Posted by Anne Gillespie Mitchell on September 9, 2014 in Ask Ancestry Anne, Family Tree Maker

I’m often asked, “Is there a way to make just part of my tree public? I don’t want to share all my photos, just some of them.” There is a way to control what you show and don’t show on your public tree without keeping a duplicate copy.

Here’s How: Last month I wrote about public versus private trees.  And the comments we received were varied and gave us a whole range of viewpoints on rather  you should go private or public. And again, there is no one right answer – just the answer that works best for you.

One reason some Ancestry.com members keep their trees private is that they don’t want to share absolutely everything in their online tree.  But if you have one of the later versions of Family Tree Maker (FTM) that has our sync capability, you can choose which media items you want to keep private and and which ones you want to publish online and share with others.

If you have a picture in your tree that you don’t want to share with others, then mark it private in FTM and it won’t sync to your online tree.  For example, I usually take screen shots of index only records so I have access to the information even when I’m not online. But I doubt anyone wants to attach one of them to a person in a tree.  So how do I stop it from appearing?  Double click on the icon on the right hand side of the list.

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Then double click on the image or click on the Media Detail button on the right.

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On the bottom right below Description, find the Private check box. Click it, then click OK.

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You will now see the lock icon on the image.

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Another option, is to click the media button to bring up all the images that you have for a person.

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Click on an image and then on the lock icon, and your photo will be private. Next time you sync, that image will not appear in your online tree.

So if you use a version FTM that syncs and you want to share almost everything you’ve gathered, but you have a few items that you can’t bring yourself to make public, make them private and then sync away. Those images you’ve marked “Private” won’t show up in your public tree.

Happy searching!

Anne Gillespie Mitchell

Anne Gillespie Mitchell is a Senior Product Manager at Ancestry.com. She is an active blogger on Ancestry.com and writes the Ancestry Anne column. She has been chasing her ancestors through Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina for many years. Anne holds a certificate from Boston University's Online Genealogical Research Program. You can also find her on Twitter, Facebook and Finding Forgotten Stories.

65 Comments

  1. Knut E Jenssen

    I just made a familytree. There are also living persons with birh dates in it. Will other people than me, be able to see names and birth days, if they see my family tree. Do I have to do something to hide this for other peolpe. Could you please answer on my Email. Thank you. Knut Jenssen

  2. Amy Johnson Crow

    Knut – That’s a great question! We take the privacy of living people seriously. Ancestry.com automatically hides information for all living individuals in the tree that you build. Only the owner of the tree and the owner’s selected guests can view living individuals within a tree. You can read more about this here: http://ancstry.me/1skbxsR

  3. Joyce Brunson

    The thing I love about a public tree is that it is an easy way to share information. Also, distant relatives may see a public tree and use some of the info to help search for their ancestor or a collateral one. Sharing is a real way to find an ancestor tip and lead someone to the answer they have been looking for. I recently found a sister of my husband’s great grandmother by DNA and someone else’s tree. Now that family is more complete. I highly recommend a public tree. Confidential information I can keep on my laptop with Family Tree Maker.

  4. Chris Monroe

    Public trees do make it easier to share information; however, recently I am finding more mis-information in these trees. It is great to share information, but it is more important to share accurate information. I use the Private tree option until I have enough source information to confirm the information in the tree.

  5. James Wilkinson

    I support public trees because I, personally, have found photos and details about my own grandparents, all of whom passed away without leaving any kind of family history information from other public trees. I figure it’s my way of possibly paying it forward. Heck, I might even be related to those tree owners, but I haven’t gotten there yet.

  6. Colleen Nicholas

    I have come across several family names that Ancestry.com has spelled wrong. How do I let you know to correct the spelling? It occurred because the census worker that wrote it did not write clear enough. For example: Levy was written by Ancestry.com as Lerry. Donovan was written Donavan or Donivan based upon the handwriting. I know the family members and would like the spelling to be corrected on the search engine.This is different than the census taker writing the name wrong name such as Marks instead of Marx.

  7. Terri Musto

    I concur with the fact that there are many public trees that have not been, shall we say, well “vetted;” however even these trees can provide some insight. I personally can find no reason not to share any of my history and if it helps someone one else in their search, that’s great. The only thing that truly bothers me happens when someone who’s tree is private, and therefore not available for sharing, finds and uses something useful in my tree and attaches it to theirs. Seems kind of – oh I don’t know – tacky. After all, if we share tree information, we are some level of family.

