Posted by on December 4, 2009 in Ancestry.com Site, Content, Digitization, Family Trees, Searching for Records, Site Features

Ever wonder what happens behind the scenes at Ancestry.com? Take a look at the people and thinking behind our company and how Ancestry.com helps you easily discover your story online.

About Heather Erickson

Heather Erickson is Head of Global Communications for Ancestry.com and has been with the company since 2009.

32 Comments

Sean Malone 

Great sneak peak behind the wonderful world of ancestry.com guys!

December 4, 2009 at 12:52 pm
Dave Johnston 

What took me 40 hours to do in 1969 can now be done in less than a minute! How quickly can you find Hampton Newsom in the 1850 Census for North Carolina?

December 4, 2009 at 12:56 pm
Scott 

Is anyone else unable to hear the voices on this video? I can hear the background music fine, but nobody talking. I’ve tried FireFox and Internet Explorer, tried updating my Flash player, tried viewing the video directly from Youtube…nothing fixes the problem. Completely bizarre…how can I hear music, but no voices? Works fine on any other video on youtube, just not this one.

December 4, 2009 at 1:48 pm
Kirk Sellman 

I started researching my family genealogy in the late 1970′s. I was young and able to drive to court houses and visit relatives to get a lot of my information. I used the LDS church to read microfilm, and I sent out thousands of letters trying to connect to other family members. Ancestry.com has made this so much easier. I wish all of this would’ve been available when I started. But then I wouldn’t have seen some wonderful parts of this great country, and I wouldn’t have met such memorable people. Now that I’m older, I envy those who are starting and get to build their family trees with the terrific resources available in here. We complain about what ancestry.com doesn’t have or doesn’t do, but we should all take a minute to thank them for what they do have. I’m sure it’s only going to get better.

December 4, 2009 at 2:18 pm
Daryl Rickards 

Thanks for the video. It is good to see what happens behind the banner.
Daryl from Oz

December 4, 2009 at 2:35 pm
Andy Hatchett 

Scott: Re # 3

Like you, I am unable to hear the voices, but I can’t even hear the background music.

Ah well…

December 4, 2009 at 2:36 pm
Andy Hatchett 

Duhhh…. I can get sound- all I had to do was unmute my speapers.

:/

December 4, 2009 at 2:47 pm
Karen French 

Wow, I new Ancesrty was a great site but never realized how much work went into it. I have always loved Ancestry.com but now I have a greater respect for the people behind the scenes.
Thank You!

December 4, 2009 at 4:46 pm
Karen 

I have been researching for over 30 years. When I started the interest in research was small.

Ancestry has made a hugh difference to finding information and making it easy to search. Thanks to Ancestry I think they have inspire other companies and Governments to also put records on line and make them accessible while continuing to build their own collection and expand it to include so many oversea records.

One wonderful discovery for me was finding a GG Grandfather’s Sister marriage. Australian vital records stated it happen in New York. After years of researching a green leaf showed me the marriage took place in in Quebec. The 1857 marriage record also told me her Mother [my direct ancestor] had died [possible a Irish famine victim] and her new Husband’s military regiment which had eluded me till then. This allowed me to find his name on the medal list for the Crimean War which I knew he had fought in.

Thank you Ancestry

December 4, 2009 at 5:02 pm
Lorraine Blois 

Thanks for the insight into the goings on at ancestry.com. It was nice to actually see some of the people involved. Seeing the piles of papers waiting to be added is mindboggling. It has given me a greater appreciation for the site and all the work that goes into producing the final product.

December 4, 2009 at 5:18 pm
CeCe Warren 

AWESOME!!!!!!!!!

December 4, 2009 at 6:04 pm
JOHN SHAND 

Excellent video, great human touches, well edited, good balance, nice humour, well dome !

December 5, 2009 at 3:41 am
Pat Secord 

I think sometimes we forget how much work goes into this site – especially when we’re moaning and groaning about how long it takes a file to open. Seems like we can wait another couple of minutes when it used to take years to find some of this stuff!

December 5, 2009 at 5:05 am
Steve 

I enjoyed the video and I know firsthand about indexing as I am currently doing the same for Nairn, Scotland. This is a small county in the scheme of things and it has taken me weeks to get through 10 years of parish registers. I remain in awe of your record collection….but finding an ancestor in these collections seems to prove more difficult with each and every “ancestry improvement”.

