Ancestry Blog » Company News The official blog of Ancestry Fri, 31 Jul 2015 14:00:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Ode to Lou Szucs: Ancestry’s Employee Number One Retires Tue, 31 Mar 2015 11:36:37 +0000 Read more]]> Lou Szucs

Lou Szucs, photo credit: Trish Szucs St

We knew this day would come. In fact, we even knew the date it would happen. But this morning it finally sunk in … Loretto Dennis (“Lou”) Szucs is officially retiring today.

I am filled with mixed emotions as while I am thrilled for her to be able to spend more time with her family, her wise counsel and incredible spirit will be missed.

Lou ‘officially’ joined Ancestry in 1992 as employee number one, and to say she has been through a few changes would be a massive understatement. She has also worn many hats over the last 23 years, but none seem better suited than that of Vice President of Community Relations. As a widely-respected and beloved member of the genealogy community, Lou has represented Ancestry at conferences and inside genealogical societies, including holding a seat on several boards. She is a trusted voice in the community and a wonderful community advocate.

There have been several memorable moments with Lou, but I think the first time I met her was my favorite. I had been with the company for just over two months and decided to attend the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference (FGS) taking place in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Upon arrival, I went straight to the Ancestry booth on the show floor. Everyone was pretty busy, so I stood by the side, waiting for a break so I could introduce myself. Lou walked up to me and asked if I needed help. I explained who I was, she immediately hugged me and welcomed me to the show. She then proceeded to introduce me to everyone else there. That is Lou. Always there to help you, connect you or guide you.

After the introductions, I looked closely at Lou’s badge and was floored by all the ribbons she had. If ever there was a picture that could show just how involved in the genealogy community she is, this is it (knowing this is only a small subset of the programs she is involved in).


Lou Szucs conference badge. The collection of ribbons is called a ‘beard’ in the genealogy community.

Lou is an accomplished author – penning several books, including The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogya genealogical staple found in the home of most serious genealogists. She is invited to speak at conferences and societies and her tutorials are always entertaining and informative as she is a natural born storyteller. She has been a guiding light to 1000s of people, helping them walk down the right genealogical path. Lou believes her friends are your friends and she is willing to connect you to anyone in her contact list. Her passion for family history is infectious and she has inspired many of us to dig deep into our own stories. To top it all off, Lou is incredibly sweet. Sugary, but in a tasty, just enough to keep you wired way, not the generating cavities kind of way.

Lou’s mentorship and guidance is something cherished by many of us here. Her contribution to the field cannot be overstated, and we have been proud and grateful for her representation of Ancestry.

Please join us in thanking Lou for her decades of service to Ancestry and in wishing her all the best in her retirement.

All I ask is even with all her newly found ‘free time’ that she leaves some Kelly’s for her daughter Juliana to find in their family tree. (you are welcome Juliana) :)


We would love to hear your Lou stories and ask that you either share them in the comments below or share your own blog or social post using the #LoveYouLou hashtag.  



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Sneak Peek of The New Ancestry Website Coming! Thu, 19 Feb 2015 21:42:39 +0000 Read more]]> If you happened to be at RootsTech in Salt Lake City last week, you may have heard the buzz as we unveiled the beta version of a new and improved Ancestry website. If you weren’t at the conference, it’s not too late to learn about what’s coming and be a part of the Ancestry beta program.

A New and Improved Ancestry Website

Ancestry is continually working hard to improve our site and make it easier to discover, share, and preserve your family history. While we constantly make incremental improvements, it has been a few years since Ancestry has made a major update to the site. We are sensitive to the impact changes have on our members. However,  substantial research into the needs of our members and the experience they are having on the website have helped us to see new and innovative ways to reinvent the way we help you do family history. The improved website makes it easier for anyone to discover and tell the rich, unique story of their family, while also helping them to become better researchers.

A Fresh New Look

We wanted to make sure the new Ancestry website is a site our members love to use even more than the current experience. The new experience incorporates a new look and feel and simplified navigational elements to streamline key tasks – making your family story the focus. All of the changes are anchored in three underlying principles that are the driving force for our design team:

  • Make it beautiful
  • Make it usable
  • Make it delightful

Bonsai Tree

The Rich, Unique Story of Your Family

One of the greatest unmet needs of our members is the desire for story. We love to hear stories and share them. Unfortunately, we’re not all great storytellers, and we don’t always understand the story that our discoveries are trying to tell us. The new Ancestry website includes several new ways to help you discover the rich, unique stories of your family and help you share them too.

