OneGreatFamily Blog

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

    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 subscriber 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 unqiue 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! 

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  • Quick Overview Of Genbulbs or Hints

    OneGreatFamily is unique in its goal and method. Our goal is to unite the efforts of all people working on genealogy and to connect the world together as OneGreatFamily. This process begins with you, the user. Once you have entered your data into our system, we search our database for common information. When our system finds matches that are certain, it merges the records together. No information is ever lost when these mergers occur. Instead, each user's unique view of the data is preserved, even if that differs from other users.

    When the system identifies a possible match, we call that a Hint. Hints occur when much of the information about two people is identical, but there are either sufficient differences or a lack of information such that the system cannot be certain of the match. Hints are indicated in Genealogy Browser by the Genbulb icon. Note that you must turn on Genbulbs in the toolbar before they will be shown in the Starfield.

    When hints appear, you may view them by clicking on the light bulb icon on the right side of the individual edit box. This will bring up the Hint for that particular individual. You may examine and choose to merge the data, or leave it how it is.

    Merging data may bring many generations of previously unknown information into your file. Many users have already experienced great increases in their pedigrees through merging.

    The more data that you enter and the further back in ancestry you can get, the better chance you have for receiving Hints. For example, a member entered 2000 names. Because of our database's automatic search capabilities, his family tree now carries 23,000 names in it. You may also choose to collaborate with the user who submitted that data. That way, you may work out any differences you may have.

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  • Your Family Bible: A Treasure Trove

    Before the times of digitized records, microfilms, and family history programs used to store genealogical data, families recorded their births, marriages, deaths, and baptisms in the family bible. Family bibles are priceless to genealogists because they contain primary source information about family events.

    A primary source record was written at the time that an incident occurred, or shortly thereafter, by someone who was involved. Unlike secondary source material, which was recorded at a later time, primary source information is not hearsay. Most of the events you will find recorded in a family bible were written down by the family record-keeper, often the matriarch of the family, shortly after they happened.

    Where can you find family bibles? They can be in the possession of antique dealers or collectors, or they can be part of a family bible record collection. Bible record collections aim to transcribe the information in family bibles and make them available to researchers. Some bible collections with online indexes are: The Bible Archives, Bible Records Online, and Family Bible Records.

    It is most likely, however, that your family bible is still in your family's possession. Talk to living relatives like your aunts, uncles, parents and grandparents. Even if they don't have the bible, they may know the distant cousin who does. Once you track down the current owner of the family bible, you can ask him or her for the genealogical information it contains. He or she probably won't want to part with the bible to loan it to you, but you can ask for a transcription or a photocopy. Get a photocopy of the pages if you can, because you can learn a lot by evaluating the ink and handwriting.

    Family information is usually recorded in the front of the bible, but ask if you can check the other pages as well. Sometimes documents, photos, or other mementos are tucked in between the pages.

    Most, but not all, information in a family bible is primary source material. There are a few simple ways to tell if the information in the bible was written down at the time that the events happened. Check the publication date of the bible, advises genealogist George Morgan (Morgan 1998). If the bible was published after the events on the family record page occurred, they were all written down much later, and this information is not primary.

    You should also pay attention to variations in ink and handwriting. If the handwriting changes, that means that information was recorded at different times or by different people. If some of the ink looks especially faded, that text was probably written down earlier than the rest. On the other hand, if the ink and handwriting all looks the same, the information must have all been written down at the same time, after the events occurred. This kind of secondary information is not necessarily incorrect, but it needs to be evaluated carefully. It is also important to be aware that family record-keepers may have altered information that they didn't want future generations to know. A wedding date may have been "fudged" to hide the fact that a child was born less than nine months after marriage, for instance.

    As long as you carefully evaluate the information from a family bible, it is one of the greatest genealogical sources you'll ever encounter. Only in a family bible will you find the births of children who died young, in between censuses, who were not recorded anywhere else. And only in a family bible will you find your family's genealogical events, recorded in your ancestor's own hand.

    Morgan, George G. 1998. Questioning the Bible.
    "Along those Lines." (accessed August 4, 2007).

