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  • Where Do I Start...

    Where Do I Start? How to Begin Building Your Family Tree

    Building a family tree is one of the best ways to really understand your family's history and where you came from. The problem is that you can't simply jump in without a little preparation and a lot of research. Here are some tips you can't miss on how you can get started growing your family tree.

    • Start at home.

      Chances are you've got a wealth of genealogical knowledge just waiting for you in your own home. Papers, letters, photos and the notes on their backs, legal documents, and family heirlooms are all great sources for discovering your immediate roots. They can give you clues to your past and the people in it, and even jump-start your memory. Go digging through your own attic and filing cabinets, and then check with all your relatives to see what they're willing to donate to the cause.

      Remember that these are important historical documents, so be careful with how you handle them. Make copies when possible and necessary, and store the originals safely. The smartest way to preserve your history, in fact, is to start a digital archive right out of the gate by scanning the paper material you have, either with your own home scanner or by visiting a copy shop.

    • Notetaking and Organizing.

      Arrange the background material you've found roughly in date order (to make organizing easier on yourself!). Then with a pen or a laptop at your side, you start the fun part: sorting through your family's rich history. As you go through, start taking notes. Write down all the names you find, the dates associated with them, and any other background information you can glean from what you've got at hand.

      Note down any facts you find like birthdates, places they've lived, jobs they've held as well as any questions that come up, holes in the information you find, things you want to know more about, gaps between relatives, and more. This is the heart of your genealogy project. 

      Keep in mind that it's probably easiest and fastest to use a laptop or computer to take these notes, in order to organize them and to later start moving all this information electronically into the family tree you want to start building. 

    • Interview relatives.

      Your living relatives are going to be one of the most important sources you've got not just for dates but also for the stories and anecdotes that make your family history project so much richer. Factual questions about births and marriage dates and deaths and where they lived are important, but ask open-ended questions too, such as:

      • How did your family end up where you grew up?
      • What relatives lived near you? 
      • What is your first childhood memory?
      • What were your family members like? 
      • What religion was your family?
      • Have you ever been mentioned in the news?
      • Who was your oldest family member when you were growing up?
      • What do you know about your family surname?
      • Is there a naming tradition in the family?
      • Do we have any famous (or infamous) relatives?

      These questions will add depth and color to your family history. Importantly, they're also clues for further research. For instance, knowing you might have a famous relative, what religion your family was, or that all first-born boys were given the same middle name. This gives you new places to search for background information such as church registries or news sources, names to keep an eye out for, and more.

    • Distill and organize.

      Here's where your family tree really starts. When you go back through all the research you've done, organize all the information you have. Group new facts about the same person together, make a list of leads (churches and family names, for instance), and finally, make a master list of the names of all the relatives you know about. These are the very first branches of your tree.

    • Put it all together.

      Online family tree services are the fastest and easiest way to start building your family tree with all the information you've gathered out of the gate. They get you organized fast, and give you the opportunity to go back and edit, add information whenever and wherever you need, and share your family tree with other family members.

      A feature to look for when you're hunting down the best online family tree website is collaboration. Shared family trees mean that not only are you starting with the best background and history you've gathered from your own family, you have access to all the research, records and information that thousands of other genealogists have uncovered. With just a few clicks you can grow from a few branches to thousands of connections you didn't know existed.

    From there you can start exploring even further. The Internet has tons of tools and resources that can help you track down more family surnames, give you great background stories and information about the connections you've already found, and even help you improve your research skills and genealogical knowledge.

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  • How Does OneGreatFamily Compare With Other Genealogy Products?

    OneGreatFamily is Four Products in One

    People have asked us in the past what makes OneGreatFamily unique. They have also asked us another similar question: How does OneGreatFamily compare against other genealogy products?

    OneGreatFamily provides an enormous amount of value because it successfully combines four products into one. OneGreatFamily is an online database of lineage-linked data, a genealogy records management software program, a collaborative environment for sharing and working on family history, and our Family Dashboard allows you to experience a whole new way to explore your family tree.

    The following is a list to consider when comparing OneGreatFamily against other genealogy products:

  • OneGreatFamily is creating a combined database for the human family

    There are several benefits of tying family trees together. These benefits include gaining research leads to explore, easily identifying others who are researching your family lines, discovering how you are related to other researchers, tracing collateral family lines, seeing how you are related to famous relatives, and gaining instant access to updates, conflicts and new information on your ancestors.

