Citation Dilemma – Attributing Parent Marriage Info on a Child’s Ancestry Page

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 22 Sep 2016.

About a month ago I was contacted by an Ancestry user who inquired the following:  “How could George Mitchell Long marry Sarah Ford in 1807 in Tennessee when he wasn’t born until 1849?”

Excellent question!  I went to my tree and checked the birth and death dates for the couple and their child and didn’t see that I had an error so I suspected my tree was confused with another; that was my reply.

Yesterday, I received a more detailed response which brings up an excellent point.  Under sources, I had saved for George Mitchell Long (Jr.) his parents’ marriage record.  It does not show under Facts, of course, since the marriage took place before George Jr. was born. The record does not show Jr. or Sr. either since the Sr. hadn’t yet had a son so there was no Jr. at the time of the marriage. 

Why did I have the parents info on the son’s page?  I put the record there so when I write kinship determinations I can pull everything from one page.  I can understand how this would confuse someone looking at my tree and assuming I had the wrong information for that person’s page, though.  

I do this a lot, too!  I’m thinking about how the Social Security info provides kinship and I save to both the parents and their child.  That is clearer since it shows the relationship that a parents marriage alone does not do.  

I don’t know if there’s a better work around – if you know of one please let me know!  I’ve requested that Ancestry add a feature like the shoebox to the Facts page so extraneous information could be saved and retrieved easily but I’m not holding my breath on that.  

Originally, I put info that I just described under the Notes feature but I had to move it out because I was working on some lines with other family members and they couldn’t see the Notes section – it’s only visible to the owner.  For awhile, I then added  it as a Comment but  I wasn’t scrolling down and was missing my own comments.   I see that now a click on comments on the toolbar brings the comments to the right side for viewing so maybe I should go back to using that.  

I’d appreciate your thoughts and suggestion…

Love Those Records Found Online? Here’s How You Can Keep Them Coming!

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 10 July 2016.

Remember the days when you had to physically go to a location to find a record?  Or contact someone who lived close to where you needed to hunt and HOPE they would respond via snail mail?  And plan for months to get some ancestor hunting in when on a vacation or business trip?

Seems like years ago but it wasn’t.  How far we’ve come in this fast pace world with having information available at our fingertips whenever and wherever we are.

I’m not sure where the source of the statistic that I keep seeing that claims that about 10% of all records are posted online.  Whatever the number, I think we can all agree that  the benefits of surfing in the comfort of our home far outweighs the small costs we might have to pay to “belong” to an organization to access the records.

But being greedy, I want more!  I long for the day that I can click on any link on Familysearch.org and instantly bring up a filmstrip.  Wow – not having to order, wait (and wait and wait because my local peeps always forget to let me know that the filmstrip arrived), drive to thel library by rearranging my schedule to match when they have volunteers on staff, trying to unspool the film when I find what I want to take to the machine that prints a copy, playing with the copy to lighten/darken/enlarge/shrink, saving to my thumbdrive because their internet is sporadic and I can’t save to the cloud, cleaning up my workspace and then driving home again.  Not fun!

I’ve found four ways that you can help get more records online and this can all be done from your home!  It’s very simple, it’s fun and there’s no cost to you.  Just follow the steps below:

  1. Get cozy in front of whatever device you prefer – desktop, laptop, tablet – your choice!
  2. Click one of the 4 options below and follow their directions

             Family Search Indexing – between July 15-17th

Decoding Civil War Telegrams

Purple Hearts Reunited

World Archives Project from Ancestry

3.  Feel good that you have contributed!

Over the holiday last weekend I happily indexed Civil War telegrams.  For transcriptions, the handwriting was fairly clear and the input method was a breeze.  I used to index for Ancestry but haven’t recently.  I’m not sure if they still offer a discount if you indexed x number of records but they used to.  Check with them and see – it could save you money on your subscription renewal.  I plan to help out Family Search and the purple hearts group in the near future.  Working on my “On The Clock” portfolio took up a lot of my time over the past year so I didn’t have much free time to spend volunteering.  I’m planning on scheduling time in the near future though, as I believe it’s important to help get more records online.  Together, we can increase that 10% online and that’s helpful to everyone!

Genea Wishes- Wouldn’t it be nice if these genealogy tools were available…

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 29 June 2016.

