How to make your family tree private on ancestry


How Do I Make My Ancestry Tree Public Or Private? – Data Mining DNA

When I’m starting research on a family tree on Ancestry.com, I often make it private. When I’m confident that my tree is accurate, then I want others to benefit from my research. That’s when I make my Ancestry tree public.

Table of Contents

How Do I Make My Ancestry Tree Public on Ancestry.Com?

To make your Ancestry tree public using the Ancestry.com website:

  1. Click the “Tree Settings” item in the drop-down Tree Menu.

2. Open the Privacy Settings tab.

3. Turn on the “Public Tree” toggle.

4. Click the “Save Changes” button.

How Do I Use The Ancestry App To Make  My Ancestry Tree Public

If you are using the Ancestry App on your cell phone, the main difference is in finding the Tree Settings page.

To make your Ancestry tree public using the Ancestry Mobile App:

  1. Expand the top-right menu and click the “Tree Settings” item
  2. Turn on the “Public Tree” toggle
  3. Click the “Save” button at the top right of the page.

Video Short

Here is a video walkthrough of using the Ancestry App to make an Ancestry tree public.

What is a Public Tree on Ancestry

When your Ancestry family tree is public, this means that other Ancestry members can view deceased people in the tree.

Ancestry users can see the names, dates, and locations you have entered on the person’s profile. Any records you have associated with the person are viewable. Other members can also see any media you have uploaded to the person’s gallery.

Are Living People Displayed In My Ancestry Public Tree?

Ancestry hides the details of living people in your tree. Their names, birth, and death details are not available to other Ancestry members – unless you have explicitly invited a member to be able to see living details.

When you add or edit a person in your tree, you have the option of setting their status to “Living”. This ensures their details are hidden.

Can Ancestry Members Copy My Photos From My Ancestry Public Tree?

You and other Ancestry members can copy photos from an Ancestry public tree.

There are several ways to do this, and I detail them in another article – in a section on how to save photos from other Ancestry trees.

The “right” way to copy photos ensures proper citation and attribution. This involves using Ancestry’s linking feature, as described in the other article.

This ensures that you are credited as the original owner of the photo. For example, suppose a second Ancestry member copies your photo into their tree using Ancestry’s link feature. If a third member copies the photo from the second tree, you will still be credited.

What Is the Difference Between Public and Private Ancestry Trees?

Only living people in a public Ancestry tree are hidden from view. Other Ancestry members do not need access invitations to view public trees.

A private Ancestry tree cannot be viewed by another Ancestry member unless you explicitly provide access to that member.

Ancestry’s Preference for Public Trees

The Ancestry corporation wants you to make your trees public. You’ll find when you create a tree, that it is set to public by default. You have to take action to make it private.

It’s clear why Ancestry themselves want public trees. This makes the website a repository for all the research that we genealogy enthusiasts do as a favorite hobby.

All those hours spent finding birth, marriage, and death documents for our ancestors? Our well-researched public trees become a valuable resource for new Ancestry members who share common ancestors with us.

But that’s enough about a commercial behemoth making coin from my time and effort!

What about me?

Why Should I Make My Ancestry Tree Public?

I have several public trees on Ancestry. com. My advice is to make your tree public unless you have specific reasons not to.

Let’s look at this from altruistic and self-serving reasons. I’ll assume that helping Ancestry make a profit isn’t going to be a major motivation for you!

Helping Others With Your Ancestry Public Tree

This is the altruistic reason.

I have learned so much by reviewing well-researched public trees full of helpful records. These trees represent months, and sometimes years, of the valuable time of a fellow genealogy enthusiast.

I will always do my own due diligence to double-check that the record trail makes sense. But other members’ public trees have broken through brick walls that had me blocked for years.

When that happens, I always send a note of thanks through the Ancestry messaging system. That can lead to genial conversations with previously unknown distant cousins. And sometimes, they mention that they have other documents they didn’t get around to uploading to their Ancestry tree. I’ve got copies of photos and letters through a simple thank-you message.

