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Tuesday's Tip - Using Trees

Legacy Tip - how to standardize and clean up variations of a location

If your Master Location List in Legacy Family Tree looks like mine, then you, too, would benefit from a little cleanup.


Did you count them too? I have seven variations of the same place! Forty-four different people in my family file are linked to at least one of these spellings.

Regardless of how these seven spellings of Håkansbo made it into my file (I imported much of this from an online database about 20 years ago...), I will save time in future data entry, merging, and publishing after I have standardized and combined them into the one correct spelling. After researching the place, I have determined that the correct form of the place should be Håkansbo, Vittinge, Västmanland, Sweden (or Sverige). Here's how I cleaned up these locations.

1) In the Master Location List (View > Master Lists > Location) I started out by sorting the locations from left-to-right. This groups all of my countries together so I can easily find all of the variations of Håkansbo. Just click on the Sort button and rearrange the jurisdiction pieces.


And click OK.

2) Then I typed "Sweden" in the Find field and scrolled down until I located Håkansbo.

3) Next, I highlighted every occurrence/variation of Håkansbo by Control-Clicking (holding down the Control button on the keyboard while I clicked on each place). Then I clicked on the Combine button at the bottom.

4) Next, I clicked on the correct version of this place (if there isn't a correct version, first edit one of the places) and clicked on the Combine With button.

Here's what it looks like now:


Not bad, eh? Now, in the future, as I am typing in a place for an ancestor, this corrected version of Håkansbo will be the one that auto-fills for me. And I can feel a little better about having these places cleaned up.


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Geoff: What about changes made to a location over time. For instance, I had Taylor Township, Taylor Center and currently it is the City of Taylor. Would it be correct to just use "Taylor"?

Sarah Lange

Sarah - I recommend using the name of the place at the time of the event.

I'm slowly going through my Master Location file as well, Geoff. So many duplicates, errors and sloppy data input - I have no one to blame but myself!
Every day I do a dozen or more. Eventually it will be clean. And in the meantime, I've edited a few of the people as well, seeing little errors and mis-placed notes, e.g.

Geoff - I am puzzled by your reply to Sarah. By "using the name of the place at the time of the event" as you recommend, you will end up with different variations of the same location in your location list !

John - that's correct, it is the same town/city but the jurisdictions it's been a part of may have changed over time. We need to know the correct jurisdiction for the time period so we can find the records. Take a look at the AniMap section at

Geoff, I really appreciate this post. Locations make me pull my hair out! Borders change, city/town/counties and what not change and even what the individual claims as his homeland is not always exactly right. It's difficult to use a consistent location. I've wrestled with this and changed my mind a thousand times!

Still, in my mind, it makes it more difficult to create links to possible additional family members or migrations if there is not a consistent location, rather than a time period. For example, I'm related to every Bass surname in Sumter County, GA. Granted, Sumter didn't change its name but if it had, I would need to match the same county name with new Bass folks in that county, in order to link them together. Does that make any sense?

What I do is in the location comments, I create a timeline of the history of that particular location. for areas that have been renamed. I have German ancestors that go back to the 1600s in a town in what is now Poland, but at the time they were there it was in Austria. In order to locate it on today's map, I would need to know it is in Poland now, despite the immigrant's claim of coming from Austria because then when I go back, I'd look in Austria again. That is of course, in my mind.

How do you resolve that problem? Maybe an idea is to allow us to give places alternate names with time periods, or something. That way if we search for it, all will show up. I don't know.

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