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Conflicting parent information

Posted: 25 Mar 2020 16:37
by MikeQuest
Using Family Historian 6.2.7. When one encounters conflicting information, such as disagreements about the names of parents of an individual, and one has not yet resolved the disagreement, is it wise to create an alternative set of parents in the software. If so, how does one do this?



Re: Conflicting parent information

Posted: 25 Mar 2020 17:54
by davidf
Welcome to FHUG!

I think a lot depends on what you are using FH for? - which may sound like a silly question!

1. Some people use FH as the immediate repository prior to publication. I.e. they want to be able to just click the menu option and "produce" a book/CD/website etc.. If that is the case I would strongly suggest that you only include information about which you are fully satisfied. For anything else, you may want to keep such details in a separate project in line with the other way that people use FH (below)

2. Others use FH as a means to store all data, queries, conflicts and unresolved questions, and then use that as the "data dump" to consult when "writing Family History" in a separate program (usually a word processor). In the act of writing you either resolve or report conflicts and you filter out anything that you don't wish to publish.

There are implications to your choice.

If the first method is being used, you really want to be consistent with things like source specification (see countless topics on this forum) and you need to be consistent with how you enter places, addresses, occupations etc.. If you don't, your auto-produced book/CD/Website will probably be a mess requiring a lot of corrections.

If the second method is being used, you can do whatever you like - as long as you know what you are doing (and have documented what you are doing sufficiently for anyone who may inherit your work to understanding what you were doing). Standardising of places, addresses, occupation and sources (if you are citing them) is done as you write and consider such issues.

I use the second method, which means that if I cannot decide between two sets of parents, I will add an extra set.
  • I tend to do this using the All tab on the property box - bit of an acquired taste involving right clicking and knowing what you are doing - but it is quick. You right click on the name - for the property box of the child and select Add Family (as Child).
  • Alternatively you can set up both parents in the Focus Window / Property Box / in A Diagram and then for the second set of parents "add child / Link Existing Record" and select the child whose parentage is disputed.
Your post however referred to "disagreements about the names of parents". If the disagreement is about specifically the name (was he Jon, John or Jonathon?) but not the person (we are all agreed it was the bloke born in Patterdale to Mike and Jane in 1881), you can add alternative names. Use the more .... on the right of the name field in the Property box and add additional names and set the one that you think is the most certain as the primary name.

Re: Conflicting parent information

Posted: 25 Mar 2020 18:24
by tatewise
Yes, as David says, the answer depends on exactly what sort of conflict.

If the people are not in dispute and the names are simply different in different documents then use the Alternate Names feature. But if they are only minor differences such as Bob instead of Robert, then just leave them documented in the Source Citations perhaps with an explanation for why they are the same name. Such name differences quite often arise in Census records, where they are clearly just nicknames for the same person.

If the actual parents could be different sets of people with different BMD dates as well as names then create multiple parents with copious Notes explaining the uncertainties. The easiest method is to create the parent family couples and add the same child to both.

Re: Conflicting parent information

Posted: 25 Mar 2020 18:48
by mjashby
Mike (Quest),

I would be useful to have a few more details, e.g. do you mean you have a John 'Smith' whose parents were John & Mary 'Smith' but you don't know (yet) which John & Mary 'Smith', or some other scenario.

You will probably get a number of suggestions on what you might do, but, personally, I would not attach multiple sets of parents as that might result in some rather strange reports. and there is no way, as far as I know of automatically reporting that his parents were A&B, or C&D, or E&F etc.

Another key problem if you attach multiple potential parents is that you will also be attaching other people as you attempt to build a picture of their families which, hopefully, should eventually confirm/discount relationships. You could, of course, potentially privatise all doubtful individuals and prevent them from appearing in reports, but that doesn't particularly help if you then want to produce a report for these 'sub-groups' which need to exclude the main line of research.

My personal approach if it is just 'which person/couple with the same forenames' is to:

- Enter what is certain about the parents, which might initially be limited names from, for example, a Birth/Baptism Register.
- Create separate records for each of the possible 'candidate' couples for the parents, which can be independently researched and documented until a relationship is confirmed/disproved.
- Link the known parent records to each of the candidates using the GEDCOM ALIAS (ALIA) Tag, which is how it was intended to be used, i.e. to link 2 or more Individual Records which possibly relate to the same person.
- If/when the right parents (duplicate identities) are identified, carefully merge the correct records.


Re: Conflicting parent information

Posted: 25 Mar 2020 19:38
by tatewise
Mervyn, both the Individual Summary Report and Family Group Sheet automatically by default include all instances of parents identified as Father, Mother, Father (2), Mother (2), and so on.

I agree using Alias (or Associated Person) may be more correct but are not well supported by FH (or other products).
They can only be added via the All tab, using right-click, and Add Miscellaneous.
They do not appear automatically by default in any Reports or Diagrams without some customisation, which needs to be explained.

Re: Conflicting parent information

Posted: 26 Mar 2020 09:50
by mjashby

Yes, I understand what you say, but have never experienced a problem using the ALIA Tag and, as far as I am concerned; and from my experience so far, it works as it should within Family Historian; and takes only a few minutes at most to set up the required links. I do of course, also attach a linked Research Note to possible duplicates, to record details of what research has been done/is to do, as I don't want such notes to potentially 'corrupt' already proven Family links with incorrect data. Personally, I also don't want to create potentially erroneous parent-child relationships in my main Family Group, as that's precisely how you get Ancestry Family Trees created where 'Joe & Mary Bloggs' apparently had 78 children over a 40+ year time span, sometimes only weeks apart! However, using ALIA links and/or Linked Notes , I can create/build a clearly defined and separate Research Group of Individual records where a 'mock' person named 'Joe Bloggs' apparently had multiple wives and many children that need to be sorted/re-grouped as research allows the accurate Family Groups to be confirmed and split off from that Group.

As far as transfer to other products goes, if/when it is necessary, all records can be transferred relatively easily, just as normal; and the only additional item that might get 'lost/misinterpreted', or need some explanation is the ALIA Tag if it is not implemented the same way by the other product, which is usually easy to manage/explain/adapt.

There are also many other possible options, including for example creating 'Witness' links, which could work well within a single Family Historian data file, but which would probably have even more problems if transfer to another product is required. And one could, of course, use a completely separate FH 'Research Group' Project to completely isolate the research and evidence until links are confirmed/proven.

In the end, it has to be down to the individual FH User to decide what works best for them, as there is no single best/correct solution.


Re: Conflicting parent information

Posted: 26 Mar 2020 10:23
by tatewise
Mervyn, as I said, I agree, but somebody coming new to FH would struggle to discover how to edit & display Alias details, so I simply supplemented your advice with pointers to its usage.