Posted by Kenny Freestone on December 21, 2007 in Website

There’s been a lot of questions and concerns raised about our announcement that the Online Family Tree system is being retired. Here’s some answers to the question you may have.

What is the Online Family Tree system?

The Online Family Tree system was started back in about 1999. It was a great tool to build a family tree and share it with others. In the last 8 years the Online Family Tree system has aged–gracefully, but is now unquestionably old and ready for retirement.

Here is a sample screen from Online Family Tree:

Online Family Tree sample

We have two key principal motives for transitioning everyone from the Online Family Tree system to the new Ancestry Member Tree system:

First, we are concerned about the long-term stability of the product, and are anxious to get everyone and their files situated on the newer platform and technology that we can maintain and support. The product is eight year old, which is a very long time in internet years, and we are not comfortable that the system is capable of living much longer.

Second, we believe the new Ancestry Member Tree system is a far superior experience, and believe you will find much to appreciate about it. We want to focus all our available resources on this one system, and make it the best it can be.

What is the Ancestry Member Tree system?

The Ancestry Member Tree system is a great tool for:

  • Building your family tree
  • Backing up your family tree online (if you use Family Tree Maker, PAF, etc.)
  • Uploading a copy of your family tree for others to search
  • Finding more information about your ancestors in historical records and other family trees with the help of Ancestry Hints™
  • Seeking out other members researching branches of your family tree
  • Preserving online photographs and stories about your ancestors
  • Preparing a family history book for publishing
  • And much more

Here’s a sample screen from an Ancestry Member Tree:

sample family tree

Why is the Online Family Tree system going away?


After eight years of service, the Online Family Tree system has become outdated to the point that we can no longer maintain it. So we’re helping you transition your family tree file to our Ancestry Member Tree system before the Online Family Tree system is no longer available.

How can I be sure my data won’t be lost?


The transfer is safe, because it is non-destructive, meaning your existing Online Family Tree file remains unchanged and unmoved and essentially untouched in this process.

When you request the transfer, our system triggers an “export GEDCOM” request on the Online Family Tree file. The original file is untouched, and a separate, new copy of your file is created in GEDCOM format. We then take this new GEDCOM file and import it into the Ancesty Member Trees system.

When this is complete, you now have two files. Your original Online Family Tree file remains exactly as it was. And you also have a new Ancestry Member Tree file.

GEDCOM is the standard format for transferring family tree data. If for some reason your tree contains information that doesn’t work with this standard, we may have difficulty transitioning your tree. However, that would be a rare situation. We’ll also transfer your list of invited guests into the new Ancestry Member Tree system.

Does an Ancestry Member Tree cost money?


Your family tree in the Ancestry Member Tree system is FREE for you and all your invited guests. Some related features, such as viewing and attaching historical records to your tree, require a paid subscription. But you are free to ignore all paid features on the site.

Do others have to pay to search my Ancestry Member Tree file?


Yes. While building and viewing your Ancestry Member Tree file is free for you and your invited family guests, others who want to search your tree must have a paid subscription in order to do so. Important note: Even paid members must ask your permission before viewing details in your tree.

Will it be difficult moving to the Ancestry Member Tree system?

No. We will transition your tree automatically. You only need to make some simple decisions about how much access you want to give other members. We do the rest.

Will you continue protecting the privacy of living people in my tree?


Yes — as long as we can tell a person is living. We never display information about people we think are living in any search results from your tree. We look at dates (birth, marriage, death), and relationship information to determine if a person is living. However, our determination is only as good as the details in your tree.

Can other Ancestry members view my Ancestry Member Tree file?

This is your decision. Trees designated “Public” can be searched and viewed. Trees marked “Personal” will allow other members to discover if someone they’re seeking is in your tree, but they won’t be able to see any personal details or relationships without contacting you for further permission.

How can I keep my tree completely private?


Total privacy isn’t an option. However, making your tree “Personal” allows you to limit the information others can access and decide if anyone gets to see more.

Can anyone else edit my Ancestry Member Tree file?

No — not unless you specifically invite someone (a family member, trusted fellow researcher, etc.) to view your tree and specifically give them permission to edit it.

Will the Ancestry Family Tree system be difficult to learn?


We’ve done a lot of work to make the Ancestry Member Tree system as simple as possible for you. We hope you’ll like it, and encourage you to let us know if you have any problems.

How can I create a backup copy of my tree?


Create a backup copy using the GEDCOM export feature in the Online Family Tree system before your transition or in the Ancestry Member Tree system afterward.

What’s happening with the “descendant view” feature?


This is one feature from Online Family Trees we’ve not yet duplicated in Ancestry Member Trees. Know that it’s on our list and we’re working to make it possible.

What are the basic differences between the Ancestry Member Tree system and the old Online Family Tree system?

feature comparison

What are the top five features in Ancestry Member Trees not available in Online Family Trees?


1. Ancestry Hints™, or links to records and family trees that may contain information about your ancestors
2. Automatic creation of source citations when you save a record to a person
3. The ability to add photos and stories for individuals in your tree
4. The ability to publish a book about your family history from your tree
5. Timeline showcasing your ancestors’ lives

Who can I contact to make comments about this change?


Again, we’ve put a tremendous amount of energy into helping you make a smooth transition from your Online Family Tree to an Ancestry Member Tree. If we’ve missed something or you have other feedback to share, make a comment on our blog post or if you prefer, send me an email: kfreestone at


  1. James R. Logsdon

    I have tried a dozen times or more to transfer over but the same error of not getting all my family happens every time. What can I do to correct this error or What can You do?

  2. carol whiteman

    I’ve tried the new Ancestry Member Tree and I hate it. It is MUCH more difficult and confusing. I have enjoyed the online family tree system for years so I will probably drop my membership for the next year.
    Why do people keep making changes to good systems and making them more difficult for users?

  3. Cathy

    I have already deleted all my information. I tried the new tree system, uploaded photos and documents. After consideration and before this blog began, I removed all my documents, because I realized I am giving my documents for free, while still paying them to access their system. I should pay them to give them my documents and photos?

    I hate the new tree system and will not be using for my online tree any longer.

    This will be a terrible shame, since I have 10 years of work into my family tree, and many of my branches are “lost branches” of the family. New work submitted by me is anticipated by other researchers because it is backed up by documentation. My work has been copied many times over.

