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OneGreatFamily Guest Newsletter

July 20, 2007

Are You Related To Anyone Famous?

In This Issue:

Are You Related To Anyone Famous?

Find Your Famous Relatives At OneGreatFamily

Are you a descendant of a notable character in history? Many families tell stories of a famous ancestor - a king or explorer, an actor or rogue - and a surprising number of these family legends turn out to be true. So how can you find out about your own ancestral celebrities?

The first step in finding out if you're the descendant of a famous person is to find the relevant genealogy. For many historical figures, a great deal of family history research has been done already. If your own family tree leads back to one of these individuals, then verifying the story can be simple. At OneGreatFamily, we have the genealogies of some famous people. You can find their genealogies by visiting:

If the famous ancestor's family tree is not well documented, you can do the research yourself to establish the line of descent. Such work will be simpler if you have access to a research library, collections of private papers, or the help of a known descendant.

If your family tree doesn't seem to link up, but you still believe you are a descendant, you may have other ways to discover if the claim is true. Family papers and documents may tell the story of an illicit relationship - one not formally acknowledged by the official records, but factual nonetheless. Some claims of being a descendant can be verified or disproved by DNA analysis, but that requires the cooperation of the acknowledged family.

The simplest way to discover your famous ancestors is to share the research done by other descendants. Collaborate with others through OneGreatFamily to learn more about your ancestors.

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OneGreatFamily Tip: Groups and Anchors In Genealogy Browser™?

Methods For Keeping Your Data Organized At OneGreatFamily

OneGreatFamily has developed the Family Group and Anchor system to quickly and efficiently manage your data. The method may seem complicated at first, but you will find that it is really quite simple.

Family Groups

One of the most powerful abilities of OneGreatFamily is that it keeps track of differences in conclusions reached by each user.  So if you and I share an ancestor, but we disagree about that ancestor’s birth date, OneGreatFamily will show you the birth date you accept, and it will show me the birth date I accept.  Furthermore, we both can see the birth date the other accepts, but we don’t have to agree.

You might be surprised to learn that OneGreatFamily does not keep track of these differences by user.  Instead, it keeps track of these differences by Family Group (or just Group).  This creates tremendous flexibility for you as a user of OneGreatFamily because you can create and belong to as many Family Groups as you wish.  Further, you can invite other users to be a part of any Family Group you create.  So you can use different Family Groups for different research efforts. 

For example, you may want to create one Group for your mother's ancestral line and another one for your father's ancestral line. You might create yet another Family group for your spouse’s family tree.  Then you could invite different relatives to be a member of the group they are researching.

Because differences in conclusions are kept at the Group level, any changes made by a Group member are automatically shared by all the group members, but not for other Groups.  Let’s use a (hopefully) simple example to illustrate how this works.  Assume that: i) you belong to two Groups, one for your ancestral family tree and another for your spouse’s; ii) your brother also belongs to the group for your ancestral line; and iii) you and your spouse share an ancestor for whom you agree about his birth date.  If your brother were to find evidence of a different birth date and enter it within your group, you would automatically accept the new birth date within your group, but your wife’s group would continue to see the original birth date with the new birth date as a conflict.  Your wife could then accept the new birth date, or stick with the old one.

Allowing others to join your group lets them also view OneGreatFamily from your perspective. Groups allow all members of OneGreatFamily to keep track of their data and work together on their family trees. As a member of OneGreatFamily you can search through all information from other groups. Subscribers get the added benefit of seeing where new information becomes available when other groups are working on their family lines.

To create a group, simply type a unique group name and password on the Group Chooser page. You can invite any OneGreatFamily members to join your group. When someone else joins your group, he or she gains the ability to enhance and edit the information in your group.

You should invite into your group anybody, as long as you are comfortable in automatically accepting their research.  If you want to preserve the option of accepting or rejecting their changes, you need to be in separate groups.  For that reason, some users maintain a separate group of which they are the only member.  That lets them have complete control over one version of their family tree.

