Saturday, 30 April 2011

SNGF - "Problems" in your genealogy database

The Challenge

Tonight's challenge from Randy Seaver is to:

  1. Open your genealogy software program and use the Help function to determine how to make a "Problem Report" or "Data Error Report" (or something similar).
  2. Create a "Problem Report" or "Data Error Report" in your software for the persons in your tree (either everyone in the tree, or for a selected number of generations of your ancestors).
  3. Tell us what type of problems or errors your report found.  Tell us how many errors were found.  Tell us what problem or error surprised you.

The Results

  1. I use Family Tree Maker 2011. I already know how to create a Data Errors Report in that program. Go to the Publish workspace and select Person Reports > Data Errors Report.
  2. I ran a Data Errors Report for All Individuals. I opted to include all errors except "Birth date missing" and "Marriage date missing". I don't regard those as data errors but as research challenges.
  3. My Data Errors Report included nine individuals:
    • Two men were flagged: "The name may include a title" because their first name is Dean. These are not data errors.
    • Three women were flagged: "The individual has the same last name as her husband". In all three cases the women's maiden surnames were indeed the same as their husbands' surnames. These are not data errors.
    • A husband and wife were both flagged: "This individual's children's sort order may be incorrect". I checked this couple's children in the People workspace, Family view. They were indeed in the wrong sort order, with births in 1892 and 1897 followed by a birth in 1894. I clicked the button to "Sort children by birth order" and the error was corrected.
    • One person was flagged: "The birth date occurs after the death date". This is a known problem in my tree. Family Search shows Steven Martin, son of Alexander Martin and Love Kingston, as having been baptised at Doulting, Somerset on 18 April 1787 but buried there on 29 March 1787. Until I am able to look at the original registers, I am keeping these contradictory dates in my tree, as I do not know which one is incorrect.
    • One person was flagged: "Baptism date occurred before individual's birth date. The birth date occurred after her father was 80. The birth date occurred more than one year after her father died". This was the result of a data entry error on my part. I had entered an 1827 birth as having occurred in 1847. Correcting the birth date resolved the error.

I run this report regularly, so wasn't expecting - and didn't find - any major issues. Nonetheless, I did pick up, and was able to correct, two errors in my data. So thank you for the challenge, Randy.


  1. Genea-musings led me to your blog, Caro. I must come back. I like the way you've laid out your research toolbox. I hope you wouldn't mind if I adopt it to improve my own.

    Jim's Girl Family History Blog at

  2. Thanks for this, Caro. Your post helped me find errors in the Mac FTM version I have, which can now cross check against my Reunion database.

  3. Thanks for the reminder - I realise it has been quite a while since I checked all was well with my database. Must remember to do it more regularly from now on.