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Thread: Family Tree

  1. #1
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    Family Tree

    First off, apologies for the typos in advance. My fingers are way too fat for this phone.
    I have just compiled a tonne of info RE my family history. I have names addresses back stories of almost three generations on both of my parents sides. My head is buzzing.

    I don't really know how to go about plotting this info. Is therer a site that takes the info and builds your tree? Do I just dowload a template? What do people think of putting in back stories, photos etc however unflattering they may be. General trees have always seemed too cold and mathematical to me. Anyone got any ideas, much appreciated:-)

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    My cousin started data entry on our family tree using www.geni.com

    What I think she likes about it, is the number of branching that can occur and that members of the family can update it with marriages, births, divorces etc. I just don't go into it because I can not remember what password I used and those stupid security questions, I can never remember which one I selected and what I answered.

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    I'm clueless but Dave of the North is big into genealogy IIRC. If he doesn't see this thread you might want to PM him.
    3539 and counting.

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    There are free programs online, but if you are serious I would consider investing in Family Treemaker software. It's not that expensive, and it's a really easy to use system that you can use in its simplest form (creating your tree) or go add in more complex data and reports etc. Then you have it all on your system, instead of relying on a website to store such important data for you.

    I've used it for years, and have been pleased with the way the product is supported with upgrades and converts your data easily, and above all is very easy to use.

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    Family Tree Maker is good, unless you're using a Mac. Then, not so much.

    Congratulations on getting all the info on three generations back! That's a fabulous, fabulous start -- and one I wish I'd taken the opportunity to do when folks were still alive.

    Even with a program like FTM, you still will find that you accumulate a lot of paper, particularly original documents. Great to scan them, but you also need an organizing theory. Mine, fwiw:
    1. One folder for my parents as a couple, containing info on each. One folder for all their kids EXCEPT for me. One folder for me with my husband.
    2. One folder for each pair of grandparents, containing all their stuff plus stuff on uncles and aunts (but not my dad, because his stuff is in the separate file with my mom).
    3. One folder for each set of great-gradparents,...

    And a master cheat sheet in a spreadsheet file showing each person I know of, dob, dod, spouse's name, nicknames, occupation, places lived. That was necessary when I kept coming across multiple (different) relatives with the same name -- sometimes even two kids in the same family were given the same name if the older one died. It also helped keep me sane when you find you've got a "Bill" whose real name is "Joseph" -- given the multiplicity of Josephs in that line, I'm not surprised he went by a different name for some purposes, but without the cheat sheet I kept getting confused with things like that.

    I'd also suggest you try and verify as much as you can with other sources while these folks are still around. Some of what I did have from family members didn't validate well, and follow-up questions elicited better information. (Sometimes I'd gotten something wrong, sometimes they didn't distinguish between a mom and a step-mom, and a couple times they just didn't know of an earlier marriage or of a child that died.)

    And if you haven't already, try to sit down with as many of them as possible and look at every picture anyone has and get them to tell you what they know about it and write it down on the back of the picture. You will be grateful. Even partial info is really good.

    One source that surprised me: my mom kept funeral cards from many of the funerals she attended. When trying to figure out which James Kelly was my James Kelly, I could pretty well rely on mom having kept the funeral card with the date of death on it for the correct James Kelly, simplifying my search rather dramatically. The Irish were none too creative on the naming front, and the number people named James Kelly in NYC in the late 1800s is scary.

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    Good luck with it. We have a family member who has traced the tree on my grandmother's side (my mother's mother) about about 7-8 generations. You will find it a very fascinating exercise.

    The weirdest thing I noticed with ours is my grandmother and all her brothers and sisters had children that were born 6-7 months after they got married. Really interesting considering that back then having a child out of wedlock was considered the worst of the worst. So they were all obviously "forced" to get married.
    When you are up to your arse in alligators it is difficult to remember you were only meant to be draining the swamp.

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    I use the family Tree Maker as well, and can recommend it. My database has over 60,000 names over 15 generations* on my mother's side in Finland- and there seems to be lots of room for more. My charts are way too big to actually print out the whole thing, but it lets you do partial trees and has room for pictures and any info you want to add.

    *probably a quarter are infants who died at less than 2 years
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    If you want a free online-based tree, I would recommend ancestry.co.uk. If you're just putting in info, stories and pictures, it's free. Once you start looking for things, that's when you have to pay, but from the sounds of it, you're not doing that yet. If you ever get to that point of doing research, Ancestry is well worth the subscription price, although it is pretty hefty.

    BTW - Family Tree Maker, the software others have recommended, is the software put out by Ancestry. It is pretty user-friendly and has some cool options. You can also upload your tree from FTM directly to Ancestry, if you wanted to put your tree online.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by poths View Post
    I have just compiled a tonne of info RE my family history. I have names addresses back stories of almost three generations on both of my parents sides. My head is buzzing.

    What do people think of putting in back stories, photos etc however unflattering they may be. General trees have always seemed too cold and mathematical to me. Anyone got any ideas, much appreciated:-)
    I especially like the idea of including back stories and photos. That's most of the fun!

