Sharing family tree information #general

Hilary Henkin

Maybe --.  My great-grandmother was Hilda (Hinde) Berlin, daughter of Leib Berlin.  She was born about April 1869, and had six siblings, born about 1868-1896.  There was Hirsche, Hilda, Matta, Yahuda, Ruven, Solomon and Welka.  I know about her and Welka (William), but nothing about the rest.

Two of her sons ended up in Toronto, and brought her in 1908.  Willie came over in 1913.  They all moved to Detroit in the late teens, then moved back to Toronto after WWI, then to Los Angeles about 1923. 

Were there cousins in Detroit?  I'd love to find out.

I have more details, didn't want to write a missive at the moment.  If you need more, let me know, or if anything sounds familiar.


On 6/7/2020 7:29 PM, David Syner wrote:
hi Hilary,
i saw you are also Researching Berlin in Mogilev. i'm researching Berlin's ( BELENKY / BIELINKA /BERLINSKY) that arrived and lived in Detroit from Mogilev. Yours? 


David Syner

hi Hilary,
i saw you are also Researching Berlin in Mogilev. i'm researching Berlin's ( BELENKY / BIELINKA /BERLINSKY) that arrived and lived in Detroit from Mogilev. Yours? 

Sarah L Meyer

I give them a link to my online tree on my website.  It does not allow download of gedcoms, shows only names and no data for living people.  And some living people are privatized, upon request.  There are some photos there (none - of living people).  I strongly recommend to ALL companies that mother's maiden name is a TERRIBLE security question - and require a second one - often the name of a first pet.  When given choices for security questions - I avoid all questions about relatives - such as your father's middle name, if at all possible.  Cars, proms, streets lived on, pets, schools attended etc - all much better questions.
Sarah L Meyer
Georgetown TX
BIRGARDOVSKY, EDELBERG, HITE (CHAIT), PERCHIK Russia (southern Ukraine) and some Latvia or Lithuania

Faye Detsky-Weil

I try to establish a direct relationship between myself and the person asking.  I don't share living people with the person looking at my tree unless I know we are related and can verify it with other relatives.  Of course I have to be able to see their tree, as well.  Once I feel comfortable that we really are related via ancestors, I am happy to share.

I was amazed to see that someone put a large part of the family tree on JewishGen, including living people and their children. I am a bit concerned about this.

Theo Rafael

It seems that people get too hung up on "my work, my tree". It's not a contest of who has the largest or "the best" tree, though some seem to go that route. I think of it more in terms of uncovering the truth. 
Yes, you put in many years of research and built a well documented ancestors' tree, are you going to take it to the grave? What's the use of having it hidden or only shown in private to a few? It's your right of course to do that, but I would lighten up and think of it more in terms of researchers displaying/publishing their work for all to see.
I think that quite the contrary, having your research out in the open especially if you have done a great job with proper documentation, will correct errors that others may introduce now or in the future and will survive the test of time... This could be of particular interest when remote relatives bump into your research now or years later...
I for myself am very thankful to a couple of relatives that worked on their tree and made it possible for me years later to connect my research to theirs, many years after they have expired...
Obviously that's my opinion, quite a few seem to disagree.

Theo Rafael

RAFAEL - Algyogy/Geoagiu and related Hunyad/Hunedoara county towns in Transylvania (Romania / Hungary / Austria-Hungary empire)
DEUTSCH -Ókanizsa / Magyarkanizsa / Kanjiza in Serbia / former Austria-Hungary and Yugoslavia.
MARMOR, SPITZ, KOHN, HERZLINGER in the Transylvania region
BLEICHER (Moldova/Bukovina), etc

Carolyn Lea

Judy Russell does not say it is ok to take other's research and post as your own without credit. Here is just one example:'t-just-take/ 
which I have quoted part of below.

While it is true that facts are not can not be copyrighted - such as date of death, etc.- it is true that  as Judy says, "Taking someone else’s work and using it ourselves — even if it’s not for commercial gain — isn’t sharing.

It’s theft.

And it’s wrong.