  8. Nancy Howard

    I too have found a number of ancestor’s names that are spelled wrong due to questionable handwriting of the census taker and Ancestry database transcriber. Is there any way to report these discrepancies (with documentation) and get them corrected in Ancestry’s database?

  9. Wilbon Davis

    Unfortunately, I’ve had a very low percentage of positive responses to queries about viewing private trees. I understand reluctance to sharing information that may be “iffy,” but if one checks the citations on such, public trees are a tremendous help.

    When viewing matches, I would very much like to be able to filter out private trees and matches with no trees.

  10. Jenn

    When I’m flushing out the bare bones of my tree I like to keep it private because I’m a perfectionist. I don’t want people seeing my errors. Once I’ve got through every single person piece by piece to ensure accuracy I let it go public.

    I’ve submitted corrections before to spellings from census reports — what I’ve seen happen is that the originally reported spelling stays the same, but the new spelling will be there in brackets underneath and it is searchable with the new spelling. Unfortunately I’ve seen instances where a newly submitted entry has been wrong.

  11. Patricia Boen

    Jenn, what you consider an incorrect spelling might be correct for another branch of the family. My grandmother was a Plouffe. When we visited Quebec, we found her mother’s gravestone. My aunt initially insisted “that isn’t them” because the tombstone read PLOUF. But reading the inscriptions- my great grandparents’ names and the name of his second wife- it was correct. I’m sure I have some “Plouf” cousins as well as the “Plouffe” ones. The farther back you go, the more variety. My Havard ancestor has descendents who call themselves Avard, Avor, Avare…etc!

  12. Douglas White

    I agree with Terri M that it feels–tacky–when someone from a private tree obtains information from my public tree. I know that sending a message to a private tree owner can and has resulted in me getting an invite. Also, I really dislike a notification of a DNA ‘cousin’ that does not have a tree or the tree is Private. Like a lot of folks, with over 14,000 ‘DNA cousins’, we don’t have enough time to contact each individual and beg for the opportunity to see their tree. I would rather have Ancestry to update their software that when it notices the tree to be private or there is no tree, it would separate those out to yet another link that I could peruse at another time. Searching for that DNA ‘cousin’ has become rather difficult, especially when you have a tremendous amount. I would imagine there are some folks approaching 18,000 cousins. And while I am on this soap box,,,,could Ancestry please help those folks who have “”35,000″” people in their tree. I found one tree had the same family member listed up to 5 times and there were 9 family members. This is really confusing and I don’t know how to tell those folks how to Clean Up Their Tree. Ancestry.com Please help them.

  13. Lois

    The problem with public trees and “adds” is that members are building trees on erroneous information. If one person adds a spouse that is in error, the error is proliferated. My 8x gr. grandfather now has a mother, wife and daughter-in-law (all the same fictitious person) in over 1800 entries. It is unfortunate that members use public trees as valid, and have no basis for adding names/relationships to their tree. Perhaps and “Error Board” should be created that would tie out to all trees with a specific name just as “Message Board” is used.

  14. Richard Beauregard

    My questiion concerns ‘Notes’ on a public tree. Will the public be able to read my notes about a person in my tree?

  15. RoeDetia

    I have made my trees private because I have been given privileged information about living people. I am trying to get all of that marked private, but I am not sure that I have yet. However, I will share anything I have found on those not living with anyone who asks. I have found some “new” cousins that way and enjoy sharing with others.

  16. Mawmoo

    While I’m very happy to see public trees (with accurate information), I totally understand why other folks want to keep their trees private. Too many times, trees have been “taken” and the new owner now has a large tree that they have not done any work on themselves, and no credit is given to the owner who did all of the work . A distant cousin of mine had a tree with legitimately 20,000+ names and the accompanying documentation that was taken in its entirety. That was 40 years of work. My tree has been worked on for 27 years, I have just under 10, 000 names…I don’t want someone swooping in and taking all my work.

    Unfortunately, (as mentioned in some of the other posts) MANY trees have errors. Errors happen with town names, dates of birth, husband’s name. I am also referring to blatant errors that could possibly not make any sense, yet folks put the information up online anyway i.e., how does a child have an earlier birthdate than her mother who supposedly gave birth to her at 62 years of age?

