There are lots of blogs out there to help you learn how to do family history research. This blog lets you watch our progress as we roll the Canadian Genealogy Survey out across the country. We'll also track developments in research on family history. It's a bit of a twist, but we hope you'll find something of interest. We welcome your comments.

If you haven't taken the survey yet, you can find it at:

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Do you post your family history information online?

...more results from the Canadian Genealogy Survey.

When we asked family historians if they had posted their family tree on the Internet, 57% responded 'No', but 40% answered 'Yes'. Then we asked, 'Why/Why not?' and the answers we received were both expected and unexpected. First, the 'expected.' People said they posted their family tree information online to 'give back.' And that made good sense to us since, in general, volunteering and giving back seems to be something that is very much a part of the culture.

Second, the 'unexpected.' Most people who said they had not posted their family tree info online said it was because they 'weren't ready yet' or 'didn't know how.' We found that a bit surprising since we expected to see a lot more people citing privacy concerns.

So, when I had the opportunity to speak with the Ottawa Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society recently, I asked them to help me understand this response. Two things stood our for me in their comments: 1) Ancestry's software facilitates keeping some information private, most notably, information about people still living, and 2) some family historians imposed their own limits on what was acceptable to share, uploading information only for certain generations. (In other words, they didn't rely on the software to 'hide' the information, they just didn't provide it in the first place.)

So, what is your approach to sharing your family tree info? Do you post any and all information online? Or, do you selectively post information only for family members who have passed away? Are you concerned about privacy issues? Or, as my students (almost all of whom are under 25 years of age), tell me, do you believe that privacy is 'dead'?


  1. I use I will post people who are living, but my guideline is, nobody under 40. I keep that on a private tree. Concerned about privacy issues, yes. Obsessively concerned, no. I try to be careful and use common sense.

  2. I have my trees posted as a pdf on a personal website. I removed trees from sites like Ancestry (others as well) because it is too easy for other people to take the data and make up fake trees. It's probably too much work for them to take a pdf and type it up from scratch themselves. I've seen a tree posted at Ancestry for my family that has the same woman married to 5 brothers. She is no where in my tree and of course the owner wouldn't answer my email asking about this person who apparently got around.

    I have no problem sharing my information, but I no long put it where it can be taken and used incorrectly.