Ancestry.com

More U.S. Public Records = More Ancestry Hints

Posted by Heather Erickson on April 7, 2010 in Ancestry.com Site

Have you tried searching the U.S. Public Records Index (USPRI) lately? Whether you’re searching for a distant cousin or want to locate information about Grandpa, we’ve added 800 million records to the USPRI collection for a total of more than 1.2 billion records from all 50 states, so it’s worth searching through the collection again.

And even if you haven’t searched the collection recently, you may start to see more Ancestry Hints (you know, the green shaky leaf) pop up on your family tree because of the number of connections these records bring to the site. So look back at your Ancestry.com family tree and see what extra hints have popped up lately.

What is a USPRI?

The U.S. Public Records Index are a variety of public records that are all accessible to the general public. What’s unique about this collection is that Ancestry.com has simply made the process of finding certain public records easier by making them available in an online searchable database.

Types of public records that make up the U.S. Public Records Index include:

  • White pages
  • Directory assistance records
  • Marketing lists
  • Postal change-of-address forms
  • Public record filings
  • Historical residential records

More than one year ago, we updated our U.S. Public Records database to have more than 500 million names, addresses, ages, and possible family relationships of people who lived in the United States between roughly 1950 and 1990.  And now, we just added more than 800 million new U.S. Public Records. With birth dates starting in the 1850s, this collection spans more than a century of U.S. history and is an invaluable tool for piecing together family stories and histories.

So, if you’re looking for more recent relatives, don’t miss the latest additions to our U.S. Public Records Index collections.  It’s worth a visit to see what fun new facts you can discover about your family.

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

36 comments

Comments
1 Carol BarberApril 7, 2010 at 9:24 am

When are the ancestry engineers going to write a program for the verizon phones? i phone has one, but really guys — holds 2000 names? I have 10,000 in one program alone! I just bought a droid and would love to have something available on MY phone.

2 Fred NewtonApril 7, 2010 at 10:16 am

After the stunt you guys pulled last year taking away the current USPRI from us, AND refering us to a horrible company to get that info. You would be better off not mentioning USPR at all.

3 Elle LitistApril 7, 2010 at 11:29 am

I find it highly annoying this info, exact birth dates, addresses, phone #’s of living individuals, is on the internet

This will only blur the debate about what to keep private in trees and family history databases.

The government won’t release information, ie the census for 72 years citing privacy, but it’s ok for a private company to?

4 SteveApril 7, 2010 at 2:19 pm

Although this may not be the right article in which to post my comment, perhaps you can direct it to the World Archives Project.

My Italian-American wife is a little jealous. She saw original birth, marriage and death records on Ancestry.com from Como and Lecco, Lombardy, Italy, Civil Registration Records, 1866-1936. However, similar records from her relatives from Bagni di Lucca, Tuscany, Italy, have not yet been included nor are such records scheduled as part of the World Archives Project.

When would you expect to see such records from Bagni di Lucca added to Ancestry.com? Thanks, so much!!

5 Andy HatchettApril 7, 2010 at 2:51 pm

They will be added if and when Bagni di Lucca makes arrangements with and releases those records to Ancestry.

6 BobNYApril 7, 2010 at 4:07 pm

Re: #4-#5

Since these exact records already exist on microfilm from FHL, one would assume that the World Archives Project was using these as the source documents and not reinventing the wheel and making additional arrangements for release with the Ufficio dello stato civile.

Since similar records — Registri dello stato civile di Bagni di Lucca (Lucca), 1866-1935 — also exist, one could surmise that it is a simple matter of setting priority for their indexing by the World Archives Project, rather than making arrangements with the Ufficio dello stato civile.

7 Arthur GranburyApril 7, 2010 at 4:44 pm

Are you an official Ancestry spokesman now, Mr. Hatchett? If not (as we know), stop acting like one.

8 AnneApril 7, 2010 at 5:27 pm

Andy Hatchett, we are getting very tired of you ACTING like an Ancestry spokesman.