    About a year ago I came across a tree that included my grandparents and their families. So, I went to check it out. There were numerous errors in names, places of birth, places of death, burial information, death information…and the list goes on. I contacted the tree owner and initially pointed out 19 errors out of more than 40 or 50. I gave her the corrected information. She had the nerve to be angry with me for correcting her! It was MY family; NOT even hers (she was NOT even a relative!!)…and she was angry?!! I finally asked her to make the corrections or take the tree down. She finally removed the tree…but NOT before it had been copied (“taken”) 10 times and reposted with all of the incorrect information.

    Bottom line, folks…use the trees as jumping off points. Do the research yourselves; don’t just take someone else’s work. You don’t know how many errors are in that tree that you just connected to yours.

  17. Melvina Arnett

    I agree that it is “tacky” when people with private trees take information from my tree, but do not share theirs. I was disappointed to find so many private trees and no trees in my DNA list. I think the DNA list should be restricted to only those with public trees.

  18. Leona

    My tree is private, for now, partly due to the fact that a cousin was raiding my tree daily. Fine, however when entered into his line facts and spellings were not correctly done; I switched to private, rather than doing work for him. I have just renewed for the second half of the 1st year aboard; now when I add a story, or a picture, I have been sending a thank you to the tree owner. I have found distant relatives and invites./ My complaint would be: incorrect and made up names. On at least one line I am back to the 500 A.D. area. I am finding that the son’s dates are about 150-225 years before his father was even born. Hence, I am deleting that area of the line and, // marks end the line in my tree due to others ‘facts.’

  19. Karen

    In reading some of today’s comments, you have validated my decision to keep my tree private, but very willing to share anything with someone who asks. Like many others out there, building my family tree is ‘a fun thing to do in my spare time’. No one intentionally enters wrong information or intentionally mis-spells a name, but twice now I’ve been severely criticized because someone thought my information was wrong. Why would I subject myself to that again?

  20. Diane Chmelik

    I kept my tree private because we hired a genealogist to trace a family line in the Czech Republic. It was very expensive. If someone is going to use our information, I would want something significant in return.

  21. Debbie Schultz

    I keep my tree private for many of the same reasons I have been seeing by others. If anyone thinks I have information that they would like to know all they have to do is contact me. I don’t mind sharing what I know. But the key word is sharing. I have made a couple of people aware of incorrect information in their tree, provide the proof that I had, only to have them take everything I gave them and never speak to me again. So by all means, contact me for information. If we are related in some way I would like to get to know you and more about your part of the family as well as sharing information about mine.

  22. GG136

    The impulse to collect “thousands” of names mystifies me but I have found collateral information by DNA cousins to be very useful for tracking down the shared ancestor and thus “locking in” the DNA relationship as a back check. That said, almost every chart I see has unchecked chaff in it and they are mostly from the name-collector faction. I will keep my public info to the Great x3 level or less in most cases.

  23. susan

    i have a public tree and a private one. the private one contains errors and duplications that seemed to occur each time i synced family tree-maker. i no longer use the sync feature, but my public tree does contain errors. the comments section of each page seems to be the platform for others to point out my errors. i am working every day to correct them, but the task is very large. please be patient and polite.

  24. Suzie Baker

    Folks I have read all comments and what to add my 2cents. I admit to having errors in my combine tree. I appreciate getting corrections from families I am not that close to and know correct info. How are we going to clean up the errors if we do not work together. I try to sent thank yous for information I find here and have gotten great responses. I also try to correspond with those who use my information. I cant say enough about the DNA cousin matches. You can search them by family name and that makes the job a little less daunting. Communication is the key and don’t let the sour apples ruin the fun

  25. Gwen

    We have a a problem with a person on ancestry who automatically copies every picture we put up. He is clearly not related to anyone in his tree which has over 10,000 members. I’m afraid we are doing the research for a book he’s writing or something and not getting the credit. He copies incorrect infomation from other trees and refuses to make corrections when notified. I hate to make my trees private because I have found legitimate cousins thru public trees. I even found one distant cousin from a photo I had posted. I knew the person was a brother of my great-grandfather, but not which one. The cousin saw the photo, recognized it as the same photo her grandmother had had on her bedside table and contacted me. I hate to lose those types of chances. Is there anything Ancestry can do to stop this other person?

