Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Rough Transition from New FamilySearch to Family Tree?

During his presentation on the upcoming Family Tree program as a replacement for the existing program, Ron Tanner talked extensively about My-Tree-itis or claiming ownership of genealogical information. Just in the last day or so, I ran into a major case of my-tree-itis from someone working on (NFS) trying to clean-up the records. Unfortunately, the person in NFS he was working on was from an old New England family with literally hundreds of duplicates. Three comments stuck out in the short email exchange I had with this person. The first was the fact that he was basing his demand on me to change my record in NFS on a published book of New England genealogy. Second, after I explained what was happening with NFS, he said he hoped the new program would not allow anyone to change his entries and last he believed he was making progress because he had reduced the number of combined records on NFS from over 300 to something less than 200. He exhibited no interest at all in finding out about the Family Tree program, he was dead-set on reforming NFS.

The email exchange was not conducted in pleasant terms. As Ron Tanner pointed out, what are these people who claim ownership to their genealogical information going to do when they find out they have no "control" over the data on Family Tree? I am expecting to receive similar demands from other distant relatives as I get into the Family Tree program and start to make changes. In my case, I have been preparing for something like this for years. I have multiple sources for most individuals in my pedigree. When I get back to some of my remote ancestors, I could list almost a hundred sources for some lines and yes, I intend to put all that documentation into Family Tree. I hope they don't have a limitation on the total number of sources for any one individual.

One lesson I hope is learned by the genealogical community that is apparently a problem with some, is that making demands on people to change their genealogical information is not a good tactic. I do not handle unfounded and impolite demands well after 37 years of legal practice.

I hope that this email exchange is not a harbinger of future exchanges, but I fear that these people are out there and are going to be upset when they realize they have no real control over what they put online.


  1. Well *I* for one would go for the whole wikipedia-style tree sharing if I were sharing one with you, that's for sure. Thanks for the thought-provoking post. I, too, and sort of bracing myself for this proposed family tree . . .

  2. Thanks for a very thought provoking post. Interestingly, I have a similar but slightly more embarrassing issue. *I* posted a family tree very early on (15 years ago) that was done with a full heart but terrible research. I would LOVE, LOVE to have the opportunity to remove that tree from the Ethernet. However, I can no longer access it. So, today, as a Genealogist, I have to provide full disclosure that some of the information I entered and posted originally was wrong. Sadly, I know there are people out there happily cutting and pasting that incorrect information without thought to its veracity. This is also why, as a Genealogist, I will not publish another family tree on-line. The material I have is in form, which I'm happy to share, but I am not putting my research on-line at this time.

  3. You final sentence says exactly what will happen for sure. Thousands of people are going to be really upset! I don't think there's a cure for my-tree-itis. They'll just have to get over it, won't they! By the way, I imagine you and Ron Tanner are cousins. Am I right?

  4. A collaborative open wiki environment for genealogy already exists at and it is growing more robust and more popular every day. It is non-profit and run in conjunction with the Allen Co. library in Indiana. Before you begin to work on yet another site, please take a look at werelate and consider making your contributions there.