Ancestry Blog The official blog of Ancestry Fri, 31 Jul 2015 22:23:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The New Ancestry: July 31st Feature Update Fri, 31 Jul 2015 22:22:33 +0000 Read more]]> Welcome to our weekly update on the new Ancestry website. Last week we posted an article that introduced exciting enhancements on Person Media Gallery, Research Tools, and Family Card in Hints. Here is this week’s update on our progress. We have also included links to articles and videos at the end of this post that will help answer your questions and provide more tips on the new site.

Features we have been working on since last week:

  • We are investing a lot of resources updating our backend infrastructure so the new Ancestry will work much better than the old site.
  • Printing in Facts View –We have had a busy week bringing Print feature to the new Ancestry. You will notice that the coming soon print image is formatted to fit the page while still reflecting the layout and benefits of the Facts View as well as removing the dark backgrounds to reduce unnecessary use of ink for printing. We are also working on printing for LifeStory and MyCanvas publishing options. We are almost there and here is the sneak preview.

Current Print View


‘Coming Soon’ Print View

Features that we are still working on:

  • FamilySearch integration – LDS Account holders will be able to share information between their Ancestry tree on the new Ancestry site and their Family Tree on FamilySearch.
  • Profile picture cropping – Edit/crop a profile photo to fit in the circular photo space

Top Reported Issues

Below is a status on the top issues surfacing from your feedback.

  • Relationship Calculator – We have addressed the a number of the reported issues, this should be available now on the Person Page.
  • Inaccurate narrations in LifeStory and Facts view – We are looking at the language in the narrations and how to better generate narratives.
  • Photos added to events to appear as thumbnails in Facts view – Thank you for your feedback on this. We are evaluating whether to include this functionality in the new Ancestry site.
  • LifeStory map pins appearing in wrong locations – This has been an issue due to how the locations are evaluated. We implemented a fix last week that will prevent mapping pins for any location that doesn’t have a standardized place. We are also looking at improving the standardized place engine to ensure correct pin placement.

We appreciate your feedback and encourage you to keep submitting it. What do you love about the new website? Did you find a bug? Something doesn’t quite work like you think it should? Please submit it via this form. Thank you. We will be providing more updates over the next couple of weeks.


More Resources on Ancestry

Help Links





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Shaking the Trees: Finding Family with a Little Help from Friends Fri, 31 Jul 2015 14:00:40 +0000 Read more]]> By Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Paul Rawlins, Editorial Manager at Ancestry

My grandfather David Beatty Stewart, my mother’s father, died in a 1924 car crash along with Mom’s mother and little brother; Mom (age 13) was the only survivor. So far, I have been unable to trace Mom’s father’s father, probably also named David Stewart and born possibly in Sumner or elsewhere in Kansas… They did not vote, probably didn’t belong to a church, and census takers may not have reached them on their remote farms. 

So is there another way to trace these mysterious ancestors? Sharon
Dear Sharon,

Our first thought was to look for a newspaper account of the accident. Colorado does have a collection of newspapers online, but unfortunately it ends in 1923. We turned to History Colorado, and librarian Sarah Gilmore was able to help us out in a big way. She sent us copies of three articles about the accident (which actually took place in 1925 rather than 1924).


The headline of the article that ran on 13 December 1925 tells the sad tale: “Pair Killed Instantly on Pueblo Road,” while two other family members were severely hurt in the crash, including your grandfather and your mother. The article itself is full of facts that will help your research. But it is also full of heartbreaking details. The family lived in Orchard Park and were on their way home from Christmas shopping. An older son, M.A., was driving. Daisy (your grandmother) and 6-year-old David Beatty, Jr. were killed instantly. Your grandfather, David Beatty, Sr., sustained internal injuries and would die the next day. M. A. (who was 17) was not injured; his sister Avia (age 14, your mom) sustained serious, but not fatal, injuries. The car ran into an empty hay rack, possibly because the car’s lights were dim. No one was found to be at fault.

From the articles, you can learn the family’s names, their ages, place of residence, and death details, including the name of the funeral home where the bodies were viewed. A good next step would be ordering death certificates from the state of Colorado. Death certificates often list the names of the deceased’s parents, which could take you back another generation on your grandmother and grandfather’s family trees in one simple step.

Shaking the Trees

We couldn’t order the death certificates without a signed release from a family member, but we came across another clue while we were searching for newspapers online that mentioned the accident. We found an online family tree on Ancestry that includes a David Beaty Stewart and the following detail: Death 12 December 1925 Avondale, Pueblo, Colorado.


You are looking at a profile about your grandfather, one compiled by someone to whom you are somehow related. So not only have you, through this one document, found additional information about your mother’s father, but you have also most likely found a relative (or a set of relatives) in the person who built this family tree.

