Posted by Ancestry Team on October 27, 2007 in Collections

Subscriber Content Survey

We just completed a survey of over 10,000 (mostly US-based) customers and learned what US content we should emphasize for 2008. I would like to get additional individual input, suggestions and comments from others to refine what we do. Here are two of the interesting findings:

1) Customers record type priority list was first additional birth, marriage and death records followed by more census, immigration, military, court, trees and newspapers.

2) Customers want to be informed of new interesting content additions by email weekly/monthly (most wanted monthly). I was surprised daily wasn’t wanted by most.

We have some very exciting new content that is in our content “pipeline” right now. I am looking forward to releasing great new offerings with a huge emphasis on vital records, lots of additional state censuses and some very useful and interesting augmentations to the federal census, huge immigration additions, and a very rich military release (similar to our military promotion last May).

I would love to hear what content you want most.



  1. John M. Scroggins

    I remember, and very much miss, the Ancestry Daily News. I read all of it every day, which is more than I can say for the blog and weekly that sort of replace it.

  2. Gary Gibb

    I liked the daily news also. Unfortunately many thought it was undesirable to get updates that frequently even though we do post new content to the site every day.

  3. Mirch

    I’m not sure if this is possible, but as I’ve extended research beyond the US, it seems that the records in Europe are just sitting there waiting to be scanned. Take for example the fire at the Kamianets-Podilsky State/City Archives in Ukraine in 2003…2003! That just happened, yet the records damaged there were specifically of my family. I’m devastated. But I can’t afford to go there, to have a translator, or to hire a professional.

    What would be absoultely amazing is if could hook up with many of these old former Soviet Union archives that are just sitting there to get digital copies made – while there is still time!

    If I have any vote, could I beg of you to focus on the archives at KAMENETS PODOLSKIY and VINNITSA in the Ukraine?

  4. Carole Barker

    I would love to see the BMD records in their own sections so we can go right to it. Whenever I go into BMD, it seems to be hit and miss as far as finding anything.

  5. Michele

    I would love to be able to actually see images other than the census. Even when they are availble, they never seem to work.
    Other than that, I’d like to see the NJ state census records

  6. Beverly

    You are getting more records online, finally, which is good – BUT the problem that it creates is MORE need to use Wildcard searches than ever before. I have written up instructions for many people (althought you do have it onsite – they don’t read it!) The PROBLEM is that with your wildcard searches, you require minimum of the first 3 letters of a name – a HUGE PROBLEM. Some names (especially first names) are so badly mispelled we OFTEN need to get “all” A* Roberts within a certain date range and this is currently not possible. (this is a VERY simple programming tweak – but someone doesn’t want to do it – or my numerous “suggestions” over the past couple of years are falling on deaf ears.

    Soundex is worthless with some names – like Shoemake/Shumate (found by exact and Shum*, Shu*, Shoem*, Shoe*, Sho*) – so they have to be done with wildcards – but since Soundex isn’t avialable for the first name field and you require minimum of the first 3 letters – your database becomes – worthless!

    Daily update – NO WAY!!! Genealogy people get way TOO much mail as it is – especially, if you are like me and are moderator of 12+ list sites – 2X per month max is about all I think I could stand to read. (If you changed the wildcard thing – there would be no need of updates as “everything” would show up when you searched) Besides – too many of the email updates are listed as “US Collection” and when I try to view – it tells me that it’s part of the “World” collection – so I would have to upgrade to view – so have NEVER appreciated the “bait and switch”

  7. Ron Lankshear

    More UK records. Mine is just coming up for renewal and to read that you had a survey of US is frankly disappointing.

    More UK parish registers. Pallots is good but the rest of Ancestry current PR assets is hardly earth shaking. Note: London churches are held at central archives and many are not on LDS.

    Your census coverage of UK is excellent

  8. I would like to see the 1920 City of Detroit directory back in the collection. It would be even better if it was indexed but hey, I’d be happy to have it just as it was. It was the resource I most used for.

