Ancestry Blog » Kristie Wells The official blog of Ancestry Mon, 22 Dec 2014 13:00:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 New Find A Grave Upload and Transcribe Beta Available Fri, 17 Oct 2014 18:17:08 +0000 Kristie Wells Read more]]> We just launched a new Upload and Transcribe beta at Find A Grave. With this new feature, you can upload a whole trips worth of cemetery headstone photos and transcribe them in either new memorials, or attach the photos easily to existing memorials.

Upload Multiple Photos At Once

Add a group of headstone photos to Find A Grave using a new upload tool available on the cemetery page. Preview, rotate, and delete images from the photos you upload.

Quick Tip: Make sure “Location Services” is turned on in your smartphone camera when you take pictures, and when you upload photos through the beta, they’ll appear correctly on the photo map after uploaded! This works for both Android and iOS phones.

Easily Transcribe Uploaded Photos

You can turn your uploaded photos in to new memorials, or quickly attach them to preexisting memorials, using our new transcription tool. Find your photos to transcribe on your Contributor Tools page or on the cemetery page.

Get Help, Help Others

Photos that have been uploaded through this new feature, but haven’t yet been transcribed, will be opened to the community after 7 days. The photographer will still manage any new memorials created, and special attribution will be given to the transcriber. You can find community photos to transcribe at your friends profile page, any cemetery page, or on our home page.

Provide Feedback

We are constantly trying to improve Find A Grave, so please consider giving us your feedback. You can reach out to us through our online feedback form, and don’t forget to follow us on our Facebook page.


Find A Grave Community Day on Saturday, October 18th

Has it been a while since you visited a cemetery? Well, let’s change that. Immediately! Join us tomorrow for our first official Community Day at a cemetery near you. While we are looking to fulfill the thousands of photo requests that are pending on our website, ultimately we want to use this as a way for our community to come together and meet one another. You know what they say, communities that grave together, stay together.

We have several events taking place around the world – check out the Meetup page and if you find one in your local area, make sure to RSVP to let the local organizer know you are coming! Don’t see your cemetery or your town listed? That’s ok. Add it!

Now, can you help us get the word out today? The idea was to try to get volunteers in your local community to join you, so post a link to your specific Meetup page on your Facebook account, on Twitter, Google+, Instagram, etc. Let’s see if we can rally a few more folks before this event starts. And add the hashtag #FGDay to your post as we would love to see all the excitement spread across the web.

And please remember to take a photo of yourself at the cemetery on Saturday, then share it online using the #FGDay hashtag. We want to honor everyone who participated in this event and think what better way to do so than with a photo collage of all of you incredible people!!

Thank you all for participating and we hope you get a chance to meet some new people and can fulfill thousands of photo requests.



]]> 12
Enter For A Chance To Win Professional Research Assistance! Wed, 01 Oct 2014 02:24:21 +0000 Kristie Wells Read more]]> ACOM_BranchOut250x250_badgeJust getting started and need help building a research plan? Hit a brick wall on your great great grandfather? Have a family myth you would like to prove or disprove?

Then enter for your chance to win our Branch Out contest. The Grand Prize winner*, upon confirmation of eligibility, will receive the following prize package:


The Grand Prize package has an Approximate Retail Value of $2,496.


Simply complete the entry form making sure you provide a brief summary on what you would like assistance researching. If your name is selected, you will join previous winners Cheryle WarnbergHeidi HallStacey WoodleyCindy HillmanRobin Martin, and Tina Davis who have worked closely with our team to validate existing work and secured additional documentation and information to expand their family trees.

The deadline for entries is Friday, October 31st at 11:59:59 P.M. PT, so sign up today. The winner will be selected and announced in early November so stay tuned for updates.

Good luck!


* Entrants must be legal residents of the 50 United States (or the District of Columbia), who have the age of majority in his or her state of residence at the time of entry. Complete rules available here.