Online trees sometimes get a bad rap, and they are only as accurate as the research skills of the person who created them. But they can be a great help to your research because so many of them are well researched with sources attached. These online family trees provide helpful starting points for anyone just beginning the long search for their ancestors. They are full of time-saving hypotheses to examine and test, giving you a leg up on the search process.

Filling Out a Family

We decided to take this tree as a jumping-off point and see what other records—and ancestors—it might lead us to. According to this tree, David Beaty Stewart was born 15 May 1875 in Rushville, Rush, Indiana. He was married to Daisy Dean Horn, who was born on 11 October 1876 in Wellington, Sumner, Kansas. They appear as a couple in the 1910 U.S. census.


We learn a lot from their 1910 census record that corresponds with what you already know about your mother’s family. The family is living in Sumner, Kansas. The household includes David B., Daisy, sons Cecil and Myron (most likely the M. A. listed as the driver), and David’s brother Bunker.

Another useful clue we get from the 1910 census is the place of birth for people listed in the census and for their parents. According to the census, David was born in Indiana, as was his mother, and his father was from Kentucky. Daisy was born in Kansas, and her parents both hailed from Ohio. We also learn that David and Daisy have been married for 9 years and have lost one child. Both David and Daisy’s place of birth are consistent with birthplaces listed in the tree, though the ages are off a bit.

With just this one record, your family tree is already starting to take shape, and we can start crafting our searches based on what we now know.

Working Back—With a Hitch

Our next step backward is looking for David and Daisy in 1900. They haven’t married yet, so we’ll be looking for them on their own, possibly living with their parents. We had no luck with David, so we tried Bunker. Again, nothing. The tree gives their parents’ names as Robert and Malinda, but they didn’t turn up either.

We had more luck with Daisy. We found a likely match in Wellington, Sumner, Kansas, in the 1900 census. She’s a bit older than the 1910 census says she is (23, born in October 1876), but her parents, Henry A. (born May 1843) and Minerva (born October 1839), are both listed as being born in Ohio and have been married for 29 years. Her maternal grandparents come from Pennsylvania, while birthplaces for her father’s parents are listed as unknown.


We have a couple of places we could go from here. Almost the entire 1890 U.S. Census is missing, so our next census going back is 1880. Since David is the right age to have registered for the WWI draft, we took a quick detour to look up his draft card, which shows him living in Pueblo, Colorado, in 1918, married to Daisy. He lists his date of birth as 15 May 1774. Again, the years are off by one from the data in the family tree, but the day and month are the same, and we know they’re in Colorado, where the accident took place. It’s also consistent with migration patterns, as people were moving from the Midwest into Colorado at this time.

19th-Century Records

From there, we went back to 1880. We found David and Bunker living with their parents, R. S. and Malinda, in Sedgwick, Kansas. We find the couple again in 1870, this time living in Richland, Rush, Indiana. David isn’t born yet, but Bunker is there, and Rush, Indiana, squares with David’s birthplace in the family tree and with later census records.


According to the tree, David’s parents are Robert Stewart, born 2 October 1830 in Kentucky, and Malinda Kincaid, born in 1836. So far this tree is turning out to be a pretty good source. But can we find any documents pertaining to Robert and Malinda?

Another Generation

We found a Robert Stewart of the right age, born in Kentucky, living in District 97, Rush, Indiana, in the household of David B. and Mary (or Nancy) Stewart on the 1850 census. So was David Beaty named for his paternal grandfather? And what about Malinda? There is a Malinda Kincaid living in District 97, Rush, Indiana, in the household of Andrew and Malinda. That’s not conclusive evidence, but it is promising, and it helps build a tentative case, a hypothesis that can be tested. A Robert S. Stewart and Malinda Minkhead appear in the Indiana, Marriage Collection, 1800-1941, with a marriage date of 10 March 1858 in Rush County. It would certainly be worth ordering the original record to see if Kincaid might have been transcribed incorrectly as Minkhead. Mis-transcriptions are common in all documents, including the federal censuses, so double-checking where possible is always advised.

A number of states took state censuses in between the federal censuses. Kansas was one of those states, and Daisy appears with Henry A. and Minerva in an 1895 Kansas state census—David’s family appears as well, living about 30 miles away. The 1880 federal census confirms Daisy’s middle initial, D., and lists two older sisters as well: Zoa and Adda, both born in Ohio.


