Frequently asked questions
Below are the Our Families' FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions). I hope you find the information, tips, and help topics useful.
If you have a question you think should be added to the list please use the contact form (Contact link on the main menu). I will then either answer you directly or if it seems likely others will benefit, publish the question and answer here.
Privacy, Copyright & Cookies
Privacy is an important part of everything Our Families believes in. Below are some brief policy statements, but if you need to know anything more please contact us.
UK Crown Copyright
UK Crown Copyright material displayed on this site is published acknowledging Crown Copyright and reproduced under the terms of our HMSO Click-Use PSI Licence No. C2006010811.
UK Census Images
UK Census Images have been obtained from The National Archives, the custodian of the original records, and appear here with their approval on the condition that no commercial use is made of them without permission. Requests for commercial publication of these or other census images appearing on this website, should be directed to: Image Library, The National Archives, Kew, Surrey, TW9 4DU, United Kingdom.
Can I register on this site?
Registration on this site is only available to people with an identifiable link to one or more of the families who have family trees here.
The requirements for registration are:
- You should be a relative, albeit a distant cousin in many cases, but related to someone already listed OR someone connected to one of our families who should be listed on the site.
- When you apply to register you MUST provide details of exactly how you link to that person, and details of all ancestors between them and you.
- You should be prepared to contribute to the site, including providing personal information as well as modifications and additions to the data. The MINIMUM requirement is sufficient links to show yourself on the tree.
- You must agree to protect the privacy of the data of all living persons on the site. Violations will lead to immediate termination of access privileges and could be cause for legal action.
If you are unsure whether you are a 'relative' contact us here, so we can help you identify any possible connection. We are unable to establish full access to the site until that is confirmed.
REMEMBER: you do NOT need to register at all if you only want to browse the site or search for information about long-deceased relatives.
How can I get Help for this site?
There are a number of different ways that you can be helped to do or find anything on this site. The following are the main ones, in the order we recomend you use them:
- Help links: Many options throught the site have a small Help icon beside their title or description.It looks like this: Clicking on that will pop-up a small window with a description of the item.
- Email site admin: In the main menu there is a "Contact" link to the site administrator. Click on that to send an email explaining what assistance you need. We will endevour to answer as quickly as possible, but please remember that we might be in a completely different world time-zone to you, so it might take a few hours in some cases.
- kiwitrees forum: Also at the bottom of every page there is a kiwitrees link. Click on that to go to the software home page (kiwitrees.net). There you will find the kiwitrees Forum pages, where a number of experts, developers and other users will be more than willing to give you lots of help and advice.
- kiwitrees FAQ pages: Using that same kiwitrees.net link to, you can also find the FAQ pages. These contain many helpful articles for users, administrators and developers.
How do I register?
First, make sure you have read, undertstood, and can agree to all the requirements in the FAQ "Can I register on this site?"
To proceed, go to the 'Login' link, (right-hand of top menus). From there select "Request new user account". Complete the registration form, and click "Request new user account" at the bottom.
If you are unsure whether you are a 'relative' contact us, so we can help you identify any possible connection. We are unable to establish full access to the site until that is confirmed. We'll endeavor to establish your account as quickly as possible. However, please bear in mind that International Time Zones may mean it is the following day (your time) before the process is completed.
Remember that the security of your password is vital in protecting the privacy of your own as well as all other family member's information here, so keep it safe.
We recommend that you do change your password from time to time. Also note that we cannot access your password. If you forget it, use the "Request new password" on the Login page to have a new one e-mailed to you.
General Principles for Data Entry
When you add or edit any data on the family tree there a few general principles that should be followed:
- Every person and / or every event in that person's life should include a source reference. The concept is very simple. If you have a piece of information about someone, you MUST have got that information from somewhere. That "somewhere" is the SOURCE. It might be something sophisticated like a database, a Parish register, or a book. It might be something as simple as "Aunt Mary remembered....". These are both valid sources, but the more information you can give about a source, the easier it will be in ten years time to look and say, "Ah, so that's where I got that bit of information from!"
- All information must be factual, or described in a way that clearly indicates how accurate it is. If, for example, you know a person's age, from a census, but not their actual birth date, then you cannot say AS FACT that they were born in a certain year. There are issues of rounding, possible error on the census page, or even in some cases people might simple misrepresent their age. So use the date options like ABT (about), or EST (estimated), or CAL (calculated) to show how you arrived at the birth date you enter. Another good example is finding a birth, marriage or death on the UK's registration index pages. These only record events within a quarter (3 month period) so the closest you can record the date is, for example, BET JAN 1850 AND MAR 1850, meaning "in the Mar quarter of 1850. Entering a date like that is easy in the software we use - just type "q1 1850" and it will be converted to the full text required for you!
