Cleaning up my family tree – my most favourite report

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 2012 (FTM 2012)- 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 favourite report within FTM 2012.

It is called “Data Errors Report” and you can find it under:

Publish > Person Reports > Data Errors Report

Data Errors Report

To create the report, use the button 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.

Data Errors Report all individuals

You don’t even have to hit “generate report” again. Once you choose “all individuals” FTM 2012 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 15 years??”

But then I took a closer look at the various information my first report was providing me 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 2012 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 2012 points it out.

For me, the next one is a typical quality assurance report: the children of this individuall 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 2012 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.

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. Now I am down to 31 pages :)

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?

5 thoughts on “Cleaning up my family tree – my most favourite report

  1. This was an interesting read and Yes I need to do a little cleaning myself. I use a program called Brother’s Keeper – and have used it for years but I’ve thought about changing programs and cleaning things up. You’ve given me food for thought. Thanks!

    • Hi Jeanne, thanks for stopping by. I never worked with Brother’s Keeper but I can imagine that the reports of the various programs are similar. I am glad I could be of any help ;) Best Barbara

  2. I have FTM also but hardly ever generate reports other than the typical family tree reports. I’m sure the software does far more than I know. I will definitely check out the data error report now that I know about it.

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