We’ve introduced a new LifeStory view for each ancestor in your family tree. The LifeStory uses cutting-edge technology to analyze all of the records and information you have discovered about an ancestor and then generates a narrative following a timeline of their life. It uses maps, historical records, and photos to enrich the story. You can then customize the LifeStory to make it even richer and more personalized.


The LifeStory also includes another exciting new feature, Historical Insights, to help you learn about important moments in history that your ancestors may have experienced. They are filled with historical images and descriptions of key historical events, acting like a time machine or a history teacher so you get a deeper understanding of your ancestors’ lives.

Historical Insight

The new Ancestry website also includes a completely new Media Gallery. The Media Gallery makes it easier for you to manage all your media – records, videos, photos, stories – in one place to enhance the story of your family.


Become a Better Researcher

The new Ancestry website makes it even easier to manage the information you discover about your ancestors. We’re introducing an updated Facts view for each ancestor that makes it easier to manage the facts, sources, media, and relationships associated with your ancestors. The Facts view also brings core genealogical concepts to the forefront, such as the relationship between sources and events in an ancestor’s life. We’ve also made it easier to use media and historical records to support the details of your ancestor’s life.


Many of our beta participants have discovered that it isn’t just the Facts view that helps them be more effective researchers. The LifeStory view helps them more easily see potential errors in their data, ask new questions about the life of an ancestor, and generate new theories about their ancestors’ lives.

Be a Part of the Beta

We’d like to invite you to become a part of the Ancestry beta. To join the beta, simply add your name to the waitlist at this link:

We will be inviting people on the waitlist to join the beta in batches over the next few months. When you are next, we will email you instructions for how to access the beta. You will be able to send feedback to the Ancestry team from directly within the beta site. We want to hear your feedback on what’s working well, what problems you  discover, and your suggestions for improvement. When you send us feedback, you are helping Ancestry to reinvent the way we do family history.

We look forward to seeing you in the beta!

]]> 236 Acquires Find A Grave Mon, 30 Sep 2013 20:14:36 +0000 Read more]]> We are pleased to announce that LLC has acquired Find A Grave, Inc., the leading online cemetery database. 

With over 100 million memorials and 75 million photos, Find A Grave has amassed an unparalleled collection of burial information. Over the past 18 years, it has grown to become an invaluable resource for genealogists, history buffs and cemetery preservationists. Find A Grave will become a wholly owned subsidiary of, and will continue to be managed by its founder, Jim Tipton. plans to bolster the resources dedicated to Find A Grave to launch a new mobile app, improve customer support, introduce an enhanced edit system for submitting updates to memorials, foreign-language support, and other site improvements.


  • Tim Sullivan, CEO of Find A Grave is an amazing phenomenon supported by a passionate and engaged community of volunteers around the world. We at are so excited…honored really…to take on the responsibility of supporting this community.  We will maintain Find A Grave as a free website, will retain its existing policies and mode of operation, and look forward to working with Jim Tipton and the entire Find A Grave team to accelerate the development of tools designed to make it even easier for the Find A Grave community to fulfill its original mission to capture every tombstone on Earth.” 
  •  Jim Tipton, founder of Find A Grave: has been a long-time supporter of Find A Grave. They have been linking and driving traffic to the site for several years. Burial information is a wonderful source for people researching their family history and I look forward to working with to help continue our growth and accelerate the pace of improvements.”

The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.


]]> 141 and FamilySearch to Make a Billion Global Records Available Online Thu, 05 Sep 2013 19:15:37 +0000 Read more]]> The following press release was issued this afternoon by and FamilySearch.

Groundbreaking Agreement to Deliver Valuable Historical Content Over the Next Five Years

PROVO, Utah, September 5, 2013 – and FamilySearch International (online at, the two largest providers of family history resources, announced today an agreement that is expected to make approximately 1 billion global historical records available online and more easily accessible to the public for the first time. With this long-term strategic agreement, the two services will work together with the archive community over the next five years to digitize, index and publish these records from the FamilySearch vault.

The access to the global collection of records marks a major investment in international content as continues to invest in expanding family history interest in its current markets and worldwide. expects to invest more than $60 million over the next five years in the project alongside thousands of hours of volunteer efforts facilitated by FamilySearch.

