Wisdom Wednesday – Help! My Family Tree is out of Control

I am determined to clean up my ancestry tree this year.  Currently it has 6,932 people and 8,951 hints.  It is driving me crazy.  The problem is that I have so many branches connected to it and I can’t decide; a) whether to prune, b)what to prune, c) where to prune.  Besides my paternal and maternal lines and my husband’s paternal and maternal lines, I also have my husbands stepmother and stepfathers’ lines, 2 of my sister in laws’ lines and 2 of my brother in laws’ lines and also an ex sister in law.  Add to that some of my cousins lines from when they asked me to look into things and make them a family tree.  I just know the minute I prune a branch off that person will get in touch wanting more information.

I also have the problem of adding in siblings and children of siblings of ancestors too far back to really need to know their siblings but I worry that those lines may be the ones that have the clues I may someday need.  There’s also the ancestors and branches that I am unsure of and need more sources for but I am afraid not to add because I might lose the information – how do I differentiate between those with primary sources and those without?

So I am putting out an S.O.S. call.  I need some experienced genealogists to tell me how they keep their online trees under control.  I could really use some advice here.  I have been going through my tree since January, one surname at a time and fixing things, checking all hints, and merging duplicates (thank God for this new feature) but I feel like this process is so slow and may take all year.  The other option I thought of is to start new trees with each line separate – but that seems like a lot of work especially with all the sources and pictures I have scanned into my current tree.

Please comment with how you keep your tree clean and in good order.  Thank you!


About Rosanna Ward

Rosanna is a devoted mother of four children, two of which are homeschool graduates. She currently homeschools her 11 and 6 year old sons. Rosanna is a homeschool graduate and a graduate of Oral Roberts University: She grew up in Tulsa and has been homeschooling here for the past eleven years. Rosanna has loved family history for as long as she can remember and love genealogy for the stories of her ancestors.
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9 Responses to Wisdom Wednesday – Help! My Family Tree is out of Control

  1. I mostly ignore those blinking little leaves. My tree has 60,000+ individuals in it. At this point, I treat it as a notebook or a tool, my workbook. It’s not out there for everyone to troll through which is why I keep it private. I suggest finding a branch of the tree that you really want to focus on. Work on cleaning one branch up and decide what you want to do with it. Do you want to publish for family and friends? Do you want to dig deeper into records for specific individuals? Your blog is a great place for sharing or publishing your findings. 🙂

    • Rosanna Ward says:

      Thank you so much for commenting. I do try to ignore the leaves but I guess I have a bit of OCD and they really annoy me. I try to think of mine as a notebook and I tell people it is a work in progress but I leave it public because I have alot of primary sources and pictures I would like to share with other researchers. For the most part I work on my paternal line as I really want to write a book on their American journey but I also like to look stuff up on other lines from time to time and make gifts for relatives. It helps to work on other lines when I get bogged down on my Gotcher/Tracy line. Thanks again.

  2. I have no idea because mine is out of control, too!!!

  3. I definitely suggest separating the trees. I have one for my line, one for my husband’s and then I have one that is my “working” tree. It is not viewable to the public, but it lists all the “possible” connections that you mentioned that I want to remember, but I’m not too sure how it connects to my tree just yet. This keeps my real tree from getting muddy. I’m not sure if there is an easy way to make the switch. I’ll have to research it!

    • Rosanna Ward says:

      Thanks for the advice. I have spent weeks working on cleaning up my public tree and it is only half done. I hate to make it private because I share alot of pictures and real life research with others. Just seems like a lot of work any way I go. Let me know if you find a shortcut. I am very thankful they ancestry.com finally added a merge duplicate individuals that has sure helped.

  4. Tracy Meyers says:

    I wouldn’t refer to myself as an ‘experienced’ or ‘seasoned’ genealogist, but I do feel I have graduated to ‘Intermediate Family Historian; one of my new go tools for just this purpose and others is Microsoft OneNote. You can pull those documents / tree hints that you are just not sure of or have time to review into OneNote and safely ignore the hint. One down and . . . more to go. And review in OneNote and ancestry.com as you have time. Recommend the following videos for better explanation and details. Happy Pruning.

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