Posted by Stephanie Cruz on May 17, 2011 in Website

Did you know that you can share your member tree with friends and family for free? Send them an email invitation and they can see your tree once they register for an account. A subscription is not required for them to see your tree.

A new and easier way to share your tree

With our release last week, we’ve made it easier to invite people to your tree. You can now import your contact list from Yahoo!, Hotmail, Gmail, and AOL accounts to quickly select people you want to send an invitation to. You can still type in individual email addresses if you’d like, but by importing your contact list you can save a little time and effort trying to remember your cousin’s email address.

How to invite friends and family to see your tree

From your tree, click on the “Share your tree” link in the “Tree pages” menu next to your tree name.

From the share pop-up window, you’ll have several options for inviting people to your tree. From the left hand column, you can choose to type in email addresses one-by-one, invite members if you know their username, or import your contact list from your email account.

Selecting people from your imported contact list

When you choose to import your contact list, you will be asked to connect to your email account. Once you log into your email account and give us permission to access your account, we will import your contact list so that you can choose who you want to invite to see your tree.

To protect your privacy, we never store your username or password. And we only save the contact information for people you have invited to your tree. Once you finish sending your invitations, your entire contact list is erased (unless you invite everyone on your list).

Once your contact list is imported, select the people you want to invite to your tree. We don’t send an invitation to your full contact list. We only send it to the people you’ve selected from your list.

Setting roles before you send your invitation

You can choose roles to control what you will allow your friends and family to work on in your tree. Each person with whom you want to share your tree will have a drop down menu next to their name.

  • Choose “Editor” if you want to give your cousin full access to add and edit people in your tree.
  • Choose “Contributor” if you want your cousin to add photos but not change any facts in your tree.
  • Choose “Guest” if you don’t want your cousin to have any rights except to see your tree.

When you’re finished, click the orange button to share your tree and we will send your friends and family an email invitation.
Managing your invitations

To go back to the list of people you’ve invited to your tree, you can visit the sharing tab in your tree setting page. You can find this link under the “Tree pages” menu.

Sharing your tree is a great way to get your family involved and have them help you fill it in!


  1. MCS

    This is a nice feature, but I will not be taking advantage of it until Ancestry permits tree owners to modify the frequency with which invited tree viewers receive update e-mails. I have written to customer service about this topic in the past. I increasingly refrain from issuing tree invites because I don’t want family members to receive an e-mail every time I edit my tree. I realize these e-mail settings are 100% configurable on their end, but the vast majority of free Ancestry account holders do not realize this. As a result, they accept the invitation because they’re interested in viewing the information…and increasingly come to think of the experience as another source of “junk mail.”

  2. Mary Beth Marchant

    The problem that I have just seen with this new configuration stems from Firefox and may a Firefox problem. I found that when I tried to issue an invite using Firefox that I did not get a way to issue the invite. I had to go to Ancestry using AOL in order to get the page to come up.

  3. Sharon

    I have sent an invite to three people on one of my trees and not one of them have answered the invite. I have a feeling they didn’t get the invite. These are people that wanted to view my tree. So I don’t know what is going on with the invites. I didn’t use the new system when doing it.

  4. scwbcm

    You have a policy where people can chose two methods of contact with one of those methods being the Connection Service described at FAQ’s ID number 2510. This states ” If the user has chosen to remain anonymous, their email address will be hidden.” Are email addresses now being shown in this new method of inviting-for the people who have chosen to use your connection service (anonymous)?

    I have only used the invitation system once or twice because I did not like the default setting where I might accidently make the person invited editor. I noticed you have changed this and it is an improvement.

  5. dklart


    The improvements are very good, the change in the default setting signals staff is paying attention, thanks to you all.

    Can you comment on this issue?

    Ancestry was having difficulty with some domains that were rejecting the invite email. I know that earthlink was a problem, I don’t have a list of others, but users should be aware that the domain of their invitees email might prevent them from receiving the invite. I believe gmail, yahoo, hotmail are all compatible with Ancestry, providing the invitee hasn’t blocked those domains.

  6. Monika

    I have numerous issues with the “invitee” program and plan to, therefore, break these issues down into individual blogs, so it will not come out as a “smorgasboard” (forgive the possible incorrect spelling) of ideas. First, I have all my trees private now. I created one of these trees on (the German ancestry site of and have invited all my German cousins onto the tree. (Five cousins!) Some of them never even get the invite in their e-mail (maybe their virus protection or?). After intervened and invited them telling them what user codes and passwords to use, etc. NOW when they want to get onto the tree, they get the message “Monika has a private tree! You cannot see it without her permission! Contact her nicely, she may let you onto her tree” type of message. Then when they try to contact me, they are being hussled to register as members and pay. So, not very successful there, but months of communication with about it! And two of these cousins work in the computer business, so it is not their lack of skill with computers that can be blamed for this!

