OneGreatFamily Blog

  • Famous Ancestor Of The Week: Lady Diana

    Lady Diana

    Known as Lady Diana or Diana, Princess of Wales, Diana Frances Spencer was the youngest daughter of John Spencer, Viscount Althorp, the eighth earl Spencer. Her father was a descendant of King Charles II through several generations of illegitimate sons, and a descendant of King James II through an illegitimate daughter. The Spencer family had long been close to the royal family; Diana's grandmother was a friend and lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth.

    Prince Charles was romantically involved with Diana's older sister Lady Sarah before he began courting nineteen-year-old Diana in the summer of 1980. Charles and Diana were married in July of 1981 in St. Paul's Cathedral in London. Their first son William was born less than a year later; Harry was born two years after that.

    As well as remaining a devoted mother, Diana became involved in humanitarian work. She was a proponent of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and from 1989 onward she was the president of the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children.

    Charles and Diana divorced in 1996 as a result of extramarital affairs. She died in a car crash in Paris in August of 1997. After her death, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines won the Nobel Peace Prize.

    To learn more about Diana's genealogy, read Richard K. Evans's The Ancestry of Diana, Princess of Wales, for Twelve Generations published in 2009 by the New England Historic Genealogical Society.

    You can see whether or not you are related to Lady Diana by going to the Relationship Calculator on the Family Dashboard Page when you login to OneGreatFamily.

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  • OneGreatFamily Helps Genealogists On A Budget

    Save Time And Money With OneGreatFamily

    Most of us today seem to be constantly strapped for time and money. We all know that searching for our ancestors is really important, but the costs and time involved can seem overwhelming. We at OneGreatFamily can help!

    OneGreatFamily is a service that can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars with your genealogy - not to mention saving you hours and hours of time as well.

    Researching one ancestor alone can take years and cost a lot of money! Now, you can get a start on your genealogy from the comfort of your home. Here are a few costs to consider when researching your family tree:

    • Family Tree Software
    • Travel Expenses
    • Photocopies, Mail, etc.
    • Professional Assistance
    • Backup hardware
    • Data Access on CD-ROM or Online

    Right away, OneGreatFamily saves you money on Family Tree Software. The included, downloadable Genealogy BrowserT is a full-fledged family tree software package with several unique features that you cannot find anywhere else. Our Family DashboardT, also free, provides powerful analytics to help you identify research needs quickly.

    Next, OneGreatFamily saves you money by automatically backing up your family tree to our servers, providing you with the peace of mind that your work is not in jeopardy of being lost from accidents.

    Finally, OneGreatFamily can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars in travel, photocopies, professional assistance and data access fees. With most of us watching where our money goes, keep in mind an annual subscription to OneGreatFamily can cost less than one roundtrip drive to a family history library.

    Here are more examples of how OneGreatFamily saves you money:

    • efficiently eliminates duplicate family trees and relationships by creating ONE FAMILY TREE. Elsewhere, the internet has spawned a data duplication floodgate, which wastes your time as you wade through thousands of duplicate records.
    • provides you with access to the largest collective family tree available.
    • Collaborate with people from all around the world from the comfort of home . . . or wherever you have access to the Internet. Spend some time on OneGreatFamily before you take that trip to your ancestral homeland!
    • Online collaboration can help you save hundreds of dollars on correspondence, photocopies, and other expenses. Documents, photos, and other information can be stored electronically on OneGreatFamily or sent to distant family members you meet on OneGreatFamily via email.
    • Gather as much information as possible on to make sure your money is well spent if you decide to hire a professional researcher for further assistance.
    • OneGreatFamily includes access to MILLIONS OF NAMES; many with corresponding events, sources, notes, photos, biographies, and other supporting data. More data is being added every day.
    Why spend hundreds of hours searching for information that others have already found? Instead of duplicating research that is already done, you can now spend your time conducting new research or simply verifying information others have provided.