    All I can say is, Sucks for Ancestry. They are going to lose much more than the experienced genealogist who knows what they are doing.

    They will gain the people who copy other’s wrong entries, to be passed on to other people who copy wrong entries.

    Ancestry will also gain many useless modern photos which will end up clogging their servers.

    I predict a major server crash coming.

  4. Barbara

    I have used Ancestry since 2000. I loved the descendent view very much and from time to time would print it out. I do miss that option in the Ancestry Member Tree. I hope the feature will be brought back soon.

    One other thing. The option for relationship events does not include partnerships, unmarried, etc. You knbow people may have had a relationship which resulted in a child but the only choice in showing the relationship and child is to select “married” even though they were not married. The same is true of the partnership situation. Many people live in a partnership and never marry but there is no selection for that. Even if you select custom event. Custom event does not recognize that there may have been a child to be listed in the family section.

    Hopefully these options will be added soon.

  5. I have spent years researching my family and some I did not know were my family. I will give props to the resources available however the hours and years I have spent doing this – every time I log on – seems like the first time. Everything is gone…all the work…all the hours spent….I will be cancelling my account forever. Sometimes, especially for this price, inefficiency is and always be inadequate. Not that anyone will ever see this; however, think twice before you make the investment unless you want to make a manual family tree….everything you do will just be deleted like you and your family never mattered…

  6. Megan McMurray McGowen

    I agree totally with Cathy (4). The accuracy of the data in both the transcriptions of the original documents, and “trees” submitted by members, is getting worse. The Hints are now a hinderance rather than a help. My trees are too big for Ancestry now to make effective use of the publishing tool – time to move on.


    Let me not try to repeat all the things that are right with OFT and wrong with AMT. Principal is loss of access in AMT to all ‘notes’ for public viewers. OFT has been and is a tremendous research tool for persons with serious genealogical interest. The format for displaying GEDCOM files by OFT, as well as by, presents all information that any person with a SERIOUS interest in genealogy wants in the form of NOTES. Other information such as photos and other links can already be attached to OFT or Rootsweb files (see, for example, the page for my grandfather at Like files, public OFT files are completely public and super fast because the basic displays are text-oriented. AMT is a display-intensive ‘scrapbook’ for photos that is slow as a ‘dog’ because of its irrelevant fancy boxes and silhouettes of ‘fathers’ and ‘mothers’.

    No person with a serious interest in genealogy will use AMT! Many, many people currently use OFT.


    This message has been posted on the following four ‘blog’ sites:

  8. I recently have posted several messages to the four ‘blog’ sites known (listed below) that are concerned with possible termination of Online Family Tree (OFT) by customers (as well as central management personnel at deserve to be able to read comments by customers who use or have used OFT. The vast majority of those have, to date, expressed very major reservations about the proposed “replacement” of OFT by Ancestry member Tree (AMT).
    Several recent, multiple postings of my own have been briefly posted with the ominous message “YOUR COMMENT IS AWAITING MODERATION”, after which they were quickly deleted. While I can understand rationales under which some comments posted to might be considered off-target for a particular ‘blog’ and, and therefore might be a source for moderation, such moderation has never been previously announced. Obviously, such “moderation” can be a facile substitute for “censorship”.
    1. READERS need to be aware that such unpublicized “moderation” exists now! They need to search broadly on the Internet to find “unmoderated” comments that are not biased by “moderators”, who in this instance can be confidently assumed to be part of’s promotional relations department.
    2. ANCESTRY.COM: Which of your ‘blog’ sites are moderated and unmoderated??
    The four ‘blog’ sites concerned with proposed termination of Online Family Tree are:

  9. Kathy

    A tree that I edit was migrated, per the instructions that Ancestry was giving. The result in AMT was mangled. The OFT is unuseable.

    If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

  10. Leigh

    I very much dislike the new tree system and will be considering stating another tree somewhere else which is a shame as I have learned so much using

    I’ve tried the new Ancestry Member Tree and I dislike it. It is MUCH more difficult and confusing.

    I have lost information that I used to be able to view under a persons profile such as mum & dad, spouse & child. For me it was useful having all this information on the one page.

    I will try and use it again but I feel that it will be a waste of time as the information that I want to look at (at a glance) I can no longer see.

    I have found that the HINTS now have information that is incorrect. I ran across one where the child was born after the mother had died (this is impossible), I have also had people duplicated when the information to be merged was the same as what was already in my tree. After merging to create the soucre citation I discovered that the person wasw now in my tree twice.

  11. I read all the comments here a couple of days ago. There were quite a few..where did they all go? Trees without visible sources and notes are useless. I never look at them because they are a waste of time and who in their right mind would want to give anyone editing rights to their tree??? I want the old Online Family Tree, but I can see I better step up my research if I want to view others notes and sources for leads in obtaining essential records.

  12. Jim

    I’ve tried, I REALLY dislike the new structure. And why should I allow you to sell access to my work? Thanks for the nearly six years but after seeing this change, I’m gone.

  13. Georgie

    Now I know what has been wrong with the tree I have been working on for the last 5 years. I am now in the process of printing every thing so I will not loose everything. I really appreciate the added difficulty in using I hope that this change will correct ALL the errors and duplications that you have on my family from other people who don’t research but copy anything blindly.

  14. Janice (Jenny) Nowak

    In the Online Family Tree FAQ section of this blog there is a heading that says “How can I be sure my data won’t be lost?” There is a response that makes it sound that I will not lose any data in the transfer and I will end up with 2 trees that are essentially identical. This is a blatant mis-statement!

    I have 12,760 people on my Online Family Tree and a significant number of records tied to these people. While this may be small compared to many trees, it does represent close to 5 years of research which I have been able to share with many other members researching their families.

    I have tried several times to transfer my Online Family Tree
    into Ancestry Member Tree using the instructions provided and have had no success. The best that I have been able to do is to get 2,125 names across into AMT, a 17% success rate. This is not acceptable!!! This means that 83% of the time and effort that I have put into my family tree research over the past 5 years has been lost! If is insistent upon ignoring functionality and “useability” concerns raised by others in this blog and going ahead with AMT, at least be considerate enough to give the same basic information as was there in Online Family Tree. WHERE IS THE REMAINING 83% OF MY RECORDS? HOW DO I GET THESE RECORDS INTO ANCESTRY MEMBER TREE???? If these records are lost, please be up front enough to clarify in the FAQ that data will be lost and what data will be lost!

