The frustration of working on family history research with family members is common. Over the years I have worked with many relatives both close and very distant. Sometimes I have huge successes, and other times massive failures and hurt feelings. I have learned lessons over the years about how to work with relatives and one thing is for certain, there is really no one true way that works with everyone, but a framework can be used and then adjusted for varying personalities and opinions. There are many people who want to help and are willing to share, but don’t know how or on the flip side, there are some who don’t want their years of hard work and research to be exploited and changed by other users.  

Here’s a success story:  

I posted my family tree on Rootsweb’s World Connect which was viewed by a distant cousin in the United Kingdom. Our common ancestor was about 7 generations back. She had been trying to get a copy of our common ancestor’s personal history which was held at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah for years with no success and asked if I knew how to get a copy. Well, after checking my personal library I had a copy of it that had been handed down from my grandfather, so I sent a copy to her. She was so grateful that she in turn traveled to the old family property in Wales and took photographs of the old homestead for me. This whole process took a couple of months as international postal mail can be very slow. Nevertheless, we were both blessed by the kindness of the other, and happy in the end. That is what good family collaboration should be like.  

When I collaborate with another cousin next time, I will use the Ancestral Logs website. We would both enter all the source citations for what we looked at and upload the documents or photos we found to Ancestral Logs. The information would be shared instantly. That way everyone would know what repositories did and didn’t have the information we were seeking and wouldn’t waste time repeating the work. Future researchers could also verify our research by checking our citations and read our justifications and thought processes in determining whether or not we recorded the right information and how we resolved conflicts. Isn’t that the backbone of genealogy research? Do the research, gather the information, work with other family members and help each other out, and then cite your sources so future generations won’t have to do it all over again.  

For me the joy in family history research comes when I meet other family members who also enjoy the quest of finding the family records and we can share our joys and frustration in the search. Family collaboration is the heart of the work. Getting to know your family, both living and dead brings a sense of belonging, satisfaction knowing where and who you came from, lifelong friendships, and very grateful relatives.