Ancestry's OneWorldTree - Facts & Misconceptions

There's a lot of panic going on these days on various genealogy message boards and mailing lists regarding a new search service from - OneWorldTree. Many are worried, upset and even disgusted that Ancestry plans to charge for access to GEDCOMs and family trees which were submitted by users to Ancestry World Tree or RootsWeb World Connect.

After receiving numerous emails and seeing many panicked messages posted to genealogy mailing lists I spent some time this week looking into the issue.

Misconception: plans to start charging people to access GEDCOMS submitted by users to Ancestry World Tree or RootsWeb World Connect.

Fact: The OneWorldTree service is a search service, not a database subscription. The $49.95 annual subscription fee ($39.95 upgrade from the U.S. Records Collection subscription) pays for access to an advanced search feature that matches data from the free family trees and that found in other Ancestry databases, including their subscription records, and presents it to the subscriber in a neatly stitched together package. It will let you view all the relatives of the person you have found in pedigree format and will provide links to the source records - family trees, census records, etc. These source records, however, will still be accessed in the way that they are now. You'll need a subscription to Ancestry to view any census or other records included in their subscription collections.

And the family trees which are turned up by the OneWorldTree are still free to search, match and submit through the free Ancestry World Tree service using the same tools that have always been part of the program. What your subscription to OneWorldTree will be paying for is convenience, not records - it is supposed to help take the guesswork out of searching and matching.

Misconception: I submitted my family tree to RootsWeb World Connect and was told that it would never be used for profit. Now it's being included in Ancestry's new OneWorldTree subscription service.

Fact: Any GEDCOM file submitted through Ancestry World Tree (whether through or or World Connect are eligible to be included in the One World Tree service. As of right now, OneWorldTree primarily includes information from Ancestry World Tree and says that they plan to add new information quickly, including the 1930 Census index and other databases available from My assumption would be that this will also include family trees submitted through RootsWeb's World Connect at some point.

It is important to keep in mind here that all Ancestry World Tree submissions are included on's World Connect service and vice versa. They are all contained in a single integrated database. The only difference is in where they were initially submitted. If you do not want your GEDCOM files included in the One World Tree service you do have the option to remove your submissions, but this will also mean that they will also no longer be available to researchers to access from the Ancestry World Tree or World Connect databases.

Instructions for removing your GEDCOM from:
Ancestry World Tree
RootsWeb World Connect

To read more about what others are saying and asking about OneWorldTree you should check out the following message boards: Ancestry Site Comments and RootsWeb WorldConnect Suggestions. And, while it isn't overly descriptive, Ancestry has a few pages of information on the new OneWorldTree service.