As each blog has a time limit, have nowhere else to post, I HATE new search and I do not care if the topic has been “beaten to death”. NEW SEARCH IS HORRID! You seem to be more concerned with “enticing” someone to join than you do with the quality of your product.

I have always believed in quality versus quantity and ancestry seems to be focused on quantity with regard to searches, more than likely for the reason stated above….drawing new subscribers.

I think you are making a HUGE mistake. I got so fed up, cancelled my sub. I did not just talk about canceling, I did it.

I will definitely check back with ancestry in a few months to see if any of you actually listen to feedback………….even though I already know the answer.

I also feel that in the future the family search pilot site (http://search.labs.familysearch.org/recordsearch/start.html#start) will lesson your importance with regard to records.

Your search engine will be key someday and you need to wake up and smell the coffee.

I joined for your search engine only. At the time I was researching Canada and although most all of the records (in Ontario) are free, ancestry’s search engine (old search) saved much time.

Ancestry will never cover Scotland (my other interest) as the GROS has the monopoly. The family search site is covering other records. It will more than likely be years before they catch up to you but you do have a dark horse in the running and the indexes that they now have online are much better than yours.

Please listen to your subscribers!

December 5, 2009 at 1:19 pm
James 

Thanks for the view. I’m finding 30 to 50 record images per day on Ancestry.com for members in my tree.

Regards,

December 5, 2009 at 2:25 pm
Diane 

Thank you for sharing what goes into digitalizing records. Ancestry.com is
absolutely THE BEST!! Thank you.

December 5, 2009 at 3:30 pm
Marie-Helene Legge 

I would like to know why I can no longer download a copy of a census to my computer. Has this feature been turn off for census records??

December 6, 2009 at 3:29 pm
Andy Hatchett 

Marie Re: #17

Can you detail exactly what steps you take when trying to save a census page?

What browser do you use?

This might help us find an answer to your problem.

December 7, 2009 at 1:15 am
Anne Mitchell 

Marie-Helene, I sent you an email asking for more details so I can help figure out what the problem is.

And thanks to everyone who left their comments for us. :-)

December 7, 2009 at 10:37 am
BEE 

I don’t think it can be said often enough as Steve #14 said: NEW SEARCH IS HORRID!
I am so thankful I had the “old search” since I first subscribed. I hope that it remains available to us, and is not tampered with.

December 7, 2009 at 3:58 pm
Neoma Walshaw 

This is all lovely.

But I have been trying to do research all day today, and the site is back to the sl-o-o-o-w load problem. Some census pages have taken as long as 2 full minutes to load – and everything is running “clunky”.

Nice to see everyone – but when are we going to get back to reliable, fast search results? We pay a great deal of money for this service – and it has degraded to the point that I – a loyal, 10+ year subscriber – am having to decide whether it’s even worth it to renew again.

Ancestry – you “look” nice – but you are not delivering on your promises to your paying customers.

When will the slowdown be over? AFTER the next “down for routine maintenance” period? Do you really think we are such sheep that we don’t notice the bazillions of dollars you are spending on publicity and advertising – but we are getting shortchanged over and over on our end?

December 7, 2009 at 7:39 pm
venice 

I started this because i was interested in a few things my husband said about his family, and becasue i love his mom and dad they are like my parents and have been with them for 27 years i thought i would put a tree together, 1 year , over 4000, people ,and over 2000 pictures and over 1000 records later, I am having so much fun, it is like treasure hunting. Now i have started a putting together material for a book being that i have found out about the relationship between my husbands great grandmother, and Mr. George Washington Carver, which i had discovered letters that the family has that the public hasnt seen, if I hadnt have gotten to ancestry i dont think i would have gotten any of this important information, that is going to help me now hopfully write a good book.
Thanks for all the work you do their at ancestry, and i must say any time i needed help you guys were always so helpful and friendly thank you for that too.

