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OneGreatFamily Guest Newsletter

March 9, 2006

See Your Own Family Tree at OneGreatFamily

In This Issue:

See Your Own Family Tree at OneGreatFamily

OneGreatFamily allows each member to view their family tree from their own perspective.

OneGreatFamily allows each member to view the human family tree from his or her perspective.  Most importantly, users are able to see one another’s unique perspective.

This is accomplished in OneGreatFamily through “Groups”.  Each group has its own unique perspective of the family tree.  If two people from different groups look at the same person in OneGreatFamily, they may view things quite differently, depending on what has been verified and accepted within each group. For example, one group may only have three children listed for someone, while another group has found and accepted five children for the same individual.

Groups (or unique perspectives) are the key to the strength of OneGreatFamily.  By preserving all discrepancies and variations in its family tree, Groups allow us all to work on the same tree at the same time without having to agree 100% of the time on everything. In other systems without Groups, endless one-upmanship cycles play out where one user changes the family to 5 children, then the other comes along and changes it back to 3.  Back and forth they go, because we all know sometimes even experienced genealogists have debates over the evidence.  In OneGreatFamily, this never happens because each will see the tree the way they accept it at the same time.

The strength of groups comes from the ability of any group member to allow any other OneGreatFamily user to join his or her group.  So if I join a group that includes my sister-in-law, I can continue to look at the family tree through my own group, or I can look at it through her group.

This means that members have the ability to collaborate with others from around the world who are also viewing OneGreatFamily’s family tree information from their own perspective. Users have access to view the arrangement of other members’ genealogical information right from their own computer!

OneGreatFamily lets each group view the information the way they prefer and lets each group know when conflicts occur with information provided by other groups. You may delete information others have in their family trees from your group, but the others in the group will still see their information the next time they visit OneGreatFamily.

However, OneGreatFamily is far more than just a shared family tree! OneGreatFamily employs proprietary technology to match and merge family trees, a process that allows further collaboration and saves time and effort by reducing duplication.

OneGreatFamily has also introduced Genealogy Browser™ as a way for those who use its service to actually review, edit, and update their family tree in OneGreatFamily. The Starfield of the Genealogy Browser allows users to see the shape of their entire family tree at once (up to 512 generations). Users can also zoom in and out of this powerful pedigree view to see as many ancestors in their family tree as they would like.

Other companies require those using their services to identify and compare family trees when trees contain duplicate information. Each tree may contain slightly (or entirely) different information which makes the process laborious and time consuming. OneGreatFamily is different – our system removes duplication and allows people to see all variations at the same time.

OneGreatFamily is a genealogy architecture, database, and software program all combined into one service. Don’t miss out on the extended features that make it the superior genealogy product on the market.

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Q&A: How do you know when ancestors have been added to your family tree?

GenMail™ helps you see what has happened to your family tree.

There are four different ways OneGreatFamily alerts you when new ancestors have been added to your family tree. When new individuals are added to your family tree the following indicators will occur:

1. New individuals in your Starfield™ that are in dark gray boxes
2. Seeing a message while in Genealogy Browser™, indicating that "new ancestors " have been added to your family tree
3. Seeing merge indicators (!) in your family tree.
4. Genmail

In this newsletter, we will focus on the Genmail emails you receive each week. We send GenMail email messages each week to let people know if their family trees are growing. Any match and merge that takes place in OneGreatFamily has the potential of adding new ancestors to your family tree. Each GenMail will show you the first 20 names of individuals who have been merged in your family tree during the week. Each merge may result in new collaboration opportunities and in the addition of new individuals in your family tree.

GenMail also includes summary information for all that is happening at OneGreatFamily in overall matches and merges. This information, found in the left-hand column of each GenMail, will include the following site statistics:

  • Number of new individual merges
  • Number of new individual hints
  • Number of new family merges
  • Number of new family hints
  • Average individual merges per group
  • Average individual hints per group
  • Average family merges per group
  • Average family hints per group

These statistics will help you understand how your family tree compares with the other family branches available in

If you have not received any merges or hints in your Genmail, you may need to enter more information about your personal family tree. You may be able to get that additional information by talking to other family members or going through old family documents or photographs. Adding information to your family tree provides more potential links within the OneGreatFamily database.

GenMail has proven to be a valuable tool for seeing the growth of family trees at OneGreatFamily. Make sure to check your GenMail every week so that you can see the constant growth of your family tree at OneGreatFamily.

Note: If you do not receive OneGreatFamily GenMail, go to Email Preferences and select that you would like to receive "Genmails™ and other genealogy information"

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Lisa Lights the Way

Early American Handwriting

by Lisa South, Certified Genealogist

The following article was written in the July 28, 2005 OneGreatFamily newsletter. Since Lisa is no longer writing for us, we are featuring some of our favorite articles written by her.

At first reading, an early American document can sometimes be daunting. The earlier the records, the more difficult they are to read.

E. Kay Kirkham has written two good reference books on the subject; 300 Years of Manuscript and How to Read the Handwriting of Records of Early America.

I had the opportunity of taking a course from Mr. Kirkham many years ago and he began by saying “beware of the terminal loops and flourishes". We often see—particularly in the first letter of a word—curly cues (these can be mistaken for “e” “a” or “o”, etc.) I find it interesting that early Americans took such effort to add flourishes because a lot of the other problems we find are caused by the person trying to take short cuts as much as possible (remember the early pens were quills and had to be repeatedly dipped into ink.) The following are things we should be aware of as you attempt to read early records:

1. Abbreviations—usually the words are recognizable if you are aware abbreviations are being used, for example “do” for ditto and “chh” for church.

2. Termination—when a word was terminated a period or colon was usually placed at the end of the abbreviation. Sometimes a line was drawn through the abbreviated word for example “Tho” for Thomas. A line would be drawn through it and a person might think they were crossing it out when in reality they were indicating an abbreviation.

3. Superior letter—you will see this done often with the name William, “Wm” , but might not realize it is a hold over from earlier days. Sometimes the last two or three letters of the word were written above the line (the way we might write a small "c" above the line for a name like McClure).

4. Contracting—a contracted word was indicated by putting a curved line above the contraction.

5. The “long S”—the long "S" is something you will come across often. When a word had a repeated “s” in it, the first was often a “long s” (which looks like an F) and the second would be a regular “s”. A “long s” was not usually used at the beginning of a word, or when there is only one “s” but you will find them occasionally, particularly in the very early records.

To add to the confusion, in early American records you will often find words capitalized in the middle of a sentence, a lack of punctuation, misspelled words and the use of Latin terms.

I approach a difficult record like I would a crypto quote in a puzzle book. I pick out all the letters and words I’m sure of and then try to fill in the spaces. I begin to figure out a word here or there and that helps. I might recognize that a word has to be “the” and see that the person has placed his “h” laying down flat – so I can fill in all symbols like that in the document, etc. Usually I will be able to decipher all or most of what has been written. As with all things, the more you read this early American handwriting, the easier it becomes.

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One Great Genealogy Site Award is intended to help those people with Native Hawaiian Ancestry of pure or part aboriginal blood learn more about their 'Ohana (family). However, this website could also be helpful to anyone with Hawaiian ties. They offer resources such as land records, information on naming practices, immigrant ship lists, Hawaiian history, and newspaper obituaries. They also offer Message Boards where you can share what you know of your genealogy in hopes of finding connections with others and closing gaps in your own genealogy.

  • Visit
  • See past award recipients
  • Recommend a Site Award recipient

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    Managing Editor: Heather Matthews
    Contributors: Heather Matthews, Lisa South and Rob Armstrong
    Editor: Tracy Armstrong

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