When you add a GEDCOM file from another researcher or from a pedigree database, you may end up with duplicate records for the same person. One record might show the person’s descendants and the other his or her ancestors, for instance. By merging those duplicate records, you’ll create a continuous family line from the person’s descendants to his or her ancestors. And as your family file grows, eliminating duplicate entries will help cut down on confusion.
From the People pull-down menu in FTM, you can choose from two merge options: Use Merge Specific Individuals if you already know which individuals should be merged. Or select Merge Duplicate Individuals and the program will search for possible duplicates. Bypass the somewhat confusing Display Merge Report and go ahead and Merge Matching Information. FTM automatically finds pairs of potentially identical individuals, displays their information side by side and lets you choose which pairs to merge.
Keep in mind that if you merge two individuals with conflicting information (different birth dates or places of death, for example), the information from both individual records will usually be retained as alternate facts. A few facts, such as name, sex, address and phone number, don’t store alternates, however. Buttons appear next to these facts when they conflict so you can choose which version you want to keep.
After comparing the information for both names, click on either the Merge or Don’t Merge button and continue through the list of possible matches. If you make a mistake, you can undo all the merges at any time before you exit the program by selecting Undo File Merge from FTM’s Edit menu. When you finish merging, you may want to edit the individual records that you just merged and delete any incorrect facts. From the View menu, select Reports, then Alternate Facts to get a list of people who have conflicting facts.
You can merge duplicate individuals manually in Generations, but the process goes much quicker with the program’s Match and Merge function. Select Match Merge from the Find pull-down menu in EasyTree. This option lets you find matches for the couple on the screen, marked people or everybody; you can then compare those matches with just marked people or every name in your file. You can also search on identical or similar names and specify the range of birth and death years for qualifying matches.
Click Match and the program will display a list of names at the top. When you click on a name, possible matches appear below. Three columns show each person’s date and place of birth and date of death, but you can click on the column headings to compare any piece of information, such as occupation, religion or burial place. Select the names you want to merge from the top and bottom portions of the screen, then click on Merge to combine the two records. No events, facts or notes are lost. For example, if one record has a birth date of Feb. 14, 1892, and the other one has a birth date of Feb. 14, 1894, the newly merged record will have separate birth fields for both dates. Once you’re done merging records, you may want to edit them to delete events or facts you know are wrong.
Rick Crume created the Genealogical Library Master Catalog at www.onelibrary.com.