I have an Ancestry.com account. It's where I first started entering the information about our families years ago before I learned anything about the art and science of genealogy. I still know very little compared to the experts I am meeting in Facebook genealogy groups and blogs, but I'm beginning to get the hang of documenting what I know about our families and preserving the ephemera of our lives. I moved to a computer program (Legacy) on my laptop that seemed more full-featured and easier to use than Ancestry.com. And so I mostly abandoned updating my Ancestry site a couple of years ago.
But Ancestry has been really helpful in my research. I have met several distant cousins through the messaging feature of the program and they have provided stories, photos, and data that I did not have. The personal connections and access to (often) primary source materials is priceless. And who can resist those shaking leaves?? They have pointed me in valuable directions to both data and other family trees that intersect with my research interests. So I really like the idea of Ancestry, but just find it limited for serious data entry and reporting.
So, it was time to fix the Ancestry online site. It's importance is growing as a way to share our family information with my children, siblings and cousins as they become interested in what I know about our family. And I continue to believe that more collaboration will emerge as a result of having Ancestry pages available for public viewing. But there was a serious issue - there were photos and stories I had attached from other people's family trees that I did not have in my Legacy program. And, since several cousins and siblings had been given editing rights, some of the people in the tree were fleshed out with information and photos uploaded by these collaborators - information that I didn't have in my Legacy program. I've been dreading tackling this problem. I couldn't figure out a good way to make sure I captured and saved all the information I had on the old Ancestry site before overwriting it with a new file (gedcom format) from Legacy.
Today was the day - a tear your hair out, have 3 laptops on the table and a sister to help kind of day. We worked most of the afternoon comparing data between the Internet Ancestry and laptop Legacy programs. But by the end of the day, a new Hanson Family Tree had been uploaded and the old tree removed. (I didn't know that Ancestry would allow you to save two trees with the exact same name.) I know we missed some details but I hope there is nothing seriously earth-shaking that we tossed. There are still photos and stories to be reconnected to their Ancestry location (and to Legacy), but for now, both sites have the same information.
If you are interested in seeing this tree, and you are an Ancestry member, just search for Hanson Family Tree created by lynndosch. If not an Ancestry member, I am able to invite you to see the tree as a guest. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Next problem: figure out how to keep both Legacy and Ancestry updated as new information is added to Legacy.
Moral of the story: Well, there isn't one. If I knew then what I know now, I could have been more disciplined to dual-enter the data or been more careful in collecting my data and sources. But you can't figure this stuff out except by jumping in, both feet, and learning by doing.
This task is just one more in the steps needed to really connect my documents, photos and data to the people who mattered in my life (and before I was born). I'm getting closer to having systems that will assure that generations after me will be able to find and enjoy the important dates and stories of our lives. It's a legacy I hope to leave to my children and grandchildren.