Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Darned If They Do, Darned If They Don’t

FamilySearch recently made a change to its display of pedigrees for unmarried users. FamilySearch had received complaints from some who were not married. Kristine Reynolds wrote,

Bias against single members

Default view on "Family Pedigree with Details" shows my name and then my husbands. Only I'm 42 and not married and already feel completely alienated and isolated in the church. Since there is a growing number of adult singles in the church MAYBE you should consider changing this.


Gladys Charlene Gillespie wrote,


I think I single persons should be able to view their own pedigree without being reminded they are single. It is a disservice to them and degrading to see a pedigree chart 1/2 empty. They are being penalized for being single. I also think it is unnecessary for divorced people to have to see their ex partner's pedigree still linked to their own. Sometimes people remarry and sometimes they do not. In either case it would be nice to not have to be reminded each time I log in, that I am divorced.

I believe this is a valid concern. Apparently, FamilySearch did also. They changed the display so that the single person is displayed in the child position. This creates a full pedigree.

Unfortunately, singles then felt demoted. Audrey Lu Stradling wrote

Single people in main position

I am a single sister over 18 years of age. I have never been married. I do not understand why I am not in the first person when I sign in it goes to my parents; and I DO NOT LIKE IT!!!!!!! I deserve to be in the first place as do all the single never been married people!! PLEASE CHANGE THIS BACK. Thank you for your time

(Note her follow up post as well.)

Brandon Lee Baird wrote

Change the Family Tree view for singles back to its original.

The new Family Tree view for single people is not very good. It will no longer place me in the principal position and it makes it harder to print my own four generation pedigree chart. It is also confusing when I enter Family Tree because I am accustomed to looking at the principal position instead of the children.

Gail Koch added

I agree. When I found I could not put me in the main position it made me feel like a second class person since I was not married. It was demeaning. My siblings I can put in the main position but not me. It makes me angry. There is no other genealogical program that I know of that I can't be in the main position. Change it back.

I believe this is also a valid concern.

The origin of this conundrum is a subtle change that FamilySearch has made to a standard pedigree. They have replaced each person in the pedigree with a couple: husband and wife. This must have seemed a good idea at the time, but the effect on unmarried individuals may not have been fully appreciated.

I don’t know how FamilySearch will—or even can—solve this problem. I leave it in their capable hands.


  1. Also relevant I feel is that the word 'husband' should be replaced by 'partner', since so many couple nowadays choose not to marry. In the UK the number of unmarried cohabiting couples now exceeds the married ones. Ancestry also could change their terminology from 'spouse' to 'partner' which would better represent the true case with illegitimate children.

  2. "The origin of this conundrum is a subtle change that FamilySearch has made to a standard pedigree."

    Subtle???? Making each person half of a couple reflects a rather crude cultural bias.

  3. As a member of the church that runs the familysearch site who is 46 single and never been married, I don't care. I always get a bit of a laugh when I see the Add Wife link, and I think, "good idea."

    And since is courting and attracting non-LDS users, perhaps they should make the title configurable, so that each person record has a menu to choose spouse vs. partner, and it could be based on whether the user has an account. If they have an account, leave it as spouse. If not, then the user is not a church member, so leave it configurable.


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