Last Updated: October 12, 2015 1

GeneaNet – Online Family Tree

Found In: Tools

The idea of there being six degrees of separation from ever person on the planet is fascinating. That between who we know, and who they know extended no more than six times and that every person on Earth has been accounted for is simply amazing. If we go back far enough in human history, we are all connected by the same ancestors. In some parts of China, it has been proven by genetic testing that some twenty per cent of a city’s residents are all descendants of Genghis Kahn, which is perhaps not surprising considering how many wives he took after his many conquests.

In the old days before the Internet, there was little that anyone could do to track back their own family tree other than to travel the world and look up manually the physical records in churches and birth and death registries. However, with the Internet it was always going to be a simpler process to search for information about our family members, especially when older archived records were digitized and put online. GeneaNet takes the process of exploring our own family history one step further, by providing the platform for people build their own family tree, and to provide the framework with which people can reach out to others to share and discuss their information and the things they know about others.

GeneaNet Has Information on 400 Million People

Launched in 1996 by a group of interested genealogy enthusiasts, GeneaNet set out to help researchers of family histories. Not at all restricted to pursuing interests in their own family structures, many users seek information sharing of their data for the purposes of writing books and to explore historical topics. It was an instant success and it has now flourished to include information on more than four hundred million individuals around the world. Most data is free, though individual researchers do have to option to set a fee for the data they store under their accounts. That is, while GeneaNet wanted family history access to be available for free, it does cost money to run the service and so users could chose to pay for services if they wanted with advertising free access. GeneaNet created the Club Privilege service to distinguish between the two user groups. Club Privilege paying clients also get access to more effective search engine results and also access to additional records by subscribing. GeneaNet is supported by fifteen employees.

GeneaNet provides access to a vast array of genealogy type records that are published by independent researchers, a large array of genealogy societies, as well as commercial companies in the business of distributing such information. And GeneaNet allows its members to decide if the data they submit is to be given away to other members for free or by means of a paid for access. In that sense, the information a member owns and submits continues to be owned by members. However, most members allow what they submit to be freely available to others so as to encourage family and friends with additional information sources to be able to review what has been published so far, and what extra items of information they themselves can contribute.
With information on more than four hundred million individuals over the past sixteen years by members building up intelligence on their own online family trees, about six per cent of the global population is already represented. And working with GeneaNet tends to become a family orientated project, where most of the older family members pitch in to assist with additional fact gathering. Better than normal photo albums, building the family tree often provokes oral histories to be brought back to memory, which can then be recorded for posterity sake.

Many of the traditional holders of such records of birth and death have at least progressed somewhat the process of digitizing their records, and hundreds of thousands of these are now available for free. Previously, this meant flying to that place where the documents and records were kept and manually filing for copies of the information. But with hundreds of these registries now opening up their records in digitized form for free, or for just a nominal price, families that have had migration to new countries in their ancestry can now build highly detailed and accurate family trees.

GeneaNet users can often access the indexes of competing organizations, often free of charge, or perhaps with a nominal fee paid with the members are also sharing their indexes for free and some genealogy society indexes are available in paying access through Club Privilege.

GeneaNet has all the Resources Needed

GeneaNet is a complete genealogy community, incorporating a blog, a wiki, a user forum as well as the platform for publishing family photograph albums. This latter function is particularly wonderful, because rather than every family branch having their own hard copy photograph albums, all the family photographs can be stored in the one single place, accessible by all family members now and into the future.

If at any time a user has any questions or need advice on how to source the types of information, by posting their issue to the forum they soon find a large number of interested people all too happy to give the advice and guidance.

Building a family tree can take quite some time, with some people still working on theirs several years later as they are able to add to what is known about ever more older generations. In older times, it was not unheard of for families to change the spelling of their surnames. Other people use the information to track back the genetic health issues they themselves may be confronted with in the future. GeneaNet is an excellent and well thought out platform for building up intelligence on family tree information, and for sharing that information with other interested people. And because most people can do a great job with the free level of services, there are no barriers to entry. You may find a member of your family has already done most of the hard work.