  9. Robbin Smith

    I have loved using over the years. And the census data is by far the most valuable. I would love to see the NJ and NY state census data online. Next I would love to see some of the Church parish records – like St. Peters on Staten Island. Even the Irish parish records which are on currently on microfilm.

  10. I really have enjoyed the state census records you have added thus far, and would love to see more, especially Michigan and New York. There is a wealth of information in these…even more than what is found in federal census records. Many family historians are unaware of this hidden treasure, and wouldn’t it be great if Ancestry was the one that made them available!

  11. Mark Ault

    I would like to see more original source documents. It wouldn’t have to be indexed, but being able to page through deed records like we used to do with census records at the library. I live in Texas and most of my research is up north or out east. Since I’m still working full time and don’t have that much free time to travel to state archives I would love to be able to browse through deed or probate records. The greatest thing did was put the census records online. Original images. Now they need to start adding orginal deeds, wills, pension files, etc, so people can do a lot of their reseach from their home computers.

  12. Laura

    Dear Gary,

    What would be super helpful is if your site had a feature that allowed users to register mistakes that they find in the database.

    To toss out a few concrete examples, the town of Dublin (in Ireland) is sometimes transcribed as Duplin (a town in Slovakia). The Pennsylvania town with the unique name of Glen Campbell appears in records with at least five different spelling permutations! Reading over ship’s manifests I have also found the names of family members that were never indexed. Entering the name exactly as it appears on the manifest in a search box would never yield a result. My guess is that there would be lots of end users willing to help “clean up” the database. If you establish very clear rules for contributions, it could be win-win situation for all. You guys are the best! Best wishes, Laura

  13. Ellen Fritz

    It would be great if ancestry could get the BMD record info from the Catholic churches. I am trying to find my Polish grandparents marriage date and information from their marriage documents in Penn.

  14. Gary,

    This survey shows just how arrogant Ancestry has become in recent times. We won’t even go down the track of FTM 2008 being released before it is up to standard of previous versions. How many of your 10,000 were outside the US? How many of the 10,000 had ethnic backgrounds outside of the US? and then you think that everyone is sititng around doing genealogy and can’t wait for a daily e-mail from Ancestry.

    I facilitate a FTM user group (so we’re not even talking even other programs or non-software reseachers) of over 300 members in Sydney Australia. I’m only 1 or maybe 2 or 3 who have family back in the USA. the majority of our members couldn’t give a rip about the US records. Even in my case, while immediate family is US based, from grandparents back all were born in Poland.

    As been said by Mirch and Ron, more non-US records are keenly sought.

    Ancestry’s only saving grace for Australia is

    Larry Czarnik
    2007OC29 13:30 Sydney, OC28 20:30 Utah

  15. Susan Stemont

    I’d very much like to see more city directories from dates between the big census years, as well as 1890s and 1890s newspaper content searchable by phrase.

    Re vital records, it seems that there is still a lot of unmined content in the FHL that it may be possible to digitize. Thanks!

  16. Mary Ann Pirone

    I would like to see more vital records of all kinds as well as more court, land and will records.
    What I really think is lacking is more city directory information. These city directories can fill in the gaps between each census. Used with the census they can fill in things like occupations, address changes, marriages and deaths that happened in the black hole between the censuses. I also would like to see as many newspapers digitized and indexed as possible. Newspapers are helpful for more than just obituaries. They can also provide filler informaton that can make your ancestors really come alive for you.

  17. Mary Ann Pirone

    Here is a second comment which somewhat relates to content. I have found many, many mistakes in the indexing. I tried following your directions on how to inform Ancestry of mistakes so they might be corrected. It is a very cumbersome system and try as I might I can’t seem to be able to do it correctly.
    The indexers do a great job against formidable odds. It is a credit that they get as many correct as they do. If there was an easier way to do this I would be sending in lots of corrections.
    Thanks for listening.
    Mary Ann

  18. I agree with those who so enjoyed the Ancestry Daily News. I looked forward to it and have not used many blogs, but they seem redundant to me. I believe all state census and mortality records would be very beneficial. Good job however, Ancestry! You have certainly made researching life easier. Now if FTM can just get their act together- – –
    Bette Butcher Topp

  19. Janice Gower

    I would very much like to see Maine deeds available for searching. They are a goldmine of genealogical information. Surely others would like other state deeds available as well.

