What will happen to your genealogy research once you are gone? Do you have a plan?
There is a simple and affordable way to protect your research and insure it will still be accessible after you are gone. Even better, this resource will help you grow your family tree and it costs you nothing! All you need to do is import your family tree into FamilySearch.org.
The LDS Church has made family history a mission. For more than a century, they have collected, preserved and shared genealogy records and resources worldwide. We can thank the church members who have collected and digitized an amazing archive of records from around the world and made them available to all of us at no cost. Their Family Tree component gives you a view of your family, but that’s only a small part of it. Instead of creating a tree for each user, FamilySearch is building one amazing tree while sharing your part of it with you.
This has research advantages for you. You will meet cousins you never knew existed and often they have research to share. There are also elements which make it possible to add photos and memories to help bring your ancestors to life. If you choose to post photos, letters, diaries and other ephemera to an ancestor’s Memories, those memories will be insured a long and fruitful life. Along the way, your research cousins will have added their own memories which add even more to your research too.
But that’s just the beginning. FamilySearch offers free apps for desktop and mobile devices to build your trees. In addition to documenting the information you have about your ancestors, FamilySearch continuously searches their massive archives and posts hints to records that look like they relate to one of your ancestors.
Along with that, there’s also an amazing amount of research support. There’s something for everyone – from beginner to experienced family historians. The Help menu on the desktop apps includes the Help Center, Learning Center, Research Wiki and even consultants if you need them.
The research, memories, documents and photos you collect in FamilySearch will always be available to you and your research cousins online while the originals are maintained by experienced archivists and stored in their Granite Mountain Records Vault – “a long-term storage facility designed for preservation”.
Are you taking advantage of the collaboration features offered by a growing number of online archives? Connecting with research cousins is a great way to share the “personal” resources that are seldom available from a genealogy archive. Instead of moaning when Ancestry’s shaky leaf leads you to another user’s family tree, take a look at that tree to see if that user is researching the same family you are and then check to see if that tree’s owner is a serious researcher or just someone collecting names. If a serious researcher, tap/click the person’s username and Ancestry will take you to a screen giving you basic information about that person. You’ll also see a Send Message icon that opens an in-house message panel so you can contact that user.
It’s surprising how much help a research cousin can be. Some time back, a shaky leaf led me to a portrait of my third great grandmother, Frances. I followed that source to the researcher to ask if I could save a copy of the portrait. We chatted for a while to determine how we were related. I descend from Frances’ youngest child, William, while she descends from Frances’ only daughter, Georgiana. Then the bomb dropped. Georgiana kept a diary most of her adult life. My new cousin not only had the diary, but she had transcribed it and published it as a Kindle book on Amazon. It was a goldmine of information about this family and explained several things that would never be found in an archive.
Ancestry isn’t the only service offering collaboration features. FamilySearch is collaborative by design. Your tree is not your own and you will quickly find other researchers posting information on your ancestors. There is an internal messaging system to connect and collaborate with them. When reviewing matches in MyHeritage, you will find other users sharing your ancestors. As you see in the image above, there is a contact button with each confirmed match allowing you to connect with that user. MyHeritage has also just announced a new Inbox feature on their mobile apps which works like an in-house email service making it even easier to communicate with other members.
Connecting with research cousins doesn’t just help your research effort. It gives you access to others who are just as passionate about their family research as you are. Yes, there will be sloppy researchers hoping you will do the work for them, but there are also researchers who will be delighted to find research cousins who want to learn more about their ancestors and share what they know.
You will soon find that collaboration can be a wonderful thing.