What’s Up with Ancestry.com?

My clip – look at the 3rd image from the left side to see the red dot

Are you noticing some subtle changes on your Ancestry.com home page? I’m referring to the red dots on the right side of header above the leaf and sometimes the envelope.

What’s up with that? Clicking on the leaf I see that I have some Hints. Scrolling down the drop down Hint menu and clicking on “See all recent hints in” I still have the red dot. I also have a counter that is still not working:

All Hints= 1 & Photos=1 but I’m on the photo page and there are no hints!


Sometimes the red dot is showing above the envelope but it seems to clear away when I get a legitimate message from another member. I had a “1” showing for three weeks, even though I had read the message. I discovered that you must click in the “respond” box, even if you aren’t really responding, to make the counter reduce. That doesn’t work for Hints, however.

The dot seemed to appear about the same time that Ancestry changed the viewing of Hints but I’m not sure they are related. Seeing the information on the right screen side will take getting used to. I’m not complaining about it, just don’t see the need for that change when there are others that could be addressed.

I realize I am perseverating on a dot which is a picayune detail but as it’s time for me to renew, I am looking at the program with the price of an annual subscription in the back of my mind. How they can’t get it right after all these years is beyond me.

I blogged about the Newspaper.com free access a few weeks ago. I have Ancestry All Access Membership, however, over the last year, I’ve often clicked on Newspapers.com and received the message that the image isn’t accessible because I don’t have their premium subscription.

Here’s a little math since I love saving money! The Ancestry.com All Access membership for a year is $389.00 which includes Ancestry, Basic Newspapers.com and Fold3. Newspapers.com Access Everything membership is $74.90/6 months or $149.80/year. Their Basic membership is $44.95/6 months ($89.90/year).

If I select Ancesty.com World Explore membership for $149.00/6 months ($298.00/year) and purchase Newspapers.com separately ($149.80) and Fold3.com separately ($79.95/year) the total cost would be $527.75 annually. So, yes, I am saving money by going through Ancestry.com in order to access Newspapers.com and Fold3, however, I’m not getting full access to Newspapers.com which I sometimes need.

My local library has the full Newspaper.com subscription but it is only available at the library so that hasn’t been helpful. Here’s my work around – as I work on my personal genealogy, I’m making a list of any item I can’t readily access and then, will either check it out at the library someday or wait until the site has another free weekend. In a pinch, I’d use the Ask a Librarian option for a look up. For my research areas, Newspapers.com does not have the info that would be worth it for me to buy the Everything access. Your needs, however, might differ.

Newspapers.com Free This Weekend

John Koss was my Grandfather, Michael A. Milinovich was my God Father and Steve Milinovich was Mike’s brother. Typo in my Grandfather’s city- should be Gary, not Cart! 26 Dec 1956, c. 3 p. 2.

You may have a Basic membership through Ancestry.com to Newspapers.com but that’s doesn’t permit you to view all of the holdings. I spent a few hours yesterday rechecking my closest to me relatives to see if additional newspapers had been added since the last time I took advantage of a free special offer from the company.

I was delighted to find several articles that I didn’t know existed – such as:

Who knew that my grandmother Mary Koss had an obit in a Hammond, Indiana newspaper? I have the obit from the Gary Post Tribune but didn’t know about the Hammond Times. Likewise, my Uncle George also had an obituary in the Hammond Times. Must have been a deal hrough the funeral home I just wasn’t aware was in place. Funny as they rarely visited Hammond and to my knowledge, had not friends there!

Struck gold in the Zajenicar, a Croatian newspaper that my grandparents used to receive. I had been told that my name had once appeared in it. Evidently, back in the day, the Croatian Fraternal Union sold life insurance policies to the parents/grandparents of newborns and my grandparents had bought a policy for me that expired when I turned 18. I was told that the children’s names were printed in the newspaper so I searched for me but didn’t find myself. I decided to search for my grandparents thinking it might have been placed under them instead. Surprise, Surprise! Discovered that my grandfather, Kum (that’s God Father) and his brother had given $10.00 to the organization before my birth to help fund an Immigrant Museum to be built in Pittsburgh. Don’t think that goal ever materialized but it was a sweet find for me. I think they all would be pleased knowing I have tried to honor all of the family’s immigrants through my blog and family tree.

