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Legacy tip: how to combine multiple family files into one

Four days before I was married, I purchased my second genealogy software program - Personal Ancestral File (PAF) 3.0. I paid $30. It was one of the few things I brought into our marriage. I was excited to combine our pedigrees and learn more about my wife's roots. I later found out that I married my 13th cousin. (Legacy's Relationship Calculator told me this.)

4gens Four years earlier when I began computerizing my genealogy, I kept a separate database for each of my eight great-grandparents' lines:

  • Rasmussen
  • Wilde
  • Crane
  • Morgan
  • Larsen
  • Fjeldsted
  • Brown
  • McCall

So, in my Rasmussen database, I kept track of both Ivan Rasmussen's ancestors AND his descendants. In my Wilde database, I recorded Martha Wilde's ancestors, AND her descendants. And so on....

As you may have experienced too, keeping multiple databases has its pros and cons. You might want to re-read our article entitled Your Legacy Database - Should You Split It? for some of these comparisons.

If you currently have your information spread apart in multiple databases, and you want to combine it back into one master database, follow the instructions below.

First of all, decide which of your multiple databases you want to use as your main database. Open it (File > Open). Then...

  1. Go to File > Import From > Legacy file
  2. Navigate to and select the other database which you want to import. Click the Open button.
  3. On the Import a Legacy File screen, select the second option to Add the Legacy information to the EXISTING Family file and click Proceed.
  4. Legacy then asks if you want to make a backup before proceeding. It's always a good idea to do this. If you have not yet made a backup of your main database, click the Cancel button to create your backup (File > Backup), then start over with these steps.
  5. Click the Continue with import button.
  6. On the Legacy Import screen, look at the options, especially those on the Privacy tab to ensure that you will import everyone that you want to. Then click on the Start the Import button. When the AutoSource Reminder screen appears, just click on Don't Assign a Source.

Now that the "other" database has been imported into your master database, it is very likely that you will have duplicates. For example, you and your spouse's information may have been entered into both databases. In any case, we recommend clicking on the Go To Merge button that is now visible. When the Merge Options screen appears, click on the Continue button and Legacy will present to you, side-by-side, any possible duplicates. Using the Merge buttons at the bottom, compare and merge any possible sets of duplicates. When this process is complete, follow steps 1-6 above for any additional databases that you want to import into your master database.

The end result will be that you have one larger master database that contains everything about everyone you are related to. Now it should be easier to avoid some of the pitfalls of maintaining multiple databases as described here.


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6.On the Legacy Import screen, look at the options, especially those on the Privacy tab to ensure that you will import everyone that you want to. Then click on the Start the Import button. When the AutoSource Reminder screen appears, just click on Don't Assign a Source.

Why wouldn't you want to show from which family file the data came from? I am questioning the last sentence on step #6.

Bob - good and fair question. I guess when my ancestors are well documented, it doesn't make as big a deal to me that they were once in separate databases.

How about the reverse - where you have additional families that you want to split off?

My mother remarried after my father died, and from that second marriage, I have a half-sister, whose family I have included in my family tree file (as many of her ancestors as I've been able to document and record AND all their descendants I've been able to document and record). If I want to send information to my relatives on my father's side, I might want to exclude the information from my half-sister's family, and/or my mother's side.

Is there an easy way to do this, or if not easy, some manner other than one-by-one rerecording the information in a separate file, then deleting it one-by-one from the 'master file'?

6.On the Legacy Import screen, look at the options, especially those on the Privacy tab to ensure that you will import everyone that you want to. Then click on the Start the Import button. When the AutoSource Reminder screen appears, just click on Don't Assign a Source.

As with Bob's question in the last sentence - if you don't "Assign a Source" does this mean that all the source references you have in that particular file don't come across - in which case you would have to go back and insert them all manually?? Isn't this defeating the object of the exercise?

What an appropriate time to read this exchange of info as I'm in the process of inputting data into Legacy and had decided (and have begun!) to use two files - one for my father's line (including me and my family and my siblings and their families) and one for my mother's line.