Do keep in mind that if you are a member of multiple groups, it will require some additional time to maintain and update each group.  However, usually you can update one group and then accept changes in the other groups to quickly get all your groups to the same place.

Working within a single group will minimize the time and effort spent researching your genealogy. Many OneGreatFamily members find the need to create only one group. When these members find others who are working on their family tree, they invite those people to join their group as well.


An anchor is the individual that any particular genealogy begins with. Genealogy would extend from the "anchor" to their parents, grandparents, great grandparents and so forth. Anchors are particularly useful to break down large genealogies into smaller, more manageable parts. An individual may want to have one anchor for his father's line and another for his mother's line.

Anchors are essentially quick reference points to any individuals of significance in your family tree. Creating or deleting an anchor does not affect the record being referenced. Removing an anchor only removes your quick reference to it. When you submit a GEDCOM file to OneGreatFamily, an anchor is automatically created to the first individual in the file.

Some family trees may only need one anchor at first; however, as they grow larger, more anchors become useful. For large family trees where you need quick access to specific branches, we suggest creating more anchors. You can create as many anchors as you like.

We hope that this article provides valuable information to help you manage your information using OneGreatFamily groups and anchors.

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Personal Interviews: Putting Meat on the Bones of Your Family History

By Kimberly Brown, Family Historian

Sometimes family history can seem like a lot of dry, dull facts and dates, but your family history can really come alive when you learn about your ancestorsí stories and personal experiences. By interviewing your living relatives, you can learn what your family members were really like, and you can gain insights about them that you canít get anywhere else.

Who should you interview? Obviously, parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles are great interview candidates. But even if you donít have living parents or grandparents, you can still find people who can tell you about your family members. Friends, coworkers, and even neighbors may have stories that they are willing to share. When my great-aunt died last year, all her family members were cheered up by the hilarious stories about her that her next-door neighbor shared with us.

Conducting a successful family history interview is easy if you are a courteous and attentive interviewer. Whether you will be talking over the phone or in person, call ahead to schedule a time. Consider what you want to learn beforehand and prepare some questions to get the discussion rolling. During the interview, however, donít be afraid to ďgo with the flow.Ē If you have an entire list of questions, but Aunt Sally wants to tell you about the time that her dad took her to Yellowstone, relax and enjoy the ride. Some of the best interviews I have conducted were when I just listened. Remember, all family history information is valuable, so itís okay to get sidetracked. When you are being told a story, be an active and engaged listener. Make eye contact, ask open-ended questions, and ask for details about dates and places.

Even if you think youíll remember what you talked about, you may be racking your brain later trying to remember. Always record the interview by note-taking or by audio recording. If you are going to audio-record an interview, always ask permission first. Most people will feel comfortable being recorded, but if an interviewee seems uneasy you should consider taking notes on paper. Youíll get more candid answers if the person who you are interviewing feels relaxed.

Make sure that you thank the person that you interview afterwards, and take some time to go back through your notes and make sense of your scribbles. Always record the time, date, and place of the interview. Remember that all the information you glean has been filtered through perception, time, and memory, so you should learn to recognize a family legend when you hear one. However, just because interviews are not a perfect source does not mean that they are not valuable. Most stories that you will hear in a personal interview will be surprising, fascinating, humorous, and true. By asking questions about your ancestors, you can really get to know who they were and what they were like. Happy story-hunting!

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One Great Genealogy Site Award

SurnameDB.Com contains a large FREE to access database (almost 50,000 surnames) on the history and origins of family surnames. Most of the research done on this site came from years of research on the part of the founder of Name Origins Research, Michael Brooks. In October of 2006 they decided to put the information online and have seen huge success in the number of people who have visited their site.

  • Visit to learn more about the Surnames in your family tree.
  • See Past Award Recipients
  • Recommend A Site Award Recipient

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    Contributors: Heather Matthews and Rob Armstrong
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