After six years of development and testing FamilySearch has released its Family Tree product to the general public. I have written about new.FamilySearch.org and then Family Tree a number of times over the past few years as FamilySearch did regular releases of the software to try to perfect the experience for those researching their ancestors.
A visit to FamilySearch.org now shows a link at the top of the site labeled Family Tree. Clicking on this link will prompt users to log in or create and account. The tree is a personal experience on FamilySearch and requires an account. Accounts are free.
Once you log in to the Family Tree your name will show in the primary position. To see ancestors’ names you will need to enter any living ancestors before you search for deceased. Living individuals in the tree can only be seen by those who add them, for privacy reasons. If your parents are living, then add them. If your grandparents are living, add them. Same with great grandparents, etc.
Once you have added all the living ancestors, search for your deceased ancestors. This is where the fun begins. You may find that there is significant information known about your ancestors that was added by other family members. There are nearly one billion unique family linked individuals in the Family Tree. If your ancestors are from the United States, England, Germany, or parts of Latin America there is a good chance that you will find information about your ancestors in the Family Tree.
Photos and stories are also now being added to Family Tree. As of today this experience is only open to LDS Church members, but I expect that it will be released to the general public within the next month or so.
One of the advantages of adding ancestral data to FamilySearch is their strong preservation bias. FamilySearch has been gathering and preserving family history information for more than a hundred years. The Family Tree itself is evidence of the preservation efforts of the organization. The data in Family Tree has been gathered and preserved over multiple decades. If you want your family information to be around for your great grandchildren to view, FamilySearch is the best place to put it.
The addition of photos and stories to the site brings richness to the experience. It is nearly certain that over the coming months you will find photos and stories about your ancestors that you did not know existed.
It is likely that you will find some information in the Family Tree that is incorrect. The great thing about the experience is that you can correct any erroneous information you find. The genealogical domain has been somewhat slow to come to use collaborative tools for improving research and conclusions. The Family Tree provides the first large scale collaborative efforts where family members can work together.
Take a moment to visit the Family Tree on FamilySearch.org. I think you will find the experience worthwhile, and I expect that you may learn something about your family that you did not know.