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Using Online Pedigree Databases
By Garry Bryant, Clan Genealogist
June 2008

Recently I was going through an old file when a note caught my attention concerning an email response on  The email was excellent in that the person listed their sources to backup their point of view concerning a woman’s maiden name. Taking those sources in hand I researched the statements and I must say I concur with this person’s point of view. This opened three more family lines to research. Since these three families are the first two generations in America and very early, a great deal has been written about them and posted on the internet.

Not willing to accept the research posted I used the sources (when listed) and quickly did the research. Some of the data was correct, but some was not, and yet some data was out right wrong!

Before I have stated that the online genealogies without sources to backup the data, are just myth. Yet some of the pedigrees posted online are done very well. It is a crap-shoot concerning these pedigrees. So why bother?

When a brick wall has one stuck, an online pedigree can give theories to test, and perhaps get one unstuck. Just don’t accept the data found as being gospel.

Following are the major online databases and costs listed by Family Tree Magazine in February 2006:



Family Search - Pedigree Resource File free
$23/5 CD set (Sometimes)
115 million CDs contain notes & sources
Kindred Konnections $15/month, $100 year
Ancestry World Tree free 404 million different screens for same data

GenCircles global Tree


120 million  


$12/year 27 million  
OneGreatFamily   $15/month $75/year 110 million download ActiveX constrol
 Find Your Family Tree    


1. Identify an ancestral candidate - One can see what others think or have posted about the particular lineage.

2. Weed out the wrong ones - Use pedigree files and genuine genealogical records together. The clues in online GEDCOMs can send you to the real records, which in turn can help weed out who’s who in pedigrees on the Web.

3. Connect with kin - Contact person who posted GEDCOM on line and compare notes.

4. Seek out sources - Don’t be fooled by real sources versus commonly "cited" family tree files: such as "WFT" (World Family Tree) or "FTM" (Family Tree Make) are useless sources.

5. Take note of notes - Check files for not only sources, but also notes. These are rare but one might hit a home-run. Sometimes in notes will be part of a transcription of the original document.

The above list can be found in more detail in the February 2006 Family Tree Magazine in an article by David Fryxell titled "Gold Digging."




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