Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Genealogy Social Networking Sites

You may have noticed a dramatic increase the past few months in a new set of websites for genealogy researchers on the Internet. This "new" area has its beginnings in websites like MyFamily.com (where the PRA has it's Member's Only website) that has been around for years. With the "new" web 2.0 and its features, more and more companies are jumping on the bandwagon with their own versions of websites where researchers can share their research and ask others to help them build their family tree.

For more details, go to About.com's web page about social networking.
I recently gave a presentation at my local genealogy society titled "Genealogy Social Networking" where we "visited" several websites that I thought were interesting representations of the new sites.

A word of caution about these new websites. They encourage you to open your site to the public in the hopes you'll attract more visitors who will contribute and share their information. This is a very critical decision for you to make. If you decide to open your site to the public, be sure to restrict how much data you put on the site and be sure NOT to list any information on LIVING persons. I strongly suggest you carefully read each website's privacy policy so you are fully informed on how they will protect and share your information.

My personal opinion is that IF you decide to use one, or more, of these websites, you might as well take advantage of their universal outreach by sharing your information with the public in the hopes you can build/add more information to your research. I'm going to use a couple of the websites but I'm only going to put a limited portion of my family tree on the sites. The limited portion I'm going to add to the sites will be for those ancestors where I've hit a brick wall and need some more help to break through the wall. In my case, I'm going to add the family of Benajah Pennington, b. 1770, d. 1855 and just his children. I hope this will help others who share him as an ancestor and my real hope is that somebody will add something that can help me determine who his parents are and give me some good source that will support that information.

As always, be sure to check out any sources/evidence for data other's provide with their data when they add their ancestors to your family tree.

One new company, Family Builder is a tool to build your family tree on the web, however, they do not host your on line family tree. Rather, they provide you a list of several social networking websites that support their application. You can select one, or more, of those hosting social networks to place your family tree. Of course, you can create more than one family tree if you want to stay real busy.

The one thing different between most of these new genealogy social networking websites and the PRA Member's only website is that they allow you to view your family tree as you build it on line whereas our website let's you upload a family tree (gedcom file) to the website and then when it's opened, you can see the family tree.

I think most of these websites allow you to upload a gedcom file to build your family tree. Some allow you to give visitors the ability to download a gedcom file from your website.

All of these websites offer additional features, such as e-mail, sharing photos, "chat", videos, etc. so be sure to check all the features.

Oh, the last thing I forgot to mention is that all of these tools are FREE! Yes, free.

That means you'll have to put up with a few ads that display on the web pages as you build your tree and view it, but they're not too intrusive.

Here is the list:

- Family Builder - Provides you the tool to build your family tree: - They give you a list of several social networking websites that use their tool for building your own family tree.

- My Heritage

- We Relate - WeRelate.org is a free public-service wiki for genealogy sponsored by the Foundation for On-Line Genealogy, Inc. in partnership with the Allen County Public Library. The Foundation for On-Line Genealogy is a 501c3 charitable organization supported by tax-deductible donations and volunteers: This is one of the websites I'm going to use. This is unlike some of the other genealogy social networking sites in that it does not have all the features like "chat", videos, etc. but it does offer the ability for others to view and add to your information.

- Facebook:

- Geni:

- Bebo:

- Family History Link:

- My Family.com: Where you can host your own personal family tree and where the PRA has our PRA Member's only website.