Interesting to me, I also understood why my Grandparents always paid for a lamb to be raised and slaughtered at Buncich’s Farm in Hobart, Indiana every year. Duh – they were sorta kinda related and I had no idea until I found an obituary that mentioned my aunt through marriage. One of her brothers had married the daughter of the owner of the farm. That would just be like my grandparents to support a family member if they could. I always thought they just liked the taste of the lamb!

Finding that obit was another aha! moment for me. I have one cousin whose name is “off” the naming pattern the family typically uses – we have a zillion John – George – Joseph – Nicholas – Michaels and those names move from first to middle so frequently it’s often hard to keep everyone straight. Since my cuz is still living and I don’t want to hurt feelings if he ever sees this I’m not typing the name but now I realize where he got it from – his mom’s brother’s middle name that had been a grandfather’s name. Who knew? ! I guess most of the family but me.

Since this weekend will be very cold in most parts of the states and we’ve had torrential rains already this morning in my part of the world – stay warm, stay safe and stay focused on your genealogy by taking the weekend to visit newspapers.com. No telling what you might discover!

2020 Genealogy Holiday Gift Guide

With the holidays around the corner and the zingers of 2020 impeding the typical holiday shopping spree, I’m providing my guide early this year to insure the shopper stays safe and the receiver gets the gift on time.  

Most of these items can be purchased locally so do try to support your small businesses and organizations.  Others can be purchased online but please buy soon so that the chain of folks that helps you get the item aren’t stressed even more than they already are.  Let’s show some gratitude we’ve survived this wretched year and spread the kindness!

My gift guide includes items for a few dollars and up into the hundreds as I understand it’s been a tough year financially for just about all of us.  As my mom used to say, “It’s the thought that counts.”  

1.  A comfortable desk chair – Hubby and I purchased two in May as we were spending so much time in ours and mine refused to let me adjust the height.  We had it delivered and assembled ourselves but if that’s not an option use NextDooor to find a local handyperson who can do the assembly on the porch. Your genealogist’s back will thank you. 

2.  A Second Computer Screen – If your genealogist is using only one screen it’s time to add another; I’ve had two for years but I honestly could benefit from more.  Sometimes I put the laptop next to my work area for a 3rd view when needed. Sure, we know how to change the size of what we’re viewing but with old documents, sometimes we just need the whole screen.  Your genealogist’s eyes will thank you!

3.  A Magnifying Glass – If the To Do list includes going through boxes of old family letters or photos, a magnifying glass, with or without a light, is a must.  Think Sherlock Holmes, here – the smallest clue might be missed that could solve the mystery so an inexpensive magnifying glass might just save the day.  

4.  Assorted Coffee/Teas or a reusable water bottle – whatever is the preferred non-alcoholic drink is a well received gift for anyone but especially the genealogist who needs a quick caffeine jolt or calming tea.  I stress the non-alcoholic for a reason – your genealogist needs clear analytical reasoning so skip the booze. A reusable water bottle with a tight fitting lid is also a great idea to stay hydrated without risking a spill.  

5.  A foot massager – which can fit nicely under the work area.  If it has a heat feature it makes it even better on those long cold winter nights of researching.

6. An elliptical for sitting – When in the researching zone, we often forget to get up and move.  This handy exercise device allows for individuals to sit and move the lower legs.  I love to see how many “miles” I’ve gone without leaving my desk.  If your genealogist has a standing desk, the device still works. Until we’re able to go back to running up archive stairs or parking in remote and walking to the library, the sitting elliptical will get a lot of use.