    If I had known that the vast majority of my time and effort building an online tree would have been lost to me I would have found more productive activities for the past five years.

  15. Dear Kenny Freestone,

    It seems to me that Jenny Nowak (message 17) and many others who think they have lost hard worked ancestral data deserve a public response directly on this blog page.


    Gary Collins

    (01.07.08 note from Kenny: I spoke last week with Jenny about her post, and she was confused about which system she was using. Her data in OFT is safe, and actually she hasn’t touched it in almost a year. She is instead an active user and advocate of Ancestry Member Trees and thought (incorrectly) that she would have to migrate back to the OFT system. I’ve likewise made every effort to contact all others who believe they have lost their data. In each case there is NO permanent loss of any data. The OFT migration process does not modify or remove the original OFT file. We’ve had a few bugs in the migration (listed in the known issues post) but these are bugs related to the migrated data, not the original OFT file. –Kenny)

  16. Jo

    I am using the Ancestry member tree and like the formate quite well.

    My question is when changing the tree from public to personal, how long does it take Ancestry to make the change? It is not an automatic change.

  17. Sandy

    I am incensed that someone else can access my photos and especially my certificates and all the work that goes with them and then RIP ME OFF without so much as a by your leave. I do share my work but today all those certificates copied to another tree left me feeling violated. I have made my tree personal and hope this is done very quickly. Can you guarantee my privacy regarding the photo section?

  18. Dave

    Sandy, if you read all the commments in the different sections of this blog, regarding the new tree and the ability to upload documents and photos, you will see that several people have already posted their concerns about this.

    All photos and documents that are uploaded into a public tree will be taken by other people, including

    Someone mentioned that they performed a name search in the photo section, and counted the same exact photo of the same person uploaded to numerous different trees, and that one particular photo appeared on nearly every page of the that name search. That photo had been “borrowed” by other researchers and uploaded to their trees.

    If you upload birth, death, marriage, and other documents into your tree that you have paid money for and then make them public, other people will steal them. You are the owner of your documents and photos, and there are domain issues connected with your photos. While they are not technically copyrighted, they still fall under a gray area of copyright law. You are entitled to have control over your documents.

    You need to report to who is taking your photos and documents. According to the use policy, anyone who takes your photos and docs is in violation of this policy and Ancestry should remove those stolen photos and docs from the offender’s trees.

    More and more new trees are disappearing or are being made private, and more of the old trees are being deleted. has more than one hornet’s nest here to deal with.

  19. Online Family Tree (OFT) is (or has been to date) an outstanding resource from for researching ancestry files. I had the idea to suggest an opportunity to publicize its features to those who hadn’t tried it out. To prepare for this, I “uploaded” a GEDCOM file to OFT this night using the still existing upload page at However, the uploaded file was completely defective. Since I had separately and successfully updated previously existing OFT files in the same period, it appears that is sabotaging new entries. (Kenny Freestone, can you confirm or deny such sabotage, in your role as mouthpiece for touts the advantages of the Ancestry Member Tree (AMT) over Online Family Tree (OFT). It should be noted that display options of OFT files are exactly the same as those of ancestry file at What are the pros and cons of the OFT and AMT systems??

    1. OFT is a free system, with publicized results publicly available. AMT is a subscriber system, requiring ~$100-200 annual subscription fees to for access. Nobody will see your AMT file if they don’t pony up ~$100-200 each year.

    2, OFT provides copious research notes by the writer of an ancestry file. AMT makes such research note unavailable–even if you are a subscriber!

    3. OFT provides an option to view a table of descendants, a very powerful way to examine an ancestry file. AMT has no such option.

    4. OFT has a fast text-oriented interface while AMT has an interface dogged by having to provide vacuous, generic, graphical images of “father” and “mother”.

    5. AMT allows file owners to attach photos and other media to their files. While this can also be done by OFT, in the AMT system, other members can “grab” and keep your photos or other media and attach them to their own files. While I have not investigated it closely, it appears that other members can “attach” parts or all of other ancestry files to their own. Who wants imbeciles stapling their own file information to their own??

    6. No person with a serious interest in genealogy would ever have anything to do with AMT. It’s a total loser!

    If it ain’t free (1), if there are no notes (2), if there is no option for a table of descendants (3), if it’s slow as a dog (4), and if others can instantly paper clip your findings as their own (5), then I think it’s a total loser.

    Let me reiterate that, on the day that OFT goes defunct (if it hasn’t gone so already, see above), I will cancel, once and for evermore, my subscription to

    From a previously loyal subscriber over 3-4 years, and an imminent unsubscriber,

    Gary Collins

  20. Cornelia Warner

    I find it interesting that no-one has mentioned the promise Ancestry made to the person who created Rootsweb, the people who worked for them, and the people who used Rootsweb, that they (Ancestry) would never charge a fee for WorldConnect or any personal data posted to Rootsweb’s free sections (which were all free when Ancestry acquired it). or have any posts mentioning it been erased by Ancestry?
    it’s time to charge Ancestry with violation of trust as well as anything else they are guilty of.
    I have, due to lack of resources were I live, payed for Ancestry’s full package for the past 5 years, and subscribed to their magazine as well, but I’m canceling both subscriptions. I will be demanding a return of unused funds in the process.
    I have a few files of my own on WorldConnect I’d like to download, but if I can’t, well, someone may find them elsewhere, in some cases, or just have to rebuild them, in others. fortunately I’ve downloaded the most important ones.
    it will be interesting to see how thoroughly Ancestry sinks it’s own ship.

  21. Cornelia Warner

    snippet of the original report, though not the one Ancestry sent to all Rootsweb users reassuring us that they would remain free. check to see if you kept your copy;

    San Francisco, CA – June 21, 2000 –, Inc., the leading online family network, announced today that it has entered into an agreement to acquire, the oldest and largest free community genealogy site., a San Francisco, California company, is among the most popular genealogy sites on the Internet.
    … With the acquisition, Inc. will add to its portfolio of Web sites, which includes,, as well as, ….

