Posted by on March 18, 2009 in Content

We are launching huge new content additions over the next few weeks.  We are excited because it helps provide records from 1935 to today.  We have great census and vital records from 1930 and before but more recent records are difficult to acquire.  These new records are being provided in 4 major releases.

First, we launched a 1940 census substitute. This is a project that we have been working on for years.  Since we can’t get the real 1940 census until 2012 we have pulled together a huge collection of city directories from about 1935 to 1945.  This collection has over 100 million names and covers most of the US. 

Second, we will launch in the next week (or two) the first ever collection of U.S. Public Records (USPRI) database with more than 525 million names, addresses, ages, and possible family relationships of people who lived in the United States between roughly 1950 and 1990.  This will be an invaluable tool in piecing together family stories and histories.  This new addition will replace the current USPRI database on Ancestry which is mainly profiles of living people. This database is built from a variety of city directories and other public records.

Third, we launched search results and links to living people records on MyLife.com.  We are excited about this partnership because MyLife has a much better collection of records about living people and continues to update this collection.  MyLife.com includes current public information and more than 700 million profiles of living people. They are much better equipped to offer these services than we are. If you want to find a living cousin or second cousin or other living relative we believe these links to MyLife will be the best service to help you contact your family.

Finally, we launched a new obituary collection.  We have had several very popular obituary collections for several years.  We have now upgraded our collection that we extract from obituaries posted in newspapers around the world with much better fielding and from more papers.  This should help you more easily identify the right obituary and find family relationships.

In the coming months look for additional signficant improvements to all the US Federal Census from 1800 to 1890. We will also continue to release millions of vital records every month.  We are also excited about the upcoming large addition to our newspaper and military collections over the next few months.

We hope these additions help you discover more of your family story.

167 Comments

D Anson 

I certainly am pleased to read about this! I hope that this will enable me to fill in a great deal of missing information. :)

March 18, 2009 at 3:24 pm
D Anson 

What happened to the rest of the comment I submitted??!? :(

March 18, 2009 at 6:14 pm
John Klapp 

I can not wait to get my hands on the new genealogy info coming. Way to go. The way to remain on top is to supply users with more info. You are the fron runner by far. Bravo

March 18, 2009 at 8:21 pm
Jerry Bryan 

Most of these changes sound great, but I’m worried about the loss of the existing USPRI. I use it heavily for living and recently deceased people. Can we keep the existing USPRI and also add the new USPRI? Even if the existing USPRI were never to be updated again, it’s still a wonderful resource.

I realize that the mylife.com access may be intended to replace the existing USPRI. But I have never seen mylife.com and as such I have no expectation that it is an adequate replacement for the existing USPRI.

March 18, 2009 at 8:25 pm
Patty Kirchhoff 

I am excited to see there will be new things added for us in the US, especially. I have seen hardly anything worthwhile added for the US in recent months, and it is difficult to see them among all the foreign additions. I look forward to these.

March 19, 2009 at 6:05 am
Tony Brothers 

mylife.com IS NOT a replacement for the existing USPRI. Not even close.

Please, please, keep the old USPRI.

March 19, 2009 at 7:56 am
A Farella 

I just got an email mentioning the new 1940 census substitute. When I tried it for various members of my family, I either got ‘no records found’ and telling me to uncheck the ‘exact’ boxes (even though I hadn’t check them) or I got tens of thousands of hits for any directory that had anyone with the same first or middle name or a similar last name. This was very disappointing as it pretty much useless…

March 19, 2009 at 8:42 am
DM 

Any chance of a “coming soon” post concerning UK records (e.g.- when will the excellent recent update to UK GRO births from 1916 be applied to marriages and deaths?).

March 19, 2009 at 9:46 am
Mary Beth Marchant 

city Directories are not even close as a substitute for the 1940 census. This is just a gimmick to snare more people in my opinion. If you or your families did not live in large cities you will not find anything. Most of mine lived on farms. Yes, I found a couple of aunts and uncles who lived in cities with directories. Told me what I already knew-address and the business they owned. Nothing else at all. This is a misnomer to call this a Census substitute because it is not. It is simply a continuation of the city directories they already had. Where are the images of census records for states-the fill in ones in years between Federal census. There are two posted for Florida and maybe a handful of other states. Where are the others. And what about the non population census records-Agricultural, etc. There are plenty of those out there too.

March 19, 2009 at 9:51 am
Gary Gibb 

Thank you for the several very interesting and diverse comments. Let me try and clarify a few points.

1) Value of the 1940 Census substitute. I have to agree that it is not as valuable as the real 1940 census. However, the reason we went to all this work to provide the substitute is because the real 1940 census will not be released by law until 2012. Until then this can help put together family stories. For example, I found my grandfather with his wife (Wanda) in the collection. They seperated later in life but I don’t have details about when. This was a great clue to show where they lived and that they were still together at this time (1939-1940).

2) Current USPRI being replaced by MyLife and the older USPRI. I actually hate to lose any data also. However, this really is not our area of expertise. As people tried to find living people we frequently get requests to pull down this current data and we also get complaints that it is not up to date. MyLife does this extremely well. We are the best at getting historical records and helping people use these to build their family histories. We are excited about releasing these USPRI records from 1950-1990. These records have never been accessible before and we think you will find answers to family questions as you use this new collection. We plan to launch our first version of these in the next few weeks so I will be interested to see how useful they are to customers.

3) In regards to the edited comment. That was my fault. I thought the word “suck” was considered offensive to some so I removed the reference. I have since been told that we allow that phrase. Sorry my bad. D Anson’s second part of the message was something to the affect that it is to bad the rest of the site sucks.

March 19, 2009 at 10:24 am
Viola in Virginia 

This is great news and I look forward to locating more information from the new updates!

March 19, 2009 at 11:07 am
Tony Cousins 

Gary
I’ve asked this question on a couple of occasions as have others and never got an answer.

Given that you seem to be able to predict when collections are going to arrive on Ancestry – for example:

1 – “In the coming months look for additional significant improvements to all the US Federal Census from 1800 to 1890. We will also continue to release millions of vital records every month. We are also excited about the upcoming large addition to our newspaper and military collections over the next few months.”.

2 – “Since we can’t get the real 1940 census until 2012…”.

Just when is Ancestry going to get, and give subscribers access to, the 1911 UK Census records which are currently available on the UK site http://www.1911census.co.uk/ ?

TonyC

March 19, 2009 at 1:25 pm
Jerry Bryan 

Thanks for the update, Gary.

I really, really wish ancestry wouldn’t use the term “census substitute”. City directories are a great resource and I use them all the time. But they are not a “census substitute”. Please just call them what they really are.

I’m excited about the new 1950-1990 USPRI, but I’m very distressed about losing the existing USPRI. Whether it’s ancestry’s area of expertise or not doesn’t matter. You don’t even have to update it any more. Just please leave it alone and leave it available.

March 19, 2009 at 1:45 pm
Jerry Bryan 

Gary, you may not be the correct person to ask this question, but you are blogging about content.

Is there any possibility of fixing the 1930 census index before the 1940 census arrives in 2012 so that the 1930 census index includes places of birth for everybody? The existing 1930 census index does include the place of birth for the heads of household. But that leaves out more people than it includes, and for many of those people it can make a search extremely difficult – especially if they have moved to a different state.

Place of birth is included for everybody in the indexes for 1880 through 1920. It seems really strange to have left it out for 1930. And please, please include the place of birth for everybody in the 1940 indexes when they arrive, even if doing so delays the availability of the 1940 census by a bit.

March 19, 2009 at 1:52 pm
Linda Jennings Stillwell 

Can you tell us when or if we will be getting records from Germany? I have several lines from several areas of Germany but find it hard to get any information as I can’t speak or understand German.I have damages douments from ancestors I would like to get replaced if possale. Thanks.

March 19, 2009 at 2:04 pm
Gary Gibb 

Good questions.
1) When will we release 1911 UK census? I don’t know (bad answer – I know) but I can tell you that we are working very hard to get this for our customers as we speak.
2) Adding fields to 1930 especially places of birth for everybody. We did key the place of birth for the individuals in the 1930 census. We didn’t key the places of birth for the “unnamed” parents. These are very difficult to search for in our system since it is just a place of birth for the parents and there is not an associated name.
We do have a couple things coming to help in this regard. First, we are working on a new improved image and index for 1930. This will take about 2 more years to complete. Second, we are releasing (this year) a new viewer that will allow people to index additional fields from a record.
Thanks for your comments.
GG

March 19, 2009 at 2:07 pm
Ron Lankshear 

Why only mention USA records. I have been told my next sub will have an increase because of all the work on UK and Australian records. We pay a sub expecting more to be added – adding them does not entitle an increase.

re #16 – I understand 1911 you might not be able to get until 2012 so I would suggest a 1911 comment within the census list.

When will London records UK be added? Is there a status somewhere on actual plans for what when

When will there be more Australian records. There are a range of directories and Vital records on CDs and surely Ancestry should be trying for these.

What about Australian BMD if you cannot get them then give links to the applicable sites

March 19, 2009 at 4:38 pm
J. King 

Gary -

I have to wonder what kind of due diligence was done on your new “partner”? With their “F” rating from the Better Business Bureau (of Los Angeles)for questionable email and website tactics, this would seem to be a company you would not want to be foisting onto your users.

Among the reasons cited by the BBB are serious questions involving among other things “their advertising is grossly misleading, they are not in compliance with the law’s licensing or registration requirements, their complaints contain especially serious allegations, or the company’s industry is known for its fraudulent business practices.”

From the record of recent complaints on various websites, it does not appear the site has cleaned up any of those practices (including allegations of address book scraping) since morphing from its previous identity of Reunion.com to the present MyLife.com.

I know there are quite a few genealogists out there with whom I have corresponded over the years who have my email address in their address book. I can’t wait until I start receiving the dubious emails from MyLife when they click on one of your links to MyLife and do a “free” registration.

March 19, 2009 at 4:40 pm
P. Fox 

I have a question concerning the 1936/1937 and 1938/1939 Detroit City Directories…while very nice to have this new source, I’m wondering why only last names up to “GU” are scanned into the system? Are the complete directories going to be added in the near future?

March 19, 2009 at 6:22 pm
taneya 

I would like to suggest that Ancestry add a feature to the newspaper collections for the search term to be automatically highlighted in result images. Currently, I do not use the newspaper sources as often as I’d like because I’m expected to scour an entire page of newspaper text to find my term of interest. Thank you.

March 19, 2009 at 6:32 pm
Jerry Bryan 

Thanks for the update on the 1930 census, but unless I’m missing something obvious the information you listed about what is indexed is not quite correct. Here is the information that is not correct: “We did key the place of birth for the individuals in the 1930 census.” The problem is that you keyed the place of birth for the head of household, but not for the other household members. For example,

Doe John 23 TN VA VA
Jane 22 TN MD MD
Sam 3 TN TN TN

You can look for John Doe born in Tennessee because that’s indexed. The born in Virginia for his parents is not indexed. That would be helpful information even though we don’t know the names of his parents. For example, it would be helpful to able to search for John Doe born in Tennessee whose father was born in Virginia and whose mother was born in Virginia. But that’s not what I’m really talking about.

The real problem is that you can’t look for Jane Doe born in Tennessee nor can you look for Sam Doe born in Tennessee because they are not heads of household. You can search by birthplace for everybody in 1880, 1900, 1910, and 1920, but in 1930 you can only search by birthplace for heads of household.

I will be very pleased if that search is available in two years when the new improved index for 1930 is available. But right now, the best you can do for the 1930 census is look for Jane Doe living in Tennessee and Sam Doe living in Tennessee. That does you little good if they have moved to California, and all you know is that they were born in Tennessee.

March 19, 2009 at 7:44 pm
Jerry Bryan 

The following comment starts to fall into the category of Search rather than the category of Content, but it’s related to the subject at hand.

In 1880, 1900, 1910, and 1920, the person’s birthplace is indexed, the unnamed father’s birthplace is indexed, and the unnamed mother’s birthplace is indexed.

For these years pre-1930, the unnamed father’s birthplace and the unnamed mother’s birthpace are searchable from Old Search. The unnamed parents’ birthplaces are not searchable from New Search. That’s a serious defect in New Search.

March 19, 2009 at 7:52 pm
Vickie Glover-Phillips 

I am so excited about the new additions and look forward to searching them

March 19, 2009 at 8:26 pm
Tony Brothers 

MyLife.com does NOT “do it better”.

As near as I can tell, I cannot search MyLife.com for an individual by street name, city, county, zipcode or phone number. I cann’t search MyLife.com by lastname=soundex. I can’t search MyLife.com for anyone in the last 20+/- years.

I cannot get any meaningful results from MyLife.com without a minimum $60US subscription.

You say that “As people tried to find living people we frequently get requests to pull down this current data and we also get complaints that it is not up to date.”

Yet, you are replacing it with another collection that is even more out of date.

Tell me again, Gary, how this change is BETTER for me?

Keep the current USPRI.

March 19, 2009 at 8:46 pm
Tony Brothers 

MyLife.com does NOT “do it better”.

As near as I can tell, I cannot search MyLife.com for an individual by street name, city, county, zipcode or phone number. I cann’t search MyLife.com by lastname=soundex. I can’t search MyLife.com for anyone in the last 20+/- years.

