Saturday, September 20, 2008

Fun Website Find

I have to credit my sister-in-law with helping me find this site as she recently invited us to join. The website is and according to the site, "Geni is a private place for your family to build your family tree, preserve your history and share your lives".

The site was recognized as a 50 Best Website by Time in 2008 and Best Free Software by PC Magazine in 2008.

We recently started to build our family tree. You do this by adding your family members to your tree and then inviting them to join the site. You can add family members without inviting them, but then you lose the opportunity for them to build their branch of your tree. You can of course also add deceased family members as well.

As you start to build your family tree, you will want to set up your own profile. Within your profile, you can include information not only on when and where you were born or married, but also different things like where you went to school, where you have worked/your occupation, where you live now and the color of your eyes. You can also populate information about your religion and personality stuff like your favorite quote, movie, sports, book and food.

As you add family members, you can start them off by adding some of their personal information including date of marriage, birth and/or death, so that even if they don't join you still have some basic information for them.

You can add a picture of yourself to your profile, which shows up on your tree view. In addition, you can add pictures and videos of your family and from your special events in an album. These are then available for your family to view.

As your family members start to add their spouses and their spouse's family, those family trees will begin to populate. You will see small tree icons indicating that they also have a tree and it will show how many family members are in their offshoot. Click on these tree icons and you move from your tree to their tree.

There are some alternate views besides the tree layout. You can view your "forest," the trees you are connected to through marriage. You can also see where, on a map, everyone is currently or where they were born. You can also view your tree in a list format, where the relation and immediate family information is available on one page.

You can also add family news and have discussions on-line, which they suggest you could use to coordinate things like family reunions.

You can view a family calendar which is populated with birthday and marriage dates so you can remember to send a greeting on special days. They actually go one step further and allow you to set up e-mail reminders for those special events. Never miss a family birthday again.

There are some new features on the site that allow you to merge family trees, so if you happen to have two parts of your family building their trees, you can merge them and allow the family tree to be intact. This will also allow them to flow through the various offshoots.

Once you have your tree in progress, you can also use one click to print your tree. This would be nice for insertion into baby books or for your child to use for a school project on their family tree.

According to the front page, "Geni is private and secure. Only the people in your family tree can see your tree and profile." This is somewhat misleading, as you move from your tree to the trees you are connected to through marriage, you can also see profile information for the people in those trees. It is just people not in your tree that can not view the profile.

Check it out today and start building your own family tree.