]]> 84
Interview with Finding Your Roots Host Henry Louis Gates Jr. Wed, 24 Sep 2014 00:41:46 +0000 Kristie Wells Read more]]> We sat down with Henry Louis ‘Skip’ Gates recently and discussed the hit PBS show, Finding Your Roots. He shared some of the themes and story lines coming this season and it sounds like there is a little something for everyone:

If you happen to be online while the episode airs, join the Ancestry and PBS teams each week in a Twitter chat. Just use the hashtag #FindingYourRoots.

Be the first to see sneak previews and get all the latest on Finding Your Roots by following the show on Facebook and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. on Twitter. And while you are at it, you can check us out on Facebook and Twitter as well.

]]> 2
Join Us For Find A Grave’s Community Day on October 18th! Mon, 22 Sep 2014 23:57:04 +0000 Kristie Wells Read more]]> We love the enthusiasm and support of the Find A Grave community. Thanks to you, we just surpassed 100 million photos on the site, which is an incredible milestone. Now, it might be hard to believe, but there are still hundreds of thousands of photo requests still outstanding. So we are going to host a global meetup to see how many more we can secure.


Cemeteries are an important part of our family history. Your work to fulfill outstanding photo requests and building memorials helps people around the world who cannot visit these cemeteries in person. We know a lot of this is done on an individual basis and we thought it would be great to try and get you together as a group in your local community to meet one another while you do what you love to do.

While we started with a few locations in the USA, we hope to inspire meetups all around the world and expect this list to grow quite large over the coming weeks. These events are all volunteer run and are easy to set up. We hope you will be inspired to host an event in your local town and add it to the list below.

How to Participate

If you would like to participate, the first step is to see if your city is listed. If it is, click on name of the city to see the cemetery (or if the city is large, a list of cemeteries) that will be hosting the event. If you find a cemetery you want to help with, simply click the RSVP button on the right of the screen. Meetup will ask you to sign up with an email address or you can connect via Facebook, whichever is easiest for you. It will also give you the option to share this event on the social web to let your friends know about it and we hope you do — the more, the merrier!


If your city is not located in this list, we encourage you to contact a cemetery near you and ask them if it would be alright if you visited on Saturday, October 18th to take photos of graves that will be uploaded to Please be sure to ask permission before you arrive.

Once the cemetery confirms this is ok, please go to our Meetup page and enter in your city and state, province or country. Meetup will try to find it on a map. Please make sure if they select a city for you that it is actually your city. When we first entered ‘Saint Louis’, it actually linked us to Saint Louis, France, not Missouri. (As you might assume, there is a little bit of difference between the two cities.) So we had to delete the bad entry and start over, this time spelling out Missouri and adding USA. It found the right city when we did that. If you make a mistake and need help, just shoot us an email to social [at] ancestry [dot] com and we’ll be happy to take care of it!

Setting Up an Event

In this example we are going to set up an event in Cleveland, Ohio (USA). First we entered the location we wanted (“Cleveland, OH”) and hit enter. It will show up in the list of meetups. Click on the Cleveland link, which will take you to the local community page. You will add some information to let Find A Grave volunteers in the area know you are interested in participating and hopefully, they will sign up to join you!


If you are the first person to schedule an event in your city,  you will click on the blue “Got one?” link under the “Needs a location” section. Once you fill out the details for your event, the next person who clicks on ‘Cleveland, OH’ will see it on this page and can then choose to join you at your cemetery of choice, or they can schedule their own. If they wish to schedule their own, they would click on “Schedule A New Meetup.”


When you are ready to build out your community page, follow these steps:

  • Select the start time. We have preselected a start time of 10am, but you are welcome to change that to whatever works best for you. If you wish to change the time, hover over the date/time area and a blue “Change” box will show. Click that and make the edits needed. 
  • Under “Suggest a place” are two fields. The first one is where you will list the name of the cemetery. The second one is for the street address, city, state/province and country. Meetup will try to find the address you added on a map and will give you the option to click what they found to ensure it populates on the map correctly. 
  • There is a blue “Add Details” box and we encourage you to personal this with anything unique about the cemetery, an area you would like to focus on, how many photo requests are outstanding, any special requests from the cemetery, etc.
  • Then leave a comment if you so wish
  • Lastly, make sure you RSVP for the event. Meetup will ask you to sign up with an email address or you can connect via Facebook, whichever is easiest for you. It will also give you the option to share this event on the social web to let your friends know about it.


