Register for Tuesday's BCG webinar - Transcribing Documents: There is More Than Meets the Eye! by LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson, JD, LLM, CG, CGL
Register for Webinar Wednesday - Boost Your Germanic Research: Understand Historical Jurisdictions by Teresa Steinkamp McMillin, CG

Tuesday's Tip - Combining Master List Duplicates (Intermediate)

TT - Combining Master Source Duplicates

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

Combining Master List Duplicates (Intermediate)

Sometimes you will find duplicates on one of your Master Lists. It is easy to combine duplicates but you need to be aware of a couple of things. First some general information.

How do you get duplicates in the first place? You can add them yourself if you are not careful but you can also get them when you do any sort of import (for example, a gedcom import or FamilySearch import/download). Every once in a while it is a good idea to take a look at your Master Lists to see if there is any cleanup needed.

Most of the Master Lists sort in a only one way so it may or may not be easy to see your duplicates. If they sort right next to each other it is easy to see them like this example from the Master Location List:

Appling, Columbia, Georgia, United States
Appling, Columbia County, GA

But here is a not-so-obvious example from the Master Source List. You wouldn't readily see this one because these two entries would not be right next to each other. This is why it is very important to be consistent with how you enter things.

1860 United Stated Federal Census, Columbia County, GA
Georgia - Columbia County - 1860 Census

A tip for the Location Master List specifically — Make sure you SORT the list in all of the different ways you can because you will find more duplicates that way. Click the Sort button just below the list of locations. This is the only list that can be sorted in multiple ways.

A tip for the Master Source List specifically — If you are using the SourceWriter templates, you can only combine duplicates if they were both created using the same template. If not, you will have to re-source the entries and then delete the duplicate.

Before you get started, BACK UP YOUR FILE. Whenever you do anything that is going to have a global impact on your file you always want to create a backup first in case things don't go as planned.

I am going to use the Master Location List as an example. You can see that I have two entries for Haverhill, Essex, Massachusetts. 

Master Location List
(click image to enlarge)


IMPORTANT — The first item you highlight will be the one that is lost and the second item you highlight will be the one that is retained. You need to decide upfront which one you want to keep.

In the above screenshot I have decided I want to keep the second entry, Haverhill, Essex, Massachusetts, United States so the first entry (the one I don't want to keep) is highlighted. Now you can click the Combine button at the bottom.

Highlight the one you want to remove
(click image to enlarge)


Notice that after you click Combine the button name changes to Combine With. Now select the entry you want to keep. After you have highlighted the entry you want to keep, click the Combine With button.

Highlight the one you want to keep
(click image to enlarge)


Once you click the Combine With button you will now only see the one entry. Notice also the number at the top has changed from 124 to 123.

Now only one entry
(click image to enlarge)


Whenever you are combining duplicates take your time and think about what you are doing so that you don't accidentally keep the wrong entry. If you do, it isn't the end of the world. If I had accidentally kept Haverhill, Essex, MA, United States I would only need to edit that location so that it is correct.

The problem you will have is if you accidentally combine something with an entirely different entry. For example, if I had accidentally combined Haverhill, Essex, MA, United States with Langley, Island, Washington, United States I would have a serious problem. I would have to restore to my backup.

If you are doing a lot of global changes you will want to back up often so that if you make a mistake you won't undo all of the changes you made and have to start from scratch. You will only undo your last few corrections.

Combining Duplicates is a very powerful database tool but make sure you follow the correct procedure.


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.


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

One simple trick when combining locations is to highlight all of the locations that are to be combined and then highlight the one to be kept last. Then you can click on Combine and immediately click on Combine with, saving the time to go up and down. The locations first highlighted will be combined into the last one highlighted. You will also notice that the last location will still be highlighted as you do the first click on Combine.

One thing you need to watch when combining locations. There are times that you may not show a County, due to the fact the county didn't exist, or the town was in a different county at one time. Be careful not to combine those.

Township7, Stanley, South Dakota, United States (1910 Census)
Township7, Haakon, South Dakota, United States (1920 Census, Haakon county didn't exist in 1910)

I admit that too many times, I have created duplicate Master Sources simply because I did not find the Master Source I had already created. It is VERY labor intensive to "merge", especially when the source templates are not compatible.

The graphic examples in the article demonstrate the problem. Legacy is very crude with respect to the need described in this post, which is to find duplicate entries that are named differently by mistake. The current implementation forces users to sort -- and re-sort -- and re-re-sort -- the list in the hopes of getting entries close enough in a very long list that they can recognize duplicate Master List entries.

A more powerful capability would be to let users search the list and then show a short list of only the entries that match the search terms. In the example provided with the article, the user might search for "Columbia" and the only remaining entries displayed would be those that contained "Columbia". Similarly, the user might search for "1860 AND Census". The shortlist of shown items would be different but would still contain the likely candidates to be Combined in a more easy-to-find form.

You can send suggestions in here

I wonder about what abbreviations should be avoided. For example, the words Cemetery, County, Township, and state names all can take up a bit of disk space. Is it reasonable to abbreviate those common words and names? Other examples would be North, East, etc. 99% of my entries are "United States" - I have just omitted the country with most of them, but should that be included with all?

This is totally personal preference. The only thing I would say is, make sure that your entries are consistent in the way that you format them.

Also be careful not to make the mistake of combining place names for the same location that in some instances were before the nation was a formal country with those that existed after it became a country. Example: Nova Scotia before 1867 and Nova Scotia, Canada after Confederation. Same goes for the USA if you have genealogy in a location before the state joined the Country.

The comments to this entry are closed.