  26. Charles ODonnell

    I use a very simple rule for looking at other public trees. I only look at them last, when I have gone as far as I can and if I am stumped I will refer to a public tree for suggestions. It is important to notice whether the public tree has citations to support their information. I find a lot of errors and wrong family connections because people are just copying without having done any research for verification. You can waste a lot of time chasing unsupported facts or incorrect relatives if you simply copy and do not verify with documentation. Also check back periodically as sometimes trees get new information and are corrected while you are relying on the old incorrect info. Happy hunting!

  27. Winnie

    I also prefer to keep my tree private. I am a “newbie” only about 6 years doing this. Most of my information is in my head and from living relatives. Nothing ever written down. Being able to check out all of the genealogy is great. Like finding a newspaper list of your grandparents marriage license info. But while I am checking out the hints I am trying to be very careful as to who they pertain to in my tree. And yes I have found public trees with misinformation too. Just learned how I can contact a member and politely explain that a person couldn’t be married, died on the same day and then had 2 children in the next ten years. Impossible because she was my Mom’s 2nd cousin and lived to be in her 70’s. Looking at the info it is all right there, but evidently they haven’t delved enough into the after. Also there are a lot of families who have used the same first names on there children. And if you are of Swedish descent. Oh my, that is a whole other ball game. Last names are not the same as the father or mother, they are combinations. It can be a real mess. So as I said I will keep my tree private, for the time being at least. I still have way to much to check out yet. 500 plus people and so little time. But it is fun and so rewarding, as least I think so. And as a few of you have said. You just have to be patient and polite to all that ask for your help or point out your mistakes.

  28. Laura

    I keep my tree public because I’ve met some great *cousins* and was able to collaborate on Family Tree. I legitimately have over 30K people on my tree, because it includes ALL the branches for my children and my New England ancestors often had prodigious offspring and also frequently intermarried and I find it fascinating to realize that I’m related to a new contact 2 or 3 different ways, plus having some of the co-lateral lines means that we can find the common ancestor of a DNA match a lot faster when we hook their 6th great grandmother as the same person who is my 3rd cousin twice removed but they don’t have the common ancestor on their tree yet. I don’t use other people’s trees to merge into my trees any more. Now I will examine a tree and look at their sources and if I can confirm the sources independently, I will often attach my tree, simply to maintain a connection. Years ago I did and I’ve spent years researching sources and tracking down errors or inconsistencies. It was very frustrating when sync first came out that it duplicated people (and trees each time you re-sync’d). I’m not interested in the volume of relatives I have, simply accuracy and often need to enter co-lateral lines to be able to trace out source documentation correctly. When your family can be documented back to the early 1600’s which many of my branches can, it means a lot of people. Unfortunately, I also have truncated branches in the 1800’s because of Irish immigrants that are impossible to trace back in Ireland because of the commonality of the names and destroyed records.

  29. Carole Nowicke

    I leave everything open and am perfectly happy to change things that need correcting (that’s why it’s electronic and not on sheepskin), but there are some people out there who are just click crazy. I found where someone has copied just about every photo I have loaded–I don’t have a problem with that–but if she thinks my great grandfather had families in Southern Indiana and Northern Michigan at exactly the same time she hasn’t read anything she’s clicked on and added. Not disputing that someone might have another family stashed away, but he was a farmer, never out of town and certainly wasn’t commuting. If she’d looked at census records, she’d have his real parents listed.

  30. Agreed–there are pitfalls to keeping our trees public. Taking huge amounts of information without first corresponding with the “owner” is rude if not unethical. But we don’t “own” our ancestors and relatives – known and unknown. This is a great treasure to the community and a rich resource for pros and initiates. I’m very grateful for that and for those willing to collaborate and share! They helped me get a good start. Sometimes information in other public trees has helped me validate details I hadn’t yet been able to confirm. Like Mr. (James) Wilkinson, I found a childhood picture of my grandmother (just yesterday!) that would not otherwise have been available to me. And, since I am unfamiliar with the tree owner and if he responds to my thank you note, we may find new limbs to our trees!

    I understand the disappointment and anger of those who have invested a great amount of heart, time, and money –only to have someone simply copy their work in a few clicks without asking. RoeDetia’s approach to that problem seems very reasonable.