    Following the acquisition, the site will continue to be free to all users and will maintain its own unique Web site address,


  22. Leonard Noland

    Gary. does NOT charge someone to build and maintain their tree in the Ancestry Member Tree system.

    This very blog, the FAQ’s, answered this question:

    Does an Ancestry Member Tree cost money?

    Your family tree in the Ancestry Member Tree system is FREE for you and all your invited guests.

    Of course it needs some enhancements, can you please be more positive, and submit your enhancement requests for what you would like to see added/improved. I have done that and I am confident that the reports and notes issues will be resolved to bring that part of the system in line of the OLD OFT system.


  23. ML Sample

    My family tree was uploaded to from a CD I sent to Family Tree Maker years ago. I find I had mistakes in that material which I can’t edit online because it is in no way connected to me. Now I see that incorrect material on trees of others. This upsets me.

  24. Sharron

    What happens to the trees on Roots Web????

    (01.07.08 note from Kenny: Hi Sharron, trees on Rootsweb are not affected by this. Note that the OFT system will no longer submit files to Ancestry World Tree, which is part of of the Rootsweb WorldConnect project. –Kenny)

  25. Dave

    *****01.07.08 note from Kenny: Hi Sharron, trees on Rootsweb are not affected by this. Note that the OFT system will no longer submit files to Ancestry World Tree, which is part of of the Rootsweb WorldConnect project. –Kenny)*****

    Explain this please for the confused. Are you saying that Online Family Tree (OFT) is the WorldConnect tree at Rootsweb? OFT is also the AWT, not just the trees at Rootsweb.

    And that once you switch over to pay-to-view-trees-only, new Ancestry Member Tree (AMT), that the Rootsweb web site will no longer link the submitted trees over to

    I think that was a given.

    How long before you close down Rootsweb?

    My cousin Fran pulled her AMT tree from your website last week, by the way. Just thought you would like to know that that is another tree Ancestry has lost since they have made the AMT system mandatory.

    I know, you are getting tired of reading all of this Kenny. But think about it — if loses even 1 tree a day for one year – 365 trees -, along with the discontinued trees submitted through Rootsweb, that is thousands and thousands of names that has lost.

    The main draw to is the tree system.

  26. jemhay

    I am somewhat disappointed by the ‘fiddly’ nature of the new tree system. Some of the features appear to be good at first, but the wait times for loading each time one has to ‘click’ yet another page (too many in lots of instances) does get a little tiring.

    As some other members have said – data seems to go missing, as well.

    When working on this kind of thing, I want speed and efficiency, not fancy looks, pretty graphics and a lot of fiddling around. Genealogy is painfully slow as it is – please don’t make it even worse!!

  27. jemhay

    I should have added to my post above, that having read many other comments above – I have already removed my old OFT (online family tree) and am seriously considering removing the new version (AMT).

    I can’t help but feel that Ancestry is beginning to put the almighty dollar before the customer and is leaning toward exploitation of it’s users. Sure it’s free to upload and ‘give’ the information; information that is often many, many years of research and the expense that goes with it. But seemingly one gives up the right to keep it private and ultimately hands it over to Ancestry to ‘sell’ as it sees fit.

    If Ancestry put as much work and emphasis in ensuring a secure and fully functioning system BEFORE launching as it does sponsoring TV shows of Celebrities tracing their family histories; I’m sure the site would be a much better place with happier users!

  28. Re: comment 25 by Leonard Noland, apparently in response to my earlier comment 22

    Dear Leonard,

    (1) I don’t think I ever wrote that charges a person who wishes to build an AMT tree. It’s been clear that anyone can start up an AMT for free.

    (2) After that, an AMT tree is visible to “invited guests”, but anyone else has to pay a hefty subscription fee. If there were an option to invite “EVERYONE” (anybody with internet access), AMT would be of more use, but it’s crippled anyway because notes cannot be displayed to viewers, it lacks the ability to provide a view of descendants of an individual, it displays very slowly due to the large graphical display overhead, et cetera.

    (3) You ask me to “please be more positive” in my description of AMT’s problems. What in your opinion is there to be positive about? is in the process of purposefully trashing the wonderful OFT system in hopes that file owners will move their files over to the “pay per view” AMT system. You write like an employee.


    Gary Collins

  29. David Wild

    Just upgraded to FTM 2008 and so far I hate the new program. It is awkward.
    One of my pet dislikes is that you have no way of telling it to permanently disregard a match online that your system thinks is likely, even if it is nothing like the person you search for. Even a ‘normal’ tree I started in has this feature why not in FTM.
    Furthermore there is no option to list siblings in the trees you make. It is an excellent way to summarise family content to show others and was available in the earlier versions. Bring it back please.
    Another point. Once you upload your tree there seems to be no way that I have found to update the online version periodically without uploading the whole thing again, surely that is not really the case.
    Another point, it should be possible to save the FTM file in a format directly compatible with earlier FTM versions without going back to gedcom format.

  30. ascook sucks. they have changed things so much. im ready to cancel my subscription for good and find something else. i cant get the hints or takes them a week or more to get back to you and it is SO SLOW. they tell me there may not be any hints but i can find them when i search for historical records on I am very unhappy with them. you pay them then they mess everything up.

  31. jemhay

    After much reading and consideration; I too have deleted both my OFT (which I didn’t realise was still here), and my AMT from So yet another tree and many links to the past has bitten the dust!

    This new system appears to be nothing more than the “dumbing down” and commercialization of genealogy for the masses; destroying it’s real purpose for those of us serious about researching our family histories.

    I sincerely hope Ancestry rethinks and listens to it’s users. More importantly, I hope they take advice from serious, experienced genealogists, in order to build a site that can successfully serve both the ‘experts’ and the novices amongst us without losing the integrity that real genealogy requires.

    I am a long term paying customer of Ancestry and am very disappointed at the direction it’s taking. Having taken many, many surveys about the site at their request; I repeatedly asked that they NOT FIX WHAT WASN’T BROKEN. Seems it fell on deaf ears. The site now, as far as the family trees and the resulting erronious information floating around on it is concerned, is rapidily becoming a joke!

