Cousin collaboration

Part of the discussion was whether this should be called Cousin Bait as originally mentioned and on the question slides or perhaps a better title was Cousin Collaboration. You can see what I decided by the title of the post. But some answers still use the word bait.

fernandoalmeida / Pixabay

How do you share your family history online? ie blogging, trees, social media?

Also share with immediate family via email as many are older and this is their only online “place”. I have created separate email folders and labels, gmail is good for that – I used to forward emails to Evernote but have dropped back to basic now Evernote’s price has skyrocketed

Yes … agree re gmail … I also make use of folders and labels to organise family history emails from cousins and research contacts etc.

I mainly use blogging for sharing my family history online. I do have an online tree on Ancestry and some other subscription sites. I need to get better at using Facebook I think.

I also print off hard copies of any biographical narratives … they are available to immediate family via a folder on my bookshelf

Does anyone find they get much contact via online trees, either through paid sites or their own? (Other than when DNA is involved)

I get quite a few messages via Ancestry. Most are in response to DNA connections but some are tree related … I do quite a lot of descendant research so have lots of collateral lines in my trees … that helps to prompt tree related messages

I get quite a lot of messages on Ancestry. Not all who contact me are actually related but some have ended up being amazing collaborations! Betsy first found me on Ancestry. Look where that took me!

Just remembered I made some cousin contacts through a local history group on Facebook

I am trying to put my research in as many online places as possible. I am writing biographies on WikiTree and copying them to FamilySearch. I have trees on all the big sites.

I have done the same. Pretty much anywhere my tree can go you’ll find it. I don’t get much interaction anywhere but Ancestry but I live in hope

I’ve had some wonderful people contact me with offers of photos of my grandparents siblings – oooooo!!

I’ve (slowly) come to the realisation that trawling the trees for the cousins themselves (not their data) is a great way to find them and connect. Need to get moving with more of that!

Share my research mainly through blogging then emails once a connection has been made via tree on Ancestry etc

ISDiva / Pixabay

Do you have an intended audience when you share your family history online? Are you looking to collaborate with others?

Sharing my family history online is about telling our stories for future generations, and to encourage older generations to tell their stories.

Encouraging older generations to tell their stories so less history is lost is a great outcome. Takes effort,

We need to write down our own personal memories too so that they become written remembered stories for our descendants

Years ago there was a blogging challenge called The Book of Me. Doing that I recorded much of my childhood experiences. We all need to leave our own for the future

I tend to write mainly for myself (to organise my evidence, thoughts etc. and find the gaps in my research) and for my immediate family so I tend to fly under the radar with my blog

ooh an intended audience…that is such a good question. Well in an ideal world I do try to cite my sources thinking that other family historians would be pretty cranky if I didn’t. But I am hoping to catch cousins too.

I’m a bit naughty when it comes to sources in my blog. I do list these sometimes however it makes the blog post less visually appealing and added work so will go for a “contact me for more info” plus if they are really interested they might contact me

I make use of lots of endnotes

Google alerts are quite useful

I’ve been thinking about audience for the blog lately – some good points here…

@geneastories has lots of good advice about family history story telling (in addition to the linked post above)

My intended audience is mixed. I want to preserve the stories for my family and retain via Pandora. It’s also a way to record my discoveries as a kind of research library

Am finding LivingDNA is getting better with replies to messages and then having to work out how related

I have had an uptake in messages from LivingDNA recently and have been able to connect some by cross referencing to other databases but some are only on LivingDNA and not very forthcoming with detail. Hopefully, it will get easier once trees are added!-?

In the early days of researching I drove for almost two hours to meet up with a cousin who found me through the blog. I gave her all my information and never heard from her again. Learned my lesson then and there

Sometimes it can be very frustrating. I’m talking to a 3C at the mo. (DNA) I’ve connected her to her Irish family, who she did not know, and shared everything with her back to her GGGs. And, she has one birth cert that I’d like, but no…

Ack, that’s disappointing. 🙁 (Which reminds me, I must share some birth certs I ordered recently with a 4th cousin LOL)

I have found my blog is great for non family history contacts. This is because they can Google a name or place and find you if you are fortunate. Even if they are not interested in family history some send a note with a few helpful details.

