The lifeblood of a family history or surname study. Without data, the tree lies barren, naked of any contributions.
Having lots of data in your family tree is impressive. I’m blown away by people’s trees with over 20,000 individuals. That’s like managing a whole city of relatives.
But in almost everyone’s trees, there are problems. Branches that are overgrown, rotting away with incorrect or incomplete information: wrong dates, missing dates, transposed dates, male versus female tagging. Time to get out the limb trimmers and to do some serious pruning. This TNG thing is a computer program, right? Why can’t it help me spot the weak branches? Well, with version 11.0, yes it can. Now we have Data Validation.
TNG now sports a data validation page inside the administration area. On request, it can hunt down ten areas of potential problems for you:
- Wrong gender – in a family group, where the father was flagged as female, or the mother as male
- Unknown gender – gender is missing or is set to “U” (unknown)
- Married too young – where a person is married at less than 15 years old
- Married after death
- Married before birth
- Died before birth
- Born too early – where the parents are less than 15 years old or the child was born before the marriage
- Born too late – where the mother was more than 50 years old
- Person marked as living – but the death date is entered
- Person marked as deceased – but is possibly still living
Okay, so how do we get this working? First, log into your TNG site as an administrator and go to the Administration panel, then click on the Miscellaneous tile. From there, click on the Data Validation option. This brings up the ten different report selections, as well as a pull-down box for choosing and limiting the report to only one tree. The default is for all trees.
Let’s try it out. I have picked on my fellow researcher in the Guild, Paul, as his TNG site holds over 61,000 individuals, so there might be some pruning needed.
Here are nine examples of the data validation reports for you to look at. I would have done ten, but Paul’s site is lacking ancestors who died but were still flagged as living.
#1: Wrong gender
This happens if the gender is in the wrong slot on the family page. For example, Thomas Franklin Bilhymer (I20768) is entered correctly on the individual page as a male, but on the F7388 family page, he is sitting in the mother box.
Patt Fetherston (I40064) and Anne Fetherstone (I40721) are both set as gender = “unknown”. This might not be fixable due to lack of information (although I’d put money down that Anne was female) but it does remind us to review our sources again for fresh leads.
#2: Unknown gender
I find this aspect of our ancestors to be tricky. Was “Patt Fetherston”, above, male or female, for sure? And to the right, infant Featherston will remain a mystery. However, some may be self evident, such as Velma Katherine and Albert Featherston/e.
#3: Married too young
There could be lots of ancestors in your tree that married very young, depending on religion, ethnic practices or other reasons. But Lydia at age four? I make errors here all too often, in haste, typing in an “1852” instead of the “1825” date. Time to find those baby brides and get them legit.
#4: Married after death
Okay, this one is a little creepy. Married after you pass away. What to put in the marriage announcement? What to send as a wedding gift? Who gives away the dead bride?
So now you have to look at the information available. Is the marriage or the death data
stronger, more robust? Are there further indicators from information on the spouse or the birth dates of any children?
#5: Married before birth
Which is a neat trick if you can pull it off. Again, information on the spouse or children will be a guide to the correct dates.
#6: Died before birth
Sort of a reincarnation in reverse. Are there siblings with birthdates that would help here? Census records will also help. You might just have to blank out the birth or death date if you are not sure.
#7: Born too early
These could very well be legit dates, if the child was illegit. Or, if only the year was known for the birth date. In TNG, if a date is entered simply as a year, as in Susanna Ashby, shown here, TNG treats it as January 1st of that year, for calculation purposes. Hence, in Susanna’s case, TNG would consider her as born about ten and a half months prior to the parents’ marriage.
It also looks like Susanna is in TNG twice, as individual I36 and I4263. This can happen if you have multiple trees and so it might not be a mistake.
#8: Born too late
Not impossible, but again, an opportunity to review your dates.
#9: Person marked as living, death date present
No example available.
#10: Person marked as deceased, possibly still living
I believe the default trigger point for this test is anyone that is flagged as deceased but there is no death date, and that person’s age is within 110 years. Do you have longevity in your family line?
The Data Validation page is a rich resource for cleaning up your tree. This is your spring gardening task, during those rainy days of June, sitting inside, a hot cup of tea or coffee nearby, pruning the family tree of weak data.
We all mean to get around to reviewing our family research and now version 11.0 has made it even easier.