Tuesday, July 5, 2016

I'm My Own Grandma--Fixing Looping Pedigrees in Family Tree

Ever come across a Family Tree record where the person shows as his or her own parent--ad infinitum?

I wish I could find an example of this problem to grab a screen shot, but have none in my portion of the tree. But you'll recognize it if you find it in your part of Family Tree. On a pedigree view, you will see the same set of parents going back and back and back.

You look at it and feel a sinking sense of despair. How on earth can you fix such a mess? Turns out it's actually pretty simple.

Find the first spot on the pedigree where the incorrect parent-child relationship is introduced. This is most easily done by bringing up the pedigree for a child of the person.

Search for a child using the Find link in the Family Tree menu.

If you know the Family Tree ID, that is the fastest way to find someone. Or you can enter enough information on the general Find screen to limit your search results. I'll use the ID search in the illustration. Incidentally, you do not need to use capital letters and you don't need to put in the dash when you search by ID. Enter the ID and click Find.

In the results list, click the name. Then click Tree on the summary card. 

You'll come up in the tree view one generation away from where the loop starts. So, click the parent of your central person--the one who has the looping problem. This will take you to the beginning of the loop and thus to the spot where you can fix things. 

On the summary card of that parent, click the name to bring up the person details page. Scroll to the Family Members section. This is where you can see the child as his or her own parent. There are two columns in the Family Members section. You want to work in the PARENTS AND SIBLINGS column.

Find the person who shows as his or her own parent listed as a child in the PARENTS AND SIBLINGS section. Click the pencil icon beside the name of the child. On the flyout,click Remove or Replace beside the name of the child if both parents are incorrect. If only one parent is incorrect, click Remove or Replace beside the name of the incorrect parent. Click the little box to say you know what you are doing and click the Remove link. Of course, if you have the information as to who the correct parents are, you'd click the Replace link instead and put them in.

Voila! The looping pedigree is fixed.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Someone Merged Records That Are Not Really Duplicates

Sometimes you go to Family Tree and, suddenly, things look very different--and very wrong. This is typically the result of another user merging records for people with the same name but who are not actually duplicates. This can cause things to look very messy--multiple sets of parents; people having children after the parents are dead; couples with too many children; multiple spouses that are not reasonable.

It's not usually terribly obvious that an improper merge is the cause of the problems, but that's always the first thing I look for when I see these kinds of things. Fortunately you can undo the mess and take some steps to try to prevent it occurring again.

Start on the person page for someone whose record is looking really wrong.

On the right side of the page, find the box with the title LATEST CHANGES. Click Show all to see all changes made to the record.

As you scroll through the list, you are looking for a Merge.They are easy to spot as they have a prominent green border.

Some have a blue Restore button you can click to restore the two records as they were before the merge. But many (as in the illustration above) do not.

If you do not see a Restore button, click the name of the Deleted Person.

It looks a little hopeless, doesn't it? The box says the person is deleted and so it doesn't look as if there were anything to be done. But, do not despair! Click the name in that box. The person page for the deleted person comes up. Carefully review the information on that page and decide if the merge makes sense or not. If you decide the merge was incorrect, click Restore Person in the lower right of the Person Deleted box.

Enter a Reason to Restore This Person and click Restore. That reason statement can make all the difference. If you give really good evidence that the people are not the same, you significantly decrease the chances that someone else will merge them again. 

After you un-do a merge, it is also a good idea to click the Possible Duplicates link on one of the newly separated records and click Not a Match. This removes these as possible duplicates.

(Incidentally, the record I used as an illustration is not in fact a bad merge. I just needed a merged record to use for screenshots.)

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Merge Problems Solved

Many patrons of FamilySearch Family Tree have met with frustration because they find one or more duplicate entries for an ancestor, but the system returned a "Can't Be Merged At This Time" message. Many of the issues around not being able to merge were fixed with the June 27th update to Family Tree. So, if  you've been frustrated by Can't Merge issues in the past, it would pay to revisit and see if the problem has been solved.

That said, there are still instances where the system is going to choke on a merge duplicates request.

One reason that records might merge, is that merging the records would result in some field or other going over the system limit for that field. The limits in Family Tree are pretty generous. The most common limit you'll run up against is in the Notes field. Each person record can only have a total of 20 notes. That is a good first thing to check if you are merging ancestors common to many Family Tree users (like early LDS Church members). Look at the Notes field and see if you can prune them.