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  • Genealogy: Increasing the Productivity of Your eMail

    The following article is a sample from Barry J. Ewell's book "Family Treasures: 15 Lessons, Tips, and Tricks for Discovering your Family History." He is the founder of, an online educational website for genealogy and family history. 

    If this is your first genealogy-related email, consider this an introduction. Explain who you are. Briefly explain your interest in family history. Don't overwhelm the recipient with questions or your entire family tree in your first email. Tell how you're related to the person or family you are contacting them about. Consider how you found out about the person you are contacting. Was it from the relative or researcher? If appropriate, pass on a greeting from that person.

    The subject line is everything. The subject will oftentimes determine whether your email is opened or directed to an email's "spam" or "trash" folder. Consider putting the full name or surname of the specific ancestor plus the word genealogy. For example, "Ewell Genealogy."

    Writing to someone who speaks another language. If you're writing someone who speaks a different language than you, request help from someone who knows the language. Review a research guide from the county of the Family History Library catalog. There are usually several examples of letters in various languages with English translation. Language translation sites can help in a pinch. If you're not sure in which language to send your email, send it in both languages. Use simple words and phrases in your email, which will increase the chance that words will be translated correctly. Check (and, if needed, correct) key facts such as names and dates before you send email.

    Remember that you are writing to request a favor. Once you have contacted the individual, there still may be some reservation about who you are or about sharing the requested information. Let them know it would be helpful to receive a few basic facts. Ask them what further information they may need from you. If they refuse to share information, don't press them. Ask them if there is someone else that could provide assistance.

    Say "Thank you." When individuals take time to help you, write a thank-you note to them. The time to write thank-you's is the minute you finish reading their email. It is also nice to keep them posted on the progress of your research going forward.

    How to write an email

    Begin by making sure that you have the correct email address of the person you are emailing. If you don't, it will come back to you as undeliverable. Type the email address into the "TO" box.

    Next, determine the topic of the email. The topic is what should go in the "RE" or "Subject" box. Be specific, because the recipient may not know you; if she can't determine what the email is about, then she may simply delete your message-or worse, flag it as spam. Keep the email short and succinct. The first word of the title should be capitalized; all other words-unless proper nouns-should be in lower case.

    Begin typing the message to the recipient. Use the proper rules of grammar; if in doubt, will answer any questions. Even if the email is more casual, such as an email to a friend or family member, take the time to prevent typographical errors, use proper form, and to use spell-check. To use spell-check, click on the icon marked "Spelling" or "Check Spelling" and it will check the body of the email for errors and suggest corrections. After you have written the body of the message, read it out loud to yourself to make sure you've used proper grammar and haven't omitted any text.

    Finish the email with an ending, such as "Sincerely" or "Respectfully." Under that, add your name. If this is a business email, you should always type your email address and your telephone number below your name, as well as any other pertinent information, such as your company and your title. Once you are satisfied with your email, click "Send."

    How to write a personal email

    • Choose your words. Things can get taken out of context over email, so make sure your message is clear, readable, and friendly. While you can convey discontent in an email, you should always include a warm closing statement at the end-especially if it's not the most positive email. Short phrases and one-word replies can appear snide and rude-like you're talking to something, not someone, or to someone who doesn't matter. When it comes to business, clients need to feel special and that they can talk to you even using an impersonal form of communication such as email.

    • Determine the intended recipient and include a greeting with the recipient's name. If you're writing back and forth, try to include a greeting in each reply. A greeting will help make the email more personal. In addition, use a salutation and sign your name, even just your first name if you're comfortable enough with a client or supervisor.

    • Enable future contact. It's very important that someone can contact you in a way other than email, so give your phone number in the signature to your message. Some people don't agree with releasing this information; however, if you're in business, you can't hide behind a computer. Giving business associates your phone number shows that they can reach you should they wish to talk instead of using email alone.

