Press Room - Press Release

 Family Chronicle Magazine  September/October Issue 2000 - Pages 21 & 22


Site Will Change the Way People Search Family Roots

Genealogy is like a complicated jigsaw puzzle made up of billions of pieces scattered all over the world. Fitting the right pieces together is a tremendous challenge because some pieces have been duplicated thousands of times, have been lost, or have had an edge torn off. Everyone has a few pieces of the puzzle but we have never seen the big picture to see how our pieces fit with the others. Some of us have organized small teams and have pieced a corner or part of the border together, but the real problem is that we have all been working on our own independent card tables. A new website hopes to change that., which claims to have the capacity to house the genealogical data of every identifiable person who has ever lived on the planet, launched nationwide this summer in Salt Lake City, Utah. The online service is a collaborative database where users pool their knowledge and records to build one huge shared database. Unlike some of the other online services that accept GEDCOM files and then allow other users to search across many files, really only has one database. (OGF) is headed by Alan V. Eaton, who has become a technical guru in the genealogy community by taking genealogy from indexes of static databases to a technically advanced, living database. Eaton spent five years at Novell and later was at LavaStorm, where he was the technical lead as the company developed the online version of for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

" is building a single place for storage, collaboration and genealogical data," said Eaton. " We are effectively ending the frustration from the duplication of research efforts that have constantly plagued genealogy. We are constantly searching the new data that is submitted to OneGreatFamily to find matches for each of our members. A member might look at their family tree at breakfast, and come back at lunch to find new light bulbs lighting up their family tree." is built on the concept of sharing data, not just storing data. The chances are that someone out there has information that will help you extend your family lines. In the spirit of sharing, OGF performs continuous searches for possible matches with your data amid data submitted by other OGF members. When a match is discovered, an indicator in the form of a light bulb will appear in your family tree.

Sophisticated patent-pending technology is the backbone of OneGreatFamily. OGF's "Hand-print technology" is a radical departure from conventional genealogy research because it enables users to search their lineage through relationships, as opposed to other Internet sites that only use names, dates, and places. The five fingers of the hand represent the relationships-mother, father, spouse, children and siblings.

While some have called the OGF project "over-ambitious" or even "na�ve" , others are excited about the possibilities. "They say some day all the software we will ever use will be on the Internet rather than in our PC's" writes Gary Mokotoff, editor of Avotaynu (News About Jewish Genealogy). "This philosophy has just become reality for the genealogical community., is the next step -possibly the ultimate step- in placing family trees on the Internet."

Current online databases collect family trees, but make no attempt to link them. Eaton's plan is to link all the family trees they receive to create one great family. Individuals will maintain their own trees, but when a common link is found either by submitters or matching and merging programs of OGF, the submitters can collaborate and reduce all the information to a single record containing all that is known about the matched individual. Information can be kept private at the discretion of the person who has contributed the data.

The aim of OneGreatFamily is not only to build the world's largest lineage-linked database, but also to build the most accurate database at the same time. As a shared database, OGF has a unique opportunity for the world to work together on data to resolve conflicts. For example, if two members of OneGreatFamily have conflicting information on an individual in the database, both will see a conflict indicator in the form of a lightning bolt, embedded in their family tree. Each member is then able to view the conflicting data and is encouraged to collaborate to resolve the conflict. If the difference cannot be reconciled, each member can agree to disagree, giving each a customized view of his or her family tree.

" is simply the latest iteration of user-friendly genealogy databases," said Dick Eastman, syndicated genealogy columnist. "It couples this ease of update with a great user interface that allows for almost instant maneuvers around a display of thousands of individuals. I believe that is a winner and will become very popular." offers a free track with advertising as well as paid membership that allows full access to its features. For more information, visit


Family Chronicle Magazine  September/October Issue 2000 - Pages 21 & 22