It violates every ethics code our community has:

• The National Genealogical Society’s Guidelines for Sharing Information with Others notes that “responsible family historians consistently— identify the sources for all ideas, information and data from others, and the form in which they were received, recognizing that the unattributed use of another’s intellectual work is plagiarism.4

• The Code of Conduct of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies provides that “If data presented relies on work already previously undertaken, proper credit for such work should be given to the originator…”5

• The code of ethics of the Board for Certification of Genealogists requires Board-certified genealogists to pledge that: “I will not represent as my own the work of another. … In citing another’s work, I will give proper credit.”6


• The code of ethics of the Association of Professional Genealogists requires members to promise to “Give proper credit to the work of others and refrain from plagiarism.”7

Why would anyone want to write a nonfiction book if their time/perspective/ input left their research and conception of events open to plagiarism? 

I am glad you brought this up so we could discuss it. 

Carolyn Lea (Schwarzbaum)

Robert Hanna

I couldn't care less if people steal my research or have misinformation in their tree.  I have several trees online.  I will share them with anybody, but don't allow anybody to write to them.  The only tree I can't control to a great extent is  However, I do use it to find leads to information that I don't have.  But I don't treat it as factual information until I check it out.  I don't give out info on living people.  I don't give out info that I feel is secret.  I don't post pictures of living people without their permission.  And I don't post pictures of children ever.
Robert Hanna

Emily Garber

There have been several comments on the topic of "stealing" family trees. This topic, similar to many we've covered in this forum over the years, is not a new one. I would like to dispel the notion that our family tree research, in and of itself, is protected by copyright laws. Facts cannot be copyrighted. Nor can lists of publicly available information (such as dates of death, birth and marriage). One's hard work, in itself, is not something that can be copyrighted. So, Ancestry was correct: someone copying the information in your online tree is not a copyright issue. It may be an ethical issue (i.e., it would be proper for someone to ask for permission before using the information in it), but it is not a legal one under copyright law.
On the other hand, under today's law in the United States if one were to write a narrative of one's family history in a document or book, whether published or not, those exact words could not legally be taken and used without permission. Similarly, if you took your Gedcom file and created a graphic tree, the image of that tree would be yours and legally protected even if the underlying data was not. The only exception to this would be if you (the author) explicitly stated that your copyright was held under the rules of creative commons (and there are various types of creative commons licenses). Under current law in the USA, new written works and images are protected with or without a copyright symbol.
I am not a lawyer (I would hope a knowledgeable attorney would correct me if what I have said above is incorrect), but there are several lawyers who are also genealogists who have written on this issue. Jim Tanner at the blog Genealogy's Star posted this article in 2011.
Jim is an accomplished genealogist and an attorney.
Judy G. Russell may also have an article about this on her blog the Legal Genealogist. She has written extensively about copyright and also does a nice presentation on the issues involved.
Emily Garber <emilyhgarber@...>
Phoenix, AZ

Peter Straus

The posting of fabricated or otherwise false information is a problem I’ve encountered in many locations—one of the worst actually being Jewish Gen’s own Family Tree of the Jewish People (FTJP).  The only effective antidote I’ve found is to be diligent about citing sources for my information, and to discount most information I find without source documentation.  (My biggest frustration with FTJP is that it does not allow for citations.)  I try to keep my own research in limited circulation, but I’ve found that over time most of it shows up on one tree or another anyway.

--Peter Straus

   San Francisco

Christine Hills

I don't have any problem about sharing information on ancestors who have died but would never share anything about a living person without their permission. In our country (Ireland) there are strict data protection laws and publishing anything about a living person without their written consent can lead to heavy fines.
Christine Hills, Dublin, Ireland tinasusanamy@...

Ben Karlin

If you include a deceased mother’s maiden name of living persons it is not difficult to figure out who they are. Don’t give it or her parents’ surnames.

The other thing is, as stated in a previous reply, I almost always give a general, incomplete response asking for information back. Used to look at their online trees but often it is too much work to A) prune errors, and B) find the alleged connection and trace it both to them and to me. Have stopped doing that. Insufficient return on investment of time and especially the distraction by allowing someone else to direct my research.

I do try to give something and to remain courteous. If their information and request seem sincere, it may be best to give a timeframe in which you will devote time and attention, and respond more fully.


