[November 3, 2003] - Earlier this year researchers at the International Human Genome
Sequencing Consortium announced the publication of a refined draft of the human
genome. The genetic map is composed of about three billion base pairs of DNA chemicals
and, with the exception of 400 or so remaining gaps, all have been identified.
With equally vaunted ambition, a small startup in Springville, Utah, has set its
sites on creating a single genealogical map of the human family tree and is rapidly
making progress toward that goal.
Approximately 500,000 individuals use the OneGreatFamily online service, located
at www.onegreatfamily.com, each month
to participate in creating the human family tree and to see what research others
may be contributing to their ancestral lines. Nearly 70 million names have been
submitted to OneGreatFamily by more than 380,000 registered members since the service
launched in June 2001.
Founder and CEO Alan Eaton created OneGreatFamily in an effort to solve all of the
major problems associated with genealogy research.
"Creating a common pedigree for the human family tree provides a revolutionary way
to do genealogy research," explains Eaton. "OneGreatFamily lets people see what
research has been done on their branches of the human family tree by others. These
researchers can see how they are related and continue to collaborate on an ongoing
Eaton points to several other challenges that creating a common family tree solves.
The benefits of tying family trees together include the following:
- a system that is extremely precise identifying someone's ancestors by relationships
rather than by names alone
- the reduction of duplication that results in saving time and effort
- the ability to see all information available for an ancestor in one location, including
alternate names, dates, and places
- the ability to leverage the research others have done to make research breakthroughs
- access to collateral ancestral lines (the families of siblings of direct ancestors)
that often provide clues and information on direct ancestors
- an easy way to collaborate with others on common ancestral research
Eaton says OneGreatFamily is similar to an online family reunion. "OneGreatFamily
is a destination site for people that want to come together in one place and share
what they know about their family trees. OneGreatFamily ties all of the information
together into one family tree, so people leave with more than they started with."
Eaton's passion for genealogy started more than 15 years ago, and he has spent the
past several years designing and developing new genealogy services. While working
on other projects, Eaton started conceiving of ways to use the internet as a place
to combine and share genealogical information. "As anyone who's tried genealogy
will tell you, one of the biggest problems with family history work is duplication
of effort. The internet is the perfect platform for solving that problem by centralizing
genealogical data," says Eaton.
People from 174 countries are using OneGreatFamily to publish and share their personal
pedigrees, and OneGreatFamily.com is linking them all together. Information can
be added by making individual entries to the OneGreatFamily database or by submitting
GEDCOMs (a standard format for files containing family tree data).
"When you get back even just a few generations, it's amazing how family trees from
far-flung places start interconnecting," Eaton explains. "As people continue to
find our service and input their information, we continue to make connections."
The result, after just a few years in operation, is an ever-expanding single family
tree of the human family. "Already we're to the point where our users can often
tell our system what individual ancestor they're looking for and find the information
has already been submitted by someone else."
OneGreatFamily further features patented technology that verifies matching information
in multiple ways for certainty and allows users to maintain their own "view" of
information so they keep the data they want, even if it conflicts with someone else's
But the end result is that everyone is working toward a common goal. Variances or
disagreeing data are shown to be conflicting and people can get to work on resolving
those differences. Holes in the human family tree that need more research and attention
are easy to see when everyone's individual efforts are combined. "Genealogy is by
its very nature collaborative," says founder Eaton. "We make no bones about it,
our goal is to map the entire human family."
A privately held company in Springville, Utah, OneGreatFamily is the premier provider
of family tree services. Guest members of the company's online service (located
at www.onegreatfamily.com) have free
access to submit and edit their genealogies and to search the OneGreatFamily database.
Subscriptions are also available that allow members to access additional information
and functionality that is made available through OneGreatFamily's matching and merging