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Tuesday's Tip - Ghost Marriages (Advanced)

  Tuesday's Tip - Ghost Marriages (Advanced)

Tuesday's Tips provide brief how-to's to help you learn to use the Legacy Family Tree software with new tricks and techniques.

Ghost Marriages (Advanced)

It is very difficult to create a "ghost marriage" in Legacy 9 but if you have imported a gedcom from another program or downloaded from a website it is very likely you picked up some ghosts. Ghosts are people that really aren't there but they are taking up space which bloats your file. To find "ghost" marriages go to View > Marriage List. The unknown-unknown marriages that you see are ghosts and need to be deleted. Make sure you are sorting by the husband or by the wife and not by MRIN so that all of the unknown-unknowns are together at the top of the list

Ghost marriages
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Before you do anything, backup your file. 

Highlight one of the unknown-unknown marriages and then at the bottom click Options > Remove the marriage link. If there are NO children or ONLY ONE child in the box you can safely unlink by clicking Yes at the bottom which will get rid of the unknown-unknown.

Unlink from this family? dialog box
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If there are TWO OR MORE children in the box do not remove the marriage link. If you do you will lose them as siblings. 

More than 1 child, don't delete the link
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Notice that the MRIN for this family group is 64. On the Marriage List highlight MRIN 64 and click Edit Husband at the bottom and then Add New Husband.  Since the children had the surname of Cummings, Legacy defaults this surname in for you. This will keep the siblings linked while also getting rid of the unknown-unknown marriage.

Legacy adds the surname for you
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Click Save and you will see that you that the ghost marriage is now a real marriage.

Ghost marriage has been converted
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Some gedcoms will have HUNDREDS if not THOUSANDS of these. Some programs will create an unknown-unknown marriage if you simply click in the parents area but then change your mind and don't add anything. Legacy doesn't do this and that is why you won't see ghosts in a Legacy file that was created from scratch. Once you have removed all of the ghosts you will want to renumber your MRINs and run a check/repair which will compact your file making it more efficient. WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! If you use MRINs as part of your paper or electronic filing system you will NOT want to renumber them. You also don't want to renumber them if you are using something like TNG to upload your webpages. TNG is dynamic and needs the MRINs to stay the same so that any photos or documents you have uploaded won't become unlinked.

Tools > Renumber RINs or MRINs

Renumber MRINs dialog box
(click image to enlarge)

This is something that most Legacy users wouldn't know to check, especially since Legacy itself doesn't create ghosts. Now you have an additional tool for your arsenal when you need to clean up an incoming gedcom file.


Find tech tips every day in the Facebook Legacy User Group. The group is free and is available to anyone with a Facebook account.

For video tech tips check out the Legacy Quick Tips page.  These short videos will make it easy for you to learn all sort of fun and interesting ways to look at your genealogy research.

Michele Simmons Lewis, CG® is part of the Legacy Family Tree team at MyHeritage. She handles the enhancement suggestions that come in from our users as well as writing for Legacy News. You can usually find her hanging out on the Legacy User Group Facebook page answering questions and posting tips.


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I have entered all my people by hand (after importing a gedcom I made in different sw) I do have a spurious second marriage for my great grandparents who adopted their niece after her parents died. Cannot seem to lose the marriage without disconnecting her. How should I record that adoption?

Send an email to [email protected] so that we can walk you through the steps :)

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