7.  Gift Cards – to your genealogist’s local restaurant, grocery or office supply store.  If you aren’t sure what your favorite genealogist’s office needs are, know they have to eat!  Less time cooking means more time researching and you’re supporting the local economy which makes this a win-win for all.

8.  An annual subscription to a new site – This year I joined Academia.edu and I absolutely love it!  I was trying to research Barbados in the 1600’s  and there isn’t many records that I found useful.  I wanted to better understand what life was like there and Academia.edu helped me with that goal.  Journal articles are available on a wide range of topics and the site also hosts members to have a webpage so others can connect with them.  JSTOR.org is another awesome site that provides journal articles and books that may be of interest. Plans start at $19.50.

9.  Donation to a local genealogy/history society – with long term closures and the deaths of members, many organizations are suffering.  If your genealogist says – “Don’t get me anything!” then follow their directive but give in their name to an organization that they support.  Typically, I’m a doer and not a donator but this year I have given to several organizations that I wasn’t able to support in person.  

10.  Last but not least – Give the recipient time by listening.  I’m serious.  Although this monetarily costs nothing it is probably the most valuable gift that can be given.  We know you could care less about your fourth cousin twice removed who married your third cousin once removed.  Just try to look like you care.  Back in the day when the world was “normal” we could attend conferences and meetings to share with others the great discoveries we made. Simply listening is a wonderful gift to give!

Last Minute Mother’s Day Gifts for the Genealogist

Happy Mother’s Day Weekend!  Tomorrow is the big day and if you are short of time or your favorite store is short on everything then here’s two ideas that might help:

1.  Genealogical.com has a 3 month special offering all of their 750 books for purchase to be viewed online.  It’s a nice idea while libraries were closed and it allows you to see if it is a book you’d like to purchase in the future. I know many in person sites will be opening soon but if you’re like me – have read everything you have at home AND are not wild about the idea of going out yet, this might be the ideal gift.

I’ve been using it for the past 2 weeks and I have found some interesting info as I’ve been researching Barbados which is not a well represented topic in my local libraries.  Have I found anything earth shattering? Not yet but I’ve obtained some clues to go forward with. 

There are some glitches with the site so I want to share that info to avoid frustration.  First, the log in is quirky.  I’ve tried Chrome, Firefox and good ole Internet Explorer thinking that might be the issue but it isn’t.  It never can recognize my password unless I sign in through my Google account.  I’m telling you this because I’ve been locked out and when you’re paying for something for a limited time that’s frustrating.

I know I’m not alone as someone else had commented that once you’re in, you often get sent to a page to purchase books.  Here’s how to get around that – Click Home and Click on Book Bonanza at the top.  You’ll be in the right area to read at that point.

Next issue is it always takes you back to page 1 of the books listed.  What would have been nice would have been a long page listing all the book titles/authors (I don’t care what the cover looks like!) with a link directly to the book.  After a few days of use I decided I would approach this as I do when I’m just surfing a shelf in a brick and mortar library – I looked at all the offerings on the site page by page and wrote down the titles of interest.  Now, when I’m back on page 1 (you get logged off if you step away for a bit so when you log back on you automatically return to page 1) I just type the title I’m interested in the search button.

Here’s another hint – the list of books I created I checked WorldCat and Ancestry and 18 were there so I will be using those sites for those books.  That way, I don’t have to feel pressure to get through all the other ones that I can’t access anywhere else.

You can’t download the books – just read them – so remember where you left off.  It’s not like Kindle so you have to make a number of clicks to go back where you were.  The other issue is that the page numbers don’t appear so using the Index is difficult.  For example, in Barbados Records in Marriages 1643-1800 Vol. 1, I checked out the index for my Alexanders and derivations of Hollingshead and I find a few I didn’t know existed.  There’s no page number or book section listed so the only way to find them is to scan every page in the book (which is a list of marriage records, duh, so it’s all names) arranged in chronological order by parish to find them.  That is time intensive and yes, I have 3 months, but there are other books I also want to check out.  I used a back door to get more info on the possible relatives listed – looked them up on genealogy sites online to get a better understanding of relationships, years they were in that country (my peeps were gone by 1720 so if the others were there in 1800 I don’t need to check further), and where they originated from in England. 

