Thursday, December 10, 2015

Evolution of Genealogy

Ancestry retired FTM; Now What?

First I want to thank Pat Richley-Erickson and Russ Worthington from Wacky Wednesday with Dear Myrtle for settling me down. I wasn’t on the edge but I was upset and throwing a temper tantrum. Yesterday’s blog that I did along with Wacky Wednesday helped me get this out of my system. 

I realized what I really was upset about was the fact I felt as if I am taking a step backwards. Since I am one of many who have Family Tree Maker (FTM) as my main genealogy program and used treesync to keep my Ancestry tree(s) current, having to go “back” to uploading a GEDCOM (starting January 1, 2017) is a step back for me. I feel that in this day and age, we should be moving forward. I just have to accept the things I can’t change!

So I started thinking about the Evolution of Genealogy. To me, genealogy has moved through stages.  Even though we might start a new stage in genealogy, we never completely move away from previous stages. Let me explain how I see the stages of Genealogy.

Stage 1 was oral histories. In the beginning, people past down their family histories by telling the next generation about previous generations. This has been going on forever.

Stage 2 is the written histories. As people developed the alphabetic to go with our spoken language, some found that recording these histories was much more appealing than having to remember all the stories. Writing these recorded histories came in many forms, whether carved in stone, metal or wood. Then as paper was developed, these histories were written down on paper. Later, people did use typewriters and even computers to record their family histories, but basically stage 2 is using forms or charts for recording their information.
Once stage 2 started, stage 1 didn’t stop. These two stages have been occurring together for many years and in fact are still being used today.

Stage 3 is the computer genealogy software program. As personal computers started to be developed, people found recording these histories was much more appealing and easier than using pen/pencil and paper.  As genealogy software programs were developed some people found that organizing their family histories were easier than filling in forms or charts. That they could just click on a person and find all the relationships, facts, sources and such that were tied to that person. Not everyone embraced this stage.  In fact there are people who are still doing their genealogy as stage 2 and that is okay. Even though GEDCOM technology was introduced and people could upload those files to the Internet, at this stage, those files are static (not changing). People could view their histories, but changes occurred at the genealogy software program level only.

Stage 4 is the cloud or web based genealogy. As the internet started to be developed, people found there was no need to purchase or install genealogy software on their computers. Some didn’t even need to own a computer since web based genealogy can be done on tablets and smartphones. They found they not only could access their histories from anywhere or from any device they own but they could make changes on the fly. This is the stage that Ancestry has decided to embrace.

As you can see from these stages, they can occur at the same time. What stage each family historian or genealogist embraces is up to them. 

In a future blog I am going to cover what I consider are guidelines people need to follow when uploading their Gedcom’s to sites such as Too many times, people upload the latest and greatest without removing previous versions of that same tree. Plus I will cover some guidelines that these Stage 4 genealogists might want to consider.

Thank you.


  1. Nice post .... a good perspective ... nice to read.

  2. Thank you Charlene. The 'cloud' sounds fine to me. I'm usually one of those 'early adapters'.


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