  7. Monika

    #5, you must have written while I was writing! With all the communication I have had with and de on this issue, they never mentioned that to me! Interesting! Thanks for that! That would explain why one of the cousins got his invite at work but not at home! Now, on to my next issue with inviting others onto my trees. Again, all my trees are private. They contain detailed information about high profile dead ancestors and with good research this can lead one to the discovery of the living! However, that does not mean that I am not willing to help people who approach me for information that might fit into their tree. Recently, after discovering an obituary that gave me the married names of four sisters of my mother-in-law’s grandmother, I was working with someone who has a public tree that includes this specific branch of my tree. At one point, it seemed easier to share the information by inviting him onto my tree which has about 1,300 people in it. This was one of those times where “member-connect” really came in handy, because–within hours of my inviting him–I realized he was downloading my entire PRIVATE tree (whether he was in any way, shape or form related to the individuals or not), onto his public tree which at this point contained 24,000 names. (Today, six weeks later he has more than 26,000 names on his tree, which gives a good idea of how he does research!) So, I immediately uninvited him, but the damage was done! So, please, be aware that, the moment you invite someone onto your private tree, you have–through this action–turned it into a public tree for the invitee to do with it as he chooses. I have not invited anyone onto my trees since. When I help someone now, I laboriously transfer the information (s)he needs onto an e-mail and share it this way. WOULD IT NOT BE WONDERFUL IF YOU COULD INVITE SOMEONE ONTO AN INDIVIDUAL PAGE OF YOUR TREE INSTEAD OF HAVING TO INVITE HIM TO YOUR ENTIRE TREE? I have no idea what the logistics of that would be, but this would be cool!

  8. Monika

    And, last but not least, look out for JULIEBUG2! Until recently I had kept ONE of my trees public (on–the French site of it contains only 27 names! It is the tree that one day will be the tree of my mother’s paternal line! The family cannot agree on whether he was born in France or Italy, and I am so busy with the other trees that I just do not have time to research that line right now! So, I have a profile page for my grandfather, with a picture of him, as well as the names of his parents on that little tree sprout! Let me share the following with you! Within this last year, I watched a television program that dealt with identity theft, and people who steal credit cards and debit cards. It said in that program that, the first thing these thieves do is to go on to check what the maiden name of the mother is of the individual whose cards they have stolen, because most people have the tendency to use their mother’s maiden name as password for their various accounts! So, in order to do that, they must be members of or they would not be able to access that data! Anyway, back to my story: I noticed that on all my other trees, member-connect informs me that a “JULIEBUG2” has downloaded information about this or that person on my tree from someones public tree that has this common ancestors. I never thought much of that, except for an occasional curiosity of “I wonder how she is related to my husband’s trees?” A few days ago, member-connect informed me that JULIEBUG2 downloaded the data of my grandfather, his mother and his father onto her tree. (But not the data of my grandmother!) I cannot for the life of me phantom why she would do that, so I finally decided to go and visit her tree. It is an unnamed tree of 40,000 people who are not related to one another. With other words, it is a “cluster” of names of a set of parents and their children, none of whom are related to the next set of parents and their children. So, my grandfather and his parents are all alone in that bunch of unrelated 40,000 people. I wrote to JULIEBUG2 in the nicest way asking her what her interest was in my maternal grandfather and his parents, but never had the courtesy of a response. Wrote a second time, nicely, no response! Put comments on her tree asking her to remove these individuals that she is not related to, but no reaction to that either. And, of course, ancestry says: ‘hey, they are dead! You put them on a public tree. She can do with the data whatever she wants!’ So, now this tree is private too! I am not saying that JULIEBUG2 has any intentions to do anything negative with the data she collects! I just cannot understand why, according to her profile information, a “female, of middle eastern descent, working in the health science industry” feels a need to download data of people she is not related to (like my grandfather), and then does not respond to messages that were written in the nicest tone of voice at the beginning of the inquiry! Just food for thought! will force more and more people into having private trees, thereby making it more difficult to share information with others, if they do not police this sort of thing better!

  9. dklart

    Not to a nanny, but no one can “download” your on-line member tree.

    Using the term “downloading” implies the entire tree can be downloaded, and is at best confusing, at worst erroneous.

    Any person you invite to your tree, whether your tree is public or private, can “copy” profiles from it. An individual and immediate family (parents, spouse, children) can be copied in one clip (click), but that’s the limit.

    It is good to point out that your private tree and the data it contains, becomes public to invitees, so choose your invitees carefully.

