Discuss the benefits and the drawbacks of Online Family Trees like Family Tree and Ancestry Tree and Personal Family Tree Software like Roots Magic, Ancestral Quest or Legacy. Can we use just one or the other? Why or why not?
Re: Online Family Trees. I have quite a bit of experience with FamilySearch Family Tree and its predecessor New Family Search. I have IOUS’s in my ancestry, individuals of unusual size, and this has been very frustrating. There have been some “pedigree wars” with one branch of my family, where someone would change Henry Rollins to John Porter Rollins and then someone else would change it back and then the other person or persons would reverse the change and back and forth. It has been actually kind of funny, like the good fairies in Sleeping Beauty changing Aurora’s dress from pink to blue and back again. Even with all the frustration I have experienced with these FamilySearch products I am thankful that we have them available. They are constantly getting better and are great for collaborating with others.
I also have limited experience with family trees on Ancestry.com and MyHeritage.com. I think I would like to discuss MyHeritage.com for this assignment.
A year ago I attended RootsTech and we were offered a free six-month membership My Heritage in exchange for submitting a GEDCOM file. So I submitted my father’s large GEDCOM file and got my free membership. I renewed the subscription after the six-months, so I have had it about a year. The motto of My Heritage is “Do your genealogy while you sleep” because the program is constantly comparing your tree to other trees and advising you when there are record matches or new information. I get frequent emails advising of new matches. My father had over 400 first cousins (because of polygamy) and this generation has mostly died off. Many of the matches are advising me of obituaries or Find a Grave or Billion Grave records matching the names in my father’s GEDCOM. So My Heritage has essentially updated the GEDCOM file. I still need to enter the information, the sources and citations into my own record, however.
I think that online trees are wonderful for preliminary research. They are a good first place to look. The family trees are particularly valuable if they have sources. Just last Sunday my daughter-in-law asked me how to research one of her ancestors. All she knew was the name. So we looked online. Searches on both FamilySearch Family Tree and in Ancestry.com Family Tree led us to several census records, a civil war record and a photograph. So now she knows a lot more about this individual and she has leads to research and to verify in Iowa, Ohio, Illinois and Virginia
Re: Personal Family Tree Software. I have had the most experience with Legacy because I won the software a few years ago on a radio show. I recently purchased the updated version Legacy 8.0. It has many nice features. When I was doing the assignment about using census records as sources I went to Legacy to print out blank census forms and used them to complete the assignment. It was very handy. However, Legacy is probably more complicated to use than some of the others. I have had some experience with Ancestral Quest and probably it is the best for those people who are transitioning from using PAF (Personal Ancestral File). And I have been learning RootsMagic in this class, of course.
I definitely believe that we need to use both online family trees and personal software. I cringed when I heard about someone who threw away all their personal family records because “now it is all on New Family Search!” Things do not stay the same at the FamilySearch family trees. Others can and do make changes and sometimes things are lost. Never put any information or photos or stories or documents on FamilySearch without keeping your own files. The other online trees are not subject to being changed as much by others, but these other web sites might not be permanent and data could also be lost. Another drawback to online trees might be the loss of privacy. And someone could copy your information and publish it as their own work. Do not put anything on the Internet if you do not want to give away the rights to it. You will have to weigh the benefits of sharing against the possibility of plagiarism. And in the interest of accuracy you might not want to “publish” information on the Internet until you are sure it is reasonably correct information. It is very valuable to keep your records in personal software on your computer, so you can work with it and use it to help you as you make discoveries and develop conclusions.