The rationale for this was that all my existing data (letters, certificates, census records, photos, etc) are in two separate binders and so it seemed logical to continue to keep the info separate. At this early stage I don't know of any 13th cousins occurring in both lines and the only duplicate info is my parents and their marriage details which occur in both files. The problem of coping with 'split' cousins is not an issue because I have no cousins on my father's side.

So, what to do now? I've read all the pros (and very few cons) of only having one file but I'm still inclined to keep my two files, at least until I've transcribed all the info into Legacy that currently exists on a plethora of bits of paper.

Having said this, I take the point that has been made about having just one master file and I suspect that this is where I'll end up in due course. I was going to start another file for my wife's family but I think I'll can this idea!

I appreciate the discussion!

What Legacy should do. . . when the source screen pops up and you want to assign a source it should pop up the screen of the information of the contributor of the importing Gedcom. . . instead I have to write it all down beforehand.
I like to assign sources no matter how common the information is. Sometimes I import just to get the existing information on a person in my file without having to transcribe it all out myself. This can be annoying though because importing brings with it all sorts of problems when it comes to collaborating on locations! GRRRR!
Anyway, once I find more information on a particular person, I then re-source the person with the new data and delete the previous source from the import.

Marion - when you import existing family files into your master family file, all of your sources will be imported too. The AutoSource is typically used when you are importing the data from a different researcher's database so you can automatically assign a source of "GEDCOM from John Smith" (as an example) to every person being imported so you know where it came from. When you're importing your own databases you really don't need this.

Mike - read this article entitled "How to isolate and send just a branch of the family tree" at http://tinyurl.com/r7oc46 for a good explanation of how to share just a part of your database with someone else.

One item that has to be checked is the Master Lists especially LOCATIONS. You will end up with the same location spelt differently or mispelt. Check all the other Master Lists. In my case I took several databases made up by other people and they did not always have the same spelling or approach to Cities, Countries, etc (French & English). Of course there are umpteen spellings for Surnames. It is difficult to tell if it is a spelling error or another version of the same name. I try to cross-reference them by posting the said name and hyphen the original spelling. This makes up a new Surname but informs the reader of a different possibility (a form of AKA). I also reversed the hypenated Surname at least once to get the same process in a reverse order.

I did this a long time ago with some other family members (distant and not so distant) GED files that they shared with me and I thought it was a breeze. Saves time typing all the info in. The only things that I had to do was delete any extra copies of same family and rearrange some families to combine them. Using the split view made it easy but be warned be careful what you DELETE. One thing to accidently unlink but delete!?! ;-)On more than one occasion I had to retype individuals back in. I make sure I have the ID numbers on when working on split view, and deleting any copies. I still have some families to work (some are driving me crazy!) on but the bulk of the main file is done.

Legacy RULES genealogy software!

I guess about 10 or 12 years ago when I first started with Legacy, I merged (9) separate databases to form ONE Master List. It took about (2) years to correct duplicates individuals and people with (2) or (3) sets of parents.

I went from 52,000 individuals down to 21,000. I cut the LOCATIONS down to half. Everyone had their own story and the info was repeated umpteen times plus some postings were out of this world.

Now we have definitely confirmed the first (7) generations and we have nearly 133,000 individuals and 57,000 mariages on the database.

It is like your usual puzzle except this one is LIVING. We post the Non-Living to a central Family Site for backup and used by the Membership (which meets once a year). Personal reports and lists eminate from me or from the owner of the site (once a year, at the meetings, I give him an ORIGINAL COPY of the complete file including 1,800 pictures of tombstones and people from Obits pictures.

All thru this process, I have kept a copy of the first (9) databases (as messed up they are) just in case i need them. When you mess up, you need to go back to basics. Of course I also backup ALL my files after posting. I also backup onto my old clunker once a month and the Family Site every few months (less people under 100 tears old).


Then you can copy or merge what disappeared.

How do you split the screen to view two files at the same time. Can you do this?
Mary Frances

Mary - in Legacy, go to View > Split Screen View.

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