Was looking over some hints on Ancestry the other day and thought – wow, wouldn’t it be great if:

  • You could designate your guesses in some way – perhaps a color like yellow for caution – meaning that I’m not really sure yet and just checking this out so please don’t put it as fact in your tree.  I realize that this is most relevant for people like me who make their trees public so that others won’t just grab the guess as true.  Those that have their tree private, though, could also benefit as it would allow them to see what areas needed more analysis.
  • Use color to separate lines – make my Duers’ blue and my Leiningers’ green and my Koss’ purple, for example.  Then, when I was looking at a descendant I could easily identify their lineage.  I know there is supposed to be the actual connection listed but mine comes and goes:

See, it’s missing. It should say relationship unknown but it says nothing. Kate’s line does not link to my known lines as the connection was somewhere across the pond and hasn’t been rediscovered yet.   I don’t know why sometimes it displays and sometimes it doesn’t.  I would add that to my wish list, too – get it to work consistently!

  • A way to copy and paste a line to make a new tree while leaving the line in the original tree. Several years ago I had several trees and it made me crazy!  People would contact me about dear so and so and I had to hunt through all the trees to figure out who they were referring to because no one ever said, “I found so and so in your Main tree.”  When I asked there where they found it they would say, “online.”  So, I entered everything together. Actually, I merged it when the old Family Tree Maker worked.  It wasn’t perfect but it was fairly quick.  Now I’d like to do the opposite, take my Landfairs, for example, and just work on that line for a bit and then merge it back to the original tree.  This would also be nice if a distant relative wanted just their line.

All of this got me thinking of photos.  There are some people I would just love to have a picture of and after searching high and low still can’t find one.  There needs to be a vehicle to find those wanted photos.  I know about DeadFred.  That’s nice but I’m thinking more of a posting of a request for the photo and not that I found this picture.  In DeadFred, if I enter Harbaugh I get 3 photos of Alburmah Harbaugh which is interesting because I’ve updated all the Harbaughs known to be in the US since Cooprider and Cooprider did it in 1947 and he wasn’t one of them any Harbaugh source has found This validates what I already knew – my tree is incomplete.  Since genealogy is always a work in progress that doesn’t phase me.  But back to pictures…

I’d like a place where you can post that you want a photo, not just that you found a photo, which is what most of Cyndi’s list links are.  It would be even nicer if it had an ap so that lost photos, say from an antique shop, can be plugged in to see if someone is seeking that picture.  Granted, most of those photos have no identifying info.  My own family was really awful about documenting their photo’s, too. But if there was identifying info, the requester could be emailed or texted of where the photo is and can arrange to make the connection.  That’s a win-win for everyone – the store owner makes a sale, the finder feels awesome about doing a good deed and the requester gets the photo he/she wants!  Any ideas or suggestions about this please let me know – might be an area I work on once I finally submit that BCG portfolio.

Pursuing Genealogy on a Shoestring Budget Part 2 – Genealogical Websites

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 2 June 2016.

Last blog we looked at ways to cut costs on genealogical memberships.  We’ll keep a running tab of expenses; for full membership in genealogical organizations the cost would be about $409.00 annually and on a limited budget, less than $100.00.  Today we’re going to explore how to cut costs for those must have online databases.

AmericanAncestors.org is a database offering “hundreds of millions of valuable records.”  For home access, the cost is $89.95 annually but it is free through many public libraries.  Check out the link I’ve provided – it’s to the 453 databases in the collection.  I have found this site very useful for my New England and Long Island ancestors but if you aren’t researching those areas or are on a tight budget, save by using it at the library.

Ancestry.com is most likely available at your local library, too, but I must caution you that not all records are available on the library edition.  It is also only available for use in the library so you are limiting the time you can spend searching.  That’s okay if you’re on a tight budget as there are other sites you can use while you’re at home.  If you are a member of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) you can get a one time discount of 30% off an annual Ancestry membership.  You must have your AARP card number when you call Ancestry Customer Service and it will extend a current membership so wait until a day or two before your expiration before you renew to take full advantage of the offer.  Call Member Services at 1-800-ANCESTRY.  Cost depends on what membership you’re purchasing (U.S., World., or All).  There’s always the 14 day free trial but if you do that, make sure you’re saving what you find on your computer so you can access it when the trial ends.