- Information should accurately reflect what it really is, and what you really know. This means that the date of a baptism found on a Parish Register, for example, should NOT be entered as a BIRTH. It is a baptism (or christening). If it is the only record you have for the person's birth you should either not enter a birth (the baptism will be used instead in any age calculations), or enter the birth with a date of BEF (before) whatever the date of the baptism was. That clearly shows that the only thing we know for certain is that the birth happened before the baptism, but we don't know if it was 1 day, or 10 years before! The same applies for Parish register burials. They are not a death, so the death might be recorded as BEF the date of the burial.
How do I input data?
Many people have been amazingly helpful filling in blanks in particular branches of this great tree and we anticipate you'll enjoy doing so too. Here are a few pointers:
- HELP: It is prolifically provided on the site, in the header and everywhere behind most links and terms with the image. Otherwise, if you are still confused, simply ask us via an email.
- DATES: We use the Gedcom v5.5.1 standard format. DD MMM YYYY or 01 JAN 1822 and 22 DEC 2004 instead of January 1, 1822 or Jan 1, 1822. Abbreviations such as BEF ("before") and ABT ("about") can also be used - e.g. ABT 1795. Other options include BET (used like "BET 1900 AND 1910"); CAL ("CAL 1900") meaning "calculated as 1900"; and q1 1900 (displayed as "between January 1900 and March 1900" for dates that are only known to within a quarter, such as BMD index data.
- PLACES: We try, wherever known, to include the city or town as well as the County and Country. The format we prefer is: Tonbridge, Kent, England.
Note that the Country is always required. For American addresses we prefer USA ( not US, U.S., or U.S.A.) behind the state but for other countries we do not use the abbreviation, but rather Ireland, Australia, Canada, etc.
We do NOT abbreviate American STATES to the two letters, rather spelling out the entire location and we generally don't use periods (.) in names or locations, like Shelbyville, Addison Twsp, Shelby Co, Indiana, USA instead of Shelbyville, Addison Twsp., Shelby Co., IN, U.S.A.
- NAMES: Entering of a name is pretty straight forward on the form.
The INDI ENTRY BOX should already have expanded name fields. If not, both it and the places box expand by clicking the + sign.
Name PREFIXes are Dr, Rev, Hon, Judge, etc.
GIVEN names are the first and middle names.
SURNAME is the family or last name. This is the maiden name for a married woman.
SUFFIXes are Jr, Sr, III, etc and NICKname is the name commonly used for the person if different from their Given name. i.e. John "Alec" Leigh would be a nickname of Alec, Daniel Wilson Avery had a nickname of Tuggy, and many Margarets had a nickname of Maggie, Nancy, Peggy, Polly or other, etc.
If you have a person whose preferred name is not their first GIVEN name, then you can add an asterisk after the preferred name. This will cause that name to be underlined on the display.
- CHANGES and ENTRIES: The changed or added data for an INDI (individual) or family will not correctly appear until approved by an administrator. Although we frequently check the site, send us an email if you want us to review and approve additions or modifications more rapidly.
- OTHER TIPS: Facts concerning the creation or modification of a family unit are entered on the Family Members tab or Family link page. This is where you note marriages, divorces, children, family census - anything affecting the family unit. We find when adding several children, its best to bring up the VIEW FAMILY link for that husband/wife and add each child via the link at the bottom, 'ADD a CHILD to this Family'. It is faster than using the Family Members page as with each addition it defaults back to the Individual Details tab rather than the Close Relative page.
Any questions? Just ask if you don't understand.
- MEDIA: We really appreciate your addition of pictures, Birth Certificates, Marriage Licenses and Certificates, Death Certificates - anything you've got for support. It's easy to add these from your own hard drive by using the MEDIA tab, ADD MEDIA link and UPLOAD/Browse feature.
If you have questions, suggestions, or simply wish assistance, send your digital images to us by email and we can add them too. But please respect the document owner / originator's copyright where required.
- NAVIGATION: We love to navigate using the FAN CHART function and the ancestor and descendancy charts. Try them.
We particularly recommend the "Relationship" view. It should ALWAYS show a link between you and any other person on the tree. Let us know if it doesn't, as that might indicate an error or broken link.
- MAPS: The Maps tab fascinating addition to the site. It will show where all the events of an individual and their immediate family occurred. It is however dependent on you adding the place names correctly (see PLACES above), and the system having a record of that place's latitude and longitude coordinates. If a place marker looks wrong, or is missing please contact admin so it can be corrected. We have also recently added a further map object under the Charts menus, to display the birth locations for an individuals direct ancestors.
What are Source References, and why are they SO IMPORTANT?
We believe it is VERY IMPORTANT that whenever possible anything recorded on a family tree should include some evidence about where the information came from - in other words, a SOURCE or references for it. We know from bitter personal experience how frustrating it is when you come across a fact you entered years earlier, but have no idea how you came by the knowledge.
In this FAQ we describe why sources are important, and give some specific help for adding source references to data on the family trees of this site.
