It continues to surprise me when family historians say their family trees are only online. This situation was brought to my attention again this week when hubby gave his Researching with Google presentation to our community. When asked what future topics they wished covered, the resounding vote was for what is the best software program to use. Hubby asked what people were using, and besides us who use Reunion for Mac, only two others responded and they were using very outdated, no longer supported, software.
Besides developing a written genealogy (in Word) of my family, I also enter my data into my Reunion software. I run off hard copies of my Word document, and backup my Reunion onto a thumb drive. And it is backed up daily onto our Time Machine. When I have time . . . I enter my family tree into FamilySearch.org.
And that is where a problem arose. A couple of weeks ago I received an email from FamilySearch that 76 changes were made to my Upstate New York Doolittle family line. The Doolittles are not a direct line, but I had done a fair amount of research on Mary Jane (Tucker) Doolittle and her husband, John. They had six children, and I had entered all these folks, plus spouses, children, sources and in some cases obits into this online family tree.
After receiving the notice from FamilySearch, I went to my tree and realized John and the children had disappeared. Someone – someone who didn’t take the time to check out the family – merged this line with parents living in New Hampshire.
Hubby, who faithfully attends the FamilySearch training sessions each month rolled his chair over to help rescue my family. After an hour . . . he suggested that I should just start over.
I didn’t like that response. It shouldn’t be me spending hours recreating this online family tree. I appealed to one of our genealogy society members who volunteers at the Family History Center and has contact with Salt Lake City. Today, she and hubby worked hard to bring my family back to my tree. When hubby got home, he showed me there is a tab to the right of the screen that says, “recent changes.” Click on that and there should be a “restore” button. It looked easy enough, but the fact that it took two “experts” so much time to retrieve my family tells me there is more to that story (smile).
I’m thankful my Doolittle family is back with their rightful wife and mother, and I’m thankful for my FamilySearch guardian angel, Julie, who made that happen.
I hope my story will give pause to anyone who only posts their family tree online. You should have a genealogy software program on your own computer. All that research is valuable and should be treated that way. Ancestry is a privately owned company. There is no guarantee that it will continue or continue in a way that best serves genealogists. Their track record supporting Rootsweb is a good example. As my story attests, FamilySearch also has issues, and I'm certain any online service is going to have its foibles.
Bottom line: Take control of your data. Future generations will thank you for it.
p.s. I wrote to the person who merged my family into the wrong line and asked her to be more careful next time and double check in the future before merging.