Ancestry.com

Find Your Immigrant Ancestors–Free Online Class

Posted by Juliana Smith on August 19, 2010 in Ancestry.com Site

S.S. Angelo (Wilson Line steamship) leaving Christiana, Norway, with emigrants for America

Coming to America: Finding Your Immigrant Ancestors
Wednesday, 01 September 2010, 8:00 PM Eastern (New York)

 Your immigrant ancestor’s trip to America is among the most compelling chapters in your family history. Join me September 1st for a free online class to learn what you need to know to identify your ancestor in passenger arrival records. We’ll discuss places you can find the details you need, and how to discover the story of your ancestor’s voyage to America in the records you find.

We’ll have a brief Q&A session following the presentation, and then we’ll move the conversation over to our Facebook page to continue the conversation for a bit more.

Click here for your free registration.

About Juliana Smith
Juliana Szucs Smith has been working for Ancestry.com for more than 16 years. She began her family history journey trolling through microfilms with her mother at the age of 11. She has written many articles for online and print genealogical publications and wrote the "Computers and Technology" chapter of The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy. Juliana holds a certificate from Boston University's Online Genealogical Research Program, and is currently on the clock working towards certification from the Board for Certification of Genealogists.

61 comments

Comments

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2 JadeAugust 19, 2010 at 3:01 pm

What about the ‘Great Migration’ ancestors of the 17th century, and the hordes arriving in New York, Maryland, the Carolinas, Louisiana and Virginia (etc.) in the 18th century? Those who colonized the Southwest? None of these, of course, appear in the published Philadelphia passenger lists.

Or are you only talking about the emigrants of the last half of the 19th century and 20th century, when immigration and naturalization records are so much more available?

A guide to immigrant-research was published by Ancstry.com a year or so ago that hardly mentioned the existence of pre-1850s immigrants. For those of us with much earlier immigrant ancestors, the suggestion to look for letters in our parents’ attics was at least good for a laugh (my Mayflower ancestors clean forgot to write those letters).

My latest immigrant ancestor came over in 1819.

Please specify what time frame you plan to address, so many of us need not be disappointed by narrow scope of the actual presentation.

3 Juliana SmithAugust 19, 2010 at 3:32 pm

I’ll be briefly touching on several eras of immigration–pre-1820, 1820s to 1890s, and 1890s through Ellis Island era, but we’ll also be covering how to identify your ancestor in records, narrow down the time frame of immigration, search, and other considerations.

4 JadeAugust 19, 2010 at 3:58 pm

Juliana, thank you for your #3 (no number).

Pretty funny, calling the 200-odd years prior to 1820 a single ‘era’ ;) . The descendants of 10,000-yar-ago immigrants would call on such storied beings as Coyotl and Kwakiutl for comment.

I hope your presentation will not be mainly about nor confined to types of records available on Ancestry.com, which has precious little about the 17th century and not much more about the early to middle 18th.

5 Juliana SmithAugust 19, 2010 at 4:19 pm

Because I only have 45 minutes (plus 15 for Q&A), it would be impossible to do justice to all of the sources for pre-1820 passenger arrival information, without neglecting other major immigration waves. As I’m sure you know, since lists weren’t required by law until 1819, those that do still exist are scattered in nature. In many cases we need to go into substitutes and published sources. Thanks for bringing it up though. It would be a good subject for an article for the Weekly Discovery or perhaps another webinar dedicated completely to that topic down the road.

6 JadeAugust 19, 2010 at 4:47 pm

Juliana, re: your #5 (no number) –

One could easily devote a whole webinar to 1607-1660 and not exhaust the sources. And a whole one for 1709-1711 in NY alone. There are many locations where specific time-periods are really crucial. :)

Cheers :D

7 LynnAugust 19, 2010 at 5:56 pm

For your Q&A section of the presentation, in case it has not yet been finalized. Although similar to Jade, most of my ancestors arrived in North America in the early 1600s through the mid-1700s — however, I am struggling with an ancestor who arrived in 1890. Although this may be too detailed/specific for the 15-minute Q&A – the situation is that I located the departure and arrival records (NYC) for the women, but I am trying to identify who she traveled with to the United States since I hope that will help me trace family records in Europe. It is family knowledge that the women traveled with a cousin (name unknown, but almost certainly with a different last name) – although I have researched the names of the passengers on either side of her on the departure and arrival passenger lists and names of individuals who were from the same town, I am unable to find records for them after arrival and/or more importantly in the location where the cousin settled (Michigan). In short, are there records that help identify un-related (or in my case, cousins) who were traveling together from this time period.

If anyone else has suggestions, let me know. Thanks.

8 JadeAugust 21, 2010 at 2:55 am

Juliana, re Q&A: “We’ll have a brief Q&A session following the presentation, and then we’ll move the conversation over to our Facebook page to continue the conversation for a bit more.”

I’d suggest briefly polling webinar participants as to how many are facebook registrants, and devote available webinar time to those who are not.

I personally have not signed up to any social-networking site for all the privacy reasons that have come to light in the past year, and most other internet users have not signed up to them for these and other reasons (or for no particular reason — such as lack of interest in ‘hanging out’ on the web).

9 KerriAugust 21, 2010 at 8:56 am

My grandparents immigrated from Romania, at different times, around 1900. They were very young and their names were changed. Is there any hope of finding information on them.

10 Carol A. H.August 21, 2010 at 3:17 pm

#8 Jade:

I agree with you “like totally” as the younger folks would say. Most social sites are for people who are not genealogists. I suppose there are some, but since we only have 24 hours in a day and I can email directly to my friends, nobody else cares about my social life and it is private anyway.

Forget the Facebook or any other social site.

11 Carol A. H.August 21, 2010 at 3:24 pm

Ancestry should concentrate on being a better genealogical site rather than branching out to social sites.

