View Full Version : Genealogy or Name Collecting?

12 August 2008, 11:20 AM
Having been doing genealogy research on my family since I was a kid (pre-computer & internet) I am finding the changes taking place as being less than positive.

Have others noticed with the advent of sites like Ancestry.com, libraries being online, etc., that people are more interested in name collecting rather than genealogy?

The amount of times I have been asked to simply give others my info (I respectfully refuse) or listen to those claiming to have collected 15,000 relatives (but they worked hard for a month!).

How many see people performing genealogy with verifiable sources (multiple) as opposed to name collecting because they buy a subscription and simply collect names if they look good?

I use a number of online sites as they are great to obtain better quality images than what was available on film, speeds up some research and is convenient but i still have to orde films, research, translate to confirm that who I am looking at is who I am related to.

Do you willingly share what you have? For me personally, I do not post any info online from my tree and I am now very selective on who I give copies to.


Karen Peters
12 August 2008, 02:56 PM
Do you willingly share what you have? For me personally, I do not post any info online from my tree and I am now very selective on who I give copies to.


Of course, I'll share with someone who is helping me. More than once, I've contacted someone who seems to have info on my line and I find out that I'm descended from the long-lost relative. I've gotten my ancestors and he/she got to fill out the branches for a surname study. I'll also share with someone who asks nicely.

I had my info up for a while, but took it down. I kept getting contacted by "collectors" who had bad information on my family and kept wanting me to change my tree. Never mind that I had death certificates, deeds, gravestone photos, census records and all they had was something they had found on the web. I've also seen people post my work as if they had done the research themselves. So, yes, I do see your point. However, if I don't share what I have, it really doesn't serve a useful purpose. I doubt that my kids will ever be all that interested in genealogy, but I bet there is a cousin out there somewhere who is. Eventually, when my skin gets a little thicker, I do plan to put an abbreviated tree back up.

S McCormick
13 August 2008, 12:07 AM
I have gotten a head start on my family file from a distant cousin who not only shared his research but listed sources so that I could learn how to do my own research.

I am so new at this that my research is still very haphazard; therefore, what I have is mainly a collection of names. What I "know" is when a few members of the family died and when still fewer were born. I consider this list of names (plus family oral tradition) the framework for my research. Very, very slowly, I am verifying data, My source notes make clear what I have verified, what has been handed to me, and what is merely family stories.

Because I am very interested in the way people moved in clumps, and intermarried rather frequently (without becoming inbred), I gladly add any connection to my family file (for example, the father of the first cousin of my grandmother; the first cousin is related through her mother). He moved to Indiana from Stark County Ohio, as did many of my other ancestors; so I wonder

13 August 2008, 05:43 AM
Do you willingly share what you have? For me personally, I do not post any info online from my tree and I am now very selective on who I give copies to.


No, I don't. While I do share family information with family, I no longer make any of it public.

I pay a lot of money in data subscriptions, and a much larger amount on trips to the FHL about 4 times a year. This last year I also visited 11 county courthouses in 6 states, the National Archives, etc, etc. If Ancestry wants the fruit of my labors, I feel they should pay for it. I do make corrections when they are warranted.

OTOH, I do quite a bit of pro bono work for people. There's just something about the challenge.



Reiner L. Sauer
13 August 2008, 04:24 PM
Hi Jim,

Do you willingly share what you have? For me personally, I do not post any info online from my tree and I am now very selective on who I give copies to.

Generally, I'm prepared to exchange information, as long as this is not a oneway road. Rather than posting all information on the web, I use Reunion [plus a little trick, which I already submitted to ReunionTalk on 28 Sep 2003 - see below for details] to post a names index, only.

For an example see www.schevenhuette.com > Genealogie > Nachnamen [klick any name] That's where the details end. In the "Genealogie" page, I encourage people to contact me by email for further info.

After a few email exchanges with the interested party, I can usually figure out whether it's worth it to continue the email exchange. This pre-selection process also allows me to determine how much detail I want to exchange.


