Genealogy Rant

I have been active genealogist for most of my life. Early in the piece I would use all manner of software, including Family Tree Maker etc. But as my interests moved on from compiling extensive lists and gedcom files, to being more about the story, I haven’t bothered so much with that kind of approach anymore. Oh, and I absolutely abhor Ancestry.com for the way in which genealogy has been commodified and paywalled, and a brief flirtation with it, refuse to use it on principle.

But after last weekend’s big family reunion, and in an effort to leave behind some “lists” I went looking online, and decided to revisit familysearch.org where you can now upload information, and link with family trees in a non-commercial manner (though noting the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has a different agenda in relation to family trees).

The thing I hated most in linking up with existing family trees there? Clearly someone has just gone through a cut and paste process of other people’s work (including very obviously my own) and then got it horribly wrong. The name Ellen was written down as Eileen (several times). The mother’s maiden name was inserted as the child’s name in a very adhoc manner. The list of errors appalled me. And I’m guessing it was all about compiling a big list of names, rather than being an accurate source of information. Sorry, familysearch, you’re not the answer.

I’m sticking with jamesobrien.blog/genealogy

Other suggestions appreciated, though noting I prefer an online solution, as I mostly use a Chromebook, so not looking for more software to download.

  1. I am in a quandary about genealogy. I began with Geni, and copied about half to Ancestry but I didn’t like its business model. Familysearch might be the way to go. I just know someone has pretty well done my family tree, but I can’t find it unless I pay to look.

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    1. The most interesting tool, I’ve found, Andrew is https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/?q= as it contains death notices, marriage notices, and in my family’s case court appearances, which makes the story so much more interesting than a bunch of names.

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  2. Hi I am married to a decendant. Similar with my own family history. There is a version a relative has made that has a lot of inaccuracies, however my brother has used source documents to verify possible connections and actual connections when compiling the tree. If you have the source documents and look for consistencies in dates and names rather than making assumptions- this includes copying others work without verification, you will have a more robust document. The tree was compiled as a word document adding drawing tools of boxs and lines. That way you can ensure only the people that are family access your personal information.

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  3. Janet Flemming May 28, 2018 at 10:41

    wikitree is free and a grand idea … everyone helps everyone else and the idea is not to duplicate but to merge into one big tree

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    1. Awesome suggestion. I will use it.

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  4. Love that beautiful scene, above, where on the right side, two yet unclothed trees evoke a path, to the road unknown. I found it best, not to start with other’s trees. They were already in print so the head fake said they had merit. I posted my stuff to Excel, but writing the story as I went, helped expose paths that made no sense.

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  5. I believe, as an IT professional, that any genealogy site, should be used as a tool to aid research. Any information garnered by their algorithms, needs to be evaluated for accuracy. They are suggestions to be verified or discarded. I feel, many people believe the computer does all the work for them. This is a fallacy. As genealogists, we must use many tools and resources to discover source records and documents. It is these we must evaluate. I use many genealogy sites. I just happen to use Ancestry to record my family tree and source records. Thank you for this interesting blog. A warning for all of us not to rely on IT.

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  6. I also use Ancestry to record my ancestors on a private tree and source records . Looking at other people’s trees MAY give some good information but usually reveals that too many people are duplicating the mistakes of others. Every record must be checked carefully to make sure it is for the individual and not someone else. It must be checked to make sure the transcription is correct – all too often there is an error with the name, date or a ‘baptism’ may be really a burial! Time consuming but worth the effort. Linking to other people’s trees a la Geni – no thanks!!

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