“This agreement sets a path for the future for and FamilySearch to increasingly share international sets of records more collaboratively,” said Tim Sullivan, CEO of “A significant part of our vision for family history is helping provide a rich, engaging experience on a global scale. We are excited about the opportunities it will bring to help benefit the family history community and look forward to collaborating with FamilySearch to identify other opportunities to help people discover and share their family history.”

The organizations will also be looking at other ways to share content across the two organizations. Both organizations expect to add to the already digitized records shared across the two websites in addition to new record projects to be completed over the next five years.

“We are excited to work with on a vision we both share,” said Dennis Brimhall, President of FamilySearch. “Expanding online access to historical records through this type of collaboration can help millions more people discover and share their family’s history.”

This marks a groundbreaking agreement between the two services. But the two organizations aren’t strangers to working with each other; hundreds of millions of records have already been shared and are available on and The companies also announced in early 2013 an additional project where they plan to publish 140 million U.S. Wills & Probate images and indexes over the next three years—creating a national database of wills and other probate documents spanning 1800-1930 online for the very first time.

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Kim Harrison Receives the Martha Washington Medal Tue, 16 Jul 2013 19:14:57 +0000 Read more]]> Our own Kim Harrison has been awarded the Martha Washington Medal by the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) at its 123rd annual Congress in Kansas City, MO.

Kim is the Senior Institutional Account Executive, based in our Provo (UT) headquarters. A native of Michigan, she is a past president of the Michigan Genealogical Council and was instrumental in securing a $180,000 three-year renewable grant to fund the SAR’s Operation Ancestor Search, a free program that teaches genealogical research to wounded warriors in military hospitals and medical centers across the country.

Our own Kim Harrison receives the Martha Washington Medal by the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. #ancestry #award

The SAR operates the program through its state societies and 535 local chapters across the nation. In addition to funding the OAS program’s administrative costs, also provides free subscriptions to its online databases, software and other related materials to the program participants.

The Martha Washington Medal is the highest honor that the SAR can bestow upon a woman who is not a Daughter of the American Revolution (DAR) and is in recognition of her outstanding service. The medal is gold in color and bears a portrait of Martha Washington on the front within the inscription “SAR Martha Washington Award.”

We are extremely proud of Kim for receiving this honor and thank her for all the work she does within and the communities we serve.

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AncestryDNA wins the Utah Innovation Award in consumer software and web services Wed, 15 May 2013 23:10:56 +0000 Read more]]> AncestryDNA was honored as the winner of the Utah Innovation Awards under the consumer software and web services category. Eight other innovation winners were also recognized in various categories from biotechnology to mechanical systems manufacturing. Finalists in the consumer software and web services category include LumiBook by School Improvement Network and MyCurrent by Overstock – Olabs.


Why AncestryDNA?

What makes AncestryDNA so innovative is how it fuses DNA technology and family history in a way that’s never been done before. It works like this:

First, we look at over 700,000 genetic markers for each individual to create your unique personal genetic blend.

We analyze your DNA to find genetic signatures that connect you to the lands of your ancestors from hundreds, even thousands of years ago. The genetic signatures come from a set of well-established science as well as new DNA patterns that have been discovered by the AncestryDNA population geneticists.

Then, we compare your DNA to the over 120,000 other AncestryDNA customers to see who you might be related to. Here’s where things get even more interesting. When enough of your DNA matches someone else, that means you’re related. Systematically, your family tree is compared with your newfound relative’s family tree to surface shared ancestors, names and locations so you’ll not only know that you are related, but how you’re related.

All this innovative technology adds up to some pretty cool new ways to look back into your family’s story. And with more people taking the AncestryDNA test, new innovative features for discovering family history are made possible.

Some of the AncestryDNA team members

About the awards

The 11th annual Utah Innovation Awards program was presented by Stoel Rives LLP and the Utah Technology Council to recognize innovations and the Utah companies that created them.

A committee of approximately 60 professionals from private industry, government and higher education evaluated and voted on program finalists and winners. The more than 100 nominations were put through a rigorous evaluation process during which committee members evaluated each innovation against a wide range of criteria addressing elements such as novelty, market need, market disruption and potential/current economic impact.


Get an AncestryDNA test today for only $99.

]]> 1 Acquires 1000memories Wed, 03 Oct 2012 14:53:08 +0000 Read more]]> We wanted to let you know that we have acquired 1000memories Inc.  They are a San Francisco-based startup that, since their launch in 2010, has been focused on helping people capture and share their memories.  They began as a memorials site and have, for the last year, been focused on helping people digitize and share the estimated 1.7 trillion paper photos stored in albums, attics, and shoeboxes.

