Four Ways You Can Tap into The Power of The Cloud to Enrich Your Family History Projects and Create a Collaborative Experience for Loved Ones
Collaborating with loved ones makes family history research more meaningful. When my family first started working on our family tree, we were using different website services and only occasionally emailing or calling each other with updates. A few times a year, we would meet up, pass around folders of printed information and review homemade family trees. That process would lead to family members spending countless hours debating details about our family history. Who did our great-great-great-grandfather on our mother’s side marry? Where did they live, and did they eventually move? Needless to say, this wasn’t the most efficient process! Plus, it made family history feel like a chore rather than a fun project. Thankfully, cloud-based family history services are readily available! Here are four ways you can tap into the power of the cloud to enrich your family history projects and create a collaborative experience for loved ones.
1) Real-time Data Sharing
One of the best features of cloud computing and cloud storage is real-time data sharing. Instead of merely saving something to your hard drive or on a USB memory stick, cloud-based services enable you to store key family history discoveries online, where they are immediately available to collaborators in your family! No more passing printed documents from family member to family member – yay! As a bonus, when you enter key family history info into a cloud-based service, it’s much harder to misplace, lose or accidentally delete. But even more than security, cloud-based services are built for interactivity and collaboration. In other words, family history projects can become shareable. And sharing makes family history more fun and less cumbersome! Since the data you enter into a cloud service is not limited to one computer or device, it can be easily accessed by anyone with access to the account. That means family members can share their ancestry research and pool together resources. Here’s a great guide on using Google’s collaboration tools for family history projects!
Sharing the work of family history research is more efficient in the cloud, because each family member can contribute their findings.
2) Real-time Document Updating
Cloud-based services often enable your family members to collaboratively add details to documents or a range of documents. A real-life example is when you are trying to trace the lives of all children from a certain branch of your family tree. You can fill in the information as you discover it, or you can delegate research roles – each family member can contribute their specific findings, or you can all agree who will tackle particular aspects of research. This way, everyone involved in the project has an achievable goal! (Hint: here are helpful tips for using Google when you’re researching family history!)
Of course, it’s imperative to be mindful of each family member’s hard work! Be respectful as you add information to shared documents, and avoid coming across as critical when you suspect there may be errors in the research. Collaboration involves lots of respectful communication! If your family is concerned about stepping on each other’s toes, it might be worth making particular documents “read-only” or carefully allowing certain people to edit documents within folders. Furthermore, it is possible to allow people to attach notes within a document, which allows them to give their opinion on certain data without changing it. Regardless of how your family decides to utilize tools like Google Docs, everyone can enjoy the process when collaboration guidelines are clearly defined.
3) Sharing Images Online and adding Metadata to Family Photos
Recently, the team at FamilySearch published an article covering 3 Keys to a Great Photo Backup Plan, which discussed the benefits of cloud photo storage. In addition to storing valuable family photos in the cloud, you can also organize family photo archives by using a folder structure. You can also add a lot of value to your family photo archives by adding metadata to photos. The same goes for images you have taken from graveyards, towns where your ancestors used to live, ancestral homes or other associated images. The more metadata you can add to your family photo archives now, the better! Future generations will thank you.
4) Family Tree Building
Ultimately, family history research is more efficient and fun when you can pool resources together to communicate with each other. Working as a team isn’t always seamless, but tapping into the power of the cloud ensures that your loved ones feel included in the process. And sometimes, that’s all it takes to speed up your family history projects! When you’re ready to finalize findings and formally add details to your family tree, it may be smart to delegate one person to manage your family history account – especially if you’re using services like Ancestry.com, FamilySearch, MyHeritage, Find My Past, or another tool. Regardless, having all of your collective discoveries in one place makes it simpler to download data, process it and upload finalized results.
About the Author: this post was a special collaboration between freelance writer Jenny Holt and the team at Save Family Photos. For more helpful tips on using cloud-based genealogy services to improve your family history projects, check out a few blog posts from our community members: Lisa Lisson, LegacyTale and Connie Christopher.