  10. Monika

    #9 – a rose by any other name is still a rose! May be I chose the wrong “computer lingo”. But the point is, every picture, every comment, and every one of the most minute details of every profile page on my private tree is now public, and his tree looks like a carbon copy of mine, plus his other 25,000 people on it. I did not collect that data for the purpose of someone feeling free to do that! Getting hung up on the “terminology” used only detracts from the real issue here! But thank you for teaching me the verbal difference!

  11. Stephanie Cruz

    As dklart mentioned in post #5, much of the issue with why some people do not receive the email invitation has to do with their email provider flagging our email as spam. Unfortunately, we have no control over this. We are looking to improve our email delivery system to address this, but I have no ETA to share at this time.

    #2 Mary Beth Marchant: We have not seen issues on FF, but if you are still having problems let me know.

    #4 scwbcm: The message center (which is referred to as the connection service in FAQs) is not tied to tree invitations. Messages you send via the message center remain anonymous, which is our default setting, unless you change it. I thought you’d also like to know that when you share your tree with others, no one else can see your invite list, including those you’ve invited to your tree. The “manage invites” page is hidden.

  12. scwbcm

    I wasn’t asking about the messages themselves but I do not necessarily want my email *address* given out which is what is stated Connection Service described at FAQ’s ID number 2510. This states ” If the user has chosen to remain anonymous, their email address will be hidden.” Where are the email addresses being obtained from? Is there a distinction made between those who have chosen to make their email public and those who haven’t?

    I do appreciate your response and hope you see the difference I am getting at.

  13. Stephanie Cruz

    scwbcm: Sorry my response was confusing. What I meant to say was that when you send messages via the message center, your email address is not shown. Recipients can only identify you by your username, which is the default setting on your account. Hover your mouse over the “My Account” link at the top of the website and click on the “Site Preferences” link. You’ll see your settings for “Connection Preferences”. Only if you were to select the second radio button will other members be able to see your email address. Hope that helps clarify.

  14. scwbcm

    It sounds like you are confirming that the invitaion listing abides by the settings shown at site preference for each person. Thank you. It seems like the changes you mention may be beneficial.

    I have never used the inviations much. I did not like the previous default. Perhaps I will try it more now.

  15. Carol A. H.

    #7 Monika:

    I was just on the phone with customer support asking how to share one (1) profile page without inviting someone to the whole tree.

    I was told it couldn’t be done other than a screen shot. So I asked how to make a file of just that one page to send in an email. I was told to buy FTM version 2011 because it has better publishing abilities, and they offered me a deal.

    So I went ahead and made the purchase. (Like I need one more family tree program I don’t use, of any type!!!) But I will try it since it is a stand-alone program.

    I have not heard that once you invite people to your private tree it could then become public, but that would make sense if people copy your ancestors and put them into a public tree. Some folks have over 100,000 people in their trees. How can anyone do GOOD research on that many people?

    The name collectors are with us always! Unfortunately there are unscrupulous people in every endeavor.

  16. Monika

    #15 – Carol, Thanks for the info! Yes, I have been eyeing that advertisement about the reduced price of FTM. Please let me know how it works for you! It may pull me off the fence! In my case, the resistence to getting it has to do with so much of the feedback I have read on the blog about the problems people have with that program. Add to that that I am in my 70s and do not understand enough about computers to differentiate between “copying” and “downloading”…it’s all the same to me if the result of someone’s action accomplishes the same thing regardless of how he goes about it!!! Then add to it that people who have that program constantly have to buy or are encouraged to upgrade to the latest version…! I guess I am not 100% ready for that yet! I wonder why you can’t invite someone just on one page, but then…as already stated…what do I know about computers!

  17. Sharon

    My tree sharing is a mess. The names I put on are jumping around and ending up in the wrong places. I know this for a fact because my daughter’s name jumped to someone else in my list of guest. This is very upsetting I try to put them back in the right places and once I save it they jump around again. Many of the invites I have sent are not getting to people. I don’t know why this is such a mess. I wish they would get it fixed.

  18. worshacf

    Monica #16 –

    Maybe this is a dumb question, but did you consider taking a Screen Shot or PDF of the one page you want someone to see and then sending it via email to that person?

    PDF’s or Screen Shots are simple to accomplish, that way the recipient will see the ancestor, the spouse, and all the children as a group, not your whole tree.

  19. Monika

    #18 – How do you shoot a screen? 🙂 No, seriously, I do not know how to do a screen shot! Can you explain it to me like you would to an imbecile, slowly and clearly? I am VERY good at research (having worked as a research assistant before the invention of computers), but I hesitate to press buttons on the computer unless I know exactly what I am doing!

  20. Monika Re:# 16

    You could also do what I do. My software will let me generate what it calls an “Individual Detail Report” (see Example one below) and an “Individual Narrative Report” (see Example 2 below).

