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Genes Reunited


This has to be one of my favourite sites because without it I would not have been anywhere near as successful in searching my family tree and locating so many long lost relatives. To me, this is the ultimate networking site that gives the old saying of ‘two heads are better than one’ a real purpose and meaning. Like every other site you need to know the tricks of how to work it to your advantage. It is a huge database of information and just searching on an individual forename and surname is a big limitation.

I may have a cousin in cyberland who is a genealogical wiz kid and as mapped our entire family back to the Doomsday book. How do I find this cousin without knowing the exact name of one of our shared relatives? I can hardly sit at my PC inputting every name I can think of in case I happen to hit a match. To coin another phrase ‘why re-invent the wheel’? If someone out there has already done the legwork, why not share information? However, you have to find them first and thus lays the challenge.

The trick with ‘GR’ is that you do need to plot your own family tree on the site. You can keep it simple (direct ancestors only), as long as you manage to plot the entire list of all the surnames connected with your family. Once you have done this, click on ‘search for people’ and go to ‘my tree matches’. This will now give you a list of all the members on the site who have submitted the same surnames as yourself. You can search the entire name list, or those just recently registered between 1 to 14 days.

To begin with, I would run a search on ‘all names’. I can then click on the surname of interest and search by either forename, year of birth or place of birth. Personally a forename is too specific and a year of birth is okay (you get a list by year order), but my preference is always to search by place of birth. My ancestors tended not to move around very much. I could more or less predict that I am probably related to anyone researching the same surname as me, in the same geographical area. You can then of course email the other researcher to establish if you have any connections in common. So far, I have found all my cousins using this technique.

The one irritation I have with this facility is that having emailed a new contact, you cannot then just hit the web ‘back’ icon, as it doesn’t work. You have to come out of the page completely and repeat the entire process all over again, starting from ‘search for all people’. I am also not keen on the new ‘Hot Matches’ facility. It may well give me the link to another member who just happens to have the same surname in their tree as I have in my tree. However, the fact that my ancestor was born in Lancaster and their ancestor was born in Kent does not impress me as a very ‘hot match’.

A slight word of warning, shortly after I registered I did get a few spam emails addressed to my maiden name and this did concern me. I had other bogus emails from Lawyers in Africa telling me how a relative had died (using a surname that was in my tree) and if I emailed them with all my bank details they would transfer my inheritance directly to my bank. Yeh sure!

One’s mother’s maiden name and date of birth are common security checks and this is information that should be guarded. I have no idea if these spam’s came from Friends or Genes Reunited, but after this happened I went back on both sites and deleted some of the information that could be traced directly back to me. This is why you shouldn’t really add the name of a living person to a family tree without their prior consent. This is also why any responsible website that allows users to ‘share family tree’s’ should ask people to register as a member.

Do be careful what you allow other people to know about you. I know of many females who use these sites and do not use their real surnames in their email addresses. This is not to be deceptive, but to make it more difficult for a fraudulent person to work out who they are. Also, if someone emails you to request that they have access to view you tree - you want to know who they are and why? Have at least a few email conversations with them beforehand to determine that their interest is genuine.

All in all, despite needing a few improvements and some words of caution, a very impressive and popular site.

Has anybody out there had any good or bad experiences with this site? Please share it with us?

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