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Is My Personal Information Visible to Everyone?

No! This website exists for two primary purposes. The first is to serve as a family resource for all the close relatives of Erik Christensen and Katherine (James) Christensen. The second is to be a valuable genealogy research tool for all of our distant relatives. The privacy structure of the site allows me to fulfill both goals, although not without some trade-offs. When I have to decide between more access for genealogy researchers and more privacy for living family members, I have chosen to protect privacy.

All information about, or connected to, living and recently deceased relatives cannot be viewed by the public. This is done to protect private information about living family members. A random visitor from the internet will not be able to access your name, your date of birth, or other identifying details. (Note: I do include data from the U.S. Census on this site. Census data is only private for 72 years, so all census records up to and including the 1940 U.S. Census are publicly available and may contain names for older relatives). Visitors will not be able to view any photographs, documents, or histories that are linked to a living or recently deceased family member. You can test this yourself by trying to access the site without logging in. Members of the public can access genealogy information about their deceased family members on this site to help them discover their own family stories. As an example, here is what the first four generations of my family tree looks like for a public visitor:

All information about myself, my parents, and my living grandparents is blocked and only displays as "Living." Information about my deceased grandfather, my great-grandparents, and any generations further back is publicly visible to allow access for other genealogy and family history researchers. Going beyond the family tree, any photographs, documents, or histories that relate to a living or recently deceased relative are also blocked from public users.

The only people who will be able to view the personal details of living and recently deceased individuals are registered users in the appropriate "Branch" of the family. A "Branch" includes all descendants of one of Kathi or my grandparents (i.e., our Aunts/Uncles, first Cousins, and their children). For example, if you are a direct descendant of the Hoffbeck/Spong marriage (or you married a direct descendant), you will be able to view information for all the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren in that family, along with any spouses that have married into the family. Remember that this amount of access requires a close family relationship; the names of your living or recently deceased parents, spouse, children, etc. are not accessible to the general public or family members in distant branches. The only people who will have access to information on living family members are those I personally know to be descended from one of our grandparents. If you find that is not the case or have additional privacy concerns, please contact me!

What If I Your Grandparent is Not My Direct Ancestor?

If you are related to one of the people listed on this site but are not a direct descendant of one of our grandparents, I hope this site is still useful and I would still love to hear from you! You can access all information that is not connected to a living individual without registering and being approved for a Branch (and indeed there is no reason to register unless you are eligible for a Branch). In some cases, I may also be able to share additional details that I have learned about your ancestor without disclosing personal information about my close relatives. However, due to the limitations of the genealogy software that powers this site, there is no simple way for me to provide access to some information about our common ancestors without revealing private information on living individuals. This sometimes limits my ability to easily share information even with second cousins, but hopefully you can understand our privacy concerns.

How Do I Find An Individual or Family?

There are several methods, but the simplest way to find a specific person in the database is to enter their first and/or last name in the "Search" box in the upper right hand side of the home page. Once you have left the home page, you can access the search function by clicking the "Search" text near the top of each page, like so:

If you just want to start browsing a list of Erik or Kathi's ancestors, clicking on the "Christensen" or "James" tabs shown above is a great place to start. From there you can easily navigate to a shared ancestor and start browsing individual pages. If you are searching for all members of a particular family, try searching by last name or using the Surname List.

Once you are on an Individual's page, you can see all the information I have collected for that person. If they are an ancestor from the very distant past, there may not be much to see aside from their name and parents' names. Other individuals will have sections for their personal info, census records, parents, spouse(s) and children, a map of important life events, links to photographs, documents, histories, sources, and my research notes (which often contain sources or links to more information). 

Is All of This Stuff Accurate?

Maybe. As stated on the home page, please remember that all information presented here is only as reliable as the sources or notes that are presented to support it. Some information is very well documented and almost certainly true. Other information relies on the research of others which has not always been thoroughly checked (yet!) and may contain errors. Some of those researchers are careful and reliable. Many are simply re-posting information they found somewhere else without checking it, which is something I am guilty of as well. There is a strong temptation when first getting started in genealogy to gather as much detail as you can. Only later, when you start to come across conflicting information, do you realize that careful documentation and reliable sources are extremely important. I am still in the process of auditing much of the information on this site and adding additional support or removing information that I later determine is incorrect. Use your own judgment and don't get too attached to anything in case further research requires changes!