I cannot get any meaningful results from MyLife.com without a minimum $60US subscription.

You say that “As people tried to find living people we frequently get requests to pull down this current data and we also get complaints that it is not up to date.”

Yet, you are replacing it with another collection that is even more out of date.

Tell me again, Gary, how this change is BETTER for me?

Keep the current USPRI – its already paid for, its up and running, and its one of the very, very few databases you have that isn’t totally screwed up.

March 19, 2009 at 8:47 pm
D Ruiz 

For those of you who want up to date information on living people. And don’t want to pay for mylife.com’s fee. Use pipl.com. It’s absolutely amazing what is available there.

March 19, 2009 at 9:11 pm
Nan 

Apparently no one at TGN checked out mylife/reunion’s reputation before entering this partnership. This does nothing to enhance ancestry’s databases or quality.

March 20, 2009 at 3:23 am
C Pederson 

Gary: Thank you for editing a portion of D Anson’s comments. The word s— is both inappropriate and offensive and I GREATLY appreciate the deletion.

I look forward to the additional city directories. They are not always accurate in their information in more recent years but are a great place to start to estimate death or moving dates.

March 20, 2009 at 5:59 am
Mary Beth Marchant 

Regarding pipl.com
I went to that site, plugged in my husband’s name-found our address and his age. However, anything else requires subscriptions to other web sites–so-oo what information is so amazing on that site. What was there comes from whitepages.com and is already available for free and comes from the telephone books. Amazing–I don’t think so.

March 20, 2009 at 7:15 am
phobrien31 

It is great that you continue to add new data but it is also important to fix things along the way. Specifically, the Nebraska State Census – 1885 has been broke for moonths. Images of that census are not available. It is a significant if most of your ancestors lived in Nebraskaa.

March 20, 2009 at 7:50 am
Arlene Miles 

Can you suggest a way to translate research results from German to English? I know there are programs that do this, but how would I get the results to where they could be translated?

March 20, 2009 at 1:26 pm
Lula L Kirk/Puch 

I’m really ready for this. Now hopfully I can fill in all those gaps

March 20, 2009 at 2:37 pm
Gary Gibb 

Thanks for the comments.

In regards to the Nebraska state census, we fixed a couple problems today from your feedback. In addition, the census is being worked on now in our World Archives Project. The indexes have been created with a lot of help from great people in the community and societies (including the Nebraska Genealogical Society). This project is now getting prepared to be released to the site (it takes a couple months of final QA and prep work) but it should be a great collection for you.
In regards to more German records, we are working on several additional German collections that will be coming out this year. We aren’t ready to discuss the details yet but there are a lot of great records coming this year to complement the super collections like Hamburg that we launched last year.

In regards, to MyLife we did research their background a great deal. As you mentioned they had some problems in the past due to some of their marketing efforts. I think you will find that they have learned from those occasions and are a great resource today.

Several of you commented, just keep a copy of USPRI, you don’t need to worry about keeping it up to date. In essence that is what we have done. We moved away from trying to stay up to date on the “living people” and got a copy of the USPRI data from 1950 to 1990. This is literally a copy of the historic USPRI content. I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the extent of this content collection.
If you want to find living people there are many resources to help as mentioned by others. We think MyLife is one of the best resources to help people find and contact other living people.

Lastly, on the 1930 census we did only key the birth location for the head of household. The enhanced index and improved fielding tool should address this short-coming in the next year or two (Hopefully before 1940 comes out…)

March 20, 2009 at 2:45 pm
Lula L Kirk/Puch 

I take my earlier comment back now that I know that mylife.com is really Reunion.com. I was a member of Reunion.com for a few months and it gave me nothing for my money.

March 20, 2009 at 2:48 pm
Lynne Wilson 

I downloaded Internet Explorer 8 this morning (provided by Yahoo).
When I went into FTM to search it acted like I had never downloaded the Enhanced Viewer. When I tried to download it, it said the download was successful but then kept repeating the same message . Is the Enhanced viewer for census records compatible with Internet Explorer 8 (NO, it is not Beta) Thanks

March 20, 2009 at 5:54 pm
Tony Brothers 

Several of you commented, just keep a copy of USPRI, you don’t need to worry about keeping it up to date. In essence that is what we have done. We moved away from trying to stay up to date on the “living people” and got a copy of the USPRI data from 1950 to 1990. This is literally a copy of the historic USPRI content. I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the extent of this content collection.
If you want to find living people there are many resources to help as mentioned by others. We think MyLife is one of the best resources to help people find and contact other living people.

>>>>> so it is true, you don’t listen to what your users want.

March 20, 2009 at 7:10 pm
LaDoska Smith 

What good is more content when you have such a poor method of retrieving information. Why ask for birth and death dates, when you give information on persons living a hundred years past the death date. With the new system I am unable to contact others.
LaD

March 20, 2009 at 8:30 pm
D Anson 

In response to comment #28 – According to Merriam-Webster, definition – #”4 slang : to be objectionable or inadequate”
Perhaps I should have used one of those words????

March 21, 2009 at 3:37 am
T B 

The 2 City Directories that you recently posted for the city of Detroit in the 1930′s stop at the letter G. Skipping 1/2 of the population is kind of worthless for such a big city.

You have a huge number of novice subscribers. They believe and trust your web site. They will feel that your links to MyLife are proper. They will probably give up their passwords and Mlife will gather all those address books. I really believe you should reconsider with a 3rd party that has had a bad past. I continue (in 2009) to get spam from their site because they, as Reunion, tricked my 75+ year old neighbor into providing her address book password. I hope I am wrong but I truly believe you are making a huge mistake.

March 21, 2009 at 8:44 am
Don 

In lieu of adding new features that the Ancestry staff feels has significance and usefulness, it would be my belief that current subscribers could point out, and thus place more importance upon, cleaning up the errors, inconsistencies, absences and inefficiencies associated with the programs already available. In my e-mail draft folder I maintain a Christmas list of “I wish they would fix…” items. Over the years, as I come up on one of your “random surveys”, the list gets submitted. Ancestry may wish to set up a link specifically designed to accept suggested improvements to existing programs. Of course for Ancestry to summarize and publicize the submissions and provide feedback to the group as a whole would be appreciated. If you want to know what would speed up research ask the people doing research.

March 21, 2009 at 11:13 am
Sharon Meeker 

Re: current database USPRI. Please keep this information. I’m looking forward to 1950-1990 database too; that would be great help to me. As for comment #29: In fact the current USPRI was “screwed up” years ago. It used to return the family groups that lived at each address. But several years ago, the record numbers or something got messed up. Now it shows people who don’t live at the same address or have anything at all in common. So it takes several steps to put a family together. But it is still worthwhile. I have not found any database that supplies the same kind of info, unless I pay another subscription or $5-$10 for each record. As for MyLife: I went to that website at Ancestry’s suggestion. For some reason alarm bells went off in my head and I did NOT sign up. After reading about this site’s history, I’m sure glad I didn’t sign up!

March 21, 2009 at 5:12 pm
Carol A. H. 

I must be missing something or else I’m still in the dark ages of computers. I looked at MyLife.com.

I see nothing to get excited about EXCEPT I don’t want it on ancestry. I don’t want it as a part of a search. I’m looking for dead people and I doubt they will be logging on in person with a story.

MyLife looks like Facebook or such. Perhaps I don’t understand. What I hope for is if I put my tree on ancestry.com; someone will see it and contact me so we can share our family history.

Also I don’t want to be on anything like MyLife or Facebook. There is already too much on living people on the internet. If a person is interested in ancestors, I’m happy to share but not living people in my family.

How about someone enlightening regarding this. I will check this blog to see if someone has a comment or two. Thanks.

March 21, 2009 at 5:22 pm
Carol A. H. 

Well I guess I should have read the most recent blogs.

Don, #40:
I could not have been said better!

And many others blogged about MyLife which enlightened me.

Why oh why doesn’t ancestry read these blogs and pay attention? Every time I telephone to speak to a human to get help, they are very nice but to the questions I ask, I get the standard answer, We are working on it.” Or I get the tech service person saying they don’t know anything about “that.” The “that” being about new “enhancements” ancestry thinks we want. Maybe the problem is they are not thnking!

March 21, 2009 at 5:39 pm
Carol A. H. 

Well, here I am again. I checked pipl.com. Just another site that gets info from telephne books and public records ( the ages ) and then wants you to pay for any other information they might have. ??? My aunt owned a house ( pubic record ) and she had a telphone.

I entered my aunt’s name. She was in there with her year of birth. Yeah, ok, I already knew that. But the record was added twice to the data base, both times in the year 2004.

We buried her on 9/11!! I’m not likely to forget where I was that day. I was in the Boston area.

So they must be using old records to fatten their data base. No thank you!

March 21, 2009 at 6:06 pm
Gracious Street 

If ones search is America centric then these are great databases. However, they do nothing for those of us searching England, Canada or other countries.
I understand that Ancestry is in a project with the London Metropolitan Archives in England, will those be available on Ancestry USA? I am ready to drop my World wide subscription for just an English subscription for that is where most of my research is to be found.

March 22, 2009 at 8:30 am
Rocquel 

Who is Vincent Donofrio related to?

March 22, 2009 at 10:14 am
T Maggard 

McAfee Site Adviser recommended not even going on the old Reunion website due to . (see: http://www.siteadvisor.com/sites/reunion.com?ref=safesearch&aff_id=105-152&premium=false&suite=true&client_ver=2.9.258&locale=en-US)

McAfee SiteAdvisor Comments (1)
We recommend that you not use this site, based on the following information:
http://www.la.bbb.org/BBBWeb/Forms/Business/CompanyReportExtensionPage.aspx?CompanyID=13177175&sm=#ComplaintExperience

User Review Summary for reunion.com
This site is good (4)
This site spams (34)
Adware, spyware, or viruses (2)
Excessive popups (3)
Phishing or other scams (15)
Bad shopping experience (5)
Browser exploit (3)

So, now they’ve “repackaged” themselves as MyLife. Please reconsider your relationship with this company!

March 22, 2009 at 11:19 am
T Maggard 

Better Business Bureau Report for MyLife/Reunion:
http://www.labbb.org/BusinessReport.aspx?CompanyID=13177175

Consumer Complaints about MyLife/Reunion:

Complaints contain a pattern of allegations that the company uses the email address book of those who sign up to deceptively email their contacts that they are searching for them. Most customers said that they were not aware that the company would send email solicitations to their co-works, family members, friends, and any other email contacts soliciting them to join their services on the premise that someone was “searching” for them. Some complainants alleged after signing for a free trial, they receive e-mail notifications that someone is searching for them or trying to contact them. In order to find out who is searching for them, they must first commit to the company’s services but after doing so the list of searches have no connection to their class and are not people they know. Other complainants report that they were unaware that the company charges the membership subscription fee not monthly but for months or years in advance. The company generally responds to complaints regarding the use of the customers’ address book as that they agreed to its use when using their services. The company also offers an apology for any confusion when importing addresses and issuing invitations to join Reunion.com. They contend the purpose of this feature is to invite people who aren’t already Members to join and is intended to ease the process of connecting with others. In some cases, the company provides full or partial refunds and in other cases refers to their agreement which states that the subscription fees are not refundable.

http://www.labbb.org/PublicComplaints.aspx?CompanyID=13177175

Better Business Bureau Actions:
Advertising Review
On December 12, 2006 we wrote to this company about our concerns with their advertising and marketing methods. Of specific concern, the company uses what we believe are misleading e-mail solicitations advising customers that someone is trying to locate them, when in fact, some customers report they are unable to verify the contact. The company responded to our review on January 2, 2007, by generally denying that routinely used e-mail campaigns are deceptive or misleading. The company contends that the “who’s searching for you” emails are generated by other members using the people search function to look for other registered members with the same name, and plus or minus 5 years of age. We believe, this, and other similar solicitations are misleading because, consumers are falsely led to believe specific searches are conducted to personally locate them, when in fact there may well be no one actually searching for them.

March 22, 2009 at 11:42 am
Tony Brothers 

Good work, T Maggard! I’ll bet big money that Ancestry is somehow in bed with MyLife.com and both are planning on reaping rewards from our misery.

Just one more reason to KEEP the current USPRI.

March 22, 2009 at 4:56 pm
GeneaBlogie » Blog Archive » I Love Ancestry’s Expanded, Updated City Directories 

[...] “1940 Census Substitute.”   Part of the upgrade was acquisition of  what Ancestry VP for Content Gary Gibb called ” a huge collection of city directories.”   I was excited about this from the [...]

March 22, 2009 at 7:45 pm
Virginia 

Thanks for adding all the new information.

However, the new “thing” I don’t like is the “ad” stuff you’ve added to my home page, and I can’t get rid of it. Where’s the little garbage can? And worst of all, it moves.

March 23, 2009 at 7:51 am
Henry Newbold 

While always happy to see new content added, I have a bone to pick. It has to do with databases that are flagged as “updated”. Why can’t Ancestry provide a short comment to tell us exactly what was updated? For instance, a recent update was to the 1880 Census Index. As a continuous user of the Censuses, it doesn’t do me much good to see that this got updated if I don’t have any idea of what got updated. Same goes for every database. Why do I care if something got updated if I don’t have a clue what the update consisted of? Especially for large databases. Can’t Ancestry provide this additional piece of information to make notices of database updates more useful to everyone?

Thanks.