    • Chit chat. While you don't want to recap details of your weekend, you can include a personal note. It's never bad to tell someone you hope they had a nice time on their vacation after you ramble on in a message about business. I find this often leads to more personalized email and a strong business relationship. While you may not want to get too carried away talking about personal things over email with a client or boss, I think it's okay to get to know a supervisor or customer.

    • Observe email etiquette. As email becomes one of the most frequently used forms of communication, it's important that you observe proper email etiquette so that you keep communications cordial and respectful. From using basic writing etiquette rules to more complex technical customs, follow these steps to observe good email etiquette:

    • Write to your audience. Just as with letter writing or spoken communication, it's important that you write an email with your specific audience in mind. Keep the email personal, but appropriately formal or casual by starting with a greeting and a few words of courtesy. Use spaces between paragraphs and an appropriate valedictory, such as "Best regards" or "Sincerely," to end the email.

    • Keep file attachments light. One of the most common violations of email etiquette is attaching very large files to the email. Large files literally clog the recipient's email inbox, making the download very slow. If you need to send someone an email with an attachment that is larger than one megabyte, get approval from the recipient in advance or ask if there's a better way to transfer the file.

    • Make sure the email is relevant. An email is an address box- just like your physical mailbox at home. So flooding people you know with emails that are important to you but irrelevant to them is considered bad etiquette and sometimes is even classified as "spam," or unwanted junk mail. Before you forward someone a joke, announcement, or chain letter-make sure you know that the recipient will appreciate the email's contents.

    • Keep email addresses private. If you need to send an email to many people simultaneously, or if you're forwarding an email from one person to another, it's very important that you protect the email addresses of your contacts. To write an email with numerous recipients, put your own name in the "To" field and then use the bcc function to hide the recipients' email addresses. When forwarding an email, remove all mentions of the sender's email address before you send the email.

    Use online abbreviations sparingly. Although you might love using your favorite Internet abbreviations such as "btw," or "brb," you should be careful not to overuse such language in emails. Many email users might not understand "Internet- speak," and others may find it too casual. Observe the same principle of email etiquette when using smiley faces or other emoticons.

    Read more great genealogy tips in Barry Ewell's book "Family Treasures: 15 Lessons, Tips, and Tricks for Discovering your Family History.

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  • Famous Ancestor Of The Week: Thomas Jefferson

    Activist for Independence: Thomas Jefferson

    After attending the College of William and Mary, Thomas Jefferson practiced law and was elected a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses. As a Burgess, he was an agitator for revolution. In 1774 he published a pamphlet, A Summary View of the Rights of British America, in which he argued that sovereignty was inherent in the people and they could throw off any government that subverted their rights. Previous pamphleteers and revolutionaries had just decried the evils of Parliament but not the king; some had even appealed to George III to protect them from the abuses of Parliament. Thomas Jefferson was one of the first to accuse George III of tyranny, and he encouraged the American people to throw off his rule. In 1774 when the Summary View pamphlet was published, Jefferson's views were too radical for most of the American populace and were not adopted by the First Continental Congress. But this pamphlet represented the direction that American thought would take over the next several months. Only two years later in 1776 most Americans agreed with Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence, asserting American rights and rejecting the rule of George III, was passed.

    At the Continental Congress in 1776, Jefferson was one of five men chosen to form a committee to create a resolution for independence (John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Livingston, and Roger Sherman were the other four). Jefferson was the one who actually drafted the declaration; it was signed by the Congressional delegates on 4 July 1776. Thomas Jefferson served his country in many capacities: as the minister of France from 1785 to 1789; as the founder of the Democratic-Republican party; as vice president from 1796 to 1800; as the third president of the United States from 1800 to 1804; and as the negotiator of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. But the Declaration of Independence is what he is most remembered for and was perhaps his most lasting contribution.

