My family tree software almost gave me a heart attack. I routinely make a backup of my Family Tree Maker file after working on it for a while. It's not uncommon for me to make 3 or 4 backups in a long day of research. Then I close and compact my file before I synchronize any changes with Ancestry.com.
Still, there's a feeling of dread when my file takes to long to respond. Last week the FTM program stopped dead. I'd opened my family tree file to make one change and output an updated family tree chart. I began clicking my way up the generations, trying to get to the eldest Ohama in my husband's family tree.
But I couldn't click anything! Nothing was responding. I decided to leave it alone and do something else for a while. But the program was still stuck. After an hour, I held my breath and killed it.
When I relaunched Family Tree Maker, I saw the expected error message. I clicked Continue. I was confident I'd made only one edit that day, so I restored my tree from the full backup I made the day before.
Everything was fine! I repeated the change I made earlier and output that family tree chart I wanted.
Why do I stick with Family Tree Maker when it can cause me so much worry? Because I can share my up-to-date, uneditable family tree with every member of Ancestry.com. I want people to find my research, but I don't want them to change it. The shared trees of Family Search, Geni, and elsewhere are horrifying to a control freak like me. Plus, Ancestry has the best interface for viewing a family tree.
|Share your family tree on a big stage for your own benefit.|
I've been building two other family trees lately that I'm not sharing online. One is for my son's girlfriend and one is for my college roommate. These trees don't belong online because I wasn't asked to share this information.
But my enormous family tree is another story. When the Italian government started posting vital records online in 2017, my genealogy goal changed.
I'm not satisfied with documenting my direct ancestors and cousins. I want to connect everyone from my ancestral hometowns. I don't care if someone is the mother-in-law of the 2nd husband of my 1st cousin 5 times removed. She's from one of my towns and has a connection to me. She belongs in my tree.
Strangers often thank me for the people, facts, and documents I've put together for their family. Sometimes they turn out to be a DNA match to my parents or me.
When all goes well, I can build onto my new contact's branch of the family. I can follow their ancestors to America, picking up what might otherwise have been a dead end. Sharing your family tree is the surest way to open up those dead ends.
The latest person to write and thank me for his ancestors turns out to be my 5th cousin once removed. Just knowing who my mom's 5th cousin is blows my mind. Thank you, internet.
This week I'm gathering vital records for his ancestors, adding them to my family tree, and sharing them with him on Ancestry. To me, this is the ideal collaboration. Don't touch my work. But let's work together. We can benefit one another.
You can talk to me all day long about your preferred family tree software. But nothing compares to the combination of Family Tree Maker on my desktop and Ancestry.com.