    On a positive note – I have to say I LOVE my Family Tree Maker software; but must thank those for alerting me to the issues with the 2008 version.
    I haven’t upgraded yet, so will stick with my current version (2006).

  32. Diedre

    I liked the One World Tree features. What will take its place?

    Does the new Tree system automatically update Rootsweb, or do I have to upload a new GEDCOM to Rootsweb to update my trees?

    If my subscription expires, can I still update my Trees?

  33. Diedre

    I apologize for asking the same Q’s everyone else has asked & answwered #35.

    I do hope the Notes will be restored because I relied on them to discern if there was any value to the info posted on some of the Trees.

    I agree with those who do not want to upload photos & docs that will be used by others without remuneration or discretion. too bad, I was just starting to organize my hisoric photos for upload.

    I will check out what Rootsweb has to offer, I had become lazy using Ancestry all these years.

  34. David Wild

    Reading the comments here I think confirms my view of the new version 2008 I think. I was dissappointed. I upgraded from version 11, which is still being sold around here, to 2008 because I wanted better ways of citing sources. I was quite happy having a completely seperate, isolated tree on my personal computer as my main file and only uploading the stuff I wanted to ancestry. As far as I can see there are very few useful functional changes. Yes multimedia is much better supported, and of course online is better, but they have gone overboard there. I haven’t used the previous versions in between version 11 and 2008. I note that somebody in this group says they love version 2006. I would happily go back to a previous version even if it meant scrapping the new work I have done in 2008. Thankfully I still have my version 11 file. If I can get a copy of 2006, does it have similar problems? Or alternatively should I go to TMG which I trialled but decided against.

  35. Bob Scott

    The family trees I post to the new system don’t appear–the names in them can’t be found via a search. The trees I’ve transfered simply vanish since they are removed from the old system.

    This thing is just poorly designed to begin with.

  36. David Sterling

    I am a relative newcomer to research, having only done it for the last year. I have been subscribing to for that period. I did not know anything about this blog site until today; these comments serve to illustrate my concerns and experiences. I have been fortunate up until about a month ago to be able to substantiate and pick up nearly 70K names from One World Tree; many were figures well known to history and so their data is relatively error free. I have been wondering why I have been unable to access One World Tree and add more names to my tree;now I know. Funny, customer service on online support never mentioned all this. I was told it was my browser settings and my computer which was to blame. So I have 70K names, and no way to do anything with them. I HATE THIS NEW SYSTEM.

  37. I actually joined in October and thought I had it figured out but now I find the whole site is SOOOOOOOO slow and sometimes doesn’t even come up and then says server error! I want to be able to find info in one tree profiles and then be able to merge the info with my tree…But now I have to write All info on a piece of paper and then enter it back into MY tree…What is going on ??? Please advise me how I can get info easier or i will have to cancel my membership
    Sincerely, P T

  38. David Sterling

    Does Kenny read this stuff? It makes me think back to one of my favorite comics, Dilbert. Dilbert is constantly battling incompetence from above, laziness from his coworker Wally, and management who is just in it for the quick buck. Sound familiar? Why indeed do you fix something that is not broken, and has less accuracy and flexibility?

  39. Whilst your “Team” have packaged a new program and with good intentions… The Old System was and “IS” Much BETTER..
    Serious Researchers, do not want people tampering with their information! Why Bother INVITING “OTHERS” to Damage ones “credible research”!!!!

    I have a Rootsweb Website, which I update “Daily” and under the “Old Tree” System – “One World Trees”, I am able to select, Index | Descendancy | Register | Pedigree | Ahnentafel | Download GEDCOM | Add Post-em !!!!! OVER “GENERATIONS”


  40. Amen, David Sterling (message 41) and Dawn Orange (message 42).

    For readers concerned about the proposed devastating changeover from Online Family Tree to Ancestry Member Tree, please see previous posts here and also in the related blogs at




  41. bobwscott

    It’s a good thing Ancestry provides so much valuable information to me because the tech support system simply stinks.

    I sent a question asking about why new trees and trees transfered from the old Ancestry system don’t appear to others even when I have made them public.

    It took three days to get an email saying that trees aren’t immediately posted. Gee. But it should take two or three weeks.

    To turn to another example of the “trying to help too much” features in the current system, I had ancestry give me one of those helpful hints that the Louis Orlinger in the 1910 census looked like the same person in my tree.

    The only reason that match was available was I had to submit a correction on the name–granted the hardwriting on the original film was extremely difficult to read–but I’m getting referred to something I already know.

    And most of the “hints” have been like this. They just don’t help.

    I don’t think Ancestry cares if the qualify of the research done is any good. It just wants people to get answers that look okay and keeps the customers happy.

    The reason it could hurt if you alienate the serious genealogists is that so many of the “day-trippers” copy our stuff and put it up under their name (which is why OneWorldTree is such a dumb idea.)

    We supply a lot of the fodder.

  42. Jeff Weintraub

    MAJOR FLAW! When i upload my FTM family tree to (so my other family members can see it), it always creates a new tree in rather than updating the existing tree–that means that everything in the previous tree–such as voice entries, pictures, etc–won’t be in the latest tree. So, I’ve had to tell my family members to not use the voice entries, uploading pictures to the tree, etc, because these won’t make it to the latest tree! Folks, that’s a huge flaw in your system–can’t you fix this??

  43. Jerry Fortner

    I agree with #1 I lost some of my tree when i changed over to Ancestry Member Tree about 3 years work. what can you do.

  44. Louie

    What is happening with the new AMT. It is very frustrating to try and merge information. I have been trying to add source citations and it keeps kicking me out. Argggg!

  45. cassie

    without the ability to keep my tree completely private I will no longer want to use ancestry. how sad..

  46. This message concerns message 126 by Gary S. Collins on the blog The new message was copied over a week ago, on January 12, 2008, to Juliana Smith’s blog entitled “Online Family Trees (OFT) at Ancestry Transitioning”. Tonight, the last posted entry on Juliana’s blog dates from January 11, eleven days ago before the present date is January 22. Ten days having lapsed, I fear that Juliana might have been the victim of foul play! Please check on the whereabouts and safety of Juliana Smith! All of us should be worried about her!

    Thank you,

    Gary S. Collins

    Cc: I am copying to several other relevant blogs in this emergency situation.