I mostly share family history information online with the intent to find people related to me. My blog posts are both to record stories and research but I do see them as cousin bait. Tags ensure they are easily found by subject, places, surnames etc

I also wonder about menus and categories. Having a navigation that attracts readers to go deeper takes thought and planning.

I use surnames for categories but I also have a menu for my posts when researching my hard to find Irish great great grandmother

I want to share what I know already and also learn from others. I had huge gaps of knowledge a decade ago and have learnt SO much from wider family members about my ancestors. Always looking to collaborate, as there are still a few mysteries to solve.

My intended audience is just whoever comes after me. I don’t have children and don’t know anybody in the family who would be interested in it, so want to make my research available for the future generations.

Collaboration is best when you can share and exchange with like-minded people. Collaboration doesn’t just flow in one direction.

Not sure if all understand how collaboration works and want information however do not share back

I guess we who have benefited have to model the behaviour we want in others (can you tell I’m staying with my 3yr old grandson just now)

As long as I can catch the cousins then the sharing usually follows!

In the past I have been contacted by people who are only interested in what they can get from me. At first I sent the info and heard nothing more from them. I much prefer collaboration

Intended audience includes (un)known descendants and their collateral lines (latest was the son in law of someone). I’m always willing to collaborate but for the moment, it’s mostly one way as I help with Irish records

I dont write for a specific audience but I do have some followers from UTAS family history who often add comments. Also have some cousins who follow and add info

The audience I target is twofold. Anyone interested in family history that can learn from my experiences and descendants of ancestors. The best contacts are ones with photos. You have to love a photo of a person you have not seen before.

LoboStudioHamburg / Pixabay

What do you consider is your best source of Cousin Collaboration? ie blogs, trees, social media?

hmmm well over the years it has been online trees followed by my blog but I suspect if I used Facebook more I might get more bites.

I find twitter achieves more blog hits. Probably because more people follow me on Twitter. Also more regular posting on Twitter. Smaller FB audience and a lack of posting does not help

Don’t forget … It is another avenue for engaging with others in family history research and doesn’t track you like fb does

The best responses I’ve had have been via my blog, especially when I was posting regularly. I think DNA + online trees have also been a good source of contacts from relatives.

The best thing I’ve found with DNA is the cousins who I “know” who help me separate one line from another. Getting specific people to test helps. I’m amazed how the random DNA inheritance will link one person and not others.

Agree, especially when a tree includes collateral lines in it and enables you to better support inquirers to understand where they connect

family trees with a broad base – that is, engage in descendant research to build down the collateral lines.

Undoubtedly, my best source of cousin bait is my blog. We also stay in touch far longer, as they may follow me. They occasionally email comments, and I’m often in their mind if they come across any new family stories, questions or photos. I love it!

My blog is by far the best source of cousin bait for me too Dara. I can’t quite believe the collaboration and information that has come out of blogging

Yes, on a couple of lines I have a long-term collaborator – and it’s so much extra fun to research those lines

I don’t seem to have much luck with this. Maybe I have too few close cousins. I have been in contact with quite distant cousins. Some are interested, many not.

Wherever you put your information there needs to be enough to “reel them in” too little and they move on

By FAR my best source of cousin bait is blogging. But also Twitter. I have put requests for information on Twitter and its amazing how quickly I get results.

I once asked if anyone knew a particular person and within half a day, the granddaughter of the person had contacted me. She gave me photos and information about the house I was researching in return for a copy of the history

For me it’s blogging for sure. Blog posts are out there forever and I’ve been contacted sometimes years after a post is published

Blogging, emails and family reunions are my best sources

the best source for cousin bait is somewhere that will show up in a search engine and free to access so @WikiTreers is my first choice to get someone found

So far has been the most useful for me. No new cousins have responded on social media, but many have through Ancestry and later through email.

my greatest number of contacts has come through the blog and a few from facebook Aus. bloggers group

Free-Photos / Pixabay


What cousin connections or great finds have you made through sharing information online?

