Thursday, May 28, 2009 27 May update

NOTE from DearMYRTLE: The following was received from our friends at Please address all inquiries to

May has been an exciting month of milestones at
  • We have added more than 8 billion records on
  • members have added more than 1 billion people to more than 10 million family trees on (Read more about this achievement in the press release.) Content

New Content
German Phone Directories 1915-1981 -- This unique collection of books contains more than 35 million people who lived in major German cities during the 20th century. Some of the interesting finds in this collection include phone numbers for Albert Einstein, Marlene Dietrich, and Kaiser Friedrich Wilhelm Viktor Albert von Preußen (and others). Gary Gibb, the Vice President of Content, gives further details here.

Alabama State Census -- This collection is the second completed World Archives Project collection to be made available to the public. As with all completed World Archives Projects, the Alabama State Census index is viewable free of charge. Chris Lydiksen, the Product Manager for U.S. content, provides additional facts here.

Other Content:
- African Americans in Delaware, 1890 U.S. Census
- U.S. Casualties From Iraq and Afghanistan Conflicts, Oct 2001 - Mar 2009
- Returns from U.S. Military Posts, 1800-1916 (World Archives Project)
- Border Crossings: From U.S. to Canada, 1908-1935
- Lübeck, Germany, Marriage Banns, 1871-1875 (in German) - Free Index
- Lübeck, Germany, Births, 1813-1875 (in German)
- Lübeck, Germany, Deaths, 1813-1875 (in German)
- Lübeck, Germany, Marriage Banns, 1813-1871 (in German)
- Lübeck, Germany Citizenship Register, 1591-1930 (in German)

You can view the full list of recently added databases, extending back a couple of months, at

Content Updates from Gary Gibb, VP U.S. Content
New Content Tops 8 Billion Records

In May we passed the 8 billion records mark for content on Here is the latest count of images and records by categories we use at


Birth, Marriage & Death
38.9 M
1,100 M

Census & Voter Lists
27.7 M
900 M

3.4 M
12 M

Directories & Member Lists
7.6 M
2,100 M

Family Trees
0 M
1,400 M

Immigration & Emigration
31.6 M
180 M

80.6 M
125 M

Newspapers & Periodicals
42.5 M
2,400 M

Pictures, Maps & References
2.1 M
32 M

Stories, Memories & Histories
6.1 M
105 M

240 Million Images
8.3 Billion Records

Content Coming Soon
Some of the Collections Coming soon to

  • WWII Draft Registration Cards
    Expected Launch: Just launched
    Est. Name Count: 450k Est. Image Count: 2m Description: Adding draft cards for the state of Illinois. This is more of the Fourth Registration or "Old Man's Draft."
  • Alabama State Census, 1820, 1850, 1855, 1866
    Expected Launch: Just launchedEst. Name Count: 1.8m Est. Image Count: 61k Description: This is a World Archives Project. Four census years, three before the Civil War, one just after.
  • 1890 Census Improved
    Expected Launch: Next week (end of May)Est. Name Count: 6,000Est. Image Count: 2,400Description: First in series of monthly census updates. By the end of the year we will have 1790 to 1900 updated.
  • Addition of over 50 cities added to the U.S. Historical Newspapers Collection
    Expected Launch: Next week (end of May)Est. Name Count: 100’s of MillionsEst. Image Count: Over 5 MillionDescription: Papers from over 50 new cities will be added. The full-text index and Advanced Image Viewer deliver highlighted search hits on every page.
  • Multiple Canadian Census Years
    Expected Launch: June
    Description: If you have Canadian roots you are going to love June.
    Early City Directories
    Expected Launch: June
    Est. Name Count: 10 millionEst. Image Count: 280,000 Description: A large collection of city directories many before the 1850’s. This is a great historic collection that can complement and in many cases actually augment your census research.
  • Fun School Yearbooks
    Expected Launch: June
    Est. Name Count: 2 millionEst. Image Count: 266,000 Description: A large addition to our school yearbooks collection. Finding an ancestor in these books not only reveals fun pictures, they also often tell a story about their life, their times and their friends.