    I have run one of each for every person in my tree and when someone asks for info on a person I just send them a copy of the two reports.


    Example 1
    Individual Detail

    Subject: Edna Earl Godfrey
    Father: Martin Avery Godfrey (b. 25 Sep 1875, d. Jul 1933)
    Mother: Julia A. Johnson (b. Sep 1877, d. before Apr 1910)
    Birth: 9 Sep 1900 Madison County, North Carolina, USA.
    Residence: 15 Apr 1910 Bernard Road, Walnut, Madison County, North Carolina, USA.
    Residence: 14 Jan 1920 Riverview Street, Newport, Cocke County, Tennessee, USA.
    Marriage: 16 May 1921 Tyson Clay Hicks (b. 15 May 1891, d. 16 Aug 1970); Hamblen, TN.
    Daughter: 26 Feb 1925 Elizabeth Love Hicks; Johnson City, Washington County,

    Tennessee, USA.
    Residence: 15 Apr 1930 817 3rd Avenue South, Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee,

    Death: 31 Jan 1980 Nashville, Davidson County, TN.

    Example 2
    Individual Narrative of Edna Earl Godfrey

    Edna Earl Godfrey was born on 9 Sep 1900 Madison County, North Carolina, USA.[1,2,3,4] She lived on 15

    Apr 1910 Bernard Road, Walnut, Madison County, North Carolina, USA.[5] She lived in 1920 Newport, Cocke

    County, Tennessee, USA.[6] She lived on 14 Jan 1920 Riverview Street, Newport, Cocke County, Tennessee,

    USA.[7,8] She married Tyson Clay Hicks, son of William Rhoten Hicks and Sarah Madeline Bryant, on 16 May

    1921 Hamblen, Tennessee, USA.[9] She lived on 15 Apr 1930 817 3rd Avenue South, Nashville, Davidson

    County, Tennessee, USA.[10] She died on 31 Jan 1980 Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee, USA, at age


    1. Compiler: Register of Deeds, North Carolina Birth Indexes (n.p.: Name: North Carolina State Archives,

    Raleigh, North Carolina;, n.d.), Madison County, Various, Delayed Birth Certificates, Roll Number:

    B_C062_68001, Volume 19, Page 138.
    2., 1920 United States Federal Census (n.p.: Name: Online publication – Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. For details on the contents of the

    film numbers, visit the following NARA web page: NARA. Note: Enumeration Districts 819-839 on roll 323

    (Chi, n.d.), Year: 1920; Census Place: Newport, Cocke, Tennessee; Roll: T625_1733; Page: 18A;

    Enumeration District: 49; Image.
    3., North Carolina Birth Index, 1800-2000 (n.p.: Name: Online publication – Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2005.Original data – Register of Deeds. North Carolina Birth Indexes.

    Raleigh, North Carolina: North Carolina State Archives. Microfilm.Original data: Register of Deeds.

    North Carolina, n.d.).
    4., Social Security Death Index (n.p.: Name: Online publication – Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2010.Original data – Social Security Administration. Social Security Death

    Index, Master File. Social Security Administration.Original data: Social Security Administration. Social

    Secu, n.d.), Number: 408-01-7782; Issue State: Tennessee; Issue Date: Before 1951.
    5. Compiler: United States Government, United States Federal Census (n.p.: Name: National Archives and

    Records Administration, Washington, D.C.;, n.d.), Year: 1910; Census Place: Walnut, Madison, North

    Carolina; Roll: T624_1107; Page: 15A; Enumeration District: 83.
    6., 1920 United States Federal, Year: 1920; Census Place: Newport, Cocke, Tennessee; Roll:

    T625_1733; Page: 18A; Enumeration District: 49; Image.
    7. unknown author, Occupation: Saleslady in novelty store (n.p.:, n.d.).
    8. Compiler: United States Government, United States Federal Census, Year: 1920;Census Place: Newport,

    Cocke, Tennessee; Roll: T625_1733; Page: 18A; Enumeration District: 49.
    9. Compiler: State of Tennessee, Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002 (n.p.: Name: Tennessee State

    Library and Archives, Nashville, Tennessee;, n.d.), Hamblen County, 1921, May, Book 1,3, Page 120.
    10. Compiler: United States Government, United States Federal Census, Year: 1930; Census Place:

    Nashville, Davidson, Tennessee; Roll: 2240; Page: 15A; Enumeration District: 144.
    11., Social Security Death Index, Number: 408-01-7782; Issue State: Tennessee; Issue Date:

    Before 1951.
    12. unknown author, The Tennessean: Obituary, Location: Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee, USA

    (n.p.:, n.d.), 1 Feb 1980.