Dick Eastman describes the issues well in his Genealogy Newsletter:
"... I well remember my early days of family tree searches. I would record new information into three-ring notebooks. (This was long before the invention of the personal computer.) I would write down names, dates, places, and perhaps a bit more information that I was lucky enough to find.
Unfortunately, in those early days, I did not write down where I obtained the information. Nobody told me that I needed to do this, and I wasn't smart enough to figure it out for myself. I simply assumed that everything I found was accurate. After all, it was printed in a book, wasn't it?
As time passed, I frequently found new information that contradicted what I found earlier. When I discovered these discrepancies, I needed to determine which piece of information was more accurate. The question that arose time and again was, "Where did I find that information?" Sadly, I often did not know.
The better solution would have been to always write down where I found the information along with the data itself. This is known as citing your sources. To quote author Elizabeth Shown Mills in her excellent book, Evidence! Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian: "Any statement of fact that is not common knowledge must carry its own individual statement of source. ...Source notes have two purposes: to record the specific location of each piece of data and to record details that affect the use or evaluation of that data."..."
How to add a source
Entering source references on family trees here is incredibly easy. They can be included with any event (e.g. birth, marriage, death, divorce, migration etc.). In many cases, you can re-use an existing source reference. If the one you need hasn't been created yet, you can easily add a new one. You can look at any of the many existing source references to get an idea of how they work.
The basic steps are:
- After adding the normal date, place etc for the event, before you click on Add or Save, look for the line that says "Add a new Source Citation" and click on the '+' beside it.
- This opens some new entry fields. The first is "Source". Here you type the reference number for the source, which could be a website, a census, a book etc. We have over 250 sources already referenced for your use. The full list is under Lists - Source List. If you don't know the reference for the source you found try entering part of its title and select it from the list shown. If your source is not on that list, click on to add it before going any further
- The next field is the "Citation". Here you describe, in a formal way, where in the source you found the information. This is often a list of information such as Volume, Page, Date, Place, or similar references. The important thing to note for citations is that each element should include a ':' (colon) after its descriptor, and a ',' (comma) after each section.
- In some cases there is no real "citation", so that section can be ignored if necessary. In fact, for many sources, all that is required is the reference number (e.g. "S25"). This is often the case when information is supplied by another researcher, particularly in the case of photographs.
- The final section is called "Text". This is again an optional field. It can be used instead of the citation (if there is no formal reference); or as well as. It allows for free text entry, but no fancy formatting. Often useful for explanatory notes related to the citation.
- Once all this information is entered, simply click 'Save' or 'Add' and the job is complete.
What is the best way to enter census information about a household?
It can be a laborious process to enter a good record of census data to every member of a household, especially one with many family members present. Thankfully webtrees has a very effective tool called the "census assistant" to help you through that process. In addition, it displays most of the data from the census page as a tidy tabulated transcription, like this:
In the same single process the assistant creates the CENS event, a shared note containing the above transcript, adds any media item you want to include, and copies the same to all individuals listed on the page.
Clearly with all this to do (but only once) it is not a simple process, but the webtrees.net WIKI page here has a very clear explanation of each and every step required.
When you use the assistant here we recomend that, when you get to the part of that WIKI article that says:
Next add a Source Citation for this event, by clicking on the Add a new Source Citation option and enteringthe appropriate details. At this point there are two options for adding the Shared Note containing the census details: 1. By clicking on Shared Note using Assistant within the Source details area. This will add the census details as a note to the Source record 2. By clicking on Add a new Shared Note below the Source details area, then clicking on the Shared Note using Assistant in this area. This will add a shared note at the same level as the Source.
you use option 2, and create a separate, rather than sub-note as this is easier for visitors to see.
The census assistant has templates to use for all UK and US census pages.
Ordering birth, marriage, or death certificates.
The first requirement is to know the reference number of the certificate you want. The first place to look for these is the free web site www.freebmd.org.uk. They have excellent coverage of certificates from 1837 to about 1930. You simply use their search page, entering as much or as little information as necessary to find your ancestor. Be aware though that incorrect spelling, either on the original index pages or the transcribed computer list, is a common issue. Be flexible in your search criteria.
If you need a certificate for a later date, you need to search through individual index pages. These are alphabetical pages, each set covering three months (a 'quarter') of each year. They can be searched on www.ancestry.co.uk, if you have a subscription. Otherwise you will need to find a library or similar institution that has microfiche copies.
Once you have the reference, something like
"Birth - SMITH, John, Canterbury district, volume 2a, page 487, Dec quarter 1858"
you can go to the General Register Office web site and order a copy. The address is https://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certificates/Login.asp
You need to register, using their link at the top right-hand corner. It is straight-forward and free though.
Once registered you can proceed to login and place your order. Each certificate costs 9.50 pounds (including delivery anywhere in the world), and is e-mailed to you within a couple of weeks.
REMEMBER THAT WE CAN ALSO HELP YOU OBTAIN CERTIFICATES. Just get in touch and we'll do all we can to help.