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    Another vote for Family Treemaker.

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    I used Family Tree Maker (FTM) for many years (beginning with a DOS-based version) but it was getting more and more difficult as my database grew. I've learned that in the early days it was actually a spreadsheet masquerading as a database. That all changed several years ago but, in the rush to get it to market, the new version was full of bugs and caused folks a lot of frustration. I've just recently had a look at a later version being used by a friend. It appears a bit better but also quite a lot more complicated for a new user. [She was using an earlier FTM and was struggling with this new one, especially as it was running quite slow on her computer.]


    At about the same time that FTM was making their big change I was looking for a program that would work better for me. Being warned about the bugs in the new version, Legacy was recommended to me. It had been a "real" database for a long time and apparently it was one of the programs that the FTM makers were rushing to try to catch up to.

    I purchased version 6 of Legacy and am now up to version 7.5 but, unlike my experience with upgrading FTM, the Legacy upgrades have been free downloads. I've been very happy with it and it certainly has the capability of adding photos, notes, etc., etc.

    There are other family history database programs available as well - some have versions for different countries and some are both Mac and PC friendly. There are also several sites that promote putting your tree online - one big caveat is the issue of ensuring privacy, especially of living individuals. Another concern is how your data might be used, e.g. put into large databases that others might be able to access for a charge.

    I continue to kick myself for not paying more attention and/or asking more questions while those who knew the answers were still alive. There is only so much information that can be found in "official" sources and the questions that will remain forever unanswered continue to accumulate
    Can't skate but love to watch

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    My cousin has done a lot of my mother's side (her father is my mother's brother) which is good since they grew up in Scotland. So she knew they came to Scotland from Ireland and the Netherlands, and she gave me some records. I haven't spent much time on it, but I get absolutely nothing on them on any of the free parts of the US based sites like familysearch (US Census/Social Security centric) or ancestry.com. On my father's side, the family appears to have filled out only a 1930 census so I don't get much. I did get my grandmother's parent's names, but my grandfather on that side was also born in Scotland so I get zippo on his parents and grandparents. I think all of my greatgrandparents were from Scotland and Ireland, but I haven't paid to join any world site so I don't know what site might help the most.

    My cousin came to the States to interview my mom for more info on the women's sides - she said it is harder to find maiden names. She knew more than my mother did. I guess my mother's grandparents and greatgrandparents were prone to disowning their children when they didn't marry who they were supposed to marry so several of the women had disappeared from sight by the time she was born. My mother had no idea she had 2 Aunt Agneses - one on each side - because one had been disowned. Her parents weren't much at keeping up with family and neither is she (now I know why since they were the type to disown people) so it doesn't help that much to ask her questions.
    I think I will have a snack and take a nap before I eat and go to sleep.

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    Rob -- where in the US did your dad's family live, and do you have any idea of the general time that they might have immigrated?

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    I have two cousins and a sister who are geneology buffs.

    A cousin on my mother's side uses Family Tree Maker. It's good for recording and entering the data and can generate tons of reports and calendars, etc. The problem is that my cousin only does paper, so it's expensive to give out the family trees and the reports at our bi-annual reunions. I'm sure there are ways to print pdfs and put them on the family Facebook page, but it's beyond her skill set. My sister usually takes the paper copies and scans them into a pdf, but it's not the same as generating a pdf.

    My sister, on the other hand, is far more tech-savvy. She uses geneology.com, which provided an unexpected benefit. One of our far-flung relatives from the old country was also using it to record their branches of the family. They met at one of our reunions and became instant friends, despite the language barriers. They combined forces and our family tree on that side is very complete and goes back six or seven generations.

    My sister got bored with our mother's side of the family, so she's now investigating our father's history, with less success. One of our cousins on that side took a lot of the documents from our grandparents' home and is semi-hoarding it because he wants to do the investigation. Mainly, the documents gather dust because he's not doing anything with them, although he has a handwritten notebook of what he's found. He's much older than we are, and has no children, so hopefully he or his wife will let my sister snag the records or at least scan copies of them. (They live a long distance from us, so we don't see them often.)

    My sister had an interesting volunteer project: translating and entering passenger manifests for Ellis Island. While she didn't find our great-grandfather's passage, another volunteer had recorded it, so she's now hunting for relatives in Germany via the internet using that information.
    Last edited by FigureSpins; 07-26-2011 at 06:00 PM.

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    Massachusetts. Boston, Natick, Cochichuate. Not a clue when my grandfather came over. Haven't figured out yet where it was my grandmother's parents or grandparents who came over. They don't have the most common names, but there are a number of people by the same names in the same area. For example, there are 3 couples with the same names as my grandmother's parents all born in the 1870s (in different places) but with different middle intials living in the same area in the 1920s and 30s -- they don't appear to be related as some come from Europe, some from Mass, and some from Canada. And some misspellings (my greatgrandparents are sometimes Mellen and sometimes Mellin). And there are at least 2 couples with the same names and different middle initials, about the same age as my grandparents living in the same area in the 20s and 30s. None of their children's names or siblings names in the household line up as related.
    I think I will have a snack and take a nap before I eat and go to sleep.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FigureSpins View Post
    The problem is that my cousin only does paper, so it's expensive to give out the family trees and the reports at our bi-annual reunions. I'm sure there are ways to print pdfs and put them on the family Facebook page, but it's beyond her skill set. My sister usually takes the paper copies and scans them into a pdf, but it's not the same as generating a pdf.
    At least she's willing to share. I know someone who has spent years building a complete family tree, but thinks that other family members should pay her to see it because she's spent so much money on obtaining records etc.