Re Family trees. I had to make my FamilyTree private because I had a half cousin who not only stole my research but then made suppositions that were not true, never did research and then created her own tree combining what she lifted from my and other trees. I complained to Ancestry but they said she could put whatever she wanted on her tree. For example, she could say Queen Elizabeth is her grandmother. Although, they have rules about plagiarism they still wouldn't make her remove what she put on her tree. In another case, a descendant of the second husband of my great grandmother contacted me when he found my great grandmother had been married to his great or great greatgrandfather. I shared some sensitive information about her and told him not to post it anywhere. He promised; but then broke his promised and not only put it on his tree but shared it with other collateral relatives of his and there is nothing I can so about it. I'm sort of surprised because the strong implication was that his gggrandfather was responsible for my ggrandmother's death. Ironically, we are distant DNA matches but that's probably due to endogamy. So now, I have to know who I'm sharing with before I do so. You also have to realize that it's easier for people to take others information rather than to do their own research to verify whether or not the info is accurate.
Meryl Rizzotti

Carolyn Lea

My cousin  had a woman who approached her (tree on Ancestry).We both had doubts that she was linking to the right person in her tree and within a few weeks she also had thousands of family members - lots of kings and queens, etc. Fortunately, the only help we had given was disproving her link to us - which she left in anyway. 

Carolyn Lea  LEACL7@...

Jonathan Jacobs

Re: Sharing family tree information #general
From: martyn@...
Date: Sat, 23 May 2020 10:07:00 EDT

I have also learned to be cautious. I must say that I do not much like the big Genealogy sites whose view of reliable sources is no greater than quoting their own customers' unsourced trees. 

I think what you are talking about is GENI and possible to a smaller extent, MyHeritage.  I agree.  But, with Ancestry, I immediately (now) ignore the tree hints.  Just look at the documents only.  I only look at the tree hints as a last resort to see as a general rule and see in which direction others went.  But I do try to see if there is any documentation that proves it.

Jonathan Jacobs


I have also learned to be cautious. I must say that I do not much like the big Genealogy sites whose view of reliable sources is no greater than quoting their own customers' unsourced trees. 

"Collectors" can really be a nuisance, like the lady a year or two back who approached me and asked for some help with her tree because she had been "doing" her genealogy for nearly a year and had only found 26,000 ancestors! She did not know what I meant when I asked if she had sourced any of them.
A little information first and see then what develops.  Sometimes one can find a most useful and reciprocal partner and that can be great. It's fun to help but care is the byword.
Martyn Woolf

Nicole Heymans

I maintain my databases offline in Legacy, and export in GedCom format when updating my MyHeritage or JGFF trees. When exporting to GedCom for public viewing, I disactivate export of anyone marked "private" and export only vital data (no notes, photos, etc.).

Nicole Heymans, near Brussels, Belgium

Carolyn Lea


I totally agree with you. I sent some of my research - which I do not post online but share with family members that are interested - and My elderly cousin's son took my work and posted it online without asking or crediting my many years of research. Unfortunately, this has made me less willing to share. I never share living people. 

Judy Russell did a post on this several years ago along with a discussion of plagiarism and copyright.

Carolyn Lea (Schwarzbaum)
Schwarzbaum (Posen) Lewinsohn- Levison (Elbing) Rothschild (Germany) Basch (Poland/England) Hammerstein (Poland)


Jonathan Jacobs

Just in case you didn't know this.  If you mark someone as 'living', details including names are marked as private.  So people will not see the names or dates.  Just gender.
Jonathan Jacobs, Computer Technician
Amateur Genealogist  - Cincinnati, Ohio, USA


Regarding the entering of family tree info on a website such as Ancestry, it's a good idea to ask first. When I first followed Ancestry' s policy of leaving the names of living relatives off of the tree, I received so many complaints from family members who were UPSET that they WEREN'T listed, that I now ask first. Only one small family group ever declined, as the husband worked for the government.
Neilan Stern

Jx. Gx.


I concur with the majority of people who responded to your question; don't reveal information about living relatives. You would be violating their right to privacy and could potentially exposing them to a scammer.  With respect to decreased ancestors, share only the basics that is already in the public domain. Release only a small amount at a time and wait to see if they reciprocate and the type of info they share. If you can, try to validate their info. While we all want to be helpful to our fellow genealogists, you mustn't forget there is always a bad apply in every group.

Jeffrey Gee