Going back from a page to another part of the book is also a pain.  You can use the back arrow but if, for example, you’re looking at H’s in the index, you’ve clicked numerous times to get through the A’s-G’s so it’s a lengthy process to return.  It also loads pages slowly, maybe that’s just on my end, but it makes me crazy so now I just click the top arrow to go back to good ole page 1 of all the offerings, retype in the name of the book and then use the index to go where I want. 

So now you’re thinking – why in the world, Lori, would you recommend this as a Mother’s Day gift?!  Well, there’s not a lot out there to purchase and your dear mom isn’t gonna get the ‘rona using this.  Just show her this blog and she can hit the ground running.  I’m not making any money off this – just trying to be helpful.

2.  Next option is to sign up for a National Genealogical Society conference package.  This is what my family got me for my birthday and I’m really excited.  I’ve attended past in-person conferences and loved them!  I was unable to go out to Salt Lake this year due to my other job’s schedule so this gift is really making me happy.  On May 20th, the “live” online offerings are available from 11 AM to 7 PM.  In July, based on the package purchased, you can view up to 85 other lectures that would have been available if the conference was held in person and those are available through May 2021!  That’s more genealogical courses then you could have ever attended in person so I think this is an awesome opportunity.  Sure – you don’t get the camaraderie of being around other genealogists, the immediate answer to your question or the excitement of travel but in these times, I’m good with what is being offered. 

Free Sites for Genealogy in April and Onward

Run out of your regular go-to’s for genealogy research?  You are in luck because some free offerings are now available to get you out of your rut:

British History Online is a digital collection of Great Britain, Ireland and more that will be free through July.  Currently I’m using it to research the Caribbean (West Indies) but colonial U.S. information is also available.  I discovered one of my distant family members was interested in the East Indies in the 1500’s – who knew?!  Check out this blog before you get started.

Legacy Family Tree Webinars is offering a free webinar from their extensive library each day in April.  If you aren’t a member, now is a wonderful time to take a look at what they have to offer.

With libraries closed throughout the world, why not go to your local or state genealogy association’s home page and see if they are still offering meetings from the comfort of your own home.  My local group has switched to using Go To Meetings for their weekly tech meetings.  Yours may be using Zoom or Microsoft Office Teams.  They’re easy to use and if you’re new here’s a few hints.  For Zoom, you can click on the upper right of the screen and change the view of attendees from a bar across the top to a grid that will take up the entire screen (like the old Brady Bunch).  Wondering why some people have a black square and no picture?  They clicked the video button the bottom of their screen to disable their computer’s camera. The host (the person who sent the invitation link or password info) has the ability to let everyone speak or to mute and then unmute attendees.  You can mute yourself on the same bottom bar if you like.  Want to ask a question but not interrupt?  Just click the message on the bottom bar and a side bar will appear.  Type whatever you like and click enter.  Your message will appear and the host will hopefully get around to answering it.  When you’re done, just click the red “Leave Meeting” button and you’ve disconnected from the site.  

Although this is not directly related to genealogy, it will most definitely help you if you don’t already have Microsoft Office.  Check out this link for details, restricts do apply.

Hope you’re staying safe and finding family!

Promethease – Limited Time Offer

Ahhh, the constantly changing world of genealogy changes!  If you’ve been thinking about uploading your DNA results to Promethease you need to get a move on it.  Recently, MyHeritage announced that they were acquiring Promethease and after the end of this year, the site will no longer be free.  Anyone who had an account with Promethease will continue to have it unless you opt out.  If you are living in Europe, you must do so by November 1st – click here for that link.  If you’d like to read the full story, check out MyHeritage’s blog article.

