Thursday, May 28, 2020

Dear Randy - "Why Do You Use FamilySearch Family Tree?"

After my "Using Collaborative BIG Family Trees" presentation yesterday to the Chula Vista Genealogical Society, one of my colleagues emailed me asking for more information, including this question about FamilySearch Family Tree.

"Why Do You Use FamilySearch Family Tree?"

The slides I presented had these bullet points:

1)  In My Research Process to Find Sourced Information -- Many Profiles Have Information and Sources That I Don't Have (But I Need to Verify!).

As the FamilySearch Family Tree (started in 2010) has matured, millions of sources to records and published books and periodicals have been added to the Sources feature in each person profile.  Consequently, these sources can be used to verify that the record pertains to the specific person, and can be found by the researcher.

Using these sources as clues, a researcher can do a Reasonably Exhaustive Search for more records, on FamilySearch or on other record providers, to verify assertions and draw conclusions about relationships, life events, and biography.

I have found that many (not all, but a lot!) person profiles in FamilySearch Family Tree for persons born in the 1800s and early 1900s have full dates and places for births, marriages and deaths, and have relationships with parents, siblings, spouses and children, that are supported by original or derivative sources.  For New England in the 1600s and 1700s, the records are plentiful, but not complete, but still very useful.  Of course, Family Tree shows information only for deceased persons, and not for living persons.

2)  To Help Other Researchers -- I May Have More Information, Sources, Notes, Media Than Other Researchers (My Cousins!).

I have performed extensive research on many of my ancestral families, as shown in my weekly 52 Ancestors biographical posts which highlight vital, census, military, church, immigration, land, probate and other records for each ancestor.  They are incomplete, but could help another researcher who descends from one of the children of the ancestor.  In addition, there are more ancestral records highlighted in my weekly Treasure Chest Thursday posts and the weekly Amanuensis Monday transcriptions.

I have added many of my blog post content into the Life Sketch feature and Notes feature in FamilySearch Family Tree, many of the record documents as sources and images, plus family photographs of my ancestors (which are limited to after about 1860).

In addition, I have been doing Descendancy Research for my 5th great-grandparents and succeeding generations, and have added many profiles to my RootsMagic family tree (which acts as my master data entry program), which is then TreeShared with my Ancestry Member Tree, and my RootsMagic profiles are matched and information shared with FamilySearch Family Tree profiles.  This work is ongoing but incomplete, and is hampered by lack of many 20th century records.

Lastly, I have been enriching my Seaver, Carringer, Auble, and Vaux surname studies over the years and have added or matched many of those profiles with FamilySearch Family Tree.  This work also is ongoing and incomplete!  Although it will never be finished, it is fun!

3)  To Help Find Links to Common Ancestors For My Autosomal DNA Matches.

FamilySearch Family Tree often has more complete information about a given family line than any other online tree, whether a personal tree or other collaborative trees.  If I have a DNA Match with a deceased grandparents's name in their tree, I will search Family Tree for that name and may find the line back to a common ancestor.  That works about half the time for me when I do it for a relatively close DNA match (e.g., 3rd cousin or closer).

4)  To Find Relationships to Famous Persons – Genealogy Fun – Especially as Family Bait.

FamilySearch Family Tree, being the largest and best-sourced collaborative tree with over 930 million profiles, has the most extensive resources to find relationships to famous persons - whether royalty, explorers, authors, entertainers, politicians, etc.  My grandchildren all had a family history section in elementary or middle school and asked me if we were related to any famous people.  Heh heh.  Of course.  Their relationships to Princes Harry and William, Barack Obama, Abraham Lincoln, and Mayflower people have all been provided to four of them - I have about 5 more years to wait for the 5th grandchild, Charlie.  The hope was, of course, that knowing they are related to famous people might create an interest in carrying on the genealogy work - Family Bait!

5)  To Save My Research For Posterity -- FamilySearch Family Tree Should Survive for Decades, Maybe Centuries, Including Events, Memories, Notes, Media, Sources.

This is the most important reason of all for me.  Back in the beginning, FamilySearch said their goal was for the source-centric Family Tree to include every person who ever lived, and for it to work until at least the Year 2060.  I want to do my part to support and contribute to this work.