The family is still living in Wellington at this time. We know from the 1900 census that Henry and Minerva were not married until about 1871, so they probably aren’t together in 1870, but we now know that the most likely place to look for them is in Ohio. While searching for Henry, we came across another record that opened up more possibilities in his past. A Henry Horn living in Wellington, Kansas, in 1885 appears in Kansas, Grand Army of the Republic Post Reports. This Henry was born in Hancock County, Ohio, and joined the Union Army in 1863.

What’s Next?

So where do we go from here? Henry is proving difficult to track down, and we need Minerva’s maiden name to go back on Daisy’s line. And what about Robert and Malinda’s parents on the paternal line?

Well, fortunately we found still another tree online with a David Beaty Stewart, born 7 July 1798, Kentucky; death 14 February 1876, Rush County, Indiana. He was married to Margaret Wilson. From there, the Stewart line just keeps going, back to Robert Stewart (1768-1829) and Margery Beaty (1774-1853), and then back to Thomas and Agnes…


You get the idea. The more generations you find, the more leads for you to check out. Your search for your ancestors shows the enormous value that family trees already posted online can have. Sharing your family’s information can help you, and your unknown relatives, find ancestors and links none of you knew you had. It’s very exciting!

Do you have a mystery in your own family tree? Or have you wondered what family history discoveries you could make with a DNA test? Send Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and his team of Ancestry experts your question at

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Sisters Separated in Childhood Reunited with AncestryDNA Tue, 28 Jul 2015 13:58:17 +0000 Read more]]> Connie and Delores, Photo Courtesy of Stephanie Ann Overstreet Photography.

Connie and Delores, Photo Courtesy of Stephanie Ann Overstreet Photography.

Long-lost sisters, Connie and Delores were separated at a young age with Delores being adopted by their birth mother’s parents and Connie being adopted by an unknown family.

Delores was introduced to the truth of a sister existing at a young age when she discovered a baby photo and birth certificate. After years, Delores thought it would be impossible to find Connie because she didn’t know anything of the adopted family.

The two sisters both turned to AncestryDNA this year to finally find the missing piece to their family history puzzle and they reconnected immediately over the phone. Connie, who now lives in Michigan, quickly reserved plane tickets to visit Delores in Ontario just weeks after their first call.

Photographer Stephanie Ann Overstreet had the opportunity to capture the first moments of Delores and Connie meeting at the Ontario Airport last month, which was a very emotional for the sisters. “At one moment during their reunion, Connie told Delores, ‘It’s like you’ve always been around me somehow.’”

To see more photographs of the sisters’ reuniting, visit Stephanie Ann Overstreet Photography.

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Dating Family Photographs Using Historical Fashion Clues Mon, 27 Jul 2015 14:40:36 +0000 Read more]]> Photo courtesy of Janice Moerschel

Photo courtesy of Janice Moerschel

The women in this photo are wearing soft, formal gowns of the early 1930s. Their short hairstyles and coronet-shaped headpieces are of the era except for the bridesmaid on the right who is somewhat fashion forward, her hair is longer as worn in 1935.

The men are so classic and well tailored it is hard to specifically date their clothes. However, the wide lapel of the groomsman on the right, could have also adorned a double-breasted suit coat as might have been worn in America in the early 1930s.

The cute little fellow in kilts does place this photo in Scotland. Did you know, Queen Victoria & Prince Albert made a trip to Balmoral castle in Scotland, bringing back kilts, tartans, clan plaids & tam-o’shanter berets. Women all over the world began wearing plaid dresses and plaid ribbon trims.

The kilt brought back and worn by the little Prince of Wales, was copied and worn by children in America and around the world until as late as the 1890s. Since this photo was taken in the early 1930s, and the little fellow in the photo is obviously a close family member, it would seem that it was considered traditional formal wear for boys in Scotland.

Does anyone out there know more about this? Your comments are welcome.

I also note the groomsman wears a Scotch plaid handkerchief tucked into his breast pocket.

Photo courtesy of Janice Moerschel

Photo courtesy of Janice Moerschel

This lovely photograph was taken in the 1920s between 1922-1925. It is the soft, “garden party look” that was a fashionable variation to the famous (or infamous) Flapper of 1925-1927. The skirt length worn by the maid of honor is well below knee length, which means it was probably 1922-1924, because the just-below-knee-length of the flapper era did not become standard before 1925. After that, only older ladies continued to wear longer lengths. 

Another style clue here is that nude color stockings (at first considered shocking) replaced black stockings after about 1922.

Social events influence changing fashion. For instance, do you know why flappers wore turned-down hose?  In 1920, when women got the vote, they celebrated their new-found freedom by discarding tight corsets which had dangling garters that held up hosiery removing the only way to hold up their stockings. So they rolled their stockings around elastic thigh garters (which enticingly exposed bare thighs while dancing the Charleston). You can learn more about 1920s fashions in my chapter entitled Who Put The Roar In The Roaring Twenties? in my book Out-of-Style.