  21. Carol A. H.

    #19 Monika:

    Here is one way to do a screen shot (capture). You may have different software and your keyboard may be slightly different.

    1. Set up your monitor screen to show the view of what you want to capture.
    2. Press the “Ctrlkey” (control) on your keyboard and hold down.
    3. Press “Print Screen/SysRq” (print screen) key and then let up on both keys

    4. Open a word processing program such as Word to a new document.
    5. Mouse click “edit” then click “paste.”

    You may want to adjust your word page to be horizontal (landscape) to be able to take advantage of a full page. You can resize the view.

    Save it. That file can be emailed to anyone as an attachment.

    I hope this is understandable. It is basically a copy and paste routine. You may have to make more than one screen shot to capture everthing. Good luck

  22. Monika

    #20 and #21
    Thanks you two! You are really super to take the time and go into such detail. I think I’ll try Carol’s way first. That seems to be quicker and easier! Really appreciate that!

  23. Monika

    Some people may already have the knowledge of what I am going to share, but others may find this very informative. So, here is what I have to share: Remember the saga about the tree owner juliebug2? (See #8.) Here is the continuance: I have accepted the fact that she had a right to copy the data of my grandfather and great-grandfather because my tree was a public tree at the time! (It is now “private” and “do not show in index”!!) On the profile sheet of my grandfather–in the juliebug2 tree–she does NOT list his children (which would include my mother). HOWEVER, when you go down the profile page to see juliebug2’s “Source Information”, it says “Ancestry Trees”. Click on that and the next thing to click on is “View Individual Trees”. When I do that data from three separate trees shows up. All three trees are mine! The first two I created about a decade ago before I became a member of As such I could not make them private. They contain very little information. The THIRD tree is the one that I have created recently, as a member of This is the tree that is currently “private” and “do not show in index”. But the profile pages of MY now private tree of the ancestors copied by juliebug2 are still visible on her tree, as if my tree was still public. So, it would appear that THAT profile sheet of an ancestry tree that gets copied when it was public remains a PUBLIC profile sheet, even after the tree owner made his/her tree private. FINE! The problem is that–while juliebug2 did not mention the name of my mother on HER profile sheet of my grandfather–the profile sheet of MY tree, used as “Source Information” on juliebug2’s tree DOES show the name of my mother WHO IS STILL VERY MUCH ALIVE! My tree has always shown her birth date and birth location, but NO death date, since she is still very much alive and will be 97 soon. So, I wrote to Lee Adams on, went into great detail about all of this and I asked her to change my mother’s status to “living”. I received the following response: “…We looked into the matter with the information that you provided! You have mentioned your mother again, but your mother’s name does not appear in juliebug2’s account….. (I am capitalizing part of the next sentence for emphasis)…If there is AN INDIVIDUAL in the tree that has your mother’s information, we will investigate it and remove it IF IT IS INDEED YOUR MOTHER!” I understand this to mean that it is okay to “oust” my mother’s name in the “Source Information” section, as long as juliebug2 did not put this information on the profile sheet of my grandfather which is now in her tree. I did not realize that’s guarantee that they will not show the names of the living is to be interpreted that way. People should not be able to see the living neither when they look at someone else’s ancestry tree, nor if they look into the “sourced material” ancestry tree section of an individual who copied from that tree. (Don’t even take me to the insensitivity of a customer service that feels a need to add to the frustration by saying “if this is indeed your mother!”, even though I understand what they are trying to say!) Just fair warning! Inviting people onto your trees can have disadvantages, as does having public trees. I will never have a public tree again!

  24. Monica Re:#23

    Reeis nowr tree is now private-yes, I checked; it will remain searchable until the trees are re-indexed. When that happens I believe then any links to your tree in “Sources” will also disappear.

  25. Jackie

    I have researched my family lines for over 30 years and I can recognize my own data format. I have tried repeatedly to contact public tree people asking how or if they are related and where they first got the data. Most don’t know, don’t care or are lieing. One fellow was so hostile he demanded I stop making any comment on his public tree and if I will not, he will run to “mommy”, that is Ancestry and have them stop me. His data was not researched by himself -he copied it from another data collector. I have started just making “comments” on those public trees that Ancestry provides space for. I often just say “where is your documentation” or where did you find that middle name you are posting? On a couple of public trees, I know who the women are and that they “plagerized” all my data when they divorced the man who was legitimately a part of my family. I posted that little fact and yet they have the gall, to keep the unrelated data on-line.
    I have been looking for the surname of a particular 3rd greatgrandmother for years and then all of a sudden 15-20 posters have a name for her. When I inquire, there is either no reply or the replies are hostile! What’s going on in the genealogy community? A ton of folks with no integrity.
    I would IMPLORE Ancestry to clean up the public tree community. Require documentation!! By that, I mean if the data is a “best guess” then state that by putting “about” or using question marks after the entry. If there is documentation such as a Bible record, census, or certificate, then provide it.
    When people post data without any explanation, future researchers have no confidence in the accuracy of the data and it makes honest researchers angry vowing never to post EVER and share with fewer & fewer people. If Ancestry cares at all about its reputation, it should help clean up problems when a member calls it to their attention and they should institute more rigid