Billion Graves is FREE so check it out.  Personally, I’ve never found anything different than what is available 

elsewhere but I still look and so should you.  


Familysearch.org is FREE and if you haven’t created a login you need to.  The caveat here is if you are building 

your tree on this site ANYONE can change what you’ve entered.  Wikis are wonderful and in a perfect world this would not be an issue.  I have had well meaning but not knowledgeable folks change data and make links that are not right.  I know of the changes because they nicely email you when someone has done something to what you’ve entered.  I don’t have the time to keep undoing what someone else does so my skeletal tree is going to remain that.  That’s not to say that the rest of the website is a wonderful FREE source for you to use at home.

Find-a-Grave.com is affiliated with Ancestry.com but remains FREE.  Not all information on the site is accurate so be careful, just as you would if you were researching anywhere else!

FindMyPast is awesome if you’re researching Great Britain.  They boast 8 million records and I have found some info but not enough with the lines I am currently researching to make it worthwhile if money was an issue.  They do have a blog and send lots of emails a week with updated news. Like every other competitor, they want you to save your tree to their site. This increases the number of records they can claim they have while you do all the work.  The benefits, though, are that you can connect with others who are interested in the same lines and you can access the information anywhere you have connectivity.  Fourteen day FREE trial available.

Fold3 -now part of Ancestry.com, has a basic membership for free.  That allows you to search and browse but not access all images.  Kind of like letting you look in the bakery window but not enter to taste!  Specials are offered frequently, such as join for 7 days for free or $49.95 for a premium yearly access.  Fold3 is mostly thought about in regards to military records but they are building on other areas, such as Project Blue Book (I believe this is the first genealogy website to include nonearthling alien information!) to African and Native American collections.

GenealogyBank – I call it the newspaper place.  Check out where they have records before you buy; with over 100 million records you most likely will find something valuable here, especially obits.  Free 30 day FREE trial that’s well worth it so give it a try.

MyHeritage is a not only a place to save your tree online but you can scroll all the way to the bottom of their longggggg page, click search, and use their database.  They have a Nordic Census that I’ve found helpful.  It’s FREE.

Today’s costs – if you are using a library for Ancestry and you’ve taken advantage of the free trials – $0.00. Our running total for the budget concern – still less than $100.00/year.  Next time we’ll look at free additional resources available.

Ancestry.com 30% Discount

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 14 Feb 2016

Did you know if you are an AARP member you can receive a 30% discount on your Ancestry.com membership?  That’s a huge savings!

Last fall I received an over sized postcard in the mail from Ancestry.com informing me about the discount.  I’m up for renewal soon so I called to have the offer applied.  All I needed was my AARP number which, of course, I didn’t have in front of me.  The Ancestry Customer Service Rep recommended I call back a day or two before the expiration of my current account so that I could take full advantage of the offer as it is applied immediately to the day you call.  I won’t work if you call AFTER the renewal date.  The offer is one time only and is applied as two six month concurrent memberships.  Works for me!

Since this is a sizable savings for my most expensive genealogy membership I began looking around at my other organizations to see if they offered Ancestry.com discounts – checked Association of Professional Genealogists, National Genealogical Society, New England Historic and Genealogical Society, Florida State Genealogical Society, National Education Association and even Angie’s List. No one else had an offer.  Usually when Ancestry runs a special it’s not applicable to current members so I was really pleased to be able to take advantage of the AARP offer.  If you didn’t get the post card and you are an AARP member, call Ancestry.com when you receive your renewal email and tell them that you’d like the discount applied.  All you need is your AARP number.  Love those Senior Citizen privileges.

Tree Error in Ancestry – An Update

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 9 Jan 2016.

Here’s an update on my blog, Faulty Family Trees – Erasing a Deadly Mistake, from 7 January regarding one of my co-worker’s mother being reported dead on Ancestry when she’s very much alive.

Of the 2 family tree’s that gave her a death date, therefore making her birth date and place visible, along with her marriage date and place, I received an email message from one tree owner who did delete the death date.  Unfortunately, although I had asked him to, the tree owner didn’t make the individual private so some of her info is still showing:

I cut off the rest of info, above, as I don’t want to publicize the year and place which are still visible.   I emailed him again to ask that he make the individual private but he didn’t respond.

The other tree owner never responded so all information is still displayed.

