Tag Archives: shaky leaf

What to do when Shaky Leaf gives 2 FindaGrave.com records for 1 person

Even with the best search techniques it is possible to miss finding a person in FindaGrave.com: the spelling could be a touch off, the place the next state over, the date incorrect. Ideally there should be only one record per individual unless there is a cenotaph. (This is one of the things I love about FindaGrave -one record per person means that there are many people contributing to a single record instead of each person working independently and many records existing separately.) So duplicates do exist, BUT, we can help reduce the number of duplicates by reporting them to be merged.

Here is a screen shot of a Shaky Leaf Search for Croner Meletus Hess (my 3rd cousin 3x removed) that shows two records existing in FindaGrave.com:

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 5.54.24 PM

I clicked on each one and then clicked on ‘Go To Website’. This opened both pages up in Safari and I can CAREFULLY compare them to MAKE SURE that they are the same person.

I then open Mail and create a new email msg to info@FindaGrave.com with subject: Please combine two memorials. I then copy/paste the URL for each onto separate lines in the email and send it.

Next I want to record BOTH FindaGrave.com memorial numbers in my custom FindaGrave Memorial ID fact field separated with a semicolon. That way I can search for records that have a semicolon and make sure they were combined.

I glean all of the info that I can from both the memorials and add it into my FTM record.

Next I want to go ahead and source one of the Shaky Leaf FindaGrave records. I usually pick the oldest record or which one has the most accurate info. I will do a separate post on how I Create a Source for FindaGrave.com with a video.

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Reported Problem: Web Search Merge Stops Working

Re: FTM Mac 3 v.

Problem: Web Search Merge Stops Working sporadically and is greyed out.

I’m still trying to define the variables that lead to this problem but I have figured out that when it does occur I have to go back to People>Tree, find a shaky leaf, and click on it. That seems to reset it and then I am able to use this feature normally.

Note: You can report problems here: http://www.ancestry.com/suggestions

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How To Change Out Defunct Sources

My apologies for the extended absence. I have a great post that I will put up soon.

I have found that many of the numerous web sites that I sourced in my 25+ years of genealogy have gone defunct – they simply no longer exist. Most of these are ones that were done by other genealogists. That is disconcerting because I want my data to be sourced well. These sources are probably be called “soft” sources and since they can easily disappear from the web at any time. I have decided to change them out for more permanent source options. I went to the Source Workspace and then found my “Internet” sources in the Source List. Then I look through the Source Citations and when I find one I want to change out I double click the “Link” for the person. This takes me to the People Workspace and highlights the Fact in question. Hopefully there is a Shaky Leaf and if so I click on it and look for a FindaGrave Source. If I find one I merge and then go back to the Source Citation and delete it. Repeat as needed. You may wish to save the web site and name of the person somewhere in your notes before you delete the Source entirely.

FindaGrave is a much more permanent source that gives Facts for Birth, Death, Marriage, and Burial, especially if it provides a picture of the tombstone. It isn’t as good as actual documents but it will do.

Remember to only merge with the person you are working on even if it lists the mother, father, spouse, children as covered in a previous post. Also look for other good Sources while you are hunting around.

If you don’t find a Shaky Leaf or a FindaGrave Source then you will want to just look for good Sources that will replace those Facts that you want to replace.

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How To Test Out Info

When I run into new data in online Family Trees that is interesting I test it out before using it permanently. I want to document as much as possible and I do not consider Family Trees the best source of info. Granted, there is sometimes info that a family ‘just knows’ about someone that you can’t find documentation for. If I get info directly from a person then I source them but otherwise I do my best to find hard documentation. What is helpful for this is actually adding a piece or two of info into FTM and then checking the Shaky Leaf or even running a Web Search. This has worked for me many times. The key is that if you don’t find documentation, that you go back and move the ‘possible info’ into your notes and then add the date you searched and a note that you didn’t find anything. It really doesn’t mean that the info is incorrect, just that you didn’t find any documentation to support it at this time. Ancestry constantly adds new files so you never know when you will get a hit.

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How To Increase Shaky Leaf Hits

You can greatly increase your Shaky Leaf hits if you add approximate birthdates for those individuals that are missing birthdates. Just go to the People Workspace > Tree tab and look down your Index. You can also run a Filter so that the Index only shows those without birthdates. It’s good to have some rules set up so that you are consistent. See my post “How To Estimate Birth Dates & Determine Deceased.”

To set up a Filter to show blank birthdates:

1. Include All

2. Filter OUT: Birth/Date > Is Not Blank


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How To Increase Ancestry Search Hits

When you search for someone and you merge new info go back to the People Workspace > Tree View. Wait for the Shaky Leaf to reappear and then click it again to search again with the new info that was added. Hopefully the new info will result in more hits.

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How To Convert Social Security Death Records

I have been re-merging all of my Social Security (SS) Death Records recently so that all of my records are listed together, under one Source, in the Sources Workspace. This is a continuation of my conversion to Family Tree Maker from PAF. Right now I have one Source with all of the records I searched (my-SS-Source) and I also have a second Source with all of the records that I have merged from Ancestry.com.

This basically consists of:

  1. Backup before proceeding!
  2. Going to the Sources Workspace.
  3. Selecting my-SS-Source (see above).
  4. Selecting a citation (more on that in a minute).
  5. Double-clicking a fact for that citation – this will open the People Workspace.
  6. Clicking the shaky leaf (if there is one – as I said, more on that in a minute).
  7. Finding the Social Security record for that person and merging.
  8. Go back to the People Workspace and double check that the merge was successful.
  9. Go back to my-SS-Source and delete the citation.

The record will now show up in the Ancestry Sources (see previous post on My/Their Sources) all in one place. It will take me quite awhile to complete this task because I have ~1,500 Social Security Death records to merge – after merging several hundred already.

Is this worthwhile? Yes, because I have found some new info when merging and, more importantly, I can see all my records together in one place. However let’s discuss the issue that I mentioned above…

Regarding #4/6: As of the lasted update to FTM Mac (v., the Web Search ‘New Search’ button seems to only work on records that have shaky leaves. If a person does not have a shaky leaf then you can still search for the records but you must fill out the form manually. So… Right now I am only merging records with shaky leafs. I plan to do several every time I work in FTM and will go through and merge the others manually afterwards. But, hopefully a new version will come out and resolve this issue before I even get there.

Dear Ancestry, Please fix the ‘New Search’ button so that it automatically populates a person’s info to make searching for records easier – with or without a shaky leaf!

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How To Take Full Advantage of a Shaky Leaf

Those shaky leaves are really handy and I use them often. Something you may not have thought of is that after you merge records from a shaky leaf search go back to tree view and hit the shaky leaf again. Sometimes the new info that you have entered will bring up even more hints. So I guess you could call this a hint on a hint? (bad genealogy humor)

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