  47. Dee

    What is the purpose of posting your tree online if you want to keep everything to yourself? Did any of you receive help or documentation or information when you first started doing research? Yes, I worked hard on my research, yes I paid for my documents and yes my tree is private but I will share with others if they contact me because others share with me. You can’t keep people from adding incorrect information by hoarding it. If they don’t care enough to validate their information, it doesn’t matter the source. I personally try to have at least one piece of documentation for each entry in my tree. My biggest question is to #39 Mr. Sterling who is an admitted “newcomer” & brags that he has 70k names. Take it from someone who has been at this for 10 years, you are taking information posted by others as gospel (which is at the least foolhardy)if you think you can substantiate 70k names in 1 year. You are, I’m afraid what the more experienced call a name collector. There is a reason it’s called a “family tree”….usually the people in the tree are somehow related to you not just another name on the list. This is not a contest and he who has the most names does not win. EVERYONE loses when your main goal is to have as many names as possible instead of concentrating on having accurate information.

  48. Debbie P.

    The following is my experience with AWT this past month. In early January I uploaded one of my family trees to AWT. I created a GEDCOM file from FTM and sent it up to AWT. As others have pointed out, all my records were shown as ‘unsourced’. Since I had linked the sources to Ancestry through FTM, this was a disconcerting. I took a deep breath and started working my way through my online tree, relinking to sources in Ancestry. This is a nuisance but it can be done and I even found a few additional sources for several entries.

    After reading a number of comments, I decided to see if I could download my AWT file to FTM (the 2006 version). I created the GEDCOM file and incorporated it into my FTM. Talk about a mess. None of the ‘sex’ entries made it. No M or F, just ?. As for the sources, they were a disaster. I blew that file away. So waht goes up doesn’t come back down easily.

    One other issue I have and for me it is a big one. I try very hard to credit other people’s work. I have had a number of kind and generous people provide me with data that was critical to tearing down brick walls. This information is/was provided in my notes. None of that information made it to AWT.

    The bottom line seems to be that AWT does have some nice features but I am not sure that the positive outweighs the negative.

  49. For all of those unhappy with the changes at ancestry, is a free non profit genealogy site where you can manually enter your family. We have many of the same features as ancestry, and it is a public member tree.

  50. Glenna Daughdrill

    AMEN sister~~~ I am so tired of going to the online trees and seeing my hard work being butchered to death by novices downloading, uploading mixed, unverified, and unsubstantiated information. I have written email upon email trying to fix this mess. I hope we can do something by privatizing this. As you, I am more than happy to share if someone contacts me, but if they are just out there randomly picking the first name they see, merging it and calling it good, I have no use for them to be able to upload to my records because they are public on here. The hours it takes to fix the mistakes is unbearable.

  51. Debra MacSorley

    I completed the requested upload to AFT a couple of days ago. I am now confused as to which tree is the new AFT and which is my original. One tree is missing the 30 photos I had added over time. If this is the new tree, do I have to redo adding all 30 again, plus all the stories and notes by myself and family members!?

    How do I tell which tree is which?

    Debra MacSorley

  52. There is one thing about this site that I find continually frustrating. When the computer adds people to my tree (which I think is a great feature) I find people who were still having babies when they were 200 yrs old or children who were born before their parents or even their grandparents. You really need a date check I use the application Heredis for my records on my own computer and it has a most excellent date checker. It will pop up a window telling me that what I am trying to input is impossible. The WFT is full of such discrepancies and could benefit from such a feature.

  53. Lou Brown

    Don’t Like it. Will look elsewhere.
    Your profiting from our information.
    The site was originally there to help, extra features cost, that is acceptable. But charging people to view OUR trees in TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE

  54. About “Myrootsplace” (message #54):

    I went to to check out the features. It does not allow upload of GEDCOM’s (or presumably downloads). You must purchase a $29 software package, and will need to pay of the order of $5/month to host your ancestry site. Compared with Ancestry Member Trees (AMT), I suppose that your file will be truly available to the public. (That is not the case with AMT).

    But think about what will happen when you croak. Most likely, your file will go to the big cybergraveyard in the sky. The display is effective, but I like to see “notes” immediately when I link to an individual’s entry, and that is not the case here. And can one ever download a GEDCOM file?? Or only a specialty file that will work only with “Myrootsplace” software and only when uploadable to a fee-based server?? I’ll take a free and completely accessible public account any day!


    Gary Collins

  55. Lindy

    Like a lot of others here I’ve been paying subscriptions to Ancestry for many years. The new tree format is useless to me. What is the point of my tree without my notes and sources? I was happy with the idea of adding pictures and certificates, as long as they stay attached when I update, but without the notes and sources it doesn’t work. I also host a private Myfamily site and they are using the same tree format so it looks like time to try and find a new way to display my work.

    Rootsweb and Ancestry have been very useful to me in putting me in touch with others connected to my tree and I’m happy to share what I have collected but, unless I have got it wrong, it sounds as if only subscribers will be able to view what is left of my tree.

  56. Sharon Costigan

    I have been using what looks like the new system for quite some time now, so am a bit concerned about what has changed??

    One thing I did was to click to convert to the new tree system and apart from the fact that the tree was halved in terms of the number of people, it had mistakes in it that I corrected almost 2 years ago! Its like the gedcom it created was the original one I uploaded from my home database! I have deleted it and am trying again from my original file that I have been working on for over 2 years (and which appears to have remained untouched on the ‘old’ system).

    I must say, I knew nothing about these changes and yet I note that there have been emails or bulletins??? I’m on Ancestry most days and the first I heard of it was when I was idly scanning the home page and found the notice. If you are going to retire the system there needs to be a better way of letting people know – my husband, who is on Ancestry EVERY day also knew nothing about it.


  57. why have the actual census records been expunged from the districts 1-250, Buffalo,Erie,NY.? I have reviewed these census records in the past and now I can’t correlate between the 1934 directory Buffalo and the census. This is also true in 1880 census especially in districts 174 and 175 where pages have been renumbered

  58. i ran across an area of extreme interest to me but can not remember how i got there. i am a complete novice with computers.i started in on the world tree site and all of my relatives came up in a scrolled paragraph form.showing who married whom.where the children belonged.birth dates,and so on. if you are able to help me get back, i would really appreciate it. brw

  59. Jim

    Dateline NBC with Chris Hanson, episode aired Wednesday, March 13, subject: Identity Theft.

