I was all set up to tweet and Facebook this seminar as usually I am a speaker and don't get the chance to just sit back and do comments while in progress. However I was a tad over eager - I put my fully charged mobile wifi and Ipad in my handbag the night before so that I would not forget them. It was a bit of a rush in the morning so I did not check that all was ok. Sadly somehow the on button on my wifi was activated in my handbag and when I pulled it out to start tweeting I realised it was about to go flat! Of course, the charger was back home. Just as well I still had by trusty pen and notebook.
Over the years I have been watching the developments in the big subscription databases such as GenesReunited, Ancestry.com.au, MyHeritage and Findmypast.com.au and the amount of indexed and digitised records continues to grow. But what is also fascinating is how they have become more interactive and allow people to store their family information online and put them in touch with others researching the same families.
Early on I put my family data into Genes Reunited and have had many many contacts over the years. I had limited information in Ancestry for years but earlier this year I put all of my information there although I still maintain a separate genealogy program which has all the up to date information and sources etc. As with Genes Reunited, I have found relatives this way and shared information.
I have limited information in MyHeritage but it put me in touch with relatives in Ireland that I suspect I would never have found any other way or certainly not as easily. This is a program that I want to look at more but at the moment I have been looking at Findmypast's family trees which I first put data into back in 2012. I have just uploaded a gedcom of Max's families and it only took one minute and 44 seconds to load nearly 2000 people. I certainly could not re-enter that data anywhere near as quick. Plus you can attach records, photos and it will even calculate kinship for you. Read about the new and improved Findmypast family tree here.
Now that we are living in Queensland Max is interested in knowing more about his mother's Queensland family although he does already know some of his cousins. Surprisingly we have also found that his paternal grandfather has family here too. We have chosen the public option as we want people to find us but have also chosen to suppress the living.
So why have your data in so many places (and there are more choices than those listed here)? Because I have found relatives in all four of these subscription sites it shows that people are choosing different systems but if you only use one of them, you miss the others. Full membership of all four of them is expensive although you can choose free or limited options and of course, some of them are also available to use in libraries.
If anything happens to my laptop, or my backup disk, or my remote hard drive, at least some of my data is available on all of these sites. However I also use BackupMyTree which is a free MyHeritage application which allows me to store my data online (outside of MyHeritage) and there is no public access to it. Another plus is that each time I update my genealogy software program it automatically syncs to BackupMyTree.
So my data is retrievable (although the scanning of my photos and documents continues) and we are waiting for other family members to contact us, hopefully. Whenever I start playing with my own families, you know that I am procrastinating and this time it is finalising my new research guide for Unlock the Past. I always agonise in the final stages of a guide, am I too boring, have I missed something, got it wrong or whatever else. Fortunately their wonderful editor usually soothes all those silly nerves.
There will be one more Diary before we are off on the next Unlock the Past cruise and the Norfolk Island history and genealogy conference. Happy researching until then.