We’ve admired these guys’ work from a distance for a while now and we’re really pleased to have them join the team.  We are looking to leverage the smarts of the team and their technology assets to bolster our members’ ability to share their family history with others.

One of the pieces of technology they bring to Ancestry is their popular ShoeBox mobile app.   Shoebox turns your mobile phone into a photo scanner, providing an easy way to digitize paper photos and share them online or on your mobile device.

Coincident with today’s announcement, 1000memories will launch a new version of ShoeBox for iOS, which will allow members to post photos directly to their Ancestry trees.  If you have an iPhone, I encourage you to go download the app and try it for yourself.

This is the first step in a broader plan to help Ancestry members more easily share their family’s history with their family, friends and internet-at-large.

For more details, see the official company announcement on our corporate website.

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Where Is Family Tree Maker 2013? Fri, 17 Aug 2012 17:08:12 +0000 Read more]]> We know many of you have been eagerly waiting to hear when Family Tree Maker 2013 will be released. Well, we’re doing things a little different this year. Instead of creating a new version of the software, the team has been putting all of its resources into improving Family Tree Maker 2012 so you get new bonus features throughout the year.

If you haven’t purchased or upgraded to Family Tree Maker 2012 yet, there’s never been a better time.

Since Family Tree Maker 2012 was released last fall, a number of updates have been sent out that include improvements and new features. Here’s a list of just some of these great changes:

  • Numerous enhancements to TreeSync so syncing your tree to is faster and more reliable
  • A new Family View Report that displays a person’s ancestors, spouse, and children together (similar to the Family View in the People workspace)
  • A new Undocumented Facts Report that lists people’s facts that have no source documentation
  • The ability to merge info from multiple versions of the same fact
  • New source templates for the 1940 U.S. census and improved support for city directories
  • Dozens of report enhancements including performance improvements and new options in the relationship chart, family group sheet, Individual Report, Notes Report, Data Errors Report, Outline Descendant Report, Media Item Report, photo albums, Media Usage Report, Documented Facts Report, and calendar

And there are more enhancements to come in the next bonus update—so stayed tuned.

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1940 Census Update – Six More States Now Searchable By Name Fri, 29 Jun 2012 15:59:06 +0000 Read more]]> What do Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont, and Virginia all have in common? Early this morning, fully indexed census records for each those six states were put online. All images for the 1940 census have been online and fully available to you since the first week of April. But, the completion of these indexes now allows you to search over 39 million records in ten states and the District of Columbia.

Which state are you searching first?

Colorado in the 1940s

Ohio 1940

Pennsylvania 1940

Tennessee 1940

Vermont 1940

Virginia 1940


Do you have relatives in any of these six states? If not, stay tuned, our next indexed states are coming soon!

Search the 1940 census now!

Until next time – Have fun climbing your family tree!

]]> 21 to Acquire Archives.com Wed, 25 Apr 2012 10:30:45 +0000 Read more]]> If you haven’t already heard or seen the news, we wanted to let you know that we have entered into a definitive agreement to acquire

You may already know of – a fast-growing family history site that has clearly attracted new users to family history with a product that is easy to use and one that has proven to be a great way for people to get started with family history.

Over the past two years, has done a great job building strong relationships with a number of key family history organizations, including a partnership with the U.S. National Archives to provide free digital access to the recently released 1940 Census. These types of relationships, along with some creative content acquisition strategies, have helped build out robust collection of 2.1 billion family history records and expand the interest in family history.

So what does this all mean? It means that the acquisition will enable to add a differentiated service targeted to a complementary segment of the growing family history category. In addition, will welcome a team of talented engineers, digital marketers, and family history innovators into the fold and also gain access to a proprietary technology platform that has supported’s rapid growth.

We view this acquisition as a coming-of-age moment for the online family history category.  The success of companies like, and the innovation we see across our industry, in many ways validates the work done over many years to build category awareness. Additionally, it’s a way for us to accelerate our strategy of serving multiple customer segments with well differentiated offerings. Upon completion of the transaction, our plan is to keep as a distinct brand and site, to continue to nurture its existing partnerships, and to continue to invest in new content, product and technology.

There have never been more products and services available to genealogists than there are today, and we are excited to help the talented team continue to grow alongside and look forward to helping them achieve their vision for a great online family history service.

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