    For now, I’ll keep my (modest) tree public–and be glad if it helps any who have less complete or accurate information about relatives we have in common. Mawmoo, I would be happy if someone sent me corrected/augmented information! I am sorry that person was so rude to you. I hope that won’t discourage you from helping others. That would compound the damage done by that ingrate!

  31. Nancy

    There is a private tree with a person I have been looking months for. I have sent the owner several messages, and apparently he is no longer on Ancestry. Is there any other way to contact the person? I also have a public tree and through it, found relatives in Sweden I never knew existed. It has led to wonderful ties.

  32. Pat

    When I look at the “hints” I would like to just see hints from Ancestry’s records only. I usually have more information that the other Trees, and often much of it is incorrect. I may look at another persons Tree when I seem to be stuck, but often there isn’t backup source information. We must remember, these are only HINTS.

  33. Karen

    I made my tree private because too many people were copying information to their trees which was incorrect. Then so many people copy the incorrect info and never do the research. I will share if anyone asks if I can confirm there is a relation.

  34. Liz

    I used to keep my tree public. I found it a wonderful way to share information and connect with people who shared the same research interests. Unfortunately, I came across two separate people who were taking the information from my tree, my old family pictures, and all of my research and attaching the information to incorrect people in their own trees. I contacted them both to point out the errors and exactly why I knew the people were not the same (different birth locations, different names, 50 years difference in birth dates…), but they maintained the links. One even changed the name of her relative to match mine. I ended up making my tree private to protect the information. Shame, really.

  35. Weldon Brown

    In my opinion, you can not assume a tree owner has no proof just because it don’t appear in the Public Tree. If someone wants proof let them find it or forget it. Please don’t criticize me for not showing it. Ask me for help if you need it, I just might have the answer. Thank you.

  36. Derbas

    I did not know how to start a family but My Heritage.com came up and I completed their tree, but
    now I cannot print it and there are too many open spaces. I don’t know who to contact. Could you help me?

  37. John Pero

    I tend to think the opposite of Diane above. Back in 1998 we hired research in the Czech Republic and even though it was our own section of our family I have never been afraid to share what we paid for. Consider this> You all probably are probably paying a fee to ancestry.com and every fact that is garnered from using this site can be found by anyone else, with a little time.

    Online access to many of the Czech records is now direct and for free , although lack of external indexing or text translation of original records can make searching difficult. I have myself used the report from our paid research combined with items I have found myself online to expand the size of the family “back home” in the 19th century before they emigrated to the US. Seeing for myself the records that the researcher actually looked at (and that I can verify) gives me even more impetus to continue searching – and sharing what I find.

  38. Eric

    Thanks you so much, Anne, for this feature.

    I have amassed quite a collection of document images. While I readily share dates and places to help correct inaccuracies in other trees, I’ve always been hesitant to publicly share my tree at all, for fear of the inaccuracies propagating along side my images.

    This will be a big help in allowing my to open up my trees.

    Thanks.

  39. Kathleen Johnston

    I too have a large public tree based upon 50+ years of work, with a great deal of documentation for many many persons. I make frequent use of other’s trees to give me hints or sources of info about people that are new to me or who aren’t already sourced in my tree – but I do check out those sources before posting the info. I do enter people into the tree without sources when I only have their names/dates from relatives or family history, so that I can capture that info, and then go searching for documentation on the ones that are more or less in my direct lines. I am happy to have anyone borrow/use my info and if I see that they have attached it to the “wrong” person, I try to write a nice message and occasionally a very specific comment if the person keeps perpetuating an egregious error. When I see a tree that has multiple impossibilities, I don’t even try to make corrections 🙂 figuring that it’s a lost cause. AND, I really really appreciate it when someone sends me a correction about data that I have in my tree.
    It is easy to add corrected or alternate info to Ancestry documents such as census transcriptions, but it does take awhile for the corrections to show up online.

  40. Nancy Hand SeDoris

    I had my trees public in the past, but found that others were attaching my carefully researched information to incorrect individuals in their trees, so now my trees are private. I have never refused to allow someone to be a guest and view a tree when asked, and I have also been blessed to have everyone respond positively when I’ve requested access to theirs. The key, I think, is to explain your connection when requesting that access. I’ve met several cousins this way, as well as acquiring information and photos I would otherwise probably never have seen. I use the family tree hint only as a stepping-off point, as too many contain errors and unsourced information. It’s unfortunate that others don’t do the same, and merely append everything they find to their trees without checking the research. My trees will remain private, but don’t hesitate to ask for access.

