, The world's largest family tree. Subscribe Now Start Free Trial Login

OneGreatFamily Guest Newsletter

July 6, 2007

Meet Your Distant Cousins at OneGreatFamily

In This Issue:

Meet Your Distant Cousins at OneGreatFamily

Reverse Engineering Your Family Tree Using Collateral Lines

A family tree is a pretty basic concept to understand; two ancestors have children, their children have children, and so forth, down to the present day with you and me. Each set of children is what we refer to as a generation. Each generation adds more branches to the tree.

Your direct ancestral line comes through only one of the children of each of your ancestors. Did you ever stop to think about the descendants of the other children? Not only will you find that many other researchers connect to your same ancestors, but you may even connect to the same ancestor more than once. Depending on how many generations back the common ancestor is there may be hundreds or thousands of descendants alive today. One may be your neighbor, your friend, or even your spouse!

Another advantage to researching collateral lines is that it could result in adding more ancestors to your family tree. As you meet and collaborate with your distant cousins they may have information and stories about your ancestors.

When submitting your family tree to OneGreatFamily, make sure you include as many relationships as possible. Sibling relationships are very important to include at OneGreatFamily because relationships are the primary source of information for OneGreatFamily to be able to match your genealogy with those that have been submitted by others. Accurate dates and places for events, while important, are not as valuable as actual family relationships.

How do I reverse engineer my family tree?

Let's start with reverse engineering a smaller family tree to better understand the concept. Suppose your grandparents on your father's side had five children. Being a child to any one of the five children would make you a cousin to the children of any of the other five siblings. The concept of "reverse engineering" your family tree is to look at all of the collateral information that is available in your family tree. Start by tracing your family tree back to a common ancestor (your grandfather in this case). Now, instead of looking at your father and your family, trace the descendancy of one of his siblings.

With OneGreatFamily, you can easily "Reverse Engineer Your Family Tree" and see just who you are related to. Collateral lines often help fill gaps with your own direct ancestral line. See below for instructions on how to View an Ancestor's Descendancy.

What are the benefits of reverse engineering my family tree?

Reverse engineering your family tree allows you to find relatives that you otherwise may not have found. Families tend to migrate together, so finding a brother, sister, or cousin of your ancestor may lead to the discovery of records for YOUR direct line ancestor as well. You can also see if any of your direct line ancestors have any famous descendants by tracing the various lines of descendancy. Some of the most exciting relations that you can find are relatives that are still living today!

With OneGreatFamily, not only can you trace these lines to your distant relatives, but you can also communicate with many of them! When you find a living relative, or any ancestor for that matter, you can use the Collaboration feature to get in touch with the submitter.

For those genealogists who are dedicated to finding their direct ancestors, reverse engineering can also be particularly helpful. When you are stuck on a certain line, having data on the siblings and children of the ancestor you are looking for can aid in finding data for them.

Many people enjoy genealogy because of the stories and information they learn about their ancestors. The reverse engineering technique can increase that learning by making it possible to gain knowledge about your "very-extended" family. By knowing about your ancestor's immediate family, you can learn more about who they were.

Back to Top

OneGreatFamily Tip: How to View an Ancestor's Descendancy

How Do I View or Export an Ancestor's Descendancy?

The ability to view the descendants of an ancestor is a powerful and valuable feature of OneGreatFamily. A descendancy view can help researchers identify collateral lines to research or can lead to the discovery of living relatives who have descended from a common ancestor.

Viewing the descendants of any ancestor is easy using Genealogy Browser™:

  1. Launch Genealogy Browser and find the desired ancestor in the pedigree (Starfield View)
  2. Select the desired ancestor within the pedigree (Starfield View) by double clicking on the box with the individual's name to put them into the selected individual box in the handprint view.
  3. Click on the descendancy icon in the toolbar OR select Starfield-Show Descendancy from the View menu within Genealogy Browser (see images below).
  4. The descendants of the selected ancestor will now appear to the left of the pedigree (Starfield View). Navigating and viewing collateral lines in the Starfield View may be slower depending on the number of descendants shown.

When you choose to view the Descendancy of an ancestor, the Starfield view will look like this:

We hope you will find OneGreatFamily a useful tool to trace the descendants of your ancestors.

Back to Top

Success At OneGreatFamily

Your Wonderful Service...Solved All My Problems

We are pleased with the high praise we at OneGreatFamily continue to receive from our members. We enjoy hearing about the success our members have in building their family trees at OneGreatFamily.

...No longer will families remain separated in many error ridden genealogy files that are kept by one family member (like me) on their computer and unavailable from family members. I believe that it is better to give and share with others. Until now I have not had a way to do this...One person can’t possibly do all of the work alone; they need help to speed up the work...The only way to do this is with your wonderful service which I believe will in the near future solve all of my problems.” ~ Jeff Bagley

I just want to say how thrilled I have been with my experience at OneGreatFamily. The best thing is that the search program runs continuously and adds data automatically to your experience has been very positive and I have recommended OneGreatFamily to friends of mine who are also interested in genealogy.” ~ Joe Cercy

OneGreatFamily is looking for success stories! If you have a story of how OneGreatFamily has helped you in your genealogy quest, please send an email to
Back to Top

One Great Genealogy Site Award is a free genealogical biography database with biographies for your genealogy research. The site also offers links to other online biography sites to help you find your ancestors and surnames. The links directory includes thousands of online biography sites. You will find links to sites with collections that contain numerous biographies in each collection. You will also find links to individual biographies as well. You can search for your ancestors by entering a name or location, or you can see a list of all genealogy biographies in the database. The free genealogy database of biographies is growing rapidly, so check it out today!

  • Visit and find documents about your ancestors.
  • See Past Award Recipients
  • Recommend A Site Award Recipient

  • Back to Top

    Get FREE Time On

    Want Some FREE Time?

    Current subscribers can earn additional free time by referring others to OneGreatFamily needs your help in growing the largest single family tree in the world. You can get free subscription time on OneGreatFamily by referring others to this unique service. When anyone you refer to OneGreatFamily subscribes to our service and enters your username, you get an additional free month.

    Back to Top

    This newsletter is provided as a FREE service to the members of
    You can view past editions of this newsletter by visiting our Newsletter Archive.
    To unsubscribe to our newsletter service, you may do so by accessing our newsletter preferences page at htts://

    Managing Editor: Heather Matthews
    Contributors: Heather Matthews and Rob Armstrong
    Editor: Eric Hoffman

    Last Week At OneGreatFamily

    946,348 people were added into the OneGreatFamily tree.

    new connections between family trees were found by our automated search system.

    Having Success?

    OneGreatFamily wants to hear from you. Please send us your success stories and your recommendations for new features.

    Submit Your Story

    Need Help?

    Getting Started at OneGreatFamily

    Matching and Merging

    Export and Import GEDCOMs

    Collaborate With Others

    Search For Ancestors at OneGreatFamily

    Forgot Your Password

    Genealogy Quote

    "When you search for ancestors, you find great friends!"