My opinion is that Family Tree seems to be the best available collaborative tree at this time.  It is full featured, well designed, and freely available.  It should only get better as contributors add more profiles, relationships, events, dates, places, sources, notes, stories, photos, documents, discussions, life sketch, etc.  And as record providers find, digitize and index more records of our ancestors and their times.

If I can provide information about my ancestral families, and my wife's families, and my sons-in-laws families, in profiles on Family Tree, the information should survive for a long time after my passing.  It's a legacy not only for my children, grandchildren and their descendants, but also may help other researchers with collateral family lines.

I do recognize that their are problems with FamilySearch Family Tree that can affect what individuals think about the website.  Many of the problems of the past have disappeared as duplicate profiles were merged over time, but there are many new contributors who add their ancestral families without searching for duplicates, or who change well-sourced conclusions to their own conclusion with adding a discussion or sources.  Education on how to use and contribute to Family Tree and the use of Discussions to resolve these conflicts are the answer to the problems.

So those were my reasons.  Are you using FamilySearch Family Tree?  Why or why not?  


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Tess said...

I do in a limited way, however, in a few of the lines I'm researching, the errors I've found are big and it's clear that people didn't actually THINK or go beyond a very basic search before adding the details they have. I found one example where a grandson is listed as a son, despite the fact the census record clearly shows that the person in question IS the grandson. Or, even more egregiously, someone who claims an ancestor of mine was married twice to two different men and had children by them. What's the problem, you ask? This person has that particular several times great-grandmother married to both men at the same time and in some years having children with each, which is biologically impossible. I asked about this and never heard back and just don't feel like pursuing it. However other researchers may just copy that person's work and not question it. I just feel awkward changing a communal tree and don't want to get into a tit-for-tat situation. My research may not be absolutely 100% accurate as it's more than 200 years in the past, but at least what I have makes sense and doesn't include biological impossibilities. That other's person's information is also unsourced.

So do I just leave it alone? Or do I create a duplicate, which we're not supposed to, but which will at least have some supporting documentation that makes my theory viable?

Kevin Augustus Long said...

Send me the PIDs (person ID) and I will try to sort it out for you. Cheers.

Kevin Augustus Long said...

As James Tanner says " Family Tree is the solution." Thanks Randy for the great summary of why you use FSFT. It just keeps getting better and better. Cheers.

Teresa said...

Kevin - this is the most egregious one...she's my fourth great-grandmother (step-great grandmother technically...long story) Hannah Izzard: LCTK-QYL.


searchshack said...

Use Family Search because - designed to link sources, links with my RootsMagic software which notifies me if there are new sources, sends a weekly e-mail if anyone else makes changes to my direct ancestors or the SHACKFORDs that I research, allowed me to add links to the blogs I write, and is focused on the ONE TREE concept that I believe in. Also, often when I find a DNA match on Ancestry, I find a tree in FamilySearch that is sourced and correct that has helped me find the DNA relationship. I also keep a tree in Ancestry.

RonNasty said...

I like using FamilySearch (FS) because of it's cost and collaborative aspect. I would like to get more into the forums there, because the assistance is helpful. I too had a record merged that I'm a bit perplexed by. I created a "Discussion" about the record that was a possible duplicate and my reason why it wasn't a duplicate. Naturally, someone merged the two records and my note is still there (thankfully) but there was no reason added as to why the records were merged. I found out about the change immediately because FS sent me an alert, which I was doubly impressed by because I didn't know such a service existed.

Family History Hat said...

Randy, I would like to utilize the article that you wrote in May 2020 as a center for discussion for my SIG, (Genealogical Society of Okaloosa County); we have depended heavily on Zoom meetings this past several months; we aren't having in-person meetings at all. My SIG is FamiySearch and in particular, the FamilySearch Tree. Your article opened my eyes to a couple of ways to use FamilySearch Tree that I hadn't thought of. I also use RootsMagic. Haven't explored all it has to offer, either! And I've been using it since Day 1!

Randy Seaver said...

Hi Family History Hat - please do use this article, all I ask is that you provide the YRL for it when you discuss it and note who wrote it. I'm glad I can help!