March 23, 2009 at 9:29 am
Jerry Bryan 

I get several of these every day. I have no idea how to get rid of them. Please don’t create a relationship between ancestry.com and mylife.com.

Don’t miss out! Add mylife@mail.mylife.com to your address book or safe list.

Hi Jerry,
See who’s searching for your name!

We found 1 new search for the name Jerry Bryan.

Female, 40 years old
Crystal Springs, MS

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March 23, 2009 at 10:18 am
Jerry Bryan 

Re; my #53, I forgot to say that I am *not* a registered member of mylife.com, or the best I can tell I am not. But they keep pestering me anyway.

March 23, 2009 at 10:21 am
Jerry Bryan 

This question has been asked and answered, but I’m still confused. So I’ll ask again.

Is the new USPRI that we are going to get *exactly* equal to the current USPRI, except that it will be frozen in time? Some of the postings make it seem that the new USPRI is just that – exactly the same as the current USPRI except frozen in time. But other postings make it seem like the new USPRI is different than the current one in that it will cover a different span of years. Which is it?

Thanks for any clarification that might be available.

March 23, 2009 at 10:35 am
kp 

As far as PIPL charging $$$’s. I’m fairly certain they don’t charge for anything; they provide links to other sites that may have information on the name you searched, and those sites may charge (thus the $$$$’s for some records). But that is because they search sites that charge money in addition to free sites. PIPL is much like google, but it’s focus is finding information by names.

I use it occasionally, and have never spent a dime.

March 23, 2009 at 2:43 pm
Sue Smith 

Please don’t act as if the only thing you can say about Ancestry has to be a complaint. The annual subscription at the highest monthly rate costs you less than $1.00 a day. Consider if you can find what you need on the site today, it only costs you $1.00. Going to a geographic location where you have the costs of transportation, parking, lodging, meal, copying, and especially your time, will cost far more. This week I found death certificates for almost every child of my ggf.He was born in 1830. The minimum cost of each from the state is $12.00 and must now be done by mail. Time to wait 2-4 weeks unless pay to expedite. Waiting on the computer doesn’t take that long to prove or disprove a particular person located on Ancestry. For me the death certificates confirmed relationships to parents and offered a middle name or two. Data documented “only” available on death certificates included date and cause of death.Bonus information which may also be found in published obituaries include occupation and place of burial. What I needed was right here on Ancestry! The certificates alone would have put me out nearly $100.00. You can visit a repository and find it closed for a holiday, the copier down, the room crowded, and the files you needed stored off site. With high speed connections at home or at libraries we can all enjoy Ancestry. Resources not at Ancestry today soon may be. Maybe the US draft registration card images can be fixed so that the correct back pages are with the front. This has been a significant challenge since they appeared. Thanks for all of the work you do for those of us out here.

March 24, 2009 at 9:27 am
Mary Dobard 

The new city directories for Houston, Texas listed as “1940 census substitute” are not complete. Only one had Surnames from A to Z but the others were mostly advertisements, a few street pages (uncomplete) and some surnames. They were for two years but unable to distinguish which year was which? Not that it matters since most of the directory pages were missing. Is there going to be corrections? It would be nice….

March 24, 2009 at 2:36 pm
Denise 

I’m excited about the new changes. It would be a big help if the searches could be narrowed down even more.v

March 24, 2009 at 4:51 pm
Bev 

I love Ancestry — use it all the time — would probably never have started famiy history research without it. But I do have a gripe about new-content announcemsnts:

Sometimes these announcements cause false hopes. I was so excited to see the announcement about new city directories. Then I looked at several years for Pittsburgh PA and for each year only the first film reel was included (the first letters of the alphabet). Since most of my family names are closer to the end of the alphabet, they are not there! Please 1) make it clear in announcements when datasets are so incomplete; 2) add the remaining reels for Pittsburgh! I’d rather find one complete city directory for one year than 15 incomplete ones that are missing most of the alphabet!

–Thanks
–Bev

March 24, 2009 at 7:03 pm
Tony Brothers 

Hey Gary Gibb!!! Is the fire too hot for you now? Why have you quit responding to the continuing complaints on this thread?

March 24, 2009 at 7:20 pm
Michelle 

We finally get some new, useful English content and what happens? It’s made part of the World Deluxe package!

How can Ancestry justify not including London records in the UK Heritage package?

Why should I have to pay for US records that I will NEVER use, to get access to something that should be part of the UK package to begin with!!!!

Cheers,
Michelle

March 24, 2009 at 10:54 pm
Michelle 

We finally get some new, useful English content and what happens? It’s made part of the World Deluxe package!

How can Ancestry justify not including London records in the UK Heritage package?

Why should I have to pay for US records that I will NEVER use, to get access to something that should be part of the UK package to begin with!!!!

Cheers,
Michelle

PS. Posted with no expectation of an answer.

March 24, 2009 at 10:54 pm
Scott 

I’m curious, the way the addition is written at the top of this page, it makes it sound like the MyLife.com search results should already be implemented. I’m not seeing those, am I missing them, or is that still coming?

March 25, 2009 at 1:15 am
Scott 

Whoa…wait a minute. I just read all the comments (just read Gary’s update at the top at first). I was under the impression that the ‘partnership’ between MyLife and Ancestry.com meant that Ancestry members would have special access to their site (meaning we could go in and contact people we find, etc). Is that not the case? Is this ‘partnership’ just that we can search for people in their database (like anyone can), but we have to subscribe to their site beyond that? If so, this sounds like a HORRIBLE partnership for Ancestry.com’s members, and a GOLDMINE for MyLife.com. Basically all you’re doing is spamming ancestry.com members, but giving a ton of visibility to MyLife, which I’m sure they love because it might increase their subscriptions. Is Ancestry getting some kind of revenue sharing on these MyLife subscriptions or something and THATS why they’re doing this? I can’t see how this is ANY kind of value-add for Ancestry customers, but is GREAT advertising for MyLife. If I’m misunderstanding how this is being implemented, I apologize, but if I’m right and these search results are nothing more than ‘directing Ancestry customers to MyLife so they can subscribe’, this is HORRIBLE and there is ZERO question that the old USPRI should be kept instead. I was willing to look past MyLife’s shady practices and spam emails if Ancestry was giving us some kind of member rights on MyLife, but not if this is nothing more than another avenue for MyLife to pester people about subscribing so they can see details on their site.

On another note, I’m excited about the 1950-1990 records, but I share the same concern that someone else posted….is this just going to be public records from city directories of major cities? Or will this database contain public records for basically every small town across the country (like the current USPRI)?

March 25, 2009 at 1:51 am
Ron Lankshear 

With reference to Michelle 64 and 65
Yes I see new London England data and it is locked to my NEW UK Heritage package. The contract was for all UK Total and any new data

So what gives ????

March 25, 2009 at 4:54 am
Tony Cousins 

Gary

Did anyone at Ancestry really check out MyLife??

Follow this link at read the responses to the article – http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/02/24/reunioncom-and-wink-morph-into-mylifecom/

TonyC

March 25, 2009 at 6:37 am
Tony Brothers 

to Gary Gibb: Please respond to EVERY POINT in the very well-written post #67. (Thanks, Scott!)

March 25, 2009 at 7:24 am
Scott 

Thanks Tony,

I don’t generally complain about what Ancestry gives me (I love the site), but if my perception of what this relationship with MyLife is going to be is accurate, I don’t see how this is anything but bad news for Ancestry subscribers. They’d be taking away a very popular database, and replacing it with yet another avenue for MyLife to give us a ‘sales pitch’.

I get Gary’s point about people complaining about their info being on USPRI, or people wanting to be removed from the index, but its a PUBLIC RECORDS database. I’m sorry folks, but that info is available to anyone. If you don’t like your records to be public, take it up with the government. Its not Ancestry.com’s fault…and thats what Ancestry should be telling people that complain. Not taking the resource away from the rest of us.

…and if Ancestry thinks they’re getting complaints about the USPRI, just wait for the number of complaints they’re going to get from paying subscribers when they remove the USPRI (oh boy will people notice!) and replace it with this, where their search results direct them to MyLife to subscribe. One gets the impression those complaints are going to far out-weigh the USPRI complaints in both quantity and anger-level.

Scott

March 25, 2009 at 11:17 am
Gary Gibb 

Thanks for the lively discussion. I am sorry about being away for a time. I am in London currently for some business meetings and working to get some great additional content.
I wanted to get on and try and answer a few posts quickly.
Regarding “updated” databases. We are working on getting a better description of what is updated. We need to better describe these updates. Sometimes updates are mainly bug fixes while other times they are major additions. In the case of 1880 it is a major new upgrade. 1880 census now has every image upgraded using the latest technology. This gives much cleaner and clearer images since 1880 was done over a decade ago.
Regarding the UK premium package for UK subscribers more details are being released in the next few days.
Regarding search improvements several key changes were released last week to help in excluding records that didn’t meet all the criteria of the search. You should re-try some old searches and see if the improvements help you.
I appreicate being called out because it may be “too hot” for me. I don’t think it is too hot. I do hope I can answer some of the questions.
Regarding USPRI, the new version is going up in the next few days. I would love to hear what you think of it. It is not identical to the current USPRI. The current USPRI is built from records post 2000 including very recent data. The replacment USPRI is more historic. It runs from the years 1950 to about 1990.
MyLife links on Ancestry show search results for the person you searched on if it was a living person search. To use the complete services from MyLife you need to subscribe on their site.
More later…

March 25, 2009 at 12:43 pm
Gary Gibb 

I just talked to the development team and they are in the process of replacing the recent USPRI collection with the historic USPRI collection. It will take a few hours because the new data collection is so large. The replacement actually takes several hours to process. You should be able to test the new database by late tonight (US time).

March 25, 2009 at 1:46 pm
Scott 

Hi Gary,

Regarding the new USPRI, I’m curious if this is comprised from the same sources that the old USPRI was or if its mostly just larger city directories covering that time period.

To be more clear, the current USPRI will find almost anybody in the country, even in the smallest towns. Will the new USPRI have that kind of coverage, where I’ll be able to find people in “Smallville, Michigan” if they were alive then, or will it be more like a USPRI ‘substitute’ where I’ll find people…if they were in the 1950 Detroit City Directory? In other words, is this a true USPRI where pretty much everyone generating public records in that time will be covered (like the old USPRI), or will we be unlikely to be able to find our ancestors that lived in small farming communities in this database?

Scott

March 25, 2009 at 3:03 pm
Anonymous 

*Please* grandfather in the current USPRI collection! I use it all the time. I do not want to have to register for a second website, nor do I want to lose the data in my shoebox on Ancestry from the current USPRI. Why are you doing this, Mr. Gibb? You have not given any legitimate reason that you can’t retain the current USPRI.

March 25, 2009 at 4:02 pm
Gary Gibb 

The new (1950-1990) USPRI is from exactly the same sources as the (living people) USPRI.

March 25, 2009 at 4:05 pm
Gary Gibb 

All currently saved records from USPRI that you have in your shoebax or attached to your trees will still be preserved.

March 25, 2009 at 4:08 pm
Anonymous 

Also, it is galling when you downgrade services to users while calling it an upgrade.

March 25, 2009 at 4:15 pm
Anonymous 

> All currently saved records from
> USPRI that you have in your shoebax
> or attached to your trees will still > be preserved.

I’m glad to hear this. Thanks for replying.

> The new (1950-1990) USPRI is from
> exactly the same sources as the
> (living people) USPRI.

Please clarify: you say above that the new USPRI is from the same sources as the old one. But will the new USPRI contain all the entries from the old USPRI, in addition to covering earlier periods? Or will the new USPRI give me someone’s phone number in 1990, rather than their phone number from a few years ago, as the living people USPRI does?

Using the same sources for your database doesn’t equate to serving the same purpose with the two databases.

Why are you getting rid of the living people USPRI? It is really useful for finding living relatives. As a subscriber, paying a hefty sum each month for a World Deluxe subscription, I would really like to understand this.

March 25, 2009 at 4:29 pm
Scott 

“The new (1950-1990) USPRI is from exactly the same sources as the (living people) USPRI.”

Thats exciting news. I’ll still miss the current USPRI (the MyLife partnership seems like very poor replacement for that), but searching through the 1950-1990 records, seeing where my family lived then, will be a lot of fun.

Scott

March 25, 2009 at 4:49 pm
J. King 

Gary -

And when does Ancestry intend to blanket the blogs etc with the fact that MyLife is an additional subscription with another service? No one read it that way and your original news release about the addition is highly misleading.

Me thinks Ancestry banked on most of the blogs doing exactly what they usually do – printing your news release in total – no additions and no fact checking.

Again, I really wonder about your due diligence as complaints continue to poor into the various online consumer protection services about the practices used by this company. My guess is you may have used the advice of the same attorneys who assured you that framing other folks’ websites was legally sound.

Jackie

March 25, 2009 at 4:57 pm
Vera McHale 

I come from a time period when respect was the key to success. But then I saw what the lack of it did to millions. Don’t ignore the lessons your ancestors would hope that you too don’t loose an arm or leg or loved one to be able to grasp.
You never have the right to tresspass into the lives of others on the planet no matter who says you can.

March 25, 2009 at 8:29 pm
Sarah 

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

Sarah

http://adoptpet.info

March 25, 2009 at 8:36 pm
Ron Lankshear 

Regarding my 69 re UK Heritage package in com.au and Gary 74 on UK Premium package.

