November 23, 2014

Ancestry, Genealogy Programs and Online Trees

Family Trees: Online, Or On Your Computer?

Recently, a genealogy novice asked the question, “Which is better, a genealogy program, or having your family file strictly online?” While in my opinion I believe in using a genealogy program, the fairly recent availability of free online family trees on Ancestry might be confusing to beginners.

  • Genealogy programs, no matter which one, give the genealogist the freedom to add names, dates and additional information from other records and printed documents.
  • You can work at your own pace with no ads or loss of privacy.  Some programs like Family Tree Maker allow you to search on Ancestry right from the name of the person you’re researching.  Results are then more likely to be accurate because you’ve given ‘rich’ search keys [to Ancestry] if the name, dates and locations are filled in almost completely.
  • Genealogy programs usually have a backup feature built in so that you don’t lose data you’ve just input, and a secondary backup to deliberately (“save as…”) backup the whole family file before closing the program.

I do have my family trees online, but in a (sort of) limited way.  I uploaded my GEDCOM’s after first making sure they were privatized.  Privatizing does just what it says, it privatizes the personal information of anyone in your files who is living.

Never Put It All Online

You’ve heard the old saying, “Never put all your eggs in one basket”, right?  While I like working with my family trees online, I do it mainly to share them, and the documents I find in Ancestry with family who may not have total access to the site.  It’s an abbreviated version of what I have in my main file on my computer.

When I find a document or photo on Ancestry I save it to the person in the tree, and download the same file for my records.  Extra work, yes a little bit, but sharing is more important to me than a little extra clicking and “mousing”.

So, to sum it up for those new to genealogy, please don’t put all your family tree(s)  just online on a genealogy site.  If that site goes away for some reason, so does all your hard work.

Finding a genealogy program that works for you should be considered an investment.  You have decided to compile your family history and it’s important to get it as accurate and easy to understand as possible.  Serious genealogists use a genealogy program. At least in my opinion.

Ancestry.com Ends The Name Confusion

Ancestry Cha-cha-changes

I was very happy to get an email today saying that Ancestry.com will now be the name of the parent company for all of their genealogical products and services.  For two many years now we have been having to explain that Family Tree Maker is owned by Generations Network, or that Rootsweb was now Ancestry. It was confusing to me, and I’m sure, confusing to many other people. Especially those who are just joining one of the sites.

THE GENERATIONS NETWORK BECOMES ANCESTRY.COM

PROVO, UTAH – July 6, 2009 – The Generations Network, the world’s leading online family history resource, today announced that it is changing its name to Ancestry.com effective immediately.

“Our company has a long and fascinating history, and we’ve been through several name changes over the years. But we started with Ancestry.com, and it now feels completely natural to let our company once again share the Ancestry.com brand with our flagship product,” said Tim Sullivan, CEO, Ancestry.com. “We’re proud that Ancestry.com has developed as the defining online brand associated with family history. Alongside Ancestry.com, we will continue to support our other brands, including Family Tree Maker, myfamily.com, MyCanvas, Rootsweb, Genealogy.com, Jiapu.com and of course, our international Ancestry sites.”

Are they FREE or FEE?

What I would like to see on the Ancestry site is tabs for all the brand products or services, but denote which ones are free or you have to pay a fee. I think many people would like to know if adding their online family tree is something free they can do, even though Ancestry.com is noted for being a fee-based site.

They have been doing a great job of making the landing page  more friendly and personal, I’ll give ‘em that.  Right now, the way to get to any of the other sites is to go way down on the bottom of the front page and click on “other Generations Network sites” and a drop down menu appears. I’ll give them time on that though if they are consolidating.

MyFamily Confusion With Old And New Sites

MyFamily choices

MyFamily button

Years ago, when I first subscribed to Ancestry, they had free MyFamily sites. I had two of them in those days: Yates and Allied Families, and Wilkerson and Allied Families.  I happily added tons of census records, photos, and any other sundry that pertained to our history.

Then, MyFamily decided this was a pretty lucrative deal and they began charging for what initially had been free.  Their sweetened offer now though was more storage space, so I signed on at $29.95 a year for both sites. Generous family members chipped in, and we continued on for a few more years.  This seemed like a good way to create a ‘repository’ of sorts for each group’s records. More than once my cousins and Jim’s were able to recover pictures when their computer’s failed them.

Skip ahead to present day. I had let my subscriptions lapse when I knew that our income would be tighter after Jim retired. The sites were still there, but ‘dormant’. Recently, since I had some new information and contacts, I created a new site named Old Bordeaux Washington in tribute to the little logging town in which my parents had grown up.  As a paid site, it has its own site address, making it much easier to find.

Admittedly, I’m not the sharpest knife in the bulb drawer, but it is is almost infuriatingly complicated to have TWO MyFamily ‘generation’ choices:

MyFamily choices

Even if I have paid and free sites, and old and new ones, I would just like to be able to universally login to them all! Is that too much to ask? No, but in order to do so I have to migrate my old sites to the new format. Granted, not impossible, but definitely tiresome. Oh, and I have to admit, I am just a teensy bit scared of doing it because I’m afraid if I try it I’ll lose all the info on the old sites.  Whoever said doing genealogy was easy?

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Questions For Interviewing Your Grandchildren

 

Clear and calm tropical dream beach (Hawaii)

 

In a couple months we’ll be going to California to visit our kids and grandkids. We haven’t seen them in person since 2007, but we do talk on the phone now and then.  One of the things I agonize about is we don’t really ‘know‘ our older grandkids as far as every day conversations are concerned.  As for the youngest, she is seventeen months old and we haven’t even met her yet.

I wonder about their hopes, dreams, values, etc., and today I found some questions that I might want to ask them.  I found them on The Legacy Project site so they’re not some I thought of personally.  Of course, anything would have to be age appropriate or applicable, but these can be modified or amended for my needs or yours.

I’ve saved them in a Word document so you can use them too. Enjoy!

Grandchild Interview

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