Sunday, July 10, 2016
With all this talk about the conflicting options in the world of genealogy—fee or free—you may be wondering why I can't set it all aside and get on with life. After all, wasn't it barely two weeks ago when I woke up, smelled the coffee and realized a romp through a forest of free family trees on one universal-tree site wasn't for me?
But here I am, back again, lingering over the tempting aspects of free trees. What ails me?
It was on the day that Americans celebrate "free"—the Fourth of July—that one respected genealogy blogger north of the border happened to post an article on the kind of free that I apparently can't resist considering: a free universal tree.
This time, the blogger was John Reid of Canada's Anglo-Celtic Connections—a blog I follow daily—and the post was about WikiTree. Along with some fascinating stats and graphs, John also posted a video from RootsTech, featuring the WikiTree team explaining their website.
You know I watched it. To the very end.
There is just something about me wanting to find some intrepid collaborators who can tackle such murky topics as my Polish forebears. So, naturally, when I take a newly-found free tree out for a spin, I reach deep into my bag of unsupported surnames to see what I can find. If I can find anything on my Aktabowski kin—or my Puchalskis, or, hey, even my Laskowskis—I want to scrutinize what I can find to see if there are any glaring errors.
More than that, though, is the simple question: is anybody out there even researching these lines? I sometimes feel like we are the only ones left walking the face of the earth with these surnames in our heritage.
Could that even be possible?
So, every time I see a free tree—especially one promising open group collaboration—I'm drawn to join the party. Can you blame me? I'm hoping to connect with a distant cousin. Surely there is one out there.
Above: The Return from Fishing, Valencia Beach, 1908, by Spanish artist Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.