This morning a UK Heritage Plus package was added to com.au it was not there yesterday and when I rang AU in further to my 64 re locked new LMA data I was told i should upgrade. No the contract I took out was for all UK data and I was told in November 2008 that it would include the LMA data.

I received a price increase notice at 3 March 2009 with no mention of PLUS package.
If Ancestry wants to make major price increases and this extra package business then you announce it and people can re-new at end of their subscription.

This is not the way to treat customers.
I would have taken out a UK premium package but Ancestry said as I was in AU I had to have the Heritage package.

Is the London meeting re UK premium going to announce a Premium Plus?

March 25, 2009 at 9:21 pm
Jennifer 

I went to mylife and tried some searches of my family and it shows people listed as relatives that are not even related to my family.

I have renewed my subscription expecting to keep getting what my money has always paid for which included the current USPRI, then to be part way through my research and have things taken away for even a couple of days and being replaced with who knows what and if it will actually work the same. Now i have to put some of my research on hold and that means i’m losing money. As i see it this puts a standstill in my research and then makes it so i’ll possibly have to pay for another month and I just don’t like losing money. I am sure that you are aware of the current economic conditions and I would really like to keep getting what my money paid for before. Maybe instead of pulling and then replacing it, you should have replaced it made sure that it was going to work and then taken it away only when it actually proved that it would work.

March 25, 2009 at 9:33 pm
Sherry Ray 

I wish I had been given a heads up the the USPRI site was going off the air. I had used it numerous times just yesterday so you can imagin my surprise that today it was gone. I am not familiar with the site that is replaceing it, but for over $300.00 a year for Ancestry, it better be as good or better. If it isn’t you can be sure there will be more clients of Ancestry voicing their opinion of this blog.

March 25, 2009 at 9:34 pm
Jerry Bryan 

Gary, thanks for the clarifications on the new and old versions of the USPRI. But I have to say I’m quite irate that the old USPRI is going away as we speak. Your stated reasons for getting rid of it make no sense whatsoever. What you guys are doing is just as irrational if not more so than the bonuses that the AIG executives received.

It’s really hard to express in words just how valuable the old USPRI has been, and more importantly, how despicable mylife.com AKA reunion.com really is. Again, think AIG except on a smaller scale, and the mylife.com business practices are even worse than AIG’s.

Re: #79, that’s no help at all. I don’t use the shoebox and I don’t keep my trees on ancestry.com. And even if I did, what about the new search that I want to do next week that’s not yet in my shoebox or not yet in my tree on ancestry.com?

And finally, I have to agree that your announcements about mylife.com have certainly given the impression that ancestry.com and mylife.com have formed a business partnership whereby ancestry subscribers can search mylife.com through the ancestry.com search engine, that the information obtained will be “free” in the sense that its cost will be covered by myancestry.com subscription, and that the quantity and quality of the information from mylife.com will equal or exceed the quantity and quality of the information from the old USPRI. That impression is so utterly false, that it’s really just bearing false witness.

How can you guys sleep at night?

Here’s the truth. ancestry has a really valuable database that’s been available for quite some time. ancestry is taking it away. ancestry is not replacing it with anything of equivalent value. At the same time, ancestry is adding a new database of excellent value that covers a different time frame than the one that is being taken away. And finally, ancestry is representing that mylife.com is a solution to the database that is being taken away when in fact it isn’t.

If you guys feel like you have to take the old USPRI away, just take it away. But please don’t pretend that mylife.com is a substitute, and please don’t have anything to do with them. Think Bernie Madoff.

March 25, 2009 at 10:17 pm
Tony Brothers 

Ancestry seems to think they know what we want, but they don’t listen to us.

March 25, 2009 at 10:49 pm
Anne McDonald 

Yesterday, I was happily using the “old” U.S. Public Records Index; today, I was confused when it didn’t show up in my search results. I thought, well, maybe there’s some kind of maintenance going on, althought that did seem a bit odd…. When I found out online that the old one has been removed from the site, I was extremely disappointed. One reason that I’ve been willing to continue paying almost $300 a year for the subscription was the work I could do with the old USPRI. Although you can’t really tell from it whether or not someone is alive, at least you get some valuable clues. I agree with others that mylife.com is *no* substitute for what was available at Ancestry.com as recently as yesterday. I’m not happy about this.

March 25, 2009 at 11:49 pm
Gerry Ruth 

Why take down a database that works,even if it is 1995 – 2002. The city directories are worthless most of the time. You but a name in and you get hundreds if thousands of hits for John but not John Strunk. And is there a way you can search for a particular database without having to page through 50 pages?

I love ancestry and have connected with several cousins that I had lost contact with using the old USPRI – even some I couldn’t find on the paid living people search engines.

Please listen to us.

March 26, 2009 at 3:31 am
John M. Scroggins 

I review obituaries daily for my one-name study. The Public Records Index has been extremely valuable to me for matching the recently deceased with their families, especially when the obit gives little information about relatives.

It has only been a few hours since the PRI went away, but I can see already that its loss will make my task much more difficult.

In my opinion, as a researcher and former Ancestry employee, taking down the PRI was a stupid, anti-customer move.

March 26, 2009 at 4:19 am
John 

You should be able to test the new database by late tonight (US time).

It’s the next day, and I don’t see it. Has there been a delay?

March 26, 2009 at 6:54 am
Jeannette Haynie 

This will all be exciting to look through and hopefully gather new information! Thank you for your efforts and time! Bring it on!!

March 26, 2009 at 9:08 am
G Gilbert 

Mr. Gibb, please address the fact that the Better Business Bureau has rated My Life “F”

http://www.la.bbb.org/BusinessReport.aspx?CompanyID=13177175

March 26, 2009 at 9:44 am
Jade 

This is not a database “addition”. It substitutes one database for another. The substitute has half the database size and lesser date-range.

So database cut in half, is given same name, and links to a *known* dangerous web site?

Obviously not an improvement in customer service.

Must have something to do with money.

March 26, 2009 at 10:27 am
Tony Brothers 

Gary Gibb — USPRI — WHERE IS IT?

Why wouldn’t you upload this new data in your spare time and when and ONLY when it was complete would you take down the old data? As it is, here we are with NOTHING.

March 26, 2009 at 10:41 am
Sherry Ray 

Well I used the new site. Problem is you can not narrow the search by county as you could with the old one. So now you get all the Jane Doe’s in the state you chose and have to go to another site to see which county each city is in. Maybe I just got spoiled with the old site but it was fast and easy. Also, I did notice that ages and birthdates do not appear as frequently as with the old site. I checked my own name which I had done in the past, who knew there where so many Sherry Ray’s in the US. Hope no one is looking for me by age, they won’t find me now.

March 26, 2009 at 10:58 am
John M. Scroggins 

I have now tested the new site. It is poor with less data, and no longer searchable by county, zip, or telephone number.

I tried searching for a few recently deceased individuals who were on the old USPRI. Most were not in the new version, nor did I find them all at MyLife.com.

And having to go to a separate site, with a separate login, and a separate, less useful search engine, to get fewer, less useful results, was a royal pain.

A big step backward and disservice to Ancestry’s users!

March 26, 2009 at 11:59 am
JP 

I agree. I can see no improvements and searching is much more limited.

When the USPRI frist came it and you clicked on the link you got all the names associated with the address.

Later that changed and now this.

ARGH!

March 26, 2009 at 2:11 pm
Chris Lydiksen 

Gary is currently traveling but I wanted to let you know that the new version of the U.S. Public Records Index went live this morning: http://www.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=1565

March 26, 2009 at 2:36 pm
JP 

It’s a mess.

Please at least alphabetize the names.

can’t use county
can’t use zip
can’t use area code
no groupings for address
can’t use month of birth
not alphabetized

Another improvement not! Just like most of the other improvements.

March 26, 2009 at 2:58 pm
Reed 

I’m not a big USPRI user, but it has been helpful in the past.

I checked this new version by entering the names and locations for a number of 20th-century relatives (some living, some deceased in the last few decades) for which the old USPRI had provided many, many accurate hits.

By comparison, the new USPRI couldn’t even provide single hits for most of them. Pitiful.

Furthermore, if Ancestry thinks I am at all interested in creating annother account and logging on another site (MyLife) “for more information,” they are sadly mistaken. I would not want to do this with a reputable company, let alone one with the poor BBB reports and deceptive practices of MyLife.

Maybe it’s finally time to dump the $300 Ancestry subscription and use those dollars with other online genealogy-data providers that respect and respond to their customers.

Bah!

March 26, 2009 at 3:02 pm
Ene 

If Reunion.com or its successors is affiliated in any way with TGN and Ancestry.com, that is cause for the highest level of concern. Have you ever been the recipient of a pop-up message that is complete with video, audio and expletives from Reunion.com, then be prepared if you happen to cross their path. That is not a nice company at all! Based on other Blog comments, the Better Business Bureau has serious qualms about using their sites and recommends against doing so. WAKE UP ANCESTRY! You are placing your members in jeopardy and the reputation of your company on the skids.

March 26, 2009 at 3:55 pm
Ene 

No. 40 – Well said! Ancestry has been ignoring me on that topic for quite a while. Perhaps if enough express agreement with fixing what is broken before increasing the quantity of hastily-prepared or ill-conceived content on Ancestry.com, we would all benefit.

No. 60 – Your comment about raising “false hopes” about new releases is well-taken. Our friends at Ancestry.com should be more forthcoming about what is included in the new or revised databases. Glorification of product might lure some new customers, but they may not keep coming back once they learn the truth.

Customer satisfaction is key to retention of long-time subscribers and a reputation for good service is key to recruiting new customers.

March 26, 2009 at 4:19 pm
ssheehan 

Ugh. I can’t imagine why you would want to risk the ancestry.com brand by associating with reunion.com under their new name (because the old one was so disreputable)

If this new partnership sends a single iota of my information over to those spammers at reunion / mylife.com, you will certainly hear about it.

March 26, 2009 at 5:07 pm
Sharon Meeker 

There does not seem to be any way to read results from MyLife without signing up with them. With their poor reputation, I’m certainly not going to do that. How about an alternative site that is free or included in Ancestry subscription? Any ideas?

March 26, 2009 at 6:55 pm
Nick Russell 

I was all set to send in my subscription until I read this blog and all of the comments (and the non-responses from Ancestry.com). For me, the PRI was a big attraction and a major decidign factor in my subscribing.

With that gone, and with Ancestry hooking up with MyLife, I’m not interested. I had all the hassles and junk/spam from Reuinion.com and want nothing to do with it.

Judging from what I see here, Ancestry is not interested in what the cusutomer wants, only in their bottom line.

March 26, 2009 at 7:44 pm
DP 

Is there a way that Birth and Death can automatically show up for an individual after they are entered? Like a default. It gets old having to click on Birth and date every time you add a record.

March 26, 2009 at 9:59 pm
PJBUK 

Ancestry has really reached the depths by associating with Mylife.

Mylife is a PROBLEM site; many Ancestry users will not be net savvy enough to realise that they are potentially giving away personal data and becoming involved in spamming by using it.

What WERE you thinking of?

March 27, 2009 at 3:46 am
Jerry Bryan 

It’s hard not just to repeat what others have said, including what I have said already. But let’s play a little science fiction type of alternative history game. What if instead of what has happened, that the following had happened instead.

Jul 2007 – ancestry.com announces a new database called U.S. Public Records 1950-1990. It’s not indexed quite as well as the existing U.S. Public Records database, but nevertheless it’s a great new resource. To avoid confusion, the existing U.S. Public Records database is renamed U.S. Public Records database 1990-2007. So now there are two U.S. Public Records databases, one for 1950-1990 and one for 1990-2007.

Mar 2009 – ancestry.com regrets to announce that the U.S. Public Records 1990-2007 database is being withdrawn from service for reasons of privacy. ancestry.com has received complaints from living people whose data is included in the 1990-2007 database. ancestry.com concludes that its mission is to provide the genealogy community with access to historical records rather than current public records, even if the current public records in question are in the public domain.

Notice that in this alternative history there is no mention of mylife.com. I think that many or most ancestry.com customers would be disappointed in the withdrawal of the 1990-2007 as I have described. And I think many or most ancestry.com customers would not agree completely with the rationale. Indeed, I have found myself with an approximate birth date in the 1950-1990 database. So if there are privacy concerns about the 1990-2007 database, there should also be privacy concerns about the 1950-1990 database. But nevertheless, I think most ancestry.com customers would understand and accept my alternative history without feeling the outrage they feel with the actual time line that has occurred.

March 27, 2009 at 7:33 am
Jerome Blanton 

This switch is about money, pure and simple. Thought I would share how little value the newer 1950-1990 PRI provides after doing some exhaustive searching with it.

I submitted a simple search with just the first name Mary and the State of Wisconsin. Not one result returned was outside of the years 1985-1993. I highly suspect no Wisconsin data exists before 1985 and if it does it didn’t show up in any of my testing. I also would search just the community name and scrolled through the results and found dozens of people not listed. In fact probably 90% or more of the results for Wisconsin came from 1992 and 1993.

So not only are these records not covering the stated 1950-1980 time frame for this one state of the country, they are also subjecting some unsuspecting customers to a company that has extremely questionable business practices.

Thanks for nothing Ancestry!