Your TV ads are MISLEADING enough without involving Facebook and the like.

Get more records. The actual records! We want and can do our own research but not if there is nothing to search!

12 JesseAugust 21, 2010 at 5:25 pm

I’m sorry to see all of the criticism Ancestry.com is receiving with regard to its taking advantage of Facebook as a powerful tool for staying in touch with its customers, especially since most of the people attacking Facebook do not even use the site and therefore do not know what they’re talking about.

Being a high school student, I am not a software developer or an entrepreneur of any sort. But I can’t imagine how frustrating it is for a person or organization making an effort to improve their service by employing technology having their efforts rejected for no reason at all. Facebook is an amazing resource and not only is it great for staying in touch with friends and family, but I have been able to contact several long lost cousins through it and gather information on family branches I was at an absolute dead end on.

In addition there are family history groups for just about every specific genealogical interest (I’m part of two Azorean Genealogy groups) and where there is not one already, it can be created in minutes with a few clicks. Websites like Facebook not only change the way people interact but they hold so much potential for research and hobbies of all kinds; Genealogy is absolutely not an exception. But for it to be successful it’s imperative that people understand the software and do not go by the one-in-ten-thousand sensationalized five minute stories that are on the news.

I’ve already found most of my immigrant ancestors, and although there are a few missing, I do not think that this seminar will help me. Unfortunately, the transcriptions of the passenger lists were made with no knowledge of the individual cultures and naming traditions of the people listed and the indices are therefore useless to me. Still, I think this is an important topic. The jump from America to the homeland has been the most exciting part of my research and I am glad that more people will be able to experience that. I’m glad that Ancestry is targeting the “younger folks” because the biggest joy of the search for me is collaboration and connection.

13 worshacfAugust 21, 2010 at 6:16 pm

Well said Jessie #12, I commend your intelligent response.

As stated before in several previous blogs, some ancestry members do not use Facebook or Tweeter, nor would they be interested in the social entity of either; that being said, it’s downright rude of them to sneer at those who utilize other modes of internet use.

Happy hunting Jessie; you sound very enthusiastic about genealogical history, keep up the good work.

14 Andy HatchettAugust 21, 2010 at 7:39 pm

Unless Ancestry places the entire webinar on FaceBook the people on facebook will have no idea of what was actually said in the webinar and I therefore fail to see how their input would be meaningful.

Far better, imho, would be putting a blog entry up and let people who actually attended the webinar continue the conversation on the Blog.

Facebook may have its uses… but as a place to continue something that started in another venue isn’t, imho, one of them.

15 Carol A. H.August 21, 2010 at 10:07 pm

Andy #14:

I’ll second that idea! Then more people would be happy.

16 JadeAugust 22, 2010 at 2:14 am

worshacf #13 you said “Some Ancstry members . . . . it’s downright rude of them to sneer at those who utilize other modes of internet use.”

State what was a ‘sneer’ or apologize for rude accusation of rudeness.

17 setter515August 22, 2010 at 7:45 am

Jesse (#12) makes some very good points with respect to facebook and other social networking sites. I periodically present online genealogy “how-to” workshops at several local (to me) libraries. I always include and recommend these sites during my presentations. Social networking sites are among the best resources for connecting with living, but previously unknown cousins. You might not have family photos or know what happened to the family bible. Your cousins might. Finding them can often help you smash through the thickest of your genealogical brick walls.

18 worshacfAugust 22, 2010 at 12:58 pm

Jade #16

My blog was addressing Jessie #12′s very well worded support of Facebook as a resource for finding genealogy contacts, as well as the use of two Azorean Genealogy groups. Reread Jessie #12′s blog again, there is sadness that critisim of Facebook is being made by ancestry members.

If you took offense, then perhaps you mistook or didn’t read properly, I was refering to previous blogs, not specifically this blog. However, if the shoe fits…

19 JadeAugust 22, 2010 at 2:50 pm

worshacf, re your post #12:

Jesse’s post said re: Ancestry’s use of Facebook,
“I’m sorry to see all of the criticism Ancestry.com is receiving with regard to its taking advantage of Facebook as a powerful tool for staying in touch with its customers . . . .”

Jesse did not say where such criticism was voiced, or what exactly was referred to. I have not seen such criticism on Ancestry/Rootsweb message boards, or in these Ancestry.com blogs.

You, worshacf, go on to allude to ‘sneering,’ regarding Ancestry.com’s use of Facebook, which I have not seen in this blog or elsewhere. You decline to give an example.

Since I have not ‘sneered’ in this regard, I fail to see what “if the shoe fits . . .” has to do with the request to support your allegation or withdraw it.

Since those who are appreciably involved in new apps tend to forget that ‘everyone’ is not likewise invested in them, I do think that an occasional reminder of how relatively few people these entities are addressing is in order. For starters, large swaths of the USA population do not have internet access at all (unless they can get to a still open library that provides internet access for patrons), or cannot afford to pay the non-separable bundled-package fees charged by a company that is the only provider in a given area.

20 JesseAugust 22, 2010 at 5:44 pm

@19

I was referring to the general disdain toward Facebook I have witnessed in reading these blog comments. And yes, you are correct that I did not cite any specific instances of this. Likewise, you didn’t specify when you mentioned “all the privacy reasons that have come to light in the past year.”

In #10, Carol stated that “nobody else cares about [her] social life and it is private anyway” and to “forget the Facebook or any other social site.” It is comments like these, and I mean no disrespect to Carol or anyone else, that lead me to believe that many of the issues people take with facebook are due to misunderstanding and misinformation.

