Ancestry.com

U.S. Content Update: Obituaries, Naturalizations, City Directories, New Census Images and More

Posted by Ancestry.com on August 13, 2009 in Content

It’s been a while since my last post, so let me take you through some of the new U.S. content released on Ancestry.com since then:

United States Obituary Collection – This database continues to grow weekly.  Plus, beginning this year, it now contains more extracted fields, and in some cases, photographs.

Jewish Collection – Several new databases were added, including content from AJHS, JewishGen and Miriam Weiner.

AJHS Brooklyn Hebrew Orphan Asylum Records, 1878-1969

AJHS Brooklyn Hebrew Orphan Asylum Records, 1878-1969

Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s – Over 100,000 records were added to the database.

Selected U.S. Naturalization Records – Original Documents, 1790-1974 (World Archives Project) – 15 new states were added to this important collection of original documents, including Alabama, Louisiana, Oregon, California, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Mississippi, South Carolina, Florida, Montana, Tennessee, Georgia, New York, Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Washington.

naturalization originals 3

Original Declaration of Intention Document from Colorado

1810 United States Federal Census & 1820 United States Federal Census – The new, higher quality images provided in cooperation with FamilySearch were added.  Be sure to take a look.

U.S. City Directories – Since May, we’ve added over 4,200 new city directories to this huge collection, ranging from the years 1820-1949.  Over 1,000 more from later years are coming within the next 30 days.

Virgin Islands Slave Records – For the first time ever, these priceless records have been published online.  More collections are in the works.

U.S. School Yearbooks – The largest online school yearbook collection grew by 2,000 with the most recent update.

NARA Collections on Ancestry.com – This new catalog was added to give users the ability to search by keyword, title, and series number to see if a NARA collection is available on Ancestry.com.  To see the full list of NARA titles available to subscribers, click here.

Historical Newspaper Collection – Newspapers from over 80 new U.S. cities and towns were added.

U.S. World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 – Draft cards from the state of Illinois were added.

WWII Draft Card Illinois

WWII Draft Card from Illinois

See all recent U.S. Content releases

Please let me know if you have any questions about the collections above or on U.S. Content in general.

79 comments

Comments
1 Randy SeaverAugust 13, 2009 at 11:34 am

Chris,

How do your content releases stack up against your list on the Coming Soon page at http://landing.ancestry.com/comingsoon/?

I haven’t made al ist of what you promised and what you’ve done. Can you give us some idea of % complete after 7.5 months of 2010?

2 Chris LydiksenAugust 13, 2009 at 12:24 pm

Randy, we recently released an updated version of the Coming Soon page. Under “OUR LATEST ADDITIONS” you can see many of the updates that have taken place since the page was initially launched. Beyond that, I don’t know the %, and haven’t tracked it as such, but that’s an interesting question.

3 BobNYAugust 13, 2009 at 1:11 pm

I wrote the foillowing LAST MONTH in Anne’s blog

Comment Number: 1 Written by: BobNY
Posted on:
July 30, 2009 at 10:34 am

I know this is off topic, but you and others have ignored this question on at least 3 other occasions. As the product manager for search, I believe this one is yours.

When ancestry “improved” the 1900 US census, you removed all of the ED descriptions for major cities., e.g., New York and Chicago. This has basically made the census useless for those who want to browse or to find individuals by address.

Since you have the information, and it was there for many years, can you put it back?

=======================
Anne reponded quickly:

BobNY, that is a question for the content PM. I’ve forwarded your question on to him, and when I get an answer I will post it.

=========================
So, is there an answer? Do you have any clue how difficult you have made this for those who are searching by address, given the search engine leaves much to be desired?
=========================

It’s nice to look back and tell us what you DID do, but how about keeping the promises that have been recently made about what you WILL do.

Anne wrote in her blog:

Anne Mitchell, Ancestry.com

Posted on:
August 6, 2009 at 10:43 am
Here are some updates:
More Data Collections

We will be launching more data collections on the 12th and more over the next few days after that. I’ll publish a list later.

DO YOU PEOPLE ACTUALLY TALK TO EACH OTHER?
========================
Regarding the 1810 and 1820 census. They have been listed as “Genealogy Databases Posted or Updated Recently” since June and July respectively. Are you now saying that the databases have not been updated; it is just the images that have been improved?

If it is just improved images, I think you are being highly deceptive to call the database updated. If you have actually updated the database with ADDITIONAL DATA, I think you need to tell us what that data is so that we do not have to go back and re-research looking for someone who was not found originally.

4 MikeFAugust 13, 2009 at 1:37 pm

Chris,

There is a big omission from that list, namely state level vital and other records. For a while Ancestry was on a good path in adding KY death certs, TN marriages, MO marriages, NC death certs, etc. And while I know you have limitations imposed on you by various jurisdictions and repositories, I suggest you need an explicit multi-year plan to add more such state level records.

