I stopped doing genealogy about 12 years ago, but have recently taken it up again.

Last when I was doing it, members of Ancestry.com could upload GEDCOMs and download those of other members.

I recently re-subscribed to Ancestry and see that they have a GEDCOM upload option, but I do not see any option to search or download GEDCOMs of other members. Also, when I do searches which I know contain name in other people's GEDCOMs I see no results pointing to those GEDCOMs.

What has happened to the GEDCOM support on Ancestry.com? Can somebody catch me up the last 12 years?

  • Just to clarify: you're asking about Ancestry Member Trees on the main Ancestry site, and not the WorldConnect Project on RootsWeb?
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Apr 28, 2018 at 18:15
  • @JanMurphy I am asking about generic GEDCOMs uploaded to Ancestry, not "Ancestry member trees". GEDCOMs from any software. Commented Apr 28, 2018 at 18:19
  • 1
    "Can somebody catch me up the last 12 years?" is a broad question. If we can determine what Ancestry was calling this feature at the time, it will be easier to determine when it was discontinued. In any case, the answer to "Has this feature been discontinued?" is YES.
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Apr 28, 2018 at 18:49

3 Answers 3


I cannot comment on whether a GEDCOM could be downloaded from Ancestry.com 12 years ago but in the 7 years that I have had an Ancestry.com.au account the only GEDCOM facility for download that I have seen is for my own tree.

I just visited the page for trees shared with me at https://www.ancestry.com.au/family-tree/tree?type=s and there does not appear to be the facility for me to download their GEDCOMs.

If they are not downloadable then I would not expect any Public Trees to be either.


The transition between Ancestry's older Online Family Tree system and the current system with Ancestry Member trees took place in 2007, according to this post on the Ancestry blog: Online Family Tree Announcement. I did not use the old system, so I do not remember if you could download GEDCOMs from other people's trees there.

There are other products associated with or purchased by Ancestry which might be confused with this: RootsWeb's World Connect Project (link to their FAQs via Wayback Machine, since RootWeb is currently offline), Ancestry's OneWorldTree (the linked page says this was discontinued in 2013), and Family Tree Maker's World Family Tree CDs.

Rick Crume's (premium) article at the website of Family Tree Magazine (originally published in the August 2000 print issue of Family Tree Magazine), Families on File gives an overview of what searchable databases existed at that time. (The site offers a limited number of free views of their premium articles per month.)

The timeline, according to Crume's article:

  • WORLD FAMILY TREE : CD-ROMS, introduced 1995
  • ANCESTRY WORLD TREE : Created in 1997
  • WORLDCONNECT PROJECT : introduced in October 1999 (as far as I can remember, this did allow some GEDCOM downloads)

This screenshot is taken from Google's cached copy of a support article Uploading and Downloading Trees (presumably from Nov 14, 2016) which has been moved or removed:

enter image description here

Only the owner of a family tree can create and download a GEDCOM file of the tree; people invited to the tree as a guest, contributor, or editor are not able to download a GEDCOM.

The article refers the user to this YouTube video: How To Create and Download a GEDCOM | Ancestry Academy

For an overview of the company history and a list of past products, see Wikipedia's article Ancestry.com.

  • Ancestry has recently reworked its entire support site. To call it a 'dumpster fire' would be understating the case.
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Apr 28, 2018 at 19:08
  • I am not talking about these services. Users used to be able to upload and download GEDCOMs from other members. Not only that but most hits you used to get in the old days in searches were hits to other peoples uploaded GEDCOMs. I have a bunch of GEDCOMs in my genealogy folder which I downloaded from Ancestry.com. They are dated 1998. Commented Apr 29, 2018 at 3:21
  • The website didn't launch until December 1998. Are you sure you didn't get them from RootsWeb?
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Apr 29, 2018 at 20:48

You have to be a contributor/manager of the tree to download it.

In Ancestry click "Trees" in the top bar, and click the bottom category "Create & Manage Trees". On the new page choose "Manage tree" for the appropriate tree. This takes you to the "Tree Settings" page. Scroll down to the bottom right of the page, and there is a button to "Export Tree"

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