Family History Trees Can Be Fixed

Only He Who Does Nothing Makes A Mistake
- French Proverb

If you are interested in researching your family tree, then a visit to Salt Lake should be high on your “must do” list.  The Family History Library at 35 North West Temple is the center of the action with 142,000 square feet on five floors of genealogical resources.

A great way to take your family tree with you where ever you travel is to post it online for free at Ancestry.  Whether you are at a computer at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, or your local public library, your data can be just a click away for easy reference.

However, the nature of genealogy is that along our research path we find new data that sheds light on old data, revealing a mistake in our family tree.  In fact, one of my Genealogy Gems Podcast listeners recently ran up against this situation, and asked for help to make her way out of it.  She wrote:

“My GGG grandfather had many children with two wives. I recently found out that wife #1 died sooner than I had thought and that about five of the middle children belonged to wife #2. Is there an easy way to move them over to wife #2? All I know to do is detach them from wife #1, but that puts the child in a third category as the child of a third unknown wife. I tried adding the child to the #2 wife, but that doesn't take the attached documentation with it. There must be an easier way, as this is such an easy mistake to make.”

To find the answer I headed to the source,, and Jennifer Hodnett, Product Manager for Ancestry provided the solution:

How to Fix Relationship Mistakes in Your Online Family Tree

You can now easily fix relationship mistakes in your tree by detaching and reattaching individuals in your tree.

1.  Bring up the profile page for the child you want to detach from the mother.

2.  On that Profile page, click on the brown Edit this person button, located just below the name of the person at the top of the page.

3.  On the next screen, there will be 5 tabs at the top.  Click on the Relationships tab, which will be the second one from the right.  This will display the individual's current relationships.

4. Now, to dissolve or break this relationship, find the name of the individual you want to detach from this person and click the Remove link to the far right of their name.  In the case described at the beginning, you’ll want to look for the incorrect mother and click the Remove link next to her name.

5. A pop up will appear that will ask you if you are sure you want to remove this relationship. Assuming you’ve selected the correct person, click the OK button to finish detaching this person from the selected mother.  Be reassured that doing this will not remove this person from your tree; it only detaches them. You can still find this person from the List of All People in your tree.

6. After selecting OK, you’ll return to the Relationships tab for the detached child.  You now want to return to the child’s profile page and you can do this by clicking the Return to [name of person] button at the top left corner of the page.

7. Once you’re back on the profile page, click on the Add Mother link under the name of the father in the “Family Members” module on the page

8. A box will appear that will allow you to add the mother.  In the Add Mother box, at the top of the page, look for the link to “select someone already in your tree” and click it.

9. You will then be directed to a list of all people in your tree.  Find the name of the correct mother and click the orange Select button next to her name.

10. You will end up back on the child’s profile page and will be able to see under the “Family Members” module that the correct mother is now assigned to that child.  You can now repeat the process for each child that needs to be changed.

Listen to Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 95 for these step by step instructions in addition to genealogy news, tips, and my special guest Scott Haskins author of the book How to Save Your Stuff From A Disaster.

And see it for yourself in this new video. 

How to Fix an Ancestry Online Family Tree - Genealogy Gems Podcast App Bonus Content

If you have an iPhone, iPad or iTouch get the Genealogy Gems Podcast App and you’ll get this kind of Bonus Content delivered directly to your mobile device.