  41. Phyllis Parker Sederberg

    Since submitting DNA results, I have now made both of my trees public. It is rather irritating to have results that I cannot check out because of someone else having a private tree. I am trusting Ancestry to keep the information about living people private.
    I try to have correct information but as I am human I do have some errors. I have had people contact me about errors and I am always grateful and willing to make corrections. If my tree were not public, those errors would not be seen and no one would be able to tell me where I have gone wrong. I from time to time also contact others when I think they might have an error and hope that they also appreciate another set of eyes looking at the information. A tree is never done as there is always more to add so waiting for perfection is not an option for me. Thank you.

  42. privacy

    Stalkers. For all the people who don’t understand the value of privacy, that is the answer. If you’ve every had a mentally disturbed person attach themselves to you, you value the ability to use the internet, just like average people do, without triggering a new round of stalking.

  43. Flickatrek

    A family genealogy was published in 1910, with errors, no citations, and is used in on-line trees. A cousin published an updated revision in 1990, but his citations were not up to genealogical standards, and he included living persons, probably not with their express permission. So it is out there, I don’t know how many copies. I now have 830+ names and counting to add to our small branch of the family from leads in family papers only we have access to, and the easiest way to get it out there for everyone’s access is to publish it on-line, minus the living persons. When I get all the private items checked, I will be ready to sync.

  44. Paula Deel

    Thank you. The info was much needed and appreciated – especially how to mark items as private. That solves many dilemmas for me.

  45. Shell

    I use both private & public trees. My public trees are very small & I try not to add any living people. You must be careful using public trees. There’s a reason why they make you choose if the person is living or deceased. If someone is a living person and you mark that they are a deceased person (even if you don’t enter a death date) the information entered about that living person is available to everyone. I’ve found myself and several other close LIVING relations in public trees…only because people marked them as deceased. Please people, use caution when entering info in public trees. I called Ancestry about this and I was told nothing could be done, but they would make a note in their system. Maybe someone will see it. Something needs to be done to protect the privacy of the living in public trees.

  46. Marian

    Occasionally I create a private tree if I’m working on a tree for friends, and then I will let them make the decision later about making it public. But mostly I put my trees onto Ancestry as “cousin bait” and am happy to have others use the information, so I make them public. I think that beginners (and more experienced people) would be well advised not even to look at trees that are listed as Unsourced. Frustration lies that way. Maybe Ancestry should offer Public Trees, Private Trees, and Fantasy Trees. My tree will be listed in the last category if the matching person has no sources.

    I try to include the word “maybe” in names where they haven’t been documented. But Ancestry needs to beef up its sourcing mechanisms. I have not found a way of attaching sources to relationships. Why should anyone believe that Jack and Jill are Ian’s children if Ancestry doesn’t let me attach the sources that connect them in a relationship explicitly? Aren’t the relationships the most fundamental of the facts in genealogy?

  47. Appreciate the opportunity to share thoughts here…I agree how frustrating it can be to do a lot of hard research#withfacts# only to have ancestry.com refuse to allow me to view or access a document that I provided the location for..This refusal has been occurring each time I return to the sight and sync. I am told to PAY for the documents if I simply want to view even..or wait until the request for repository can be processed…Now, That’s just wrong…period.. and for me to believe that this data base isn’t being reproduced in Salt Lake City in a huge private Tree is quite naive. I am okay with doing the work of entering and connecting mine or others trees…provided the information I entered I can access without having to pay for it..perhaps I am frustrated also..Since I pay money and more times than not I can’t even get the page to open..much less review

  48. Lynn

    Just about every post here has good points. I just want to say that when I started doing this I made many, many, mistakes and copied a lot of undocumented material. Over the years I’ve been learning and Ancestry’s information has improved as well. I’ve been trying to “clean up”. Without the kindness and competency of many people also researching I would be at a loss. I want to thank all the people who make their trees public and thank the private tree owners who at least respond to requests. I understand the feeling that people who pay for furthering their trees may not want to share. Perhaps when they die their resentments will die with them and their heirs will share. I hope so. I am still very much a novice and my skills are low level. Again thank you to all the anonymous tree holders who have helped me grow as a researcher. Without you I would be only at my grandparents with no where else to go. (I only have direct ancestors. My brain cannot handle the many siblings that trees often contain).

