by Diahan Southard | Sep 26, 2014 | 01 What's New, Collaborate, Photographs, Trees
Recently we heard from Julie who listens to the podcast overseas. She is weighing the pros and cons of having her online family tree be private or public. Public trees can be searched and viewed by the general public and/or other members of that particular website. Private trees are just that. They are generally only searchable and viewable by individuals who have been invited to see them by the owner.
Julie shares some great observations about what it’s like to work with other tree owners and how it feels when information is freely taken from her–but there is no sharing in return.
On working with other people’s public trees:
“If it wasn’t for [other people’s] trees being public–even the ones with sketchy information–I would not have made contact with distant cousins or made many of the discoveries I have. Some of the dodgy information has helped me to improve my search and analytical skills and I always contact the owner if I have found something that doesn’t ring true (hopefully diplomatically!). Most of the time the tree owners are grateful and we then exchange more information.
When information is copied from my tree I will often contact the person to see how we are related and to see if we might be able to collaborate some more. (I don’t post everything I have on my online databases.) If I get no response it does leave me feeling uncomfortable (especially when it is photos) about having posted the info and it being taken without any communication. I do also contact tree owners when I copy photos or documents, even if it is just to say thank you. Maybe it is because photos are that much more personal.”
On working with private tree owners:
“I find it even more frustrating when someone with a private tree copies things from my public tree without making any contact. This is then exacerbated if I contact them and they don’t respond. Maybe I’m being unreasonable – or maybe I’m missing something. It comes across to me that they are willing to take but not that willing to share. One person I did contact who responded very kindly shared some information with me but was very blunt about the fact they did not want to see any of the information they provided on the internet, yet they had happily taken some of the documents/photo’s I had posted. I found that interesting.”
So…private or public?
“I am now feeling unsure about which is the best way to go as I can see pros and cons about both. In the meantime I have stopped adding media to my online tree, and I’m considering removing some of what I have posted and instead include a note saying if you want the document/photo please contact me. However, I am not convinced about this as I love it when I find photos/documents on other trees.”
Family Tree Etiquette:
I do wish for a more communal genealogy world, in which information is shared freely and all branches of a family tree intertwine themselves in love. Of course that’s not how things are. But I feel like every person who “puts things out there” brings us closer to that ideal.
That said, I admit I’ve copied photos and documents from other people’s trees in the past without contacting them. I didn’t mean to be rude. It just didn’t occur to me to contact them, especially if they clearly weren’t closely related and I had no immediate questions about their sources. But you’re right. Photos feel more personal. In the future I hope I will always remember to send a “thank you” message whenever I snag someone’s images for my tree.
I appreciate Julie’s compromise: she keeps a public presence but encourages others to be respectful and communicative by telling them to contact her for images. You’d likely have to look closely at her tree to find those messages from her, which will reward the most intrepid researchers. Beginning or more casual researchers might miss her invitation and therefore an opportunity to collaborate.
For everyone, whether to post a private v. public tree comes down to our priorities. Do we most want to meet distant relatives? Collaborate with other branches of the family to learn the most possible about our shared past? If so, public trees are the way to go. If personal or family privacy is paramount (especially if your tree holds family secrets that aren’t ready to share), or the research is still very tentative, make it a private tree.
You may even split things up: have public trees when you’re reaching out to others and private ones when you’re not. Lisa says if she had to do it all over again, she would not upload her entire tree but just the “trunk,” or her direct-line ancestors. (Lisa always keeps her master tree on her home computer, not in online genealogy databases over which she has no control.)
Whether your own trees are public or private, Julie’s thoughts are a good reminder about using our best manners when communicating with other tree owners. Here at Genealogy Gems, we do believe in the value of collaborating on your genealogy. In fact, we ran a series of posts on how to collaborate. Check out the first one here! And we have a brand new free video on using the free program Evernote to share your sources.
by Lisa Cooke | Feb 12, 2015 | 01 What's New, FamilySearch, Kids, Libraries, Memory Lane, Mobile, Oral History, Photographs, RootsTech, Technology
Wouldn’t it be great if you could bring your loved ones to a state-of-the art, museum-quality interactive exhibit that introduces them to their own family history?
Now you can! A “prototype” FamilySearch Discovery Center was unveiled yesterday in downtown Salt Lake City in conjunction with RootsTech 2015. Visitors are handed a tablet computer and sent around to seven stations. At each they dock their tablet, which has their FamilySearch login programmed, and experience different aspects of history with their own family history data.
You can see your family’s international migration through the generations; superimpose yourself in historical costumes from several nations; check out the history and popularity of your first and last names; and enter a “time machine” with 3D historical re-creations of ancestral kitchens throughout the years. One of my favorite stations was one I almost skipped: the personal history interview in a private booth. You choose your life season, from child to senior, and a virtual interviewer appears on the screen and asks you a series of questions, which are recorded. All the data is later buy medication canada sent to you through your FamilySearch/email accounts.