March 27, 2009 at 10:41 am
Pat Lowe 

I’m sure alot of members of ancestry love the site. I used to as well. I find myself joining and paying the huge yearly fee simply to help other people with their research. Ancestry long ago stopped being relevant to my own searches. Case in point is the new content additions—how many foreign data bases are they going to add before they give long time users a bone and provide some relevant content. They are very proud of their 1940 census substitute, and that info can be very useful—-but most people who have been doing genealogy for some time have no need for databases that provide information they can find in their own homes. Data bases that contain data 100-200 years old is what most genealogists are looking for. Its out there—-we pay good money to ancestry—why they don’t provide more historical info is a real mystery. When you pay as much money per year as ancestry costs, a what have you done for me lately attitude is absolutely warranted. I’m sorry—they should be putting 30 or so new historical newspaper databases—from a variety of states—every month. I just don’t get this company.

March 27, 2009 at 12:06 pm
Not named 

I WAS EXTREMELY ANGRY ALL MY PERSONAL INFORMATION IS RIGHT THERE ON ANCESTRY FOR EVERYONE. IT INCLUDED MY FULL NAME, THE LAST THREE ADDRESSES I HAVE HAD, MY BIRH MONTH AND YEAR, AND MY UNLISTED –(DID YOU GET THAT? UNLISTED!)– HOME TELEPHONE NUMBER.

I REALIZE THIS INFORMATION IS SOMEWHERE, IN FACT PROBABLY MANY SOMEWHERES!!! BUT ANCESTRY DOESN’T HAVE TO PUBLISH IT BY JOINING WITH MYLIFE.

IT’S ONE MORE PLACE FOR COMPANIES TO FIND ANOTHER POSSIBLE SUCKER TO SEND ALL KINDS OF UNWANTED MAIL TO COME TO ME. I AM ON THE DO NOT CALL LIST FOR TELEMARKETERS, AT LEAST, BUT NOW MAYBE NOT ANYMORE.

NOW MORE JUNK MAIL CAN COME TO ME WITH EVEN LESS COST TO THE ORIGINATOR IN OBTAINING NAMES AND ADDRESSES!

I KNOW I AM SHOUTING!!! NO APOLOGIES FROM ME!!!

March 27, 2009 at 6:16 pm
Mickey Staton 

http://content.ancestry.com/browse/default.aspx?dbid=1540&iid=31090_162750-00022

There’s the link to my page. I wish I could save that page to my grandfather but when I search his name (as it’s listed) Ancestry cannot “find” this record. I get the most ridiculous results even when I use advanced options. Why can’t I save a record I’ve located within Ancestry to a person in my tree? The only options are shoebox or hard drive.

March 27, 2009 at 6:36 pm
Mary Beth Marchant 

Ok. Now let me get this straight. You have posted the London records but you want a lot more money for that. Is that right. You are out of your mind if you think I am paying a lot more. I have the World Deluxe subscription but you are adding on something more. Even if I thought I would find something, I would not pay extra for it.

March 27, 2009 at 7:04 pm
Jerry Bryan 

Re: #111, I absolutely do understand your concern. For example, I post a lot of genealogical data on the Internet, but I am very careful never to post data about people who are still living. I think that all reputable researchers take the same approach with respect to their own research.

If I may ask, did you find the data about yourself in the old U.S. Public Records Index, or did you find it at mylife.com?

March 27, 2009 at 7:22 pm
Scott 

#108…how funny, I almost wrote up a “This is how Ancestry should have done this” press release that was almost word for word what you wrote. I then just canceled posting it because I didn’t think it would matter. I just had to comment on it because I couldn’t believe how similar it was to what I almost posted.

By the way, I came here tonight to share a funny story given the “MyLife” controversy. Tonight I was doing a search on Google for a friends name (unrelated to genealogy) and the search brought up several “Reunion/MyLife” hits. It was funny because my McAfee SiteAdvisor software places a RED X next to the Reunion/MyLife pages with this warning:

“When we visited this site, we found that it engaged in one or more negative or undesired activities.”

Wow, the Better Business Bureau and McAfee both warn people about MyLife? I’m thinking a re-evaluation of this partnership might be in order.

I love how you go to their site, you can’t do almost anything without them demanding you subscribe, and then when you try to leave, they wont let you…instead, they give you a “Are you sure you want to navigate away from this page?” pop-up. Its like the internet equivelent of the annoying telemarketer that you can’t get rid of, where you wince as soon as you answer the phone and realize what it is.

March 28, 2009 at 12:44 am
Not named 

To Jerry Bryan # 114

I have a few trees on ancestry. I like the fact that you can attach a record to ancestors, such as censuses and etc. I NEVER put in a living person, even with out any infomation, such as “Living.” It’s the only way not to have the informaion copied to the World Trees. But I suppose a person could find living people if they really want to. I just don’t want to help them do it.

To answer your question: I went to Chris Lydikson’s post #78, where she had entered a addy to click. It took me to the US Public Records Index for 1950 to 1993.

I entered several different names to see how it worked. I entered my own name and was shocked at how much was there. I’m a faily stable, settled person so I have not changed my address or my phone number for several years. I did not get into MyLife.com. There was a place to click to go to it in the yellow box. I clicked that as a test before I entered any name and it connects to MyLife and it appears if you want further info, you have to give info on yourself to “join free.”

I thought there already was too much about me right there in ancestry, although not connected to a tree.

I hope that answers your question. I have read your blogs and have a great deal of respect for your opinions and knowledge.

If you need more info let me know through this blog site.

March 28, 2009 at 9:16 pm
Carol A. H. 

This is getting downright scary, from what I have been reading. I’m wondering if I should rethink what I’m doing. Maybe I should not put any trees on ancestry. I have my own database on my own computer, of course, but I thought this site was to help people find ancestors, not living people.

March 28, 2009 at 9:59 pm
Jade 

Re: Gary Gibb’s #74
“The new (1950-1990) USPRI is from exactly the same sources as the (living people) USPRI.”

Re: Chris Lydiksen #98

“Gary is currently traveling but I wanted to let you know that the new version of the U.S. Public Records Index went live this morning”

Both statements are false. The US Public Records Index has been **deleted**. It has been replaced by a link to a very dangerous web site with a much smaller database and much less information available without a hazardous separate registration procedure.

Giving the link to this site the same name as the deleted database name does not make it a “new version”.

Did you gentlemen and your bosses really think that customers would not notice and object to the difference?

March 28, 2009 at 10:19 pm
Julie 

I don’t understand the ire of some that bag on the GREAT old version of U.S. PRI that Ancestry unceremoniously dumped. If you have a grasp on the complete portfolio of Ancestry databases you would realize there are dozens of other vital records databases providing current living people vitals right here right now on Ancestry from two of the three largest states in the country!

Everyone is compiling their genealogies from different standpoints. Some of us may not have children and are unsure if some other cousins will continue the genealogical search with the zeal necessary. History is vulnerable! A large part of 1,000 years of history wiped out in Cologne Germany recently! Check out this link for info. http://www.guardianweekly.co.uk/?page=editorial&id=1004&catID=9

From information obtained from U.S. PRI., I have successfully communicated with about 20 distant cousins. Making many connections that probably would have never occurred otherwise.

I still hold out hope Ancestry will realize the error of their ways and bring back the old version of US PRI. Gary Gibb, are you still with us?

March 28, 2009 at 11:13 pm
Carol A. H. 

The following is the source description as publishe on the United States Public Records database on ancestry.com

I can’t judge how this will come out because I did a copy and paste to this blog. With all that I have been reading I don’t feel very comfortable with ancestry anymore. What is this Merlin Data Publishing Company?

Source Information:
Ancestry.com. U.S. Public Records Index [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2009. Original data: Merlin Data Publishing Corporation, comp. Historical Residential White Page, Directory Assistance and Other Household Database Listings. Merlin Data Publishing Corporation, 215 South Complex Drive, Kalispell, MT 59901.
About U.S. Public Records Index
The U.S. Public Records Index is a compilation of various public records spanning all 50 states in the United States from 1950 to 1993. These records are all accessible to the general public by contacting the appropriate agency. Ancestry.com has simply made the process of finding certain public records easier by making them available in an online searchable database.
Entries in this index may contain information such as:
· A person’s first name, middle name or initial and last name
· A street or mailing address
· A telephone number
· A birth date or birth year
· An age
Important Note:
As Ancestry.com is neither the author nor the compiler of the data in its indexes, we cannot assume responsibility for the accuracy of this information.
Please exercise caution when judging the accuracy of data in the U.S. Public Records Index. Some addresses and telephone numbers are invalid and birthdates may be inaccurate as well.
What types of public records have been utilized to create the U.S. Public Records Index?
· White pages
· Directory assistance records
· Marketing lists
· Postal change-of-address forms
· Public record filings
· Historical residential records
Please note the following important details about the U.S. Public Records Index:
· People under the age of 18 are not listed in this index.
· Because of the historical nature of this index, individuals may be listed in households with prior co-habitants, spouses, etc.

March 29, 2009 at 12:20 am
Judi 

I see this question was already asked but I do not see an answer for it. I looked in the 1938-1939 and the 1939 Detroit City Directories and it appears that these are not fully completed. The 1938-1939 directory looks like it only has business advertisements and the 1939 directory only goes up to last names starting with GU.

Unfortunately this does not help me at all since the first last name that I look for is in “K”.

Will you be adding the rest of the directory so we will be able to find our ancestor’s??????

March 29, 2009 at 3:22 am
Carol A. H. 

I too have noticed some city directories are incomplete for several states. Not just in particular years, but several of the ones that are on ancestry are missing pages. So some letters of the alphabet are just not there. It’s possible the whole directory wasn’t available, that it had missing pages.

I noticed this with city directories LONG BEFORE they bragged about all the new ones they had added. I have had to go to other sources to get the missing pages, such as the local public libraries ot the FHC.

Ancestry should issue a warning to this effect if so. Otherwide we think it is all complete when it is sloppy work. In general an explanation is due to us when ANY record is incomplete as they are giving it to us as a completed document. They are misrepresenting
what they have.

I worked in the electronics industry many years. “There was always enough time to do it over, but never enough time to do it right the first time.” Does that sound familiar?

March 29, 2009 at 11:54 am
M Coury 

After reading all these comments I am even happier that I have saved my money and not resubscribed after 5 years of being a paying member.
I suggest that is the one thing that Ancestry will listen to.
When they return to rasonable practices and start listening to customers, then I will give them my money again.
For example, the 1885 Nebraska census could have been done years ago but you have been too busy making your subscribers angry. And improvement in the search engine so it stops returning completely impossible results would also be nice and worthwhile.

March 29, 2009 at 12:42 pm
Carol A. H. 

I have been checking every site reference posted on this blog. The ones with an address which is underscored. So far everything that has been posted about how bad MyLife is is TRUE!!!

Don’t join it!!! Don’t go there. It is so bad, it could qualify for a warning spot on the TV news.

Here is just one (of many) things I found, thanks to one of our bloggers, T. Maggard, who posted a lot. And others posted equally informative addresses. Check them all for yourself.

Better Business Bureau Report for MyLife/Reunion:
http://www.labbb.org/BusinessReport.aspx?CompanyID=13177175

Quote:— “Our opinion of what this rating [F] means:
We strongly question the company’s reliability for reasons such as that they have failed to respond to complaints, their advertising is grossly misleading, they are not in compliance with the law’s licensing or registration requirements, their complaints contain especially serious allegations, or the company’s industry is known for its fraudulent business practices.”—Unquote.

If you go into Trustlink from the BBB site, you will find complaints as recent as the 23 rd of March this year!

I makes me nervous that ancestry would associate themselves with this company in any fashion.

Email address gathering is not new, and it continues today. We give our email address to ancestry; who is to say MyLife can’t get them? I’m not computer savvy enough to know how it can be done, but not naive enough to believe it can’t be done.

Buyer beware!

March 29, 2009 at 2:43 pm
Nancy Rogers 

I wonder what the possiblity is that TGN and this MYLife/Reunion site are owned by the same organization? I realize that TGN is owned by a private corporation and was just wondering if one could follow the various names back and find out if MYLife is owned by this same private corporation…lets not forget that when one tracks back on TGN we found that the CEO or someone of equal rank use to work for Facebook and that there were many screams about trying to turn Ancestry into Facebook…is this another attempt at that?
Many of the city directories are not complete the one for the 1940′s Elmira, New York is missing 600 pages.

March 29, 2009 at 3:13 pm
Carol A. H. 

To Mickey Staton #112

I’ve never found a way to connect/save a city directory page to a person in a tree on ancestry. At least not directly as you can with a census record. It has to have the red save button and then will prompt you for the person. I know you can save to a shoebox or your hard disk.

If you want to save it to a person in your tree on ancestry, you have to create a custom event. That does take more steps but sometimes it is worth the extra work. You have to put in all the information: date, descriptuon, source, and etc. Too much to describe here, but when you have done it once or twice, it becomes easier.

You can get one on one help from a real human at 1-800-262-3787 10 am to 5 pm Eastern time. I will say I have found them to be polite and I’m very sure they can talk you through the steps.

Good luck.

March 29, 2009 at 6:09 pm
Carol A. H. 

To Nancy #124

It is possible to tract the “genealogy” of a company, and it might be possible online. All the companies involved in this problem are privately held. I learned that much. No public stock.

