I have a increasingly growing GEDCOM file and know I have many islands in it, some intentional and some not intentional. So I basically view the GEDCOM as a whole as a forest and I know I have many trees in it.. others are just roots I started trying to build out and connect but they never did. Now I wish to break them up.

Many genealogy software tools have a feature to export a GEDCOM file either in its entirety or filtered data, or even Ancestors of X person or Descendants of Y person.

The problem with both of these is they tend to trim off all outlying branches or back up.. basically straight line filtering vs. the entire root system. Such as if I were to choose FG-E Child in the diagram below it would not export FG-A members and choosing FG-A. Both loosing data and/or creating too many parts beyond the desired system.

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All I want to do is have all of FG-A through FG-E in one file and FG-F members in a completely different file.

Looking at the different tools I have encountered thus far none have a way to identify and split up the independent trees out of a genealogical database (for simplicity lets just use GEDCOM format).

The GEDCOM utilities identified in other questions like Merging GEDCOMs and some others like GEDSplitter do not have a way to identify these islands and export in the extended tree in their entirety unless I am just missing them or haven't discovered in the sea of the utilities out there.

Once your trees get so large as well that the visualization tools in many applications are also no longer useful for island identification.

How does one go about doing this identification and splitting in an efficient way?

  • 1
    I could tell you how to do this in my preferred (commercial) FH software, but don't know a more generic method.
    – user104
    Commented Sep 1, 2016 at 16:27
  • @ColeValleyGirl If it gets around the trimming and I do not have to select an individual I would be open to hearing how to do it in a commercial program.
    – CRSouser
    Commented Sep 1, 2016 at 16:43
  • 1
    Whichever method you use, always operate on a copy of your main file!
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Sep 2, 2016 at 2:25

1 Answer 1


Family Historian has the facility to show 'Orphans' which are pools of unrelated individuals (each pool has internal relationships to its members).

Combined with the inbuilt query facilities and the 'split tree' capability, you would be able to decompose your GEDCOM into a set of separated GEDCOM files. The method might need refinement to get it exactly right and I recommend the user group to hammer out the details.

I know there are other users of the product here, so they may add other insights.

  • I suspect that's an invite... Feel free to copy whatever is useful into your answer. I'm not too keen on the term "Orphans" as it could get confused with real-world orphans - children who have lost their parents. I prefer to refer simply to Pools. FH Help says: "2 individuals belong to the same pool if they are related to one another directly or indirectly". This is not about blood-relationships - relatives of relatives of relatives will all be put into the same Pool - anyone connected through a series of GEDCOM family records will all be in the same pool - this includes recorded adoptions.
    – AdrianB38
    Commented Sep 3, 2016 at 12:50
  • FH has essentially 2 processes to help. The Export process will define what to export - queries can be constructed to select the exportees, so a pool-based query would seem a good way forward. Then there is a poorly named Split Tree Helper which can be used to delete unwanted records, again as defined by queries. So one big export followed by one or more tightly defined runs of Split Tree Helper on the exported GEDCOM to remove any unwanted stuff is a typical way forward - for me, at least. I'm unclear how to handle any linked media records - never done that myself. Backup, Backup, Backup!
    – AdrianB38
    Commented Sep 3, 2016 at 13:02
  • Sorry - for clarity - you'd need to run the Export process once for each pool if that was how you intended to split. No doubt if you wanted, you could put several 1-person pools into 1 GEDCOM file. Hm. Just thought - Pool number is a transient thing. I presume that if you ran Export on the same GEDCOM file several times, the Pool number of each person would not change. But... That needs checking up.
    – AdrianB38
    Commented Sep 3, 2016 at 13:08

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