  20. Heather

    I would really love to see more newspapers/periodicals and city directories. These help fill in those missing details of our ancestor’s lives which are so important. I would also love to see more of anything from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (especially the Marquette County area) and from Central Illinois(Sangamon and Vermilion County).

  21. Sue McMillan Renzo

    I would be very grateful if the sorts that I enter, such as for BMD or census records, didn’t return me pages and pages of records that have only the most limited relation to my search parameters. If I enter four or five parameters (first, last, exact year of birth, state, county, country)I wouldn’t expect a response that includes none of the above, save for perhaps a last name. It is so frustrating when all I want to know is whether you have the exact record I am searching for or not!

    Also, as I am about to delve into the Irish side of my ancestry, I’d appreciate more census or parish images, indexed. My family comes from all over the world, but sadly I cannot travel to seek these records. I count on you!

  22. Connie Chancellor

    I am anxiously awaiting the addition of small town newspapers to be added. Oftentimes birth, death and marriage announcements never make it to the big city papers.

  23. Catherine

    I like the daily update of new records on your site. I check every weekday. There is no need of an email to inform of daily updates. Also, I would like to see the state censuses. In particular, I’m looking forward to the Rhode Island census. Naturalization records would be great as well. Additional US records of all kinds for the late 1800s and early 1900s would be a big help for my research.

  24. Catherine

    I don’t know if has anything to do with “Family Treemaker”, but it would be quite nice if it was available for the Macintosh platform.

  25. Gary King

    I would like to see a cnocerted effort to index some records, directories, state census and anything else that can be found to fill in the missing info lost in the 1890 census fire.

    That is a big whole in my records as I am sure with other folks.

  26. Pat Blanchard

    I’d like to see more marriage records, wills, and even cemetery records. In fact, cemetery records would be a big plus.

  27. Mary Beth Marchant

    Yes, please, more images, more digitized records-birth, death, marriage, probate, state census, mortality census. If you just add a typescript of these records, they are subject to enormous error. Less emphasis on “trees”. They are nice but I believe Ancestry has put way too much emphasis on adding these programs and way too little emphasis on adding real content. I see many, many web sites on line now that can be used to post trees but Ancestry with its great resources should be investing in real content.

  28. Mary Beth Marchant

    One more comment and a Thank you to your employee Lisa. She noticed complaints about material restricted to World Records subscribers which should have been in US Records and took the time to research and find the problem and fix it.

    One thing that I would suggest is some type of subscriber liason who would research concerns such as this and let us know for sure if we are correct or not. Too often, we just get a “canned” reply.

  29. Chris

    To Mr. Gary Gibb:

    First of all, blogs such as this one are such a one-way street for your subscribers. You flit in here on rare occasions, make great pronouncements, ask for comments, and then disappear. We don’t know if anyone reads our comments or not, and we certainly don’t know if you intend to act on any of our suggestions. Communication is a two-way street. Why don’t you use established communication methods already in place at Ancestry such as boards and lists, and REQUIRE your management people to participate in the discussion, instead of this blog which gives YOU total control over the discussion or lack thereof?

    Secondly, how can you continue to flout adding new material when you have dozens – perhaps hundreds – of existing databases with huge blocks of errors or omissions? Your subscribers are continually reporting these errors – sometimes for years, but we never hear or see any progress reports. Communication is a two-way street. Don’t you get it that every “failed” database you put online only decreases your credibility as a premier data provider?

    COMMUNICATION IS A TWO-WAY STREET …. now its your turn.

  30. Kathy Jo Bryant

    I would like to see copies of complete wills and legal records instead of just abstracts. I have discovered that some people’s names
    are eliminated in abstracts. It could be just that person you are searching for.