Of course we all want additions to the areas we research including myself. And VA/NC/TN/KY are my main focus. But those are also important gateway states for customers with southern ancestors, and southern genealogy needs all the help it can get.

So how about KY marriages, TN and VA death death certs, etc. (VA land tax records would be HUGE since they were kept at the state level and exist for burned counties)? Also I would like to remind you of our previous discussion re those KY death certs which run from 1911 to 1953, and my question about keeping such dynamic databases up to date as they are now available to 1959. You said that you would check on that.

But as far as national databases, what about a plan to complete the acquisition of agricultural census records?

One last thing, re those newspapers. If I am not mistaken Ancestry gets those from Newspaper Archive. All of those newspaper providers seem to have integrity issues to put it mildly. By which I mean NA will tout a certain title for a range from say 1910 to 1950, and really only have papers at each end. And all those providers constantly trumpet adding new titles, but a closer look reveals that they only added a handful of issues in one year each. So please don’t be drug along with their intentionally deceptive “marketing” hype.

Thanks,

MikeF

5 Chris LydiksenAugust 13, 2009 at 3:13 pm

Bob, One of our genealogists is assessing the severity of the issue you’ve noted. More to come on this.

6 Chris LydiksenAugust 13, 2009 at 3:21 pm

Bob,

I’ll paste here my answer to you for your same question asked on the message boards, “I believe Anne is referring to the number of collections which will use the enhanced image page.

http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2009/08/03/updates-to-the

She was not commenting on new collections released to the site.”

Anne does not manage content, rather search.

7 Rosalind AnayaAugust 13, 2009 at 3:45 pm

Are US Air Force records for California included in the military records currently available?

8 JamesAugust 13, 2009 at 3:57 pm

When can (will) the 1940 US Census be issued/available?

Regards,

9 Chris LydiksenAugust 13, 2009 at 4:02 pm

Bob, Some databases have just text, other databases have text and images.

10 BobNYAugust 13, 2009 at 4:03 pm

Chris,
Thank you for the timely response.

1. Which issue? The deletion of the ED descriptions or the updated databases that are not updated just “enhanced.”

2. I appreciate your “belief” that you are clarifying Anne’s response, but the phrase “We will be launching more data collections . . .” is fairly self defining. However, I will have to be satisfied that that phrase DOES NOT MEAN “. . .new collections released to the site.”
=========================
If it truly means that more data collections will be subjected to this apparently degraded “enhancement,” that is not good news. Does anybody pay any attention to the member feedback?
==========================
When issues cross the silos that you people have erected within your organization, how are they supposed to be resolved? Who, for example, actually conceived and designed these “enhanced” pages? Engineers, product managers, programmers? Anne is doing the best she can to defend them (along with defending new search), but who is really responsible?

Should we be complaining to your CTO or to someone else? I am sure that Wolfgramm doesn’t want to hear from hundreds of disgruntled members.

11 BobNYAugust 13, 2009 at 4:07 pm

And some databases have nothing in them, per your link.

Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. Please search for Database) in Wikipedia to check for alternative titles or spellings.

12 Ramon CorderoAugust 13, 2009 at 5:57 pm

Chris,

Can you please take a look at a thread I posted in the message boards? Here’s the link. I just wanted to know if your team has any plans in the future in regards to this matter. Thanks!

It looks like some members sugested signing some sort of petition if necesary, but I just wanted to see what your thoughts were.

Here’s the link to the post:

http://boards.ancestry.com/localities.caribbean.puertorico.general/24092/mb.ashx

13 catherine ellisAugust 13, 2009 at 6:13 pm

How do I find records of people born at sea while coming to America from Ireland around 1880. My grandmother was born onboard ship in 1880.

14 Mary Beth MarchantAugust 13, 2009 at 10:01 pm

This is in answer to question #8 posted by James. In answer to your question about the 1940 census. The US Census Bureau will release the 1940 census in 2012. This is a federal law in that 72 years must pass before a census decade can be released. I expect that individual states have different requirements since I know that Ancestry has already released the Florida State Census for 1945. I would like to know when other State Census Records and US Agricultural Census’s will be done. I would also like a reply from Chris regarding the availability of State Census records. Which ones are available. Another request is for US Mortality Census Records. Ancestry does not have Alabama nor Mississippi mortality records available, yet I know they are out there because the FamilySearchRecords Lab already has those two states posted.

15 Jim LivermoreAugust 14, 2009 at 5:58 am

Chris,

You stated “Bob, One of our genealogists is assessing the severity of the issue you’ve noted. More to come on this.”

If we are talking about the removal of ED descriptions in the 1900 Census update, “very severe” gets my vote. Ancestry has made it nearly impossible to browse these districts. We users have lost a great deal of information to help in our research. Now it is like throwing a dart at a wall map.

16 IdaAugust 14, 2009 at 6:17 am

Still waiting for more birth, death and marriage records. When you look at the new content 90% of the new stuff is stories, memories and history. Most is not U.S. content. We want birth, marriage, death, land records. We have had this same discussion before and Ancestry still does not listen.

