Thursday, September 4, 2014

FamilySearch Genealogies–Addendum

I previously said that you can’t remove your gedcom from the Genealogies section of FamilySearch.  (See original article HERE).  I need to qualify that a bit.  You can physically remove it BUT FamilySearch retains the information which amounts to the same thing.

Here exact information from FamilySearch help file.

“The Pedigree Resource File has existed for many years, and the data has been published in several ways. If you submitted this GEDCOM file several years ago, you should be aware of the following:

  • The Pedigree Resource File has been published on compact discs for more than a decade. If this file is on one of these compact discs, it is deleted from the online version of the Pedigree Resource File. It remains on the compact discs.
  • Some information from the Pedigree Resource File was used to create the database that is currently used by the and FamilySearch Family Tree websites.) This data is stored separately from the official Pedigree Resource File, which people can search from the user-submitted genealogies section of If you delete a GEDCOM file, it is deleted from the online Pedigree Resource File. It is not deleted from or the FamilySearch Family Tree.”

Although this says, “several years ago” this isn’t quite true.  Here is what FS says on a different page in their help file:

“Some corrections to the Pedigree Resource File are possible. If you find errors in data that you submitted, you can sometimes delete the entire submission and make a new submission containing the correct information.”  You can do this IF the information hasn’t already been added to Family Tree.

The current version of Family Tree was released to everyone March 2013 (not several years ago).  The uploaded gedcoms that FamilySearch had at that time were added to Family Tree to give Family Tree a solid starting point.  All of these records are easy to spot because they will say, added “by FamilySearch” even if it came from an uploaded gedcom. You will not see the original contributor’s information so you won’t be able to contact them.

I didn’t want to talk about Family Tree just yet but I will say one thing that relates to this topic.  You can delete people from Family Tree but if your entire gedcom was uploaded that is impossible because you have to delete them one at a time.  FamilySearch’s position is that these people should not be deleted but rather corrected. These people were most likely real, it is the specific information attached to them and the familial links that are wrong.  The problem with that is if you you uploaded a gedcom fraught with errors all of those errors are now visible and available to everyone and if your gedcom contained 10,000 people good luck tracking them all down.  People with little researching experience will see the information up on Family Tree and think it is 100% true.  I personally think that you should be able to delete ALL information you have submitted with a push of a button but that isn’t the case either with gedcoms or Family Tree.

Having said that, I really like Family Tree.  It improves over time as experienced researchers go in and clean up the data.  However, people are still uploading gedcoms to the Genealogies section and to Family Tree so the cleanup is a massive undertaking and it is ongoing.   I didn’t want you to think that I don’t like Family Tree because I do.  I do think there are problems with the Genealogies section and Family Tree and I think that users should have more control with what they have submitted.   There is one other problem with Family Tree that I think should be addressed but I will discuss that later.

I will tell you that I contacted the FHL several times in the past to get my original gedcom removed and I also asked that my original gedcom be removed from NewFamilySearch (the predecessor to Family Tree) and I was told that it was impossible.  I was told to upload a new one with the correct information and it would be added to the mix.  I don’t think that is the best solution so I have not uploaded another gedcom.

Even though FS says that you can remove recently uploaded gedcoms I would be wary in that at anytime FS could upload all of those gedcoms to FamilyTree as they have done in the past and then your information will not be retrievable.


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis


  1. "It improves over time as experienced researchers go in and clean up the data."

    I also see treebies go in and insert wrong old treestuff in place of documented data (one repeater is where persons keep entering a person's date of death from a wrong book that was copied to jillions of trees, the date 3 months after probate of the person's will).

    In addition there is a computerized program that keeps adding to FamilyTree old user-submitted stuff that is often wrong. This will not stop until FT is severed from new.FamilySearch in a year or two. This messiness is due to a problem with integrating LDS ordinances with FT.

    I wish there were some way to document that your statement as to improving accuracy is correct. Do you have an idea of a methodology that might verify this?

    1. I have nothing scientific to back this up other than researchers today have many more learning opportunities than they did even 5 years ago. Newbies are hearing about documentation, sources, proof, standards etc. almost immediately when it took me probably 10 years before I ever heard those words. I think newbies are producing better research a lot sooner than it used to be.

      I am going to address the problem of people coming in and changing what you have documented when I get to the Family Tree. I will say the best way to avoid this is to make sure anything you add has an attached source. Someone coming behind you is less likely to change something if you have a good source. If they do change it, the first step is to contact them and talk about your evidence. The second step is to contact FamilySearch.

      I am not LDS so I am not familiar with any problems with ordinances. Well, that's not completely true. I have no first hand knowledge. I have a friend that is LDS and the problem she has told me about has to do with merging people. You have to make sure that the person that has the ordinances complete is on the LEFT side of the screen or the ordinances will be lost in the merge. It is an easy mistake to make. I think that there should be some sort of warning screen on the merge stating that you are about to lose completed ordinances.

      I know that I can still access the old NewFamilySearch but I didn't know that there was any data being transferred from it to Family Tree anymore. When you access it you get an message that says that NewFamilySearch has been read-only since Dec 2013. Is it only ordinances that are still be transferred over?

  2. Yes, in the tree there are continuing issues with LDS membership records and ordinances.

    In addition there is another FS-administration effort to break apart the many Individuals of Unusual Size (IOUS) that are presently in the new.FamilySearch database. This is resulting in adding large numbers of duplicated persons (especially New England folks) into FT. Many of these cannot be merged, being blocked by the IOUS programming in n.FS. Many of the results also combine wrong family data into FS-FT persons. In at least some instances, the program doing this does the same thing over and over, even after corrections have been to a limited extent made in FS-FT. The FS changes are often wrong as they reflect improper "combinations" of persons in new.FamilySearch.

    In one of my ancestral groups, I have repeatedly fixed the FS-admin wrong linking of a person as married to a niece and placement of a nephew as a son -- FS perpetrated these items 4 times so far. I have seen no explanation for why the mistakes were entered repeatedly except something having to do with LDS ordinances.

    Individuals cannot now make any changes to new.FamilySearch, but can look to see where some of the wrong data is coming from. In the FS-FT documentation there is no explanation of why all of this is happening. There are occasional staff comments and explanations in the message board,