This is why I myself continue to maintain a public tree on Ancestry. And I always reply to inquiries. Gotta pay it forward!

Receive Unexpected Help By Having An Ancestry Public Tree

This is a self-serving reason!

I maintain a copy of my public family tree on both Ancestry and MyHeritage. Several times a year, I get a query from someone who has spotted a connection in my tree.

The person making contact usually has questions for me, but the benefit is often a two-way street. We may each have different parts of the jigsaw.

Receive Answers to Your Ancestry Messages

Here’s another self-serving reason. If you’ve sent out several messages to other Ancestry members, you may have noticed that the response rate is pretty low.

I’ve got a full article on increasing your chances of getting replies to Ancestry messages.

In my opinion, having a public tree helps your chances of getting a conversation going through Ancestry. You are usually looking for help when you contact another Ancestry tree-owner. My article advises offering help in return. Having even a small public tree shows that you’ve done a bit of work before reaching out to others.

Improving Ancestry As A Genealogy Resource

It’s true that there are a lot of inaccurate and poorly researched public trees on the Ancestry.com website. I notice from the genealogy forums that this can lead people to make their well-researched trees private in frustration.

Unfortunately, that further reduces the total of good trees on Ancestry. By putting your well-researched tree into the public domain, you are improving the quality of a genealogy resource used by millions.

What Are The Disadvantages Of Making My Ancestry Tree Public?

There are many reasons not to make your Ancestry tree public.

People Copy Your Speculative Trees

You’re chasing a family rumor that Great-Uncle Abner was fifth cousin to Neil Armstrong. You add some speculative entries into your tree. Then you launch the “Search” button to let Ancestry go find records for you to comb through and research.

Weeks later, you decide that the rumor just was not true. So you delete four or five entries in your tree linking good ol’ Abner to the man who walked on the moon.

But you start getting Ancestry “Hints” that tell you to put back your deleted (and false) trail. Why? Because other people found your public tree and copied these entries into their own trees. Without independent research and corroboration. This happens a lot!

The solution? Make a private tree to work on speculative lines. I’ve got so many…

Your Anonymity Cannot Be Guaranteed

Sure, Ancestry hides the details of living people. So you and possibly your parents are hidden in your tree. But that doesn’t mean that a motivated researcher cannot work out who you are from the details in your tree.

Let’s say your deceased paternal grandfather is in your tree with name and death date. A bit of digging by an experienced researcher may turn up an obituary for your grandfather that names his children.

Does that present a problem for you? If so, then keep your tree private. You will also want it to be unsearchable. This article looks at searchable vs unsearchable trees.

And if it’s a matter of potential harm, I wouldn’t put a family tree onto any website.

People Copy Your Photos

This seems to be a source of growing annoyance, going by the genealogy forums. The problem seems to be when a photo is copied and then put into another family tree against the wrong individual.

I’ve written a full article on protecting the photos in your family tree. But I’ll briefly offer a solution to those who find this particularly vexing…

Keep a private tree with photos that you would not want to be misused. And keep a second public “skeleton” tree that gives you the benefits of contact and communication.

Need a Full In-Depth Guide To Building Your Ancestry Family Tree?

Check out our e-book on building family tree with Ancestry. com. It’s available on Amazon at a budget price!

Ten chapters value-packed with strategies, techniques, and tips for using Ancestry’s powerful features to research and build your tree.

The book is aimed particularly at Ancestry members who have also DNA-tested with the company. There are lots of techniques of combining Ancestry’s DNA and genealogy features to best effect for your family research.

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Should Your Ancestry Tree Be Public or Private?

Make Instant Discoveries About Your Ancestors Here

Public or private? This is one of the first decisions Ancestry.com asks you to make when you create your family tree. Indicating your preferred sharing status is as simple as checking a box, but it’s not a trivial decision.

