A Long Way to Go

In her 2016 presentation for Genetic Genealogy Ireland Debbie Kennett had this to say about world family trees:-

It seems insane to me that we’ve got lots of people working on their family trees, everyone uploading their family trees but it’s on different websites and no one is working together. So my vision for the future is that we have one integrated family tree website where everybody is working together. Think of Wikipedia, if you want an Encyclopedia where do you go for a first look? You go to Wikipedia. If you want to look at someone’s family tree you’ve got to navigate a whole… all sorts of different websites and some of them you’ve got to have a subscription to access trees. We want one world-wide family tree website where everyone can put their results and where it’s completely free and where you can also upload your DNA. So we just need someone to come up with the solution. I don’t know who it’s going to be, erm, none of these sites at the moment are up to the job, none of them actually can do what you can do with your own family tree software at home but that will come in the future when we have our family tree and our DNA in the cloud and online and everyone working together on one big family tree.

The Future of Autosomal DNA Testing (from 12min 50sec)

Jere Becker commented –

Thanks for sharing this, but Debbie is wrong that there is no website for everyone to work on a single tree. FamilySearch has FamilySearch Family Tree, totally free and linked to their records (always free) and to the records of for-profit companies as well (you have to be a subscriber to see the records of the for-profit companies).

Debbie replied.

Jere, I did include FamilySearch in my presentation. The point I was trying to make is that there are currently lots of competing websites where people can upload family trees. Wikitree, Geni.com and We’re Related all allow people to work on a universal family tree. Each website has its pros and cons but there is no single site that is favoured by everyone. The FamilySearch Family Tree is still somewhat clunky to use. I prefer the system at Geni.com but you have to subscribe to access all of their features. I suspect in the long run the FamilySearch Family tree will improve and become the preferred option but it still has a long way to go.

I began tackling the Abel SAWDEN/Annie BANKS household on FamilySearch Tree first thing this morning. Given the couple’s multiple IDs I chose those attached to their marriage to be the “definitives”. Choosing a pair of baptism IDs would have given me a three person start but it seemed neater to begin at the nuptials.


It took about 20 minutes to add the five children who are in the GRO Online Index. I thought I’d put on Abel’s forebears next but had difficulties almost immediately. Yesterday I found some good leads to earlier Sawden generation on a forum and Abel’s grandfather (I think it was) unlocked a fairly extensive chunk of pedigree on FST. Alas, the dates were slightly off and a couple of spouses with similar names were attached to different husbands with the same name. (Hope you are following this!) One of the dubious connections jumped the pond to the United States, a commonplace that nonetheless puts me on a state of high alert. (See William Brown in Sunday’s post Blowman v. Wiseman.)

I chose instead to tackle the purple signposts and made a bit of progress in forty minutes or so. All told I spent about an hour and three-quarters on just seven people – and hardly scratched their surfaces.

And yes, it all felt a bit clunky. But if it seems to take longer than it should to add the various vital record sources the procedures are straightforward. I do feel an idiot sometimes when asked for my reasons for adding information and I am sometimes confused by the reviewing and attaching of the Blue Hints. Overall, though, it is enjoyable work and a comfort to know that any howlers I might make will be noticed and indulgently corrected by someone who passes this way afterwards. Won’t they?

This is as far as I got today:-


I walked through the churchyard this morning to photograph the Sawden headstone. The inscription is not at all clear in dull, flat light so here is Annie’s grave (foreground, between the red granite obelisk and oak tree) in relation to the church. Abel was, presumably, buried in Sheffield.


In Today’s Image the tree to the left beyond the roundabout is said to be the one in which Charles Laughton hid from the Sisters of Mercy at the convent school. There is a snippet about the circular seat at the base of the tree in Sunday Assortment 14 on Looking at Filey. If you go there and feel short-changed because the Laughton links don’t work on the Way Back Machine – try this age nine and Stoneyhurst Jesuit College.

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