I’ve tried to start on this #52Ancestors post for days. I don’t really have any good stories or evidence of the popularity of some of my ancestors. I could have done popular names, but I don’t think listing all my relatives named Elizabeth would be a very interesting post.
Instead, I’m approaching this from a different direction. Let’s chat about popular family tree websites.
Ancestry appears to be the most popular. Everywhere I go, I see links to Ancestry trees or documents. I understand why people like it. They have a lot of documents for research, if you have a paid membership and can look at other people’s family trees, it’s nice to be able to look at their research. I’m just not in a position to pay $189 to $299 a year.
My go-to site is FamilySearch. I also understand why a lot of people prefer not using it. It’s a shared family tree so other people can change things on “your” family members. You can’t maintain multiple family trees as you research possible connections. It’s run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormons), and some may disagree with their teachings.
What I like about it, though, is that the LDS Church has been maintaining genealogical records for over a hundred years, so there’s a very good chance that the research I do will be available to my cousins another hundred years down the line. I’m adding stories about myself, my parents, my grandparents. Sometimes my mom dictates while I jot down her memories about her uncles and aunts or her grandparents. I’m scanning photos and adding them to the tree for my family members and for people they knew. For example, my grandparents were teachers, and I was able to upload a photo that included my grandmother and several of her teaching friends. I found or created profiles for most of them and linked to the photo. Now that photograph is preserved for all their descendants.
Certainly you can add photos to Ancestry, but they’re only available to paid members (and only if you check the box making your contributions public). And what happens when you pass away? And what happens if the company goes out of business in 40 years?
There is another shared tree that I have used. I’m not sure where the files for WikiTree are stored and what guarantee there is that they’ll be preserved for the future. I also find the interface more difficult, but that could just be me.
I certainly recommend having at least a basic family tree on every site that you can. It’s useful for finding cousins, because you never know where they’re going to be doing their research. It’s helpful for your DNA matches and could improve your results for tools like MyHeritage’s Theory of Family Relativity and Ancestry’s Thrulines.
Bottom line, my favorite site for family history research and tree building is FamilySearch, even if it’s not the most popular.