What to Do on October 18th

To ensure a successful day, we encourage you to look up the cemetery you will be visiting and go through the list of the outstanding photo requests. Some cemeteries have one, others have hundreds. Then work with cemetery staff a week or two before the day of the event to locate the graves you are wishing to photograph on a map. Most offices are more than happy to look up the name and provide the section and plot number for each request. Just please keep in mind asking them to do 100 might be taxing on their staff. Let them know how many you are trying to fulfill and then let them advise what makes the most sense based on their own resources.

We have put together a page of resources for you here. Be sure to go through that before the event. Items include a cemetery etiquette guide, a link to download the Find a Grave mobile app where you can batch upload photos (sorry, iOS only right now) and where you can easily search for your local cemetery.

Ancestry and Find A Grave staff members will be attending a select number of events and we’ll post an update on exact locations in the next week or two. Our hope is to be able to meet many of you in person, and that you have the opportunity to meet others in the community who share your love of cemeteries and giving back.

Make a day of it. Bring the family out. Meet other volunteers. Get to know your local cemetery staff a little bit better. Help those who cannot get to the cemetery in person secure a photo of their ancestors grave site (with or without the marker).

Then upload all the photos you take to FindAGrave.comIf you are fulfilling a specific photo request for someone, you can go to the main cemetery page (this is the page for the cemetery that has the total number of records, photos of the cemetery, a map, etc.) and then click on “# photo requests”. Scroll down until you find the right person and then click on the ‘fulfill’ link on the right. You can upload the photo there and they will be notified you have done them a great service. And if you decide to share any of this on the social web (events, photos, videos, etc) please use the hashtags #FGDay and #FindAGrave if you can!

Here are some other FAQs you may find helpful:

If you plan on joining us, let us know in the comments below where you will be and make sure to sign up on the Meetup site above.

Hope to see you out there!

]]> 30
Behind-the-Scenes with Who Do You Think You Are? Production Crew Thu, 18 Sep 2014 14:41:18 +0000 Kristie Wells Read more]]> We recently sat down with Jim Albarano, Line Producer, and Vicky Bramley, Production Manager, from Shed Media US, the production company behind the hit Who Do You Think You Are? show to ask them a few questions.

Jim and Vicky have a long history with Who Do You Think You Are? and they have experienced all sorts of challenges while filming.

From tornadoes to massive snowstorms, weather can play a critical role when trying to film a scene. One episode can take up to two weeks and sometimes involve traveling to multiple countries, so when Mother Nature starts to act up, it can wreak havoc on their schedule. But weather also gave them a once in a lifetime opportunity during the filming of Gwyneth Paltrow’s episode when a massive snowstorm rolled through New York and basically, shut the city down. They were scheduled to film inside the New York public library and after a few phone calls, received permission to open the library up for a couple of hours to get the shot they came for.

We also discussed how much time goes into researching the episode, their favorite part of the job, places they wish to travel, and so much more. See what they had to say in the interview below or watch it directly on our YouTube page,

]]> 3
Find A Grave Celebrates 100 Million Photos On Site! Thu, 11 Sep 2014 17:26:07 +0000 Kristie Wells Read more]]> FaGrave100M_Badge

When Jim Tipton launched in 1995, little did he know the impact the site would have over the next 19 years. What began as a site to record graves of the famous has turned into a resource to share and discover the graves of everyone from paupers to presidents. Over the years, hundreds of thousands of volunteers have created millions of memorials, many with photos of the tombstones.

And thanks to the contributions of people around the world, we just hit a pretty exciting milestone on Find A Grave.