There are very good reasons to consider both public and private options. Your decision should be based on your own personal preferences and situation. The good news is, you’ll always be able to switch your tree’s status from public to private (or vice versa) in the future if you change your mind – but let’s take a moment to dive into each of the available options so that you can make the best choice for your tree.

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The argument for going public

As you walk through the steps to create a new family tree on Ancestry, the system asks you to check a box next to the statement, “Allow others to view this tree (people marked “living” are hidden). ” By default, this box is checked, meaning if you don’t uncheck it, your tree will be public. But what does that mean, exactly?

Public trees on Ancestry are just that — open to the public for viewing. This means that anyone who logs into Ancestry and comes across your tree can see the deceased individuals you’ve included, along with all of the information you’ve entered and documents or photos you’ve attached. As the Ancestry disclaimer says, anyone you’ve marked as “living” in your tree will be hidden, and their information will not appear in searches. Additionally, anything you’ve added to an individual’s “Notes” section will also be hidden from view. 

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It’s also good to know that if you haven’t marked someone as “living” or “deceased” in your tree (for example, if you’ve uploaded your tree from a GEDCOM file or a software program that doesn’t have this setting), and have also not included a death date in the appropriate spot, Ancestry will consider those folks “living” if they are younger than 100 years old.  

Ancestry reports that of its 100 million-plus online trees, most are public. By far, the biggest benefit of having a public tree is the opportunity to find and collaborate with other people who are researching your family. Personally, I greatly appreciate public trees — especially when I’m reviewing AncestryDNA matches. So many of my matches either haven’t attached their DNA results to a tree or their tree is marked as private so it’s difficult to tell through which ancestors we might be related.

Do remember though – public trees can help you further your research if they’re used correctly. But, as we’ve shared here before, other people’s trees are not valid sources for your own tree. The information in another person’s public tree could be inaccurate so simply copying it can endanger the reliability of your own tree. If you’re using Ancestry trees in your research please take the time to learn to use the responsibly. Family History Daily offers numerous articles that may help, as well as a course dedicated to Ancestry. com. 

When should I stay private?

Although public trees are wonderful for collaboration (especially in AncestryDNA matches!), there are valid reasons some folks choose to keep their trees private. For example, some people, including some professional genealogists, will create Ancestry trees to be works-in-progress, meaning that the information they add to a tree may be a placeholder until further research either proves or disproves the fact. These owners wouldn’t want someone to find the tree and copy details that haven’t been fully researched (and as we said earlier, this happens way too often).

Others keep their trees private and non-searchable because they don’t want other people to save the photos or documents they’ve uploaded to their tree. Or because they do not want people copying their work in any form (whether complete or in progress and likely to change).

I use my Ancestry tree as my main repository for documents and images, and I have to admit that it’s sometimes unsettling at first to see my dad’s fourth-grade school picture show up in my hints because someone else has copied it. But, hey, collaboration is part of the fun, right?

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Some Ancestry users have shifted their trees from public to private simply because they don’t want to be contacted. One user posted on a genealogy forum that a distant DNA match reached out initially in a friendly way, but her messages quickly grew more frequent, which annoyed the user. This isn’t a common occurrence, though. Most family historians are kind, generous, and not at all annoying!

Of course, it’s always your choice — and no one else’s — whether to keep your family tree public or private. Some of us have, um, let’s just say complicated family trees, with relationships that might not have been shared with other family members. If you have any qualms about sharing the relationships in your tree with others, consider setting your tree’s status to private.

Pro tip: If you’d like for your Ancestry family tree to remain public, but want to hide specific individuals from public view, you could mark their status as “living” and their information will be hidden. However, if inaccuracies (like a 150-year-old “living” person in your tree) drive you nuts, this might not be your best option!

What’s ‘private, but searchable?’

Private, searchable Ancestry trees will still show up in searches, but only with limited information (as the example below shows), and no one can view the actual tree without the owner’s permission. Also, if you want to reach out to the owner of a private tree for more information on a particular ancestor, Ancestry offers a secure messaging service for that purpose.

