Posted by on December 7, 2009 in Ancestry Magazine

I’m not one to worry about holiday shopping until it’s too late, a little habit I picked up from my dad, a true Christmas Eve shopper if ever I’ve met one. But this year, the shopping – and the gifts – started coming a bit early.

It started out initially as a challenge to see what we could really get from the Ancestry.com Expert Connect service (http://expertconnect.ancestry.com). We’d each put in a handful of requests and see if anyone would bite. We threw in a few easy ones that we knew someone would bid on, like questions about how to find a Pennsylvania birth certificate from 1850-something (okay, that one was mine); some moderately tough ones like record pickups at the National Archives (we weren’t certain they were actually there); and a few doozies like a custom research project concerning a guy who died in 16th century England.

Then I started thinking: what type of situation would I really find myself in if I were putting in a request at Expert Connect? Inevitably, it’d be just like Christmas: I would have waited until the last possible minute or beyond.

So I tested the system with a tough task (and Italian birth record for my grandfather Luigi or something similar for his family in Italy) that had a time limit (exactly one week from the date of my initial post) and only offered the scant bit of information that I knew (1930 census details). Here’s what I got in return — as well as a copy of the document and a very apt translation — all in less than a week: 

… As I couldn’t find a birth record for Luigi, I searched for the marriage record of his parents, Teresa and Vincenzo, and I was able to locate it. FYI, the bottom half of the document is very faded and difficult to read.

You can read more about the projects we submitted, find out what we paid, what we learned, and take our tips for posting Expert Connect projects that get results at www.ancestrymagazine.com/2009/12/technology/all-we-want-for-christmas.

Now if only I could convince my kids that an old birth certificate was better than a new iPod, I’d be set.

About Jeanie Croasmun

Jeanie Croasmun has been working at Ancestry.com while futilely attempting to prove the horse thief story in her family history for over seven years. During that time, she learned enough about her family to determine that the story is likely a great work of fiction. But the search continues ...

5 Comments

G 

Well I really liked the little posting you made. But…This was the only place I found to post a comment here it is. When is the DNA groups going to be fixed…It has been a long time now…If you can please forward this to the proper person.
Thanks…

December 8, 2009 at 8:05 pm
Al Cary 

I experienced several anomaly’s that I over came with the new FTW 2010. Here is a URL to a site that someone asked me about. I don’t know if it is real or one of your Procrastinator’s Present Perfected quiz’s.
http//genealogytrails.com/ill/macoupin/cem_gehner.html.

My wife is the one who found this web site as I was tied up with another project. We can’t go over there just yet and take any photo’s as the weather is cold, the fields are very soft. If this is indeed a good question I will pursue it further later in the week or when the weather is permitting.

December 9, 2009 at 3:53 pm
Ron Lankshear 

How much does this service cost?

Can the experts fix the UK 1851 census in which searches using the birth location boxes do not work. I understand Many have reported the problem. But no fix has yet been offered.

December 10, 2009 at 12:11 am
Chagoi 

#3 Ron

Re: Fixing the UK 1851 censuses

The reply from Ancestry Support I received yesterday states, “Our programmers have been notified of the matter you have reported and should have it corrected shortly. We appreciate your patience in this matter.”

How long is “shortly” in Ancestry-speak?

December 11, 2009 at 4:09 am
Andy Hatchett 

Chagoi Re:# 4

Shortly is right after the 12th of Never and right before soon.

;)

December 11, 2009 at 5:47 am