Friday, July 31, 2009

Ancestry.com: added content & Member Connect

NOTE from DearMRYTLE: Our friends at Ancestry.com have been busy adding new historical content and fine-tuning their new Member Connect project, both topics of interest to genealogists.

FROM: Anastasia Tyler
DearMYRTLE,

Yesterday we launched an exciting new feature on Ancestry.com called Member Connect – which will allow Ancestry.com members to more easily connect with others working on the same family lines. You’ll find elements of Member Connect throughout Ancestry.com, especially in the new enhanced image viewer where you’ll be able to see if other Ancestry.com members have saved the record to their Member Tree and/or made comments or corrections to the record.

David Graham, product manager for Ancestry.com, described several details of Member Connect in the Ancestry.com Blog. In addition, Eric Shoup, VP for Product, also discusses some further details of Member Connect in his update at the bottom of this email.

Ancestry.com Content

New and Updated Content on Ancestry.com

Virgin Islands Slave Records

In collaboration with the Virgin Islands Social History Associates (VISHA), Ancestry.com has launched one of the most significant online collection of Caribbean slave records detailing nearly 200 years of St. Croix-Virgin Islands history. The first installment of this collection includes the U.S. Virgin Islands St. Croix Slave Lists (1772-1821) and Population Census (1835-1911), which together contain information on more than 700,000 slaves, owners and family members. Read more in the Ancestry.com blog.

Other Content

You can view the full list of recently added databases, extending back a couple of months, at http://www.ancestry.com/search/rectype/recent.aspx.

Content Updates from Gary Gibb, VP U.S. Content

Here’s a preview of some of the Collections Coming soon to Ancestry.com:

Jewish Collection Update
Description: New collections from 2 new Jewish content partners (to be announced in August) and more great content from our current partners JDC (American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee) and JewishGen.org.

Immigration Collection Update

Descriptions: Large additions to our U.S. Naturalization Originals and the Passenger and Immigration Lists

1830 U.S. Federal Censuses Improved
Est. Record Count: 1.8m
Est. Image Count: 142k
Description: New clearer, higher quality images.



New York Mortality Schedules, 1850-1880
Est. Name Count: 146k
Est. Image Count: 15k
Description: Records from the 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880 U.S. Census of people who died during the previous 12 months in the state of New York.

New York State Passenger and Crew List Update
Est. Name Count: 320k
Est. Image Count: 27k
Description: Passenger and Crew Lists of Vessels Arriving at Buffalo, Lackawanna, and North Tonawanda, New York, 1945-1974; Crew Lists of Vessels Arriving at Rouses Point and Waddington, New York, 1954-1956.

Honolulu Passenger Lists, 1900-1953
Est. Name Count: 4m
Est. Image Count: 193k
Description: Scanned onsite at NARA.

Reports of Deaths of American Citizens Abroad, 1963-1974
Est. Name Count: 133k
Est. Image Count: 494k
Description: Records of U.S. Citizens who died in other countries (scanned onsite at NARA).

1880 DDD Special U.S. Census Schedules
Description: DDD special census records from selected states.


Website and Product Information

Free Webinars

August 20, 2009 – Getting Started on Ancestry.com

New to Ancestry.com? Long-term genealogist and author of the Ancestry Weekly Discovery, Juliana Smith, will help you find your first family member on a historical record. Note: This webinar is intended for those who are new to Ancestry.com but can also be used as a refresher course for more experienced users. Register online.

Archived Webinars

Note: To register for a webinar or view an archived webinar, click on the Learning Center tab on the Ancestry.com home page. Then Keep Learning and, finally, webinars. http://learn.ancestry.com/LearnMore/Webinars.aspx


Product Updates from Eric Shoup, VP Product

The major Product news this month is the launch of two major new features: Member Connect and the Enhanced Image Page.

Just Launched

  • Member Connect We have been talking about this feature to our members and to you all for over a month now. It is now here and by the time you read this, I am sure there will be lots of feedback from our members about it. In case you missed it, you can read more about the feature here. There are some aspects of this feature that we have not talked about publicly. I wanted to give you the inside scoop on a few things.

