The Joys of Genealogy

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Ancestry.com and its British site Ancestry.co.uk have been nagging me for ages to become a member, and offering me tantalising little titbits of information on my family tree. I held out for a while, then finally succumbed to the offer of a free 14-day trial and decided on the worldwide version, since we have relatives and ancestors in continental Europe as well as in the British Isles.

After an encouraging start, with the discovery of a few “new” ancestors and the solution to a mystery that has puzzled us for decades, I was dismayed to find that ancestry.co.uk was telling me that I needed permission from the owner of the trees to access them. But I AM the owner, what do I do? Send myself an e-mail? I tried that, stupid as it sounds, asking myself permission, and I gave myself permission, even invited myself to contribute to the trees. The system then began insisting on my signing in every time I tried to access anything, and editing was out of the question. I can’t do anything at all any more on the site.

Meanwhile, my free 14 days are marching on inexorably, and I am left frustrated and annoyed. I only have 3 trees so far, a very small grove to tend, and only a couple of hundred people on the branches and twigs. It seems that I have somehow confused the system by having had an account with either ancestry.com or ancestry.co.uk back in 2006, and it “thinks” I am a new person with the same name and details … it even keeps offering me a free 14-day trial.

I do have most of my information in a WORD file, so it isn’t all lost – but the convenience of ancestry (and its beauty) lies in the simplicity and ease with which you can find other people’s trees with extra information and merge them into your own. My 96-year-old mother was thrilled to suddenly see photographs of her aunt posted on the tree of what must be a distant cousin (Mom’s aunt was the grandmother of the owner, I think).Ada Smith 2

I did manage to transfer them to our tree, and was about to contact the said distant cousin, when Wham! Boom! Ancestry produced its axe and felled my saplings! Echoes of Checkhov’s Cherry Orchard!

I contacted Ancestry’s support and help desk, and received this reply:

Another possible reason to be asked to contact the owner of the tree for permission to edit the tree, is if you have shared the tree to yourself but you do not have the correct access rights to edit the tree, this is simply changed by the owner of the tree changing the role of the person the tree is shared with.

I wonder if the help-desk staff have ever heard of the Plain English Campaign?

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7 thoughts on “The Joys of Genealogy

  1. Same here. I have tried most of these ancestry sites and all I’ve had is trial and tribulation. The 1911 census is on line now but one has to pay for it. I’ve given up . I have a pretty good family tree and that has come from sitting down with my 90 year old Aunt and recording her family connections. I can go back to around 1830 so not too bad. Should a Highwayman have appeared further back who knows?

    • I started off with a fairly small tree just so that I cold explain to my daughter and her family who people were – so many cousins etc. But once you start going back, it gets addictive, and though my ancestors are all peasants, servants and coal miners, I find it fascinating to find out more about them where they lived and how … still no news from ancestry, but will report when they respond.

  2. I tried sites like that as well when I decided I wanted to research my family tree. I had more frustration doing it that finally I decided to try the old route and hope people remembered things.

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