17 Andy HatchettAugust 14, 2009 at 8:45 am

Ida…

Please state exactly which records that you know are available to Ancestry.

I don’t mean which records are just available, I mean which records you know the party owning such records is willing to let Ancestry have access to scanning them and indexing them.

What you and other want is completely immaterial as to what may actually be available to Ancestry.

You are correct, this discussion *has* been held before… and it seems the ones not listening are those that keep demanding Ancestry get more of a certain type of content.

If you provide the name of the records, the owner’s contact information, and a statement that you know the owner is willing to give Ancestry access to those records I’m sure Ancestry will contact them.

If you can’t provide such detailed information then you really have no knowledge of just what is available to Ancestry and what isn’t and thus shouldn’t be demanding something that Ancestry can’t provide.

18 MikeFAugust 14, 2009 at 9:06 am

Andy,

On your #17, I think you are off base for once here. Ancestry has stated that such data is now a “commodity”. There is some truth to this since NARA for example only allows them a few years of exclusive access before the images become public, and thus a small window to recoup the investment costs of imaging and make a profit on same. But this mainly just pertains to large national databases.

Re other records like state level vital records, that data does not have to be a commodity. There is a competitive advantage in being first and only to have a database. So if company A acquires a certain database, then company B is better off acquiring a different one, again unless it is a large national one. Data is a commodity for only a small subset of the universe of genealogical data.

Ancestry’s head has proudly stated that they spend 4 times on marketing versus what they spend on data acquisition. That along with the “data is a commodity” meme does in fact seem to be driving a conscious choice to invest much less in acquiring new state level vital data.

Now of course you have a point about availability as I alluded to in my previous post. But if a state and its archives are being totally uncooperative to commercial firms and the LDS church or other major players, then nothing is lost by naming and shaming them. Then the genealogists who reside in a certain state can attempt to apply political pressure for the state to allow access. The identity theft paranoia has indeed made it tough for us, but we need to expose the studpidity of not allowing free and open access to 50+ year old death records in many states.

The last factor is that ignorant researchers who constitute the majority, want trees and not census or other databases. So instead of trying better to educate them to become good researchers and actually find some tough to research ancestors on the frontier in the US, which would hopefully mean becoming long term subscribers, they just cater to the lowest common denominator, and try to get customers to supply each other with spurious and plagiarized data lacking sources, while paying Ancestry for the privilege.

MikeF

19 Andy HatchettAugust 14, 2009 at 2:22 pm

MikeF- Re; #18

I don’t know if you are aware of it but Ancestry is restrained by clauses in credit agreements with certain of their lenders as to the amount of funds they can expend on acquiring data, even if Ancestry had twice what they have they couldn’t exceed the limits within those agreements.

20 MikeFAugust 14, 2009 at 2:37 pm

Andy,

If Ancestry is a supposedly robust and healthy company, now seeking to raise more funds via an IPO, why would a lender put in such restrictions? I have not read the docs, and don’t doubt it is there as you said. Of course the very cynical might think Ancestry put in such a restriction themselves so as to furnish an excuse. Something is not right here in the company portraying a picture of sound financial health, and such restrictions by lenders. Of course the very optimistic might think Ancestry will pay off such lenders with the proceeds of the IPO if it flys, and be shed of such restrictions.

Obviously any business can only spend so much on various categories like this. But even with a set sum to spend on data acquisition, the questions are do they have a long term plan to acquire various important categories of data like state vital records and the like, or is data acquisition driven by ad hoc marketing imperatives? I myself see no evidence of a thoughtful plan.

Re tax lists that I mentioned earlier, those are available on either archives or FHL micro for many states and are an invaluable resource. And acquiring data via digitizing micro is much cheaper then digitizing from the originals. So have they tried to seek permission from the repositories and do that for say VA or KY county tax lists? If they have and have been denied permission, then I am sure we would all like to know.

MikeF

21 JeffAugust 14, 2009 at 4:02 pm

I realize that this is off-topic, but I cannot find the answer anywhere on your website: How can I add a same-sex marriage/civil union to my family tree? I have an Uncle who has a certified same-sex marriage in Massachusetts and currently lives in Germany where he has a recognized civil union. If users are unable to add same-sex marriages or civil unions, could you offer an explanation? Is it religiously motivated?

22 IdaAugust 14, 2009 at 5:25 pm

Chris, Do you know any records for the 1870 census are missing?
The reason I ask is I have so many different branches of families that weren’t even connected at that time missing from 1870. They all lived in Louisville, Ky. I have found the heads of households in the city directories but can’t find them in the 1870 census. I have literally gone thru every page of the 1870 census for Louisville, KY. Ida

23 MikeFAugust 14, 2009 at 5:33 pm

Ida,

On your #22, a lot of people in urban areas just got missed. Also if they were immigrants and had yet to complete the naturalization process, then I am not sure they would be listed since the purpose of the census is to determine representation in Congress.