    What it took to build -This is probably one of the most complex projects that Ancestry.com has undertaken in the last few years. The idea of exposing activities to members that are taken by other members on the site in a timely and relevant manner sounds simple but turns out to be very complex to do at the scale at which we are doing it. Member Connect has taken over a year to go from concept to reality. We have involved a large cross-functional team of Ancestry.com employees to design and build this feature. We have also performed a number of usability tests with members (and even talked to some of you) to get feedback on the concept and its design.

    Needless to say, we expect that we will get plenty of valid criticism of this feature once it launches. We will be listening closely and iterating on Member Connect to ensure it meets customer expectations. Let us know what you think by emailing us at memberconnectfeedback@ancestry.com.


    What is happening behind the scenes -
    We have been running Member Connect in an invisible mode on Ancestry.com for over a week now. To give you a sense for the scale at which this system is functioning, in the first 24 hours that we had the Member Connect feature turned on, we saw the following:

    · We logged 4.7 million member-generated activities (such as a member saving a record to their tree or uploading a photo)
    · 1.5 million of these activities were relevant to at least 1 other Ancestry.com member and would be “shareable” in their Member Connect Recent Activity list
    · Since many of the activities logged were relevant to the research of multiple other members, these 1.5 million individual member activities spawned 18 million individual entries to be published in individual member’s Member Connect Recent Activity lists.
    · As a result of this, nearly 70% of our members had 1 or more entries included in their Recent Activity list.
    · About 30% had 10 or more entries and about 10% of our members had 100 or more entries.
    · All of this in the first 24 hours!

    Expected member concerns - There are two concerns that I expect our members to raise initially as they are getting used to Member Connect:
    · Overload: A small subset of our members may feel like they are being deluged with data. These members have a few options: 1) They can ignore the summarized homepage recent activity list and focus instead on the recent activity list for a specific ancestor in the tree by going to the ancestor profile page for this person, 2) members can filter their Member Connect activity items through filters we have provided and/or 3) they can turn-off major parts of Member Connect altogether.
    · Privacy: Some of our members will be concerned that their actions on the site will be seen by others. The reality is that almost everything being exposed via Member Connect is already available on the site! We have just made it easier to find. Ultimately this means that we all can collaborate with each other more quickly and easily to build our families’ histories. All that said, those who feel uncomfortable with this new level of transparency can change their privacy settings here. It should be reiterated that we will still honor tree privacy settings and never share information about people we believe are living.

  • Enhanced Image Page & Improved Editing - We have talked about this feature in quite a bit of detail here. We initially rolled the Enhanced Image Page to just 12 of our smaller census collections. As we gauge member reaction, we will roll it out to our major census collections.

    The inclusion of index pane, Member Connect info and source info right next to the historical image will be great. However, the part I am most excited about is our expanded editing capability. We have made the process of submitting an alternate much easier and we have expanded the number of fields you can edit. Since alternates get included in our search engine, member-submitted modifications make it easier for all of us to find the records we are looking for. Even without these capabilities, we get 30,000 alternates submitted by members to our indexes a week. Will these changes increase this rate by 50%? 100%? 200%? I’ll report back on this in a month or two when we have solid data on this.

Coming Soon

We have a few more exciting features/products coming up in the next month or so.

Be looking for more information on these soon!



Linkpendium.com: genealogy links

NOTE from DearMYRTLE: The following was just posted by our friends at Linkpendium.com and Ol' Myrt here heartily wishes to "get the word out" as Brian suggests.

FROM: Brian Wolf Leverich

I've just installed 1,025 new UK and Ireland genealogy links for Valorie Zimmerman and 32,088 new US and surname genealogy links for Karen Isaacson Leverich at www.linkpendium.com
Publish Post

LP also hosts directories to Cars (Megan Zurawicz) and Hiking.

Thanks to all the folks who are suggesting links -- it helps! Anyone can recommend links to be added to any page.

Clearly, at some point we need to get a newsletter going. Megan, Valorie, and Karen keep finding great resources, and they all appear on our pages, but the only way folks find out about these gems is when they do a search at Linkpendium. We need to be getting the word out!

FindMyPast.com: WWI military records search

NOTE from DearMYRTLE: Our friends at FindMyPast.com provided the following in their 31 July 2009 newsletter.

"The death of 111-year-old Harry Patch this week, which followed the recent death of fellow war veteran Henry Allingham, 113, leaves just one surviving British veteran of the First World War; Claude Choules, 108. These men had horrific experiences during the war that mirrored those of the millions of others involved in the fighting.

