Using FamilySearch Family Tree: A Reference Guide (October 18, 2013)

Merging Duplicate Records

When you find duplicate records in Family Tree, you can merge them or indicate that they are not matches. To see possible duplicates, display the person’s details page. The system lists the possible duplicates that it found. If you know the ID number of a duplicate that is not listed, you can also merge using the ID numbers.

During a merge, you do the following:
  • See all of the information and relationships from both persons.
  • Compare each piece of information and each relationship.
  • Choose which information to keep and which to discard.
After you have identified the information to keep, Family Tree will do the following:
  • Keep the original record.
  • Add to the original record the information that you selected from the duplicate record.
  • Remove and archive the duplicate record.
  • Record these actions on the change history so that they can be undone if needed.

To prevent incorrect merges, Family Tree has a “not-a-match” feature. With this feature, you indicate that two persons are not matches. You can enter a reason to explain how you know. If you indicate that two persons are not a match, the system no longer suggests them as possible matches. This will help prevent bad matches from occurring.

When you indicate that persons are not a match, they are placed on the person’s Not a Match list. Later on, a person can be removed from the Not a Match list. The records can also be re-examined and merged if needed.

  • Before you merge records, consider doing the following:
    • Review the reason statements, sources, and discussions on the person’s record. Know what pieces of information are already well documented and explained.
    • If possible, have a well-documented genealogical database, book, or other resource that you can refer to.
      Tip: You might find this information in the User-Submitted Genealogies section of FamilySearch.org. To find out, open another tab in your browser. Go to FamilySearch.org, click Search, click Genealogies, and search for the person. You can have the Family Tree in one tab and the user-submitted genealogy in another.
  • Have a piece of paper and pencil to keep notes on. After you do a merge, you may need to make more corrections, enter reason statements, attach sources, start a discussion, contact a previous contributor, or do more research.
  • Click a piece of information to see its contributor and reason statements. For example, to see reason statements for a person’s name, click the name.

To merge duplicate records, follow these steps:

  1. Open the details page of the person whose record should be kept after the merge is done.
    1. On the tree, click the person’s name. The summary card appears.

      Summary Card

    2. On the person’s summary card, click Person. The person’s details page appears.

      Details Page

  2. Near the top right, under Tools, click Possible Duplicates. A list of possible duplicates appears.

    Possible Duplicates

  3. If you can easily tell that someone on the list is not a match, click its Not a Match option.
  4. To review a duplicate that is on the list, click its Review Merge button to compare the information. To merge a duplicate that is not on the list, follow these steps:
    1. Click Merge by ID.
      Tip: Some duplicate records cannot be merged. If the system has already identified possible duplicates that cannot be merged, they are listed beneath the list of possible duplicates. Before you merge by ID, check that list to make sure that the records you plan to merge can be merged.
      The ID number of the person you started from is automatically entered into the Current Person ID field. This is the record that will be kept if you merge the records.


    2. If you want to keep a different record, or if you want to merge records for a different person, delete the number that is in the Current Person ID field, and enter the one that you want. Use uppercase letters. Include the hyphen.
    3. In the Possible Duplicate ID field, enter the ID number of the duplicate record that should be deleted after the merge. Use uppercase letters. Include the hyphen.
    4. Click Continue. If you or another user has indicated that the possible duplicate is not a match for the current person, you see a message stating that fact.
    The merge screen appears.

    Merge Page

    Sometimes a message appears stating that the merge can be done only if you switch the records. This happens if the record on the left has restrictions that would prevent it from being deleted after the merge. Simply click the button that switches the records, and continue the process as written.

  5. Compare each piece of information on the left with the information on the right. Indicate what to do with the information on the right.
    Option Description
    Add Click Add to add the information from the record on the right to the record on the left.
    Replace Click Replace to replace the information on the left with the information on the right. (This moves more complete or accurate information to the record on the left.)
    Reject Click Reject if the information on the right is not correct or is less complete than the information on the left.
    Remember: When you are done, the person and the information on the left will be kept in Family Tree. The information that is on the right will be deleted. You want to make sure that the more complete and accurate information appears on the left so that it will be kept.
    Important: If the name, birth, or other information is the same on both records, click them to display more information. They probably have different reason statements. Keep the version with the best reason statement.
    When considering whether to replace a spouse, child, or parent, if available, click More, and look at the following information.
    • A spouse includes the name, the marriage date and place, and any sources for the marriage.
    • A child includes the name, the relationship (biological, adopted, and so forth), and any sources for the relationship.
    • A parent includes the names of both parents, the relationship, and any sources for the relationship.
    You can either add all of the sources from the duplicate record or reject all of them. If only some of the sources in the duplicate record are correct, keep them all. Then go back to the record, and detach or edit the incorrect sources. Discussions are not merged. Only the discussions from the record on the left are saved with the record.
  6. If the records are about the same person, at the bottom click Continue. If the records are not about the same person, click Not a Match. The merge confirmation appears.

    Merge Confirmation

  7. Enter a reason why the merge is correct, and click Finish Merge. The record will be updated with the information you chose to add or replace. The duplicate record will be archived. A note will appear in the change history documenting the merge so it can be undone if needed.

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