“Private, but searchable” status offers the best of both worlds — the opportunity to selectively collaborate while keeping the information in your tree protected.

How do I change the privacy of my tree on Ancestry.com? 

Throughout the life of our Ancestry trees, we may go through phases where we’d prefer one privacy status over another — and then change our minds. If you already have an Ancestry tree set up, it’s easy to change your status from private to public or public to private and back again!

First, from within your tree view, click the dropdown where your tree name appears, and choose Tree Settings.

Next, select Privacy Settings.

Lastly, choose your preferred setting of Public or Private. If you’d live for your Private tree to be searchable, click the box in the Private Tree section that says, “Also prevent your tree from being found in searches.”


As the disclaimer at the bottom of this page reflects, it may take about a month for your status to change within the search index, so your tree and its contents will still show up in searches during that time.

One last thing …

If you’d like to share your tree — and information about everyone in it, living or deceased — with someone, you can elect to let them see living people by clicking the toggle in your invitation (see below).

Read more Ancestry help guides here or check out our 21 day Ancestry Crash Course for fun lessons, helpful hands-on activities, quizzes and more to improve your research.

Creating a genealogical family tree - the first steps towards discovering the history of a kind

Anyone who has the desire, time and patience can take the very first steps towards finding out their pedigree, compiling a genealogical tree of the genus.

It often starts with a desire to instill in children an interest in family traditions. Then you can start by building an adapted children's genealogical tree of the family. In this case, it is important to use fascinating information that the child can understand. It is necessary to draw a colorful family tree with an extensive crown and developed roots.

For better visualization, when compiling a family tree for children, it is useful to decorate the branches of the plant corresponding to individual family members with their photographs.

By carrying out the study of the pedigree with the help of a specialized company, there is a high probability that you will find the "lost" branches in the tree of your family. You can find your contemporaries who are unconditional blood relatives, with whom communication was interrupted.

Thus, building a family tree allows you not only to get to know your family tree better, but also to find new soul mates who are ready to support you and help you in difficult times. Today, thanks to modern means of communication, including Internet services, each person has the opportunity to use a number of services free of charge: build a family tree, compile a name catalog of all family members with dates and places of birth and death, find out what role their ancestors played in history countries.

Some features of compiling a family tree

It is necessary to follow a series of simple steps in sequence. When compiling a family tree, first you need to enter all the data that you have: information about yourself, spouse, children, parents, grandfathers, grandmothers, and so on.

It is useful to scan photos of next of kin and attach them to the information entered. Then the family tree needs to be supplemented with other information that is not yet known to you. You should turn to elderly relatives who are probably ready to share the information you are interested in about your ancestors.

In order to properly make a family tree, it is useful to use a questionnaire of the most important questions: date and place of birth, full name of the person of interest, years of work, when and with whom did he start a family, did he have children, etc.

It is necessary to clearly enter the last names and other information you received into the family tree. If the materials you have collected are not enough, you should visit the archives, submit requests to specialized repositories. It is not recommended for amateurs to use the existing databases online, because only an experienced historian-researcher will be able to assess the reliability of the information.

In case you want to know the full depth of your family tree, but you don't have time to do research yourself and you want to get the most reliable picture, you can always order a family tree and family history research in a specialized company. In this case, professional genealogists, journalists, and local historians will come to the rescue, who will carefully examine your genealogy and rediscover the history and traditions of your family for you.

About family tree

Graphic representations of genealogies are very diverse. The most widespread genealogies are in the form of a genealogical family tree, which was one of the modifications of the “tree of life”, which connects the past, present and future, the idea of ​​immortality and the eternal continuation of life triumphs in it.

The same meaning was attached to the family tree. its leaves die and fall, but the family tree itself continues to live. When creating a family tree, the name of the ancestor was usually placed on the base, and the names, portraits and coats of arms of his descendants were placed in cartouches (medallions) on the trunk and branches.