Website and Product Information

  • Family Tree Maker
    We released a small update for Family Tree Maker 2009 that resolved a handful of issues reported by our customers. Family Tree Maker 2010 is now in Alpha Testing, and will soon enter Beta.
  • MyCanvas (the Publish button on the homepage)
    Within the next week MyCanvas will launch Descendant posters as a new option under the product category “Family Tree Posters.” Users will be able to create a poster that will populate 3 or 4 generations of descendants, including the selected starting person. Posters will be available in 3 different sizes: 20”x16”, 24”x18” and 36”x24”.

    Some of the new features we’ve added to MyCanvas over the last month include:
    The layout tab – This tab allows users to change the selected page layout and will automatically format photos to the new layout.
    Swapping images on a page
    New backgrounds under “life style” that include different careers such as mechanic, construction worker, logger, miner and more.
  • DNA
    The DNA team has recently added a new step-by-step guide to DNA results. The easy-to-use guide walks users through each page of the website and describes how to contact and collaborate with potential matches; view and print a full multi-page explanatory report of DNA results; discover fun facts about fellow ancient ancestral “cousins;” attach DNA results to online family trees; view, join, and/or request membership into a DNA Group; and obtain results of someone for whom a user has purchased testing. “A Guide to your DNA Test Results” is available in PDF format to users who are logged in to DNA.
  • Free Webinars
    Coming Soon!
    June 16, 2009 – Getting Started on
    New to 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 but can also be used as a refresher course for more experienced users. Register online.
  • Archived Webinars
    - Military Records on
    - Planning a Perfect Family Reunion
    - Town Hall Meeting
    - Creative Gift Ides for Dads and Grads

    Note: To register for a webinar or view an archived webinar, click on the Learning Center tab on the home page. Then Keep Learning and, finally, webinars.

Product Updates from Eric Shoup, VP Product
Recent launches:

  • LifeSpan filtering
    o We launched Lifespan filtering in Search about a month ago. This was the top request from our members on algorithm modifications to make.
    o Lifespan modified our algorithms to only include structured records that are within an ancestor's lifetime. If the entire lifespan is not given, we default to 100 years as the ancestor’s lifespan. The new algorithm aims to reduce the number of irrelevant results that come back as the result of a search – thereby making searching easier.
    o See the original blog posts here:
    o These blog posts garnered a lot of feedback from our customers – both positive and negative. Much of the feedback on the blog was unrelated to Lifespan but about our Search capability more generally. The feedback on Lifespan specifically has been fairly positive:
    § When announced at APG meeting, the Search team received applause.
    § We received some of the most favorable comments that we have received in the last nine months on any blog post.
    o That said, LifeSpan has also caused some confusion:
    § Some members thought that in rolling this out, we were making them migrate to New Search. This is not true. Lifespan is available in both New and Old Search.
    § Some members were confused by the "fudge" factor that we include around a user’s entered search dates. Users were concerned that this impacted “exact” searches when it does not.
  • New Navigation
    o We rolled out a new header and footer this week. The goal is to create a more consistent, predictable navigation structure that:
    1. Enables users to be a click or two away from major site features
    2. Provides persistent access to key site-level tools like To-Dos & Shoebox
    o Read more in the blog here:
  • Upcoming launches
    · Improvements to the Member Tree System: Our Member Tree system has grown quickly since its inception just about 3 years ago. We now have over 10MM trees online and 1 billion people represented in those trees. We will be making improvements on the tree system over the coming months to prepare it for its next stage of growth. In June, we will be previewing 2 such improvements with launches planned for a little later in Summer:

    1. Redesigned Person Page: We are re-building this page from the bottom up to incorporate a number of improvements. Here is a summary of the changes:
    § Context is preserved across pages related to person: Tabs across the top of the page make it easier to access sources, photos, stories, comments, hints and more. General information about the person you are viewing will remain consistent at the top of the page making is easier to always know exactly where you are.
    § Stronger focus on sources: We have moved the “Historical Records” higher on the page. And also the new "Facts & Sources" tab makes it easy to see what facts and events a person has, and what evidence supports those facts.
    § Re-built for speed & performance: We've completely rebuilt it from the ground up. It's faster than ever to load and navigate around your tree.

    2. Tree Viewer: The new tree viewer is being built to be more interactive. By enabling you to drag, pan and zoom, it will be easier to navigate through your tree. This will help you get where you want to go more quickly.

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