The other problem is if you do a search of the individual’s name under Family Trees this shows up as public:

 

 

Even though one of the tree owners removed the wrong death date it is still visible in the search.

Since 3 days have passed, no telling when the other tree owner is going to respond AND Ancestry.com needs to update their search results, so I called Ancestry.

They were experiencing heavy call volume so I waited about 5 minutes.  Spoke with Carnel who said “due to privacy, we can’t do anything.”  He acknowledged that “this happens all the time.”  Ancestry will update an error in an index but won’t touch a family tree.

I read Carnel Ancestry’s privacy policy: ” We recognize that the information about living family members can be sensitive so we have safeguards to hide living individuals within family trees, the AncestryDNA experience, and other areas of the site.”

Carnel couldn’t explain to me what safeguards Ancestry has put into place to protect the living when they are marked as dead.  I understand why he couldn’t because they have none.

I then asked what happens if the individuals we’re trying to contact never respond to the email we sent or don’t renew membership.  Carnel said they still maintain registered guest status so they can always add and edit their trees.  That means, if they ever read their email and follow the directions, they can correct the wrong information.

Carnel told me that I could contact customersolutions@ancestry.com – email only, can’t talk to a real person! and they will email the individuals.  What a brilliant idea (note sarcasm).  We’ve already done that twice.  Although Ancestry has phone numbers for these people, they don’t call them.  Heaven knows, Ancestry will protect the PRIVACY of the living who make errors but not of the living who are trying to preserve their own PRIVACY.

Also was told that Ancestry does update all of their records but there is no time frame for that (could explain why I have so many ghost leaves).  Eventually, Ancestry will get around to doing that so when someone is searching this individual’s name in a family tree the corrected tree won’t display the death date that is still showing.

Will let you know how this plays out…

Faulty Family Trees – Erasing a Deadly Mistake

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 7 Jan 2016.

I’ve written before about the difficulty in correcting record mistakes but I didn’t expect the situation I’m about to describe as hard to fix.  Boy, was I wrong!

Right before the holidays a co-worker’s adult son went online and discovered that his grandmother was reported as dead on someone’s Ancestry.com tree.  He had the free trial membership, was inexperienced with how the program worked and emotionally impacted by the wrong info, especially at holiday time.  He notified his mom what he discovered.  She told him she had seen the same information a few months earlier when she, too, did a trial membership.  The information was so off that if the woman had died in the 1950’s when the tree said she had two of her children would have never been born.  My co-worker asked me what to do to fix the information since it was upsetting to her children.

I gave her Ancestry.com’s contact number and suggested she call Customer Support and explain the impact the wrong information was having on her family.  She did so and was informed that Ancestry.com policy does not allow for corrections to information placed by members on their trees.  She could file an appeal but it would most likely be wasting her time as the company only approves the removal of “offensive” information.

I don’t know about you but I find it offensive that a loved one has been reported dead when it’s not the case.  I also find it offensive that personal information on living individuals is displayed when the company policy is supposedly to keep that information private.  In this case, the co-worker’s mother’s name, date and place of birth, and marriage information is available because of the incorrectly added death date.  I also find it offensive that the company knows that their member tree information is inaccurate yet provides no recourse to correct wrong information.  If you’re allowing inexperienced individuals a free trial offer with little direction who then abandon what they input you’re going to have wrong information available for a long time.  I also find it offensive that the problem will continue since the company does not provide simple to follow step by step directions for newbies to eliminate the possibility of errors.  I also think it’s offensive to charge a hefty membership fee when they know their site doesn’t work correctly, is error filled and the number of records they tout as available includes wrong information.  Since we’ve all gotten valuable information from each other I’m not advocating  making all trees private; I’d be happy if they added a disclaimer banner when someone is searching on the member trees to remind people to be cautious.

I told the co-worker yesterday I’d see what I could do.  Last night I looked and wasn’t surprised to see that the error has now spread to a second tree.  Of course it would, since people blindly click other’s information believing it to be accurate.  I emailed both tree owners explaining the error, its impact on the family and asking them nicely to remove the death date which would make the individual’s other info private.  One of the tree owners included in her biography that she’s a beginner so I’m hopeful she responds and I can educate her on how to avoid this problem in the future.  She was on the site yesterday so that’s a good sign for a quick resolution (if she figures out that she can get messages from other members!).  The original source hasn’t been on for over a month so I can see that as going through the appeal process which ancestry did not spell out to my co-worker.  Co-worker said she had previously emailed the individual but the wrong info remains.  I plan on calling Ancestry.com today to find out what the appeal process is and I’ll keep you posted on an upcoming blog.