There are some smart people on these blogs. Some may be on the shady side of 45 but we are not dumb.

I must admit I have enough headaches right now in my life that I don’t feel like I could take on a project like that. I just KNOW the information is “out there.”

March 30, 2009 at 12:26 am
Tony Cousins 

Hi Carol

I seem to be using the word ‘cynical’ quite a lot lately on these pages, but here I go again.

Cynically speaking I wonder if Ancestry have become part of the affiliate progrtam on MyLife :)

http://www.mylife.com/site-root/affiliate_terms.html

TonyC

March 30, 2009 at 8:51 am
Jerry Bryan 

I experienced for the first time yesterday something that a number of you all probably experienced before me. Namely, I did a search on ancestry.com that found matches on mylife.com.

Out of curiosity and in an abundance of trying to be fair, I decided to click the link. I wanted to see if the mylife.com experience was any different when coming in from ancestry.com than it is when going to mylife.com directly.

The experience is not any different. mylife.com remains the Web site from hell, even when you come into it from ancestry.com. So I’m left with asking a question that I asked earlier in this blog. How do you guys from ancestry.com sleep at night?

March 30, 2009 at 9:27 am
Gary Gibb 

Thank you for the very interesting thoughts you have shared…
Several of you have commented on this blog about listening to customers. I would like to respond to those comments. We try to do what “most” of our customers want. Even in this blog you can see the wide variety of customer “wants”. For example, Pat represents many customers that complain we should do more historical content and she was shocked at how much info exists in the new USPRI about her. The other extreme is also represented where customers use USPRI for looking up living relatives from recent obituaries and think the older USPRI is not recent enough.
We conduct regular surveys to get a better understanding of what most customers want. Consistently we are told by customers that they value the records from 1800-1900 the most. For example from our survey in February of this year, 72% of the people in the survey thought that records from 1850-1900 where “very valuable” and only 34% thought that records post 1950 where “very valuable”.
I understand that customers would like to have more of everything but unfortunately we really do have “opportunity costs”. In essence it “costs” us to try and keep USPRI data up to date. By not trying to maintain this living people database we can add 2-3 million additional historic names per month for the same cost. We think this is what we do best and where our customers would like us to spend our time and effort (costs).
For those of you that want to find living people, we have provided links to MyLife to help you find them. We think MyLife does a great job of finding living people. For those of you who are NOT interested in finding living people you do NOT need to visit MyLife. We did NOT give MyLife any customer information. We just allow people to realize the resource is available.
Regarding MyLife, they had some marketing practices that the BBB did not approve of that have been changed to become compliant over a year ago. Unfortunately it takes 3 years to change this grade from the BBB. MyLife has amazingly few complaints for the size of their customer base. They had 15.6 million unique visitors in January. They have over 55 million registered members; adding 2 million+ members monthly. They have been a member in good standing with TRUSTe for over 2 years. They donate over $500,000 annually to the Red Cross. They were selected as Site of the Week by PC Magazine in July, 2007. They have over 750 million profiles from over 50+ social networks and other public sources. ComScore ranked them #60 most visited site in U.S. in February of 2009. MyLife has successfully helped millions of people find each other.
We are striving at Ancestry to help you succeed by doing those things most important for you. We think these recent changes reflect what “most” customers want and what we can do best to meet those requests.

March 30, 2009 at 10:24 am
Jerry Bryan 

Link to the PC Magazine review of reunion.com (now mylife.com)

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2265939,00.asp

March 30, 2009 at 11:34 am
Tony Brothers 

You still don’t explain why you didn’t leave the (old) USPRI online, and simply add the other, older dataset. The original USPRI was already there, paid for, up and running, and drawing users. So what if you didn’t ever update it? It still contains valuable data that isn’t easily available elsewhere, and certainly not without additional cost.

And don’t push off that line about it containing too much personal data on living individuals. As far as I can tell, the “new” USPRI does too.

March 30, 2009 at 7:31 pm
Tony Brothers 

You still don’t explain why you didn’t leave the (old) USPRI online, and simply add the other, older dataset. The original USPRI was already there, paid for, up and running, and drawing users. So what if you didn’t ever update it? It still contains valuable data that isn’t easily available elsewhere, and certainly not without additional cost.

And don’t push off that line about it containing too much personal data on living individuals. As far as I can tell, the “new” USPRI does too.

So, why won’t you put the old USPRI back online?

March 30, 2009 at 7:32 pm
Marshall 

Who takes these surveys? In all the years I have been on ancestry as a loyal customer I have never been asked to do a survey to voice type of records I would be interested in.

March 30, 2009 at 7:48 pm
Ene 

#130 Jerry – Thanks for the link to PC Mag review of reunion.com aka mylife.com. I am still of the opinion that site is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. And tigers don’t change their stripes overnight either. The juvenile questions such as what kind of cookie are you or who was the funniest looking politician are idiotic to boot. I am a serious researcher of genealogical information and that is what I expect to gain from a paid subscription to ancestry.com. TGN is engaging in a program of planned customer disinformation regarding mylife.com, or as it is sometimes known, baffling them with bovine excrement. Many years ago a US Senator from NY used to bestow his “Golden Fleece Award.” Tom Brokaw used to comment on the “fleecing of America.” I wonder what will be said about TGN and Ancestry.com in the not too distant future. Hmm?

March 30, 2009 at 8:37 pm
Carol A. H. 

As far as I can tell, MyLife is as Ene puts it, a piece of “bovine excrement.” I got a laugh at that expression, and laughs are rare on these blogs, unless you read Gary Gibb’s #129. I feel like I’m at a carnival with the guy with the walnut shells. A con game. By the time the time you finish reading that, you start to yawn. But if you go to the site Tony Cousins #127 added, it will make your eyes open wide.

http://www.mylife.com/site-root/affiliate_terms.html

It starts with:

“This agreement governs your participation in the MyLife.com Affiliate Program. The MyLife.com Affiliate Program (the “Affiliate Program”) is operated by MyLife.com, Inc. (“MyLife.com”). In this agreement, the terms “Participant”, “you” and “your” refer to you (the applicant), and the “sponsoring Web site” refers to the Web site from which you will link to MyLife.com pursuant to the Affiliate Program.”

As I understand this document, it is an Affiliate Program Agreement. The “participant” would be TGN and the “website” would be Ancestry.com. It’s worth a read. It is probably legal in the sense of the law but it certainly is not to our advantage as we would be the potental subscribers to MyLife for a fee.

Why is it for the most part ancestry has the monopoly on the historical records we need but they are going down the wrong path and have been for about a year or so. Is it management or marketing or both?

I never would have looked at the blogs if there hadn’t been changes that were disrupting. There seems to be less good records being added and a lot of the ones that do get added are badly indexed, incomplete and hastily prepared. I’m learning to work around these idiotic built in problems to get what I need. I have stopped supporting part of this site by only having a US Deluxe subscription, not World Deluxe. As many have said, nothing speaks louder than money. But it works for them too. They want MORE so they look to a larger customer base. Social sites are plentiful and there seems to be a big demand for them, mostly with the teens and twenty-something groups, but I wish ancestry wasn’t headed in that direction.

I, too, have begged and pleaded for ancestry to fix what is wrong before adding –”enhancements”– we have never asked for. I’m weary of it. (Maybe it is just the kind of day I have had today.) But I think we need to keep making noise, the few of us that do.

Read Jerry’s #130 and try his referenced site.

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2265939,00.asp

March 30, 2009 at 11:21 pm
Gary Gibb 

I wanted to add a comment regarding improving existing content versus adding new content.
This is another area where we try to do what customers want the most but I am not sure we get the balance right. In a survey conducted in December of 2008, we asked customers what new collections or improvements to existing collections they wanted the most. The top single request by a few percentages was for improved US Federal Census.
This year we are using a large portion of our resources to do what they requested. We are spending a large portion of our resources to add all new images and improved indexes for the Federal Census. This includes over 500 million records and millions of images. We hope to get all the census years 1800-1900 improved in 2009.
Close behind improved census, customers requested many new vital, military and immigration records. By an overwhelming margin, customers want much more content. We are trying to balance these requests and do what you value most. We are likely spending between 25% and 50% of our resources on improving existing collections this year.
What would you do? Would you really prefer that we spent all our resources improving existing content? If you had your choice would you spend 25%, 50%, 75% or 100% on improving existing collections versus adding new vital or military collections?
One additional point to consider is that indexing historic records is not an exact science and there are diminishing returns over time.
- Sometimes the historic images are not very legible so mistakes are made. On many content sets, it may take 2 or 3 or even 4 times as long to try and get improved digital images based on inconsistent original microfilm. These improvements may not even be visible to the naked eye in most cases.
- Sometimes the digital indexers make mistakes. Even though these are reviewed and audited to get to a 99% character accuracy, more time can be spent. Again in this case it may take 2 or 3 times as long to improve by small fractions of a percent. Many if not all of these records are just not possible to get perfectly accurate. We even tried using 50 expert genealogists to index a very few census pages and we compared their results. They did not agree on a huge percentage (over 20%) of the names. To better appreciate this you should try and index some records by visiting the World Archives Project. It is an amazing challenge.
- Sometimes the index taker or ship scribe or other record maker, hundreds of years ago, made a mistake. These are really only corrected by finding additional records to cross-reference or by a family member correcting the original record. Our customers make millions of these corrections and record attachments every week. These are invaluable additions made by the people who really know the family best.
At Ancestry we are always improving our search engine, our image capture, our indexing and our quality while increasing the quantity of records we release. I am amazed by the continuing improvements made with better technology and processes.
We are spending a lot of our time and effort on improving existing collections this year, while continuing to bring you millions of new records every month. We are trying to balance the customer requests and prioritize accordingly. I am not sure we have the balance right yet.

March 31, 2009 at 12:03 pm
Rob P. 

Gary Gibb, thank you for the detailed responses. You have forgotten, however, to address one of the concerns that have been brought up in an earlier response.

Please respond to the criticism regarding the U.S. Public Records Index 1950 -1990 which does not comprehensively cover the period of time as did the earlier database you had. That the majority of the records retrieved are in the early 1990′s and mid to late 1980′s.

If this information is true you could have just as well left the other PRI database on and not updated it!
Maybe by leaving on the prior PRI people would NOT have a reason to go to MyLife and give affiliate points to Ancestry.com.

March 31, 2009 at 3:14 pm
Ene 

Dear Gary Gibb, In response to your posting No. 136, just what
part of “we want the site operating efficiently with existing content before new content is added” doesn’t Ancestry.com understand? Have you ever posed a question in a recent survey that asks your subscribers to prioritize their preference of site improvements versus new content? Not on my watch you haven’t. Sure you asked what content we want, and sure we responded accordingly; BUT, we DO NOT want these things at the expense of a fully functioning site and that was not part of the survey. The indexing of records as now provided does not permit the user to SORT by name, date, place. That is why you are receiving complaints of a query for 19th Century data returning 20th Century data. You KNOW that you are not getting it right. If you do the same things over and over again in the same way, you are bound to get the same result–COMPLAINTS FROM SUBSCRIBERS!

My priorities are:
1. Fix the site so it functions smoothly and returns timely data for the time frame, place and name requested.

2. Proceed with enhancing current collections, with the exception of mylife.com which does not deserve space on Ancestry.com.

3. Determine customer interest in addition of new or revised content by offering your surveys to every paid subscriber for input. Survey results can be skewed and manipulated by your survey base and will not reflect the wishes of the entire subscriber base.

And now that you know what I want from Ancestry.com and my priority sequence, when may I expect to see some positive actions by Ancestry.com to determine what the rest of its paid subscribers want?

March 31, 2009 at 3:24 pm
Tony Brothers 

Gary Gibb:

How do you determine WHO takes your surveys? If you are targeting new customers, most of them, frankly, don’t have a clue.

I’ve been a member for 10 years and have NEVER been asked to survey.

Oh, and by the way, in those 10 years, I’d bet I haven’t run across more than 5 or 6 census images that weren’t readable. I don’t think that is the problem. It may *seem* that image quality is poor, but when one is working from an error-laden index, links that go nowhere or to the wrong page, and an absolutely PATHETIC search engine, how would you know whether these users complaining about poor image quality have ever even made it to the image they want?

Oh, and by the way …. pass this along. Good old Ancestry Anne hasn’t posted in a very long time about progress with the search engine fiasco. That must have not made it into your survey’s Top Ten for this year, huh?

March 31, 2009 at 3:33 pm
Reed 

Dear Mr. Gibb,

RE your post (#136), I think I can speak for many Ancestry users when I say we are very, very tired of this kind of default Ancestry response, where you draw a clear but false line between either (A) “adding more databases” versus (B) the diminishing returns of using your finite resources to clear up the last “one percent” of indexing errors.

Oh, if only that were the issue! The truth is we know about the errors due to incorrect or illegible originals, poor image quality and minor indexing errors. Stuff happens. We know it & we can deal with it.

No, what we are so frustrated about is Ancestry’s slapdash approach to releasing databases that are often incomplete (e.g. #19, #39, above) or so poorly indexed that researchers will never know that the database exists, or is relevant, to their search (see my #30) at:
http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2009/03/12/us-content-update-1880-1940-obituaries-iowa/

Furthermore, Ancestry is host to a number of databases that have serious problems with missing data and/or images. The worst offender, in my experience, is the potentially very useful “Historical Newspapers, BMD Announcements, 1851-2003″ database. I noticed problems with this over two years ago, and in spite of repeated contact with Ancestry’s ineffective “customer service,” various relevant Ancestry-blog posts and a spate of correspondence with the “Ancestry Insider” (back when he still worked at Ancestry). Here’s the short version (I can supply detailed search parameters if needed).

