Let’s Talk About…. Online Family Trees-Part 1

Is there such a thing as One World Tree? One tree that documents every ancestor back to……. well, as far as records exist. Those advocating a One World Tree believe (as do I) that we’re all children of God and therefore we are related. Somehow. Somewhere in time. But the information on those 20th generation ancestors is beyond our ken and our reach, isn’t it? 

Let’s talk practicality. Ask yourself these questions: 

  • How far back can I, or do I want, to find (and document) my ancestors??
  • Aren’t we mostly happy if we can find records back into the 1500s? That’s 20 generations, a million names! Can we keep track of a million ancestors? Can we know a million ancestors? I think not. I cannot!
  • Do we really care what path other genealogists might choose to pursue?
  • What do know about the last 5 generations of ancestors? (That’s nearly 200 years!) Isn’t that the point of doing family history…. to get to know at least something of an ancestor’s life and times? 

Once those questions have been answered in your mind, consider these:

  • Do I want to share my tree/information or keep it (safely) to myself?
  • Back 200 years (or more) are those folks just your ancestors? Hardly. 
  • Besides, how many answers have I gained for my family tree/ancestors from others?? Isn’t sharing really the best option?
  • Lisa Louise Cooke (FamilyTreeMagazine, May/June 2022) advocated YES for sharing but to “keep the heart of our genealogy at home….. a master family tree of your family tree, built on your own computer, is the key to securing your family history now and for generations to come.” 
  • While I greatly respect Lisa Louise, I puzzle her answer. Just keep my tree on my computer? What if my computer crashes/floods/burns in a fire…… and I’ve not kept backups regularly? And/or shared them with family? All will be lost
  • Everything I’ve read, and from all the genealogy/tech gurus, say this: DO have an online tree, do keep it backed up in multiple places, and DO keep your tree in a home computer program on your own computer. 
  • Puzzle and ponder your answer to these questions and “problems”………… Part 2 next time. 

2 comments on “Let’s Talk About…. Online Family Trees-Part 1

  1. Jody Phillips Pellatt says:

    Wikitree also believes in one tree I was asked to merge my Lorenzo Dow Phillips and Thomas Phillips Wikitree sites. Lorenzo is buried in Colfax Washington. So our family knows about him. The census says he came west with his father Thomas Phillips but we do not know where he is buried.
    Census and Lorenzo records say he was born in Saratoga Springs New York. The census report Thomas also was also born there.

    Now I am linked to a whole new tree. BUT. they want Ydna to prove we are on the correct branch of the Phillips family. Good news It is just not pick a family as on Ancestry. No proof just name and some dates match. Problem my branch is all females and so I have found one male who is unwilling, but a little interested. Found one more but reads his email once a year and I have not asked yet.

    Ydna is important in our search. I am up to 1796 in Smithfield, Rhode Island. A long way from pioneers in Washington State.

  2. I love online trees, and do most of my initial research in Ancestry because I have access to both my DNA and lots of records. When confident in basic facts, I ensure that they are also in The FamilySearch Family Tree *correctly* and with all the available FS records connected to their profiles. That should become ever easier as more of their digitized records become fully searchable.
    Finally, I use the FS records as the sourcing for Wikitree profiles. I *love* Wikitree and the emphasis there on collaboration, proper sourcing and high quality profiles.
    And of course I have copies of my online trees on my own computer in my own software, but what will last? The write-ups I do for my ancestors, and that can live on Wikitree.

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