What is a Public Domain Family Tree?”

This is a term created and used by Heirlines Professional Genealogy (www.heirlines.com). It refers to public family trees, family history, genealogy, etc – publically posted, listed, shared for a fee or free in all venues – by anyone: professional genealogists, professional genealogy businesses and companies; professional genealogy and genealogy non-profits; professional genealogy and genealogy organizations (societies, libraries, companies, etc); websites or databases sharing citizen genealogy or professional genealogy – whether or not listing professional genealogy documentation, sourcing, and citation.

“Public Domain Family Tree”

This is a term for family history and genealogy information that is available and accessible to the public in all kinds of venues for use in genealogy research services and by others. Privately-held family tree refers to that information that is not available and accessible to the public but may be client-provided for use on their professional genealogy research services project or for other types of requests for such information (medical, legal, government, etc.).

Here are a few brief thoughts on this as it relates to the ongoing discussion; “professionalization of professional genealogy research services”.

Today’s public domain family tree is family history and genealogy publicly available and accessible. It affects both privately-held and public trees and information. It is non-standardized, random, and suspect – produced by a multitude of competing standards, criteria, definitions, and expectations. Each of these is based on different requirements and qualifications, and each effort is trying to establish family tree information as correct. The result is a cacophony of voices that presents a state of confusion and inertia, as it is unclear which of these rival systems is currently the most accurate and should be taken forward, and which is not and should be left behind. Through the professionalization of professional genealogy research services, future production of family history and genealogy would be authoritative, definite, and authentic.

Professionalization would eventually impact both the public domain and privately-held family tree information with best and truthful research results as the profession, the practitioner and the consumer came to have standards, criteria, definitions, expectations in common. This firm foundation in the public domain family tree would enable further accurate extensions of the family tree both privately and publicly.

Wouldn’t it be great if the public domain family tree could be trusted? Provided sources, documentation, citations, and DNA and standardized? Resulting in reliable, accurate, dependable, repetitive, economical, efficient and trustworthy outcomes. That way you could sift the wheat from the chaff in the public domain and publicly and privately use and build upon the accurate family tree of man. Professionalizing professional genealogy research services is in the best interests of the profession, the practitioner, future professional genealogists, the consumer, and the public domain family tree.

Submitted by Mary E. Petty, BA (History), BA (Genealogy)

Ancestors are the People of History. Do you know who yours are? Let the Professionals at HEIRLINES FAMILY HISTORY & GENEALOGY find your ancestry! 1-800-570-4049 www.heirlines.com PO Box 893 Salt Lake City, UT 84110
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