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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Mining Ancestry.com with Family Tree Maker

Family Tree Maker 2012 may have given genealogists and unintended power tool for mining sources and indexes in Ancestry.com. This procedure works well for large existing files as well as smaller files. If you have already used Ancestry.com's source extensively, you might not find very much new information, but if you have neglected to document near relatives with Census records and such, you will quite soon have a huge amount of information. Here is a summary of how it works.

Step One. Load Family Tree Maker 2012 on your computer with access to the Ancestry.com.

Step Two. Transfer your largest and/or most complete database to Family Tree Maker 2012. Consider this to be a working copy of your original. You may not wish to do this with an archive or original file.

Step Three. Upload the entire file to a new online Family Tree on Ancestry.com. I suggest not making this a public tree at first and maybe never.

Step Four. Use the Ancestry.com green leaf suggestions to add sources and images to your online Family Tree. This usually will result in mining out all the obvious and easy to find sources. Caution, as you move backward in time, Ancestry.com's suggestions become less reliable, especially as your information becomes less complete.

Step Five. Periodically synchronize your Family Tree with your local version of Family Tree Maker. Make sure you are getting down images for all of the sources that have images.

Step Six. Once you have all of the information from a first pass at Ancestry.com, you can go through again and add more information by doing specific searches on individuals even when no green leaf icons are showing.

If you are very careful in selecting only reliable sources and not a bunch of user submitted stuff from other family trees, you can get a sizable collection of documents and hints at further documents in a reasonable period of time.

One advantage to this is that you can go online anytime you have access to Ancestry.com and then synchronize your database when you have time at home.

Once you have all of your information down in your computer's database from the online Tree, you can evaluate the information or review it at your leisure. This procedure takes advantage of a short term subscription to Ancestry.com. You can also move the information from Family Tree Maker 2012 over to some other database program if you wish to do so, especially if you have been careful to copy down images to your local hard drive. You may notice that all of the Ancestry.com media images have huge file numbers instead of names. You may have to rename all of the image files.

Family Tree Maker 2012 is certainly a contender in the program lineup for genealogical databases, but this method allows for individual preferences if you like another program better. You just consider the Family Tree Maker 2012 to be a tool for using Ancestry.com.

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