McDaid Family Photo taken in Musselburgh, Scotland courtesy of Mary Merlino

McDaid Family Photo taken in Musselburgh, Scotland courtesy of Mary Merlino

This is a difficult photo to date because it is from Scotland and differs somewhat from the evolution of fashion as seen in American family photos. Or, the clothes may have been designed and made by someone who artistically dressed the women in her own unique style. 

However, here are the international style clues that to me, place it about 1900-1902. Interestingly, it is the men’s clothes that most readily reveal useful style clues. The men are wearing three-piece suits with medium size lapels and vests with key chains. Their long ties have tie bands that show around the neck. These are worn with narrow, wing-tip collars. Although soft, turndown collars were by now more popularly worn, perhaps these fellows were wearing wing tips because this was a formal portrait. Shirt sleeves show fashionably, one inch below coat sleeves and pocket hankies are neatly folded into breast pockets. The sitting gentleman shows no pant cuffs nor front trouser creases, that style detail came later. Men’s hair styles are groomed with each one sporting some variation of walrus moustache from small to large to exaggerated.            

The young boy is wearing a Norfolk suit with an eton collar, which could also have been worn a decade earlier. The name was changed to a knickerbocker suit, after they added knickers but it was still worn in 1900.

Young girls of the late 1890s-1900 wore dresses with yokes; the yokes trimmed with ruffles. Older girls wore yoked dresses with wide sashes to determine the waist. Dress lengths were age appropriate as seen in this photograph.

The average woman wore her hair simply and without added hairpieces, but with modest attempts to fluff it out like reigning Gibson Girls. Huge leg o’ mutton sleeves had died by 1898, but in America, the popular hourglass silhouette required volume at the top shoulder. Sleeve caps had large ruffles or ball-shaped puffs that resembled a lollipop. This lasted until about 1900 when the s-curve, pouter pigeon look appeared.

I see no signs of top sleeve details in women’s clothes in this photo from Scotland. The style clues that appear for men, boys, & young girls, compare to similar style clues in America.

Anna Smith & Baby Lon courtesy of Janis Shaffer

Anna Smith & Baby Lon courtesy of Janis Shaffer

I am dating this photo around 1899-1900 for these reasons: The firm, corseted look, the return to a slightly full sleeve cap after huge leg o’mutton sleeves of 1885-1898 deflated and the hourglass silhouette, all say “turn of the century.”

The s-curve silhouette and the pouter-pigeon look came out about the same time but these were built upon differently shaped undergarments.

However, Anna’s hat is a mystery because it is not typical of 1900.  It is a huge, awkwardly shaped tricorne hat with towering feathers. The only similar hat I found was not shown until 1918. The mystery is that corsets in 1918, were no longer hourglass shaped. Sometimes individual’s created one-of-a-kind millinery for self-expression that is why I think the corseted shape is more dependable as a guide.

Women began wearing tailor made suits in the 1890s because they needed more comfortable, practical clothes for their increasingly active lives. From that time on, suits became mainstays in women’s wardrobes. Suits could adapt to whatever silhouette was in fashion and to whatever temperature. They were easily worn with either dressy or plain blouses as occasion required. Now, more than 125 years later, and for the same reasons, we are still wearing suits.

Baby Lon, is wearing newly short infant clothes. In previous times, infants wore long swaddling dresses. The elderly lady’s outfit is not really visible enough to read.

Want help dating your old family photographs? Betty Shubert is a historical fashion expert and the author of Out of Style. She is offering to help a handful of community members date their historical family photographs. Email your old family photographs, along with any information you have about the photo and the person(s) in it to Your photograph may be selected to be featured in one of Betty’s future blog posts.

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Who Do You Think You Are? Recap: Following the Clues with Ginnifer Goodwin Mon, 27 Jul 2015 01:49:55 +0000 Read more]]> You see it all the time in movie mysteries: the genius detective trying to solve a case that seems to have no answer. As the story progresses, however, we are transported into the detective’s mind. Random clues appear to glow in the detective’s vision, flashbacks to telling circumstances pop on the screen, and the audience watches as this genius pieces together seemingly unconnected observations to solve the unsolvable case. Plenty of research projects hit a point where it appears there is no answer, but we, as genealogists, can be that genius detective—not by having four doctorates, speaking 17 languages, and having a strange personality quirk, but by simply taking our time, being observant, and examining all possibilities.