Sometimes you are trying to merge with someone who has already been merged with another record or deleted. This usually happens when you are merging by ID and have not checked recently to see if the duplicate record is still in the system.

You can't merge individuals if one record shows as a female and the other as a male. You'll need to change the sex for one of them. Sometimes you can make that change yourself. If you can't, and you have good evidence of the correct gender, contact FamilySearch Support. You'll need to supply the IDs of both records and convincing evidence of the correct gender. A data admin can make the change. Be patient--they are sometimes flooded with requests.

You can't merge the record of a living person with a record of a deceased person. If you know the person is deceased, enter the death information on the living record and then you should be able to merge.

You cannot merge two records that are both for living people. Since you should only be seeing living people because you entered them into the system, you should be able to just delete the duplicate record. If you can't contact FamilySearch Support for help.

Some records are locked for one reason or another. You can't merge locked records. Again, you can contact FamilySearch Support to see if it is possible to get the records merged.

Sometimes you lose track of what you have done and try to merge records you or someone else merged in the past 24 hours. Please allow 24 hours for a merge to complete in all systems. Unfortunately, there is not an easy way to know if this is the problem. So, you could wait 24 hours with any merge that the system rejects and try again, or you can contact FamilySearch Support. Support agents have access to a tool that can tell them why the records won't merge.

You can't merge two records if those two individuals currently show as parent and child. You'll need to examine the records and make corrections to the relationships and then try again.

Sometimes you simply entered the ID incorrectly when you try a Merge by ID. If you see a "Person Not Found" message, double-check the IDs.

In any case where you can't merge and seems like you should be able to, check for problems like those above. If all else fails, contact FamilySearch Support. Make it easy on the support agent by having the IDs of the people you want to merge handy. Also know that the support agent is likely to ask to sign in as your helper so as to be able to see things the way you are seeing them. So, be prepared to supply your username (the one you use when you sign in on FamilySearch.org) and your helper number.

To find your helper number, go to FamilySearch.org and sign in.

Click your name in the upper right and click Settings in the dark box.

On the Account page, Helper Number is at the bottom.  If you are not comfortable with someone being able to sign in as your helper any time they want to,you can change the helper number after you finish your conversation with the support agent (like I'll do after I grab this screen shot to show you).

Don't let yourself get frustrated if you can't merge. Talk to a consultant in your ward if you are LDS; go to a Family History Center for help whether you are LDS or not; send me an email at nansuty@gmail.com (if you don't mind if I use your problem as an illustration in a blog post); or contact the good people in Support. Problems can usually be fixed, or at least explained.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Family Relationships Are Wrong on Family Tree

Some of the messiest looking issues you will see in Family Tree are when family members are missing or the wrong people show in the family. Let's look at the basics of editing family information.

We're working from the person page of an ancestor. From a pedigree view, click the name to bring up the summary card. Then click the name again on the summary card to go to the person page.

Scroll to the Family Members section.

Remember that you are looking at the Family Members from the viewpoint of the person whose name shows in black. On the left is the spouse and children of the person. On the right, the parents and siblings show. If a spouse, child, or parents are missing, you click the appropriate Add links to add to the family. 

The pencil icons allow you to edit relationships. We'll focus on the editing, since that is where folks tend to get confused.

If there is a problem with the marriage, click the pencil icon in the small box showing the husband and wife. A fly-out appears where you can make changes. 

Notice that you can add reason statements; you can remove or replace the spouse; you can add a different marriage event; you can add sources to support the information; you can add a note to help other users understand things about the family. You can also click the marriage date/place and edit or delete it (see the post about Vital Information for how to edit information).

If you need to modify information about a parent-child relationship, click the pencil icon beside a child in the family.

Adding sources and notes are the same here as on the fly-out for the marriage. Notice that you have 3 different Remove or Replace links. If one parent is wrong, you click Remove or Replace beside that parent name. If the person should not show as a child to either parent, click Remove or Replace beside the child name. The Add Relationship Type link under each parent name allows you to indicate relationships that are not biological, such as step, foster, guardian, or adopted. If the relationship is biological but the system is not showing a relationship type, you can click Add Relationship Type and select Biological.

Bottom line: when you see messed up family relationships in Family Tree, don't despair! You can fix it.

In another post, we'll look at some specific family relationship problems that can be confusing.