Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Merging and Separating People

I've been thinking about the concept of "merging" people from records--in other words, determining that a person in one record in one location is the same as another person in another location. Some researchers want a "hard and fast" procedure to tell them when they have a match, but while sometimes it is obvious, other times it is not.

The flip side of this is "separating" people. Two individuals with the same (or very similar) name are contemporaries of each other, both in time and place. How does one "separate" them into their unique identities? Again there are some guidelines, but not any "hard and fast" rules.

It's difficult to make a flow chart on these two concepts, although it is possible to discuss some general ways it can be done.

I'm looking into various "problems" in my own work, both solved and unsolved, to determine if there are any that fit this general scheme.

Search results from websites tend to "lump" people together because they match certain broad parameters. It's up to genealogists to determine if the individuals actually are a match or not.

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