  49. ginny

    I have made real progress with my multiple trees, connecting with cousins I might not have known, because of Ancestry. Through the years I have spent countless hours doing meticulous research, and love helping other members with accurate information. All my trees are public, so that other members may benefit. However, I am very put off by other members with private trees who take my Info, but don’t share theirs. I would like an option added to the Public or Private choice. This option would allow only Ancestry members with Public Trees to view my information. Each member has the option of public or private, shouldn’t I also have the option of NOT sharing with “private” people, while keeping trees open to those that do?

  50. Lisa

    My tree is public because I WANT to share information. I WANT to make some distant relative happy when they find information about their family on my tree. I don’t view family information as proprietary. As your own or other people’s trees having mistakes – well, they do. Those little leaves are called “hints” for a reason; any information found needs to be verified before it can be trusted as accurate.

  51. Chantel

    I can not afford to renew my subscription right now. That means that I can not see all the Public trees that many people here share. It also means that I can not contact anyone on the site through the member connect service. I am completely cut off with no means of reaching out to anyone. Last year (during a similar lapse in my subscription) I noticed a person saving relatives from my public tree and attaching the records. The person did not reach out to me at all until I switched my tree to Private. While many of you rail against how selfish it is to have a Private tree, you should be aware that this is the ONLY hope I have of connecting with cousins right now. If a hint from my tree shows up in someone’s list and that person initiates contact, I have the opportunity to respond and thus build a relationship. When I have a paid subscription, I make the tree public, knowing that my information is very likely not 100% accurate.

  52. Thunderbird584

    My tree is private for all of the reasons above and more but I have shared a lot of my research at other places like find a grave and facebook. I do a lot of the footwork kind of research that means traveling,paying for
    copies,hotels etc to verify everything and I am happy to share what I have when contacted on this site but I do not respond to those that have no info added,no trees listed and won’t even give a name.Some messages just say so and so is my great grandpa that’s it.In other words they want all they can get without giving anything.If you wants a good response everyone should at least give their name and relation to who they are asking about.
    I have had serious problems when my tree was public so now it will stay private.

    I don’t mean to offend anyone but this Ancestry site was created to be a research site,not a sharing site.I pay for a full subscription,I help others as much as I can but it is my choice as a subscriber to stay private and all of the non private tree owners should respect that just as I respect their right to stay public.None of us are under any obligation to be private or public.

  53. Terrie Rolwes

    I am in the private camp due not to being stingy, but to being a perfectionist as well. Moreover, wanting to preserve the validity of my families genealogy. I don’t want to publish until I have verified my sources. I feel I owe this to anyone who would like my information which comes from many different sources and hours of research and reading. I willingly respond to requests with the caveat that this is a work in progress . And, yes one of my resources is Family Trees, which is why I pay $50. Per month. We all need to be careful for the future of genealogy to insure that trees have sources. There are two recommendations I would like to make. 1) make trees that are sources separate 2) allow sharing of some documents and individual information if you don’t use Family Tree. I’d love to share some if my sources and media without sharing my tree while it is a work in progress .

  54. Adele Wedel

    I feel that each has the right to decide to make public or privatize their own tree. If I see that someone has set their tree to private I just ignore it and move along to other information I need for my tree. What I don’t understand is why there is concern for getting “credit” for posting a picture or a copy of a document or notes or whatever it may be. If I attach a picture then obviously I don’t mind if someone else sees it. I don’t personally care if someone decides to copy it to their tree as theirs or puts a note saying that they did copy from me. As far as someone doing all this work for 10, 15, 30 or 50 years on their tree why wouldn’t you want to share it with others? I know time and money have been spent but it is all information that you were able to gather cause someone, some business or organization (or our government officials) have duly noted or gathered themselves. Everyday new search collections are coming available cause of people putting information from paper into computers this becoming the data base from which we plug in to our personal trees. (By the way the just mentioned ‘people’ are human and are usually volunteers and they make errors). I do appreciate the time and effort everyone puts in on their trees and I know it is time consuming and stressful but it is sooooo rewarding to finally make a connection or to get that missing ancestor in place. But some of us would be no where if we asked to see a persons tree or copy a picture or information if we had to write an email and wait for a response back before we could plug the new found person in to our own tree. I did learn a lot just from reading this blog thank you all for helping me understand more about Ancestry.

