The most important updates to make to FamilySearch Family Tree (FSFT) are to add sources. The second most important updates are to combine duplicate records of a person.
The data in FSFT has come from many sources including the old Ancestral File and Pedigree Resource File. Both of those were from people uploading or mailing in GEDCOM files created by their computer genealogy program. The farther back in time you go the better the possibility that we have some common ancestors. That means that many people might have submitted data on a single person. That is especially common in early New England people like my 8th great grandmother, Freedom Woodward (b 1642). When I searched for her, FSFT showed me 100 possible records, all with similar dates. I picked the record (below (click on any graphic for a larger display)) that matched best the data that I had:
On the upper right of the “Tools” block is “Possible Duplicates” which I clicked and then it gave me all these records as possible duplicates.
With 100 possible duplicates, I just picked the duplicate at the top. This gave me this Merge screen:
Now come the big decisions as to what information to keep or to replace. It is important to note that at the top of the right column it says that “information remaining in this column are deleted at the end of the merge process.” If you want to replace the information in the left column with the information in the right column, click on “Replace” and that data slides over to the left column. For Freedom I wanted to replace her marriage data from the right column as that had a place and the left column didn’t have the place of marriage. I also added daughter Thankful that was only in the right column.
Once I am ready to merge these 2 records I click on “Continue” at the bottom of the screen. It asks me to give a reason for the merge and I just said that they both have the same dates. Then I click the “Finish Merge” bottom and FSFT does all the work. I get an updated record for Freedom which shows in the “Latest Changes” block that I merged the 2 records. Now I only have 99 more possible merges to do for her.
A couple of weeks ago I merged another ancestor, Gabriel Graad (~1703 – ~1780) and his family. Gabriel was duplicated 14 times, his wife Catharina was in FSFT 11 times. They had 13 children each of which were duplicated about 3 times. It took me 8 hours to combine all the records of this family. Most of the time is in deciding which date or place is correct. It is worthwhile as now Gabriel’s family is only in FSFT one time.