A heartbreaking moment for any family historian is when you discover that your late genealogist cousin’s wife has shredded all his papers. This actually happened in my family. I can only hope that all the genealogical information was passed on to his children first. I think he had long since given me copies of most of it.
Please don’t let this happen to your work. A good preservation solution is to contribute your research to at least one of the online collaborative world trees.
Several years ago I did a blog post on the advantages of using these world trees (click here) and created a comparison sheet of the big three world trees (updated version at the end of this article): FamilySearch.org, GENI.com and WIKItree.com
I also did a Rootstech talk on this topic (click here for those slides). There have been a few changes since then, mainly around DNA and whether or not you can upload a GEDcom.
DNA features abound at WIKItree.com – you can connect your WIKItree profiles to GEDmatch by putting their kit numbers in. This causes the GEDmatch one-to-many tool to display the blue word Wiki which links to your compact tree. So even though it is the smallest of the three world trees, it may be best for genetic genealogists. Another WIKItree feature is that you do not need to login to see trees and profiles so it is great for sending tree links to new cousins. Plus it shows X and Y descendancy pathways.
GENI can link to DNA profiles at family tree DNA and will even display haplogroups on the person’s page. When you and your DNA matches have your family trees on GENI, you can quickly see how you are related. Click here for the blog post I did on how to link your ftDNA reults to GENI.
example of DNA display at GENI
FamilySearch does not have any DNA features yet but surely they will eventually incorporate something.
The big news is that GENI now has a GEDcom uploading capability again. Whereas WIKItree has dialed back on the GEDcom uploads but still has good functionality.
Updated Chart August 8, 2020
The idea of a one world tree is to collaborate with other genealogists who are researching the same ancestors and so have just one copy of each person on the tree, rather than each of you having your own separate family trees. My plan is to compare the three online sites that I am using in this post.
The advantages of using a one world tree are:
- You are not constantly duplicating research that has already been done.
- It is online and searchable so distant cousins will find you.
- Other descendants of your ancestors may have pictures and documents to share that are already posted.
- You will find distant cousins to collaborate with on some of your family lines who may be able to read records you are having trouble with or otherwise work with you to solve questions you have.
- When you connect your line into the tree you may find new ancestors that you did not know about before.
- You can often figure out immediately how you are related to a new “DNA” cousin.
- It is easy to send family members and distant cousins links to the family tree.
- After you are dead and gone your research will live on.
The disadvantages of a one world tree can be that:
- Other people will change facts and information that you knew were correct.
- How can you be sure that another person’s research is reliable?
- You need to be sure that living people have their privacy protected.
Personally, I have my family tree on three different one world tree web sites: FamilySearch.org, Geni.com, and WikiTree.com and I like and use them all for different reasons.
WikiTree has really pretty online charts, widgets for your website and shows DNA connections. It is the easiest one to use for sending possible new “DNA” cousins your family tree. GENI has the most intuitive user interface and has the best way to add source information. It is the prettiest of them all, plus it matches records with its partner site MyHeritage.com. FamilySearch connects to its own enormous record repository and there is a wonderful third party web site for visualizing your familysearch tree: puzzilla.org.