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Putting Family Trees Online

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Home  >  Putting Surnames & Family Trees On the Web

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How to Put Your Genealogy OnLine

Getting Started

  • FREE Family Tree Online
    You can build a FREE collaborative Family Tree Online . Start by uploading a GEDCOM from your genealogy program or by manually entering what you know about yourself and your family. Enjoy free access to when you first build the tree.

    You can invite your family members to contribute names to your online tree. Webspace is free.

    In addition, there are also genealogy programs available that are either freeware or very inexpensive which will convert your family history into web sites. And you need little or no knowledge of HTML.

    As you are creating your set of webpages on your hard drive, you can apply for webspace to host your pages. An example of a server that is free and that makes it easy for beginners is Rootsweb.

    There are basically two types of programs that will create linked family tree webpages:
    • Genealogy programs that store your family data and create a web site.
    • GEDCOM to HTML programs. These do not store family data, but instead use a GEDCOM from your genealogy program to produce a web site.

    Which is better? Whichever suits your needs and whichever appeals to you. These really is no BEST program. Take a look at both types of programs listed below. Look at the web sites produced and decide which program appeals to you the most. Also decide which you believe is the easiest for a visitor to your web site to navigate. After all, your goal is to have other genealogists easily find your names to determine if there is a match. Make sure the program you choose will list dates and location, otherwise it may be difficult for a visitor to determine if he is interested in your surnames.

    Genealogy Programs

    Many genealogy programs have a webpage building feature that allows the user to create a web site right from the program without the use of a GEDCOM to HTML program. Some of the programs have pedigree charts and family group sheets while others have indexes of surnames and individuals. All are easy to use and create nice web sites, which you can modify by adding backgrounds, photos, stories, and original documents to customize your site.

    Family Tree Maker requires that you put your family information on their server; however, you can link to your own web server for any other data that you would like to place online. All other programs produce the files on your hard drive which may be uploaded to your web space. The advantage of loading to the FTM web space is that your website is included in the FTM search engine.

    GEDCOM to HTML Programs

    The following programs can be used as long as your genealogy program supports GEDCOM.

    These programs will convert your GEDCOM into organized, linked web sites. Some have pedigree charts and family group sheets, others have indexes of surnames and individuals. Some will add photographs and allow room for family stories. All are easy to use, free or low in cost, and produce nice web sites which you can easily modify by adding photos and stories to customize your site.

    Unique WebPage Options

    There are some programs that do not use GEDCOMS that produce very nice webpages. If you are not interested in a GEDCOM to HTML program, these may be what you are looking for.


    Depending upon the program you have chosen to use, you may need to create a GEDCOM to put your family data on the web. A GEDCOM is a file format which allows you to share the information contained in one genealogy program with another genealogy program. Most genealogy programs today will import and export of GEDCOMs. If yours doesn't, you will be unable to use the GEDCOM to HTML programs mentioned.

    How do you create a GEDCOM? In your genealogy program, in the file section, click on 'save to' or 'copy family file'. This will bring up a dialog box that asks for the name of the file to be saved. Enter the name of the file for the GEDCOM. At the bottom of the dialog box is a 'save as type' box. In the pull down menu, select .GED. By saving your family file with a suffix of .GED, you have created a GEDCOM.

    Remove Living People from your GEDCOM

    Be sure to remove information about anyone in your database that is still alive before posting to the web for privacy reasons.

    The following utilities will remove living people from your gedcom and should be used before placing your genealogy on-line:

    UpLoading your Files

    You have chosen the program you want to create your web site, and you have privitized your family information.

    By following the instructions of the program you have chosen to create your web site, you have created the files that will become your web site on your hard drive. Make a note of the file directory where these files are stored.

    Many of the genealogy programs will upload the files, but you may need a separate program. In order to upload your files to your web server, you will need to FTP (file transfer protocol) your files from your hard disk to your server so they can be viewed by others. One excellent and widely used program is WS_FTP. For instructions on this easy to use program, visit Ws_FTP Guide. Although this guide applies to all servers, your server may also have its own instructions.

    After all the files are uploaded, your surnames are now on-line. Congratulations!

    Take a moment to survey your web sites from the visitor's point of view to make sure all looks as you expect, that all the images show, and that all links work.

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