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Merging family trees

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  • Merging family trees

    This isn't so much a request or bug as a question, so forgive me if I'm posting in the wrong place.

    I have a great-aunt on FTDNA whom I have linked in my tree, and one of my dad's cousins whom I haven't linked since I haven't added her parents yet. My question is: Can I merge my great-aunt's tree with my own, adding all her ancestors to my tree? She has a lot of information in her tree that I don't have, and obviously I share all her ancestors. Or do I have to link every person manually? What is the best way to go about this?

  • #2
    Thankfully no! If we could we would end up with garbage trees like those we see on Ancestry.

    When trees get merged I could end up in a tree where my parents had two sons; one named Jim Barrett born 1940 and one named James Barrett born 1940. Then the lazy people who merged the two trees don't take the time to clean up the merged tree.


    • #3
      The safest and the recommended way to maintain a family tree is to do it on your home PC using a reliable genealogy software program such as RootsMagic, Legacy, etc. -- there are many to choose from. The idea is that, on your home PC, you can include all the documentation, and your own analysis of the evidence, without being vulnerable to the odd "upgrades", outages, and other accidents what sometimes mess up our data on the internet. Also, you can keep private all the data that you want to remain private. The catch is that you MUST back up your files in some way, in case your home PC fails.

      However, the issue of linking individuals to your tree on FTDNA, in order to allow FTDNA to mark your matches as maternal or paternal, complicates the problem significantly. You can't replace your tree on FTDNA without disrupting those links with other kits. If you want to use this feature, you will need to add individuals to your tree one at a time, making any desired links with other kits as you go. Before spending a lot of time on this, it might be useful to check the documentation at FTDNA to see how far back the algorithm actually looks to figure out if your matches are paternal or maternal. It may be that the algorithm doesn't look farther back than first or second cousins.


      • #4
        sanna, do you have genealogy software on your computer, so you can produce a GEDCOM file to upload to your tree at FTDNA? If so - why not open your aunt's tree (GEDCOM file, I'm supposing) in that program, inspect it, and create a separate merged file that you create on your own computer.

        That way you can make sure there is no duplication, date errors, or other discrepancies, as Jim Barrett has described. Once you have a merged tree that you are satisfied with, you can upload that GEDCOM. It will overwrite whatever you already have in your "myTree" at FTDNA. It is best to save all of these trees as separate files, in case you make a mistake and want to go back to the original of any of them.


        • #5
          Oops, two minds with similar thoughts posting at the same time. I agree with John McCoy, especially about backing up, but also instead of the process I suggested, I agree with adding the people to the existing tree at FTDNA, so as not to break the links. You can do it either way, but it depends on how much work you want to do with re-linking your relatives to make the "Family Matching System" work. If you only have a few linked so far, it won't be that much work.

          The FTDNA Family Matching Tool will accept up to third cousins, 2nd great-grandparents, and great aunts/uncles. See Roberta Estes' post, "Additional Relatives Added to Phased Family Matches at Family Tree DNA," which lists all the relatives usable in the Family Matching system.
          Last edited by KATM; 6 September 2018, 10:05 AM.