Now that Ancestry owns Find-a-Grave I’m wondering if there will be negative changes at the Find-a-Grave site as well.  I’ve always been pleased on how the administrator at Find-a-Grave handled correcting errors.  All you needed to do was email the organization and let them know that you attempted resolution with the memorial owner.  My second cousin was able to get his mother’s information corrected within 2 weeks by showing that both he and I made attempts to resolve the problem before contacting administration.  Why Ancestry.com can’t follow that process is a mystery.

12+ More Genealogical Gems to Use

 

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 20 Dec 2015.

Last post was my 12 most favorite free genealogy sites and today is my 12 favorite paid sites. I have placed these in alphabetical order and not by preference:

1. Ancestry.com – since they own just about everything in the genealogical world it’s very hard not to  subscribe to them.  I do have issues with their new website, phantom hints, relationship help that comes and goes, removal of records and not adding new databases but for now, I still use them.  Just learned there is an AARP discount and I will be going after that when I renew in 2 months.  Complete access is $389.00 per year.  OUCH!  

2, Association of Professional Genealogists – “an international organization dedicated to supporting those engaged in the business of genealogy through advocacy, collaboration, education, and the promotion of high ethical standards.”  Subscribers are $45.00 annually, Professional Members $100.00.  Well worth it for the webinars, journal and eNewsletter! Additionally, members get discounts to many paid sites.

3, Board for Certification of Genealogists – Even if you have no desire to become a Certified Genealogist this site is valuable!  Check out the Skillbuilding, Work Samples and Genealogy Standards which are free.  If you decide to become certified, the cost is $75.00 initially, followed by $300.00 when your portfolio is submitted (1 year deadline).  

4. FindMyPast.com – Similar to Ancestry with different records.  Cost varies depending on plan purchased.  I got a year free due to being a member the National Genealogical Society but it would have cost me $99.95.  Since I’ve had trouble uploading my tree I won’t be purchasing this anytime soon but it was nice for a year.  

5. Fold3.com – an ancestry.com owned site, currently I’m not a member but I join periodically.  For military history it’s a must have.  If you’re an ancestry member it’s currently $39.95 a year – half the regular price.  So maybe, I’ll upgrade….

6. JStor – is a digital library with books and journals (about 1700) that are intellectual in nature.  Many libraries and educational institutions are members so check out if you get an alumni password.  If not, some access is free (but not much) and you can purchase an article if you have to, cost varies.   

7. New England Historicand Genealogical Society – the database, AmericanAncestors.org is free, however, if you are planning to visit the library in Boston, it is not free.  This is a nonprofit organization that also offers research assistance (for an additional fee but discounted), an awesome magazine, journal, weekly email update and seminars.  Well worth it for $89.95 a year.

8. National Genealogical Society – the journal, the magazine, the conference, the discounts, the store – wow, that’s a lot of genealogy goodness.  Annual membership is $65.00.

9, Radaris – the place to find the living! “Radaris is a universal people directory and an information indexing system about people.”  Trying to find long lost cousin Joe – this site will help.  If you just want a report it will cost .95.  Premium memberships can cost up to $49.95 per MONTH.  I only purchase a report if I’m desperate as I usually can find people through other methods – Facebook, Linkedin, etc.

10, Spokeo – a more inexpensive way to find the missing – A 6 month membership is $4.95 per month.  They do offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee that I’ve never tried so I can’t attest to what that offer is.  I don’t currently belong to this, either, but I’ve gleaned info from this site to help me locate free information in the past.  

11 Your Local Genealogy Society – because you need to hang out with people who get excited about your finds.  Mine offers trainings and research help for novices.  Cost is $17.00 a year.

12. Your State Genealogy Society – or whichever state your ancestors’ resided.  My state offers a wonderful journal, newsletter, links to sites around my state, posting for help and webinars.  For $25.00 a year it’s the best deal around!

Bonus – The sites mentioned above are not the only for pay genealogy sites around but the ones I use the most.  Every couple of years I join newspaperarchive.com but until they add some new newspapers, I’ve maxed them out.  I would highly recommend them, though, if you haven’t ever been a member.