If you want to discuss this further you can start a thread in the Jefferson Co KY message board and I will respond there.

MikeF

24 IdaAugust 14, 2009 at 5:38 pm

Thanks Mike. I should have stated they were in the city and they were in the 1860 and 1880 census records. I have asked on the message boards in the past but did not get a response. Ida

25 Andy HatchettAugust 14, 2009 at 6:33 pm

Mike,

After seeing the financial statements in the prospectus there is no doubt Ancestry is healthy- tho not as large as I had imagined. They pay operating costs out of subscription fees alone- which I would never have thought.

Such clauses limiting expenditures in certain areas are standard in major lending agreements and from the sound of the prospectus these contracts have been around awhile.

Ancestry will, according to the lending contracts, be required, depending on the total raised with the offering, to pay 25% of the funds received to reduce their debt burden.

It makes interesting reading:

http://sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1469433/000095012309028902/d68252orsv1.htm

26 MikeFAugust 14, 2009 at 6:59 pm

Ida,

I am going to discuss this a little further since this brings up a point about the census collections that is Ancestry’s fault. It sounds like you have made a thorough search then if you read every page in the ward(s) where they should be. But did you check the pagination to determine if there are any missing pages?

Unfortunately Ancestry did not follow the best practices of a) imaging every page including blank and spoiled ones so that one can check for missing pages, and b) leaving the documents in the original order instead of trying to be “helpful” and arrange them by township headings that are often misread or wrong or contain multiple township/district numbers.

So if you have checked the pagination and none are missing, then they simply were missed. But if there are missing pages, then many libraries offer home access to Heritage Quest and you can check their census database for the missing pages which often are found. Occasionally it is the other way around, but not often.

If both sites seem to be missing the same page(s), then one can inquire of the census bureau or national archives as to whether they in fact exist or not.

This is a common topic and Ancestry really needs a FAQ with what I just said and maybe even a link on all census pages of like “can’t find someone you know is there?”.

Andy,

On your #25, that is kind of surprising though I don’t understand why a lender would make a restriction like that when they are unlikely to be an expert on the industry. So what then exactly are they borrowing money for from such lenders? For marketing? Or for designing “technology” that its customers don’t want and which is really a downgrade? LOL.

MikeF

27 Andy HatchettAugust 14, 2009 at 8:09 pm

Mike,

It is exactly because the lenders aren’t experts that they view these clauses as a kind of automatic braking system to prevent rapid over-expansion. This has been particularly true after the dot com bust.

28 NeldaAugust 14, 2009 at 10:40 pm

The information from Colorado is very limited. I have searched CO records and they do not release much information at all. I have contacted Genealogy Societies and many times do not even receive a response.

Could you inform us if you are able to access any CO records? Example: Birth, Death, Marriage, or Newspaper articles.

29 ConnieAugust 15, 2009 at 7:34 am

Nelda (#28),

Colorado vital records are fairly severely restricted by state law. As for newspapers, there are several historic Colorado newspapers available online for free: Google Colorado Historic Newspaper Collection.

30 IdaAugust 15, 2009 at 11:57 am

Mike #26, That is a good idea on checking the page numbers. I have already checked for them on Heritage Quest and Family Search with no luck. The different branches of families lived in different wards. I am starting to think I am just out of luck with the 1870. I do know they lived in Louisville at that time because they are in the city directory. Thanks for all the tips. Ida

31 NeldaAugust 15, 2009 at 3:06 pm

Connie #29

Thank you for the information about the newspapers. Being from CO, I have a horror story about trying to get my own birth certificate and I know that it would be harder to get any other information from them. It is sad that there is not anyplace that a person can get information.

32 JaclynAugust 17, 2009 at 2:36 pm

I was excited again to see that more newspapers had been added. Of course, I was disappointed yet again to see that they were nothing I could use. Ancestry has approximately 20 newspapers in West Virginia, and yet they still don’t have the oldest in the state, the Wheeling News-Register/Intelligencer. In fact, this newspaper is older than the state. It seems to me there would be more interest in the Intelligencer than in some of these smaller, newer towns. Wheeling is pretty ho-hum now, but in its day it was a pretty important town. Please, Ancestry, give me some new content I can use!

I also agree with the other poster that most people want more vital records.

33 Arthur GranburyAugust 18, 2009 at 12:38 pm
34 MikeFAugust 18, 2009 at 1:55 pm

Arthur,

Why would Chris care to respond to that message board thread when he starts one here and only responds to the person who has an off-topic issue? Of course Bob had to get his attention here, so maybe the trick is to ask him about his post here in a different topic blog post.

MikeF

35 NancyAugust 18, 2009 at 7:39 pm

None of the product managers seem to be posting anywhere. I haven’t seen anything since before the “big fix” last Wednesday–and I am still having the same problems as before.

