Using Trees

OK – I’ll admit it. I use trees from other genealogists!

When I started my genealogy journey, it was common to share pedigree charts and family group sheets. Not only did I feel fortunate when I would receive those in the mail but I felt very fortunate that I received copies of Crawford, Currey and Briles research from other family members. These were the starting points or foundation for my research.

Granted my access to sources and my research skills have vastly improved. However, I still use the research of others. I greatly appreciate the willingness of others to share their findings. Recently, an Ancestry hint led me to a photo of a newspaper clipping that had been shared by another user.

This one photo provided the information connecting Pearl Doolittle Nyson to Pearl Yeagle and enough sourcing information for me to locate the article. Since the newspaper is not on, I doubt I would have found this tidbit of information on my own.

While I accept other trees when working Ancestry hints, I try not to accept any dates or add new people to my tree from those trees. This places Ancestry Family Trees in my list of Ancestry sources without linking them to any facts.

While I’m not linking these Ancestry Trees to any fact, I am saving links to these trees – and to others researching the same individual by accepting the Ancestry Tree hints. When I click on Ancestry Trees in my list of sources, the citation details provides me the ability to ‘view the individual member trees’.

This is a way for me to keep track of ‘cousins’ who are researching the same people.

Even though I typically try not to use Ancestry Trees to add people to my RootsMagic file, I do use FamilySearch to add people. When researching a new branch of the family, I find it helpful to compare what I’m finding with the work of others. Since the FamilySearch tree is a collaborative tree, it represents a ‘consensus’ of other researchers. Thus, I will use the FamilySearch tree to build out a family and continue researching records for that family. By importing from FamilySearch into RootsMagic, the link between RM and FamilySearch is maintained.

If I find that my research provides conflicting information or leads to a different family, I will collect the documentation to support my position and add it as sourcing on FamilySearch. This was the case with Pearl Doolittle. When I started researching Pearl, her FamilySearch profile only had one husband: William Henry Nyssen. However there was another Pearl Yeagle married to Edwin Friend. The newspaper clipping shared on Ancestry along with other sourcing I found allowed me to merge Pearl Yeagle and Pearl Doolittle.

While other genealogists may ‘cringe’ at the use of Ancestry Trees and/or the FamilySearch tree, there are some resources that support their use.

GenealogyTV has a short video “Avoiding Mistakes on Ancestry” that discusses the use of Ancestry Trees.

And Devon Noel Lee of Family History Fanatics has a blog and accompanying video: Three Reasons Not to Use the FamilySearch Family Tree

One thought on “Using Trees

  1. I too use other people’s trees as hints, but never actually accept them as sources. From other trees I’ve found information to investigate which has proven useful – I always consider the sources on the other person’s tree and make contact. On several occasions it’s been very fruitful for both sides.

    As for the FamilySearch Family Tree, I’m very careful what I accept from there as there are numerous profiles for ancestors/collaterals that are error-riddled, some too difficult to untangle. That said, I do work on the tree and add to it when I have time, including source material. The majority of my ancestors were added by me as few seem to be working on my direct lines…

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