Joining facebook does NOT mean you are required to share your social life with anyone. As I mentioned before, you can use it simply as a tool for genealogical research. You can opt out of email notifications, refuse to tell anyone you have a facebook, and if you are that worried, use a fake name. I understand that going to these extreme measures is a bit of a hassle, and probably defeats the purpose of facebook. Luckily, they are not necessary. Facebook really does give its users an assortment of privacy options. The fifteen to twenty minutes it may take you to sort through and find the setting that is right for you just might be repaid by Facebook’s facilitation of your research.

And if you aren’t happy with Facebook, then stop using it or delete it. Joining facebook is not a commitment, and if at any time you do not want to offer up personal information, then don’t. Having a facebook account does not mean you have to log in every day. It does not even mean you have to log in every week. Like Ancestry.com, you can use it at your leisure and there is no consequence to not doing so.

Jade, you also mentioned that “those who are appreciably involved in new apps tend to forget that ‘everyone’ is not likewise invested in them” but I do not believe this. Ancestry never claimed that everyone had a facebook account. Was there a better way for them to have a discussion following a webinar prior to Facebook? If there was, then maybe the argument is valid but until I hear otherwise, I firmly believe that the usage of Facebook by Ancestry was a great decision and really makes it easy to involve people. Ancestry is not assuming you have a facebook; to my knowledge, they’re simply employing it as an option for people and a way to continue interacting and learning.

And finally, you say that “large swaths of the USA population do not have internet access at all” but I fail to see how this pertains to the discussion because these people are not on Ancestry.com. And yes, an ancestry subscription is expensive, but luckily, websites like Facebook are free. In this case, Ancestry is creating an opportunity everyone can enjoy.

21 worshacfAugust 22, 2010 at 8:55 pm

Jessie #12 and #20

Way to go, well said again.

Thanks for coming back to this blog to describe in more detail and clarify your original comment. I still agree 100%.

22 HaleyAugust 23, 2010 at 1:13 am

how do you delete an Ancestry.com account!

23 JadeAugust 23, 2010 at 8:21 am

Jesse, your #20: “Was there a better way for them to have a discussion following a webinar prior to Facebook?”

One easy way would be to schedule the webinar for 1.5 or 2 hours, rather than one, so that all of the audience could better participate in Q&A on the topic presentation and follow-up.

And finally, “And yes, an ancestry subscription is expensive, but luckily, websites like Facebook are free. In this case, Ancestry is creating an opportunity everyone can enjoy.”

That was one of my points, the “everyone can enjoy” part is simply not the case. “Everyone” who has a fast and suitably configured computer and broadband access is a rather narrow spectrum.

24 Andy HatchettAugust 23, 2010 at 11:17 am

Jesse Re: #20

You said:
[QUOTE]
ncestry never claimed that everyone had a facebook account. Was there a better way for them to have a discussion following a webinar prior to Facebook? If there was, then maybe the argument is valid but until I hear otherwise, I firmly believe that the usage of Facebook by Ancestry was a great decision and really makes it easy to involve people. Ancestry is not assuming you have a facebook; to my knowledge, they’re simply employing it as an option for people and a way to continue interacting and learning.
[END QUOTE]

The crux of the matter is this…

By placing the continued discussion on Facebook, Ancestry is effectively banning all Ancestry members not willing to join Facebook from the continuing discussion.

Ancestry has a perfectly suitable vehicle for continuing the discussion on Ancestry itself- The Ancestry Blog.

Why should members not willing to join Facebook be barred from the continuing discussion?

Is that fair?

Whoever it was at Ancestry that came up with this insane idea needs to re-think it- and QUICK!

I hope all members of Ancestry who do not want to join Facebook but do want to take part in the continuing discussion will e-mail Senior management at Ancestry and let them know just how unacceptable this is.

25 Carol A. H.August 23, 2010 at 5:51 pm

#22 Haley: To cancel an Ancestry membership you can call them at 1-800-262-3787 (Eastern time: 10 am to 6 pm weekdays) and speak to a customer service rep. Or you can click “My Account” on your home page and then click “Cancel Subscription” in the “My Account Box.”

If you are just wanting to remomve a tree, make a GEDCOM file for backup, (export your tree) in case you change your mind, and then delete your tree. Be VERY, VERY careful, as once you have deleted a tree with no backup, it is really GONE.

You would go to your tree, click “Manage tree,” click “Export Tree.” Call Ancestry if you have any doubts about this. This is serious stuff.

26 Carol A. H.August 23, 2010 at 6:03 pm

5:03 pm Pacific time

#24 Andy:

I emailed Juliana last evening and quoted your suggestion regarding extending any discussion on an Ancestry blog rather than Facebook.

I feel it is the best idea which should make more people able to participate. I also explained I don’t want to join Facebook.

I’m fortunate to have a dedicated cable for my ISP but there are folks who have had long time subscriptions and live where they have no choice but dial-up.

27 DonAugust 23, 2010 at 6:45 pm

I’ve been reading the various comments about Facebook and wanted to share some thoughts.

I am not a fan of Facebook. Neither do I want to live my life on the computer. Having said that, I have a cousin who does most of her genealogy research through Ancestry and Facebook. To try to work with her I had to create a Facebook account. I have only my name and major city on it. NO OTHER PERSONAL INFORMATION. I do not use it for anything other than to access genealogy information – NO SOCIAL CONTACTS.

As it happens, my family comes from West Virginia. Through Facebook I found an independent genealogy researcher in West Virginia who was willing to try to research three names for me. I was able to successfully contact one of those names and it turned out that the person is a cousin I never knew. We met for the first time last fall 2009 – in person and not on Facebook – and had a blast talking about the family. Hopefully, we will maintain this contact.

My point is that while Facebook is not necessarily a secure place nor a positive way to live one’s life – if good judgement is exercised it can be a valuable tool for genealogy research or possibly other efforts.

Just some food for thought.