PS: As part of the web-card feature, Reunion creates a nice home page (with 'Content', 'Introduction' and 'Contact'). By clicking at 'Family Name' or 'Index', you can for example surf to the complete list family names, and from there you can go to the Index, which shows first and last names, optionally with birth- and death dates of the respective person. However at this point, you may wish to restrict a further drill-down into the auto-produced web-cards for reasons of confidentiality (i.e you may not even wish the relationships links to be publicly viewable). This may also be helpful, if you wish to avoid anonymous downloads, but want to first establish a contact with the interested party, so that further genealogical data can be exchanged, bi-directionally. Saving space on the website may be a good third reason.

Since Reunion does not allow you to limit the ouput to three levels of depth, there is a rather simple 2. step solution available to remove the web cards and the resultant indesired links. After generating the web report, you first need to open the folder and remove and trash all folders except for wc_toc.html and wc_idx. Secondly, use an application such as BBEDIT and mass-replace (> Search > Multi-File Search und Batch Find) the occurance of "D><A HREF" into 'D><A NAME

13 August 2008, 06:42 PM
I fall into a category that is neither serious genealogy nor just name collecting. I am quite interested but physically unable to do the legwork to verify in person the information I find, and do not have the funds to pay for pricey memberships. My file is quite modest - only 2300 people. I don't share with other people because it is information that in most cases is quite readily available to anyone, or would be of no interest. I haven't asked anyone to give me information.

The real value for me is in getting a feel for how life was for my ancestors and the fun of putting it together in a form someone else in the family might enjoy. My note sections are filled with stories that have been passed down. I have a cousin who is interested in the migration of our family and the cultural changes that provided the impetus for migration. He has provided rich background information.

13 August 2008, 11:46 PM
Well, I guess I'd have to say it is a combination. I am careful about documenting those who are "close" on my family tree, and the others, I add and verify as I go along. Often I add in-laws of relatives because either I later discover they are also relatives, or I find someone among their descendants who is researching the same lines as I am.

I am willing to share the information I have found. Why not? I don't intend to ever profit from it; it is, for the most part, public record, so anyone can find it for themselves. And I have many who have sent me gedcoms or disks of information. And helped me identify people in photographs that my grandparents had received from Norway and Sweden before my mother was born.

It has been very beneficial to share as I have discovered hundreds of cousins in the process, have personally met many of them, have connected up with 99 of them on Facebook, have stayed with many of them in Norway and Sweden over the years, have sent other American cousins to look them up...with great friendships formed - and given how the dollar looks against kroner these days, it's definitely a very good thing to have a place to stay when visiting Scandinavia. I have even introduced cousins who live in the same city to each other. Even though they are the same relationship to each other as they are to me, they didn't know each other! And of course, I have hosted some of them here in the states as well.

Now I find I run into cousins by accident. Here is an example: Last summer I was in a bookstore in Bergen to buy a topo map that included the farm where my grandmother grew up because the following day one of my cousins and I were going to hike up to the summer farm on top of the mountain above the fjord. So I asked the girl in the shop for a map of that area. "I'm from that area," she told me. And she asked if I knew the mother of the cousin I was making the hike with. "Yes," I told her. "She is a relative of mine." "Mine also," the girl told me. "Who are you?" I asked. As it turned out, she was also a cousin, and, as a matter of fact, I was having coffee at her mother's later that week. Now, if I hadn't been sharing all this cousin information, I never would have known who she was! I took a picture of her! The next week I saw her mom, her sister, and also visited her grandmother.

Michael Talibard
14 August 2008, 04:07 AM
Very interesting discussion. There are two issues here - to share or not to share, and the original one of genealogy versus name-chasing.

As for sharing, I would always give others what I

Reiner L. Sauer
14 August 2008, 07:11 PM
Hi Martha,

I am quite interested but physically unable to do the legwork to verify in person the information I find, and do not have the funds to pay for pricey memberships.

It is a tedious process. I lived abroad for an number of decades, nevertheless, I figured out a satisfying method to exchange genealogical data, which I felt was balanced and not a oneway road.


Tom Robinson
14 August 2008, 07:18 PM
In terms of collecting I've become much stricter about what I collect and wrote about it here:


When receiving new data I verify basic facts whenever possible.