  31. Ann

    I would like to see more small town newspapers as well. Also would like to see city directories, cemetery records, wills, marriage records, and other legal records.

  32. J. Quinn C. Bradlee

    I was hoping that Ancestry would maybe start doing the genealogy on important events in American history. For example the Boston Tea Party or The great immigration of The Winthrop Fleet to America or the event of early settlers arriving and stories about what happened to their families. Perhaps you could just have a section called Historicall Events in America.

  33. Diane

    I like most would like to see more BMD records and in there own section. Iwould like to see more small town records and especially in the 1890’s. I would like any and all records of adoptions especially in Kentucky and Mass in the 1890’s.

  34. Lewe H. Sessions

    I’ve found that your historical newspaper resources is extremely valuable. However, I would love to see much more historical newspaper information from South Carolina, which has an unfortunate deficiency of genealogically related records because of lack of marriage records and courthouses burned by the barbarian, William Tecumseh Sherman and authorized by that Constitution-raping demagogue and totalitarian, Abe Lincoln.

  35. I’ll give a little background, then ask a question or identify a requirement. I have a genealogy book of my family that doesn’t have an ISBN #. Therefore, when I cite it, I can’t refer to it in an official searchable way. I corresponding with the library of congress and found that there’s a web site to request ISBN #s. Be the site also points to another site, which gives out a universal number that is a super ISBN. It’s called a DOI. The background info is at This DOI can be used to both ID the book and a GED file, as well as other formats associated with the book. This sounds like a must have in the genealogy field. You’d need it for your family album service. Are you aware of this? Do you subscribe? Could you pay the publisher fee and then provide a service for individual albums/existing books/GEDs? Thanks, Duane

  36. At this point in the management of our website, I need a daily blog to provide information to the family about what I’m doing to support the site. What’s the best current way to do this? Put a folder under documents? Use the email function… (but that doesn’t appear to “show” on the emailed daily digest.) Can you add a blog portlet?

  37. Kate Reeves

    Two things: I have found some gross errors in the indexing of census records for my family–the indexer obviously misread the spelling of the name which, to me, is patently clear (and since it was a small town, the census taker obviously knew how to spell the name since the town was full of that family). Secondly, I would love to have someone find a way to index English army records from the period of the Revolution, for those of us who had men serving on both sides.

  38. Janet Corcillo

    I love Ancestry and have done such a lot without leaving home. There are few other sources for on-line only researchers. I do data entry for Italian Gen but they are limited to New York for the most part. I would like to see the following changes,thanks for all your good work.
    1. I would like it if ,when death date is listed, that records from 30-40 years after not appear.
    2. Please set up some kind of personal response to valid queries. FAQ’s are of little help.
    3. When cheecking Newspaper files for THEODORE , every “the” would be highlighted Not helpful.

  39. I mainly use Ancestry for my family research. I have had no luck using your newspapers to find any family members. I am sure it is just a matter of my not knowing how to use it. I would also like to see more reasons why I should take some training on line. How long would it take, to do the course? I would love to see more BMD actual certificates on line. I would like to be able to go into a subscription that I don’t have when you give me 14 matches and make sure that one of them at least is mine before I have to pay for it. I haven’t even tried to leave the USA records for overseas members. Maybe I am not making the best use of my subscription. But I too would like to see you get away from the trees and give more content. I have tried to change an e-mail address on a tree that was submitted years ago and still don’t have it done.

  40. Darlene Monroe

    I would like to be able to post at Ancestry photos of unknown family members and ask for assistance in identifying them. There may be uncles,aunts or cousins that may recognize someone or may have additional pictures to share. This could be done through our website or through Ancestry – maybe a photo blog?

  41. Kelly Edel

    I am in my first year subscription to and want to thank them for such a fantastic tool!

    I agree with a few of the comments that I’d like to see more small town newspaper info, including cemetery records, wills, marriage records, and other legal records.