36 Andy HatchettAugust 19, 2009 at 12:06 am

Probably getting ready for Little Rock and busy getting the webinar ready for last night.

37 CarolAugust 19, 2009 at 12:11 am

You say you have added Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s – Over 100,000 records were added to the database.

I have been asking Ancestry.com to fix the ones they have for 3 years I pay so I can see the right images. We are helping you out buy letting you know when something is wrong, but you don’t fix them.

The rows go down the left side of the page & the columns go across the top. They skip the first page so the names & about 16 columns are missing. You only have the second page.

I have requested Ancestry to fix these several times. I think I have waited (3 years) long enough (& hundreds of dollars).

38 MikeFAugust 19, 2009 at 11:48 am

Andy,

On your #36, come on now. If they are too lazy or inattentive to make their own excuses for disrespecting the customers by not replying, they should make their own excuses :) .

When the tough questions get asked and comments made about the underlying concepts or plans, instead of the outward appearances or interfaces that they want our help tweaking (lipstick on a pig), they usually disappear. Par for the course (or pigpen should I say).

MikeF

39 BobNYAugust 19, 2009 at 12:17 pm

Andy and Mike,

For example, Anne wrote in her blog
Anne Mitchell, Ancestry.com

Posted on:
August 7, 2009 at 8:09 am
Andy, the blog is not closing. I think over the last year that I have been here and writing on the blog, I have proven that I listen to all comments good and bad and I have only ever deleted two types of comments: ones that contained foul language, and ones that just say “Leave your comment here”. I want ancestry.com members to freely express their feelings about what we are doing, whether it be good or bad.

=================
No, she didn’t close the blog, it closed itself when the arbitrary 14-day comment period expired without her ever coming back with a reasonable answer to any of the complaints or questions.

40 MikeFAugust 19, 2009 at 1:10 pm

Bob,

All she is saying is that they are letting us vent. They are not saying that they will engage in meaningful long-term conversations after a couple perfunctory responses, nor discuss concepts with us while still in the planning stages. All they want is for more knowledgeable customers to help them tweak the interfaces so the ignorant masses are not as confused.

But when we want to discussed flawed concepts and design, they really just mean, “talk to the hand”. If Anne & Chris’ bosses cared about customer service they would not let them ignore us or mislead us. So one has to think it is a conscious policy from higher up re customer criticism, and the poor product managers are between a rock and a hard place trying to be Ancestry team players on the one hand, while trying to keep their integrity intact on the other.

They are not allowed to discuss more substantive criticisms of the underlying concepts and plans, and they are trying not to grossly mislead us. So they settle on not responding. Pity the product manager who is little more than an extension of the marketing machine.

MikeF

41 MikeFAugust 19, 2009 at 1:13 pm

Bob,

I forgot to comment about the 14 day thing, which is indeed arbitrary. They clearly don’t want to keep these threads in the limelight so they use one blog for everything so stuff gets lost fast, and also lock them after 14 days so their failure to respond is not as obvious (note that the effect is the same even if not a conscious policy). Your only recourse is to start threads in the message boards and keep them on the top yourself.

MikeF

42 RhondaAugust 20, 2009 at 10:23 am

Chris, I’m still waiting for some useful state contents. As to date, I renewed in January and still waiting.There are so many state goodies out there still. I’ve been with ancestry for a long time and in the last two years, things have changed and it seems that you are leaving the old-timers behind. Grandma always had a saying about too many irons in the fire. Could you at least throw a couple of goodies out for us old timers.
Thanks

43 David SmithAugust 20, 2009 at 11:12 am

I’m still waiting for the New York State Census’ to be completed.

Years ago there was a big deal made about indexing them and it appears that they’ve completely fallen off the radar.

44 Andy HatchettAugust 20, 2009 at 4:22 pm

Rhonda…

Please state the specific state goodies you know are available to Ancestry that the controlling jurisdiction is willing to allow Ancestry to copy.

Just because there are large numbers of state documents that aren’t on Ancestry doesn’t mean Ancestry can copy them.

Ancestry simply can’t walk into a state and start copying things. They have to be allowed to do so by the states.

States have twiged to exactly how valuable their archives and are using them themselves for a source of revenue and thus are mostly unwilling to let Ancestry in the door unless there are *very* large bucketfuls of money involved.

45 MikeFAugust 20, 2009 at 8:46 pm

“Chris responds to comments relevant to the blog topic.”

Chris,

Does that mean you only will address the narrower topic of exactly what you posted, instead of what was omitted or the larger general topic of data acquisition and quality control? Or is there somewhere else you address those wider topics?

So far it is one week since you started this thread and you have not responded except to an off-topic post. But you only have to wait one more week (and 2 days are weekend days – way to go!), and this thread will automatically get locked so you can’t respond and we can’t further comment on your not responding.

Heckuva way to run a company isn’t it? Make sure you subscribe to the max for the IPO dude.