28 Andy HatchettAugust 23, 2010 at 8:50 pm

Don Re: # 27

An individual choosing to use Facebook for their genealogical work is one thing.

For Ancestry to choose Facebook to continue something that originated on Ancestry for Ancestry members and thus force members to join Facebook in order to continue the discussion is quite another.

It is like reading an article in People magazine and getting to the bottom of the page and the article says “Continued in Fortune Magazine – page 6″.

If Ancestry feels that they must promote their Facebook page then they should originate something their for their Facebook users – not try to force its use on non-willing Ancestry members.

29 JesseAugust 23, 2010 at 9:57 pm

“It is like reading an article in People magazine and getting to the bottom of the page and the article says “Continued in Fortune Magazine – page 6″.”

No Andy, it’s absolutely not. While having to buy two magazines costs money, a Facebook account is free. In addition, everyone is being made aware well in advance that the discussion will be on Facebook. They did not hold the webinar and then surprise everyone at the end with this information. Joining Facebook is neither costly or taxing and I feel that “forced” is a somewhat loaded word.

I would also argue that Facebook is superior to the Ancestry blog for a discussion. Blog comments do not provide an instant connection to the other members, and for pre-existing Facebook users, the discussion becomes integrated into their normal usage of the website. There is no “Like” button on the Ancestry blog to promote helpful or insightful comments. If you want to continue a discussion with someone from a blog comment, then you have to hope that they remembered to include their email address in their post. On Ancestry there’s no chance for a missed connection, because you can privately message people using the link on their comments.

@Jade
Sorry, I should have been more clear. When i said “everyone” i was referring to everyone on Ancestry.com. Computers capable of using Ancestry.com should be capable of using Facebook. I understand that many people do not have (suitable) internet access, but for that reason I fail to see why they have anything to do with this webinar and the facebook discussion.

30 Andy HatchettAugust 23, 2010 at 10:14 pm

Jesse Re: # 29

Note that I have never mentioned cost- both the Ancestry Blog, The Ancestry Message Boards, and Facebook are free.

“Forced” is the only word that fits this situation. I am a paying member planning to watch an Ancestry Webinar on Ancestry… yet am told that I can not take part in continuing discussions unless I am willing to join Facebook. How else, other than forced, would you describe it?

In any case, I wrote Ancestry and received a reply that I had raised some good points and that the matter would be looked at.

31 JesseAugust 23, 2010 at 10:42 pm

@Andy

I know that you never mentioned cost. You were comparing the Ancestry & Facebook situation to the magazines, and I was saying that I did not believe that to be an accurate or appropriate comparison as one situation entails an additional monetary cost and the other is a matter of opening a different website. Heading over to Facebook to continue the discussion when you already know to expect this is significantly easier than having to purchase an additional magazine to read a story in two parts.

Also, I was not aware the Webinar was on Ancestry; the link leads to on24.com. The blog also mentions that it’s free; is this available only to Ancestry subscribers? I thought it was not, so I don’t see what your paid membership has to do with that.

I don’t see why people can’t comment on THIS blog for the webinar, and there IS going to be a Q&A portion. While it will not be able to include everyone, it’s still something. No one HAS to join the discussion on Facebook. They can choose not to as you are doing.

Like I have said before, joining Facebook is not difficult and does not take long. I find it exciting that Ancestry is giving me a way to integrate two services I use regularly and giving the option to all of its customers and non-paying users.

32 Carol A. H.August 23, 2010 at 11:04 pm

A question here: since all the webinars are available later on the Ancestry site, what happens to the off-site lively and informative Q&A after the webinar is over? Will it be available to members who just can’t participate for whatever reason? Or is it just in real time only?

I have viewed various webinars that although I signed up for, I missed due to some unforeseen demand. They were complete. No going to another place/site/web page. The Q&A was limited, true, but if I had questions, I could always post on an Ancestry blog.

33 Andy HatchettAugust 23, 2010 at 11:10 pm

Jesse Re: #30

On24.com is the site Ancestry runs its webinars through.

While you don’t have to be a member to view the webinar I would think, since it will be dealing with how to find you immigrant ancestors with the focus undoubtedly being searching for them on Ancestry, that it would be safe to say that most viewers will be either members or subscribers; and that since most members or subscribers of Ancestry are not members of Facebook that it seems counterproductive to knowingly prevent them from post webinar discussion unless they are willing to join Facebook. Either the Blog or one of the message boards seems, imho, to be a much better venue.

“Instant connection” with other members is not necessary to have intelligent, meaningful ongoing conversations- something that the younger generation just doesn’t seem to understand.

As to the “thumbs up or thumbs down” business… I’d rather someone take the time to explain why they don’t like something rather than a mere icon.

Genealogy is a poor pursuit for those seeking instant gratification.

34 Andy HatchettAugust 23, 2010 at 11:31 pm

Carol Re: #32

The ongoing discussions will be available on Facebook but just where I’m not sure… hopefully under the discussion tab but maybe just on the main page. From what I’ve seen there are presently 521 “discussions”- mostly consisting of one post from what I can tell from the first page although a few have over 6 posts!

;)

35 JesseAugust 24, 2010 at 3:37 am

@Andy

“As to the “thumbs up or thumbs down” business… I’d rather someone take the time to explain why they don’t like something rather than a mere icon.”

Yes, that would be great if everyone was willing to take the time to write out why they don’t like a comment. And for now, with people refusing to use facebook and the ten or so people who comment on these blog entries, that’s totally possible. But what if all of the people who wanted to comment were able to (via their favorite method, without knowing anything about the alternatives) and did? Would it be realistic that someone looking to participate in the discussion had time to read each individual comment, and that those who did had the time to respond and explain their feelings about the replies? Something like the “like” button solves this problem. It only takes a click, and let’s someone show their support for a comment while another person gets to see at a glance which of the hundreds of replies are important enough to read when they are in a hurry.