Ginnifer Goodwin’s maternal great-grandmother, Nellie May Haynes, was this kind of a mystery. At the point of our brick wall, we had the following information:

  1. Court documents showed that she had divorced Ginnifer’s great-grandfather, John Albert “Al” Goodwin, in 1912 in Independence County, Arkansas.
  2. Nellie had retained custody of her two children, a daughter named Pearl and a son, John Barton, Ginnifer’s grandfather.
  3. John Barton left the family in his teens in the late 1910s, likely in Memphis, Tennessee.
  4. No Nellie, Pearl, or John Barton Goodwin appeared in the 1920 census in Tennessee or Arkansas.
  5. No match for Nellie or Pearl appeared in death indexes for Tennessee or Arkansas.

Where would a single woman with two young children go? As they do today, recently single parents with young children often went to their families for support. Interestingly, although Nellie’s family was originally from the town of Batesville in Independence County, Arkansas, research into her parents found that her father, Isaac Bart Haynes, died in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1917.

It was also likely that Nellie would have remarried at some point, so we first searched the database of Tennessee marriages on Ancestry to see if Nellie married there, but no good matches appeared.

One of the best resources for tracing a person in the early 20th century are city directories, which provide the names, occupations, and addresses for most of the adult population of a specific city every year. Ancestry has an extensive collection of these directories, including directories for Memphis spanning from 1855 to 1960. Nellie’s daughter, Pearl, would have been coming into adulthood in the later 1910s, so it was possible we could catch her in a directory living with her mother in the few years between when she became old enough to have her own entry but before she would have married and been living with her husband.

In order to find the right Nellie, we used the basic search function on Ancestry and compiled a list of every Nellie and Pearl who appeared in the Memphis city directories from 1913 to 1920. Then we examined each entry, looking for any Nellie and Pearl who shared a surname or address. Being meticulous and patient, we eventually found the match we were hoping for: in the 1918 Memphis directory, a Nellie Wyllie and a Pearl Wyllie each had her own entry but shared the same address. Also living at the same address was a Hugh Wyllie, who we thought could have been Nellie’s husband.


Of course this evidence was still circumstantial. Our next step was to find a way to prove that these were indeed our Nellie and Pearl and that Hugh was Nellie’s new husband. Returning to the index of Tennessee marriage and death records, this time with the surname “Wyllie,” once again turned up no results. Our survey of death record indexes for surrounding states, however, eventually uncovered the death record of a Nellie May Wyllie who had died in Minden, Louisiana. This appeared to be quite a leap, but further examination of this record showed that this Nellie Wyllie was born in Batesville, Independence County, Arkansas, to a father surnamed Haynes, just like the ancestral Nellie, and that her husband’s name was Hugh. Here was our proof. We had found out what happened to Nellie after her divorce.

In the end, taking our time to explore every possible match and remembering even the slightest clues allowed us to solve this seemingly impossible case. Although it may have looked like movie magic, it was actually just patience that allowed us to trace Nellie from her divorce in Arkansas to her residence in Memphis with Hugh Wyllie and finally to her death in Minden. The story of what happened between Memphis and Minden, however, is another story altogether.

Tips from Ancestry ProGenealogists:

  1. Be patient and observant. It’s tempting to pass a record or collection by if it doesn’t immediately appear to hold the answer you’re looking for, but if you are patient and observant, you will often find a crucial clue where at first there was none. Researching your ancestor often means performing even more research into other people. In this research we spent time examining every single Nellie and Pearl in Memphis for eight years in order to find the single entry in one year that led to our proof.
  2. Information about spouses, children, and other relatives, along with neighbors and acquaintances, can often help you find the ancestor you’re looking for. Don’t get too tied up searching for one name. Triangulate your ancestor’s location by finding other people you know they associated with.

Learn more about Ginnifer’s journey or watch episode recaps from previous seasons on Watch more celebrities discover their family history on all-new episodes of Who Do You Think You Are? Sundays 9|8c on TLC.

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SSDI’s New Companion: U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 Fri, 24 Jul 2015 14:22:10 +0000 Read more]]> The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) was among the first collections posted on Ancestry when the website first began adding content back in 1996. Since then, it has been a boon to researchers looking for 20th-century ancestors and those doing descendancy, heirship, and other types of forensic genealogical research.

Once you locate an ancestor in the SSDI, you can get even more details and a glimpse at your ancestor’s autograph by requesting the SS-5 form, which is the application they filled out for to request a Social Security number. The SS-5 gives the applicant’s name, address at the time of the application, employer’s name and address, full birth date and place, gender, race, parents’ names, and signature. Below is my grandfather’s SS-5.

SS-5 application for John Szucs, Jr.

SS-5 application for John Szucs, Jr.

The downside? It costs $27 and it takes time: they suggest allowing 4-6 weeks for delivery. (Information on requesting an SS-5 can be found here.)

