Showing posts with label Ancestry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ancestry. Show all posts

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Fort Wayne Ancestry Day - Recap was in Fort Wayne on Saturday to hold one of their Ancestry Day events. There were 4 classes plus a question and answer sessions with folks from Ancestry and from the Allen County Public Library. I was one of the many volunteers and helped register walk-ins at the event. I hung out at registration for the morning and helped with anyone who arrived late and also helped the ACPL staff organize all of the questions that were submitted for the Ask the Experts session. Here's a tip: If you want your question to be answered, make it concise and general. If you ask who the parents of your ancestor are, your question will never be asked. Also if you ask something without wide appeal, it will be skipped. There is just not enough time for all the questions. But ACPL will be answering more of the questions on their blog in the coming weeks.

I also got up on stage to help raise money for the War of 1812 Preserve the Pensions fund. Since I'm Vice President of the Indiana Genealogical Society, I collected donations from the attendees to add to our $10,000 match campaign. We raised over $1,000 from attendees! Special thanks to the Ancestry ladies for boosting that total over the top. IGS is matching that donation and then Ancestry is matching that amount. So we quadrupled the donation and raised $4000 which will help to digitize over 8000 images from the War of 1812 pension files. IGS has raised over $8000 and we have until the end of August to meet our goal of $10,000. Please consider making your donation through IGS to maximize your contribution.

I had a great time hanging out with the other volunteers and the ACPL staff. Thanks to Ancestry for providing a wonderful lunch for the volunteers. It was great to meet Lisa Ellam from The Faces of My Family blog, who thinks I'm a celebrity.

My favorite part of the event was the look on Lou Szucs face when someone asked about the quality of the trees on Ancestry. Even the employees know that most of them are horrendous. 

Disclosure: I received free admission and lunch for volunteering at the event.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Fort Wayne Ancestry Day 2011

Ancestry will be in Fort Wayne on Saturday, July 23, 2011 to present a full day of classes along with the staff of the Allen County Public Library. The registration cost is only $20.

On Friday, July 22, you can pick up your registration packet at the Hilton Fort Wayne and chat with the experts from Ancestry and ACPL. The reception is from 5:30 to 8:00 pm.

Saturday's classes include:
9:00 AM     Insider Search Tips for
10:15 AM  How to Find Civil War Roots at
11:15 AM  Lunch break - catch a bite at restaurants nearby and/or talk with the experts                  
1:00 PM     Hidden Treasures of The Genealogy Center in Fort Wayne
2:15 PM     A Dozen Ways to Jumpstart Your Family History Project
3:30 PM     Ask The Experts Panel

Over 500 people have already registered for the event. Register soon to reserve your place.
Disclosure: I am volunteering at the event and will receive a complimentary registration for my time.

Monday, April 5, 2010

How I Influenced Ancesty - The Tale of Unenhanced Images Part 2

Over the weekend, I listened the the Genealogy Guy's 200th episode. While listening I heard my name mentioned (again) and wondered what they would say.

Here is a little background information:

As you know I spent the summer, fall, and winter resourcing my database. I also organized my digital files so that I could actually find them. During this time, Ancestry had been adding "enhanced images" to their website, meaning that they were attempting to improve on the old census images. Since they said they had better images, I decided to download the new images to replace my old images while organizing and resourcing my files.

Then in January, I discovered that I could no longer read the images of the 1860 census for some of my ancestors. The "enhanced images" were in fact "unenhanced". I wrote about it on my blog and asked if anyone else had see the same problem. No one left any comments that they had similar problems.

On February 2nd, I emailed the Genealogy Guys (George and Drew) about what I had discovered. I had two reasons for this. Ancestry is one of their sponsors and they kept running an ad about the "enhanced images." I was tired of hearing an ad that I had proven to be untrue and truthfully I was just tired of hearing the same ad every podcast.

In episode #196 on Feburary 7th, George read my letter. His advice was to use the "Report an Image Problem" link on Ancestry. This wasn't really the advice I was seeking. What I really wanted to do was stop the ad from playing over and over again and get Ancestry to understand that there was a larger problem than just one census image. I had found the problem in a few counties and throughout all the images for those counties.

Then this weekend I listened to episode #200. Finally I got what I wanted. (Well the same ad still played, but ...) Gary Gibb and Chad Milner from Ancestry contacted George about the issue. According to George, they looked at my blog post and then looked at the images on Ancestry. There was indeed a problem and they have reverted to the old images until new ones can be scanned and uploaded. I am glad that Ancestry saw this as a problem and that they have addressed the issue.

I am amazed that my email and blog posting had an effect over Ancestry. I am glad that George and Drew helped get this issue into the open and get resolved. (And I'll just get over the fact that the same ad keeps playing!)

When I first started this blog, this is what I wanted to see happen. I wanted to put problems that I had doing my genealogy into the open so that companies would fix them. I wanted to show the genealogy companies what I need to do better research so that they will know how to help me and everyone else. I just can't believe that it actually worked!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Finding Meaningful Ancestry Hints

One of the things I like about having my tree on Ancestry is the shaky leaf (Ancestry's way to tell you that it found something that may be of interest to you). I love when a hint pops up to let me know that Ancestry thinks it has found a record for one of my ancestors.

That said I also find the hints annoying. I hate receiving hints for English birth registrations when the person was born in Indiana. I hate getting all excited that there is a new hint only to find the hint about the wrong time and place.