9 Andy HatchettApril 7, 2010 at 7:57 pm

I am neither an employee of, nor an official spokesperson for, Ancestry – and have *never* represented myself to be such.

In fact, anyone remotely familiar with my posting history would find the idea laughable!

10 LynnApril 7, 2010 at 8:14 pm

Heather, I have noticed the new green leaves that have appeared on my tree due to the U.S. Public Records.

Although I think highly of Ancestry.com and the company’s growing offerings — I would prefer that Ancestry.com focus its efforts and resources on adding more historical records (i.e., not information about living and recently deceased individuals.)

Additionally, and more importantly, I find it disturbing that Ancestry.com is providing easy access to information about living individuals that could contribute to identify theft. I realize this was probably discussed internally within Ancestry.com before the company decided to add this information – but at the very least, I find it undesirable as well as information that I do not find value added.

11 Andy HatchettApril 7, 2010 at 8:48 pm

Bob,

One might be wrong in making such an assunption. Just because something is on file at FHL doesn’t mean the World Archive Project has any access to it.

Concerning the Como and Lecco Records the source information says:

“Ancestry.com. Como and Lecco, Lombardy, Italy, Civil Registration Records, 1866-1936 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008.
Original data: Lombardy Region, Italy, Civil Registration Records, 1866-1936. Tribunale di Como, Como, Italy.”

If this is compared to what is said about the US Census it would appear, at least to me, that since the census database specifically mentions rolls of microfilm as the original source and the Como records do not that the Como records were taken from the original records and not from anything furnished by the FHL.

Right now the World Archive Project is working on:

Pavia, Lombardia, Italia: Registri di Morte, 1866-1937

Pavia Lombardi, Italia: Registri di Matrimonio, 1866-1937

Varese, Lombardia, Italia: Registri di Matrimonio, 1866-1937

Varese, Lombardia, Italia: Registri di Morte, 1866-1937

In none of these cases is the FHL listed as a Project Partner.

They have also completed:

Verbano-Cusio_Ossola, Piedmonte, Italia: Registri di Matrimonio e Morte, 1866-1937

FHL wasn’t listed as a Project Partner in that one either.

I have no idea if any of these are at the FHL but there is certainly no indication that the World Archive Project is working with FHL material.

12 MarkApril 8, 2010 at 6:28 am

Thank you ancestry for providing a more complete PRI. It has helped facilitate a few more positive connections to distant relatives that were previously hard to find.

13 PatApril 8, 2010 at 5:07 pm

I too have noticed the new leaves regarding the Public Records, and have been delighted to confirm precise birth dates for those folks I had only sketchy information on before. It only makes sense that Ancestry previously hashed out any privacy issues with their attorneys before throwing this stuff online. Let’s face it, it’s pretty hard to hide in this modern world, so we’d best get used to it.

14 LynnApril 8, 2010 at 8:50 pm

#13 Pat

Something to think about. One of your “cousins” has an online tree, which includes information about you. This includes your mother name (i.e., Mother’s maiden name is a common security questions), locations and dates of where you lived throughout your life (less common, but also a security question) and they forget to place your birth date in the “born” field – all of your information is available to anyone on Ancestry.com. Or they do place your birth date and someone performs a search on Ancestry.com and in those search results some of the “hidden” information is visible. I know that I have found information about my living family members in public trees on Ancestry.com based upon those two scenarios … so Ancestry.com’s legal department likely did state that the legal liability is low … but based upon what I have seen I do not place information about living individuals on Ancestry … but I do not know what a “cousin” might post. And the easy access to Public Records about living individuals on Ancestry.com further increases the amount of information a “cousin” might include about you in that public online tree.

15 Andy HatchettApril 9, 2010 at 12:36 am

In this day and age, if you are still dealing with non- governmental organizations that use mother’s maiden name as part of the security set up you need to run- not walk- as quickly as possible and sever all links with that organization and find a replacement for whatever services you get from them.

16 LynnApril 9, 2010 at 9:08 am

#15 Andy.

The point is that there is a lot of information out there, but typically what is publicly available about living individuals is in bits and pieces that are not collectively linked to a specific individual, therefore it is would be hard to use the information to answer security questions, complete credit card applications, etc.