MikeF

46 Elizabeth WatkinsAugust 21, 2009 at 12:28 am

I am not at all sure I like the scrunched up census records. I bought a large screen monitor so that I could see things better and now it only fills about 1/4 of my screen! As I get older, my eyes are not going to get any better.

Sorry, just my reaction.

47 Chris LydiksenAugust 21, 2009 at 9:51 am

#4 – Mike, we know how valuable state vital records are and are working at bringing as much of them to you as soon as possible, given all factors. We have a good handle on where state vital records are archived. There are vital records coming which will most likely be of interest to you.

48 Chris LydiksenAugust 21, 2009 at 9:54 am

#7 – Rosalind, the U.S. Air Force came into existence as its own branch of the military in 1947 after WWII. Army records before that might include what you are looking for.

49 Chris LydiksenAugust 21, 2009 at 9:59 am

#10 – Bob, The ED issue is being looked at. The enhanced content viewer is not a change to any content database, just how the data images are displayed for some databases.

This is a good forum to voice your feedback and for it to be read.

50 Chris LydiksenAugust 21, 2009 at 10:03 am

#12 – Roman – I’ve forwarded this to the person in the content group who’s stewardship includes Puerto Rico.

51 Chris LydiksenAugust 21, 2009 at 10:07 am

#16 – Ida, were working on more of all the content you list. There are hundreds of repositories involved, each with their own set of circumstances.

52 Chris LydiksenAugust 21, 2009 at 10:12 am

#22 – Ida, the 1870 census, along with others as stated in a previous public announcement, will be improved, both index and images, in coming months.

53 Chris LydiksenAugust 21, 2009 at 10:19 am

#26 – Mike, you are correct that there is not a “roll-based” browse for the U.S. Censuses. Implementing such a browse is within the realm of possibility. If you/any support roll browses (browsing the images as they appeared on the microfilm), please provide more feedback to me and other Product Managers.

54 Chris LydiksenAugust 21, 2009 at 10:22 am

#28- You might have already done this, but if not, go to the card catalog and search for “Colorado” in the title field. When you’re done with that list, clear your search criteria by clicking “Clear All” and just adjust the filters below the search boxes to show only databases for Colorado.

55 Chris LydiksenAugust 21, 2009 at 10:45 am

On the issue of missing EDs, below is the the I received from an internal source. If this is not accurate, please be patient with us as we need to better understand your question.

- Are you certain the ED descriptions were there previously for the cities you mention?

- Is it possible that you could be mistakenly confusing the A.com 1900 US Federal Census with either (1) the A.com 1920 US Federal Census, or (2) an unrelated Web site?

56 Chris LydiksenAugust 21, 2009 at 10:51 am

#33 – Arthur, I’ve forwarded your comment to an expert to look at.

57 Chris LydiksenAugust 21, 2009 at 10:53 am

#37 – Carol, please provide a link to an example.

58 MikeFAugust 21, 2009 at 12:32 pm

Chris,

On your #47, we would like to know an overall multi-year plan on state level records acquisition. Also the names of those repositories who are totally uncooperative, in which case naming them can’t hurt, and can help since customers from those states can then seek to apply political pressure to allow greater access.

There is an issue here perhaps that Andy brought up, namely of repositories seeking, naturally, some meaningful financial benefit for such access past a one-time fee. And perhaps subscription add-ons by state (or a choice plan where you put together your own subscription ala carte) would be a way to go to allow revenue sharing with such repositories if it would get more of them to cooperate.

MikeF

59 MikeFAugust 21, 2009 at 12:37 pm

Chris,

On your #53:

“#26 – Mike, you are correct that there is not a “roll-based” browse for the U.S. Censuses. Implementing such a browse is within the realm of possibility. If you/any support roll browses (browsing the images as they appeared on the microfilm), please provide more feedback to me and other Product Managers.”

I first want to say that really since what Ancestry has done with the browse arrangement is non-standard, it is incumbent on you to justify same and not me or others to justify a roll-based arrangement as you call it. But here goes anyway.

a) The only way to check for pagination easily is with a roll-based arrangement. Most customers won’t do this, but it is a best genealogical practice among more advanced genealogists when they cannot find a family that they otherwise strongly suspect or even can prove was there at the time. Blank and spoiled pages often were stamped with page numbers, so it is crucial that these otherwise worthless images be available for this purpose.

b) There are too many mistakes and confusing entries by census enumerators for your personnel to easily and *accurately* try to arrange otherwise. Multiple district numbers are one example, and civil district numbers which do not correspond exactly to the enumeration districts of later census’ are another. There just are *way too many* mistakes in the current browse arrangement.

c) While the current browse arrangement might help a little with situations where a district spans two rolls, that is a minor consideration overall, and is not that hard with digital images.

d) Errors in missing and misplaced images will more easily be identifiable. Maybe that is a negative given Ancestry’s poor record on correcting such mistakes, but it needs to be done. Since a check of pagination may indeed reveal an image that was actually missing from a roll, then reference to roll-based position in absence of frame numbers will be necessary for the purposes of either Ancestry or its customers in contacting the census bureau to inquire whether a page is actually missing/misnumbered, or was just skipped by the filmer.