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  • Adding Documentation To OneGreatFamily Is Vital To Your Record Keeping

    One of our subscribers recently asked us, "If all of the information on is submitted by other users, how can I be sure that it is correct?"

    As experienced genealogists know, you should never take anyone else's work as being correct. Instead, you need to verify the information using sound genealogical techniques.

    That is why we like to think of OneGreatFamily as a great source for research leads. It is almost always easier to substantiate a lead then it is to discover missing data. OneGreatFamily can be a rich source of research leads based on the submissions of other genealogists.

    Perhaps you are at a brick wall on a great-, great-, great-grandfather. In OneGreatFamily a user has entered a name for that ancestor. Fantastic -now you have a lead to substantiate. You can collaborate with that submitter. Or you can go research the provided name.

    Many genealogists use OneGreatFamily primarily for the research leads it provides.

    Another question we often get is, "How can you be sure your automated match/merge technology won't mess up my genealogy research?" There are two parts to the answer to that question. First, our automated merging technology never changes your data. Our technology is sophisticated enough to keep everybody's data unchanged even when we merge ancestors together. We could merge 50 people into one and it wouldn't change your data.

    Second, we have patent-pending software that merges the right ancestors into your family tree. OneGreatFamily's software ensures that only high-quality matches are combined to your family tree. In one test, we pitted OneGreatFamily's merging process against a panel of genealogists. OneGreatFamily was less likely to match people incorrectly than the panel of professional genealogists.

    Because we are merging ancestors together, we encourage all of our subscribers to use the citation and collaboration features in Genealogy BrowserT.

    You can help improve the quality of the database by citing your sources for the data that you submit to OneGreatFamily. When you include citations in your family tree, you improve the credibility of your family history, and you can help others find their genealogy as well. When you take the time to find sources for your genealogy, you are less likely to jump to wrong conclusions. You can ensure that you are passing along accurate information.

    Documenting your sources also saves you time because you don't get lost researching the wrong line, and you don't have to go back again to find things that you have already researched.

    In Genealogy Browser, you can include sources and citations for any ancestor or family on your tree. The citations you include with your ancestors' records become available to others OneGreatFamily subscribers to help with the collaborative effort.

    When another user has not included citations with the ancestors that he or she submitted, you can still find out where that user obtained the information by using OneGreatFamily's Collaborate feature. Collaborating with other users allows you to see who else is working on your genealogy. For every family and individual, you can find out who submitted the information and contact that user. Collaboration at OneGreatFamily allows you to contact the individual with the common ancestor and ask where the information came from. With this unique OneGreatFamily feature, you can find sources to support your genealogical data.

    Our program's one-of-a-kind merging feature, combined with the power of citation and collaboration, gives you access to easy, fun, and accurate genealogy.

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  • El Archivo General de Indias

    Do you want to learn more about your early American ancestors? There is much more than just Spanish genealogy to be found in the Archivo General de Indias. Located in Sevilla, Spain, the archive houses all Spain's documents pertaining to New World conquest and colonization, including records of Spain's dealings with other nations. In the archive, you can research everyone from Hernan Cortés to Aaron Burr to James Wilkinson, governor of the Louisiana territory and a double-agent to the United States and Spain.

    The archive's name refers to Christopher Columbus's misguided perception that he had found a new route to India; from that time forward, Spain's New World land holdings became known as the Indies. In Spain's heyday as a global shipping power that dominated the New World, its main port was Sevilla. Treasure-laden ships from the New World came from the Atlantic and sailed up the River Guadalquivir about 80 kilometers to dock at Sevilla. For that reason, it became the ideal place to collect and store all colonization documents in the archive there.

    The archive's holdings include some of the most amazing historical documents anywhere, including Columbus's journal and the Treaty of Tordesillas, which divided the Americas between Spain and Portugal approximately on the 42º meridian. You can find records of nearly everything in the archive, from skirmishes with the English in Florida to lost or sunken treasure ships.

    The archive, like all major Spanish archives, is included in the PARES network: the Portal de Archivos Españoles, which can be found online at Fortunately for researchers, all the millions of documents in the archive are currently in the process of being digitized. Soon they will all be available and searchable online, and many are online already.

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