Wednesday, July 15, 2009

What Was Updated in the City Directories on Ancestry?

Every morning I check the genealogy databases for new content. I wish they all had an RSS feed so that I didn't have to manually check them all. I'm not sure why they haven't used this technology to their benefit. I do use the Live Roots RSS feed for new content that it has found through other databases (Ancestry, Footnote, World Vital Records, etc.) But I would prefer to have an RSS to the main database (One for Ancestry, one for World Vital Records, one for Genealogy Bank, etc.) Footnote does offer an RSS feed, but I think it only lets you know about new content and not when they finish a project. But I can't seem to find it on the homepage. (Here is the link.)

Today when checking I noticed that the U.S. City Directories on Ancestry were updated. I love using the city directories to find where my ancestors were and what they were doing. (Of course most of mine lived in the same home with the same occupation their entire lives and it's kind of boring.)

Here is what I hate about this update: I have no idea what was updated or added.

Why can't this be broken up? Why can't they make a blog post to explain exactly what was changed? I barely know what was in the collection before the update. How am I supposed to know what is new?

I know that the Williamsport city directories on Ancestry cover the late 1800s. So I always check those for more directories. But other cities that I have ancestors in are more complicated. I just want a simple way to know everything new. Why does Ancestry make this so hard? You would think they would want to publicize the details of their new content to get more people excited about it.

Another pet peeve with Ancetry's "Recent Genealogy Databases" page is that they add only the book title. Some authors know how to title a book so that other people can find it. But it seems that most just make a cute title. How am I supposed to know who and what the book "My Diary, North and South, Vol 1-2" is about? Can we at least have a location added to these entries? The location is probably already tagged on them for the card catalog anyway.

What else annoys you about finding updated databases? What should these companies be doing to make their new content known and accessible? Leave a comment or send me an email genwishlist [at] gmail [dot] com.


  1. I also really loathe it when companies pull these obfuscated updates. It is v. irritating.

  2. I've blogged about this issue recently too (eg see - they do the same things with the UK databases. I agree that more detailed information about database updates, and a simple way to view that, is sorely needed. My current pet peeves are not acknowledging who they partnered with to create the database, in a way that is accessible via the search function, and lumping several completely different record sets together in one database. And don't even get me started on not indicating anywhere that the database has not been indexed at all (I don't mind if it's images-only but telling us wouldn't be that hard now, would it?), or not indicating exactly which fields have been indexed for that database so that we can make appropriate search decisions.