At some point, users of any genealogy computer program, including Legacy Family Tree, will ask the question, "Should I split my database?"
The reasons given for wanting to split a database are many:
- you may want to keep your spouse's genealogy in a separate database
- you may want a separate database for each line you're working on
- you may want to share just a portion of your database with another relative/researcher
- you feel that splitting your database would make more room in your main database
Before making the plunge and splitting your database, consider these cautions:
Suppose you separated your genealogy from your spouse's, and they are now in two separate family files. As your research progresses, you get further and further back in time. You begin researching a family that seems all too familiar - maybe you've researched it before. In fact, you had previously researched it - on your spouse's side.
The further back you trace, the chances are higher that you and your spouse have common ancestry. Such is the case with my wife and me. Back in the 1580s, we share a common ancestor - Stephen Hopkins is my 12th great-grandfather. He is also my wife's 12th great-grandfather. If I had split my database so that my wife's database was not included in mine, I may not have picked up on the fact that we were 13th cousins. I may have even duplicated our research.
This is one of the reasons why I keep all my genealogy in the same database.
Duplication of data entry
When I first started my research, I had eight separate databases. One for each of my eight great-grandparents. I thought it'd be easier to research this way. The descendants of these great-grandparents number into the thousands. In fact, because I am a descendant of each of these great-grandparents, I entered myself into each database.
The challenge this presented was that every time I needed to update my information, or I became a new dad, or even if I needed to update information on any of my cousins, I had to update the same information in at least two of the databases. If I needed to update my personal information, I would have to update it in all eight. Chances are greater that I would make a typo in at least one of them.
If my database were separated from my wife's, printing a pedigree chart or other reports becomes challenging. For example, I could not print cascading pedigree charts beginning with my son, Evan, because on the first chart, only his paternal side of the family would appear. If all my genealogy were combined into one family file, this would not be a problem.
But won't it get too big?
We have "test databases" of Legacy where we've linked over a million individuals. There are two potential challenges when working with databases of this magnitude. First, navigation becomes a bit slower. Second, the size of the database is considerably larger than one of just a few thousand. However, we haven't run into too many researchers that claim to have researched a million individuals - I'd love to see their documentation....
It's still okay...
There may still be good reason to split your database. I've created a separate research database to help me in tracking all the different Alanson Browns. Once I have positively identified my Alanson Brown, using Legacy's split screen tool, I can drag and drop him and his family into my personal database.
I've also created a separate database where I indexed the tax lists of Washington County, Tennessee from 1778-1850. Now doesn't that sound like an exciting way to spend a weekend?
So before you go ahead and make your split, carefully consider the above implications.