For 49 million people whose records were extracted by the Social Security Administration (SSA), some of these details can now be found on Ancestry. In Ancestry’s exclusive new collection U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007, you’ll find information filed with the Social Security Administration through the application or claims process, including valuable details such as birth date, birthplace, and parents’ names. While not everyone found in the SSDI is included in this collection, you may find some people in this collection that are not in the SSDI.

My great-grandfather does not appear in the SSDI (most likely because his death was not reported to the SSA), but there is an extract from a life claim he made in 1948.


While his record only lists his birthplace as Hungary, this record for a different John Szucs gives the town name and his parents’ names.


While the contents of the extract will vary from person to person, this is a fantastic resource for 20th-century research, and you don’t have to wait 4-6 weeks for results. Dive in and start searching for your family now.

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The New Ancestry: July 22nd Feature Update Thu, 23 Jul 2015 20:02:38 +0000 Read more]]> Welcome to our weekly update on the new Ancestry website. Last week we posted an article that called out upcoming enhancements that we had planned. Here is this week’s update on our progress. We have also included links to articles and videos at the end of this post that will help answer your questions and provide more tips on the new site.

Feature update:

We have updated a number of features, and we continue to add and refine features based on your feedback.

Features updated since the launch of the new Ancestry site:

  • Person Media Gallery – Show & Sort. SHOW allows you to show only the media types you want to see – Photos, Stories, etc. SORT allows you to view the data in the order you choose – New to Old, Alphabetical, etc.

SHOW allows you to show only the media types you want to see – Photos, Stories, etc.

SORT allows you to view the data in the order you choose – New to Old, Alphabetical, etc.

SORT allows you to view the data in the order you choose – New to Old, Alphabetical, etc.

  • Family Card in Hints – Allows you to see the family of the person you are evaluating Ancestry Hints for – this mirrors the Family Card in the Facts View.


  • Research tools – A shortcut that provides you nifty tools such as View in tree, View Notes, View Comments, and Merge with Duplicate. You can access these tools with just one click from the Tools button.




Features that we are still working on:

  • FamilySearch integration – LDS Account holders will be able to share information between their Ancestry tree on the new Ancestry site and their Family Tree on FamilySearch.
  • Print option on profile pages – A new printer-friendly version of the Facts view or LifeStory view of the individuals in your tree.
  • Profile picture cropping – Edit/crop a profile photo to fit in the circular photo space
  • Member Connect – Find other members researching a similar ancestor and save info from their family trees
  • Family Group Sheet – A family view of the of the person and their family

Top Reported Issues

Below is a status on the top issues surfacing from your feedback.

  • Inaccurate narrations in LifeStory and Facts view – We are looking at the language in the narrations and how to better generate narratives.
  • Photos added to events to appear as thumbnails in Facts view – Thank you for your feedback on this. We are evaluating whether to include this functionality in the new Ancestry site.
  • LifeStory map pins appearing in wrong locations – This has been an issue due to how the locations are evaluated. We implemented a fix last week that will prevent mapping pins for any location that doesn’t have a standardized place. We are also looking at improving the standardized place engine to ensure correct pin placement.
  • Relationship Calculator – We have had reports that this has been inconsistent in displaying on the profile page.  We are working on a fix and should have this available soon.

We appreciate your feedback and encourage you to keep submitting it. What do you love about the new website? Did you find a bug? Something doesn’t quite work like you think it should? Please submit it via this form. Thank you. We will be providing more updates over the next couple of weeks.


More Resources on Ancestry

Help Links





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AncestryDNA’s New Ancestor Discoveries Solves a 100 Year Old Family Story Wed, 22 Jul 2015 13:00:11 +0000 Read more]]> Our latest innovation from AncestryDNA makes it possible to find your ancestors using just DNA. We call it New Ancestor Discoveries, and Gloria, an AncestryDNA customer, found out exactly how powerful this technology can be.

Gloria was born and raised in Honduras. Her parents divorced when she was little, and she had limited contact with her father. She knew her paternal grandfather, Arcadio Lopez, growing up in Honduras, and he hadn’t known his father either, but his mother, Bernardina Lopéz, had always claimed that an American named “Alberto Becker” was Gloria’s great-grandfather. She also said that Alberto had been shot by his brother and died in Honduras. As in many families, stories get passed down, but Gloria really wondered if this one was true?

Later in life Gloria started her journey to find out who her great-grandfather really was. With a name in hand, “Alberto Becker,” and a possible name for his father, Rufino, she set out. She started a tree with the information she knew and a question: is Alberto Becker my great-grandfather?

