Can you trust family trees at ancestry.com? In my opinion no and yes. In this post I will talk about both, why I think that you should not trust it and as to why you should trust them.
Let me Explain.
Why You Should Not trust Family trees at Ancestry.com
There are many reasons that I do not trust the information on family trees posted at Ancestry.com but my main reason is that they are full of errors and almost all if not all do not contain real sources or citations. Many reference “Ancestry Family Trees”, you click on it and it only provides information about ancestry. Not even referencing the original family tree it came from.
Most common reference you get:
This by no way means that they all are trash, some are, since many do contain valuable clues. For example if I find a date for a birth, baptism or marriage I try to use that to find the original. document.
You will not find me citing anything that the owner of the tree has going back past their 2nd great grandparents. Unless they have citations other than the usual “Ancestry Family Trees”.
I know that people sharing their information are well intended but unfortunate ancestry.com makes it so easy for anyone just to add information from other family trees without even verifying if that information is true. I have found ancestors from the 1600’s with a 1950’s border crossing. I have also found many references of ancestors where instead of Camargo, Tamaulipas, Mexico they are being listed as being born in Camargo, Coahuila, Mexico. As you can see be very mistrusting and always second guess the information. Do use them as clues to try and find the original document.
Why You Should Trust Family Trees at Ancestry.com
I usually tend to trust trees that others invite me to if I know that they are experienced researchers and have great citations.
Their citations usually look like this:
If you click on most of those citations you will be provided with links to photos of original documents. These trees are very trust worthy as you can see.
Here is the shocker, I also trust trees of people that may not have any experience with genealogy. But I only grab information from their 2nd great grandparents and forward.
Because these people know their families better than I ever will. This is information that can be obtained from relatives, parents, and grandparents. Some cases even their great grandparents. One example is a recent second cousin that I found. Her tree has not a single citation but all her information comes from her own personal knowledge of her family and or was obtained by asking other family members. Her knowledge of her particular branch of the family is exceptional.
Word of Advise
I do hope that you take your time and evaluate the information that you find on ancestry.com family trees. As a matter of fact these trees are the reason that I use ancestry. They let you host your family tree for free and access it from any devise.
If you happen to have a family tree and want to trade invitations let me know. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org once I get your invitation I will send you mine. Before you do make sure we have a common ancestor.