    Can you suggest to your cousin that she drop the file (on FTM it's one file) onto a disk, and see if another more tech savvy relative can create the reports and even email them to everyone else? There are a bunch of different formats you can do, and you could even customize to different branches of the family. All the other person needs is the program, so they can either buy it, or borrow the software and load it onto their systems (I have done this with my software to several of my own computers and laptops when I got new ones, no problem).

    Rob, genealogy.com has a ton of message boards, including ones for every state and in many cases right down to the county. It's a good place to connect with people who may overlap your family tree, or find new sources of info. Once you start digging, you won't believe what's online - ship manifests, cemetery records, obituaries in old newspapers, you name it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jenny View Post
    Can you suggest to your cousin that she drop the file (on FTM it's one file) onto a disk, and see if another more tech savvy relative can create the reports and even email them to everyone else?
    I know several people have offered to do just that for her, but she's refused them every time. I think it's really her pride and joy, a project that she started when no one else was interested. She's in declining health now and doesn't get out much, so it gives her a conversation item when people visit.

    It's not a big deal because my sister already transcribed all of the information into geneology.com. My sister could generate the reports and calendars without any intervention at this point, but she doesn't want to hurt our cousin's feelings.

    If your cousin feels she's entitled to repayment, Target sells gift cards for geneology.com or familytree.com. Give her the gift card, get access to the info and keep it for posterity. One thing I've learned (as a non-tree hunter) is that you can never have enough copies of something spread out among the family, lol.


    My mom and aunts were fairly traditional housewives and all were very crafty. At our reunion, we have a family meeting and one of the events is to welcome new family members since the last reunion. The parents add a leaf to the tree, literally. We have a beautiful framed tree with hoards of little hand-cut leaves. Each leaf has our name and birthdate on it and our kids' leaves are tacked in place nearby to make the tree "grow." It's really very meaningful. Everyone takes a minute or two during the reunion to "find their leaf."
    Last edited by FigureSpins; 07-26-2011 at 06:15 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FigureSpins View Post

    If your cousin feels she's entitled to repayment, Target sells gift cards for geneology.com or familytree.com. Give her the gift card, get access to the info and keep it for posterity. One thing I've learned (as a non-tree hunter) is that you can never have enough copies of something spread out among the family, lol.
    It's not my family - just someone I know. And we're not talking gift cards here - she thinks she's entitled to several thousand dollars for her efforts. She claims this is what she's spent but I was so floored when she mentioned it that I didn't ask where she got the number - I know she's ordered a lot of copies of certificates, but I wonder also if she's including her subscription to a genealogy newsletter, even her trip to Scotland and her computer for all I know.

    One of my uncles and a cousin are into genealogy, and we just share everything with each other and other family members.


    My mom and aunts were fairly traditional housewives and all were very crafty. At our reunion, we have a family meeting and one of the events is to welcome new family members since the last reunion. The parents add a leaf to the tree, literally. We have a beautiful framed tree with hoards of little hand-cut leaves. Each leaf has our name and birthdate on it and our kids' leaves are tacked in place nearby to make the tree "grow." It's really very meaningful. Everyone takes a minute or two during the reunion to "find their leaf."
    Wow that is so sweet! What a nice family. In my husband's family, the running "joke" is that if you weren't born a [husband's surname] then you're not really a member of the family. Over the years I have tried various responses from explaining that it's hurtful to telling them that their son is considered a full member of my family, to snarking back that I never had any interest in being one of them anyway (hubby and I have different surnames). It's futile - they think it's hysterical.

    Next time it comes up I'll tell them about your family.

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    What amazing replies. Thank you all so much. Lots to think about. I'll gat back to you :-)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jenny View Post
    It's not my family - just someone I know. And we're not talking gift cards here - she thinks she's entitled to several thousand dollars for her efforts. She claims this is what she's spent but I was so floored when she mentioned it that I didn't ask where she got the number - I know she's ordered a lot of copies of certificates, but I wonder also if she's including her subscription to a genealogy newsletter, even her trip to Scotland and her computer for all I know.
    For several thousand dollars, it's likely she's including any trips she made, a subscription to ancestry.com, which can run as much as $360 a year, or any official documents she requested, which would cost money, too. No doubt about it, genealogy can be an expensive hobby.

    But I find it appalling that she won't share unless she's paid for it. Most genealogists happily share their findings just for a simple thanks and maybe some info they may not already have. She is just being greedy, and doesn't realize that all her valuable research will disappear one day, just because she wants to gain back what she willingly put out in a hobby.

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