  26. Margaret

    Jackie #26 – Sympathy/Empathy

    Many years ago I put my tree online via RootsWeb. Unfortunately I didn’t think about anyone wanting to copy it all. How wrong could I be. I know of 2 people who downloaded the whole Gedcom. Lesson learned and I have had a restriction on the tree since then which does not allow wholesale downloads. Neither of the people are close relatives – each related through a common ancestor over 200 years ago, one on each side of my ancestry, but each has “adopted” the ancestry of my other parent. Neither has researched original records and can source the information. But what the heck?

    I have been tempted to feed them totally incorrect information several times, but I am conscious that they would probably put it online without a second thought and then it would get picked up by innocent people and corrupt their trees in turn.

    This is no longer about serious research and a wish to “help” each other. This is now about Money. Period. Dragging more people in to spend more money on subscriptions.

    I do not see things improving so I am afraid that after a very long time, I shall not be renewing my subscription to Ancestry when it runs out in a couple of months. For me, it has irreparably compromised its own integrity as a serious genealogical organisation by dumbing down. But they are a business first and foremost. There is too much competition out there. So to get more people in to pay, they make it seemingly easier.

  27. Monika

    #26 and #27 – I feel your pain! should not make it this easy to “copy” somebody else’s information! But they won’t! Their canned response is “if you don’t like it, make your tree private!” And trust me, those who copied your data will have no problem turning it into incorrect information. I made a 5,000 mile round trip last year, driving from my home in the Northwest to South Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska, going to the various County Recorder’s Offices, Libraries, Historical Societies and cemeteries in order to end up with the most accurate data, instead of risking to copy inaccurate information from somebody else. The individual that I mentioned in my blog (#7), who also “adopted” an entire side of my husband’s family that he is not related to when he “copied” my entire tree, has e.g., erased all the children from one of the branches, and gave them children born in a state where they never lived–even though he DID “copy” all the tombstones of these children in my tree, and these pictures showed what state they lived in and died in, and I told him that I had found these graves and received the information through living descendants of that line and that they should know who their parents were. Also, he decided that a member of the “adopted” family got married in “Pennsylvania” even though I repeatedly told him that I am in possession of a digital copy I made of the original marriage record located in the County Recorder’s Office of the town where she got married, which shows that she got married in Iowa and that the wedding took place in the home of her parents there. But, his tree continues to show her having married her husband in Pennsylvania. That’s just a few examples of what he has done on his public tree to my carefully researched private tree data so far. So, slowly, good genealogy is turned into junkology on! And to add insult to injury “member-connect” keeps informing me that I have this new “contact” which will permit me to correct my data!!! (And do not even start me on the issue of “member-connect”–recently I had 46 member-connects on one specific profile sheet. I have the correct birth and death date for this individual. All 46 “member-connects” showed the father of this individual to have been born 20 years after the son. Do you know how much time it took to erase these 46 member-connect’s after writing each an unflattering e-mail about their data?)

  28. Mary Beth Marchant

    Stephanie-Regardint the Firefox invite issue-I have not issued an invitation since the one where I had to do it through AOL rather than Firefox. However, I just now tried to set up an invite to see what happens. Please contact me at and I will e mail screen shots of what happens when I use Firefox and when I use AOL. With Firefox, there is no box to issue an invite at all. With AOL the thing works just fine. It was not that way until y’all instituted the change. Ancestry and Firefox do not play well together.

  29. Jade

    Mary Beth, #29, I just tried the invite sequence using Firefox 3.5.15, and had no trouble at all.

    What version of FF are you using? On the user support boards at there are many complaints about javascript errors and flashplayer hangups causing graphics not to display on many sites, for FF 3.6.x and FF4. I had to uninstall a 3.6.x version from my WinXP because of these problems and more.

  30. Blog Reader

    First, let me say I empathize with all you folks who have worked hard to make your tree accurate with documentation. I have done the same thing and where in a profile page it allows you to enter additional information in the “description” area, I add more information because there is no way I will remember everything I found on a source document that led me to believe it belonged with my ancestor. (Of course I have my trees on my home computer as well with much more information.)

