Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Do You Ever Wonder Who Else Might Be Researching Your Ancestor?

I think that we all have that question in our heads - and this one:  "If there are other genealogists who are researching this ancestor, why haven't they contacted me?"  But then I realize, "You know, I haven't tried to find them either!"

I decided today to see how many other persons have researched my 4th great-grandfather, Humphrey White (1757-1814), whom I profiled in my post 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 73: #88 Humphrey White (1757-1814) (22 May 2015).  If someone Googled [ Humphrey White Glocester ], they would likely see several of my family tree and blog post contributions to the genealogy library:

Using the Google results, I looked at:

1)  Geni.com - the Humphrey White profile is managed by three persons, myself and two others:

2)  WikiTree - the Humphrey White profile is managed by myself, and no one has asked to be on the Trusted List:

3)  MyHeritage Trees - the Humphrey White profile in my tree has 17 Smart Matches - 10 other persons with him in their tree (there are some folks with more than one duplicate tree).  All of them seem to have essentially the same information about birth, death, marriage, spouse, parents, children. I have confirmed all 17 matches, but only one other person has confirmed the match with me.

4)  Ancestry.com - There are 129 Public Ancestry Member Trees (including mine) and 21 Private Ancestry Member Trees with a Humphrey White (1758 MA-1814 RI), with wife Sibel Kirby, profile.  I think that some users have more than one tree here.

5)  RootsWeb WorldConnect - There are 22 different trees on WorldConnect that have Humphrey White (1758 MA-1814 RI) with wife Kirby; some submitters have more than one tree.  I don't have a tree here.

6)  FamilySearch Family Tree - the Humphrey White (1758-1814) profile has many additions and changes - FamilySearch added many events back in 2012, and I have added and edited quite a few items.  One other person merged two profiles of one of the daughters of Humphrey White.  

7)  There are probably other online family trees with a profile for Humphrey White, but the ones above are the biggest separate and collaborative family tree websites.  Have I missed any other large online trees that I can access?

There may be websites created by researchers that include Humphrey White, and those can be found using a web search.  

8)  In conclusion, there are at least 190 other researchers who have Humphrey White in their online family trees.  Now, not all of those persons are descendants of Humphrey White, so they may not have much information about him.  But my guess is that there's at least 10 and perhaps as many as 40 researchers with online tree data who are descendants of Humphrey White.  

The challenge is to try to contact them and determine their interest in exchanging information.  Should I wait for them to contact me?  Perhaps I should do some reviewing of the other persons trees (for example, I can use Geni.com to tell me that one of the managers is a 5th cousin once removed) and contact those who are descendants of Humphrey White.

What would you do?  Have you tried to do something like this?  And then there are the other hundreds of ancestors with descendants in these trees.  I could spend all of my time doing this and run the risk of not getting much information in return.

The URL for this post is:  http://www.geneamusings.com/2015/05/do-you-ever-wonder-who-else-might-be.html

Copyright (c) 2015, Randall J. Seaver

Please comment on this post on the website by clicking the URL above and then the "Comments" link at the bottom of each post.  Or contact me by email at randy.seaver@gmail.com.


Geolover said...

Your method is likely to turn up nearly all who had any interest at all in your target person. "Researching" is quite a different matter, given how many trees' data is just copied from other trees. There also may be quite a few who, like you, have trees on multiple sites with the same data for X person in each.

For most of my kindred, it is unlikely that more than one or two persons have done any research at all, and I know who they are and have been in touch with them.

Occasionally someone unknown to me does get in touch about mutual interests, sending me back material I had posted years ago.

Diane Gould Hall said...

Interesting subject today Randy. I have wondered the same thing. I've never gone through and looked at all the various sites. I have one private and 3 public trees on Ancestry (with different goals in each one). I do have a tree on family search, but have never edited it or worked with it. That's all I have out there. I will say that my blog has worked as cousin bait quite successfully since I began doing regular posts a little over 18 months ago. I have now had to develop a system for keeping track of which person/cousin is connected to which ancestor. I use Evernote for that purpose. I would like to be more knowledgable about DNA matches, but have failed miserably in regards to that. Something I hope to correct this summer.
I may try entering a few of my folks in Google and see what pops up. I have done his in the past and most of what I saw was from my own work.
Good work!

Anonymous said...

I do this all the time. Although I do utilize Google searches, my primary method is searching through Ancestry member trees. Like anything, you get better with practice at being able to separate the wheat from the chaff. I've been able to make some very beneficial connections in this way. It all started as a result of my taking a DNA test. I had no matches at all to my Y-DNA test, even at just the twelve marker level. My thought was that I could sit back and wait for a potential match (knowing someone else who waited five years for their first match), or I could take the initiative and seek out other people. After having success in finding other potential testers, and being able to verify I was on the right track with my research when the tests came back as a match, I expanded my efforts to include locating other cousins through Ancestry. Much of the information, along with many of the stories and photos, I would likely never have come across any other way. My experience has been that most genealogy researchers are very happy and thankful to have you contact them to compare research. I have not considered it to be wasted time and effort on my part.

As a side note, I was very excited when I saw the first result in your screenshot, as that is an ancestor of mine and I thought we might be related in some way other than through the Seaver line. Unfortunately, it turns out your are looking for White rather than Whiita (eventually becoming Wade), and I don't currently know of any White connections in my line, unfortunately.

IsraelP said...

One of my favorite tools at JewishGen.org ids their Family Findar - http://www.jewishgen.org/jgff/ . You register the names of interest and the appropriate geography and you can see who else is doing the same names. It has a D-M Soundex feature and tells you when the other researchers last logged in so you know if they are active or not. They list full contact information for those who give permission, but there is also a contact form which allows you to drop notes to the other researchers without knowing who they are.

You can also searcxh by town name for anyone.

Marian said...

I have contacted people who have posted trees on Ancestry, WorldConnect, and FamilySearch that seemed to be, umm, outliers? Ones that had dates, places, relatives that the others don't have. Ones that have sources and images! Ones that seem to show active research.

Don't you wish that Ancestry would display a date-of-last-update for each person in a tree, so that we could see where a "fact" originated among the many trees?

I suppose I get about a 25% response rate, but almost never on FamilySearch. Frequently the people who do respond are stuck on the same questions that I have, but fairly often they have new information on a branch of the family where I'm weak.

Aside from what I learn from this "outreach" (as the media campaigners would say), I hope that it will help encourage active researchers to continue and to value their own work.

Lately, I've been asking myself and genealogy friends, "Can good data drive out bad data?" What can we do to bring the well-documented trees to the top of a list when we do a search at these sites?

Magnus Sälgö said...

I do Google maps with other people doing genealogy in "my" family tree....