World Family Trees

I am very keen on the concept of world family trees. A world family tree is an attempt to create one interlinked family tree to which everybody in the world can connect. Some of these set an endstop date in the past, e.g. 1700, to prevent the propagation of controversial trees which cannot be proven or are based on legend, faith, or supposition. I love the fact that world family trees are transparent and collaborative.

There are a handful of contenders at the moment, with no clear winner – it really is a matter of preference.

Geni is a paid subscription service. It has a large database and is well resourced, but it is closely linked to MyHeritage and MyHeritageDNA, and beginners may find the endless advertising and site linking complex and frustrating.

Family Tree by FamilySearch offers a unified tree which is free, but requires a log-in. It is undoubtedly huge, but rooted in Latter Day Saints culture, so you need to be comfortable with that.

I should also mention that FindMyPast is working on adding to the mix with its World Family Tree, but the beta has been inactive for quite a long time.

I am particularly keen on wikis. These are websites or databases developed collaboratively by a community of users, allowing any user to add and edit content. They are a wonderful resource for local and family historians, not only because you can share research on a subject with other people, but because you can make contact with researchers who share your passions and interests, or relatives who share your interest in particular family members. Family tree wikis are usually well-grounded in attributing sources for genealogical proofs.

There are three free family tree wikis which are open to public viewing without logging in as a user – a wonderful way to welcome new readers and encourage collaboration.

Familypedia is hosted on Fandom aka Wikia, and is the smallest and least active of the three.

WeRelate is an independent free wiki. I like some aspects of WeRelate, but I choose not to use it because its founder, Dallan Quass, is retreating from it, and its longevity is not as secure as I would like. You can find out more here. The founder’s latest project was RootsFinder which was acquired by FindMyPast in February.

WikiTree is my favourite by a country mile. It is free to use, very well supported by volunteers, and large enough that you have a possibility of finding matches which you can link your tree to. It is a little daunting for a beginner, but it is a great place to learn good genealogical practice, as there is a heavy emphasis on establishing proof. It is also an ideal platform to work with clients, so they can view your progress, and contribute comments and questions as you work. I also like Wikitree’s ability to create projects using database categories and free space pages. This is ideal for one place studies. I’m definitely planning to use it to add all my Wootton Bassett data one day!

I hope you find this round-up helpful. Please do let me know which world family tree you prefer, and why.

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