    Click Here To See Thomas Jefferson's Family Tree

    You can also see whether or not you are related to Thomas Jefferson by going to the Relationship Calculator on the Family Dashboard Page when you login to OneGreatFamily.

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  • Is Your OneGreatFamily Tree Growing?

    Two Ways To Increase Your Success At OneGreatFamily

    OneGreatFamily is a remarkable service that continues to help people identify tens of thousands of previously unknown ancestors each week. Nearly 205,000 individuals in the OneGreatFamily database were merged together within the last week, and nearly 140,000 were identified as potential merges (or hints). What does this mean?

    This means OneGreatFamily is growing and the information included at OneGreatFamily is becoming more accurate. This activity also means that people whose genealogies are included as part of OneGreatFamily are seeing their family trees continue to grow.

    How can you make sure you are one of the people who benefits from this amazing growth and collaboration? We'd like to suggest two ways:

    1. Submit your entire known family tree!

    The more information you provide to OneGreatFamily, the greater the chance of tying into other ancestral lines. OneGreatFamily allows people to enter information directly into Genealogy BrowserT, enter information through Family Dashboard, or to submit a GEDCOM file to start or expand their family tree. With each additional generation you enter of your own family tree, you are increasing your ability to know if another member of OneGreatFamily is already working on your family tree. Identifying ONE common ancestor can result in finding a whole new ancestral line.

    Many people have been able find new matching data and meet distant relatives after entering only a few generations of their family trees . . . or even just a few ancestors; however, others with "less common" ancestors may need to supply OneGreatFamily with more information to get started. You are guaranteed further success over time as OneGreatFamily continues to enjoy phenomenal growth.

    2. See your family tree to the end of each line

    Genealogy BrowserT only shows the first seven generations of your family tree as its default setting; however, you may actually have more than seven generations of data available at OneGreatFamily.

    You can identify whether or not you are seeing your entire family tree by recognizing "end of line" individuals. An "end of line" individual is someone in the OneGreatFamily family tree with no known ancestors. You can find them quickly because they are in red boxes as shown in the example below.

    If you see a line in your family tree that doesn't end with an individual in a red box, you are not seeing your entire family tree. The following instructions will help you change the preference for how many generations can be viewed in Genealogy Browser. You can then expand the Starfield View (pedigree) to see your entire family tree at OneGreatFamily.

    Number of Generations Display on the Toolbar

    You will notice this drop down menu in the toolbar section at the top of Genealogy Browser. This convenient menu lets you quickly and easily set the number of generations to be displayed in the Starfield area.

    Many users have never changed this setting and so have never actually seen their entire family tree on OneGreatFamily. If you have never changed this setting, we strongly encourage you to play around with it. You can select a value off the drop down menu or just enter a value into the box. If you are on a high-speed internet connection, we would suggest you try starting with at least 50 generations. Dial-up users might want to start with 20 generations.

    Remember, the higher the number, the longer it may take to load your pedigree. Still, you could be surprised to see how far back your family tree goes, and it will be worth the wait!

    Family DashboardT End of Line Widget

    Another way to view your "End of Line" ancestors is on Family Dashboard with the "End of Line" widget:

    This widget shows you a list of 3 random people from your family tree that have neither parent listed in OneGreatFamily. These people can be excellent choices for focusing further research into your family tree.

    If you click on the "more" button on the widget, a window will pop up with the Details Page that lists all ancestors in your family tree that are the end of their line in OneGreatFamily. This Details Page allows you to sort by Surname, First Name, Birth Date, Birth Place, Death Date, or Death Place. You can click a button to view an ancestor in Genealogy Browser, see how they are related to you with use of the relationship calculator, or view the migration calculator.

    By looking at your end of line ancestors, you can see where to begin to work on extending the reach of your genealogy.

    You can view any and all information you have contributed to OneGreatFamily without subscribing; however, the ability to view details on individuals who have been added to your tree through the OneGreatFamily service is reserved for subscribers only.

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