    A lot of the holes in my ancestry could be filled in with the 1890 census records. I’m sure everyone feels this way, but is there anything we can do to gather information from this time period? I do occasionally see individual state 1890 census records.


  42. Marion Adam

    I’ve found quite a bit of useful content on the various databases. But I agree with other commenters that filling in the search parameters and then having irrelevant data returned is very annoying. Also, it would be useful if under the “Individual Census Records” section that entries were organized larger>smaller locales (e.g., Canada, Ontario, Essex; Virginia, Fairfax). Then I would not have to hunt the entire list to make sure I’d seen every entry for a particular region.

  43. Derek Blackshaw

    I am new to this site and find it both limited and confusing. I gree with the comments of the previous post(45)with regard the irrelevant data returned on searches. I would like the facility to search on other keys than just names eg to look at census in specific places.
    My current biggest issue is whether I can import to my tree from another to which I have been given access & which has considerable amounts of validated data. I have emailed the site tech help twiwice on this but so far no response

  44. James R. Davis

    We need for Genealogical Researchers a way to find people who posted infomation in the past but their old email address is now obsolete.

    1) So allow registered users to enter an old email address, a new email address, user last name, user first name, prior userid, estimated date of transition from old to new email address, and other old identifying info that you have collected in the past and can use to verify their ownership of the old address.

    2) If old identifying info matches to 75% (or some other confidence factor) then post the new email into a database for other users to find.

    3) If old identifying info is not quite good enough to meet your criteria using some smart heuristic programing then send emails to all people in your system with the same first and last names who have accounts and have signed in within the last 2 years, or have posted with in the last 2 years asking them if this is them and if the old e-mail is theirs and may be updated.

    4) Allow phone in requests to make additions to this list that would screen for the voracity of theownershi of an old email address.

    5) Allow resigesterred users to search for old email addresses or for last and first names or userids to find prior contacts that they have lost track of.

    6) Provide a chained search so that if I request on the response might come back as changed on [transistion date] to and changed on [transistion date] to ad infinitum until all addresses with changes were exhausted.

    7) There would have to be some way to prevent mass usage of this database by advertising users. Or unscrupulous use by any company to sell such data. Ie. No mass inquireies or whole database downloads and automatic shut off of interrogations into the database when the request rate exceeds so many requests per second.

  45. Beverly

    Another thing that “went away” was the keyword search in the main search. This was INVALUABLE – and now it’s GONE! When searhing for hits in say, Halifax, VA – you get everything in VA, then have to re-enter ALL the info down below the first result. At time consuming pain in the ^&*# that wouldn’t be happening IF you hadn’t eliminated that keyword box on the main search. (stupid, stupid, stupid)

    And when we FIND a error – like one that existed for almost a year in the Louisiana Death Index – (large batch of missing records) your “support” people treated me like an idiot – when I could PROVE the records were no longer there. Each time, I asked them to try a particular name or names and provided the previous info that used to be there – and if they had taken 10 seconds – they would have discovered that I WAS correct and that the database was fragged. For 9+ months this went on – with a database I needed. Did I get a penny worth of extra time or refund – NO. I just got to be treated like I was crazy or stupid.

    Now – if you really want to add some important records – try the Church records on the Island of Menorca, in Spain. They refused to let the Mormons microfilm them – but have made ONE copy available in the U.S. – in Florida where many Minorcans settled. But if you live in the rest of the United States and don’t go to Florida – you can’t get these records. If you are NOT affiliated with the LDS Church – you might have a shot at making these records available now. We’ve tried ordering directly from Spain – but customs steals the money EVERY time. We tried going Western Union to get the money there – but no one from the Church would go and pick up the wired money – so it was returned, eventually. Researchers all over the US, Europe and the Mediterranean need these records – and now can’t get them unless they go in person.

    More primary sources – instead of secondary (like books of abstracts). We need SCANS of actual documents. TOO many times the abstractor leaves our critical info or just plain interprits it incorrectly. One published book that used these secondary sources had everyone for years running to the wrong country for info – because the abstractor got “lazy”.

