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Proformat News
No: 68
October 2011
October seminars
28: Tracing your English ancestors, WEA Centre Adelaide, 6:30 to 9:30pm

November seminars
Coming to grips with FamilySearch, WEA Centre Adelaide, 10:00am to 1:00pm

See the seminar program for more details and bookings.

Supreme Court Probate Registry
From mid-Sep the entrance to the Registry has relocated from 1 Gouger Street to 301 King William Street. That is off the rear laneway immediately south of the courts complex.

NAA Adelaide Office update
The new location for the Adelaide office of the National Archives has been functional for over five months now and sadly the undertakings given by the Director have not all been forthcoming.

The first undertaking given was that the hours of operation would be the same as for State Records namely Tuesdays to Fridays (except public holidays) 9:30am to 3:30pm. In effect the facility is not open on Tuesdays. There are no services available and while the very few records available in the reading room can be accessed, there is no support available. The website explains this as, Full reference services available Wednesday to Friday, which really means no service is available on Tuesdays! In fact this reduced access matches that provided to the other two victims of the 2010/11 service cuts—Darwin and Hobart!

Secondly we were initially told that there would be a frequent recovery service from the off-site storage facility. In fact when the dust settled this had been reduced to a daily service but in fact it is currently twice a week! Such a poor service effectively makes a serious research project working from records that lead to new records a very long expensive process. When you discover a new lead you may have to wait many days for the new file to arrive in the reading room. A far from satisfactory service considering that the longest waits prior to relocation were recorded in minutes.
Archivist support
Reading room
Record order service
When ordered records available
Phone only
Closed: card indexes & fiche avail
Phone only
following Thu
Reading room or phone
Front counter or phone
following Fri
Reading room or phone
Front counter or phone
following Fri
Reading room or phone
Front counter or phone
following Wed

In this issue:
October seminars
November seminars
Supreme Court Probate Registry
NAA Adelaide Office update

Feature article
Using the online option for storing family trees


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Using the online option for storing family trees
When the author initially realised the value of putting a family tree on the web to share with remote family but more importantly to attract unknown distant relatives and their knowledge, the way to go about it was to create a website. In 1994 this was done. I am not sorry that this was the only avenue available as I retain full control over all management aspects.

Today it is possible to present all of the above without the need to enter into the complications of having a site of your own and a variety of organisations have set up sites just for this purpose.The main problem is that the third party website retains ultimate control of your data and in some cases will claim ownership of your records.On the positive side the issues of owning a website are someone else's problem and you can get on with family history.

If you are looking to go down this pathway, then some considered thinking about the issues should be engaged before taking the final step.

Before considering such an option look at all the sites offering this feature and evaluate their offerings so that you select the one most appropriate to your needs.

• some of these websites are free, some offer a restricted free service while others require a subscription.
• some offer free trials.
• they all have useful publishing tools.
• a few include all the individual research tools, options and reports you would expect if you purchased a program for your computer.
• some allow you to cull sensitive data before you upload.
• most allow data to be entered either record by record or else as a bulk data upload using a gedcom file exported from your own program.

If you decide to publish information, ensure there are no references to living people.

If you are looking to exchange information, then you need to consider the level of sharing you want to engage in as it is possible with some applications to share just some of your findings with some of your branches. You can sometimes elect whether the new information is posted automatically or whether the other person needs to contact you with the additional details.

One of the major positive advantages of using such facilities is that they act as an off-site backup to your records. It is inevitable that our hard disk will fail at some time and such a facility provides you with added security. Some of the online programs will maintain file synchronicity, a very useful feature in these circumstances.

While there are significant advantages in parking your family history data on a remote website and even more advantages publishing it to attract new material, please remember that Australians are minnows in the Internet world and all the sites reviewed are dominated mainly by Americans and therefore if your primary goal is to find out more about your family per se, you may be better served trawling though archives and libraries!

Different goals and purposes will determine whether an online option will suit an individual researcher and the following are the most popular such sites:.

Add data via forms site

WorldConnect located within Rootsweb and therefore now controlled by Ancestry was the first free online database but it has not kept pace with developments and users can access a limited number of reports and can expect minimal control over the appearance of their material. Regardless, it has a huge number of names available for researchers and is well worth a visit, even if you decide not to become involved. The ownership of data on Rootsweb is no longer clear since acquired by Ancestry.

