The Internet is a great way to connect with family, and the perfect medium for collaborating on your shared family history. Putting your family tree on the Web allows other relatives to view your information and add their own. It is also a great way to exchange family photos, recipes and stories.
These sites and software options include the tools you need to put your family tree online, along with photos, sources and pedigree charts. Some offer additional features such as chat, message boards and password protection. Many are free!
If you like to keep things pretty simple, then RootsWeb WorldConnect is a wonderful (and free) option. Just upload your GEDCOM and your family tree will be available online for anyone searching the WorldConnect database. There is no option for private Web sites, but you can use controls to easily protect the privacy of living people. One caveat! WorldConnect sites often don't rank very well in Google search results unless you add a lot of keyword-rich text!
While access to most records at Ancestry.com requires a subscription, Ancestry Member Trees is a free service - and one of the largest and fastest growing collections of family trees on the Web. Trees can be made public or kept private from other Ancestry subscribers, and you can also give family members free access to your trees without the need for an Ancestry subscription. While you don't need a subscription to create a tree, upload photos, etc., you will need one if you want to search, use and attach records from Ancestry.com to your online trees.
$29.99 for the software
Want to have complete control over the look and feel of your online family tree? Ready to tackle your own Web site? If so, then TNG (The Next Generation) is one of the best self-publishing options available for genealogists. Just import a GEDCOM file and TNG gives you the tools to publish it online, complete with photos, sources and even tagged Google Maps. For those of you Master Genealogist users, check out Second Site ($29.95) - a great tool for getting information out of your TMG database and onto the Web! For both options, you will need your own Web site.
This free, public service genealogy Wiki (Wikipedia is type of Wiki) allows you to create a profile to tell others about your research interests, to receive and respond to emails from other users without publishing your email address, to create online family trees and personal research pages, and to collaborate with other users. The service is completely free, thanks to the Foundation for Online Genealogy, Inc. and the Allen County Public Library, and very easy to use. But if you're looking for a private family Web site option, WeRelate isn't the place for you. This is a collaborative Web site, which means others will be able to add to and edit your work.
Facebook users have a great family tree option from FamilyLink.com which offers one of Facebook's most popular free applications - We're Related - which helps individuals stay in touch with their families through photo sharing, a news feed, birthday reminders, and an online family tree function. For a more robust online family tree, FamilyLink.com also offers the free WebTree.com service.
Free unlimited Web space for family history sites is the premise behind Freepages at RootsWeb. The site options are basic and not password protected, but they are entirely free. You can FTP your own HTML files (great for family trees created by your family history software) or use the online editor. Ancestry.com, which owns and operates RootsWeb, will display banner ads on your Web site.
7. Geni.comFree for basic version
This social networking site's primary focus is connecting family, allowing you to easily create a family tree and invite other family members to join you. Each individual in the tree has a profile; family members can work together to build profiles for common ancestors. Other features include a Family Calender, an editable Family Timeline and a Family News feature which highlights new additions and upcoming events from sites within a user's Family Group. All of the basic functions are completely free, although they do offer a pro version with extra tools.
A host of free genealogy tools enable you to lets you create your family's own meeting place on the Internet where you can share family photos, post your family tree online, trace the family's medical history and keep track of important family events. Plus, free Family Tree Builder genealogy software and a genealogy search engine to help you expand your family history research. The basic level of online Family Pages (limited to 250 people and 250MB of storage) is free, but you'll have to put up with advertisements. Two subscription levels offer great storage and no ads (only one family member needs the paid subscription). All Family Pages (even the free ones) allow you to use the free software, make your site public or private, share photos and videos and use the applications such as calendar and message boards.
$9.95 per family group the first year, $29.95 per year thereafter
A modest annual subscription fee (per family group, not per person) gives you up to 1GB per member in monthly uploads. The extras at MyFamily.com make the fee more than reasonable. A standard site includes email acccounts for unlimited family members, space for sharing photos and family history files, and no popup ads. The sites are safe and password protected, and also feature a private message board and chatroom, a family calendar, blog, iPhone app, and even space for video and voice clips!
10. Tribal PagesFree
Tribal Pages provides 10 MB of free Web space just for family history sites. Your genealogy data is stored securely, and you can set an optional password for viewing your site. Each free family history site allows you to upload a GEDCOM file and photos and comes with ancestor and descendant charts, ahnentafel reports, an events page, photo album and a relationship tool. You can include your family names in their database so your Web site can be found by other researchers, or keep it private.