    In the course of the investigation Chris Hanson is working with a computer forensic scientist and monitoring the transactions of a band of persons involved in the exchange of personal information on-line.

    They monitor a payment to for a year subscription and the forensic scientist says something like, “yes, they use the ancestry site to get mother’s maiden name and other information. This is very common.”

    How can we protect ourselves and our living relatives from identity theft other than adopting the steadfast rule of never including any information about living relatives in our-on line family tree?
    How private is the information in our tree? If I initially made my tree public and then after uploading information changed it to private, is only the data I attach after making the tree private protected?

    How does ancestry decide whose living and whose dead?

    And most importantly, am I putting myself and my living relatives at risk by including them in my family tree?

  60. Barry Williams

    I have recently purchased family tree 2008 and having established most of my tree with 2005 version.
    My computer uses xp and I used the main page ‘delete’ after high lighting a persons name which was a double entry.Prior to that I had uploaded my tree. after that my computer is reading ‘unauthentic version’ and I appear to have been locked out. Please find the problem which to me is a data stop from your computer or microsoft.
    Microsoft error report please check and advise me whats the error.
    P2 17.0.0. 559

  61. Charlotte Gordon

    This is great. I like the beta view, but can only get one marriage to show up. This is distressing, since my children and me (#2 marriage)do not show up. How can I get them to transfer to beta view? I’m trying to be patient, but “are we there yet?” Thanks.

  62. Charlotte DeGraffenreid

    I found the family tree by accident
    on March 30,2008 but dont know how i found it. Can you please help?

  63. Cathy

    Clearly, everybody HATES the new system! PLEASE DO NOT ‘RETIRE’ THE ONLINE FAMILY TREES!!!!!!!!!!!!

  64. Linda

    I currently use family tree maker ver 4.4 yes I know it is old however I was not able to devote time to research like I am now. One thing that frustrated me was having to pay to obtain online info and then it be wrong and searching records within ancestry is very confusing in it self. I was going to upgrade however had concerns over the lack of printing which was huge and I have quickly learned the info in Ancestry is not always reliable. I too will use other software, I think Cathy’s comments have said it well.

  65. Ramona McCauley

    My 2 cents:

    I like the new graphics on AMT. I don’t like that it’s so slow, but that’s what computer graphics do (try it on a dial-up!).

    I like Ancestry Hints – I don’t like that historical records already in my tree are considered “hints”.

    I like being able to upload a locally-updated family tree gedcom, but I don’t like that the citations in my local file are DUPLICATED (several times) or MISSING or INCOMPLETE on the new tree after upload. (What’s up with THAT?!) I have to edit/add the citations for each person before continuing on with my research.

    I use FTM Online Web Resources to add records/citations to my family tree. I sometimes do the same with my family tree while I’m online. I want working back and forth between those 2 systems to be seamless, accurate, and complete.

    I don’t really mind that others find help with my tree, but I don’t want them to be able to edit it.

    People who add names willy-nilly (i.e., without documentation) to their trees are just asking for trouble and exponentially increase errors and mis-information. One World Tree is just a mess.

    I want my local FTM file contents to be complete and intact after I upload it to Ancestry.

    I want my AMT file to be uneditable by others.

  66. Seeking a replacement for Online Family Tree:

    ‘Online Family Tree’ (OFT) has for many years provided superior free access to and editing of ancestry files. While I hope that Ance$ does not terminate OFT in the near future, we all need to identify alternative services now since ‘Ancestry Member Trees’ (AMT) is not the solution but may soon be the only option provided by Ance$ AMT offers no notes and is only available to paying customers.

    An alternative service I investigated recently is at, where I have uploaded my ancestry file to You can compare it with my rootsweb ancestry file at I prefer the rootsweb format, but the geneanet format is comparable and I can learn to live with it. Try it out! The best part is that you will be able to edit your geneanet file over the web, just as you can do now with OFT. That is a tremendous facility when building your ancestry file from many locations! And, unlike an AMT file, it will still remain visible to the general public!

    I strongly recommend hosting an ancestry file at if and when ance$try shuts down OFT in its misguided hope that former customers will move their ancestry files to its deficient new AMT tree system format.

    I strongly encourage readers with other alternatives to inform us of them now! Thanks in advance.


    Gary Collins

  67. Brian Goldberg

    I migrated to AMT and I was able to see my tree immediately when I did this about two weeks ago. Now I can’t remember how to get to it. All I see is a spot where it tells me how to migrate over to AMT. I did this two weeks ago, it was there I saw it and I don’t really care whether everyone dislikes the new system.

  68. Seeking replacements for Online Family Tree other than Ancestry Member Trees:

    This is a followup to my message of April 8. In that message, I wrote:
    “An alternative service I investigated recently is at, where I have uploaded my ancestry file to You can compare it with my rootsweb ancestry file at I prefer the rootsweb format, but the geneanet format is comparable and I can learn to live with it. Try it out!”

    Well, when I tried the link to Geneanet tonight from my message on the Ance$stry blog, it did not work at all!! However,when I simply hand-copied the URL into a browser window and then clicked on it, I immediately got my page at Geneanet. Try it yourself both ways:

    (1) click on the link directly from this blog page, and I predict that it will not work.

    (2) copy into the address window of your browser and click on it, and it will work just fine!!

    Not believing in hobgoblins or black cats, the only credible inference is that Ance$ is compromising links in at least some of its blog message, including mine dated April 8.

    Shame on Ance$!! Kenny Freestone, I would appreciate if you would look into this and report back.


    Gary Collins

  69. Seeking alternatives to Online Family Tree (OFT) other than Ancestry Member Trees (AMT):

    I think I figured out the problem connected with my messages of April 8 and 10, and an apology is (partially) in order. As it turns out, the link I entered for a site in my message of April 8 was recorded as” Look carefully. What is wrong is the trailing period in the URL. Without the period, the link works fine. Including the period messes up the link completely. Try it both ways!

    I wrote “partially” above because’s Blog software should be smart enough to parse URL’s so that a trailing period is disallowed. If I submit text such as “blah, blah http://this_is_an_URL.”, the Blog program should be able to parse the URL from the following period.