    I too have seen in the past few years a huge number of new junk genealogies and copying of trees. I have heard lots of horror stories. Any ancestor of mine will have hundreds of legitimate descendants, so some folks are just going to find the same people and the same documents on Ancestry.

    For many years, most genealogists have been generous about sharing, but now with the ease of computers and copying, it is beginning to feel like someone is stealing from us. The instant gratification that is hyped in the media on all levels is also affecting genealogy. I like being able to search records on Ancestry and would not like to lose that.

    I have most of my trees private and unindexed hoping that would inspire folks to contact me. I even indicate in my profile that I will make contact with anyone who needs help. Very rarely will I get a message through Ancestry. I have even tried to contact folks who have the same ancestor and appear to be “stuck.”

    Even if you make your tree private and unindexed, every time you add a source record, others who have the same person (or a close match) will be notified by the member connect system that you have added a record to your tree. Sometimes it will indicate it is a private tree, sometimes not. YOU have no control over that! The system just does it. You do have control on what you receive, but not on what others receive about what you do, regarding adding sources or records. And I think it will happen even after a long period of time when a new person finds the same ancestor. That is one thing I wish Ancestry would address. I’d like to control on what information about my work goes out to others.

    It seems to be a Catch-22 situation. The original idea was to share and be helpful, and instead we find lot of people making junk genealogies and just randomly copying. Call it laziness or a way to “feel-good” but those of us who work very hard to get things correct, not to mention the money we spend, feel robbed.

    There is also a possibility that the tree a person has on Ancestry is just a brief summary of their work, and they may have a more comprehensive tree on their personal computers. We just don’t know that.

    I have no solutions and the problem is just not going to go away. Each of us will have to just learn to take satisfaction knowing what we did was right. Don’t give these people the power to make you frustrated or angry. There are plenty of us who have scruples and we may find the same ancestors through real research.

    If we all contact Ancestry and tell them we want more privacy, they may listen, maybe not. It might interfere with their advertising. But it is worth a try.

  31. scwbcm

    For the invitation process the default setting for email is still set to editor. The default for username (ancestry) is set to guest. Was this intentional?

  32. Karen Synychak

    I too am somewhat disappointed that others can see what I have downloaded and saved to my shoebox or tree. I would prefer to review the information to determine its relevancy to the tree in question and once I have verified, then it would be my decision to make that public. I feel that I am doing all the research work and others are updating their tree just through copying my tree. I intend to keep my tree private until such time as I feel it’s completely sourced for sharing – even then I may just share screenshots or a report generated by my software. When I indicate my tree is private, that should be all that is necessary to limit what others see until I am ready to share.

  33. Margaret

    With respect to sharing information with other members concerning your personal research activities on this site, it was my understanding that there was a little tick box under the “Activity Preferences” settings page that allows you to set your preference to basically say “do not share my personal research activities on this site with other members”. It was my understanding that this would prevent notices going out to other members on what historical documents you have researched, looked at and/or saved to either your home computer, your (private)tree or the link saved to it in your shoebox. Is that not the case? Does this “feature” not work? See FAQ Answer ID: 4924
    P.S. I am a different “Margaret” than #27 above.

  34. Dave

    I sent invite to someone over 10 times, using username and email address, they still have not got them, they have logged on but if I view their profile it shows them as not logged on for over 6 months, so something is wrong!

    How can they accept invites if Ancestry sees them as “not active for over 6 months”??

    I log out regularly but when they viewed my profile today after I logged in, I have “not been active in past 6 months” even though I logged out yesterday and back in today!!

    I was going to take out a new subscription but why bother when I can’t invite people??

    Looks like others have same problem too…

  35. Sharon

    My invites have also not been going out and an old invite I had on my tree couldn’t get on and see what she usually did.
    My names in the invites are also jumping around and changing places on the invite list.

  36. Sharon

    I happen to just read back on comments I really don’t want to take screen shots of my trees. If I want someone to look at my tree I want them to be able to. I don’t like it when something doesn’t work on my tree we’re all paying money for this site to work the way it should.
    Ancestry will never stop people from copying your tree one way or another. That’s how they make their money. Even when the tree is private people still manage to get your stuff.

  37. Monika

    #3, #35, #36 – I had written to customer-support regarding the same issues. Their response was that my invitees will need to contact directly (direct quote) “so we can work with them to resolve the issue as there could be a wide variety of things that are the root of the problem”! So, according to, the burden is on the “invitee” to manage to get himself or herself invited by investing his or her personal time to contact to accomplish this goal!

  38. Sharon

    Don’t you think that is just crazy. Ancestry is not sending out all the emails for the invites. I have had some go through and some not. I have ask different ones to check their spam box in case it ended up there. They had not received it at all. I hate to keep harping on this but we pay for this and not cheap the things their suppose to do should be done.