    Other services will search multiple databases for instances of a name, but no other service makes finding information on your ancestors easier by comparing all the family trees at OneGreatFamily.
  • OneGreatFamily is searching for ALL of your ancestors ALL the time

    OneGreatFamily searches for ALL of your ancestors ALL the time. Other programs require you to enter names and dates of specific ancestors or require you to be using their software at the time potential matches are found. OneGreatFamily, on the other hand, is always searching for any possible matches based on the individuals and families in your family tree. OneGreatFamily only notifies you when matches have been found for YOUR ancestors (not just anyone with the same name).
  • OneGreatFamily does not sell your family tree

    OneGreatFamily sells a subscription service to provide users with a system that matches and merges their family trees and provides new opportunities for collaboration. You can search OneGreatFamily and submit your own family tree for free. A subscription is only required to access the features that provide additional value by saving you time and effort in researching your family tree. Free services that provide you with access to millions of names in family trees do little to add value to the data provided. Other services actually charge people to access family trees that have been freely submitted. They charge access fees to search their family tree databases or sell the records on CD-ROMs. Many people who have purchased family trees on CD-ROMs express dismay when they realize they have actually purchased the very same data they submitted!
  • OneGreatFamily is a living, dynamic family tree that is always growing!

    OneGreatFamily is continuously updated by tens of thousands of subscribers. Everyone who uses OneGreatFamily is working on a shared database, but enjoys the benefit of seeing the family tree from his or her own perspective. Any additions or changes in OneGreatFamily can be seen instantaneously by everyone around the world without any waiting or additional processing. While working on your family tree in OneGreatFamily, you may suddenly receive a notification that new ancestors have been added to YOUR family tree.
  • Family Dashboard, shows you a whole new way to explore your family tree
    • Family Dashboard allows you to explore and work on your family tree in ways no other program provides. Family Dashboard makes exploring your family tree a lot of fun while aiding your genealogy research. Family Dashboard, which is fully integrated with Genealogy BrowserT, allows you to analyze your family tree from a variety of unique aspects, and then drill directly into a specific ancestor you are working on. Family Dashboard provides drag-and-drop widgets designed to provide interesting information and insights into your family tree. Example widgets include Relationship Calculator, Migration Calculator, Time Capsule, Top 10 Birth and Death Countries, etc.

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  • Meet Your Distant Cousins at OneGreatFamily

    Researching Your Ancestors' Siblings May Help Your Family Tree To Grow

    A family tree is a pretty basic concept to understand; two ancestors have children, their children have children, and so forth, down to the present day with you and me. Each set of children is what we refer to as a generation. Each generation adds more branches to the tree.

    Your direct ancestral line comes through only one of the children of each of your ancestors. Did you ever stop to think about the descendants of the other children? Not only will you find that many other researchers connect to your same ancestors, but you may even connect to the same ancestor more than once. Depending on how many generations back the common ancestor is there may be hundreds or thousands of descendants alive today. One may be your neighbor, your friend, or even your spouse!

    Another advantage to researching collateral lines is that it could result in adding more ancestors to your family tree. As you meet and collaborate with your distant cousins they may have information and stories about your ancestors.

    When submitting your family tree to OneGreatFamily, make sure you include as many relationships as possible. Sibling relationships are very important to include at OneGreatFamily because relationships are the primary source of information for OneGreatFamily to be able to match your genealogy with those that have been submitted by others. Accurate dates and places for events, while important, are not as valuable as actual family relationships.

    How do I reverse engineer my family tree?

    Let's start with reverse engineering a smaller family tree to better understand the concept. Suppose your grandparents on your father's side had five children. Being a child to any one of the five children would make you a cousin to the children of any of the other five siblings. The concept of "reverse engineering" your family tree is to look at all of the collateral information that is available in your family tree. Start by tracing your family tree back to a common ancestor (your grandfather in this case). Now, instead of looking at your father and your family, trace the descendancy of one of his siblings.

    With OneGreatFamily, you can easily "Reverse Engineer Your Family Tree" and see just who you are related to. Collateral lines often help fill gaps with your own direct ancestral line. See below for instructions on how to View an Ancestor's Descendancy.

    What are the benefits of reverse engineering my family tree?

