Undoing duplicated spouses & children

I spend so much time helping Ancestry novices undo the duplicated spouses and children on their family trees, that I’m dedicating a post to it.

Understanding how it happens
This is not Ancestry‘s fault—apart from the fact, alas, that its transcriptions can be so unreliable, but I’ll not vent here on that disappointing element.

Adding duplicates is an own goal.  It doesn’t happen the first time you find something that links to a person who is already on your tree. It happens if you unwittingly add, as a ‘new person,’ someone who is already on your tree. It arises because the details in the ‘fresh’ information appear in a slightly different format to what is already on your tree, which leads Ancestry to ‘suspect’ that you are adding a new person.  Perhaps the enumerator interpreted the spelling of the name in a way that was inconsistent with a previous version so, to a Mere Computer, you might be adding a ‘newcomer’ to your tree.

Often it is a new person e.g. when  additional children have been born since a previous census, or when suddenly a mother-in-law is visiting on Census Night.

How to avoid this happening (because it’s going to take a heap of time to undo)
After you click to ‘review’ the hint, remember you’re reviewing a suggestion in order to accept, amend or reject it!

When you click to review , you are taken to a page where the ‘new’ information is on the left.  When Ancestry ‘thinks’ this is a different person to the one you have on your tree, there will be nothing on the right-hand side of the screen.  Usually you will tick (check) the Add box to add that person to your tree.  Instead, override your eagerness.

There are two options to the right of the name of the person you are adding:  ‘NEW PERSON’ and ‘Not a new person?’.  Pause before you act.  Helpfully, at the very top of the page,  there is a summary of what you have about the person on your tree and what is ‘unknown’.  Take time to digest this.

If you recognise that someone is not a ‘new person’, you will avoid duplicating a person you already have, and you will be given the option to connect that information to the person you already have on your tree.


Percy’s photos

I have a threadbare wallet containing photographs of some of my grandfather’s military comrades in the Great War.  Most of these photos are either studio photographs or informal group photographs taken in military hospitals.  On the reverse of each, my grandfather, Percy, pencilled the names and regiments of those in the photos.

At the time the Imperial War Museum’s project Faces of the First World War was first announced, I read that, after the war, when families were asked (presumably by the War Office) to provide a photo of the deceased soldier, some families gave the only photo they had.  The thought of the loss of these ‘sole photos’ dismayed me.  But it shouldn’t really have surprised me since, in the course of my war memorial projects, where I’ve been able to contact relatives, it is rare indeed to find someone, apart from direct descendants, who has ever seen a photo of their relative.

So many of those who went to war were young and unmarried, leaving grieving parents, siblings and young widows, but no direct descendants.  Indeed, I’ve not yet come across a photo of my grandmother’s first husband, who died in 1915.  From time to time, I’ve made attempts to locate relatives of some of the men in Percy’s photos, particularly those on the CWGC database of those who did not survive the conflict.

A friend, who has  a ‘dedicated’ scanner, has allowed me to use it to make superior scans of Percy’s photos, making it easy to provide a digital copy to any interested surviving relatives.   My most recent such reunion of relative and photo provided a studio photograph of a man killed in 1918 to his half-brother’s son, a man not born until the end of the Second World War.

What follows is a list of the men whose relatives have not yet been located.  Apart from one Canadian, all served in either the South African or the Australian forces. Given the superior surviving records for the Australian forces—I have sung the praises of the AWM elsewhere, more than once—I am hopeful that I will eventually reunite copies of these photos with interested relatives.

By publishing their names here, at some point, preferably during my lifetime, a relative researching them may come across this post.  Most of the men on this list did survive the war.

Group of three soldiers with a nurse
In pencil on the reverse of the postcard:
4340, Sgt L Buckley, A Company, 30th Battalion, A. I. F.
Pte G Fox, No. 1 Section, 9th F. A., A.I.F.
Trooper J. H. Nash, 13th A. L. H., A.I.F.

Three soldiers, signatures on photos
Signatures read:
Patrick, C.W. Medlin, A. Willison

Reverse of card, pencilled:
Pte Patrick, S.A. Scottish;
Pte C.W. Medlin, 3rd S.A. Infantry;
Sgt. Willison, 5th Canadians.

Three soldiers, posing in Williams Pioneer Studios Ltd (Holloway)
Sgt G.A. Leak, 1st Regiment, Killed Delville Wood, July 1916
F (or T?) Horsley (or Hawsley?), 4th Regiment.

Photo of man in black tie, taken at the Parisian Studios, 27 Church Street, Liverpool
6050 Sgt Spud Murphy, S.A. Scottish

Photo of three men standing behind a nurse
Percy is the man in the middle.  On the reverse is written:

2nd London Gen. Hospital
Chelsea Hut I

With best wishes
J.A. Mitchell, 7th Battalion, A.I.F.
Home address: Queensborough, Victoria, Australia

On the right (in the space for the address):
P. A. Groves, 1st S.A.I., Abroad.

Very young soldier (head and shoulders)
Signed below portrait: Yours sincerely, Reg. L. Huckett, 11th October 1917