Add data individually or via gedcom

Ancestry allows users to store genealogical information in public trees which are available to all subscribers. Of all the sites that offer this service, namely the ability to enter information person by person or uploaded as gedcom files, this is one of the more user friendly interfaces. There is an option for private trees that are only available only to those nominated by the data owner. The downside is that all data is owned by Ancestry.

In spite of a number of shortcomings, there is little doubt that this is the #1 site in this collection although its aggressive marketing probably has a lot to do with this as it is neither cheap nor strong on reliable data!.

Genes Reunited
the largest UK site, allow users to enter information into their trees that can be uploaded as gedcom files and can be viewed by other subscribers. New subscribers can test the site for free by entering up to ten names. Non-subscribers can check if there is information of interest but they cannot see all the details or contact the owners of the data without paying a fee.

GeneaNet is a European-based website similar to Genes Reunited. One can also publish an online family tree, by sending a gedcom file to the site, or by managing the family tree directly on the Geneanet site.

offers a similar service to Genes Reunited. LostCousins identifies members who share the same ancestors by comparing the information each member has entered on their My Ancestors page. It is the only genealogy websites that focuses on linking people who share the same ancestors using a highly accurate automated matching system that allows data to remain hidden.

Wiki format

WeRelate developed in 2005 by the Foundation for On-Line Genealogy handles information in a Wiki format customised for genealogists, that is, allowing anyone registered to edit the entries already in place. It is the largest freely licensed genealogy wiki and has almost 5 million wiki pages.The edits have to be positive and quality controls ensure poor or wrong information is managed. All interested parties are notified of changes. WeRelate allows users to upload gedcoms.

Php scripted sites

The script language known as php is a general-purpose language originally designed for web development to produce dynamic web pages. It is the scripting language that allows you to automatically post your surname interests without any intervention by the host. It has great potential in a number of family history activities. For example you could post your family tree online using php and that would allow visitors to the site to make corrections, changes and updates without the need to go through you. Of course in this raw form things could become quite chaotic and so some refinements such as only allowing changes by approved people or subject to your consideration would improve matters. These add-on features require complex programming and therefore looking to other parties that offer such websites and features is an advantage.

PhpGedView is a free widely-used genealogy program that embraces php and so allows you to view and edit your genealogy on your website. PhpGedView has full editing capabilities, full privacy functions, can import from GEDCOM files, and supports multimedia like photos and document images. PhpGedView also simplifies the process of collaborating with others working on your family tree. Your latest genealogy information is always on your website and available for others to see. The currentPhpGedView version is now quite dated.

Webtrees is also a free open-source program that stores your data online. As with The Next Generation, it is possible to make some or all of the information visible to anyone on the internet or only to nominated individuals. Unlike PhpGedView Webtrees program is being kept up-to-date with the latest version being made available in August 2011.

The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding (TNG) allows dynamic generation of internet pages (created as required) from records stored on a personal computer. Photographs and scanned documents can be included as well as narratives about ancestors. Information can be shared publicly, stored privately or even have specified restrictions placed on only some parts of the data.

Social networking sites

MyHeritage founded in 2003 is one of the largest sites in the social networking and genealogy field. MyHeritage is able to automatically tag the faces of people in photos that members upload onto their family pages. If the person in the photo is in the family tree, then the software can also identify them automatically. Another feature of the site is that it uses a meta search engine, which searches its own database and queries some 1500 other databases. Family Tree Builder (FTB) is genealogy software provided by MyHeritage to create family trees. The free download version is distributed as freeware, with no restrictions and no registration is required to download the software. Users may pay a fee to unlock the additional features in the Premium version.

On the world scene this site ranks very highly in spite of being very weak when it comes to support. Its strength has to be in its social networking between users and supportive databases.

is what you would call a cooperative effort and this might not be ideal for everyone. It is part of Facebook. This genealogy search site allows everyone to combine their knowledge and data into one gigantic database. The site’s one of a kind automatic updating function makes it so you are not duplicating any work previously done. It works by continually updating data as new matches are found. As a member you would input your family information and the site will do the rest An email notification is sent whenever a new match is found. The site offers a 7 day free trail.

For similar reasons applying to MyHeritage this site ranks highly too, although OneGreatFamily is limited to the information that clients have submitted.

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