  55. Angela Gray-Courure

    My tree is public. I have been found by several distant cousins. I love being able to share pictures and stories with them.
    However, I’m thinking of making it private and setting up a separate public tree. The public tree would only have the facts and individuals would then need to contact me for more information. The reason for this is that there have been several individuals who have copied large amounts of my research and photos to their massive (40-60K) private trees. They do not respond to my inquiries so I don’t know how they are or are not connected to the family. I have no idea how these family photos are being used.
    I know it will be a lot of extra work for me. I wish there was a way to do this automatically.

  56. Diane

    I don’t mind folks LOOKING at my work but I don’t want
    anyone changing or adding or deleting any information. My tree is private but somehow those who want to contact me do.

  57. Bill

    Janice, if you are referring to backing up your tree in FTM, on the File menu in FTM is an item Backup. Select Backup, then on the next window, if the suggested filename, Including Media File, and location suggestions are acceptable, click Backup at the bottom and the Backup process starts. Good luck.

  58. andrea

    My tree is now private. I have had at least 5 people take my pictures, download them to their computer and upload them a second time to Ancestry. Why does that bother me? Because they are MY photos and every time these people have done this they put wrong information with it. I have asked several to take down the re-share or at the very least correct the information, with little to no response, or they are rude. I think it’s disrespectful to my family to misspell their names or state information that is not correct, and nine times out of ten when I look at this persons tree they have thousands of people in it. My grandpa isn’t there to add another number to your tree.

  59. Sandy

    As a person with a private tree who does merge other info, I’d like to offer a different perspective. The “private” tag on my tree has nothing to do with wanting to not share info. I state on my profile that almost all requests for an invite will be accommodated, and I try very hard to respond rapidly to all requests. When I contact someone, I always issue or at least offer an invite to my tree. The tree is private due to objections from other family members wishing to not expose certain info. Yes, I’ve tried explaining that the info they want to hide is *already* public, but to no avail. At some point within 2-5 years, the situation will probably resolve itself, but until then, having a public tree isn’t worth the trouble it causes with close relatives. The “private” setting is a cursory courtesy to them, essentially meaningless but it does keep the peace. When granting access to my tree, I often make it clear that others are free to copy what they wish and have even offered extracts of sections important to them, because the merging feature is still a bit clunky. People who pick up my info are helping to keep my ancestors real — more than just a name on a sheet. That’s fine by me.
    It would be nice if Ancestry could allow more description on a tree for the owner to clarify their intent. It would also be nice if family members felt differently. Barring either, I’d suggest clicking through to the owner’s profile because sometimes they (we) do indicate a willingness to share.

  60. Carolyn Wilder

    I just took my public trees Private as I found that certain individuals were taking my data and adding it to their family tree for their ancestor who was not a child of my ancestor and they were not related to my family line in any way other than a similar last name. I’m happy to help people, but I don’t need people taking my information and adding WRONG information to my research. I have even provided people with copies of court records proving that their ancestor was not a child of the deceased ancestor they were claiming and had them refuse to change their records. I do not want to continue to help people put misinformation out on my family line, there is too much misinformation on Ancestry already.

  61. Donna

    Carolyn, Sandy, and Andrea. Said so well. Everyone has a reason for a public or private tree. Those with private trees are NOT mean people, but we do have valid reasons (mine are FAG stone hunters who took my immediate family pictures and made memorials for them without permission). But sharing is essential and I too have no problem with requests to share my tree.

    Adele, giving credit for pictures that are family pictures and documents that cost money to obtain is a pretty good reason. One would not use a copyrighted book as ones own work. It is called citing the information.

  62. TGP

    My tree is private, at least until I figure out how to preserve my privacy. I would be marked as Living, but since I am the only child and am the “3rd”, so my father and grandfather, though deceased, would have my same name. I have considered marking them as Living or maybe changing/abbreviating their names enough that the weirdos wouldn’t be able to attach their names to photos, etc. Any suggestions?

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