Should You Copy Ancestry Trees to Your Tree?

Should You Copy Ancestry Trees to Your Tree?

copy-ancestry-treesThe quick answer:
NO you should not copy Ancestry Trees to your tree.

Over the past year I have been focusing on working through my collection of family history records, reviewing documents for facts I missed and adding missing citations. It is a big job even though I only have about 400 people in my tree. 400 people I am confident that I am related to in some way. 400 people with lots of sources for each one. What has made the review easier is that when I started my tree I decided to avoid copying persons from other “ancestry” trees without first verifying the details about any persons I added to make sure they belonged in my tree.

Why I Don’t Copy Ancestry Trees to My Tree

Save time - See it my wayThis was partly out of intellectual snobbery when I (arrogantly) decided I would be good at this family history detective stuff and there would be others that would not be as good as me so copying others research would ultimately lead to errors in my tree, BIG errors.

Secondly I am a little obsessed with how you should do things. I’m a “Process Princess”. My way is the best way!  So when I do something it’s my process that is the best!  Each piece of my research goes through the “process”. Mind you sometimes I make it too complicated so I will adapt and amend the process. I  do to consider others views and ideas and add any “real” improvements to the process.

Incidentally I made this rule to not copy Ancestry Trees before I read about problems others have had when they added branches without verification or I learnt the necessity to fully verify data with 2 different sources, at a minimum, before adding to your tree. It is one of the best decisions I made.

What does this mean when researching?

First you use a research plan so that you focus on areas you want to research and do not get sidetracked. This helps avoid even getting lost down another path. It saves time and ensures your research delivers results.

Next I use a research log.  I am only just getting the hang of being fully committed to this aspect of research so still wander off sometimes down another path. I am learning that sticking to the log that is developed via the plan, is best.

What happens when you find something you do not wish to follow up now?

It means you do need a good process not to misplace pieces you find or links to possible data you might want later. However you need to handle them in a quick and easy way so you get back to your planned research. I use Evernote to save information such as the links, little notes to myself about my thoughts, the image file name if there was one to save, any repository or source information.  Things like a screen dump instead of typing up details is a way to save time. You need to include enough detail to be able to find it in the future.

I do have a sources that I might not be 100% confident are about my ancestor however with the weight of evidence they look a good fit. If I do choose to add them to the tree I write a note to myself, attached to the person, detailing my concerns so that next time I use that piece of information or person I easily remember the limitation of that source of information.

Because of this I have children with one parent, missing siblings, missing children, missing spouses and more but until I find sufficient evidence they will continue to have missing family members.

Do you add Ancestry Trees without verifying first? Leave a comment with your thoughts.


6 thoughts on “Should You Copy Ancestry Trees to Your Tree?”

  1. I don’t copy whole Ancestry trees to my database but I treat the claims made in them as clues many of which have enabled me to break down brick walls.

    I see my genealogy database as a workspace so I will add an unsourced person I find from Ancestry to my tree with the assessment level of Unreliable and the source as the Ancestry tree until I can find evidence to support their place in my tree. If I don’t find evidence I delete them.

    Like you I do things my way and this is what works for me.

    People who copy from my tree on the web do so at their peril.

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