On Ancestry.com a “cousin” can pull together and organize those disparate pieces of information which may help them paint a fuller and more interesting picture of you or one of your living members — but since the information is now organized and collectively linked to a specific individual on the internet, it increases the possibility that the information will be used for undesirable purposes (i.e., identify theft, privacy invasion that would not be possible otherwise.) I know that I have found information about living “cousins” on Ancestry.com and based upon the information posted on Ancestry.com combined with a simple Google search, I know a whole lot more about that individual than I expected and likely they desire.

There are bigger contributors to identify theft, such as security breaches at Credit Card companies. Although information access and privacy rights will change over time–my philosophy is why hand someone information on a “silver platter” that could be detrimental to you or other living family members either through identify theft and/or privacy (i.e., my tree does not contain information about living individuals.)

Regarding security words, although you, I and others may be smart with our security words, that does not mean that it is the case for a living mother, grandmother, great grandmother, child, niece, nephew, etc. that could be a person captured in a “cousin’s” tree.

17 MonikaApril 9, 2010 at 11:05 am

Andy, Re: #7 and #8, there are always going to be people who do not want you to confuse them with facts! I am back to cry on your shoulders regarding the “members connect” situation. What do you know about software? How easy would it be for ancestry.com to make it possible for people to “opt out” of certain features they are offering, such as e.g. “member connect”. That way, every body could be happy. Those who want to use it can opt in, those who do not want to use it can opt out. Wouldn’t that be a perfect solution that could make everybody happy? I know you keep telling me to ignore this “yellow” flagging of “ancestry.connect. The problem is people connect themselves to YOU. I just looked at one tree that includes one of my husband’s ancestors, and which attached itself to my tree. Not only is his tree FULL of errors, but, I just discovered that–in order to fit his “facts” he “changed” all the data on numerous ancestry.com census records, placing alternate names and dates on it. It should not be so easy to go to a census record and put “alternate facts” in. This should be monitored by someone and there should be expectations of providing ancestry.com with facts, before you change the real facts. Now, that I look at these distorted census records, I can’t tell the facts from the non-facts anymore!!! It will take me days to clean up this mess! I am so frustrated!

18 LynnApril 9, 2010 at 11:51 am

#17 Monika

A possible solution to your problem is to use Family Tree Maker (FTM) — no one “connects” with your primary tree since it is on your computer as well as FTM has the added advantage of having more advanced functionality than what is offered via online trees (or at least that is what I understand.) One drawback, if you want to maintain a FTM and an online tree, there is currently no synch functionality between the FTM tree on your computer and the tree posted on Ancestry.com (i.e., you have to maintain duplicate trees or periodically re-post a new FTM tree to Ancestry.com website.) Something I am assuming will change in time.

19 MonikaApril 9, 2010 at 1:16 pm

#18 – Yes, Lynn, I have looked into FMT, but feel that I would just be exchanging one set of headaches for another! They are constantly “tweaking” that program too, and I read the many complaints on the blogs re: some of the problems FTM owners have. I am older than Methusalem…yes EVEN older than ANDY :-) :-) if you can believe that–so fighting another software just isn’t for me! I just would like the opportunity to “opt” out of certain things ancestry.com offers. Ancestry.com does a great job offering a myriad of things to their members. Yet not every shoe fits every body. That is why you have one person on the blog say that they LOVE “this or that” feature and the other one saying “I hate this same feature”. I am just wondering whether it would be acomplicated thing to do, to have an “opt out” opportunity built into some of these new “options” that are forced on people. The odds are that you might have a happier membership if the “Lovers” can use it and the “Haters” can opt out of that feature. Just a question! And, that still does not fix people messing with the Census records by providing “inaccurate facts”. There are two individuals by the same name (one’s birthday 1870, the other one’s birthday 1890). They have separate sets of Census records for the same years…one showing the parents coming from England. The other one showing the parents born in America. This member went into these records and changed the data (spelling of name, birth date, etc.) on both set’s of records…to make it one and the same person with name spellings and birth dates that match neither one of these records. Like “well, one of these is now correct!” It just should not be this easy to do that!