December 8, 2009 at 4:24 pm
leendert johannes hagens 

RECENTLY BOUGHT 2010 IT STATED THAT IT INCLUDED 2 WEEKS FREE TRAIL BUT WHAT IT DID NOT TELL YOU THAT YOU HAVE TO SUBSCIBE FIRST I FEEL THAT WAS FALSE ADVERTISING.
REGARDS L.J.HAGENS

December 8, 2009 at 11:15 pm
Monika Schaefer 

Not knowing which category to put my question under, I am using this one. I am an international member of ancestry.com and am paying for that!The question is: “Who in the World is running ancestry.de, the German ancestry site of ancestry.com.” They have made many blunders over a long period of time, but what happened today beats the cake! I have a German ancestry tree on ancestry.de for my German side of the family who does not speak English. When I add a story or a name, they inform me in the most bizarre German (clearly not something written by anyone who speaks German) of the addition that I have made to the family tree. Yesterday I added a little story on the page of my grandfather in the story section. Had I done so on the ancestry.com site, it would have informed me “A story has been added to one of your family members”. The notification I received today from the ancestry.de site (one of the sites of ancestry.com) was in German and read “A Klapperschlangenbiss wurde dazugegeben…”. This translates into English as “A rattlesnake bite has been added to one of your family members!” Come on guys! Run a program that you can be proud of! That is not it!

December 8, 2009 at 11:31 pm
John L. Hasha 

Informative video. I had no problems viewing the video.

December 8, 2009 at 11:49 pm
John L. Hasha 

I started in 1971. I remeber the long hours going through books, microfilm, and ordering various documents. Ancestry has made the process so quick and easy in minutes for me. I have 3200+ people on my tree and gone back to 9th century to egland, Ireland, and Wales with other branches of my family. I am at a brickwall with last because of the spelling change. I am also impress with the historical people that I am related to such as Elvis Presley, Judy Garland, Willa Cather,Kennedys. Nixons, Virginia Woolfe to name a few.

December 8, 2009 at 11:56 pm
Linda Kitts Bennett 

This video makes me appreciate Ancestry.com more than I did already. I feel that my subscription is worth every penny, and the value increases daily.

December 9, 2009 at 10:20 am
Bill Synwoldt 

Would like to have actually “seen” and learned more of what goes on behind the scenes and less talk about it. For example, how many employees, physical locations, etc.)

December 9, 2009 at 7:32 pm
Andy Hatchett 

Bill,

Approx 600 full time employees last I heard- but that is worldwide. Not sure just how many at HQ.

As to physical locations…

Depends on if you mean production locations or include sales, marketing locations as well.

December 10, 2009 at 1:47 pm
Dick Moody 

While I have been disappointed in the overall new search design, I have adapted. I still find it difficult to narrow my criteria. For example, where did the map of the US go?

I do like hints. It has led me to many documents that I may have eventually found. Suggestion: Allow exclusion of some hints. I don’t trust others research without documentation, so let me exclude hints without sources other than gedcom files or links to other family trees.

That said, today’s ancestry.com is much better than the one I initially subscribed to years ago.

December 10, 2009 at 10:35 pm
Donna Absher 

Hi Ancestry, I was very active here a year or so ago and I have a suggestion. I want to put it out here for comment, so I hope this an appropriate place. Please forward this to people who can make this happen.

I do not have as much time as I did. So, when on-line I want to save time. Often, I get carried away pushing my line to find the next generation and quite frequently now, I discover someone really, really interesting. Then I can’t remember how I got there. I know there is a path generated by the clicks shown above the tree, but I seem to lose it. All I want is a path back to where I came from. I see you have different shapes and colors for boys and girls.

>:> Could you please create a diamond shape in either pink or blue to represent a relative which links to the line being studied.<:<

Then you can go forward or backward very easily. I think you can create that if you can create the square or circle.

I wonder if you can create a little software program which with one click changes either shape to the diamond to encourage subscribers to mark their path as they look over their tree again. THAT would be such a time-saver, a big help and to your benefit, encourage more people to stay subscribed long enough to tag the line. In my case, I reached about all I could do and let my subscription lapse. i'd be willing to work on my tree again if I could trace my direct ancestor instead of clicking on his siblings and wasting time. Mine you I like having siblings available, but I want my path shown more clearly.

What do you think? Diamonds link, blue or pink.

December 13, 2009 at 2:18 pm
Cyndi 

Thanks for all the work you do behind the scenes at Ancestry.com. I’ve been able to reconstruct my family all the way back to the late 1700′s. How cool is that?!?

December 18, 2009 at 5:18 pm