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September 16, 2015
Light for My Path
Demystifying "Private Spaces" in Family Tree
by Kathryn Grant

When FamilySearch created Family Tree, they were faced with an interesting challenge. Family Tree was mainly intended to manage information about deceased ancestors. Yet Family Tree users are alive, and they want to manage information not just about their deceased ancestors, but about themselves and their living families.

But recall that Family Tree is a shared tree (as explained in this column). Most people don’t want personal information about them and their families visible to all Family Tree users.

To resolve this dilemma, in 2014 FamilySearch implemented the concept of “Private Spaces.” Private Spaces provide a way for users to manage information about living family members in Family Tree and keep it confidential. Here’s how Private Spaces work:

People often ask what happens when someone in their Private Space passes away. Here are the key things to be aware of:

As you can see, there’s a potential for duplicates being added to Family Tree when someone passes away. For instance, if one of my parents dies and my siblings and I all mark our copies of that parent’s record as “deceased,” there will be four copies of the record in Family Tree that will need to be merged.

FamilySearch knew this would happen, but the benefits of Private Spaces far outweigh the need to merge records when someone dies.

Though the concept of Private Spaces may be a little tricky to understand at first, Private Spaces provide a win-win solution that allows you to manage information for living people while maintaining privacy. They also give you a more complete picture of your tree by allowing you to link living people to the deceased. All in all, Private Spaces provide better visibility and control for your information in Family Tree.

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