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Ancestry Member Trees

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The Bottom Line

Ancestry Member Trees offers users the ability to easily start and build a family tree online with no software purchase or big learning curve. So much so that a genealogy novice was able to get her family-supplied information online within a few hours. You can also upload photos, record family stories, view timelines of life events, and share your tree with family and friends. While not nearly as powerful as most stand-alone genealogy software programs, Ancestry Member Trees offers a free, fun alternative for people who want an easy way to share their family tree online or collaborate with others on their research.

Pros

  • You can invite other family members and friends to view and/or add to your family tree
  • Audio storytelling feature allows people to record and add audio family stories to your tree.
  • Ability to upload photos and documents and attach them to individuals in your family tree
  • Ancestry will automatically search its databases for information on people in your tree.

Cons

  • No option for preparing and/or printing many standard genealogy charts and reports
  • Navigation is sometimes confusing
  • Personal member trees aren't completely private - names and dates still appear in search results
  • Member trees can only be searched by subscribers to Ancestry.com
  • Notes and sources are not always transferred when you upload a GEDCOM file

Description

  • Two types of Ancestry Member Trees - personal (which allows a degree of privacy) and public.
  • Add the email address of family and friends to invite them to view and/or add to your family tree.
  • Three views - pedigree view, family view and individual view - offer different ways to look at and navigate your family tree.
  • A green leaf next to an individual indicates an Ancestry Hint - records that might be a perfect match for your ancestor.

Guide Review - Ancestry Member Trees

Creating an online family tree and collaborating with others on the research can be addicting. Ancestry Member Trees makes it easy to do both. To begin a new family tree, you either enter some basic information via the online interface, or upload a GEDCOM file. At this point you'll designate the tree as personal or public. Both types of trees are searchable by Ancestry.com members, but personal member trees can only be viewed directly by those you've invited.

Navigation through the Ancestry Member Tree is fairly intutitive. You can move around your family tree in standard pedigree format, individual view, or family view (although the "family view" option is hidden at the bottom of pedigree view). Pedigree view navigation is a bit cumbersome, making it easy to get "lost" in your family tree.

One of the biggest benefits to online family trees is collaboration, and here Ancestry Member Trees shines. You can invite others to edit your tree, to add photos and stories, and assign a role (i.e., guest, contributor, editor) for each person. It would be more useful if they offered feedback on when information was added, and by whom.

Ancestry Hints are indicated next to individuals in your family tree by a green leaf icon. Ancestry automatically searches its databases for information in your family tree and returns possible matches (subscription required). One thing I found frustrating is that there appears to be no easy way to permanently remove incorrect hints. Clicking "ignore" hides them temporarily, but they keep coming back.

Overall, I see little benefit to Ancestry Member Trees for genealogists who already use a traditional software package. But for those new to genealogy looking for an easy way to collect facts about their family, or for family members looking to work together on a family tree, Ancestry Member Trees really fits the bill.

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