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.
Early registration for the 35th International Conference on Jewish Genealogy (IAJGS) has been extended through Wednesday May 6, 2015, to accommodate those enjoying Passover season.
The Preliminary Program is now posted at the IAJGS 2015 website under the “Program” tab. The schedule will become interactive after Passover. Highlights:
- Speakers and registrants hail from round the globe representing 20 nations to date including New Zealand, American Samoa, the Americas, Africa and all of Europe.
- The keynote speaker will be Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, one of the most prominent figures in Israeli society today. A child survivor of the Holocaust, Rabbi Lau is an outstanding activist and orator. He will bring a message to genealogists reinforcing the value of their work researching individuals and families.
- Dick Eastman will be speaking at the closing Banquet. In the mid-1980s, Eastman pioneered one of the first online Genealogy Forums, which has grown from a circulation of 100 to more than 60,000 genealogists.
- Other events include the Shabbaton, Exploration Sunday, Breakfast with the Experts, SIG Luncheons and Banquet. PRE-CONFERENCE SHABBATON on the Friday-Saturday, July 3 – 4 weekend preceding the Conference, followed by an UNFORGETTABLE “EXPLORATION SUNDAY” on July 5.
Click here to visit the conference website for full details on this momentous anniversary conference in Jerusalem. are on the conference website.
More and more people are blogging about their family history. Here’s why!
When it comes right down to it, many of us want to write up our family stories, but we don’t really want to write or publish a 300-page book. Blogging your family history in short snippets is a perfect alternative! Why?
1. Its shorter, flexible format is much less intimidating for many people. You don’t have to lay out a book or fill hundreds of pages. You can write a little bit at a time, as your time and mood permit.
2. A blog is like your own family history message board. Every word you write is searchable by Google–which means others researching the same family lines can find and connect with you.
3. A family history blog can help bust your toughest brick wall. I’ve heard and shared countless stories here at Genealogy Gems from readers and listeners of how just “putting it out there” on a blog led to someone contacting them with a treasure trove of new information about their family tree.
4. Writing a narrative about your research will help you identify gaps in your research. Sometimes errors or bad assumptions you made will jump out at you.
5. Your kids and grandkids are (or will be) online. They will more likely want to read quick and easy stories on the go on their smart phones and tablets. Putting your research out there on a blog provides them with an easy way to digest the family heritage and subscribe to it, since blogs can be delivered to their email inbox or to a blog reader.
6. Because there are no excuses. You can start a blog for free. There are no rules, so you can decide how often and how much you write at once.
7. If you leave the blog online, it will still be there even when you’re not actively blogging. You will continue to share–and you may continue to attract relatives to it.
Start a family history blog with this free series from our Family History Made Easy podcast (an online radio show)
Part 1: What to Consider when Starting a Genealogy Blog. The “Footnote Maven,” author of two popular blogs, talks about the process of starting a genealogy blog. She gives great tips for thinking up your own approach, finding a unique niche, commenting on other people’s blogs and more.
Part 2: Insights from Popular Genealogy Bloggers. We hear from two additional popular genealogy bloggers, Denise Levenick (author of The Family Curator and alter ego of “Miss Penny Dreadful” on the Shades of the Departed blog) and Schelly Tallalay Dardashti (author of the Tracing the Tribe blog).
Part 3: Step by Step on Blogger.com. How to create your own free family history blog on Blogger.com. Learn tricks for designing a simple, useful blog and how NOT to overdo it!
Final tips: Wrap-up and inspiration. In this concluding episode, learn how to add a few more gadgets and details to your blog; pre-plan your blog posts, publish your first article, and how to help your readers subscribe. You’ll also get great tips on how to create genealogy content that others looking for the same ancestors can find easily online.
SHARE! Invite someone you know to start a family history blog by sending them this post. They’ll thank you for it later!
One of my favorite features on MyHeritage family websites is the family events calendar. This calendar automatically populates itself with living relatives’ birthdays and wedding anniversaries. In addition to giving you a streaming calendar feed, you also get helpful reminders of how old that person is turning or which anniversary it is.
As you can see from the image on the right, you can also post new family events: graduations, showers, weddings, and reunions (from a last-minute picnic to a full-scale gathering).
Now you can get those event reminders sent directly to your mobile phone. MyHeritage says, “Enable this feature by going to Account > My profile > Edit site preferences > Family event reminders. Choose the option to recieve reminders via Text Message (SMS) and enter your phone number to start getting reminders of your loved ones’ big days.”
I always wanted to be more like my Uncle John and Aunt Deb, who remember all family birthdays with cute cards in the mail. (Thank you for that!) But I haven’t been organized enough over the years. Sending event reminders to my phone can prompt me to take baby steps forward: to Facebook my cousins when their young children have birthdays, remember important anniversary years and not have to count on my fingers to know how old my brother is turning this year!
Are you heading to NGS this week along with us and thousands of others? Download the NGS app if you haven’t already. This free, multi-event app will work for all current and future conferences of the National Genealogical Society (U.S.).
According to conference organizers, the NGS 2015 app can “help you make the most of your trip to St. Charles before, during and after the conference.” They recommend attendees begin using it now “so you can plan and improve your conference experience.” But the app will continue to be viable in the future as they add additional events to it.
- The Dashboard to keep you organized with up-to-the-minute information
- About the NGS 2015 Family History Conference to keep all conference information in one place
- Alerts of important real-time communications from NGS
- Twitter feed to follow and join in on the conference can you buy medication online from canada chatter. The Twitter hashtag is #NGS2015GEN.
You can also
- Sync your schedule across multiple devices
- Locate exhibitors you plan to visit
- Access a list of Local Places based on Category
- Connect, message, and share schedules with your colleagues through the Friends feature
- Link to syllabus material for each lecture, which will be available about 29 April 2015
The NGS Conference App is available for iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone, and web-enabled devices. Click here to download or search your app store for NGS Family History Conferences.
Are you new to attending a big genealogy conference? Click here to find a video that will help you know what to expect, how to prepare and how to get the most out of attending a conference.