    Reverse engineering your family tree allows you to find relatives that you otherwise may not have found. Families tend to migrate together, so finding a brother, sister, or cousin of your ancestor may lead to the discovery of records for YOUR direct line ancestor as well. You can also see if any of your direct line ancestors have any famous descendants by tracing the various lines of descendancy. Some of the most exciting relations that you can find are relatives that are still living today!

    With OneGreatFamily, not only can you trace these lines to your distant relatives, but you can also communicate with many of them! When you find a living relative, or any ancestor for that matter, you can use the Collaboration feature to get in touch with the submitter.

    For those genealogists who are dedicated to finding their direct ancestors, reverse engineering can also be particularly helpful. When you are stuck on a certain line, having data on the siblings and children of the ancestor you are looking for can aid in finding data for them.

    Many people enjoy genealogy because of the stories and information they learn about their ancestors. The reverse engineering technique can increase that learning by making it possible to gain knowledge about your "very-extended" family. By knowing about your ancestor's immediate family, you can learn more about who they were.

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  • There's No Other Genealogy Program Like OneGreatFamily

    How is OneGreatFamily Different From Other Genealogy Websites?

    OneGreatFamily is a cooperative effort between you and the rest of the world. It is an online genealogical service which allows everyone to combine their knowledge and data to build one huge, shared database.

    OneGreatFamily is more than a simple collection of different family trees. Using breakthrough technology, OneGreatFamily is actually linking all of the family trees together into one great family.

    What This Means To You:

    With the world working together on one family tree, each individual is able to leverage the effort and research of all OneGreatFamily users rather than wasting time duplicating research that others have already done.

    How It Works:

    After you enter what you already know about your ancestors, we begin searching for more of your ancestors. Once our search process starts, it never stops.

    A genealogist can only search for information about one ancestor at a time. The OneGreatFamily automated search engine continually looks for additional information and relatives for every one of your ancestors at the same time.

    As OneGreatFamily members add new individuals, our search process checks to see if any of them are your ancestors. Even if we find some of your ancestors today, we may find more in a week, a month, or a year.

    Once we find new information about your ancestors, we notify you by email and when you login to OneGreatFamily. You can see the new information about your ancestors in your family tree.

    As we continue to search for your ancestors, you can review the ancestors we added, add new ancestors yourself, and collaborate with others who are looking for your ancestors too. OneGreatFamily offers a unique genealogy experience that will help you enjoy the journey and the results.

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  • You've Submitted Your Family Tree To OneGreatFamily - Now What?

    OneGreatFamily Has So Much To Help You Find Your Ancestors

    Here is a list of things you can do at OneGreatFamily that will increase your chances of success at OneGreatFamily. We hope that as a member you have come to appreciate the unique service provided by OneGreatFamily.

    1. Discover what has been done on your family tree already
    The OneGreatFamily Tree is a powerful genealogy database that is shared and built by people like you all over the world. Every single name, date, place, picture, biography and video clip has been submitted by people like you. In fact, the OneGreatFamily Tree started without a single name. Users in over 80 countries have submitted millions of names . . . and we've only just begun! So what does a "shared" worldwide database mean to you? It means someone else may have already entered dozens or even hundreds of your ancestors!

    2. Start researching where others left off

    Spend some time searching for your ancestors at OneGreatFamily and pay special attention to new information that is added to your family tree over time. This will help you know what research others have already done or are doing on your family tree. You can then spend your time conducting new research or simply verifying information that others have provided.

    3. Meet and collaborate with family

    OneGreatFamily allows people around the world to work on one common family tree. This means others can be researching and improving information on your ancestors. Wouldn't you like to meet and collaborate with these genealogical cousins? You can! OneGreatFamily provides collaboration features that allow you to work with other researchers and family members.

    4. Search millions of names

    At OneGreatFamily, you can search millions of names in the OneGreatFamily Tree and in the Social Security Death Index. When you find an individual that you would like to learn more about, simply click on him or her to view detailed information that we store in our databases.

    With OneGreatFamily, you have the flexibility to choose when to work on your genealogy and when to focus on other needs in your life, knowing that work on your family tree continues.

    5. Visit your Family Dashboard
    Your Family Dashboard is the first page you see when you login to OneGreatFamily. This very unique page allows you to learn interesting facts about your ancestors and family tree. This is also a great place to get ideas of where you can do addition research.

    OneGreatFamily has much to offer that cannot be found on any other genealogy site or within any other genealogy program! If you have other questions or need further assistance, please contact us.

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