We live in an amazing age. Remember when you had to go to a library to access records, search microfilm, and write letters requesting copies of records? Today, that research has almost been replaced by computers and online resources. With the click of a mouse, pictures of records can be searched and accessed.
With the advances in technology, many people have shared their family history online, and a number of people of people have asked, “Why should I post my family history information on the Internet?” To others, the question hasn’t crossed their minds.
Below are some common questions asked when considering sharing genealogy information online.
- Why should I post my genealogy and family history online?
- What sort of information should I post online?
- What should I not post online
- Is it safe to post online?
- What does “post online” mean?
- Where should I post online?
- Do I need to pay to post online?
- Do I need to know how to program to put family history on the Internet?
Why should I post my genealogy and family history online?
Have you ever been looking for something, say your car keys for example, and spent forever looking for them? What if someone knew where your keys were and also knew that you probably were looking for them? Would you want that person to let you know they found your keys? Of course you would, and it’s the same for family history. There have been many family lines I’ve researched and have come up against walls. Every once in a while, I’ll stumble upon a new website that a distant relative has created that gives me exactly the information I need, or at least the contact info so I can ask the distant relation some questions. It’s doubtful that I would have ever found a number of stories and records if the information if it hadn’t been posted online by a fellow descendant.
You might think that the information you have isn’t all that important, but I’ve made contact with distant relatives who are searching similar lines that I am searching simply because I’ve posted what little I have online. We can now share information and better our genealogy search.
What sort of information should I post online?
This is up to you. I try to post all the genealogy I have online. The articles and information that I guard and am cautious about sharing is information about living family members. Many genealogy software programs that let you post online have a safety feature or option to let you protect information on the living from being viewed. Here’s some information that you might want to consider posting:
- Pictures, old and new (writing descriptions help)
- Stories about your ancestors
- Records of deceased ancestors for which you hold the copyright (if you do not hold the copyright information to post online, you could at least post that you have access to the information or source)
- Links to websites created by other family members
Just remember to cite the reference of how you obtained your information. It’s great to post a story about a great-grandparent, but it’s better to post the story and indicate that the story is based on a personal memory you have of your ancestor.
What should I not post online?
There are a few things that you might want to think twice about posting online.
- Your home address or home addresses of family
- Your phone number (if you want someone to contact you, post your email address)
- Personal records for living individuals (don’t post your own birth certificate online for example)
- Media for which you do not have permission from the copyright holder.
What does “post online” mean?
Some have raised questions about privacy wondering if they want their family pictures shared online. Well, I hate to break it to you, but it’s actually quite a lot of work to get people to find and come to your site, so I wouldn’t be too concerned about privacy issues. Just don’t post your address, or bank account information. There are millions upon millions upon millions of people posting pictures of themselves, their family, the family pet, etc. I wouldn’t be too concerned if I were you to post family history information.
What does “post online” mean?
No harm in asking the question. “Post online” means to place information you have on the Internet. It’s akin to posting an article in the newspaper, except for the newspaper is kept on computer, and a larger audience has access to it.
Where should I post online?
This is a great question. There are lots of different ways for you to share your genealogy. It depends on what you want to accomplish. You can read a past article here for a more comprehensive explanation; however, I’ve listed below a few highlights:
- To post a family tree with pictures and stories, try Ancestry.com
- To create a personal website where you can easily post your thoughts, family history stories, and pictures, try wordpress.com or blogger.com.
- To create a family website that keeps the rest of the world out, and only lets your family in, try myfamily.com.
Do I need to pay to post online?
There are plenty of places that will “host” or display your pictures and stories you want to share for free. So, no, you don’t to have to pay to post online. There are some great services out there that are free, and there are some that require a subscription. The list above is a great place to start looking for sharing your genealogy and family stories online.
Do I need to know how to program to put family history on the Internet?
Absolutely not. In some cases, it might be helpful to know; however, the few websites listed above do not require you to have a knowledge of web programming.
The final question is: Will you post online? I certainly hope so. Everyone has something to share, many are looking for information but can’t find it. The web makes it so easy to share what we have and help those that are searching find what they need. You can also benefit your own family by keeping your family history information organized. You’ll be able to better stay in touch with your family. The benefits go on and on, and it’s never been easier to share online. So let’s stop yappin’ and get started! Take a look at some of the sites we’ve recommended, and start making your family history more accessible to your family.