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Publishing Your Family Tree Online

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There are a growing number of online websites which encourage publication of personal family trees on their web space. If the researcher doesn't mind the ads that appear with each page, this is a good way to publish a family tree for free. These sites have search engines so that information can be easily found. Some sites now have millions of family trees, and their goal is to list everyone in the world who ever lived. They can be a valuable resourse for finding distant cousins, especially if they list an email contact address, and are well-documented. The person uploading the family trees is responsible for supplying the information and documentation, so quality may vary from tree to tree. Make sure to check the date the information was uploaded, as the information could be several years old, or uploaded within the past few months. Writing to the genealogist who uploaded the tree for their most recent information and possible connections to one's family is highly recommended.

Privacy Concerns with Online Data

Because of the problems with identiy theft, it is common practice to not post the information of living persons on these family tree sites. Usually most software programs which make the file you upload (called a gedcom), will allow to to set a date beyond which people are listed only as "living". Currently, the recommended date is around 1920, but if there areee living family members born before 1920 in the family tree, the date can be set to an earlier time.

Online Family Trees

Here are some sites to which you can search for and upload your family trees. Please follow the online instructions at each site:

  1. WIKITREE - After many decades of research, I have found that wikitree.com is the best place to post your online family tree. There is no cost to place your tree on wikitree and it is always free to access. In addition, wikitree maintains high standards of accuracy, and encourages the merging of duplicate profiles for each individual. Together, thousands of genealogists help each other with online collaboration in building one global family tree. sourced and catagorized and easy to search online with google.You can find out more information at https://www.wikitree.com/

Other Online Family Trees of Varying Quality

  1. Rootsweb World Connect Family Tree at Ancestry.com - Millions of trees and surnames, This site is no longer updated and sometimes the information posted is unavailable or hard to find or out of date. It was a great site ten years ago.
  2. FamilySearch.org - LDS Mormon huge family tree database. Muliple trees may exist for the same family, with varying information. Some trees are better sources than others. The software is interesting to use, but be sure to double check the accuracy of the information by using primary source documentation.

FamilyTreeMaker.com - Commercial site that is subscrption based and works with Family Tree Maker software. Years ago, their trees were also offered on cdroms that came with the software, but they have outgrown that option. You still might find researchers who have these old cdroms which might have some valuable information for you without a subscription.

  1. Geni.com - unsourced family trees sometimes have accurate information you can use to give you a hint who to look for in primary source documentation.
  2. Geneanet - this site is usually in French but some profiles are in English or other languages. It can be very helpful for French genealogy, but is not always well-sourced. Multiple profiles may exist for the same person and often in multiple languages. I have found it helpful for researching my Alsace ancestors and their ancestors from Switzerland.
  3. Ancestry.com - offers a place to post your family tree online for those that pay a subscription fee. You will be charged a montly fee to access your family tree, but there are links to good sources. Those sources are not shareable with gedcoms as the links only work when you are logged into your ancestry account. Ancestry is an interesting, but expensive way to research and publish your family online.

Data Mining Family Trees from Online Databases

Because online family tree sites are so popular for genealogists, there is a lot of information available, even if the patron does not chose to upload your family tree. A researcher can use their search engine, find possible ancestors, copy and paste to a word processing file or the notes section of their computer's genealogy database. One needs to be careful to note the source of any information collected that way, and to carefully compare it with what you know about your family. Some of the information posted may be inaccurate, incomplete, or misleading. But much of it is very good. Again, contacting the person who uploaded the information for verification and clarification is always best. And the researcher might end up with a new cousins as well who can help with that line. Sometimes these contacts will have pictures and other data not uploaded to share as well.

Important Notice

The thing to remember is the data posted is on any website is only as good as the research done, and the researcher who posted it. Always verify any information you find in an online family tree by checking primary source documentation when available.

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This page written and designed by Sharon Troy Centanne

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