““Instant connection” with other members is not necessary to have intelligent, meaningful ongoing conversations- something that the younger generation just doesn’t seem to understand.”

I did not say it was necessary, but it certainly expedites the process. I don’t see how that could be a negative. I feel like the alternative is a step backward; the messageboards and even the blog comments are primitive, in my opinion, in comparison to Facebook, which has more advanced features that can enhance the ability to participate in the discussion. Just because instant connection is not necessary does not mean it is not good. I am frustrated by this “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” mentality; there is always room for improvement and I commend Ancestry.com for realizing that as opposed to becoming outdated and obsolete.

I’m fully aware that genealogy is a poor pursuit for those seeking instant gratification, as I’m sure most of the people who will read your comment will be as well. Is that any reason to deliberately keep it that way? It’s disheartening and insulting to see these generalizations about “the younger generation,” but I’m glad I’ll have the opportunity to participate in this discussion on Facebook along with every other Ancestry.com member who chooses to do so.

36 CarolAugust 24, 2010 at 4:44 am

Jesse,
You’ve convinced me. For years my only reason for having a Facebook account was so I could keep an eye on what my teenagers were posting on their own accounts. I never ventured beyond these limited contacts, and quite frankly had no idea that Facebook had “groups” designated for people with special interests. Now that I’ve checked it out, I have to say I’m impressed. As you’ve correctly pointedo out, I didn’t have to provide any personal information. I understand the privacy concerns if you go posting intimate details of your life on a site like this without choosing the right settings, but if you just post your name (or fake name), and comments, what’s the big deal.

Thank you for your mature and well-reasoned analysis. I’ve always looked on Facebook as something for the younger generation, but now I understand its attraction and its usefulness.

37 JadeAugust 24, 2010 at 5:21 am

Jesse, #29 “Computers capable of using Ancestry.com should be capable of using Facebook. I understand that many people do not have (suitable) internet access, but for that reason I fail to see why they have anything to do with this webinar and the facebook discussion.”

No few who use message boards and mailing lists only have access to dial-up and/or use TV.net. Many use the trees setup who have pre-XP PCs and non-MS OSs. There are low-tech IM chat rooms that allow nearly instantaneous exchange; one could be set up at the beginning of the webinar (‘registration’ could be a process where a username and password were sent to registrants). The webinar presentation could be prepared with all graphics in a PDF file, and Q&A could be scheduled in a format that many more could use. The advantage of a PDF file is that it is searchable and readable by nearly everyone, while the webinar is neither.

Also, #25 “Would it be realistic that someone looking to participate in the discussion had time to read each individual comment, and that those who did had the time to respond and explain their feelings about the replies? Something like the “like” button solves this problem. It only takes a click, and let’s someone show their support for a comment while another person gets to see at a glance which of the hundreds of replies are important enough to read when they are in a hurry.”

Folks’ ~opinions~ about a genealogical-research problem or solution are irrelevant. We are dealing with fact-finding here, not how cute someone’s dog is thought to be in a poll.

For example, the vast majority of tree owners do not do research where the records are (such as in Courthouses, archives, libraries, Church-record repositories). The opinion of such persons that going to a County Courthouse to locate an 1827 naturalization record is a ‘thunbs down’ would be quite irrelevant to the quality of the suggestion.

38 JesseAugust 24, 2010 at 6:03 am

@Jade

“No few who use message boards and mailing lists only have access to dial-up and/or use TV.net. Many use the trees setup who have pre-XP PCs and non-MS OSs. There are low-tech IM chat rooms that allow nearly instantaneous exchange; one could be set up at the beginning of the webinar (‘registration’ could be a process where a username and password were sent to registrants). The webinar presentation could be prepared with all graphics in a PDF file, and Q&A could be scheduled in a format that many more could use. The advantage of a PDF file is that it is searchable and readable by nearly everyone, while the webinar is neither.”

This is a free presentation. Yes, Ancestry could certainly set up a low-tech IM chat room. They could also go through the trouble of setting up an ADDITIONAL registration process. And after that they could do some more work and transcribe the entire presentation to a .pdf and hold additional discussions elsewhere and have the same things being said simultaneously on three or four different mediums.

Instead, they are doing a streamlined presentation in a way which has been successful in the past and holding the discussion on a popular social website with simple and easy-to-use communications software in place where people will easily be able to participate.

Ancestry could probably put this onto a DVD for those who don’t have computers, and then a VHS tape for those who don’t have DVD players, and a pamphlet for those who don’t even have TVs. But there has to be some sort of point at which we stop backtracking, because you could go on forever to include as many people as possible.

But this is free. Ancestry isn’t putting this in 3D and requiring you to get a new computer to view the presentation. They’re using technology which is a few years old and is highly popular to do the webinar, because it has been previously successful. It’s unfortunate that some people are feeling left out but technology moves quick, and sometimes change is just inevitable. The internet is revolutionizing the way we communicate with one another, and I’ve said it so many times, but I don’t mind repeating that I am so grateful to Ancestry for embracing this. I have learned so much about myself and my family through my few years of research, and made so many connections with people I would have never met that I value so much. I know for a fact that none of this would have been possible twenty years ago, and it wouldn’t have been possible today either if everyone preferred to stick with the “old way.”

“Folks’ ~opinions~ about a genealogical-research problem or solution are irrelevant. We are dealing with fact-finding here, not how cute someone’s dog is thought to be in a poll.”

Right. And that feature would be nothing more than an OPTION, best used if someone does not have the time to read through a large number of comments. There is nothing stopping you from reading each and every comment with 0 likes, and there’s nothing stopping you from ignoring the ones with 50. I am really not following the dog comparison, but something like the “Like” button adapts to the context. Yes, it’s great to “Like” a cute photograph. But when you’re reading comments in an Ancestry discussion, you can “Like” the ones you see that talk about going to the county courthouse if you think it’s a useful comment. And if you see someone post advice that is not so great, or maybe it’s just a trivial comment, then you do not “like” it.