    To sum up: Looking back, there was probably no nefarious action on the part of It appears that trailing periods following URL’s were mistakenly included as part of the URL. However, trailing periods in a URL (with nothing following) are, at least to my knowledge, a no-no. Kenny: no need for an investigation. Thank you for your attention.


    Gary Collins

  70. Abelia

    Why was my online tree deleted…It took me 10 years to make the tree. Now it’s gone…Now I have to start all over again. But I’m not going to use Ancesrty again! Besides every time I open a page.It would go back to the same page that I had open the first time.That was the Parish Records. I paid to much money on Ancesrty and got very little. I don’t plan to use it again. I don’t care for the new system either!

  71. Al Doherty

    Is there any way to convert older .ged files to up-to-date ones? I have FTM Version 17 (2008).

    While attempting to import a .ged file I was given, I get a message saying nothing before Version 5.5 or something like that.

    Is there any way to get at this data?

    Al Doherty
    Pickering, Ontario, Canada

  72. Reply to #82 by Al Doherty:

    Dear Al,

    One fix that has worked for me is to edit the GEDCOM 4.0 file (or whatever version), look near the top for the line that says “2 VERS 4.0” and replace “4.0” with “5.5”. However, be absolutely sure to back up and save your original GEDCOM first, so that some catastrophe does not destroy your only copy.

    Good luck!

    Gary Collins

  73. i having discovered some important data have yesterday updated my tree by submitting a compleate new copy to AMT at the same time i resubmitted my tree to RootsWeb, gencircles, tribalpages and myheratiage. all but ancestry had the newer version fully searchable within 24 hours. ancestry STILL HAS NOT yet it is the same info on each one. i will monetor and nag you reminding ALL how long it takes for your inferier and totaly c*** system finaly does the update.
    i will also watch that peice of junk ONE WORLD TREE to see if the info metioned which resulted in my updatedtree submition does in fact clear out the erronous data it has created on my thomas westbrook which i have mentioned in other posts. this i doubt will happen as i have no faith in the bit of junk programing which forms ONE WORLD TREE perpetuating errounous data as it does.
    so hear we are aprox 1 day thats 24 hours since i submitted a new tree to all sites mentioned all have updated exept you.


  74. Chip Hatcher

    I haven’t been actively researching for several years, but have just recently decided to start back. I have a tremendous amount of research entered in on FTM 4.4, which no longer runs on my XP system. I have backup copies of the family file, but can they be used on the new FTM 2008 or any other software? I hope I have not lost years of research. Can anyone advise what I should do at this point? Thanks

  75. Margi Underwood

    I just upgraded to 2008 from 2006. I’m not thrilled. For one reason I liked ’06’s easy access to siblings, aunt’s, uncle’s, cousins, and so on. Another reason I don’t like 2008 is, most of the ‘relationships’ to me are wrong! For example it says my Aunt, my mother’s sister is my 10th cousin 1x removed. And I can’t find a way of changing it. 2008 is a was of money and Time!

  76. Marty Alexander

    I am having the same problem as several other folks. I seem to be entering the same information over and over!! I start with myself as the Home Person and add the info. Next time I come back it’s all gone or in a different place. Am I actually getting anywhere or am I creating duplicate trees or what?? I’m beginning to lose patience and pretty much agree with the person who said Ancestry should be paying us! You have all this info to put into your LDS database — seems like you could at least not have to do the same thing over and over when you’re doing Ancestry and LDS the favor of letting them have your info!!

  77. Heather

    I have been trying to move my family tree now and it has been moving for 3 days to the new place. I want to stop it as it keeps saying 0% complete. I hav uploaded a new one. how do I get rid of the other one. Would be so grateful for your help
    If I am not in the right place can someone let me know who/where I should be asking. thanks in advance

  78. Heather

    I tried moving my tree to the new one and it has been updating since Friday say 0% all the time. I can’t seem to stop it. I have uploaded a new tree and that one is fine. I am sure this other one is slowing my computer down. How do I stop it. Many thanks

  79. Diane Dennette-Shaw

    I uploaded my tree and it disappeared, plus I was told It could not be used because my name was not on it. I put the people on, one at a time, but I did forget my name. So, give me back my tree.

    I have been using Ancestry since 2003 and have found family I thought I would never find. I would really hate to have to move somewhere else.

  80. Joanne Sholes

    I have spent the last few hours working with people who posted information on some of my family members to their public trees. Over the years I have shared various family lines with other researchers.
    Now I find many of these people are transferring their information to your Public Trees. No problem except now I find various unrelated people being ‘stitched’ to my families. Ancestry has provided’hints’ and now I find my ancestors with extra spouses and children and assorted facts that are totally wrong. I realize with old roots trees many folks cut and pasted and duplicated but they weren’t being aided and abetted by Ancestry with ‘hints.’

  81. Dear Joanne (message #93),

    A more appropriate analogy than of ‘stitching’ stuff onto your family tree is of what happens to one’s boots when one walks through a cow pasture.

    Gary Collins

  82. edolly

    I have had my family tree online for many years and I have updated it many times. Since you revamped ancestry I have a hard time uploading to my tree. I own a mac and use Reunion for my tree on my computer and export in a gedcom. I have found new ancestors and wanted to upload over this past weekend and always gotten an error message to try again. I already have my tree(Dolly’s Family Tree) on just want to update it and not create a new one. I don’t want to do it individually to time consuming. Any suggestions.

  83. Jake

    The article does not answer several highly pertinent questions.
    1) Will Ancestry continue to suck up GedComs posted on Rootsweb? I don’t have a problem with that, but would like to know.
    2) How does updating work? Is the entire tree replaced when I upload a GedCom? Or do I have to perform dual maintenance, both on Ancestry and in my own database?

  84. Perry Dean "Bud" MARKS Jr.

    I want to update my GEDCOM file, online, without having to delete the outdated one first. I keep having to do this dozens of times because my updated PAF file information won’t show up in unles I upload the latest GEDCOM from my PAF software.

    It would be so much easier if I could just update the GEDCOM.

    The current method keeps bringing up error messges indicating that an automted ancestor match cannot be brought up because of a recently deleted file (which I assume is the file I deleted myself).

Comments are closed.