18 March 2014

Online Family Trees

Since I came back to researching my roots I instantly found that the Internet has greatly expanded the reach of the genealogist.  Numerous paid online sites such as Ancestry, MyHeritage, and Geneanet allow subscribers to search and access their holdings for genealogical gold.  These sites and other web pages also allow their users to upload family trees for either public or private viewing.  These online family trees have both pros and cons to them.

I use all of the above mentioned sites.  My family information is public except for the data on living people.  I will not publicize any vital data on any of my living relatives.  My online tree is public so that I can easily share my information with anyone researching the same families or individuals.  Hopefully my available info will prompt another researcher to contact me.  Some researchers call this "cousin baiting."  Data is posted and other genealogists find it and then contact the tree owner.   I do this to lure other researchers to my tree and perhaps we find common ancestors/relatives and then we can collaborate.  So far I have been successful finding other cousins who are also researching their lines.  Using the MyHeritage site, I have found numerous cousins in the Netherlands who are researching the same lines as myself.  This was accomplished with their "smart matches."

At the same time using the same online sites can have cons also.  The biggest con that I have found is incorrect data on the Internet.  New genealogists need to realize that just because they found their ancestor on the Internet does not make the new found data correct.  The information definitely could be but not always.  There is a lot of misinformation on the Net.  Aside from obviously wrong data such as a child being born well after the death of his/her mother,  I have seen other people's data on websites and they list their ancestors under nicknames.  Perhaps they did not know their ancestor's real name?

Unsourced information is another dilemma on the Net.  Where did the researcher find this information? Did the info come from a marriage record, census record, bible record, or an interview? Another genealogist may want to recheck the record for accuracy or look for other information that might have been missed.

On Ancestry I found incorrect data on some of my ancestors on other researcher's trees.  I contacted the owner's of these trees to explain their error.  Some individuals were very glad to correct their data.  Others simply have ignored my notes to them and the wrong data stays in cyberspace for others to find.  Unfortunately no one except the tree owner can correct or remove the data.

Another dilemma that I have read about and have experience with is other researchers taking your data without giving credit to the original researcher.  On blogs and forums that I read, some researchers are vehement about not posting their family tree online for fear that someone may take their information and use it as their own.  I do not fear that issue.  I welcome anyone to view and use my data.  It would be nice if they did give credit to me in their work; but if they  do not so be it.  I posted many photos of my ancestors on Ancestry and I have been notified numerous times that another user attached my photo to their tree.  I am glad when this occurs but always question myself as to why these people do not contact me for more information.

I have not dealt with this issue yet but I have heard that it can be difficult to delete your online tree on certain sites.  I do not understand why it would be difficult to do this? But that is what I have read.  If I were to guess; perhaps their subscription expired and now they want to remove their tree.  Without having a current account, I would not expect a subscription site to let someone update the account.  I believe that if the account is valid then the user should be able to alter, change, or delete the information at will.  Perhaps I am wrong?


  1. Hi Chris - I think you are the Chris White that I have met you at the library when your girls were small, I think my husband Joe Alexander and your father worked together, and play golf together you also have your Beer Garden"
    I am Joan C. Lasch Alexander - If you are interested I would share any info you might be interested.
    I found you when I was researching Margareth Lasch Koreman and her Husband Henry Lasch. at the Holy Cross Church.
    There are a lot of Lasch and Alexander's buried in Holy Cross Cemetery, I have a lot about the Lasch family, lots of newspaper articles etc.
    If you are interested I would be glad to see if I have any info you are searching. Lasch, Alexander, Koreman,
    Joan Alexander -

  2. Hi Joan, yes you have the correct Chris White. I am back researching the tree. Yes, I will contact you ASAP because I have a Koreman/Lasch question. If you need any info on the Koreman's just send me an email. Thanks - Chris