Bob Sherwood of Tennessee uploaded the photo below and it became the 100 millionth photo on our website. 100 MILLIONTH PHOTO!! (Did we mention 100,000,000th photo?)


I caught up with Bob to share the news and took the opportunity to ask him a few questions:

How did you get started in family history research?

After our granddaughter, Alexa, was born, our daughter, Sherri, no longer had the time to trace our family trees, so my wife decided to do some additional work. I was drafted to be the chauffeur for trips to various cemeteries, libraries, and courthouses in the middle Tennessee area. Then as they say, “I was bitten by the genealogy bug.”

What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone just getting started today?

Don’t delay asking your older family members for stories and info and label all pictures.

You and your wife have written a couple of books on family history. Can you tell me about them? 

When Bettye wrote her first book, Hubbard’s Cove and Beyond, History and Genealogy of Its People, I was elected to add the pictures and do the indexing. I found it to be an enjoyable pastime and decided to publish my own book on Wesley Chapel Cemetery. My wife and I have published eight books for the purpose of preserving at least a portion of the history of Coffee, Grundy, and Warren Counties in the state of Tennessee.

How did you first learn about

I became acquainted with Judy Ann Waters, a Find-a-Grave volunteer, at Wesley Chapel Cemetery. She explained what she was doing and her enthusiasm convinced me that this was a project in which I would like to be involved.

What is the one thing Find A Grave can do to make contributing easier for you?

An easier way to contact Find A Grave in order to obtain assistance would be beneficial.

Thanks, Everyone!

I want to thank Bob (and Bettye) for their time and their passion for helping others in the Find A Grave community. They have fulfilled over 70 photo requests and manage 2,000+ memorials and have no signs of slowing down. We would also like to take this opportunity to thank every single Find A Grave contributor for your efforts over the last 19 years. It is because of you that we have hit this milestone. Thank you!

]]> 12
And The Winner of the June Branch Out Contest is… Wed, 16 Jul 2014 18:53:22 +0000 Kristie Wells Read more]]> ACOM_BranchOut250x250_badge

If you entered the June round of our Branch Out contest, we’d like to thank you for participating! We received thousands of responses that included some incredibly inspiring stories from our community!

We have compiled all of the entries and randomly selected our next winner. That lucky person is…

Robin Martin from Montana!!

Robin is tracing her German line and will begin working with our ProGenealogists to try and add more stories and facts to her current research, so stay tuned for an update from our research team.

There will be more chances to win when we launch the next cycle of the Branch Out contest, starting on August 1st – so stay tuned for that announcement and in the mean time, help us congratulate Robin!

]]> 3
Who Do You Think You Are Returns to TLC on July 23rd Sat, 05 Jul 2014 16:52:10 +0000 Kristie Wells Read more]]> Mark your calendars, Who Do You Think You Are? returns to TLC on July 23rd at 9/8c and will feature family history journeys with Cynthia Nixon, Valerie Bertinelli, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Lauren Graham, Kelsey Grammer, Rachel McAdams and her sister, Kayleen McAdams.

Ancestry is proud to be a research partner on the show again and we’ll have insights from each episode, the local areas they are filmed in and more.

Follow WDYTYA on Facebook and for those of you Twitter fans, follow the hashtag #WDYTYA to connect with us and others enjoying the series as it airs. ]]> 9 Here’s To All The Fathers! Wed, 11 Jun 2014 02:29:20 +0000 Kristie Wells Read more]]> For many of us, our fathers are our heroes. We look to them for their support and guidance. A good father can set an example of strength, honor, sacrifice, and responsibility. We honor dads for their love and the lessons they have taught us.

Join us in celebrating the fathers in your house, in your heart and in your family tree and share this video with the ones you love.

]]> 1
Sir Tony Robinson Reviews Life Before World War I Mon, 09 Jun 2014 05:43:37 +0000 Kristie Wells In this presentation, Sir Tony Robinson uses the records available today to get a better understanding of what life and times were like before World War I.


This was filmed during the Who Do You Think You Are? Live show in London, UK.

]]> 2