Noble families have always strived to preserve knowledge about the history of the family, and the duty of the growing heirs was an impeccable knowledge of their genealogy and the role of their ancestors in the history of the state.

For example, the Rurik family compiled the family tree of their family with great care and concern. The first tsarist dynasty of Russia has always known family origins and honored traditions. It is equally important today to have an idea of ​​​​one's own roots and to know the history and origin of the family. And in order for your family tree to be presented most clearly, it is useful to create, for example, a book about family history based on the family tree.

Types of family trees and features of their compilation

The family tree can be descending or ascending. In the ascending tree, an individual person (for example, the customer of the research) is taken as the basis, and the branches of his ancestors line up from him. A descending family tree, on the contrary, is built starting from the most ancient ancestor along the male line, which is located at the top, descending to the descendants.

The family tree is considered to be the most visual, with the placement of all representatives belonging to the same generation on the same level. Such an arrangement of branches makes it possible to correlate the years of life of family members with significant events in history.

It is important for an enlightened person to realize himself not as a separate person, cut off from the “clan-tribe”, but as a significant link in the chain of generations. It is the solution of these problems that the study of one's pedigree serves.

Building a human genealogy requires special knowledge, access to the necessary information and the ability to work with it. Those who do not know how to compile a genealogical tree of a family come to the aid of genealogical historians who collect the necessary data and present them in a visual form that reflects the true depth of the origin of the family.

Everyone has the opportunity to restore their genealogy. Everything is determined only by interest in the topic. It is important to understand the influence of family history on the life of an individual. The continuity of generations and the connection of times are important.

Therefore, it is useful to instill an interest in family values ​​and children by encouraging them to draw a family tree that reflects the family and loved ones through the eyes of a child. Everyone can preserve and increase the memory that will be preserved for history in future generations.

"Can I buy a family tree?" - sometimes we are asked, meaning whether it is possible to "adjust" historical documents and facts to the desire of a person to consider himself a descendant of a noble family. For us, this is unacceptable, not only from an elementary unwillingness to participate in a lie, but also because we know that an attempt to invent a false pedigree for ourselves, to deceive the history and memory of ancestors can distort the present and future of the family.

How to make a genealogical tree of family and clan

How can you keep the memory of your family's past? Collecting old photographs and yellowed letters in boxes on the mezzanine is not the best option: in a couple of generations, your descendants will hardly guess who these smiling people from black and white cards are. How about translating that memory into something meaningful, like a real family tree? Its creation will be an exciting quest for the whole family, and in the process of immersing yourself in your own story, incredible discoveries can await you all.

Building a family tree is not easy, but interesting. To do this, you will have to conduct a comprehensive study, collect all the data and photographs, and then try to create a family tree with your own hands from all this.

In our article you will find not only tips for finding information about ancestors, but also various tree design options. We have also prepared for you two templates for filling in the family tree - for children and for adults.

How to make a family tree with your own hands

Where to start

Before you begin, you must determine for yourself why all this is needed. Are you in the mood for deep exploration, or is your goal just to share stories about your parents and grandparents with your children?

A well-defined goal will help you achieve the final result faster.

Think of a plan, break it down into small steps so you can easily track progress. And this will add to your motivation not to give up halfway through - believe me, you will need it.

Finding information about relatives

Once you've decided how far you want to go, the most interesting step is collecting information about relatives and distant ancestors. You will surely learn many funny and touching stories and find some distant relatives living on the other side of the world. Or maybe even reveal a family secret - who knows? To find as much information as possible and understand how to make a family tree of a family, use the following methods:

  • Questioning relatives

Start your search by interviewing your next of kin. Organize family tea gatherings with grandparents - they will be happy to share valuable memories. Arrange a video conference with those who live in other cities and countries, or just write to them on social networks.