For now you can only experience this in Salt Lake City. But this exhibit is meant to be replicated in major venues, and indeed has been booked for at least two so far in Seattle and Philadelphia, says FamilySearch CEO Dennis Brimhall. He chatted with me as I toured and confirmed that they are experimenting with this exhibit in different sizes and scales. He hopes to see versions of the FamilySearch Discovery Center one day in museums, libraries, archives, and heritage centers around the world. “We haven’t done a really good job of bridging the general public into family history,” he admitted. This exhibit concept is a big step toward changing that.
As for myself, I love what they’re doing. I would love even more to see them customized for regional audiences, which it sounds like is part of the plan. If you’re in Salt Lake, it’s absolutely worth checking out. Just bring your relatives–preferably the ones who are now the LEAST interested in family history!
by Lisa Cooke | Mar 1, 2015 | 01 What's New, Apps, Genealogy Gems Podcast, iPad, Mobile, Smartphones
The Genealogy buy threadworm medication Gems App lets you listen to the Genealogy Gems podcast on your mobile device which is great. But there are more specific reasons to use the app over just listening online or using iTunes.
Recently I heard from podcast listener Kay, who wondered about listening to the podcast on her phone without using data in places where she doesn’t have wifi (like the gym).
My answer to her: use the app! By default, it streams the episodes via an Internet connection. However, if you tap the star for an episode, you will download the episode. Then you can listen to it offline.
The Genealogy Gems app turns 5 years old this month and continues to offer even more great perks like:
- Stream episodes from anywhere
- Receive updates with the latest episodes and an archived back catalog
- Playback resume (when interrupted by a call or other distraction)
- Access exclusive extras like PDFs, Wallpapers, and Bonus Content
- Quickly access all the contact methods for the show
- With the iOS version (compatible for iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone, you can follow the show on Twitter
- On iPhone, there’s a call-in audio comment feature (We LOVE when listeners leave comments and questions!)
Click here to get the Genealogy Gems app for Apple, Android and Windows devices.
by Lisa Cooke | Apr 23, 2015 | 01 What's New, 1950, Brick Wall, Research Skills
When we try to research our family history from recent decades, we often find privacy barriers: U.S. census records for 1950 and beyond
1950s Fords by Bob P.B. on Flickr Creative Commons. Some rights reserved.
are closed, as are many vital records. Here are some ideas for finding family history in the 1950s and beyond:
1. Interview relatives. The good news is that in many families, there are relatives around who remembers the 1950s. If there’s not, then look to the memories of the next living generation.
Interviewing a relative is one of the most fun and meaningful ways to learn your family history. You can ask specific and personal questions, deepen your relationships with those you interview and gain a better understanding of the lives that led to you. Older people often love to have someone take a sincere interest in them. The free Family History Made Easy podcast episode 2 has a great segment on interviewing your relatives.
2. Read the newspaper. Use newspapers to find obituaries and discover more about daily life, current events, popular opinions of the time, prices for everyday items and more. It’s getting easier than ever to find and search digitized newspapers online, but more recent papers may still be under copyright protection.
Use online resources like to discover what newspapers served your family’s neighborhood, or even whether an ethnic, labor or religious press would have mentioned them. In the US, I always start with the US Newspaper Directory at Chronicling America to search for ALL newspapers published in a particular place and time, as well as the names of libraries or archives that have copies of these papers. Historical societies and local public libraries are also wonderful places to look for newspapers. My book, How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers, teaches readers what to look for in papers and how to locate them online and offline.
3. Search city directories. By the 1950s, most towns and cities published directories of residents, mostly with telephone numbers. I use annual directory listings to track buy generic medication online families from year to year. These might give you your first clue that someone moved, married, separated, divorced or died! I can often find their exact street address (great for mapping!), who lived at the house and sometimes additional information like where they worked, what their job was or who they worked for.
Ancestry.com has over a billion U.S. city directory entries online, up to 1989. But most other online city directory collections aren’t so recent. Look for city directories first in hometown public libraries. Check with larger regional or state libraries and major genealogical libraries.
4. Search for historical video footage. YouTube isn’t just for viral cat videos. Look there for old newsreels, people’s home movies and other vintage footage. It’s not unusual to find films showing the old family neighborhood, a school or community function, or other footage that might be relevant to your relatives.
Use the YouTube search box like you would the regular Google search box. Enter terms like “history,” “old,” “footage,” or “film” along with the names, places or events you hope to find. For example, the name of a parade your relative marched in, a team he played on, a company she worked for, a street he lived on and the like. It’s hit and miss, for sure, but sometimes you can find something very special.
My Contributing Editor Sunny Morton tried this tip. Almost immediately, with a search on the name of her husband’s ancestral hometown and the word “history,” she found a 1937 newsreel with her husband’s great-grandfather driving his fire truck with his celebrity dog! She recognized him from old photos and had read about his dog in the newspapers. (Click here to read her stunned post.) Learn more about searching for old videos in my all-new second edition of The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, which has a totally updated chapter on YouTube.
Click here to read more about the 1950s U.S. census: when it will be out and how you can work around its privacy restrictions.