Friday, July 29, 2011

It’s my Blogiversary? Oh yes, it’s my Blogiversary!

Thanks to Ginisology for the happy blogiversary message! I’m a bit snowed under with non-genealogy matters at present so the day could easily have passed me by.

Who would have thought that my little blog could be two years old already… they grow up so fast…

Happy Blogiversary, me!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

How to make fabulous cousin connections on Ancestry

So you want to make fabulous cousin connections on Ancestry?

I’ve had great success in making fabulous cousin connections on Ancestry. My distant cousins have told me old family stories, sent me documents and photos, suggested places I might look and people I might ask for more information and they have remembered me and contacted me again later. I am holding off on contacting any more of my wonderful distant cousins in order to avoid information overload.

Since this happy situation doesn’t seem to be the case for everyone, I thought I’d share some of the things that have worked for me. Some of what I say may seem counterintuitive. Like… source citations don’t matter (actually they do, but not in the way you think). Bear with me!

Disclosure: I have no connection with Ancestry other than as a paying customer. I am not suggesting that you should, or should not, join Ancestry. While some of my suggestions are specific to Ancestry.com, others are applicable to any genealogy site where you can search family trees and contact the owner.

If you build it…

…they probably won’t come. Build it anyway. Your family tree, that is. Put it on Ancestry. This can be accomplished by exporting from your desktop software to GEDCOM. You will need a skeleton family tree (birth, death and marriage details) for your direct ancestors and at least a few generations of their descendants. Take the usual precautions about removing living people.  Source citations don’t matter, so don’t bother exporting them.

[Gasp! What did she just say?!]

The thing is, you’re putting your tree on Ancestry as a tool, not a publication. I found that my attempts to upload source citations to Ancestry mangled them unacceptably. They cluttered the place up distracting from what I actually wanted and needed to see. They were hard-going to maintain with Ancestry’s horrible source management interface. It wasn’t worth the effort.

If stepping out sans citations embarrasses you, set the tree to Private. You will still be able to do most of what I suggest, although it may assist in establishing a rapport with other members if they can see some of your information. You can change your mind later. I did.

Here are a few reasons for members to put their tree on Ancestry:

  • Other members may contact you. This hasn’t happened to me very often but it is possible.
  • It’s easier to fill out the search forms. As you start typing, Ancestry will offer you a drop down list of ancestors from your tree to choose from. Just click a name, and all the search fields are filled for you.
  • You can avail yourself of the member connect features (I’ll talk more about this).

I have quite a bit more to say, so I think I will break here and make this post a multi-part one.