AncestryDNA Solves 100 year old mystery

Gloria reached out to her father, and after reconnecting with him, she found out that he had changed his name from Lopez to Baker after becoming an U.S. resident. When she asked about the change, he said, “That’s what it should have been.” Baker when said in Spanish sounds like Becker. Gloria had been looking for the wrong name for years. But there still wasn’t any proof that an Alberto Baker was actually her great-grandfather.

AncestryDNA Solves 100 year old mystery-2Armed with the right name―Baker not Becker―she turned to Ancestry and found New Orleans Passenger Lists and U.S. Consular Registration Certificates with a Dr. Rufus Baker and his sons, Edward and Albert, entering and leaving Honduras multiple times from New Orleans starting in the year 1904. Was this Albert in fact her “Alberto”? And could Albert’s father, Rufus, be the Rufino her great-grandmother remembered. It certainly looked possible, but it wasn’t proof enough for Gloria, so she kept searching.

She used the new information she had uncovered to track down more about Albert Baker on Ancestry. Looking at public trees that were sourced and documented, Gloria found Albert’s parents: Rufus, son of Abraham Baker and Rebecca Good, and Clara Conrad, daughter of John Conrad and Rebecca Snyder. But this only proved that there was an Albert Baker who existed―it still didn’t confirm that he was her grandfather’s father. And what about Albert getting shot? Gloria did more digging through unindexed Honduran records and found that Edward (Albert’s older brother) had accidentally shot him at home. According to the death record, Albert was buried in Honduras on a ranch that unfortunately doesn’t exist today. But the record also said that he was single and listed no children. Everything fit, except this last piece. If this Albert really had no children, was this her family’s Albert?

That’s when Gloria turned to AncestryDNA. Every person inherits DNA from their two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, and so on. This is what makes DNA a valuable record we can use to connect us to others. While each of us gets half of our genetic material from Mom and half from Dad, even our siblings (barring identical twins) don’t receive exactly the same halves of our parents’ DNA, which means that everyone’s DNA is unique.

Soon after her results came back, Gloria received a New Ancestor Discovery  pointing to a Joseph Good. This meant she genetically matched others who had Joseph Good in Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 12.09.23 PMtheir tree. But who was this Joseph Good born in Virginia in the late 1700s? And how was Gloria connected to him?

By looking at the family trees of people in the Joseph Good DNA Circle she found out that Joseph Good had a daughter named Rebecca who married Abraham Baker who were the parents of Rufus, Albert’s father. Joseph Good was the great-grandfather of Albert Baker, who fathered Gloria’s grandfather, Arcadio. It turned out that Great-grandmother Bernardina was right! And now Gloria had proof. After years of research, DNA and her genetic cousins let her confirm and extend her family tree back to Joseph Good.

AncestryDNA solves 100 year old family mystery-2

This is the power of DNA. AncestryDNA can help us answer questions on any of our family lines—this one just happened to be Gloria’s paternal line. Now she’s on to the next mystery: who were the parents’ of Bernardina Lopez? Gloria is hoping DNA will help her uncover that side of the family now. The good news is she doesn’t have to take another DNA test to research that line, so she has already started searching through her DNA matches for connections.

If you’re leaving DNA out of your research, your research isn’t done. DNA and record research go hand in hand to help verify and extend our family story. Learn more what DNA can do for you.

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Over 100 Years of Canadian Yearbook Records are Now Online Tue, 21 Jul 2015 16:56:34 +0000 Read more]]> As kids across the country enjoy their break from the books this summer, we just released a collection of more than one million historical yearbook records (featuring more than 100,000 pages), helping shed light on Canadian high school and university attendees from years past.

The Canada, Selected School Yearbooks, 1908-2010 collection contains 1,355,141 Canadian middle school, junior high, high school and university records from almost 800 institutions across the nation. Providing insight into the academic, athletic and social achievements of Canadians from the past century, these yearbooks can help place people in historical context and create life stories of Canadians that might otherwise be left uncovered by traditional historical records.

The collection also paints a picture of the lives of some well-known Canadians before they were famous, including:

William Shatner – President, Radio Workshop, McGill University, 1951
Before becoming a cultural icon, William Shatner helped to shape McGill University’s theatre scene. According to the University’s 1952 yearbook, Shatner was president of The Radio Workshop. At a time before television existed in Canada, the Radio Workshop provided an opportunity for students to explore all facets of radio, including acting, directing and producing. In fact, according to the 1952 records, McGill students wrote scripts that were broadcast over Station CFCF, one of Canada’s first radio stations. In addition to his role as president of the Radio Club, Shatner’s yearbook records reveal his early interest in acting, with the future Captain Kirk shown to be a member of the Players’ Club and the Red & White Revue musical theatre clubs at McGill University.



