Upcoming free webinars - 8 to choose from through August
Free webinar now online - Ready, Set, Write! Share Your Family's Story by Lisa Alzo

Legacy Tip: How to Display Conflicting Information

I've just discovered a great new tool - in Legacy Family Tree - to help me with conflicting information. Well, I've always known about the tool, but I had a new idea about how to use it today.

But first, have you ever discovered information in a document that conflicts with information you already know about an ancestor? One of my ancestors, John Williams, was born in 1845, 1851, 1852, 1853, or 1854, depending on which document I look at. Just today, as I was evaluating a different ancestor, I remembered that Clarinda Williams was thought to be born in either Boston, Massachusetts or in New Hampshire. However, I often forget about the New Hampshire possibility because when viewing her information in the Family View, it only shows me the main birth information. See below (click on image to enlarge):


I guess this is one reason why using the Chronology View is so much more valuable when analyzing an ancestor. However, because the five labels (Born, Chr, Died, Buried, DthCau) in the Family View are customizable, we can make our analysis a bit easier, even when you are in the Family View. If you follow these steps, you can view the conflicting data:

  1. Click on one of the 5 labels.
  2. Click on one of the buttons with the three dots to replace the current field name (I selected the Christening Date/Place in this example), and select the "Event..." field.
  3. Next, select the "Alt. Birth" event and click Select.
  4. Click Close.

See the difference:


We are now able to see the main birth event of "abt 1853 in Boston..." AND we can see the conflicting birth event of "abt 1852 in New Hampshire". This aids as a simple reminder that there is more than one place I could be looking for evidence of her birth.

The conflicting information will only appear as I've described above if you actually record the conflicting data as an "Alt. Birth" event. I've written about this a couple of times in past articles: click here and here for the instructions.

So while locating conflicting information will never go away, Legacy Family Tree provides tools to help us with it all.



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

You are wasting your time putting 'About' for a birth death or marriage date only fooling yourself to think that you have 'done' the job and really got nowhere. If you think it ok carry on being a fool.

Ron - use "abt" for an approximate year of birth is an indication that the year was approximated. Using this prefix denotes that the exact birth date has not yet been found.

How can we add conflicting information to the screen without adding that "event" category to all the people in our database? I think I am missing a huge part of this lesson.

Kathi - there are 5 fields that can be displayed in the Family View. You can choose whatever 5 you want. Those same 5 will appear for everyone. You can save and load different sets of 5 by using the Save/Load buttons on the Customize Display screen.

Thanks for the quick, concise reply. It works.

Am I missing something from my version as there is no "Alt Birth" in the drop down menu?

I will use the conflicting birth event if I have two reliable documents that have two birthdates (say a Bible entry, a WWI draft registration card, death certificate). However, if I have a conflict between census records I will record that in the notes. For example, this is copied right out of my notes:

Chesley's date of birth is a guess. His date of birth is all over the place in the census records.

1820 census 1811-1820
1830 census 1816-1820
1840 census 1811-1820
1850 census 1821
1860 census 1815
1870 census 1813
1880 census 1815

I have put it at abt 1816 until I find something more definitive.

Colin - you first have to select "Event", then it will display the list of events, of which "Alt. Birth" is included.

When implementing this "alternate info field" does it change the appearance of the entire file and everyone in it or just the individual that you have selected?

Penni - it changes it globally, but it's a good suggestion to have it optionally apply to just the current individual/couple.

I would suggest that Legacy could simply place an asterisk next to the birth date for all individuals with Alt. Birth listings, then you would be reminded to check the events for that person.

Off the subject, but how did you get the (Divorced) to show up in the family view screen in this example? When I enter Divorced as Status on the Marriage Info input page it does not show up like this....

Re. "abt", "circa" etc: I've seen several trees with many entries devoid of dates because the data was not available or uncertain. By entering at least an approximation I find it makes searching the name list for someone less time consuming and more meaningful. This is especially helpful when there are multiple entries for the same name.

Interesting suggestion Jon.

Pete - at Options > Customize > View, make sure there is a check mark next to "On Marriage Info" in the Show Status section.

