Sharing: A Good Way to FIND Ancestors

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Ten percent, over 30 million Americans have Mayflower ancestors. We have many ancestors in common—sharing what we know is to our advantage. We can get more done faster by collaboration than by working individually.

Reasons for sharing

Sharing our genealogy with others helps because—
• Lets the world know what you have accomplished.
• Friendly and descent—sets a good example which leads to collaboration.
• The more you share, the more likely you will find relatives willing to share with you.
• Gives authors you cite further recognition and credit for what they did.
• Gives your peers a chance to evaluate your work and give constructive suggestions for improvement.
• Free exchange of ideas creates a dynamic that helps everyone including you.
• Gives the next generation of researchers a foundation on which to build.
• To unite otherwise fragmented families.
• If you plan to have others will see your work, you will tend to do higher quality work.

What to share

Good documentation enhances the value of what you share.

Share as much of your genealogy as you feel comfortable about sharing. Sharing well-documented (source footnoted) research enhances its value for your family and others. Always include your contact information in the genealogy you share. Do NOT share information about living people without first obtaining their permission.

Computer software programs like Personal Ancestral File (PAF) help you to organize your genealogy and make it easier to share. This Windows PC software can be downloaded for free starting at the FamilySearch Internet homepage at

Many other programs are also available usually at low-cost. For a list of such programs see Cyndi’s List at

Preparing to share

Make up your mind to do it better than it has ever been done before.

Select a sharing goal that can be accomplished in a reasonable amount of time. Since genealogy is never complete or perfect, choose to share sooner rather than later. Study examples of others who have shared in a similar way. For example, look at family history books, or Internet sites for feature you admire or dislike. Learn from their mistakes and triumphs and do the best possible job for yourself.

One of the best things you can do to prepare to share genealogy is to organize and document AS YOU GO! This means keeping good research logs and keeping your family group record up-to-date with the most recent information and source footnotes.

Where to share—cast your net widely

• With family (at reunions?)

• Submit to Internet genealogical files like:

  1. Pedigree Resource File (FamilySearch)
  2. WorldConnect
  3. Ancestry World Tree

• Put up your own well-documented web site. See Cyndi’s List Genealogy Home Page Construction Kit

• Family group sheet exchanges (Google the phrase)

• Well-documented family history books.

  1. Donate a copy to the county and state genealogical societies for each place where your ancestors settled.
  2. Ask for a book notice (or review) in exchange for a free copy.
  3. Donate to large genealogical libraries and archives.
  4. Donate to the FHL an unbound copy with permission to digitize.

• Well-documented articles in periodicals (indexed in PERSI) from genealogical societies near where your ancestors settled.

• Genealogical Research Directory.

What you can expect

After you share your genealogy expect distant relatives to start contacting you. The majority of contacts will ask you for more. But about ten percent of people who contact you will volunteer new information. And some of the time the inquiries from others will spur you to solve a problem yourself.

Related Content

Create a genealogy web page
Rookie Mistakes
Solving Tough Research Problems—Overcoming Brick Walls