Sunday, August 7, 2016

Should I add all my living relatives to Family Tree?

In my last post, I talked about adding living generations in order to link to the deceased generations. Which raises the question of whether to add living relatives beyond those needed in order to reach the deceased generations. Should you add your children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren and cousins and aunts and uncles, etc?

Certainly, you can use Family Tree to keep a record of all of your family--living and deceased. But, it is probably helpful to understand the underlying purpose of FamilySearch.org and Family Tree. In case you are not aware, FamilySearch.org is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (better known as the Mormons). The website was created because of 2 key tenets of the faith: 1) that family relationships are meant to endure beyond the grave, and 2) that all mankind will have the opportunity to learn about Jesus Christ and His gospel, either in this life or the next. So, FamilySearch.org is primarily a tool for Church members to seek records of their deceased ancestors and link them together in Family Tree. This allows them to come to know their ancestors and feel a love for them. And it gives them opportunities to offer temple ordinances to those who have gone before who might not have had the opportunity to hear the gospel during their lifetimes. So, Family Tree is designed to be primarily a record of the deceased.

Things to keep in mind as you decide whether this is the place to keep records of your living relatives:

  • Every time you create a record of a living person, it resides in your Private Space. This means no one else can see it or search for it. FamilySearch.org carefully protects the records of living people. You can't tell your family members the Family Tree ID of your living relatives--well you CAN, but it won't do them any good. They cannot search by ID and find these people. There have been rumors that the engineers are working on a way to share your Private Space records with family, but at this point you can't.
  • Of course, you can print out pedigree charts and family group records and share the information that way with your relatives. 
  • If all of your relatives create records of one another, Family Tree is going to have a lot of duplicates out there as people die. That's not terrible. You can merge duplicates. Just something to be aware of. 
Many folks, self included, find it wise to keep family history records in more than one place. You might want to poke around in the FamilySearch App Gallery for family tree software for your personal computer. Keeping your tree there as well as on FamilySearch.org allows you to keep more extensive records of your living generations. It is also a good backup of your tree data. You know that any user can change data on Family Tree. It's nice to have a copy where only you can make changes. Most of the family tree software has free trial versions so you can try them out and decide what you like before making a purchase. And they are not expensive. 

Ultimately, the decision is yours to make. You can add the living to Family Tree if you want to. 

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