Yikes!  I totaled the amount and I’ve spent $776.85 this year.  Guess when I retire Ancestry will be accessed only from the library.  

Genealogy At Heart – A New Website

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 8 Dec 2015.

I’m heading out to the west coast for a conference but wanted to let you all to know I’ve developed a website to contain my blogs in one handy dandy spot – you can now access it at www.genealogyatheart.com. All blog posts will be listed under Family Stories/Genealogy Hints.

Genealogy is expensive so I will also post any special offers I discover there under the tab “Specials to Share.”

Besides genealogy, I love traveling, architecture and visiting historical sites so I’ll be posting some pics of places I recently visited so check out the tab “On the Road Again.” It may give you an idea of where you want to explore your family’s past.

If you’d like more information about an older posting or have suggestions/ideas for the future simply email me from the About Lori page.  I look forward to hearing from you!

If you are a Family Tree Maker user synching with Ancestry.com and just learned that Ancestry is discontinuing the agreement soon, you may be looking for a new software program.  I’m not making any money off this but here’s my advice – check out these GENEALOGY PROGRAMS .  Once you’ve decided which you’re going to use, go to Ancestry.com and click on Trees – Create and Manage Trees on the ribbon.  Then click on “Manage Tree.”  On the right hand side, click EXPORT TREE in the green box. It may take some time but when it’s ready, click the new green box DOWLOAD YOUR GEDCOM FILE.  You may have difficulty doing that as sometimes it doesn’t want to work.  If so, click “download tips” and alternative directions are given.

I saw the zillions of negative comments by FTM users on Ancestry’s blog and for the life of me, can’t understand why Ancestry didn’t give clear directions in the announcement on how to save your work as a gedcom.  I feel very badly for those unhappy people thinking that they have lost years of work when they haven’t.  The only thing they can’t do is have their work saved both on Ancestry and on their hard drive at the same time.  Personally, they need to be saving in another location, too, because, if their hard drive crashes and they can’t get on Ancestry, then they have a huge problem.  I use the free Dropbox.com cloud to also save my gedcom in Legacy.  That way, I can log on to DROPBOX anywhere and access my tree, in addition to using Ancestry if I’m not on my main computer.

Seriously, you should be exporting your tree at least once a month if you’re a heavy user as if something happens to Ancestry your citations are gone!  Notice I said citation and not records.  You cannot download all of your records when you download the gedcom.  You will be downloading the citation of what record was found but not the picture of the actual record.  For example:  You’ve saved the 1880 US Federal Census for your great grandpa to your Ancestry tree.  When you download the gedcom it will show that the census record was what you referenced, or cited, for the 1880 residence.  If you want the actual picture of the census page you will have to download it to your hard drive. That is time consuming but important.  I haven’t done that for most of my lines but plan on beginning that process soon.

Now, back to the download directions – Once you’ve exported you will have to import the saved file, called a gedcom, to whatever program you’ll be using.  I like Legacy because 1) the Standard version is free and that gave me a good idea if it was a program I could easily use and 2) their support is very good.  They are friendly on the phone and they have an email group that you can subscribe to for free that you can post queries to and the software engineers answer.  Amazing!  I never got that kind of response from Family Tree Maker and when the synch between Ancestry and FTM stopped working, I decided to move to something else.  Now I’m really glad I did!

I ended up purchasing the Deluxe Legacy version six months after downloading the free Standard version and the updates have all been free since then, too.  The program has a lot of bells and whistles I haven’t even begun to delve into but plan to do so when my Board of Certified Genealogy portfolio is done.  I also have made a New Year’s Resolution that I will stop saving records to my Ancestry tree and just save directly to Legacy.  It’s another adjustment but then I’ll have all the records (pictures) even if Ancestry becomes cost prohibitive or stops making some records available, which has already happened to me.

Hope this has helped!

Ancestry Site Changes – The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 7 Jun 2015.

I mentioned briefly in my last blog about the changes to Ancestry.com.  There’s always an adaption period when there is a site revision but I’m really having difficulty with this “new and improved” version, more than with previous updates.

Back on February 19th, Ancestry announced on their blogsite that the site was in the process of beta testing improvements.  Ancestry.com noted that their design team had 3 underlying principles – Make it beautiful, usable, and delightful.  (IMHO, I don’t think they reached any of their principles.)

