Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Monday, July 3, 2017

Preserving and Sharing Your GEDCOM File

Now 18 long years since abandoned the development of GEDCOM, the file transfer standard is still being used. For some comparisons, in 1999 IBM released the "Microdrive," a 170 MB and 340 MB miniature hard drive. As a comparison, 8 Terabyte hard drives of about the same size and thousands of times the capacity are readily available today for about $179.00. Oh, by the way, WiFi was also rebranded from the IEEE 802.11b short-range radio networking standard in 1999. Remember the Apple Macintosh Computer was still a few years in the future and 1999 was the year the first BlackBerry was introduced.

Notwithstanding its comparative antiquity, GEDCOM is still supported by most of the genealogical database programs for the simple reason that there is no newer or better substitute. Fortunately, has provided a way to preserve and share your antique format GEDCOM file with others online for free. The link is found under the Search tab on the top of the startup page. It is further found by selecting the "Genealogies" link in the drop-down menu. Then down to the bottom of the Genealogies page.

This is also an indirect way to submit a file that may be added to the Family Tree. This process involves three steps.

1. Upload your file to FamilySearch. Once uploaded, the file becomes searchable within approximately 15 minutes and will be preserved on FamilySearch. 

2. Compare your file with existing entries in the Family Tree. The intent here is to avoid duplicate entries in the Family Tree by identifying already researched ancestors or possible matches to your ancestors. This process compares each person in your GEDCOM file with the entire Family Tree. If you have a large file, it will take you a very long time to compare each person. Any entry in your file that matches an entry in the Family Tree will be skipped over. 

3. Contribute your GEDCOM to Family Tree. After comparing your GEDCOM you can share your research with the Family Tree community. Any living people in your GEDCOM will not be added to Family Tree. 

It is my experience that there are only a very small number of GEDCOM files, usually ones done entirely by a single person where the file has not previously been submitted to FamilySearch, that will not have a significant number of duplicate records already in the Family Tree. I always strongly discourage trying to upload a GEDCOM file until the person with the file has thoroughly examined what is already in the Family Tree program. Most of the people who ask me how to upload a GEDCOM file have never looked at the Family Tree and are just assuming that their work is unique. 

So, if you have been researching your family in a place where there are few records no one in your family has previously worked on the Family Tree, you can try to go through the upload procedure, but do not be surprised if you still find a lot of duplicates.  

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