Friday, August 3, 2012

Echo King: Online Trees at

Echo King speaking at the BYU Family History ConferenceThere are many advantageous of using online trees (Member Trees), according to Echo King, director content product manager, She presented “Online Family Trees @” at the 2012 BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy.

As I write about and, I’m always worried about boring you by repeating information I have already covered. I’ve written a lot about Ancestry Member Trees over the years. Here is some information I hope is interesting.

One advantage of using Ancestry Member Trees is the connections and collaborations made possible. Ancestry alerts possible relatives via its hinting system and its member connect features. “I love to get the stories and the photos,” said King. Collaboration features make it possible to discover stories, photos, and heirlooms shared by other users.

Another advantage is backup. Ancestry backs up your tree for you.

You can access your tree from anywhere you have Internet access.

One big advantage of Ancestry Member Trees is that Ancestry searches for you and gives you hints (shaky leaves) to Ancestry’s large collection of records. Ancestry has found that successful searching is happening more from tree hints than from home page searches. limits the system to confident hints, so there are often less obvious records to be found. “I always do a search after I’ve handled the hints,” said King. When you click on Search Records on the person page, the search form is preloaded with all the person’s information, including relatives. Long-time readers know that I am a big fan of such tree-based searching.

Another advantage of Ancestry Member Trees is the ability to attach documentation and photographs. While there is no limit to the number of photographs, there is a limit to the total space. King could not remember what the limit is.

It’s true that member trees contain lots of duplicate, erroneous data. “I love to use them for the hints,” said King. But don’t assume anything. It is possible to turn off the shaky leaf hinting from other member trees but she couldn’t remember exactly where that was done.

Start your free tree from the home page. You can enter information manually or upload a file of type GEDCOM, FTM, PAF, or Legacy.

Ancestry provides both pedigree view and descendency view (they call it family view). From either view, hover over a person and click on Profile to see the person view. Hidden somewhere along the right side of the person view is the “Family Group Sheet” button. Click on it for the traditional family view.

Ancestry Member Trees can be synchronized with your desktop Family Tree Maker tree. When asked if it was possible to sync with FamilySearch Family Tree, King said no, “we have a gap right now. I think it is something we need to work on as an industry.”

There are some limitations to Member Trees. It is not possible to export or import a branch of a tree. It is not possible to merge persons, although that is being worked on. There is no relationship between Member Trees and RootsWeb trees. There is no way to search for a tree by tree name, but under member connect you can search for members by member name.

If you have problems or questions, call the Ancestry hotline at 1-800-ANCESTRY.


  1. Here's where you will find the answer to:

    How do I access Ancestry Hints from the new toolbar?

    Click on's "Learning Center" tab, then click on "Help FAQ".

    In the "Search Support" box enter the keyword "5474" or "Accessing Ancestry Hints from the new toolbar".

  2. I really enjoy working with my online tree on Ancestry and this year have finally made the leap from PAF to FTM. Do most of my work through the online tree, however, as I find the FTM program slow, clunky, and not at all intuitive. Really frustrated with the lack of a merge function, as when I am adding sources like census records it often gets confused and I end up with duplicate individuals with one parent "unknown." The inability to merge these "stray" individuals has been my greatest frustration.

  3. AI, this is certainly a sunny view of treedom. Just as in both of LDS' megatrees, errors abound and evidence is mainly lacking for assertions (all assertions, not just those lacking attached evidence).

    It is said, "Ancestry Member Trees can be synchronized with your desktop Family Tree Maker tree." Well, with FTM2012 only. That does work for many users. There are very active message boards concerning FTM issues and interfacing with trees:

  4. To turn on or off Ancestry Member Tree Hints, go to Site Preferences in the drop-down menu next to your display name in the top right of the website.

  5. Kinda sad that the presenter "could not remember how" on several of the new features. As far as a "total limit" - size of tree? or size of a single attachment? Single attachment limit is 15MB.

    Turning off hints from member trees is one of the best new features. You do that from your "Site Preferences" in your member profile. There's a little down arrow to the right of your member name, top right of your ancestry page.


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