Martin Short – Le Raconteur Staff, Westdale Secondary School, 1967
Known by his peers as ‘Marty’, Martin Short was an active member of his Hamilton, Ontario high school long before he was cracking jokes on SCTV and Saturday Night Live. According to Westdale Secondary 1967 yearbook, Short helped shape the school’s records, acting as staff of Le Raconteur, Westdale’s annual yearbook, and even contributing a short story as part of the book’s written entry section. The school’s 1965 yearbook also shows that Short was musically inclined years prior to his 2007 Tony Award nomination, listed as a member of the Boys Senior Band.



Lesley Anderson, genealogist and Content Specialist for Ancestry notes “Yearbooks are usually found in the attic or basement, so we don’t frequently think of them as an important family history source. But they can provide fascinating insight into our ancestors at a stage in their lives that we may not otherwise be aware of, by highlighting anything from quotes and photos to hobbies and extracurricular activities. The new yearbook collection can help Canadians dig deeper into their ancestors’ lives, helping to tell a richer story of each family member and paint a picture of their personalities.”


Who will you find in Canada, Selected School Yearbooks, 1908-2010 collection?

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Organizing and Preserving a Family Photo Collection Fri, 17 Jul 2015 13:00:11 +0000 Read more]]> This is a guest post by Denise May Levenick, The Family Curator

Photographs are the treasures of any family history collection. Documents can verify kinship and share the details of everyday life, but photos allow us to see firsthand the same eyes or broad smile we inherited from our forebears. Organizing all those photos may seem overwhelming, but with a simple plan you can organize and preserve your photos for the next generation.

Family Curator

1. Photos, Photos, Everywhere

If you inherited an estate be prepared to find photos everywhere: in boxes, closets, and drawers, in purses, wallets, books and Bibles. The first step in any organizing plan is to know the scope of the project. Ask yourself:

  • How many boxes or individual photos do you have?
  • Where are they now located?
  • Do you have a current project in mind? (a memorial slideshow or birthday book?)
  • How much time do you have to get organized?

If time is limited and you need photos for an upcoming reunion or other project, aim to locate and organize those photos first. If your goal is more general, to gain control of your photo chaos, broaden your search and round up as many photos as possible.

Gather your photos together in one place. I like to work at my dining table covered with a clean white sheet or large piece of white butcher paper. Bring out all the shoeboxes, plastic bins, paper envelopes and plastic zip bags filled with photos that you can find. If you have a lot of photos it may help to focus on prints and save film and slides for another day.

2. Use the White Glove Treatment

Be kind to your photos by washing your hands often or wearing white cotton gloves to protect prints from fingerprints. Hold photos by the edges and avoid touching the surface of the image.

Avoid light and heat near your photos, and keep the coffee and snacks away from your work area.

3. Sorting Strategies

There are as many ways to sort and organize photos as there are ways to organize your genealogy research notes. Use whatever method works for your project and the overall range of your collection. Some ideas include organizing by:

  • individual, couple, or family group
  • place
  • event
  • date
  • kind of photo (black & white snapshot, cabinet card, color print, etc.)

Work methodically to sort your photos, taking time to really look at the images and make connections with people and family you can identify. I like to sort my photos using 3×5 cards as labels; read more about my method, Organizing Old Family Photos With the Parking Lot System at The Family Curator.

Write identifying information on the reverse side using a soft lead pencil and a light touch, or on the outside of the envelope or sleeve. Never use ball-point or permanent ink.

The Family Curator

4. Preserve the Past

It’s gratifying to throw away all those old cardboard shoeboxes and plastic bags when you move your precious family photos into fresh acid-free storage containers. Museum-quality archival boxes and sleeves will protect your photo memories from dust and light.

Store containers in a location with moderate temperature and humidity; avoid extreme temperatures in basements, attics, and garages. Check periodically for pests or plumbing leaks. An interior closet inside your home is ideal.

Of course, organizing and preserving your heirloom family photos is only the beginning – with your photos readily available, you’ll want to digitize and share your photo memories with family and friends. Whether you want to make a birthday tribute album, write an illustrated family history, or create a colorful family tree for a grandchild, an organized photo archive will make it easier and more enjoyable to achieve your goal.

Denise May Levenick is a national speaker and author with a passion for preserving family keepsakes of all kinds. Denise inherited her first family archive from her grandmother in 2000 and is now the caretaker and curator of several family collections. She is the author of How to Archive Family Photos: A Step-by-Step Guide to Organize and Share Your Photos Digitally, with 25 Easy Keepsake Projects (FamilyTree Books, 2015) and How to Archive Family Keepsakes. Follow Denise and learn more about preserving and sharing family heirlooms at her blog, The Family Curator.

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