39 Andy HatchettAugust 24, 2010 at 7:12 am

I’ve no objection to Facebook itself.

My complaint is the appropriateness (or rather the lack thereof) of this particular use of it. Had Ancestry chosen to do the entire webinar and discussion on Facebook I’d not say a word.

It is almost like being invited to dinner but being told you’ll have to leave before the cake and ice cream are served.

In effect, Ancestry is treating those who do not wish to join Facebook in order to continue the conversation as second class members not worthy to partake of their full offering.

No matter how you spin it, the bottom line is that to get the full benefit of the webinar one will be forced to join Facebook.

Shameful!

40 Carol ThompsonAugust 24, 2010 at 11:26 am

Hi Julianna;

Will you be commenting on emigration by nation? I am particularly interested in France, as my ancestor, a weaver born about 1764, joined the Continental Army in PA was claimed to have been French by his descendants.

Thanks,
Carol

41 Juliana SmithAugust 24, 2010 at 11:34 am

Hi Carol, While I have samples of immigrant arrivals from several different countries, I don’t have one for that era from France. I do have some research tips though that will hopefully help across the board.

Also, for those of you who mentioned a PDF, I am working on a downloadable PDF handout.

42 JadeAugust 24, 2010 at 12:53 pm

Jessee #38, “They could also go through the trouble of setting up an ADDITIONAL registration process.”

If the presentation were available on-site as a (searchable!) PDF download, there would be no need for a Webinar presentation. Participants’ registrations would need be only for a Q&A venue, where Juliana’s knowledge of Ancestry.com databases would be the central resource.

Those on dial-up or whose internet service comes and goes would at least have the PDF file available as a resource. Those who cannot or decline to get involved with Facebook could participate in a less latest-tech-demanding environment.

ROFL at the idea that a popularity poll would influence what post I’d read, if the topic were germane to my research. Before rolling out the high-ad-content version of the Message Boards, the planning team was actually considering including a ‘hit’ counter — so glad they did not. This would be just as nonsensical as sorting search results by ‘popularity’ of a given database.

Finally you say “The internet is revolutionizing the way we communicate with one another, and I’ve said it so many times, but I don’t mind repeating that I am so grateful to Ancestry for embracing this. I have learned so much about myself and my family through my few years of research, and made so many connections with people I would have never met that I value so much. I know for a fact that none of this would have been possible twenty years ago, and it wouldn’t have been possible today either if everyone preferred to stick with the “old way.””

You really can speak only for yourself. I know who my cousins are and we keep in touch in person, by mail and by other means. We have real-time family and community lives that don’t make hangin’ out on the web an attractive or viable notion.

You like to emphasize the freeness of the Webinar and Facebook, but I also look at what level of disposable income is required for acquiring and using new gadgets (whose rate of obsolescence appears to be accelerating) and their operational services that enable access. It’s not as ‘free’ as it looks.

43 Andy HatchettAugust 24, 2010 at 2:23 pm

Speaking of popularity…

Ancestry has over 1.1 million paid subscribers and Lord knows how many million non-paying members- yet out of these millions, Ancestry’s Facebook has only attracted some 90,000+.

From these figures it is easy to to see that less than 10% of Ancestry users actually use the Ancestry Facebook page.

44 JesseAugust 24, 2010 at 5:44 pm

@43

Andy, thank you for providing that data. I was not aware of those numbers.

@42

“ROFL at the idea that a popularity poll would influence what post I’d read, if the topic were germane to my research. Before rolling out the high-ad-content version of the Message Boards, the planning team was actually considering including a ‘hit’ counter — so glad they did not. This would be just as nonsensical as sorting search results by ‘popularity’ of a given database.”

Well, Jade, you were very quick to demand an apology earlier when you were offended by a post, and now you are “ROFL”ing at one of the points I made. Did you read what I said that you are laughing at? Because I very clearly stated that you could choose to ignore the number of likes a comment received and that the feature would be best used by someone who only had a short amount of time looking for the most insightful comment. Do you realize how quickly these comments arrive when the discussion truly IS accessible to “everyone?” A post on Facebook by Ancestry.com six hours ago has 143 comments right now. One from yesterday has 102. This blog has yet to break fifty in five days.

“You really can speak only for yourself. I know who my cousins are and we keep in touch in person, by mail and by other means. We have real-time family and community lives that don’t make hangin’ out on the web an attractive or viable notion.”

Well I don’t know how much time you think is required to merely HAVE a Facebook (none, actually, aside from the registration time) but you seem to have enough time to come here and argue and I’m sure that’s time enough to sign on and send someone a message. No one said anything about “hangin’ out,” but thank you for the rude implications about my “real-time” life.

“You like to emphasize the freeness of the Webinar and Facebook, but I also look at what level of disposable income is required for acquiring and using new gadgets (whose rate of obsolescence appears to be accelerating) and their operational services that enable access. It’s not as ‘free’ as it looks.”

I don’t know what you think Facebook is, but the website is relatively simple and I’m sure it’s perfectly viable on a machine connecting with dial-up running Windows 2000 or XP. Yes, it’s not free to spend 300 dollars every four to six years to upgrade a PC for someone using it for basic functions but that ultimately amounts to about five dollars a month for the computer. If the computer is not the problem, upgrading to a faster internet connection can be accomplished for a similar price. And I’m sure even the most basic of users can get SOMETHING besides this webinar from their computer; email, news, the occasional google.

