finds.

Now I’m working through the Data Errors Report, which had 36 pages of problems such as missing dates, duplicate events, duplicate names, children born when mother was too young or too old, etc.  I can’t fix the “missing date” problems for most of these people right now but I hverified that my extended direct lines are complete and I have a report of what’s missing to work on later.  The other errors are taking time to work through but it’s satisfying to know what needs doing.

DataErrorReport

My biggest challenge ahead is cleaning up my Source list. It must be done and I know why and how, but I hate citations and hate that I have so many to fix, which is why I started with everything else.

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