If you aren’t sure what Promethease is – I found the best definition from Google that explains “Promethease is a computer program developed by the SNPedia team which allows users to compare personal genomics results against the SNPedia database, generating a report with information about a person’s attributes, such as propensity to diseases, based on the presence of specific single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs).”

I have used it and discussed the results with my physician and have compared my close family’s DNA results.  Although Promethease has been free for awhile, I had to pay a nominal fee, I think it was a few dollars, back in the day when I first did it.  I intend to go back on the site and update my results to see if there is any new developments.  Since I’m a member of MyHeritage I will still have access but my family is not so I want to be able to get them an updated report. 

Adoptee? Here’s A FREE Opportunity for You!

I received the following email this week and wanted to share it. If you are an adoptee or knows someone who is that wants help in finding information about their birth family, then keep reading…
“MyHeritage is excited to announce a new pro bono initiative — DNA Quest — to help adoptees and their birth families reunite through DNA testing.
As part of DNA Quest, we are giving out 15,000 MyHeritage DNA kits — worth more than one million dollars — for free, with free shipping, to eligible participants.

MyHeritage has set up an advisory board of top experts in the fields of genetic genealogy and adoption to guide and support this initiative on a voluntary basis. The advisory board includes: CeCe Moore, founder of The DNA Detectives; Blaine Bettinger, The Genetic Genealogist; Richard Weiss of DNA Adoption; Richard Hill, DNA Testing Adviser; Katharine Tanya, founder of Adopted.com; Brianne Kirkpatrick, founder of Watershed DNA; Pamela Slaton, investigative genealogist; Leah Larkin, The DNA Geek; and Susan Friel-Williams, Vice President, American Adoption Congress.

Participation is open to adoptees seeking to find their biological family members, or anyone looking for a family member who was placed for adoption. Preference will be given to people who are not able to afford genetic testing, and to those who apply first. The first phase of the initiative is open to U.S. residents, involving adoptions that took place in the U.S. Additional phases may be considered in the future based on the success of the first phase, which begins now. Future phases may include other countries as well as additional circumstances, such as children of sperm donors and non-paternity events.

Adoptees and family members searching for their biological relatives can apply for a free MyHeritage DNA kit at DNAQuest.org through April 30, 2018. Participants will be selected, and their free DNA kits will be shipped to them by the end of May 2018. Results are expected as early as July 2018. The DNA Quest website includes additional information about the initiative, and a detailed section with answers to frequently asked questions.

Those who have already taken a DNA test with another company are invited to upload their DNA data to MyHeritage for free and participate in this initiative as well.

We invite you to share the link https://www.dnaquest.org with all your followers, to reach and therefore help as many people as possible.”

I do feel it is necessary to put out this caveat: The information you gain may be difficult to deal with. Make sure you have strong supportive individuals in your life to talk with or seek out professional help. Once you take the lid off the can you CANNOT put it back on!

Ancestry.com DNA Kit Purchase Follow Up

Just received the following email from Ancestry.com regarding their Black Friday-Cyber Monday DNA Kit Sale:

There is NO COUPON CODE, as I blogged about on Sunday. Want to purchase? Click BUY NOW, look at the top of the page and reclick Buy Now.
Please note: I have NO business connection with the organization and get NO percentage of sale. This info is a follow up to my last blog about attempting to purchase the product a few days ago.
Genealogy is all about patience and this purchase definitely reinforces that!

