Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Problem with Public Family Trees

Let us discuss Public Family Trees at

I have photos of my husband's great grandmother.  She died in 1961.  She shows up in 28 public trees on  I would love to share the photos I have of her with other people on Ancestry, but when I pull up those trees, they are either owned by people who have one source for her and haven't logged in for a year or more, or they are people who logged in yesterday and she is so far removed from them, there is no terminology to describe the relationship.

There is a publicly posted photo identified as her mother.  It looks like it was posted in some kind of newsletter or something, then photocopied and posted to Ancestry.  I have messaged the owner of the photo and asked for details of the source of the photo.  I received no response.  I am particularly interested because I have another unidentified photo that I believe could be her, but I would like to see if I could come up with a better quality photo before I jump to that conclusion.  No response.

I have a first cousin in my own family who I have offered to collaborate with.  I messaged her and offered to send her information, which I did.  I got no response and when I emailed and asked if she received it, I got no response.

I have a very large drawing of my husband's great-great-grandfather, who died in the Civil War.  I would be happy to share this with anyone who wanted it.  Same story as his great grandmother from his paternal side.  Nobody close enough to message.

It is all fine and dandy to spout off about how if you post a public tree on Ancestry that you will undoubtedly have distant cousins knocking on your door to get to you, but that has not been my experience so far.  Even with the people I have reached out to, I have gotten no response.  So frustrating.