By Kimberly Brown, Family Historian
Occasionally we receive e-mails from subscribers asking us, "I've had an account with OneGreatFamily for a month, but I haven't had any new ancestors added to my family tree. How long does it take?" When we log in to these subscribers' accounts to check their status, we find something alarming: they haven't entered any information onto their family trees!
Our powerful, patented merging technology only takes two to three days to search through the millions of names in our database and add new ancestors onto your family tree, but it can only accomplish that once you have planted the seed: what you already know about your family tree.
The most effective way to start your family tree is with yourself. Once you have done that, it is easy to add your parents, your grandparents, your great-grandparents, and as many generations as you have. Try to enter at least five generations. On average, five is the magic number of generations for tying into the OneGreatFamily tree. If you don't have that much information, make a few phone calls to family members. You'll be surprised by how much you can learn that way.
Enter all information using the genealogical standards. Dates should be entered in the following format: date, month, and year, or 26 July 1897. Avoid abbreviating the year as a two-digit number.
You should enter the names of places in the following format: city, county, state and country. Muncie, Indiana would be listed as Muncie, Delaware, Indiana, United States of America. Don't include the word "county" or the abbreviation "co." in the name of the place. Seemingly insignificant inaccuracies like that can prevent your family tree from growing. Our computer system adds new ancestors onto your tree by automatically merging records of the same ancestors, but if fields in the records are not identical it might block them from being automatically merged. Watch out for small details like non-standard dates, incorrect places, and spelling errors, all of which can prevent merging.
On occasion, it takes more than five generations to grow your family tree. When I first started my account with OneGreatFamily, I entered five generations on all my family lines. On my mother's side of the family, I had great success. More than a hundred generations were added to my family tree within the first three days.
On my father's side of the family, however, I wasn't so fortunate. There were absolutely no results: no new ancestors, no hints, and no merges. I checked every day for three weeks, puzzled that no new information had been added. I decided to do a little extra research. I called my dad and asked him a few questions, and I searched the free online genealogy site, www.familysearch.org. I learned the names of three new ancestors and added them to my pedigree.
What happened next was amazing. Instantly, the ancestors I had just entered were merged with others in the OneGreatFamily database. Now the family tree that hadn't previously had any new ancestors had more than a dozen generations of ancestry! I gained more than a hundred new ancestors just by entering three individuals.
If your family tree isn't growing, don't lose hope. You can use free genealogy sites like www.usgenweb.org, www.cyndislist.com, and www.familysearch.org to do quick, easy searches for ancestors. You can also interview living relatives to get the information you need. After my searching, I was glad I hadn't just given up. All it took was ten minutes of research, and OneGreatFamily had added twelve new generations on my family tree.