Ancestry Blog » Pam Velazquez The official blog of Ancestry Thu, 02 Jul 2015 19:42:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Don’t Miss Out: Enter For A Chance To Win Our Branch Out Contest! Sun, 01 Jun 2014 15:02:11 +0000 Pam Velazquez Read more]]> It’s June which means another cycle of our Branch Out Contest! Enter for a chance to win some great prizes!ACOM_BranchOut250x250_badge

The Grand Prize winner, upon confirmation of eligibility, will receive the following prize package:

The Grand Prize package has an Approximate Retail Value of $3,348.

So far we have named four lucky winners – Cheryle WarnbergHeidi Hall, Stacey Woodley and Cindy Hillman – each with unique family history stories that received some expert help from our ProGenealogists team. Read all about Heidi Hall and some of the mysteries she was able to solve about her great-grandmother by clicking here.

Want to be among the winners? Enter our June cycle of the Branch Out contest by clicking here. After entering some basic information, tell us about your family history story! Share what you have discovered so far and what you would hope to discover with the help of our expert research team. Then, let us know what type of program suits your needs best – maybe you need help getting started, or perhaps you have a brick wall you just can’t break down and need some expert help getting around it.

Remember, the deadline for this cycle is June 30th, so sign up now!  The winner will be selected and announced in early July so stay tuned for more updates and good luck!

*This contest is open to legal residents of the 50 United States (or the District of Columbia) and you can read all the Official Rules here.


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Between the Leaves: Conferences and Offline Resources Sat, 31 May 2014 15:57:22 +0000 Pam Velazquez Amy Johnson Crow, Anne Gillespie Mitchell, Crista Cowan, and Juliana Szucs Smith discuss the importance of conferences and other events as well as their favorite offline resources.

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Introducing ‘Between the Leaves: An Hangout’ Fri, 16 May 2014 21:46:52 +0000 Pam Velazquez We asked several of our genealogists to share how they got started in family history. Here is what Amy Johnson Crow, Anne Gillespie Mitchell, Crista Cowan, and Juliana Szucs Smith had to say.



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Regina Carter Melds Music and Family in ‘Southern Comfort’ Sun, 11 May 2014 00:31:21 +0000 Pam Velazquez Read more]]> Regina Carter CoverJazz violinist Regina Carter has given a whole new meaning to the phrase “family album” with her latest recording, Southern Comfort. Her new album is Regina’s own take on songs her grandfather would have listened to.

But before she got to know the music, she had to get to know her paternal grandfather, Dan J. Carter.

Regina Carter was born and raised in Detroit, where her father and his 13 siblings had migrated after growing up in Alabama. She spent warm, fun summers back in Alabama with her grandmother Katie Pearl Walker Carter, but she never knew her grandfather, who had passed away almost a decade before she was born.

Two events put the chance to get acquainted right in her hands.

The first came after her mother passed away in 2005. Regina came across a box of mementoes that included a picture of her paternal grandfather.

Regina TreeThen came a commercial for

She got a subscription, took a DNA test, and soon found she had the bug. Her DNA test left both Carter and her brothers “astonished and fascinated,” especially with a trace of Scandinavian DNA that still has them stumped. She built an online tree, connected with a “long lost relative” she discovered on, and had fun working together on their family tree. She finally had to limit herself to researching family on Sundays only. “I was spending hours on it,” she admits.

During her online research, she learned that her grandfather Dan J. had been a coal miner. Now, with a picture and an occupation, she was on her way to a person. And somewhere along the way, she started to ask natural questions for a musician: What were the songs he might have known? The music he might have listened to?Carter DNA

Those questions led Carter to the American music archives at the Library of Congress. Her grandfather had lived during an era of music documented by the likes of John and Alan Lomax and John Wesley Work III, who had traipsed throughout the South in the 1930s and ’40s collecting and recording folk music. They met singers and performers in prisons, churches, front porches; recorded their voices and instruments; and created a unique archive of American culture and song.

“I listened to coal miner tunes, trying to have a connection to him,” Carter says. “Prison songs, children’s songs. There was just so much material there.” After listening to hours of recordings and researching other popular music of her grandfather’s day, Carter decided to unite her present with her grandfather’s by recording her own versions of a handful of those songs on a project that turned into Southern Comfort, released by Sony Music Masterworks in March. (Watch Regina talk about the making of Southern Comfort.)

Carter has always seen her musical talent as a gift passed down to her from her grandmother. Now she’s been able to forge a musical connection with her grandfather as well. As a child, she had always been fascinated by people who knew their roots and could trace their family back for generations. She longed for that sense of belonging, a connection beyond the culture of Detroit. She’s found that in a combination of music and family: from slave ancestors to musicians to coal miners to a grandmother who graduated from college in 1915. They’ve left her proud, and they’ve left her inspired.

“I believe music comes through me, not from me,” Carter says. “I don’t own it.”

And now this music has come from the past—and brought a little bit of her grandfather with it.


Buy your own copy of Southern Comfort.


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And The Winner of the April Branch Out Contest is… Thu, 08 May 2014 19:34:11 +0000 Pam Velazquez Read more]]> ACOM_BranchOut250x250_badge

If you entered the April round of our Branch Out contest, we’d like to thank you for participating! We received  thousands of responses and so many great stories from our community – thank you! We have compiled all of the entries and randomly selected our next winner. And that lucky person is…

Cheryle Warnberg from Minnesota!!

Cheryle will begin working with our ProGenealogists to try and solve the mystery around her Polish heritage, 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 June 1st – so stay tuned for that announcement and in the mean time, help us congratulate Cheryle!

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Family History Toolkit: Creating Timelines Thu, 10 Apr 2014 17:58:06 +0000 Pam Velazquez Read more]]> Timelines are great tools for deciphering all of your family history discoveries. They can help place your ancestor at a given time and help you understand your ancestor’s life and what records, events, etc. you might be missing. Use timelines to analyze the different records you have found and understand where you should be setting your sights in the future. Take a look at expert Juliana Szucs Smith’s presentation on creating family history timelines:

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Googling Your Family History [VIDEO] Wed, 09 Apr 2014 16:17:17 +0000 Pam Velazquez You can search the internet from within your family tree. Join Crista Cowan to learn about crafting internet searches that will help you uncover information about your ancestors around the internet. As a bonus tip, she will share the best practice for saving this information to your family tree.


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What You Might Have Missed: April 7th Edition Mon, 07 Apr 2014 16:15:44 +0000 Pam Velazquez Read more]]> Blog Posts
Ancestry.comWWII Government Poster
Fold3 Spotlights Blog Blog


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Genealogy Spring Cleaning [VIDEO] Sat, 05 Apr 2014 16:03:10 +0000 Pam Velazquez Spring is officially here! Join Crista Cowan as she shares tips and tricks for pruning your family tree. You’ll discover ways to clean up, lighten up and freshen up your family history research.

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Updating Your Profile Page and Other Account Settings [VIDEO] Thu, 27 Mar 2014 23:59:43 +0000 Pam Velazquez It is wise to do a little housekeeping in your online accounts. In this video, Crista Cowan shares best practices for keeping your profile fresh and interesting. She’ll also show you how to update your account settings so you see what you want to see from

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