For sharing, part of my reason for researching is being able to share the information with relatives: An overview to my family is available on my web site, I've published a couple of books plus other made other books I've kept within the family (and will be publishing), and information is available on request. I figure the books are the best way to keep the information available after my time (the National Library keeps copies).


I won't share dumps of large amounts of my family file, am quite selective about sharing source documents, and am wary of sharing data on living people. I don't upload data to any sites but if other people want to that's their concern.


04 September 2008, 12:44 AM
I remember when I first started my genealogical research (quite a few years ago now and long before computers were widely used!). I went along to the county records office to look up my family name. I had already asked living relatives what the could remember and verified that by cross- referencing from other relatives. Plus purchasing some certificates - mainly births and marriages - giving me a starting point.

However, i was so excited to find my family name in the place I was researching (parish records and census) that I wrote all of them down. It was a large family and there were many links from one to the other. When I got home I reconstructed the families using all sources. I did not consider it name chasing and still do not.

By looking at the parish records, especially where curates/vicars recorded more than the basic information gave me an insight into life. For instance in one parish one of the curates recorded some of the causes of death - this highlighted a number of outbreaks of smailpox which killed young and old predominantly. I found that fascinating but then I am a nurse and also interested in local history.

I have never been asked to share information online, but I did record an interest in certain names in an 'interest book' and received a letter from a distant relative who thought my link with the family had died without children. I was able to share the information then but that was years ago when it was all done on paper.

I am not sure if that makes me a 'name chaser' - but my research is verified as far as possible but once you get past the days of census that appears to be more difficult. My interest is serious and I do not have thousands of names so perhaps I am a serious researcher after all.

Charlie Hartley
04 September 2008, 06:55 PM
Interesting discussion, and well thought-out replies.

I started with what the family "knew." I suppose for a while I was a name chaser. Just looked and there are 8,871 people in my main family file. That includes a smattering of unrelated individuals, but most are family.

Now I find myself, more often than not, seeking to flesh out those I already have. As new information becomes available online, I use it to learn more about these folks. For example, when pilot.familysearch.org recently added death certificate images from Texas, I used it to add birth, death and family information to my son-in-law's Texas ancestors.

Actually I probably spend more time helping others than I do on my own lines. There is much satisfaction in helping others, and I share freely. Having said that, I must admit that I ignore some requests for help because they come from people who are either too vague or too demanding in tone.

I maintain a set of pages on Rootsweb at http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~gensoup/index.html called the Genealogy Soup Bowl where I put a lot of the information I have collected and documented. That way, when I'm no longer available to share, the information will be there for others.

I understand others who refuse to give away what they have worked so hard to obtain, but I just can't do that.


Ronald N. Gowe
04 September 2008, 07:27 PM
My introduction to genealogy many years ago was when a daughter was in elementary school and the teacher tasked the students to bring a history of the family back to class. As my mother had accumulated considerable scraps of paper with notes and history, the first chore was to sort it all out - not easy to do ten years before computers. At that time she lived 1,400 km away, although in the same Province. Fortunately later when buying my first Mac the salesman recommended Reunion (V3).

In 1999 a trip was made to the other side of Canada to spend time in the Archives of Nova Scotia and also travel to some of the known towns in an attempt to gather & substantiate information. Being a 'novice' in the workings of archives, much time was wasted. A side trip to Everett, MA was very enlightening as the town records there were much easier to peruse.

For the last several years as a member of a 'list' in Nova Scotia which has some very dedicated members who share information daily, I accumulate all the birth, baptism, marriage, death items put forth. These are recorded in two files; that which can be connected to my family (via Reunion) in its very broad sense and the second list (both alphabetically listed by name) which were/are from the same area. Over the years many earlier postings are found later to connect at some point of time through inter-marriage.

As the first arrivals and births/marriages were over 75 years prior to official records being kept by the Province, this 'collecting of names' has been very beneficial in that these dedicated members have posted much in the way of census, Church, municipal, newspaper and community facts that are constrained by the "Privacy Act" and are authenticated in ways I would never think of. Having these names, dates and locales then facilitate ordering true copies & certificates from the holder of the original.

In return, my postings to the list has brought replies from as far away as Scotland, England, Australia and the United States; of other Aunts, Cousins, Nephews and Nieces.