The producers of Coast Australia found my convict blog where I had written about my g g g uncle on Norfolk island. Next thing I was researching for them and flown to NI to appear on the episode with Neil Oliver

Forget the cousins! If I knew blogging could get me a meeting with Neil Oliver I’d have been working my little typing fingers down to the bone. Ooh, that voice…

I went to NZ for a holiday, visited a town where some relatives lived, took photos of some photos they showed me, put on blog with question about who were these people. Have had many comments so I can now name the people in photos

Marvellous photos and ephemera from rediscovered cousins in New Zealand, Australia, England and Ireland which aid research on both my paternal and maternal lines. Some people are incredibly generous

I am constantly amazed at people’s generosity Tara when it comes to sharing family history.

What I found was that the diaspora tended to cherish those mementos far more than those who stayed behind

Very true Tara. My grandmother born in Ireland seemed more attached to her mementos than the relatives back home. I guess her way of staying attached.

My very best cousin connection was my dear 3rd cousin Betsy in Chicago. Our g grandparents were sister and brother. She became one of my closest friends and we solved family mysteries together. Since her death this year I have felt quite alone

Have just managed to take husband’s family back one more generation due to an online contact thru Ancestry. We exchanged many emails and documents etc before making the decision it was the correct family

DNA has led me to make connections with quite a few people – mostly we have not yet found our link. They are now friends even though we have not and probably never will meet in person.

Some fab connections, including distant cousin with well-researched family history for a side of the family I had been wondering about. Most memorably, contact from a descendant of a “lost” sibling of my 2x great grandmother, and the research she shared.

My Irish and Bavarian blogs have drawn in people who are descendants of those I’ve written about.

which demonstrates the importance of place I think

I have connected with a number of cousins from 2nd cousins to further afield due to trees, blog, Facebook

I wrote a blog about my husband’s MacDonalds of Ord. A man commented that his g grandfather had been the gardener at Ord house and on a trip to NZ picked up two seeds for a palm. One went to Kew gardens and one to Ord House. The palm at Kew died

I’ve made good friends as well as cousins through blogging. Found unexpected indirect links to genimates. Gained information I’d never have known about.

I was in touch with a cousin who I collaborated with and visited in England many years ago and lost touch. He was much older than me and I was worried he had passed away. He contacted me through the blog this week. I was so happy to hear from him

my great finds have come through someone sharing thru My Heritage and another thru internet stalking followed by letter writing – found the American connection & photographs of my GG grandmother’s brother – the closest I’ll ever get to what she looks like

Blogs mentioned:

Jane – her own thoughts

Sharn – Sharing her thinking about her conclusion

Hilary – Sharing her stories and research

Readers: How do you make connections for collaborating with other family members?

How do you keep a record of your research?

This week #ANZAncestryTime chat looked at Family Tree software and online tree services.

  1. For your main family tree, what software or online tree service do you use and why?
  2. What other software or online tree services do you use or have used for your family tree and why?
  3. What important features or functionality do you look for when choosing a home for your main family tree?
  4. Do you prefer a program that interacts with online services such as FamilySearch, Ancestry, etc?

Some participants have their main tree offline on their home computers, but might have a basic pedigree type tree on online websites. But if they have DNA tested they have a well built tree on the site where they tested as well as a GEDCOM uploaded on other sites where they have also uploaded their raw DNA data.

jplenio / Pixabay

Main online websites for creating and/or uploading trees: Ancestry, MyHeritage, FindMyPast, FamilySearch, WikiTree, Family Tree DNA

Offline family history software: Family Historian, Legacy, Family Tree Maker, RootsMagic,

Allie: Offline I use Family Historian, having tried out a few different ones. I have bits of my tree online, as a back up of sorts and to take advantage of record hints, but they are all private. Also have part of my tree publicly on WikiTree.