45 Andy HatchettAugust 24, 2010 at 6:16 pm

Jesse Re: #44

Perhaps, after seeing the numbers, you understand why I consider Facebook to be a totally inappropriate site for the post webinar conversation to take place.

It is ludicrous for Ancestry to choose a site used by less than 10% of its membership and force the majority to join such a site in order to participate in the post webinar conversations- especially with the message boards and the Blog being readily available right here on Ancestry.

46 JesseAugust 24, 2010 at 6:31 pm

@45

Yes, I do understand your position a lot better now after seeing just how drastic the ratio is. I still support Facebook, and I do hope more people will continue to begin to use it, but in the mean time an alternative is definitely appropriate. I think a poll as suggested earlier would be a good idea so we can find out just how the audience for the webinar alone feels.

47 JadeAugust 25, 2010 at 3:32 am

Jesse #44, “the feature would be best used by someone who only had a short amount of time looking for the most insightful comment.”

It would be a rare find to locate any forum where ‘most popular’ was “most insightful” rather than meanest, most politically wonky, etc.

“No one said anything about “hangin’ out,” but thank you for the rude implications about my “real-time” life.”

In response to how you described your Facebook experience, I spoke to what I do and what others of my acquaintance do. I made no implication at all to what you do other than to say you’d have to speak for yourself.

“Well, Jade, you were very quick to demand an apology earlier when you were offended by a post, and now you are “ROFL”ing at one of the points I made. Did you read what I said that you are laughing at?”

I was not offended by a post; asked the poster to provide evidence of ‘sneering’ at Facebook use. Instead, the poster quoted earlier post concerning a person of the latter’s acquaintance.

I chuckled at the idea that your use of popularity polling would apply to my use of a discussion forum. See first comment in this post.

“it’s not free to spend 300 dollars every four to six years to upgrade a PC for someone using it for basic functions but that ultimately amounts to about five dollars a month for the computer. If the computer is not the problem, upgrading to a faster internet connection can be accomplished for a similar price.”

Even that dollar amount is not trivial for my PhD. sibling who has been looking for full-time work for 3 years. In many areas, bundled broadband (the only plan available) is around 3 times that annually, rather a bite if your income is <$15K for a family of 4 or 6 or 10. We need not go into how many have had their wages and benefits cut in recent years, in addition to jobs' disappearing entirely.

My central point remains that those who seek a wide audience should keep it simple when the latest-available tech presentation is really unnecessary.

I welcome Juliana's #41 note that a PDF-file handout will be available. I hope it will be posted to the Learning Center in a way it can be readily found within an "immigration" topic. The Learning Center keyword search engine is marginally useful.

48 MaureenAugust 25, 2010 at 4:47 pm

Hi Juliana;
Will you be doing this online class at any other times as I will be unable to attend and am very interested in it?

Thanks,
Maureen

49 Juliana SmithAugust 25, 2010 at 5:25 pm

The presentation will be available in the Learning Center within a few days and you will be able to watch it at your leisure. If you register anyway, we’ll send you an email with a link to it once it is posted.

50 BEEAugust 28, 2010 at 10:06 am

This may not be the place for this, but I’ve written about this on other blogs, and also corresponded directly to ancestry.com – “Thank you for your error reports. The problems have been reported to our developers and hopefully will be corrected “shortly”. Feedback from you, our valued customer, helps us correct errors and improve the website. Your patience and efforts to assist us in this matter are appreciated.”
I just wish I remembered how many YEARS ago I first asked about the World War I Draft Registration Card on a roll from Pittsburgh PA where the image was blank. Since that time, I’ve found at least two others.
This latest image would hopefully verify that later information I found for a man named “Andrew” was the same person who was originally named “Adolph”.
THAT’S the kind of “maintenance” I’d like to see!

51 Pamela MowreyAugust 29, 2010 at 1:00 pm

I know one reason I had trouble finding this ancestor and this time it wasn’t just me. :)

U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900
Birth, Marriage & Death

Name: James Byrnside
Spouse: Isabella Patterson
Birth: 1727 – Ir
Marriage: 1760 – VA

U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900
Birth, Marriage & Death

Name: James Byrnside
Spouse: Isabella Eliza Patterson
Birth: 1737 – VA
Birth: 1738
Marriage: 1758 – VA

U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900
Birth, Marriage & Death

Name: James Byrnside
Spouse: Isabella Eliza Patterson
Birth: 1737 – VA
Birth: 1738 – or
Marriage: 1758 – VA

U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900
Birth, Marriage & Death

Name: James Byrnside
Spouse: Eliza Peters
Birth: 1814 – VA
Birth: 1816 – VA
Marriage: 1833 – VA

Source Information
Yates Publishing. U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004.
Original data: This unique collection of records was extracted from a variety of sources including family group sheets and electronic databases. Originally, the information was derived from an array of materials including pedigree charts, family history articles, querie.

52 JadeAugust 30, 2010 at 6:25 am

Pamela #51

The vast majority of family group sheets, genealogical accounts in newsletters, etc., that were sent to LDS and/or this company were compiled without benefit of research in records. These databases (such as Millenium File) worthless for research.

53 Andy HatchettAugust 30, 2010 at 6:36 pm

Jade Re: #52

Have you seen the latest Ancestry Insider and the overall plan for their future “enhancements”. It sounds like they are planning OneWorldTree Version II !!!

All combined into ONE tree with only ONE “conclusion.

Shudder!!!!!!!!!!!

54 Pamela MowreyAugust 31, 2010 at 8:30 am

My point exactly Jade. Why are these records used or even presented as a source for us to use? A matter of fact this continues on into a birth and a death index. Why should these things even be presented as sources. They are worthless!

Also I went to my canvas they are afforded the “privilege” of keeping their work private till they are ready to publish. Why is it my Family Tree which is destined for a book is not afforded the same privilege? Every non researching person in the world is allowed to view, copy, and track my tree even though it is marked private and the box checked for removal from the search engine and why should the removal from the search engine take more than a week?

