Sharing: A Good Way to FIND Ancestors

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See also United States, How to Find Genealogy Records

Ten percent, over 30 million Americans have Mayflower ancestors. We have many ancestors in common—sharing what we know is to our advantage. We can get more done faster by collaboration than by working individually.

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Reasons for sharing[edit | edit source]

Sharing our genealogy with others helps because:

  • Lets the world know what you have accomplished.
  • Friendly and decent—sets a good example which leads to collaboration.
  • The more you share, the more likely you will find relatives willing to share with you.
  • Gives authors you cite further recognition and credit for what they did.
  • Gives your peers a chance to evaluate your work and give constructive suggestions for improvement.
  • Free exchange of ideas creates a dynamic that helps everyone including you.
  • Gives the next generation of researchers a foundation on which to build.
  • To unite otherwise fragmented families.
  • If you plan to have others see your work, you will tend to do higher quality work.

What to share[edit | edit source]

Good documentation enhances the value of what you share.

Share as much of your genealogy as you feel comfortable about sharing. Sharing well-documented (source footnoted) research enhances its value for your family and others. Always include your contact information in the genealogy you share. Do NOT share information about living people without first obtaining their permission.

Computer software programs like Personal Ancestral File (PAF) help you to organize your genealogy and make it easier to share. This Windows PC software can be downloaded for free at

Many other programs are also available usually at low-cost. For a list of such programs see Cyndi’s List at

Preparing to share[edit | edit source]

Make up your mind to do it better than it has ever been done before.

Select a sharing goal that can be accomplished in a reasonable amount of time. Since genealogy is never complete or perfect, choose to share sooner rather than later. Study examples of others who have shared in a similar way. For example, look at family history books, or Internet genealogy web pages for features you admire or dislike. Learn from their mistakes and triumphs and do the best possible job for yourself.

One of the best things you can do to prepare to share genealogy is to organize and document AS YOU GO! This means keeping good research logs and keeping your family group record up-to-date with the most recent information and source footnotes.

Where to share—cast your net widely[edit | edit source]

What you can expect[edit | edit source]

After you share your genealogy expect distant relatives to start contacting you. The majority of contacts will ask you for more. But about ten percent of people who contact you will volunteer new information. And some of the time the inquiries from others will spur you to solve a genealogical research problem yourself.

Related Content[edit | edit source]