    We need BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) applications – most are over 70 years old, so should be fair game to post. Most are a wealth of info. They can be found at National Archives locations – but if you live in the “boonies” – unless you have a large income, impossible to get – they just cost too much.

    LESS Trees – let your Rootsweb side handle all that undocumented, incorrect info. I have proved far too many of them incorrect with rock solid proofs – but they are still there, being perpetuated with all that incorrect info. It just takes away from your credibility – by perpetuating incorrect info. This is why I only upload “bare bones” trees now – and let people know that I have full transcriptions and scanned documents if they will contact me. And each time I find something to correct old info, I pull the old tree and upload a fresh one. I think on the Rootsweb side – you should automatically send out emails to tree owners and if they do not respond within 30 days – remove the tree. If they cared, they would keep an updated email address for people to contact them. Most seem “abandoned” – so again, more bad info being perpetuated.

  46. I would like to be able to view sources on an individual when I am on the web to see if I have already added this source. I am not sure so I add it and find that I have duplicate information. And merged only shows on the first individual you put it under not the additionals.

  47. Gary Gibb

    Thanks for the feedback. When I first wrote the blog, I was nervous that nobody would care. After reading the 50 replies so far, I think this could be fun and useful.

    I am not sure of the best way to address the many questions etc. that have surfaced but I will try and address many areas of concern and talk about our future plans.

    Several people commented about the lack of international focus in the survey and that is a fair criticism since I didn’t explain the basis of the survey well. I am responsible for the content in the Americas and I coordinate with our other people that work locally in countries around the world. This survey was to US customers and only briefly touched on international content needs. Let me assure you that we are working very aggressively on many international fronts. We have sites and are acquiring content in the UK, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Canada, Australia and many other countries are well on their way. The great thing about international content is that it is useful to people in that country and useful to their descendents that live all over the world. We LOVE international records but my survey was focused on my area of responsibility.

    Several of you requested the items that I listed in the opening post. I want to assure you that we are working as fast as we can while still stressing better and better quality content. We want to bring you the best records that we can to help you connect with your families past and present. I hope you will find the significant content additions planned for next year to be very helpful and make your family research even more productive and fun. At times I think of the new content as candy without the cavities and weight gain. It is just a great business.

    I will add that we are working on a ton of great state census, improved federal census content, huge vital records additions every month, very large immigration and naturalization additions, a huge newspaper boost, a great many large city directory additions, and some great new military collections. We have some cool court and probate material that we will add but that is probably going to be the one area that we won’t add to dramatically next year (hopefully more in 09?).

    In regards to errors in indexes, we recognize that reading handwriting from hundreds of years ago and transcribing it into a computer is not a perfect science. We also recognize there are errors in the original document at times. We continue to evolve our tools to get better and better quality images, higher fidelity in the indexes and better user feedback mechanisms. Today we do get thousands of “comments and corrections” every day to our billions of records on our service. We have a system that automatically takes those additions and corrections, integrates them into the record set as alternatives and re-indexes this new and improved index. We never throw away an old comment or an original transcriptions, we just put up multiple options to help you find your relatives. I will try and spend more time talking about the ways we use the latest technologies to improve our content in some future posts.

    Regarding me disappearing, I will let you know that I am going to try and get on at least every week and hopefully a little more. I hope it is helpful to you. It certainly is useful for me to hear directly from you. We make decisions every day on what content to acquire and how to best help you, so I look forward to reading your posts.


  48. Gary Gibb

    For questions regarding search, FTM and other site features please post in the product blog areas. Keoki and others will do a better job addressing your questions and concerns in that area.

  49. Carol Yocom

    If you can get the New York State Birth, Marriage, and Death indexes online, you will forever be my heros. I hired someone to go the the NY archives and copy names but there are more that I need. NY is currently at about 9 months for copies of certificates.

    Carol Y.