I want to also say that this arrangement problem is not limited to census records necessarily and Civil War records come to mind, but I will leave that for later.

The bottom line though, is that records should be served up in the order they came in the original records, blank and spoiled pages included.

MikeF

60 Andy HatchettAugust 22, 2009 at 2:24 am

MikeF said:

“The bottom line though, is that records should be served up in the order they came in the original records, blank and spoiled pages included.”

Absolutely!

Otherwise they are not duplicates of the original records but an attempted arrangement of someone’s idea of what the originals should have been.

61 LeAnn WellerAugust 22, 2009 at 6:11 pm

I was search the 1850 U.S. Census for Washington County Wisconsin and notice that one of the townships listed is incorrect based on all the maps and listings I’ve found. Your list of townships identifies MIGNON The correct name is MEQUON. One of my sources is “The History of Washington and Ozaukee Counties” published in 1881. If you look at the tops of the census pages themselves you’ll see than most say “Mequon”. I could not find anywhere on the Census search pages to send this type of correction.

62 BobNYAugust 22, 2009 at 9:49 pm

Give me a break, Chris! Tell your internal source to not treat my question as if I just fell off the turnip truck. (I assume there is a missing word in your response and that this was “the answer” not “the the” that you received.
=======================
Chris wrote:

On the issue of missing EDs, below is the the I received from an internal source. If this is not accurate, please be patient with us as we need to better understand your question.

NO. THIS IS NOT ACCURATE. HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO UNDERSTAND A SIMPLE QUESTION. WILL YOU PUT BACK THE ED DESCRIPTIONS THAT WERE PREVIOUSLY LISTED FOR AT LEAST NEW YORK, CHICAGO IN THE 1900 US FEDERAL CENSUS?

- Are you certain the ED descriptions were there previously for the cities you mention?

YES

- Is it possible that you could be mistakenly confusing the A.com 1900 US Federal Census with either (1) the A.com 1920 US Federal Census, or (2) an unrelated Web site?

NO

63 Jim LivermoreAugust 23, 2009 at 6:00 am

“- Are you certain the ED descriptions were there previously for the cities you mention?”

Is your internal source certain they were not? Have they pulled a backup and checked? You are the holder of the data, and the only one to answer that question.

64 Jim LivermoreAugust 23, 2009 at 6:25 am

LeAnn #61,

Please see comment #33, follow that link and add your example there also if you would.

65 BobNYAugust 23, 2009 at 8:21 am

Chris (re: #49)
You wrote:
The enhanced content viewer is not a change to any content database, just how the data images are displayed for some databases.
=======================
Why am I having difficulty making myself clear on this question? I will repeat it as originally written . . .
Regarding the 1810 and 1820 census. They have been listed as “Genealogy Databases Posted or Updated Recently” since June and July respectively. Are you now saying that the databases have not been updated; it is just the images that have been improved?

If it is just improved images, I think you are being highly deceptive to call the database updated. If you have actually updated the database with ADDITIONAL DATA, I think you need to tell us what that data is so that we do not have to go back and re-research looking for someone who was not found originally.

============================
I didn’t ask about the viewer. I asked if there was new content since the 1810 and 1820 census were marked UPDATED. I take it that the answer is NO, and that any tweak to a database is considered an update, even if no content has been added.

If that is the case, I repeat my contention that you are being highly deceptive to call the database updated.

66 Andy HatchettAugust 23, 2009 at 9:21 am

Bob- Re:#65

I agree completely.

IF it is only improved imazges then it should be marked ” Improved Images” and then explain which and how they were improved.

IF is is updated data then it should be marked “Updated Data” and then explain exactly what was updated.

This is not rocket science, any programmer worth his salt should be able to code that in 15 minutes or less!

67 CarolAugust 24, 2009 at 12:28 am
68 Chris LydiksenAugust 25, 2009 at 11:38 am

#58 – Mike, I cannot reveal the organizations, states, counties, etc. that we are working with to digitize records. It will need to suffice to say that we are working with many, many organizations.

69 Chris LydiksenAugust 25, 2009 at 11:42 am

#59 and #60 – thank you for your feedback on the value of roll browses. If you have not noticed, several new projects have been released with roll browses. I like roll browses and have advocated them for years. Please keep the feedback coming on this.

70 Chris LydiksenAugust 25, 2009 at 11:44 am

#61 – The 1850 U.S. Census is currently being worked on and will release with improved images and indexes in the near future.

71 Chris LydiksenAugust 25, 2009 at 11:46 am

#62 and #63 – I’ve forwarded your feedback to the expert on the case. We’ll get back to you again on this.

