On a regular basis it is time to clean up my family tree. And I don’t know about yours but mine has gotten way too big to keep the overview of all the details for every person. But what do have we software solutions for these days?
I use ancestry and its software Family Tree Maker 2017 (FTM 2017)- and no, I am not associated with them or get paid by them for this blogpost.
But since I share my genealogy experiences with you, why shouldn’t I tell you about my most favorite report within FTM 2017.
It is called “Data Errors Report” and you can find it under:
Publish > Person Reports > Data Errors Report
To create the report, use the button to the right which says “create report” – What a coincidence 😉
The report you receive now is created for the immediate family you have worked on the last time. I always want to have the report done for my full family tree. Which means I have to change the settings.
You don’t even have to hit “generate report” again. Once you choose “all individuals” FTM 2017 starts recalculating the report.
The first time I used it, my report had 102 pages!! I was totally shocked, thought “What have I done the last years??”
This morning I was up to 95 pages again.. I always feel like the most chaotic researcher on this planet when I run the report. But let me tell you, a couple of hours later doing some cleaning up I am already down to 80 pages.
You have to take a closer look at the various information the report is providing you with. There are the normal common missing dates errors like: birth date, marriage date or death date. These came all on my to-do-list.
But FTM 2017 also provides quality data errors like: xxx date is not a valid date
that doesn’t have to be a data error. It happens on my family tree for entries like “before 1800”.
The next one is: name may contain an illegal character. That doesn’t have to be an error either. E.g. when I cannot fully decipher a name I use a * or an ? for the missing letters instead.
Another one I have on my family tree a lot is the following: the individual has the same last name as her husband. Again, that doesn’t HAVE to be a data error, but FTM 2017 points it out.
For me, the next one is a typical quality assurance report: the children of this individual don’t appear in the correct order
But let’s come to my life savers:
the baptism date appears to be before the birth date and the funeral date appears to be before the death date
Especially these two helped me really cleaning up my family tree. Most of the errors pointed out were typos only. But some were real mistakes I made. Mostly with data coming from ancestry itself. There is one data source called “selected births, marriages and deaths, Germany”. Be careful with that! You cannot see the individual record and unfortunately, the indexing I have seen for German records so far was partly full of mistakes. And one other reason for this kind of error was really tricky: when uploading a GEDCOM file, FTM 2017 changed the date format from dd/mm/yyyy to mm/dd/yyyy. It took me days to find this.
this individual is born xxx months following the father’s death (for more than 9 months). This is also an interesting one. I actually found two cases where I had the wrong brother as a father for the babies.
New content in the FTM2017 version is the fact possible duplicate event: followed by birth, baptism, marriage, death.. or whatever information has been duplicated. Sometimes that is not a mistake itself. E.g. when you have alternative birth dates. Happens on my tree mostly with data coming from censuses. When they differ from birth dates from primary records I add them as alternative information. I don’t want to leave it out but I need to mark it somehow as “secondary”.
But sometimes I really added the same information twice. And this is just blowing up my family tree without any additional information.
I run this report depending on the time I spent on my family tree and my activity level. It really helps me to keep my family tree cleaned up.
And I definetly always run it when I upload a GEDCOM since I discovered the date format mix described above.
How do you clean up your family tree?