Retrogen – Ancestry GEDCOM export

During my time developing Retrogen, I have been studying the GEDCOM file exported from Ancestry. I am troubled since I believe there are issues within the GEDCOM file meaning it isn’t a true representation of my family tree data or at least, my understanding of what should be exported.

One potential issue appears to relate to general sources. A general source is a level one source, that in my mind, doesn’t relate to an event or fact, but rather the person themself. If it related to an event or fact, it would be a higher level source since the fact or event itself would be level one.

I tend to associate all citations to events or facts so I was surprised to see these appear recently. The issue is that if you have citations relating to family events, e.g. marriage and divorce and not any other fact (e.g. name), these will appear as general sources.

I experimented by specifically attaching a citation to the person’s name and it disappeared as a general source on the next export. So it appears, Ancestry will export a citation as a level one source if that citation is not attached to an individual event or fact, irrespective of it being attached to family events to which that person is associated with.

Another issue is the lost of multiple documents attached to a citation, i.e. only one media tag is exported against each citation. It is true that in many cases you typically may attach one document but I was surprised to see one document appear for some citations, especially since some death certificates I have attached are two pages and are attached as two media images. Only one of these media items is reflected as belonging to that citation.

This concerns me more that the general source issue outlined above. I am wondering how many citations have multiple documents attached. I hope Ancestry recognise this last one as an issue for resolution as they have been making changes to the exported data in recent times, especially around media itself with additional custom identification numbers. Given the size of Ancestry and the knowledgeable people there, I supposed I question whether I am correct in making these statements.

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