20 Andy HatchettApril 9, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Monkia,

One tree can’t “attach” itself to another. The member connect thing has various controls which can reduce or eliminate certain items. Check under “Your Profile and contact settings” at the bottom of your profile page. See if that helps – if not, write me.

Andy
agh3rd@aol.com

21 Andy HatchettApril 9, 2010 at 1:56 pm

Monika,

One can’t change the actual census- they can only add alternatives to the index. Anyone checking the actual image (which should *always* be done anyway will see the errors.

22 MonikaApril 9, 2010 at 5:47 pm

Yeah, but, Andy, now and then I do get tempted to look at somebody else’s tree that has attached itself to me (against your better advice!!), and discover these things. Would not do that if I had an “opt out” option. Also, re: the Census records, yes, that is what I mean, they did ADD so many alternatives that it made a real mess of it! Why should I have to waste my time weeding out somebody else’s incorrect information. (Fortunately, I had made a hard copy of the aaccurate record a couple of years ago!) People should only add “alternatives” if they know what they are talking about! These “alternatives” should not be indiscriminately allowed on a “historic record”. You should be expected to give a “source” for the change you make, or “for the alternative” (if you are going to be a stickler about “alternative” versus “change”). You KNOW how people do their ancestry. trees on this site. They see an “alternative” and say “oh, that person must have known better, or would not have made that “change”. And, before you know it, gazillion trees offer “the alternative”. Anyway, it’s MY turn to be grumpy today! :-)

23 John HApril 10, 2010 at 5:06 am

My impression is if you submit alternative interpretation of census data — it is not made available until somebody from ancestry.com reviews it. I would like to think ancestry.com does NOT accept unreasonable proposed changes — if not why do they spend their money to review what we submit?

The changes need to viewed as supplemental information. Also, what is in a census record is what the census taker was told (or thought they heard) — it not necessarily true. Look how people get less than 10 years older between censuses.

24 MonikaApril 10, 2010 at 12:38 pm

#23 – I agree with you, John! I would like to think that somebody at ancestry.com reviews the “alternative” information before placing it on the record. The specific case I referred to yesterday deals with a relative of my husband’s–not uncommon name. ALL seven Census records (Federal AND State censuses) gave the correct birth year of 1870 (almost unusual to have this much concurrence). There are two other individuals by the same name (well with a slight variation– first names Jessie, Jessee and Jesse). However, they were born one in 1892 (and yes, there are WW I records and death records available for him) and one in 1864. So, along comes somebody, who now changes the 1870 birthday to 1892 (ooops, sorry Andy…”offered the alternative date of 1892 on the index”). That would have made him 16 or 17 years old when he married his then 27 year old wife! The other one comes along and offers the “alternative date” of 1864, making him now 46 years old when his first born was born. Should this not send up a red flag?? The only way ancestry.com could review that data is by going into “search” mode themselves and start looking at ALL the people by that (almost) same name to realize where the error occurred and to then refuse that “alternative data”. There is no way that they can do that time wise, in my opinion, in view of the fact that many people are offering alternative data every day. Clearly, they did not do that in this instance. Then, I go onto the ancestry tree of one of these individuals who submitted the data (because he member-connected himself to me…yes, yes, Andy, I know he did not “attach” himself to me–words matter, thank you for pointing that out). He now has included the children of my husband’s cousin into his tree, gave them the corect mother, but…by changing the birth date of their father…he added the wrong Jessee, and he added the parents of the wrong Jessee and so the whole lineage of these two children now is wrong in his tree. End of story!

25 Andy HatchettApril 10, 2010 at 3:46 pm

Monika,

You can not be responsible for what others have in their tree(s). You can’t control what others put into their tree(s).

The “alternatives” are just that-alternatives. They are additions to, not replacement for, the original index.