Using confirmed death date info a few Chicago relatives, I searched for their obits in the “Historical Newspapers, BMD Announcements, 1851-2003″ by using an exact search by newspaper title + location + date. Here’s what happened for one of them:

Subject is Minnie Baker Nolton, d. Chicago, 4 Aug 1948. Searched for all Aug., 1948 obits in the Chicago Tribune and: No obits. So, I searched Chicago Tribune, full-year of 1948, obits. Result: No obits.

So, how about ANY kind of BMD records in the Chicago Tribune, 1948? Aha! 818 total records: 3 [sic] BIRTH announcements and 815 MARRIAGE announcements! It seems that marriage records have decent coverage (though I don’t know if 815 announcements represents anything close to the total number actually published in the Tribune in 1948 or not). Only 3 birth records and zero death records indicate something is amiss. So now I was suspicious, and I ran several searches to see how the BMD records are represented throughout the period 1945-1955.

11 (eleven) BIRTH notices from the period 30 Sept 1945 to 10 Aug 1955.

17,998 MARRIAGE notices from the period 2 Jan 1945 to 31 Dec 1955. (That seems more like it.)

0 (zero) DEATH notices from the period 2 Jan 1945 to 31 Dec 1955.

(Additional searches show other huge gaps in available images for the 1960s and 1970s as well.)

At this point I got angry enough (and depressed enough) that I stopped. I now knew that the “Historical Newspapers, BMD Announcements, 1851-2003″ is—at best—a serious misnomer. After all, one would assume that—as the home page for the search engine states—this database contains—for example—135 years of Chicago Tribune BMD records:

“Source Information: […] The Chicago Tribune. Chicago, IL, USA: The Chicago Tribune, 1850-1985. […]” So I decided to click on the “more information” link. Perhaps that link would explain which records are missing for which year? Details? Nope. Just this one nonchalant sentence buried in the paragraph:

“Note: There may not be records for all three vital events included in this database for each newspaper and year combination.”

That’s putting it mildly! Now, like many Ancestry users, I assumed that this meant the occasional page of records might be missing, or even a few issues of a given paper might not be in the database, especially in the nineteenth-century editions. And, this being Chicago, perhaps the pre-Fire years (1855-1871) will be spotty. But really, an entire DECADE of post-WW2 obituaries (1945-1955) missing? And only eleven birth records from the same period? From the “newspaper of record” of the largest metropolis between the coasts? And who knows how many other gaping holes exist in the database? I hadn’t the heart to check.

But it seems to me that Ancestry should check, and should accurately label the database. (After all, if I go to the local library and look up a newspaper or periodical in their collection I expect—and will get—an accurate catalog listing with the start and end dates of the item AND a list of missing issues.) From this unhappy customer’s view, it seems that either (1) ProQuest has sold Ancestry a seriously flawed database—which must be fixed ASAP—or (2) Ancestry already knows how extensive the problems are and choses to ignore the situation and/or hide it from their subscribers—which must be corrected ASAP.

Ancestry needs to speak honestly and plainly to the subscriber/users of its databases, so that we know the limitations of each database. The lack of this information is a serious impediment to our use of the data, may cause researchers to reach false conclusions. and veers awfully close to false advertising, something which any self-respecting business should want to avoid at all costs.

Sorry for the rant, and thank you for your patience. I do appreciate the size and complexity of Ancestry’s operation, but this situation (like the poorly organized and labeled new City Directories) is way beyond what is acceptable.

I look forward to your reply.

—Reed

P.S. I finally got so tired of waiting for Ancestry to fix the Historical Newspaper BMD database that I paid to use the Chicago Tribune’s own online archives. What do you know? better searches AND each article is a beautifully scanned PDF file, easily downloaded. Come on, Ancestry!

March 31, 2009 at 4:02 pm
Tony Brothers 

Gary Gibb : CHALLENGE
CHALLENGE : Gary Gibb

Form an “Advanced User Advisory Committee” – members to be 20 of the most ardent and vocal supporters/critics as culled from this Blog and the several message boards at boards.ancestry.com/topics.ancestry/

Then, take a bold step and let those 20 people help Ancestry “get the balance right”.

March 31, 2009 at 5:24 pm
Jerry Bryan 

I very much appreciate Gary’s #136, but I also share the sentiments that have been expressed in response. In particular, I don’t think the ancestry’s surveys are constructed in such a way that they really get at what people want.

It turns out that unlike several of you I have been offered several of ancestry’s surveys. And I have filled them out when given the opportunity. The surveys don’t really allow me to express my research priorities. I know that everybody will not share my priorities, and that’s fine. I don’t expect them to. But when I take a survey I would at least like to be able to express my own priorities in a meaningful way.

I think Gary is looking at the wrong word when he talks about balance. The better word to look for would be priorities. For example, I think most people if given a chance would give a higher priority to keeping the old USPRI than to re-imaging and re-indexing the 1900 census. Indeed, I suspect that total re-indexing a census will in general introduce as many new errors as fix old errors. There just needs to be better mechanisms to fix old indexing errors and missing pages without having to redo whole databases.

But if you were going to re-index censuses, why on earth would you start with the ones from 1800-1900? Except for the various missing image problems, they are in pretty good shape. The one to have started with would have been 1930 which I think is in terrible shape because it doesn’t index birth places. And birth places are usually much easier to index than are names. But whether you agree with my priorities or not, the surveys really don’t get at priorities in the sense that I’m talking about.

Let me be sure I’m clear about something. Is Gary saying that if the surveys had indicated more interest in modern records, then the old USPRI would not have been taken down? I could be wrong, but it just feels like the USPRI was picked on for reasons other than user preferences. It feels like ancestry.com really just wanted this database to go away, and it would have gone away even if surveys had said to keep it.

For what it’s worth, here’s my priority list (actually, very similar to Ene’s #138).

1. Fix New Search. It’s much better now than than when it was first introduced, and I’m persuaded that Anne and her team are making a good faith effort to improve it further. But it still is woefully inadequate, and there is a long list of things that Old Search can do just fine that New Search either does very poorly or can’t do at all.

2. Sever all ties to mylife.com (even if you don’t restore the old USPRI). It is truly an evil Web site, and ancestry.com just doesn’t get it. I hate to waste one of my priorities on this issue, but it is important. Saying that people that don’t want to go to mylife.com can just choose not to is being very disingenuous. A lot of users will not realize what the site is like before they get there, and they will have given up personal information and their contact list before they realize what a terrible mistake they have made.

3. Fix broken or missing images, including indexing them where the fact that they were missing prevented them from being indexed.

4. Provide much better ways for users to provide corrections to indexes. We need to be able to fix more than just naming errors. We are a great (and free!) resource.

5. Put the old USPRI back.

6. Describe databases completely and accurately. One of my pet peeves in this regard is the Tennessee Marriage Database. It’s a great database, but there is no way to tell which counties are covered for which years. Reed describes the same kind of problem very nicely in his #140.

(Notice that we haven’t even gotten to adding new content yet, or even enhancing old content except for fixing egregious errors such as missing images.)

7. Continue adding new content and enhancing old content. I’m including new and old as a single priority item, because I don’t think they are really that separable. It’s individual databases that should have priority, not the broad, general categories of databases. And contrary to conventional wisdom, this should include adding at least some content that’s either not indexed or is only lightly indexed, sort of like looking at certain microfilm at the library. That would get some content up much more quickly and at much less cost than if it were fully indexed. Some content really does has to be well indexed to be useful, but some does not. And finally, provide a meaningful way for users (all paying customers, not just some) to help prioritize which databases go up first or are enhanced first. The prioritization is not really separable from questions of new content vs. enhancing old content. It’s all one big question of content.

March 31, 2009 at 6:02 pm
Jo 

To Carol A. H. # 125 –

In order to connect/save a city directory page to a person in a tree on Ancestry you have to have found the page directly from a search that landed you on that page. Then the magic button that will allow the save will appear. Navigating to the page will not allow it. This has been confirmed to me by Ancestry staff. I have been successful in saving to people by finding the page I need by navigation and then in another tab of my browser, doing searches in the directory for the surnames on the page I want until I get a hit on the same page. It doesn’t have to be a hit for the same name, just the same page. It can take several attempts as the OCR does not always find the names due to the vowels being closed or blurred and unrecognizable. It has worked better for me to use a name that’s abundant on the page, such as Harris or Robinson, or that has few vowels, such as Smith, using whatever is on your particular page, of course. It’s more difficult when the directory only list the surname once and then lists lines instead of repeating the surname but it can still be accomplished with persistance.

To all — Regarding the surveys, I’ve only been a paid member for less than 3 years yet I’ve been offered surveys more times than I can remember. I filled out the first vew but, as has been mentioned, the questions and/or multiple choice answers do not reflect my priorities or are too generalized to be answered with any specificity. I stopped doing them after a while. The only reason I can think for my being offered so many is that I am on Ancestry every single day for hours and hours at a time, and possibly because I used to make a *lot* of corrections to the Ancestry records, but I’m not sure I made any more than anyone else.

April 1, 2009 at 9:14 am
Jo 

Another city directory not complete — Newark, New Jersey, 1943. Only goes up to the B’s in the alphabetical section. It only has 134 pages out of the more than 1281-something that should be there according to the directory’s own conents page.

This is so dissappointing. I love city directories and thought this was one of the best things Ancestry has done recently.

I have two questions. Was it known that these directories were incomplete? Are these incomplete directories going to be fixed/completed and when?

April 1, 2009 at 9:21 am
Nancy Rogers 

Gary I read your response to many of our questions and I believe that you are giving an impression that may or may not be true. You state that x amount of ancestry.com budget goes for acquiring/updating/fixing data bases. I think the real question here is how much of ancestry’s total budget is going for data bases and how much for advertising? If ancestry is still putting most of its budget into advertising lets say 70% and the other 30% into data bases, then when you say that ancestry is devoting a large percentage of its budget to data bases, what you are actually saying is that of that 30% a large part is going to data bases. I have partaken of several of the surveys and have said over and over again, please fix what you already have, add substantial data bases and stop trying to be facebook. I believe that in an effort to get/keep researchers you have tried to use the acquisition of the city directories as a substitute for the 1940 census. I have looked at several different directories and few if any of them are really complete. This is a half baked attempt to give us a census substitute, which those of us who do research already knew that we were going to have to wait until 2012 to get the real census records. Given the problems you have had with indexing I am hoping that your company is already thinking and planning for indexing that census. I am well aware of how hard it is to index. I index for another organization. I have spent many hours looking at microfilm in particular census records (the off year census records for various counties in New York). Given the problems with getting the state of New York to release BMD’s why oh why haven’t you begun to put these records on line. As for how long have I been at this…well in terms of using the internet I believe I was using it for research by the late 1990’s and I have been a member of ancestry almost from its beginnings. I think the genealogy community would appreciate knowing exactly what the financial connection is between Ancestry and MyLife, because as strongly as you are defending it there must be some connection.

April 1, 2009 at 10:32 am
Jerry Bryan 

Summary of new content for Knoxville, Tennessee.

1936 – 178 pages out of about 1200, starts with some of the S’s

1938 – complete

1939 – 338 pages out of about 1200, only includes business listings at the beginning of the book, doesn’t even get to where the A’s start

1940 – 343 pages out of about 1200, only includes business listings at the beginning of the book, doesn’t even get to where the A’s start

1941 – only 17 pages out of about 1200, doesn’t even get to where the A’s start

1942 – complete

1943 – only has the A’s and the B’s.

I appeal to you to call this “City Directories” rather than “Census Substitute”, and to be sure that the volumes that are there are complete. I know for a fact that these particular volumes do exist, are complete, and were not destroyed in a courthouse fire. Indeed, all the volumes in question are sitting on a shelf at my library.

April 1, 2009 at 11:58 am
Jade 

Gary, in your #129: “We conduct regular surveys to get a better understanding of what most customers want. Consistently we are told by customers that they value the records from 1800-1900 the most. For example from our survey in February of this year, 72% of the people in the survey thought that records from 1850-1900 where “very valuable” and only 34% thought that records post 1950 where “very valuable”.”

I don’t know who you are surveying. I have filled out survey forms quite a few times, and never been asked what time periods I would favor new records for. Never has there been a question about what types of new databases I would like to see. The questions are mostly about things I could pay Ancestry to do that I can do free and hassle-free on my own computer or on other sites.

Of course if you surveyed people working on their trees, you would get different answers from the vast majority than if you surveyed people not working on AMTs.

I know you are not going to retrieve missing database images, such as in the WWI Draft Reg. Cards, 1840 US Census, etc., which you have known about for more than two years. You are not going to scan the actual Civil War Pension index cards which were not uploaded because the microfilm is often terrible (possibly as many as 30% are missing, not the few claimed officially by Ancestry).

So please stop the general assertions about improving databases. Ancestry has made some steps forward in customer relations in the past few months, with better communication about site issues and responsiveness to major issues such as deletion of half the images from the 1925 State of Iowa Census.