I didn’t sign up at the time to be a part of the members who could check out the changes.  Last week I received the following email:

“If you haven’t heard (or seen), we’ve made some huge changes to the Ancestry website. But the “New Ancestry” is much more than a new look. It’s new features that help you tell stories as remarkable as the people who lived them.
It’s the new LifeStory that turns the facts in your ancestor’s life into a narrative timeline, like a biography.
It’s Historical Insights that let you walk a mile (or two) in your ancestor’s shoes.
It’s a new media gallery that puts all your records and pictures in one place.
It’s a streamlined design that’s easier to use—on your desktop or mobile devices.
It’s your family story, reinvented.

Can the new Ancestry really do all that? See for yourself. All the research and information you have now will be on the new Ancestry.”

Let me be clear that I do appreciate THE EFFORT that went into the improvement.  A major revision is never easy. Here’s what I think they got right:  I love the Life Story view for several reasons.  I believe that it will hook many more individuals to genealogy who have difficulty with putting the bits and pieces of records all together to understand one of their ancestor’s lives.  I shared Life Story with my husband who supports my work but never caught the genealogy bug.  He said the inclusion of pictures and the narrative was “captivating.”  He especially liked the Historical Insights feature that adds local/national events to an ancestor’s timeline.  I can see this as a benefit in drawing in younger users, too, who may have learned about an event, like the Civil War, but have difficulty in how the event connects to a direct line relative.  The pictures and facts together are powerful.  Kudos to the genius’ who came up with this concept!

I also really like the Media Gallery that places all of my uploaded pictures and records side by side for easy viewing.  I wish they would further refine this feature to include a drop and drag so that I could move the pictures around and place them in chronological order as I’ve added as I’ve discovered and it makes me crazy that they aren’t in order.

Matching records to the timeline is also beneficial and if used correctly, may even give the site more validity as critics frequently express their frustration over unsourced or poorly sourced (citing a tree that originally cited a different tree).  I wish there was a way to fix all my poorly cited sources from my baby stage of genealogy.  For example, I sourced ALOT of my Leininger, Long and Harbaugh families from various family history texts.  I made the source name as “Text” and not the actual book’s name because several versions of Ancestry ago, citations weren’t as easy to add.  I would like a way to quickly change the word “Text” to the correct title.

So Ancestry got a lot right in the New Ancestry but here’s where I disagree with the design team meeting their principles…

  1. Usable

From my desktop computer I am often not able to access my tree at all using Internet Explorer and at times, not even with Chrome or Firefox:

 

From my Kindle, accessing from the web, I get this view but the links don’t work.  You can see all the links I tried as they are in a different color:

 

From my Kindle, accessing via the downloaded ap I do get my tree but it is not easy to maneuver.  Note that you can no longer click an arrow on the right margin to move the tree back further generations.  Now you must make several clicks to move to a previous generation (click on the person then click to view the tree again).

From my laptop, using Chrome or Firefox, I can use the site and get this view. See the arrows on the right that still allow me to move back generations quickly:

Clearly, the design team failed in making the site useable on different devices. Maybe they were rushed by the news that Ancestry is on the auction block.  I don’t know but I hope they get the Kindle site working as I love using my Kindle when I research away from home for the portability, lightness of the device and various features I can quickly access (photo, notes, internet, etc.)

  1.  Beautiful

Yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder but I don’t think the site is beautiful at all. As seen above, the color scheme is drab. Although the above pic doesn’t clearly show the contrast, the bright pink and blue against the pastel pink and blue when there is no picture is not attractive.  Maybe the design team thought that would be a good way to alert the user that a picture is needed but it just looks out of place to me. And seriously, have we not moved beyond gender stereotyping of girls in pink and boys in blue?  With the current color scheme I’d rather see white and light gray.

  1. Delightful

Huh?  Delightful, according to Word’s Thesaurus, means pleasant, charming, lovely, wonderful, enjoyable, amusing, agreeable, enchanting, delicious.  None of these adjectives would I use to describe the revision. Maybe innovative as no one else has the Life Story and record matching features that are absolutely awesome.

I hope the tech team can quickly fix the glitches. I also hope that Ancestry can be expediently acquired by a group who cares about genealogy so that it can continue to operate, grow and provide the services that we’re paying for at a reasonable price