To my mind the only alternatives that Ancestry needs to review are those that are claimed to be transcription errors and even they only need to be reviewed (and incorrect indexes removed) before issuing a complete new index of a particular census as they did with the newly released 1920 census index,. Census Indexes simply can’t (due to progamming requirements) be changed on a frequent on-going basis.

26 BakerApril 10, 2010 at 4:11 pm

Is Ancestry.com working on providing a cohesive substitute for the destroyed 1890 U.S. Census?

Where is the data from partial records from 1890 that were salvaged & available on microfilm?

Is Ancestry.com coordinating any efforts to provide data from official state records and making them available in an online searchable database?

does anyone actually answer these questions or am i supposed to send a question to HELP Contact Us thingy?

hmmm?
thanks to anyone who might be listening LOL reading.
g’day

27 MonikaApril 10, 2010 at 4:32 pm

#25 – Well, Andy, it may look like we are talking “past” each other. But, we are both saying the same thing! That is exactly what I want too! I want them to change ONLY transcription errors, AFTER verifictation. I would like to think that anyone who reads what I describe in #24, can understand my frustration! I am not trying to change other people’s trees, nor “control” other people’s trees. I don’t know where in what I said you read that. But, when you start tempering with birth dates on a census record, via “alternative dates” varying from 1864 to 1892, when the original data shows it to be consistently 1870, you are not helping any body. And, once again, I would not even have noticed, if that person had not “member.connected” himself to my tree. That’s why I was curious to know how complicated it would be to have an “opt out” program to allow members to “opt out” of member.connect. That way every body could be happy those who want it can have it and those who do not want it do not have to have it imposed on them. The way I see it, the data of these connections is and remains on ancestry.com. If I want to go looking for it, I know how to press the “search” button.

28 MonikaApril 10, 2010 at 4:35 pm

…and I want them to add a “spell-check” button to the blog! :-) :-) I am tired of seeing all my typos after the fact! For the reader: I am European born. English is my second language. So forgive the sometimes convoluted language. Seeing the English sentences of some Amercan born on these blogs, I still feel that I am not doing too bad!

29 Elle LitistApril 11, 2010 at 4:24 pm

#28 Your typos, ever your grammar can be forgiven, but please refrain from using emoticons in your posts, how old are you, 12?

30 MonikaApril 12, 2010 at 9:19 pm

#29 :-)

31 Heather EricksonApril 13, 2010 at 9:37 am

@Baker (#26)

Nothing can truly replace the destroyed 1890 census – it had unique information, but there are record sources such as city directories that provide some of the information that the 1890 census contained. Ancestry.com has compiled a collection of many city directories (and other relevant sources) from the 1890 period. http://search.ancestry.com/group/1890census/1890+Census+Substitute.aspx

The National Archives microfilmed the 1890 census population schedules that survive and they also microfilmed schedules taken during the 1890 census of veterans. The veteran schedules still exist for about half of the country. Ancestry.com has online digital images of all of the surviving 1890 population schedules http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=5445 and the veterans schedules http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=8667.

All states have an official state archives or historical society or library that preserves the permanently valuable state government records. Ancestry.com works with those states to digitized records of genealogical value and indexed images of those records are added to Ancestry.com as they become available.

I hope this helps! Good luck with your family history research.

32 Elle LitistApril 13, 2010 at 10:17 pm

#30

A tween brain in cat ladies body is tragic.

33 BakerApril 14, 2010 at 1:24 pm

@31 Heather, thank you for responding. g’day.

34 MonikaApril 14, 2010 at 1:45 pm

#32 – Thank you for sharing details about your personality with us! We really cared to know, which is why we visit this blog regularly!

35 E. EricksonApril 15, 2010 at 11:56 am

#26,#31 & #33
Baker
I am researching Baker’s and am not finding pertinet information ie Dbirth, death and marriages. Some people just seem to pop up then vanish into thin air. Very frustrating.
Help.

36 BEEApril 17, 2010 at 11:25 am

Not sure where to report this, but the WWI Draft Registration cards for Brooklyn, Kings, NY don’t match up with the names.
How many more months/years before the PA WWII Draft Registration cards are straightened out?

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