Holiday DNA Deals? Read Before Purchasing

It’s that wonderful time of the year when the DNA companies promote their products with big savings knowing that the family get togethers will turn to great grandma’s emigration story and the question everyone wants answered – Where did we really come from?
I’ve received several emails this week notifying me of “special” offers so I decided to take advantage of the one below:

When I go to process the order I get this screen (with my personal info not showing):

The problem is that when I hit “submit order” the lock moves over the words but doesn’t process. I hit the button twice and then, fearing I ordered 4 kits instead of 2, called Ancestry.com at 1-800-Ancestry.
I spoke with Brittany who told me they had no record of the order. That was good in that I didn’t over order but since I wanted 2 kits, I still needed the order processed. I asked if they were having trouble with their website and she said no. Brittany tried and couldn’t get it to go through, either. She placed me on hold and sought out a supervisor.
I must say I was pleased that she returned to the phone after some wait time to tell me she was still checking. Nice customer service, Ancestry.com, major improvement over the years. Then it went downhill…
Brittany said that the system couldn’t calculate two discounts, meaning it could not take $10.00 off the second kit AND take off free shipping on Kit 1. I asked if this was because I was a returning customer and the offer was good for new customers only. She said no. I asked if there was an override. She said no and that the coupon code I was using had expired. I mentioned I had received the notice from several sources in the past few days and that the expiration date hadn’t occurred yet. I also told her exactly where I received the info but since I’m not trying to drag other organizations into this, I’m sure you’re understanding of why I’m not blogging my sources.
Brittany told me the amount would be $162.00 but couldn’t explain how that amount was determined. If I ordered two kits at $79.00 with free shipping the amount would be $158.00; with $10.00 shipping on both kits it would be $178.00. If it was free shipping on the first kit and half on the second it would be $163.00.
Maybe I should have just shut my mouth and taken the $162.00 offer but I don’t like paying for something when the price isn’t clear so I mentioned that there were competitors that were offering kits for less than the quoted amount. Now I know that the customer service person has no say in the price set and I’m sure she was rolling her eyes at this cheap customer but I figure if enough people speak out then maybe the powers to be will get the website working correctly to accept the offer. If the offer isn’t valid, then they need to just say that the other organizations made up the deal but I really don’t think that was the case since I got it from several sources.
We hung up without my placing an order.
I then went on a hunt to see if there was other valid coupon codes but didn’t find one. Next I tried
signing into my Ancestry.com account, clicking “Buy Now,” re-ordering and omitting the “expired” coupon code. Guess what? It shows this:

But it, too, doesn’t allow me to purchase.
I then went to Amazon.com where I purchased a kit in July during Prime Days. Since I’m a member, I get free shipping so I figure that would eliminate the need for the expired coupon code. Here’s what I get:

The promotion at Amazon is $79.00 for each kit. Better than the Ancestry.com offer but not as good as I wanted.
I’ll let you know next week what I decide to do – I’ve wasted way too much time on this today! My Turkey Day shopping is waiting for me. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Bringing A Family Heirloom Back to Life


In June, I blogged about some of my genealogy finds when we cleaned out our garage – 2 mahogany chairs in particular.
The initial estimates I got to refinish the chairs were $500.00 each and the price quoted for the upholstery was $500.00-$800.00 per chair, not including material of which two upholsterers estimated I would need 10 yards. So, it would have cost me over $2000.00 to have both chairs in usable condition.
Yes, they have been in the family since about 1880 but we thought that the quotes were way too much. I eventually found someone to refinish the chairs for $125.00 each but I had to do touch up and pull out the old tacks. Hubby had to glue the leg support as the man “forgot” to do it. It took him over 6 weeks to do his magic so instead of leaving them for him to do correctly, I told him I’d finish it myself. I’m so glad I did as the hurricanes hit the following week and they were safer with us then in his flood prone neighborhood.
I’m finally finished with upholstering and I think they came out wonderful, considering all I know about upholstery came from youtube videos and internet how-tos. I bought way too much material; I bought 8 but only used about 4 so it’ll be on Craig’s List this afternoon. I’d really like to know why both upholsterers who gave me estimates told me I needed 10 yards! When I recoop that excess, the cost to reupholster was about $50.00 per chair.
For $350.00, we’ve got 2 beautiful and comfortable antique chairs to enjoy the holidays. Best of all, hubby can finally cross this off his “To-Do” list. They’ve been on there for over 45 years – seriously!