ancestry-insiderFrom The Ancestry Insider Blog Posted: 06 Mar 2017 08:00 AM PST used by permission.
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One of my #RootsTech reports drew this comment from a reader:

Dear Ancestry Insider

The last paragraph on data innovation really struck home with me. I am 68 years old and have 5 family trees with the largest one having over 90,800 names, 15,400 obits, and numerous wedding announcements and anniversaries, etc. No one in my family has any interest in genealogy. I can see my 17 years of research being “flushed down the toilet” when I am incapable of maintaining my trees. I have basically quit my research because it seems pointless.

Couldn’t FamilySearch create something so trees on programs such as Legacy could be donated to them so that if, in the future, they have a use for that data it is there and hasn’t been destroyed?

I would gladly pay for a website that allowed my tree to be updated and stored online with sharing opportunities. I have an Ancestry tree but find their program not well thought out and pretty much useless for maintaining an online tree.

Larry Blanchard
Dear Larry,


FamilySearch does, indeed, accept tree donations. And it is free. It is not an online tree management program like Ancestry Member Trees. It is merely a repository to preserve and share your life’s work.

1. Export a copy of your tree from Legacy as a GEDCOM.
2. Go to
3. Select Free Account in the upper-right corner and create an account. Or if you already have an account, sign in.
4. Select Search > Genealogies.
5. Scroll to the bottom.
6. Underneath “Contribute Your Research to the FamilySearch Community,” select Submit Tree.
7. Follow the instructions to add your tree.

You will be given the opportunity to synch your tree with Family Tree. That step is unnecessary. I don’t know how long it takes to appear, but when others go to Search > Genealogies and search for a person in your tree, they will see results from your tree along with the other contributed trees.

Over the months and years, as you update your Legacy tree, upload it again, following the instructions to replace the last version uploaded.

GEDCOM does not support scanned images, so if you use this method to preserve your tree, it will not preserve your scanned images. FamilySearch provides a service for preserving those images, but you must manually upload each image. Legacy says that until FamilySearch allows them to interface with the memories system, Legacy is unable to build that function into their software.


You mention you don’t like Ancestry Member Trees. You can still use it as a place to store preservation copies of your tree. It reaches a different audience then FamilySearch. No one but paying Ancestry subscribers can see your tree. Ancestry will preserve your tree for free. In exchange, they benefit monetarily from the presence of your tree. Because you transfer your tree from Legacy using GEDCOM, again, your scanned images are lost.

To preserve your images, you could try an experiment. Buy Family Tree Maker and see if it will directly import your Legacy file. That might preserve your scanned images. Then create an Ancestry Member Tree and link it to the Family Tree Maker file. That might upload all your scanned images. But I don’t know if either of those “mights” will work.

A risk you take with either organization, Ancestry or FamilySearch, is that someday they lose interest in freely preserving your family tree. Ancestry is a for-profit company that has discontinued several previous tree products. FamilySearch is owned and bankrolled by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and while believers feel the Church will last forever and its doctrines concerning building family trees will never change, not everyone agrees. Pretty much everyone agrees that preserving your tree in multiple locations is a good idea.

Dear readers,

Do you have other suggestions for Larry? What have you done to preserve your research beyond your death? See or leave comments here.

The Ancestry Insider