How Do I Find An Individual's Ancestors?

First, navigate to their page in the database  using one of the search options. Then, click on the second tab across the top labeled "Ancestors." Here's my page as an example:

By default, this will take you to a family tree page showing five generations of the individual's ancestors. This is called a "Pedigree." You can increase or decrease the number of generations using the drop down menu after "Generations" in the darker green bar. There are a few useful tricks to navigating Pedigrees. First, you can click on any person in the Pedigree to see their individual page. Second, you can click on, or hover over, the small black triangle under each name to see more detailed information on that person. Finally, if there are older generations in the database not being shown (indicated by the yellow triangles to the right of the names), you can click on the small pedigree icon to open a new tree from that person's perspective. Kathi's tree is shown below with several of these options highlighted.

Additional options under the Ancestors tab let you show more or less detail and adjust formatting. You can create a PDF report, which is useful for printing or saving on your own computer. Finally, you can click on "Map" to view information about the individual's ancestors on a world map. Below you can see five generations of my ancestors, which visually displays my strong Northern European and American Midwest roots.

How Do I Find an Individual's Descendants?

Just to the right of the Ancestors tab is the Descendants tab. The options here are very similar to the Ancestors tab, and you can adjust the number of generations, the format, and create a PDF report.

Is There a Way to Determine the Relationship Between Two People?

Yes! Do you want to figure out what you call your cousin's daughter (besides her name, of course)? The "Relationship" tab will let you map out the connection between any two people in the database. Simply search for each person and then hit the Calculate button. You will learn that the child of your cousin is your first cousin once removed, which is not the same thing as your second cousin.The chart below is a handy reference to this confusing naming convention, and also a good demonstration of why it is nice to have the website figure relationships out for you!


Can I View a Timeline of Major Events?

You sure can. Just click on the "Timeline" tab on an individual page. This will show you a timeline of major personal and world events that have happened during their lifetime. Note that I have not included all the U.S. Presidents in order to prevent crowding the timelines; apologies if your favorite didn't make the cut. The timeline is presented in several formats on the same page, so just look at the one that makes the most sense for you. 

You can add additional people to the timeline by browsing to their pages and clicking the Timeline tab. You can also hit the "Add People" button in the middle part of the page. If the display gets too cluttered, you can remove people by selecting the check box next to their name on the bottom timeline and hitting refresh. 

What Is the GEDCOM Tab?

A GEDCOM (GEnealogical Data COMmunication) is a standardized file format for transferring genealogy information between different computer programs. Odds are that if you know what a GEDCOM is you can figure out how to work this tab and download the data to your personal genealogy software. If you don't know what a GEDCOM is, you don't need to worry about it!

How Can I Correct a Mistake or Omission?

If you find something in the database that you believe is incorrect or missing, simply hit the "Suggest" tab on an individual page or family group sheet. Let me know your name, your e-mail address, and the changes you think I should make. Non-family members cannot make suggestions directly using the "Suggest" tab, but I still encourage you to contact me. If will follow up with you if I have any questions. I appreciate all contributions to the site! I am especially interested in additional documentation and photographs for our older ancestors. If you come across any family records, please do not throw them away! I would love a chance to look at them and scan any important documents to save for future generations!

What Else Can I Do?

There are many other tools and resources available, many of which can be accessed by the links on the top right of an individual page. You can hit the "Print" button for a nice, formatted version of the page you are looking at that is suitable for printing out. Just to the right you can add a bookmark to pages that you would like to frequently visit. The drop down menus for "Find," "Media," and "Info" provide navigation links to additional areas of the website. I highly recommend visiting the Histories tab and digging in to the interesting stories!


http://winslowtree.com/tngfaq.htm (template/inspiration for this FAQ)

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