  • Family archive analysis

Carefully study all documents, letters and diaries that have been preserved in your family. In birth, marriage and death certificates, passports, employment records and diplomas, you will find answers to key questions that are important for the pedigree. These records will help restore information that loved ones could not remember. Look through old photographs: perhaps the grandmother forgot to tell about her second cousin. Already at this stage, you can choose photo cards for your family tree.

  • Internet searches

Browse various genealogy websites and related resources for historical information. For example, the website "Feat of the People" provides open access to archival documents about the exploits and awards of all soldiers of the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945.

Register on several thematic forums. For example, on the All-Russian Genealogical Tree forum, it is possible to search for a specific person by last name, regions and countries.

Try to find distant relatives of your generation on Odnoklassniki or VKontakte. But do not forget that in a correct genealogical research, any information must be confirmed by archival certificates.

  • Collection of information in registry offices and archives

If you are looking for information about marriage, dates of birth or death, please contact the registry office. If a relative has something to do with the army - for example, is a veteran of the Second World War - make a request to the military registration and enlistment office at the place of residence, service or conscription. But keep in mind: in order to obtain documents of deceased relatives, you must prove your relationship with them, providing, among other things, your birth certificate.

Don't hope for a quick result when searching for genealogy in archives. The process can take months or even years. But the information you find can greatly advance your research.

  • Contacting specialists

If you do not want to spend time building a family tree, contact the professionals. Archives staff, designers, and specialty companies will help you find the information you need and create a family tree. In addition, with their help you can create a family tree book, a film presentation and even a family coat of arms.

What are the types of a family tree

There are several methods for compiling a tree.

  • Descending tree

The family scheme is formed from an ancestor to descendants. This design method allows you to visually trace the history of the family from distant times to the present day.

  • Pedigree

Compiled from a person to his ancestors. Such a structure will be especially convenient for those who have not yet completed the search for information and are consistently moving from the known to the unknown.

  • Round table

It is built in a circle, in the center of which one of the children is placed. The second, outer, circle is divided in half and the data of the mother and father are recorded in it. In the third circle, cut into four parts, grandparents are indicated. Then a fourth circle is added, which is divided into eight parts, and so on. This type of tree is quite rare. But this scheme is the most compact.

How to arrange a family tree

  • Family tree on computer

Programs for creating a family tree will help you save time and get a guaranteed result. Use the MyHeritage online service or GenoPro, Family Tree Builder or Tree of Life software. Choose a template, enter your pedigree data and enjoy the result.

You can also find or draw an empty tree yourself in a graphics editor.

  • DIY family tree

Get creative with your family tree results. We have selected a few examples for you to inspire.

Family casket

For each ancestor, a casket is wound up or one cell is allocated, in which documents, photos, objects are placed. By opening such a box, you can touch the past and find out what kind of person your ancestor was.

Generic tree from local materials

This design option is perfect for a kindergarten or school project.

Family tree in album

Decorative stand with photo frames

How to work with the family tree template

We have prepared two templates that both children and adults will love.

Open Tree Template for Adults

Open Tree Template for Children

Templates can be used both electronically and in print.

  • Print out a blank template and include drawings or photos of yourself and your ancestors.
  • Use a photo editor and paste the scanned images into a template. Print the result.

Filling out a template in Picverse Photo Editor

In Picverse Photo Editor you can not only edit pictures and insert them into a template, but also restore old photos.

Check out our sample of filling out the template - it will be easier for you to figure out how to draw up a family tree correctly.

1) Launch Picverse Photo Editor.

2) If you want to restore photo that has lost its appearance due to old age, open the image in the program. In the tab Correction on the panel on the right, select the option Manual . Open block Smart Restoration . If you want to convert black and white photos into color, activate the switch Make color . Press button Restore . Photos will be automatically restored.

3) To adjust colors and clarity , in the same tab Correction open the required block and change the necessary parameters. Save the result.

4) To add a snapshot to template , click File –> Open and select the downloaded template to fill.


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