Research Question  

Posted by Abba-Dad in ,

Who do you add to your family tree?

This question has been on my mind for a few weeks now. I guess it started when I was able to merge our family's Geni tree with several distant relatives (third cousins and beyond). My immediate reaction was that anyone I can add will be added. But then when I started doing just that I ran into many new branches of people who were only related to me through marriage or multiple marriages. So here's who I've decided to add to my research:

1) All direct descendants of my daughter's direct ancestors.
2) Spouses of 1.
3) Parents and siblings of 2.

Does this make any sense? Does it make any sense for me to expand my tree further than that? From all the Geni tree merges I now have people who are my "first cousin thrice removed's wife's nephew." I don't even know what that means!

On Geni, I set my family to the highest level:

My Family consists of my 5th cousins and closer plus their current partners
and My Wife's 5th cousins and closer plus their current partners
and our inlaws out to first cousins.

Too much? I'd love to know what others are doing.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 15, 2008 at 1:14 PM and is filed under , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


An interesting question. When I first started out I was very strict- direct ancestors only! Then I realized that sometimes it was necessary to do research on siblings in order to find information on a direct ancestor. Then I realized cousins might hold the key, plus I found some fascinating stories.

Lately, I've run into a newly found gg grandmother who was listed as an "M" for Mulatto on a census. Well as someone who had up until then only found "W's" on census pages, she became a mighty interesting person. It turns out that a number of "Free-Coloreds" came to Southeastern Ohio from Virginia around the same time, and they kept marrying into each other's families. I've started grabbing all of these individuals and putting them in the family tree to see if I can unravel this very complicated thread and find out just how this family line became mixed and how by the 1900's they became white. I'm sure I have dozens of individuals who are not related to me at all now sitting prettily on my tree.

I guess my point is that every time I have made an arbitrary ruling, I've found a good reason to break it. I admire your self control for coming up with a plan and sticking to it! Until I read your post I hadn't thought about how "messed up" I've managed to make the ole family tree. Thank you for making me think about it, I guess! :)

Terry Snyder
Desktop Genealogist

October 15, 2008 at 3:26 PM

I too have pondered this question many times. When I initially started adding people to my database, I added everyone I could find. But as the number grew, I looked for a better system.

I've decided to post a response on my blog instead of trying to cram it into this tiny box!

October 15, 2008 at 9:48 PM

As I find people in allied lines, I add them. I don't go out and look for them, but when they turn up, in wills, estates, or where ever, I do add them. I do have a lot of people in my database, but they are documented, and they have turned up here and there. I will not spend a lot of time or $$ getting death certificates, etc. As another person commented, they often are the link to the person we are really looking for.

October 16, 2008 at 6:51 PM

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