How do you get the relationship to show on the Family View Screen?

yep Geoff, this did the trick for the (Divorced) info. Do you know what the next tickmark really means? (don't know the exact label in English because I use a Dutch version, but it should be something like 'about children'

Jeanne - Go to Tools > Set Relationships

I use double brackets to enter data that I am unsure of, such as a death place, [[Chicago, Cook County, IL]] or a death date [[bef 1958]]. This puts the data right out in the open in the family view and lets me know that this is not confirmed data and needs work. The double brackets create non-printing data so it will not appear when I create reports. I use the Alt. Birth and other Alt. Events only when I have two different documents with conflicting information. The only problem I have encountered with the double brackets is I can’t run File Maintentenance … Check/Repair. I tried using Research Notes but I was unable to get the “Default to Last Used Note Type” to consistently work.

Larry, I use double brackets as you do and have had no problem with running Check/Repair.

Michele,I would not consider a Bible entry to be reliable. My mother-in-law put a false date for her daughter's marriage so her grandchild wouldn't appear to be very premature. I'm sure that's not the first occasion that has been done!

I use "circa", "abt", and with numbers inside the angle brackets--each with a different meaning. Abt usually comes with a data from someone else--but I will also use it when I've been able to pin something down within one or two years. The angle brackets I use only for calculated dates--like a birth year when I have a death date and age at death, or when I have an age from a census.
The other time I will use "abt" is when I have a fairly complete list of a woman's children--and the births span more than 20 years. In these cases, unless I have reason to believe the "youngest" was actually a grandchild, I figure the mother was about 42 when her youngest child was born, and set her birth year accordingly.

I use circa is much more general way. I upload my tree to RootsWeb, and I simply _hate_ having or grandparens parents of people born in (say) 1900 appear as "living". So I insert circa and a very rough approximation of the year of birth. I generally figure mothers averaged 25 years older than their children, and fathers averaged 30 years older--also I figured the "average" husband was approximately 5 years older than his wife. With luck, "circa" dates at least allow me to place someone's birth within the correct quarter century, perhaps even the correct decade. And even knowing that much can be helpful in further research. I never source a circa--because it is such a wild approximation that I know I won't want to keep it if I ever get anything more specific.

There's no reason anyone else should necessarily use my system--but I do find it useful.

Follow-up--The third method I use for dates failed to show up in the posted comment. It's "<" and a date and ">". Perhaps this will show more clearly.

For years, as I have found conflicting information I have put it in the events section under alt. birth/death/marriage, with its source. I have put the most likely date in the vital records line until a more correct date comes by, then replace it, moving the original date down to events. I have even done that with parentage/siblings, making an event of 'possible parentage'/'possible siblings'. That way I can see everywhere I have seen these dates/names, what I thought about the info and why/why not it felt right, and if the CORRECT date ever comes along then I have all the various dates I researched over the years. When a chronology is made they all show up.

Awesome tips, everyone. Thank you very much! :D

If you have a good possibility for the name of someone's father, but are not ready to say for sure, is there a way to clearly mark that in the family view?

Like Kathi Thanos on 6/24 -- there is no "Alt Birth" on my list. Why?

Steve - you could add something like "POSSIBLE FATHER TO JOHN" in the father's Title Prefix or Suffix fields. This would surely stand out in the Family View.

I have tried this with event and adding military but it only changes on the family page but I can not write anything in the space when I go to input things on a person's input page. And it still shows as Chrs. on that page. What am I doing wrong? Barb

Barb - you're right - this only changes the display of the fields in the Family View. It doesn't effect anything else, like data entry.

I have an issue with a family member who changed his name. He has a separate family under each name but I can't seem to find how to show the lists of his wife and children under each name. The only way I seem to be able to do this is by using alternate name and 2nd wife, however this creates a problem when I go to produce a family list because I can't show both names and families and they are all important. Hope you can follow this as its complicated to explain. Thank you

I notice in your view of Legacy, that inbetween the relationship blocks, it has the relationship details to the person above i assume. How do you do that as its very useful?

The comments to this entry are closed.