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.
One of the difficulties of having your family tree in many places is keeping them all up to date.
When I give my presentation on why you should contribute your research to one of the one world collaborative trees, I usually suggest that you pick only one for just that reason. Personally I use all three, FamilySearch.org, GENI.com and WIKItree.com. So I need a few clever tools to keep them in synch.
Both FamilySearch and WIKItree accept GEDcom uploads so I often add a new family line on GENI, then download the gedcom and merge it to my private family tree, before uploading it to the other two. However sometimes the new branch is discovered on Ancestry or MyHeritage so …
How to Add a GEDCOM to GENI.com
No you cannot add a GEDCOM to GENI but you can add family groups one at a time from several other genealogy sites via a tool called SmartCopy, if you are a pro GENI user. So if you have a tree elsewhere this is a way to copy your tree over. If you do not have a tree online elsewhere then I suggest you import your GEDCOM to WIKItree and then use SmartCopy to bring over each family group that is not already on GENI. Still not as fast as importing a GEDCOM but way better than retyping or using cut and paste.
SmartCopy Chrome Addon
SmartCopy is an add-on for the Chrome browser which will copy information from record matches at MyHeritage (you need a paid subscription), Ancestry, or WIKItree. Although it will not copy from FamilySearch, it will copy from a MyHeritage record match page of a familysearch person.
Wikitree X Chrome Addon
WIKItree also has a Chrome add-on tool for copying a person over from other sites. It is called Wikitree X and it can copy from FamilySearch. So when you discover a new branch at that site you can copy to WIKItree with this tool and then use SmartCopy to copy it to GENI.
GENI.com has added DNA to its world collaborative tree not just by displaying haplogroups on profiles but also by using DNA to confirm relationships and to match you to other DNA kits. As always, GENI makes it look pretty. There is a DNA marker line in the top profile section that includes badges showing haplogroups and whether autosomal tests are available. Directly under the relationship path at the top it will also note when a relationship is validated by DNA!
Look at the top of my Dad’s new profile below. Notice the Y haplogroup R-P312 and the AT badges in the DNA marker line and the part under the relationship where he really is my Dad.
To get this I connected the GENI profiles for my Dad, my brother, and myself to our family tree DNA results. Since Family Tree DNA is partnering with GENI the data was available instantly via a login to the other site. One important trick is to log out of Family Tree DNA between doing each profile, else it claims you are still connected. I uploaded a few other DNA tests done at 23andme and Ancestry for relatives who gave permission, but I am still waiting on those to finish processing [update it may be a month or more]. By the way, in order to upload test results for the living, I had to log into their profiles. Dead relatives that I manage or were in my family group were not a problem. I also uploaded my own 23andme results to make sure that I could have two tests on GENI.
You may wonder what you see if you click on the view details link, well it takes you to all the test and matches information you get in the new DNA tab as shown below.
There is an exciting new feature at the collaborative world tree at GENI.com – compact descendant and ancestor reports. These have a number of modern style features. Every person in the list gets a nice summary box on mouse-over and is, of course, clickable to their profile. The number of generations displayed is easily changed with a slider above the report.
These reports are initiated from the Actions menu as shown below.
Well I think my one world tree talk was a success, although the web site I used for my presentation – slides.com – went down or was just inaccessible via the internet in the presentation room here at Rootstech. Perhaps it was the Amazon s3 site where the images are stored that was the problem.
Fortunately I had downloaded a PDF version as a backup so I used that. Maybe next time I will try the google presentation software instead.
I think my main point, that the most compelling reason to add your research to a one world tree is to keep it from ending up in the landfill the way my cousin’s did, came across well. My girlfriend Rochelle, who I am staying with, was convinced to add her research to one and even got herself a familysearch id today.
I have uploaded the rough draft of what I expected to say, much more wordy than what I actually said, to my downloads page under presentations. The URL for the slides which go with those words is
The side by side comparisons of the three one world trees start on slide 11
The comparison chart is kept up-to-date in my one world tree blog post.
And I will be doing this talk again for the Computer Genealogy Society of San Diego on the third Saturday in May.