It would improve customer confidence if you could occasionally post items concerning what database improvements are actually being worked on.

April 1, 2009 at 12:09 pm
Ene 

#142 Jerry Bryan
There is a way around the correction issue to provide additional information. If you have a name variation or nickname for someone that has not previously been used, that change provides a portal to the correction menu where you can add other information about the person or the family. It is not searchable as such, but it is available to every user who takes the time to see what is behind the “cloud” that appears next to a name in the results of your query. Further, don’t stop with the head person, click on every name in that result to see the hidden corrections, submit a correction for each name over time, and provide additional information. Your opportunities are limited by the number of names, but it does work.
PS: I don’t know the source of those “yellow triangles” because they are neither identified nor explained. Some may have been entered by the corrections reviewers who are attempting to help, but mostly get it wrong. Ironically, clicking on a “yellow triangle” takes you to the “cloud” submission which is not pertinent to the “yellow triangle” change, except when you reference those as erroneous in your submission.

April 1, 2009 at 1:15 pm
Tony Brothers 

> Ancestry has made some steps forward in customer relations in the past few months, with better communication

Better communication? I guess, if you consider that “better” is more favorable than “none”. However, given the poor quality and lack of truthfulness of their “better” efforts, I’d say that Ancestry still gets a big fat F.

April 1, 2009 at 1:23 pm
Ene 

Dear Mr. Gibb,
The Ancestry.com Bloggers have been making excellent suggestions and contributions for your benefit and ours. Ancestry.com should take heed of that valuable input.

When, and not if, Ancestry.com presents a more useful survey to its full, paid subscriber base, I would suggest that you include ample space for those surveyed to explicitly identify in their own words what they are most interested in improving on Ancestry.com and in what priority sequence.

April 1, 2009 at 1:49 pm
Jerry Bryan 

Ene #148, could you elaborate further? I can’t figure out how to add a correction for anything but a name. Indeed, the following is an exact copy and paste from corrections Web page:

NOTE: Currently we can only accept submissions for alternate names. We will soon add fields for alternate places, dates, and more. For now, please enter ALTERNATE NAMES ONLY.
Other information will NOT be searchable!

The text has read the exact same way for several years. I think I need to look up the definition of “soon” in the dictionary.

April 1, 2009 at 2:19 pm
Jim Livermore 

Jerry #151,

Once you enter the edit screen, below the Given and Surname fields there is a Comment section.

Have at it.

April 1, 2009 at 3:39 pm
Ene 

#151 Jerry Bryan Click on the name correction option in the left sidebar. On the next screen click on the first option on the left for alternate name. On the third screen enter either a nickname, maiden name, given name or surname. That name change must be entirely new to enable you to add comments in the Explanation field. That is where you can enter whatever additional information that you wish about that person or family. Be sure it reads the way you intend before you submit, because it can not be changed later. Your comments can be viewed by anyone who clicks on the “cloud” that will appear beside that person’s name in a search result within a day or so. Please be aware that when there is more than one person listed, such as a census record,
the “clouds” will only appear on that individual’s name page and will not be seen on the other names for the record. Hope that answers your question. Eventually Ancestry.com promises to provide a menu and fields to do essentially the same thing, but it will be searchable. Do you really want to wait on Ancestry.com?

Thanks #152 for your input. I just like to cover all the bases.

April 1, 2009 at 5:48 pm
Jerry Bryan 

Re: #152 and #153, I think I understand. I have always included an explanation when I have submitted corrections. But guess I thought I was sort of wasting my time because I didn’t think anybody could ever see my explanation. I’ll have to go find one of those “clouds” you are talking about for the explanation and take a look. All I remember seeing is the yellow triangle saying that there is a correction. My corrections do show up, but I had never seen the explanation show up.

Much thanks.

Now we need to get back on message of mylife.com, city directories that are incomplete, USPRI, etc.

April 1, 2009 at 7:18 pm
Carol A. H. 

To Jo #143

You are correct regarding the ability to add a city directory refernece to a person in an ancestry tree, IF you can get the search to find the directory. I have done that several times and it works great. I stand corrected on that. I should have suggested that. My answer was incomplete.

As I understood the problem Mickey was having was not being able to add the city drectory reference from the page itself. It seemed he searched the directories and found what he wanted, not searched the name and found the directory reference.

When a name search doesn’t find the city directory and I have found it by searching the directories, I’m not taking the chance of losing it, so that it why I add a custom event using “Residence” to that person.

Sometimes a name search doesn’t give the same results every time. I noticed that a long time ago so I take what I can get when I can get it.

Anyway, hopfully he figured that one out and is able to add his source refernce.

Regarding surveys: I too have taken many of them and find they are NOT satisfactory in the answer options. I am on ancestry every day but not all day. Got to go out there and make some money to pay for my obsession: genealogy. And I also make “corrections” whenever I can. Some of the mistakes in transcribing are so obvious, but some are really difficult. Only because I know the family can I offer the correct names.

Ancestry sends me a “Thank you” for my corrections. A nice touch.

April 1, 2009 at 8:04 pm
Carol A. H. 

To Jerry Bryan #154

You are right, we need to get back to the subject at hand. But I have exhausted my knowledge on the subject, for now. I will keep reading the blogs until someone comes up with some new information or Ancestry pulls this blog off the site, which they do on occasion.

April 1, 2009 at 8:24 pm
Carol A. H. 

I went back to that Affiliate Agreement Document that Tony Cousins posted in #127. (This thing seems to bug me a great deal.)

It seems ancestry will get a commission for every new subscriber who signs up with MyLife from the ancestry.com website. Here is that part of the document:

3. Commission Fees

MyLife will pay you [Ancestry] a commission based upon one of the following approaches. The participant must elect a commission structure at the time of joining the program.

A) Commission per Completed Registration

MyLife.com will pay you a commission fee on each Qualifying Registration to the Service purchased during the Term. “Qualifying Registration” means a first-time completed Guest Registration by a customer that he or she [that means you and me] created after linking to the MyLife.com Site from the sponsoring Web site via an integration. MyLife.com may offer special pricing and discounts in its sole discretion. Commission Fees are calculated based upon the actual completed registration. MyLife.com has no obligation to revise this Agreement when it changes its subscription fees [dollars!] and/or offers special pricing or discounts.

B) Commission per Paid Subscription

MyLife.com will pay you a commission fee on each Qualifying Subscription to the Service purchased during the Term. “Qualifying Subscription” means a first-time subscription purchased by a customer [you and me again!] using a registration to MyLife.com that he or she created after linking to the MyLife.com Site from the sponsoring Web site via an Integration.”

Doesn’t that tell you these two companies are in bed together?

Ancesry gets commissions for “we the people” signing up with MyLife! I pass!

April 1, 2009 at 8:59 pm
Carol A. H. 

Gary Gibb in #129 gives an explanation for the reason why the “F” ratng of MyLife hasn’t changed. Here it is:

–”Regarding MyLife, they had some marketing practices that the BBB did not approve of that have been changed to become compliant over a year ago. [A year ago?] Unfortunately it takes 3 years to change this grade from the BBB.”–

Would you buy something from a place you knew had an “F” rating by the BBB? If the company is so good, sucessful, and blah, blah, blah, wouldn’t they want to do something to make the change/correction happen faster? To let a bad rating just remain seems like a bad business practice if you really deserved a better one.

Gary is right, you don’t have to join MyLife. It is your choice. It makes me think the folks at ancestry think most of us won’t find out or care if we do.

Maybe this is true. How many times have you heard on the news warnings not to give out your personal information online? I just don’t like the association of ancestry and MyLife. It’s sleezy.

April 2, 2009 at 5:38 pm
Ron Fegley 

Ancestry says:

“Several of you commented, just keep a copy of USPRI, you don’t need to worry about keeping it up to date. In essence that is what we have done. We moved away from trying to stay up to date on the “living people” and got a copy of the USPRI data from 1950 to 1990. This is literally a copy of the historic USPRI content. I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the extent of this content collection.
If you want to find living people there are many resources to help as mentioned by others. We think MyLife is one of the best resources to help people find and contact other living people.”

I hit a brick wall on a woman in the 1920s. I want to find living relatives in her county who might help me. It is much less useful now to find a contact from 20 years ago! I liked Ancestry MUCH BETTER the way it was.

April 3, 2009 at 3:17 am
Jo 

Dear Gary Gibb:

You have not addressed the problem of the incomplete city directories. Would you please comment on this?

Why are so many of them incomplete? As I look into this more I find some directories that were already on Ancestry before the release of this 1940 census substitute were also not complete.

Was this a known issue? If so, why weren’t we informed so we wouldn’t waste our time searching for names that were never going to be there?

Will this be fixed? Is someone at Ancestry actively working on fixing it? Do you have a timeframe of when it will be fixed?

Please respond and address each question I raised.

Thank you.
Jo

April 3, 2009 at 6:13 am
Jo 

I just found this “note” when I went to browse the city directories instead of searching them.

**Please note: The way these directories were originally filmed, a directory for a particular year may span two microfilm rolls – the first part of the directory appears at the end of one roll and the end of the directory appears at the beginning of the next roll. Unfortunately, this problem has been replicated in our browse tables. This means that you may need to look at two “Year” browse entries to view a complete directory. For example, the first part of a 1942 directory may appear in the browse entry labeled “1941-1942″. The second part of the directory would then appear in the browse entry labeled “1942-1943″.

Due to this split, we have also found that sometimes we are missing part of a directory as we don’t have all microfilm rolls yet. We are working on producing these missing rolls and getting them added to the database.**

That explains a lot. I would still like to know when the rest of the directories will be added?

April 3, 2009 at 7:56 am
Tony Brothers 

for Gary Gibb:

I see that you have “updated” several databases today, including the Montana Death Index, 1907-2002 and World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918.

I also note that you have made no provision for telling us exactly what has been updated, as has been promised.

WHY IS THIS SO DIFFICULT FOR YOU TO ACHIEVE?

April 4, 2009 at 10:22 am
Jade 

Re: #147, it is with great delight I note that Ancestry has fixed the WWI Draft Registration record cards for Tioga Co, PA so that images for surnames beginning with K through Z can now be viewed.

Thank you so much – have been hoping for this since I notified you of the problem 2-1/2 years ago.

April 4, 2009 at 8:56 pm
Carol A. H. 

Hi Jade,

After 2 and 1/2 years you got something fixed? Wow, Maybe there is hope for me to get a 1920 census fixed after more than 2 years! (I finally had to order the film from the FHC to get my page and people.)

I have been looking at the new city directories and they are very sad. Whole years with maybe a dozen pages for some big populated areas. Sigh! Maybe in 2 and 1/2 years?

April 4, 2009 at 10:26 pm
Jade 

Carol, re: your 164, “I” did not “get it fixed.”

Ancestry fixes stuff or not according to its own inscrutable agenda.

I suspect that an insider who is not part of the usual product chain-of-command had something to do with this one fix.

However it happened, some of us are grateful.

Regarding the City Directories, it is noteworthy that in response to myriad complaints and Blog items, they also regrouped the Directory images so that one can now locate a specific place and year-edition via links.

I can’t imagine these fixes’ being done a couple of years ago. Something good regarding responsiveness is happening, and I am glad to applaud it, with hope that the trend will accelerate.

April 5, 2009 at 2:47 am
Gary Gibb 

Thanks for the many interesting comments.
1) In regards to product enhancements like improved search, sorting, and better correction tools, we do have some great product improvements coming soon. The product team posts about these in the product blog. Personally, I am excited about the huge improvements coming in the next few months regarding a better image viewer and index corrections along with the new search with lifespan checking. You can read more about those enhancements and more on that blog.
2) Who takes the surveys? We run lots of surveys on a regular basis but we usually take a representative sample from existing subscribers. This is usually about 10,000 customers. We have about 1 million customers so we attempt to not bother all customers too often. 10,000 customers gives us a statistically significant sample size and we appreciate the feedback. On almost all of these surveys we have open-ended questions where free text responses are given. We review and read these comments to help us understand other concerns from our customers. We can certainly do surveys better and we keep trying to improve.
One additional input that we do get from every customer is web usage statistics. The web is amazing. We regularly review what content is used by customers and how. We know how many visits a database gets every day, how many times it is attached to a tree, what customers did before viewing this database and after, how long they spent on the web page, how often they visit the site, what location and time frame is searched for most often etc. We use this information to help shape our future work.
3) Regarding gaps in record collections, we are working to better specify what we have and what we release. We added some clarity to the historic BMD newspaper collection 1851-2003 because it is not complete. It is a collection we purchased from a 3rd party so it is only as complete as they have captured to date. We changed the name to better reflect the “select” titles that are in that collection.
In regards to the city directories we have a lot of additional data coming soon. We published about 3,000 of the 8,000 city directories we have from one partner. We have published about 600 of the 6,000 city directories we have from another partner. We tried to choose a meaningful group (over 100 million names) and release city directories around the year 1940. Unfortunately several of the microfilm rolls from one of the collections had partial years on a roll. This lead to some locations only getting certain portions of the alphabet. We have an aggressive schedule laid out to publish much of the remaining city directories over the next year. All or most of the gaps that have been complained about should be filled in as we release more.
Again thanks for your feedback. We appreciate the criticism and even some positive comments that are squeezed in. We keep trying to do more and serve you better.

April 6, 2009 at 12:48 pm