Maggie: I use Family Historian, but really only for generating large charts. I should spend a bit more time getting to grips with it.

Allie: Tbh I tend to put my research mainly into documents rather than the software, but it’s useful for quick reference and producing gedcoms. I probably don’t use a tenth of the features.

Pauleen: Ah, another narrative person 🙂

Allie: Definitely! I use a combination of text, timelines and tables depending on what I’m researching, I find it a much clearer way of recording the info as I go and easier to pick up again when I come back. Gedcoms are more of a quick reference tool for me.

Pauleen: Strange as it may seem I really don’t like FH software much except for the basic genealogy descendancy. The software makes me feel boxed in and I prefer narrative and using spreadsheets etc as tools. DNA, on the other hand, necessitates using a tree.

Michelle: I use the Person Notes space in FTM to write a biographical narrative and the Research Notes space for thoughts observations, questions, hypotheses etc Combined with timeline view and task list it keeps me on track even if I have a break from it 🙂

Michelle: It is much easier to find errors and do data cleanup in the offline tree and then I can just push the changes to my online tree. So much better for consistency.

Michelle: I like my offline tree for confidentiality, to keep sensitive information private and to store images/documents that are subject to copyright. I like the online tree for DNA matches, collaboration. I prefer offline tree for ability to group, filter and colour code people, generate reports, find errors and do database cleanup, see linkages between people by location. Lots of power that the online sites don’t have.

ANZ: Sometimes it’s best to stay with what you know. It’s so time consuming to learn a new program entirely I’ve found

Hilary: I am trying to update my file with better sourcing so trying to figure out how best to do it before I add too much not quite there yet

Michelle: It is definitely worth doing. I restarted my tree a couple of times in RootsMagic as I learnt more about how it handled citations and decided I wanted to change how I had set them up.

There was quite a bit of discussion about how to add weblinks to Ancestry so you can extend the story with other sources than those provided by Ancestry.

Dara: I do that occasionally too, though not consistently. Must get better at it !

Sue: I try to research one person at a time and after putting in basics look for newspapers etc and include links straight away before I forget. Do that with library clients as well so they get whole story.

Jennifer: There is so much I need to learn about Ancestry. I don’t spend much time there at the moment mainly due to the dreaded time issues

Sue: Also add Trove article URLs to same place as web links

Jane: I sometimes add links to images of a record from FindMyPast where Ancestry has the record but not the image

Sue: I add those weblinks so anyone checking the profile of person they are researching known I have done lots of research on my own not just relying on Ancestry hints.

Jennifer: I’m using Legacy and their Timelines work well. The early FTM had great time lines. I haven’t used the later versions so unsure

Dara: I started with Legacy, easy to use. Now I use Ancestry as my main ‘tree’, but I don’t usually attach sources. I save them down in my ‘filing system’, which acts as my pedigree chart.

Jane: I do tend to work in Ancestry and sync to Family Tree Maker rather than vice versa. I should take some time to learn to use FTM more proficiently rather than just using it as a syncing and merging tool

Pauleen: One reason for choosing RootsMagic was its online links. However I don’t load my tree from there to Ancestry etc. I don’t load sources found elsewhere into Ancestry, just the ones on their site. I prefer to keep my sources and data separate to my software.

Hilary: I prefer a standalone desktop program as less risk of introducing errors. My software has good matching capability which is one of the reasons I like it

Jane: Sometimes it gets to the point where the additional trees at places like GEDmatch etc. are best taken down and a new more up-to-date GEDcom uploaded from your main tree

Hilary: I love @WikiTreers as it allows a narrative and photographs to be added that I have control over so is main place for my online tree I can also add links to blogposts

Jennifer: I keep saying that I must check out wikitree. Time always seems to get in the way, but I’m putting it at the top of that ever growing list

Alexas_Fotos / Pixabay

Fran: Yes the online trees are great if you are sharing / collaborating with family in distant places.