  39. Andy Hatchett

    Sharon Re: #39

    There is no evidence whatsoever that Ancestry is not sending out the invites.

    There is only evidence that some invites are not being received.

    The reasons why can be various combinations of:
    1) User controlled spam filters.
    2) ISP spam filters.
    3) Hosting servers spam filters.
    4) Other various reasons.

    If a user isn’t getting his/her invite and their ISP can’t explain why then contacting the sender (in this case Ancestry) would saeem to be the only reasonable alternative.

  40. Tanya

    Invitees try to sign in and are told they have to sign up for Ancestry and give credit card info.

  41. Stephanie Cruz

    scwbcm #32: Yes, this is intentional. We encourage asking your friends and family to help you work on your tree. However, when sharing with members who you may not know as well we found that users are more comfortable with the guest role. While these are our default settings, you can change roles at anytime from the manage invitees page in your tree settings.

    Tanya #41: When your friends and family click on the link in the email invitation, they are taken to our guest registration page. They are asked to register with only their first name, last name, and email address.

  42. Monika

    Sorry, Stephanie, but numerous of my invitees have had the same experience as #41 is describing, and I have forwarded their e-mails, where they informed me of this, to So, I do not know how “they are taken to your guest registration page”, but your answer is, in my opinion, at best not acknowledging the reality of the situation. We are not dreaming this up that this occurs!

  43. scwbcm

    Stephanie, Thanks for the response. Unfortunately, the default to the editor role actually reduces my desire to send invites. I would invite many more people to my tree without that default setting. Some time back I had a technical issue and the first thing the tech asked was whether anyone could have altered my tree because they had editor status. It did not help to clear up the issue and was an easy way for them to blame me for the problem. It turned out that many people had the same problem and it has now been resolved. I don’t need something like this to muddy the water. I did try to send an invite out and at first it looked helpful but for the little bit of information that I got it wasn’t worth the risks.

  44. Stephanie : Re: 43(unnumbered)

    I believe this needs to be re-thought. Just because I want family and/or friends to collaborate does *NOT* mean I wish them all to have editing powers on my tree. Indeed, I would want most not to have that ability.

    Guest should be the default status for *anyoe* invited to a tree. If the user wishes them to have a higher status they will always have the power to change it.

    You might want to pass this on to the powers that be. Tell them Andy said that Ancestry needs to quit trying to gives us what they think we need and actually give us improvements that we really ask for. *GRIN*

  45. Deloris

    What’s wrong with Ancestry today? It’s not letting me put in a location in any of the databases? It is only allowing “all countries”, is anybody else having this problem?

  46. Carol A. H.

    It is unwise, to say the least, to have anyone be an editor to any of your trees. Even family. Everyone makes mistakes occasionally. Do you really want to navigate an Ancestry tree to fix a problem!? It is one of the most difficult programs to use for recording family IF you make a mistake.

    Ancestry should change the default to be the least dangerous…Guest! It can always be upgraded if you want to live on the edge.

    I’m an editor on one other tree besides my own, not by choice, and I still will not do even a spelling correction on it. I don’t want to be responsible for any problems. I did ask to have it changed but for some reason it is still the same. I will say it does help me help the owner with the research.

  47. Mack

    As to Firefox incompatibility with, I have had no problems with it. Firefox does urge users to download and install all new versions when issued, but I would bet that many people don’t bother getting the new version and therefore the trouble.

    As to invitees, my page has always had three choices for me to choose from. ‘Default’ means that will be the choice for the invitee unless the member chooses one of the other two choices.

    As to invites not being received, it is my feeling that some say that because they mistakenly think they have to pay to accept the invite and I had a couple of invitees call me and ask how to see the tree free as promised because all they got was pages to buy a membership. I was able to guide them and now they participate and are pleased with it.

    As to FTM 2011, so far I think it stinks. I’ve been using a 2002 version and the new version is so different and has a lot of what seems irrelevant to me that I am tempted to switch back to my old version. Also, FTM 2011 is not completely compatible with I downloaded my main tree to get all the additions and corrections into my NEW FTM 2011 and it notified me of thousands of errors that FTM couldn’t handle. I worked for two days and honestly could not determine how to correct the errors or delete the error list.

  48. Karl Greenwood

    Can any of these readers post their issues not related to the blog topic in another forum or with the support team? I really doubt that every product manager or specialist who is posting these blog entries has direct control and access to the people building the tools that have the bugs that drive certain members nuts. I would think the support forums, the help desk, and other channels would have a more direct link than some of these managers to initiate change and suggestions. As a reader of this blog, it is hard to filter the comments relating to the blog post in the pages of posted comments on every bug on any Ancestry product regardless of its relevance to the topic at hand.

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