Of course when I get a hint that a family moved west and it matches everything I know about the family and they disappeared from the town they were born, I love them. Without these hints I would never have tracked down a number of my ancestor's siblings who went to the frontier.

In the process of cleaning up my database, I also wanted to clean up my Ancestry hints. I had been putting these off for a long time. The main reason was that as of January 30th I had 522 hints. Way too many for me to process easily.

What I found was that most of these hints were for matches to other trees on Ancestry. Although I find these trees to be helpful in giving me a direction to take when I get stuck, I never add them to my tree. I needed these family tree hints out of my shaky leaves so that I could find the records hidden within those 522 hints.

Ancestry started Member Connect at the end of July in 2009. Member Connect gives another place on each person's individual page to make connections to others researching the same person. You can see what sources they have used and what information they have that you don't.

So why does Ancestry continue to add family trees to their hints? I wish that they would discontinue this duplication. Plus I hate that it makes it seem that you should just add unsourced information to your tree in order to get more people added.

I went through my Ancestry hints and got them down from 522 to 18 by manually ignoring each family tree hint. 18 actual records that I need to analyze and add to my tree if they are a match. 18 records that might break down a brick wall. 18 records that are useful to my research and my time.

How did I get the number so far down? I told Ancestry to ignore all of the family tree hints. That information is still readily available to me through the Member Connect section. I don't need it in two places.

I wish that I hadn't had to waste my time to find the good stuff when there seems to be an easy fix.

Disclosure: I was not paid by anyone for this review. These are my own thoughts and desires to see some changes.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Ancestry Unenhanced Images

I love that Ancestry has been adding enhanced images for the US censuses. As I am resourcing my family tree and organizing my digital files, I have been redownloading the images that I need.

But I'm having a problem. The 1860 census is now washed out in the counties that I am viewing. These counties include Gallia county, Ohio, Jackson county, Ohio and Hancock county, Illinois.

Here's an example:

1860 Census - The town of Jackson, Jackson county, Ohio

Old image (downloaded spring 2009)

New image (downloaded Jan 17 2010)

If you click the images, you can see a larger image.

What a difference a few months makes! I am glad that I had previously downloaded these images, but how can Ancestry say that they are "enhanced images."

Is anyone else having this same problem? I have only seen the degraded images for the 1860 census. Leave a comment or send me an email to

Friday, August 14, 2009

Wish I Could Add a Note to Shoebox Items on Ancestry

I use the Shoebox on Ancestry to save records for my "may be related" individuals. I find that this is a "safer" option that just bookmarking them. If a database were to change between me bookmarking a record and using the record, I could have a dead bookmark and that would not make me happy. (And I have had this happen.)

I like that I can save these stray records somewhere in my account without attaching them to anyone. But here is what I wish I could do:

Add a note to the record so that I know why I added it.

For example: Why did I save a 1900 census for a Patric KEEFE in May of 2008? For one, it's not for a Patric but for a Patricia. KEEFE is not a surname in my database. So why did I save it? Because I remember finding this woman living with my ancestors in a previous census and wondered if she was related to them. That much I remember. What I don't remember is which family she was living with.

Clicking on the record shows that this is actually the census where Patricia was living with the BASCOM family. Since she is listed as a boarder born in Ireland, she's probably not related to the family.

This reanalysis of a record would have been so much easier and quicker (and not relied on my memory) if I could have just attached a note to the record detailing why I had saved it.

Ancestry allows you to share a comment on a record. But I don't want to share it with everyone because I don't really know much about this person or record. I just want to save a private note so that I don't have to search for it again.

Do you use the Shoebox on Ancestry? Would you like the ability to comment on Shoebox items? Leave a comment.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Bonuses in the Canadian Census Records on Ancestry

I've been busy working on organizing my genealogical digital media. I decided to start with my Canadian ancestors because I hadn't searched through all the new censuses that were added to Ancestry in June. I had previously searched the censuses at the Allen County Public Library for my direct ancestor and any collateral relatives that I happened to find. This left me with many blanks in my research.

In searching the Censuses of Canada, I have found a couple interesting additions:

The first thing I found was that the 1861 Census of Canada includes the agricultural census. I love using the agricultural census to help tell the story of my ancestors. With lots of farmers in my direct lines, I want to know how much land they had, what they grew, the types of animals they raised and how much money they were making.

The 1861 Agricultural census is indexed by county/district. Instead of a township or town, it will tell you "All Places (agricultural)". I actually missed these when I started searching, because I was narrowing my search by the township. Now I need to go back and collect all of the agricultural censuses.

The 1861 Census also includes 2 pages, so make sure you click for the next image and save that as well. The second page seems to be a mini-agricultural census for non-farmers.

The second things I found was that the 1871 Census of Canada includes a schedule for deaths in the last 12 months (a mortality schedule). This schedule is also indexed, but it does not distinguish deaths in the index. So if you find a person with the same surname in the index in a certain location, but not in your family you may want to check each of them. You can also find these deaths on the last page of the images for a selected location.

I wish that all of the agricultural and mortality schedules were available for all of the census years. I believe that the reason these are available has to do with the way the census was microfilmed. When microfilming the 1861 census, they must have included the agricultural census at the end of the county's population schedule. This did not happen in other census years it would seem.

I hope this information help to add you your search for your ancestors. Leave a comment if it did.