Why is the FamilySearch Family Tree free?
FamilySearch’s purpose for existence is to gather and preserve in its mountain archive a shared family history for all mankind. FamilySearch is a non-commercial and non-profit organization that has been in operation for over 125 years!
Trust the Archival Design
To immediately allay misunderstandings, concerns and fears, especially from those who have put a lot of effort into their research, I need to clarify:
- FamilySearch allows anyone to preserve personal family trees in the perpetual archive which cannot be changed or deleted by any other person. Only the submitter can delete or replace any personal tree file.
- Personal trees cannot be directly merged with the shared Family Tree by the submitter or by anyone else.
- All living persons you may add to the shared Family Tree are totally private to you. You do not need to add living persons unless your tree requires them to join you in a “bridge” relationship to someone who is deceased. Keep information on living people in your personal database. No other user can see living people you add to the tree.
All of the Above
I always recommend that families follow all three preservation paths:
- Maintain a personal family tree using software (free versions available) on your personal computer or other device.
- Preserve and regularly replace your personal family tree on FamilySearch so that it is never lost. It will be accessible, just as you submitted it, for hundreds of years.
- Participate with gusto in the shared Family Tree for the reasons outlined below.
Wow! What a tree!
Unique advantages of the shared Family Tree:
- Sharing and collaboration with other family members and family organizations like the Mathia – Matthia Family Organization.
- Storage and backup to archival standards. Local files and devices can be lost or destroyed. For-profit organizations are always vulnerable to buyout, takeover, and bankruptcy. No additions, deletions, or changes are ever lost to the shared Family Tree because every change is preserved with the identity of the user who made the change and a date-time stamp.
- Immediate communication with others working on the same ancestral line(s).
- Access to photos, documents, stories, and other artifacts that were passed along to other descendants.
- Sharing of source materials.
- Sharing of language skills and citizenship access (example: Mathia descendants in Poland speak Polish and have easier access to Polish records).
How can I minimize mistakes from being made to my shared ancestors in the shared Family Tree?
- Set the “Watch” flag on every important deceased ancestor. Each week you will get an email about changes made by your cousins. Follow up and resolve concerns about the changes others make.
- Add digital copies primary source records (contemporaneous records) to every individual and tag the sources that document critical events like births and deaths. Secondary sources.
- Use the “Collaborate” tab on individual records to store “Notes” and “Discussions” about research.
- Use the FamilySearch internal messaging system to contact others who have made changes to your ancestors.