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 ...