If you’re anything like me, you might find that an online family history is a relief from the chaos and confusion of an entirely paper-based history. And, I’m not even especially computer literate.
I inherited boxes full of photos and documents. Notes scrawled on scraps of paper and the backs of envelopes. Partial fan charts. Written histories for various sections of the family. Unlabeled photographs. Crumbling photo albums. A birthday diary. Stories, letters, cards, birth, wedding and anniversary announcements, obituaries. And multiple copies of a lot of it – what a mess!!! Being a visual learner, I found that even a well written history was hard to follow through multiple generations. And, there was no telling how accurate the manuscripts were. There were family names I’d heard all my life, but I didn’t fully understand how these ancestors were related to each other or to me.
It’s important to say here that an online family tree can work just as well for people who have very little information about their ancestors. United States censuses have been taken every 10 years since 1790. Unless you and/or your parents are recent immigrants to the United States, there are probably plenty of records for you to discover. You can choose how much or how little of it you’d like to print on paper. Even if your family’s history is already well organized, an online tree still offers many advantages.
Once I started entering basic information for individuals in my tree, the website program did a lot of the organizing for me. I was able to fit together all the puzzle pieces I already had, understand who/what was missing, and fill in many of the blanks. There were records available to confirm, correct and expand our family story. Names on paper began to come alive. History came alive. It was easier to sort out my paper records and discard duplicates.
The online records (census, birth, marriage, death, burial, military, stories, photos and more) are attached directly to my ancestors’ pages, so there’s no need to print anything unless I really want to. Currently, there are about 5000 people identified in my family tree. (I’ve seen trees range in size from a half dozen people to tens of thousands.) Even if I printed only a single page of information for each person… well, you can imagine how much paper I haven’t generated! I’m content to let it exist in electronic form.
There are many other advantages to having an online tree, particularly for having a public as opposed to a private family tree. I’ll cover that in my next blog.http://sarah415.com/why-my-ancestry-com-family-trees-are-public/
If you would like to discuss the family history that you already have and/or what you hope to find, please contact me. There’s no charge for a 30 minute phone consultation. I can do some basic online research while we talk, or you can send me an email.
by phone: 415-221-6126
by email: sarah415info(at)gmail.com