First World War heroes remembered

The First World War (1914-1918) shaped the twentieth century and brought tragedy to countless families. Anyone researching their British ancestry is likely at some stage to find an ancestor who fought and possibly died in the Great War. Findmypast.com has extensive records on the Great War that may help you trace your ancestors’ experiences. Search the military records on findmypast.com



Army Great War deaths

Tragically, millions of men from both sides died serving their countries in the Great War. Soldiers Died in the Great War, taken from official volumes published by His Majesty's Stationery Office (HMSO) in 1921, lists nearly 704,000 British army casualties. It covers:


  • All army units: the cavalry, the infantry and all supporting corps
  • All army ranks: serving officers, non-commissioned officers (NCOs) and other ranks. You don't need to know the rank of a soldier to run a search.
  • All areas: serving soldiers from all parts of the British Isles (including Scotland, all of Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands).
  • Soldiers who died in action, those who died of wounds, and those recorded as missing and presumed dead.

Search for your ancestors in “Soldiers died in the Great War” now. The amount of information varies, but typically you’ll discover the soldier or officer’s regiment/corps, battalion, birthplace, place of enlistment, residence, rank, number, date of death, nature of death, and theatre of war. With some records you’ll see supplementary notes as well. Tip: Only serving soldiers are included. If a soldier died after being discharged from the army, even if his death was due to wounds incurred in active service, he will not be listed. However, if he died in England or Wales, he should be listed in the civil death registers held by findmypast.com.


Royal Naval Division deaths
If your ancestor served in the Navy you should search for him among Royal Naval Division records 1914-1919, which are part of the Jack Clegg Memorial Database, and reveal details of service record and burial.


Biographies and Photos of Great War heroes Marquis De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour has biographies for over 26,000 army, navy, and air force men (of all ranks) who were killed in the First World War. 7,000 of these include photos. If your ancestor is listed you’ll get detailed information.


Other Military records
Besides those for the Great War, findmypast.com holds a host of other military records, which include our Second World War Army Roll of Honour, official military births, marriages and deaths, records for the Battle of Waterloo, records for army deserters, and a multitude of other army lists and roll calls.

See: http://www.findmypast.com/MilitaryChooseSearchType.jsp


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Texas library receives weather damage

DearREADERS,
It breaks Ol' Myrt's heart to hear of a library receiving damage from violent weather, but this case really hits home. Second Life (SL) friends reported last night that while our SL associate Kaylee Korbitza is OK, her real life workplace has received damage from recent Texas storms.

See: Closed Until Further Notice: Part of library roof collapses; no injuries reported by Wayne Stewart. The Palestine Herald. 30 July 2009.

City officials were then notified and the Palestine Fire Department responded to the library to make sure everything was safe enough for people to go in and get those valuable assets out of that portion of the building, as the roof on the southeast portion of the library was sinking.

“We had just gotten a new roof about a year ago,” Herrington said. “Right now that is the only thing that’s holding the ceiling up.” The special, “rubberized” roof had kept any water from entering the library.

Let's pray that things are repaired quickly and that researchers and employees may return back to work.

God speed, dear Kaylee.

Myrt :)
DearMYRTLE,
Your friend in genealogy.
Myrt@DearMYRTLE.com

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Michael Neill: CasefileClues.com launches

NOTE from DearMYRTLE: The following was just received via GenealogyWise (GW) email from our friend Michael Neill. Please address all inquiries to mjnrootdig@gmail.com


From: Michael Neill
DearMYRTLE,
My genealogy how-to column "Casefile Clues" is now housed on its own server and is available by either an annual or a quarterly subscription. Our first edition will hit the email inboxes the weekend of August 2. More information is available at http://www.casefileclues.com.

Subscribers can expect the same quality and content they have come to expect over the 400 how-to columns I have written. Content focuses on families from many areas and time periods in the United States and several foreign countries. The emphasis is not on the latest "whizbang" technology, but rather on locating, analyzing and interpreting records. Technology is used but it does not overpower the genealogy.

Please feel free to share this information with anyone who may be interested. We have no advertising budget and we appreciate any and all attempt to get the word out. Feel free to mention this on your blog, website, etc.

Questions can be directed to me at mjnrootdig@gmail.com.

Thanks! We'd love to have you subscribe. I've got plans for great articles in the works and suggestions are always welcomed.