4 Reasons to Try American AncesTREES

4 Reasons to Try American AncesTREES

Another great genealogy website to explore? Yes, please! American AncesTREES from AmericanAncestors.org offers a little something for everyone. From DNA visualization tools to creating your own videos, here are four compelling reasons to check it out.

American AncesTREES is a new online tree-building experience available at AmericanAncestors.org. Explore unique record databases, visualization tools for DNA matches and even a tool to turn a tree profile into a quick, shareable video.

AmericanAncestors.org, the online presence of the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS), has launched this new family tree-building platform. Many of its features are free, and enhanced access costs only $19.95-$34.95 per year (and is free for American Ancestors Contributing Members). Here are four features I think are worth sharing.

1. A fresh tree-building experience

The American AncesTREES platform is easy and intuitive to navigate. It includes all kinds of bells and whistles; some described in more detail below. You can create a tree from scratch or import an existing tree. I decided to import from the FamilySearch Tree, since you can sync with your data in that unified tree. I could choose to import four full generations with descendants or eight generations of ancestors-only to get started (more can be added later). It took several minutes because there was so much data, but the import was smooth and successful.

A screenshot of American AncesTREES from AmericanAncestors.org.

Unlike the FamilySearch Tree, your American AncesTREES tree is an individual tree which only you can modify (unless you specifically invite others to do so). Data on living people is always privacy-protected. Making your entire tree private is available for an upgrade. Free users can upload 2 GB of media storage (about 500 photos), and paid users up to 100 GB.

2. Historical record searching and hinting

Users may search more than 1.4 billion records and attach them to tree profiles. Some of these records come from other sites, such as FamilySearch.org. AmericanAncestors also pulls content from the venerable NEHGS research library, which offers many unique indexed and image-only online collections as well. Among them are databases for the Great Migration to New England (1620-1633) and the “Mayflower Families Fifth Generation Descendants, 1700-1880” records.

American AncesTREES is launching with automated record-hinting, too. Currently, hints come from AmericanAncestors and such partners as FamilySearch, FindmypastRootsPoint, NewspaperArchiveWikiTreeGeni, OpenArchives, BillionGraves and Find A Grave. (Hints for Ancestry.com suggest collections that are relevant to your search criteria, rather than individual ancestral record matches.)

AncesTREES hinting matches on at least four parameters from your ancestor’s tree profile. This means hinting won’t find every record about your ancestor, but the ones it does find are more likely to be accurate.

Search hints example from American AncesTREES.

I like how the hints are sorted by record type, then by site, as shown here. This means you can choose where to look at hints when multiple options are available. (Remember, hints don’t automatically give you full access to subscription content. Review hints first on sites where you have the best access.)

3. Unique DNA visualization tools

American AncesTREES doesn’t provide its own DNA matching system to other AncesTREES users. Instead, the site provides tools to analyze and visualize your DNA matches from other sites. You can see how people in your genealogical tree match your DNA, and attach DNA segment matches to people in your tree.

The visualizations color-code your matches by family line to help you keep track of what you’re looking at. Here’s a peek at what the triangulation view looks like:

An example of the triangulation view on American AncesTREES.

And here’s a close-up view of a matches circle:

Close-up view of the American AncesTREES matches circle.

Finally, here’s a look at the visual tool for segment comparisons:

Visual tool for segment comparisons on American AncesTREES.

To use the DNA tools, you need the $34.95 annual Premium subscription.

Remember, you can’t just upload raw DNA. You need information about your matches, too. American Ancestors recommends uploading your raw DNA to GedMatch (learn more about GedMatch here) and then importing from there, so you can analyze your matches from several different DNA test providers. You can also use DNAGedcom to get your AncestryDNA matches into American AncesTREES. (An additional fee may be required to use these.) Get help with importing DNA matches into American AncesTREES here.

4. Video creation tools

AncesTREES has a tool that lets you turn ancestral images into a short video, complete with your narrated voice-over and hand-picked background music (I especially liked “Roads that Burned Our Boots” under the Rock category). I tried creating a 30-second video and it’s super easy.

I’ll just attach a screen shot for now, since I want to play with it a little more before sharing a video:

Video screen shot from American AncesTREES.

You can also create a mosaic, which turns any picture into a mosaic of different images attached to your tree (but I haven’t tried it yet). This video tool could easily become my favorite feature on the site! It’s perfect for sharing quick bytes of family history with my relatives on Facebook.

There are lots more features to talk about and explore in American AncesTREES. I’d like to test the free Web Clipper extension soon. It helps you import data into your tree from records or text found on other websites. I also can’t wait to dig into the suggested research guides and searches (GenSmarts suggestions are even available for the $34.95/year Premium membership).

To learn more about AncesTREES, check out these helpful video tutorials provided by AmericanAncestors.

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