Fran: Ancestry has got us more entwined with trees and DNA as we get more matches.

Sue: I only put public tree on Ancestry when I was doing DNA, prior to that, kept on my computer and rellies could request charts etc especially as they had helped with data at family reunions

Sue: Where is everyone else? on Ancestry, also where I have DNA tested lots of rellies, great hints, ability to add sources and weblinks as well as add to a timeline. Great support help area

Allie: Ease of use. I like software that is easy to navigate and fairly intuitive/WYSIWYG. I’m not going to be using it much for anything other than producing gedcoms & recording sources, so lots of extras like reports, charts and maps aren’t that important to me.

Maggie: I look for ease of use, good search facility, reporting features. Plus good support from company.

Jennifer: I was drawn to Legacy because of their sources capability. It took me ages to get my head around how to use it. When I was almost about to give up I figured it out and know that I made the right choice for me.

Margaret: I was talking about merging FamilySearch entries within the Legacy FamilySearch box as against going to the website and doing it. Merge in Legacy is easy.

Pauleen: Confidentiality, compatibility with online databases and especially flexibility in relationships. Same sex marriages, pre-marriage childbirth, divorce and separation are part of many families

ANZ: I tried out the My Heritage app recently and liked it. I use family search and Ancestry apps regularly

Fran: I also use Family Tree Maker with it linked to Ancestry and Family Search. It’s linked to various persons DNA i manage. Plus I save Ancestry sources I find – good when I do not have time to source immediately. Risky however better than not saving them at all.

Jane: I used to use Legacy years ago and really liked using it but in recent times I have switched to Family Tree Maker because of the way it syncs with Ancestry. My Ancestry tree has a very broad base with lots of DNA matches connected

Fran: Moved back to Reunion when the app came out. Like having everything on my ipad when I go away. Before I used to duplicate all the sources on Evernote with digital images so needed the paid version. Evernote had a big price increase so it cemented the change.

Maggie: Use Heredis for some of its reporting features, plus Family Historian for when I want to print large family trees. Use online private unsearchable trees on Ancestry for figuring out DNA matches. Plan to put a basic tree up on Findmypast.

ScottishPerson / Pixabay

ANZ: I found Legacy really difficult for a while. While in lockdown I decided to learn it properly instead of just trying to wing it. I love it now that I know what I’m doing

Jane: Main tree on Ancestry synced with Family Tree Maker on laptop. Smaller direct line tree in a few other places e.g., FindMyPast, MyHeritage …

Sue: I have main tree on Ancestry but basic trees for DNA mainly on MyHeritage, Family Search, FTDNA. Often just pedigree trees then as match made, add to the tree

Margaret: A lot of my work is added to @wikitree. I spend a lot of time correcting entries on FamilySearch. So I have trees there as part of the global trees

Jennifer: I have a basic outline of my tree online at @Ancestry and @FamilySearch mainly for the hints and as cousin bait. I do it because I know I should, not really because I want to

Margaret: I use Legacy for all my many trees offline. It syncs to FamilySearch. I load Gedcoms elsewhere. I contribute to my nephew’s research tree on Ancestry (back that up to my computer)

Sandra: I use RootsMagic for my offline tree because it’s simple and easy to use and reasonably priced. I have 2 trees on Ancestry, one is for DNA matches and one for general research.

Hilary: I have my own database that can’t be altered by others on my computer but find collaborative sites good for cousin connections

Fran: for my main tree I use Reunion on my Mac. It suits my lazy sourcing, images collections, transcripts and more. It is not connected to any online service so is a secure as my computer

Pauleen: When so many people had my tree online I defaulted and made mine public on Ancestry. I find it useful as a reference and as a way for people to see how my DNA links. I use RootsMagic offline which can sync with Ancestry.

Sue: I used to have The Master Genealogist but since it is not updated I moved it all to both Ancestry (Online) and Legacy (on my laptop) I add to the one on Ancestry more than Legacy

Readers: How do you keep a record of your research? Do you have it online or solely offline?