72 Chris LydiksenAugust 25, 2009 at 11:49 am

#67 – I’ve forwarded this issue to the appropriate person. Thank you for providing a specific link.

73 ConnieAugust 25, 2009 at 1:18 pm

While you’re improving census records, you might want to correct a significant error in 1860 Washington State. You have the people who were living in Sawamish Co. listed as living in Snohomish Co. Not the same place (now or then); someone needs to check some of your own publications like Red Book! Sawamish Co. was renamed Mason Co. in 1864.

74 MikeFAugust 25, 2009 at 2:13 pm

Chris,

On your #68, thanks for the further reply. You said:

“#58 – Mike, I cannot reveal the organizations, states, counties, etc. that we are working with to digitize records. It will need to suffice to say that we are working with many, many organizations.”

Why can you not reveal the repositories you are working with? Is it because your marketing dept. does not wish you to? Surely there is no need for secrecy on the repository side is there? Since most of those are publicly funded agencies and subject to open records laws most likely, then if I were to inquire of a repository I cannot see them refusing to tell me if they currently had a project with Ancestry. Or are you in fact saying these state repositories do want confidentiality until your marketing dept. hypes the release of a new database?

Also again, if there are repositories who are *totally* uncooperative, then I think not only does Ancestry not lose anything by naming them as such, but also that it helps by customers then knowing where to apply political pressure to induce future cooperation.

MikeF

75 Chris LydiksenAugust 25, 2009 at 2:18 pm

#73 – Thanks Connie. The 1860 census is being worked on as we speak and will be released with improved images and an improved index in coming months.

76 BobNYAugust 25, 2009 at 3:26 pm

Chris,

Your responses to date on the simple question of your returning the ED descriptions for New York, New York County for the 1900 census that were there before you “improved”the index (since it was search index-related I mistakenly assumed this belonged to Anne) have been:

August 13, 2009 at 3:13 pm
Bob, One of our genealogists is assessing the severity of the issue you’ve noted. More to come on this.
=========================
August 21, 2009 at 9:59 am
#10 – Bob, The ED issue is being looked at.
=========================
August 21, 2009 at 10:45 am
On the issue of missing EDs, below is the the I received from an internal source. If this is not accurate, please be patient with us as we need to better understand your question.

- Are you certain the ED descriptions were there previously for the cities you mention?

- Is it possible that you could be mistakenly confusing the A.com 1900 US Federal Census with either (1) the A.com 1920 US Federal Census, or (2) an unrelated Web site?
=========================
August 25, 2009 at 11:46 am
#62 and #63 – I’ve forwarded your feedback to the expert on the case. We’ll get back to you again on this.
=========================
I originally asked this question on the ancestry comments board at Rootsweb in response to Anne’s boast that “Censuses that have been improved already are 1900 (index and images) and 1880 (images). We are currently working on the 1880 index . . .”

As I wrote on 4/22:
This is a perfect example of ancestry not thinking through an issue. You may have improved the 1900 index, but you have made it absolutely useless to browsers. Prior to your improvements, if one were to browse a large city, e.g. New York or Chicago, there would be a description of the ED within the appropriate county.

Now there is nothing but a series of meaningless ED numbers with no description. Chicago is not as bad as New York. At least for Cook County – Chicago you maintained the Wards so there are only 20 or 30 meaningless ED numbers at a time. For New York, there are over 1,000 meaningless numbers in a virtually endless stream. And since you don’t believe in leading zeros, they are not even in numerical order.

You have the information for each ED boundary since it was there before your “improvement.” Could you please put the data back?
===========================
Anne did not see fit to respond. So, I have another simple question:

Assuming a subscriber has an issue with the index used to search for U.S. content, who is responsible

a) the Sr. Manager, Customer Experience
b) the Product Manager, Search
c) the Product Manager, U.S. Content
d) the Vice President of Content
e) the VP of Product for Ancestry
f) the generic product managers, (Freestone, Graham, et. al.)
g) none of the above

==========================

77 Chris LydiksenAugust 25, 2009 at 3:50 pm

#76 – If the problem is with the transcribed index, then the U.S. content product manager is the right person to address this. If the problem is with the search tool, then the search product manager is the right person to address this. As stated already today, the issue is currently under review.

78 Charles HaywardAugust 25, 2009 at 10:49 pm

My question concerns the Native American Community. I know there are tribal census available, but I have yet to find one on Ancestry.com. In my family history background there are Native Americans and that right now is my big roadblock. Can you comment on this as to whether or not any of these /
documents may become available.
Thank you,
Charles H.

79 Chris LydiksenAugust 27, 2009 at 10:28 am

#78 – Yes, Charles, there are more Native American collections in the works. Here are some of the collections we have live now:

U.S. Indian Census Schedules, 1885-1940

U.S. Native American Enrollment Cards for the Five Civilized Tribes, 1898-1914

U.S. Native American Applications for Enrollment in Five Civilized Tribes, 1896

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