Also on these social buttons we are being forced to put up with. Is there money involved for Ancestry?

I recently discovered that Ancestry also has two deeply embedded cookies to tack us, Google Analytics, Omniture, and today I found the third TweetMeme. The first two are tracking cookies that send information to Ancestry. Are our payments not enough or is this company so money hungry they will do anything?

TweetMeme

How they describe themselves:

A service which aggregates all the popular links on Twitter to determine which links are popular. TweetMeme categorises these links into Categories, Subcategories and Channels, making it easy to filter out the noise to find what users are interested in.

Omniture

How they describe themselves:

Omniture SiteCatalyst® provides marketers with actionable, real-time intelligence about online strategies and marketing initiatives. SiteCatalyst helps marketers quickly identify the most profitable paths through their Web site, determine where visitors are navigating away from their site, and identify critical success metrics for online marketing campaigns. SiteCatalyst is part of the Omniture Online Business Optimization Suite.

Google Analytics

How they describe themselves:

Enterprise-class web analytics made smarter, friendlier and free. Google Analytics is the enterprise-class web analytics solution that gives you rich insights into your website traffic and marketing effectiveness. Powerful, flexible and easy-to-use features now let you see and analyze your traffic data in an entirely new way. With Google Analytics, you’re more prepared to write better-targeted ads, strengthen your marketing initiatives and create higher converting websites. Google Analytics shows you how people found your site, how they explored it, and how you can enhance their visitor experience. With this information, you can improve your website return on investment, increase conversions, and make more money on the web.

55 LynnSeptember 1, 2010 at 7:32 pm

Although I did not learn anything during the webinar, I thought others may have and it was a value added service offered by Ancestry.com. However, it appears that no one actually thought through the approach/idea of using Facebook before launching an additional 30-minutes session on Facebook — what a waste of time. Many people posting that they wish they did not work late and unfortunatley missed the webinar, MANY MANY MANY people commenting that they could not submit the webinar survey (because whoever designed the survey at Ancestrey.com forgot to include a “submit” button) and almost no answers were posted to questions by Ancestry.com employees. At least from my perspective, the venture into continuing the webinar on Facebook was a waste of my time – and I typically have a high threshold for annoyance when it comes to utilizing Ancestry.com’s offerings.

56 Carol A. H.September 1, 2010 at 7:36 pm

Lynn #55

You are so right! I thought it was me! Couldn’t find the submit button, so I gave up.

57 JadeSeptember 1, 2010 at 7:42 pm

Andy #53

Yes, in a way it is OWT combined with wiki-wars.

The major difference is that individuals are merged by people rather than by computer program.

As AI pointed out in the course of his writings about newFamilySearch Tree, its essence is the horrorshow databases: IGI, AncestralFile, PedigreeResourceFile. At present Temple Records are integrated with (or being integrated with) the Tree, but there was a hint a while back that this may not long be so. Which is weird because supposedly it is the Temple Records that are ‘verified’. I have no concrete information on this score.

58 FHC LibrarianSeptember 1, 2010 at 7:50 pm

Nothing on the LDS family search site is checked, ever! The temple work is done whether it is accurate or not. Same with Ancestry trees. Period!

It is up to each indiviual genealogist/family historian to research and document their own work. Period!

59 Andy HatchettSeptember 1, 2010 at 8:16 pm

Lynn Re: # 55

If my count is accurate, there were a total of 13 questions answered on the Facebook continuation session.

I contended all along that Facebook was inappropriate for such an activity. If they were only going to do an additional half hour, why not just add that to the webinar Q&A period of the webinar itself??

All in all a very weird experience – although the Webinar itself was pretty good- I didn’t want to cuss at my computer once! ;)

60 LynnSeptember 1, 2010 at 8:42 pm

Andy Re: #59

I did noticed your prior blog postings suggesting Ancestry.com not using Facebook as an extension of the webinar, but I thought I would give them the opportunity to show they had thought through the approach and had developed a good plan to make it value added. Unfortunately, at least for me, how they used Facebook was not value added (… as you predicted – but I was optimistically hoping otherwise).

61 JadeSeptember 2, 2010 at 9:15 am

Pamela #54,

“Every non researching person in the world is allowed to view, copy, and track my tree even though it is marked private and the box checked for removal from the search engine and why should the removal from the search engine take more than a week?”

–It used to be that trees were reindexed weekly, but it’s been a lot less often in the last year. Until the re-indexing is done, your Tree entries will be clickable — but the would-be viewer will not be able actually to view what they clicked on since the servers ~have~ made the change that you made in your Tree settings. Indexing is a separate process from the saving/rewriting done by the real-time servers.

“Also on these social buttons we are being forced to put up with. Is there money involved for Ancestry?” Uncounted hordes of commercial ventures are using the so-called “social networking” sites for business purposes. Just keep your mouse away from the links.

Cookies for them and for trackers can be placed on your computer by any website’s javaparticles as well as upon your use of or visit to any of these. It would be difficult to determine what site’s bots actually installed them. When you discover them you can block them if you use Firefox browser with blocking plug-in programs. This will usually prevent your using the programs/sites. I am sure that MS gets money from the major sites to not allow blocking ads and cookies in IE within the latter program, although there are many freestanding software blockers. Since the Ancestry Toolbar and the searching browser from within FTM are based on IE as well, I assume there are similar financial arrangements. Tracking your internet activity and selling that information are the main purposes of the many specialty toolbars, including google’s and yahoo’s, although they don’t tell you that when you adopt them for supposedly useful functions. Fine print within a “privacy” document may spell out that the software provider has the right to collect and sell all this data, and that you agree to this by installing and using the software.

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