  50. margaret

    I would like to see more southern U.S.A. records (actual images) of birth, death, state census, deeds, etc. Specifically would like to see records for states of TN.AR.MS.SC.AL.VA. A good start would be the Alabama Death record images to go with the index and then South Carolinas and then Tennessee death records up to 1957 (50 years ago)and so on…. Additionally, I would love to see the Missouri State Census images which were promised long ago.

    Please keep the focus on research. I enjoy my little tree online, but the primary reason I subscribe to ancestry is to do actual research. I don’t care for the world trees at all. I do try to find smaller trees with relevant information as a starting point, but find the world trees a hinderance rather than an asset.

    I also agree with the person who stated it would be nice to search by the first or first two letters of a given or surname.

    I would like to see a focus on rural areas. I see large city directories, but do not have a single family memeber from a large city. How about newspapers from the SOUTH. We do exist and have existed for a long time, so it would be nice to see some rural or smaller Southern city newspapers.

    I guess that’s enough for tonight.
    Thanks for the opportunity to share my wants and opinions.

  51. Cathy Shields

    There seems to be a number of requests in the comments I just read.
    I agree with the person who asked for naturalization records. My problem: I finally found the declaration and final papers for my Danish great-grandfather, but I cannot find any ship listing that has his name, or the names of the family members…with the Danish naming system of the late 1800’s I don’t know whether all family members took the father’s last name or the first name + sen.
    Also is there any possibility of putting images of the records of Danish churchbooks online?

  52. Beth Spencer

    I hope to see more small town newspapers, city directories, and cemetery transcriptions or records.

  53. Ann

    I’m looking for info on my great great grandparents, who immigrated from Poland. But I can’t find any info when I search – no immigration charts or anything! Of course, their name is Durczyski, so I get TONS of other Polish names, but none are the one I need. Any advice, anyone?

  54. Damian

    Republic of Ireland have already digitized BMD records and they are kept in Dublin and Roscommon. So Why have Ancestry not aquired the Database (with its own Seaching index)

  55. Ed

    I would like to be able to add siblings when I don’t yet know the parents. It probably doesn’t make sense, but I have found myself in situations where that is all I have. I thought it might help identify the parents if I had another child to search with.

  56. Beverly Cohen

    I’ve been a member for over 2 years. I cannot believe in all that time, and I’m sure it has been longer, that Ancestry has not provided a means for correcting anything other than indexed names. More than once, I have reported some of the most egregious transcriber errors but nothing has been fixed in the system. One of the most egregious transcriber errors is in the 1900 census records where Austria is mis-transcribed as Australia. The census records indicate that over 26,000 people immigrated from Australia, Australia/Poland, and Australia/Hungary. The transcriber obviously knows very little, if anything, about world geography or the difference between the locations of Australia and Austria. This egregious error has caused serious problems when trying to locate ancestors from Austria. What will it take to get this egregious error fixed?

  57. Michele Baird

    It would be nice to be able to search for two siblings/relatives at the same time. For instance, when looking for imigration records it would be very helpful if the search engine could look for records that included two names….Looking for two brothers, both with common names who immigrated together is a daunting task…..

  58. Thomas P. Barber

    I have seen a few postings that take issue with the new FTM 2008. I would have to agree that this product is not up to the high standards that FTM has developed over the years. I have been a FTM user since the early DOS based versions and this is the first time that after I have installed a new version I am seriously thinking about going back to the previous version !

    Secondly, since and are both owned by the same company it is time that you combine both data bases and hopefully you will use more search engines that preform like the ones. I get so tried of on even after I have entered data (name, birth year, location, death year and location,) finding the correct person listed 100 or 200 results deep in the list. I run subscriptions to both.

  59. Gary Gibb

    Great comments. I would like to comment on a couple posts.
    1) Regarding the problem with the Austria/Australia transcription error we are working on the fix for this. In addition we are planning on some new tools for 2008 that allow user corrections to be entered for more than just the names.
    2) Regarding FTM and Search enhancements, I am passing them on to the teams but you will get the best response to these suggestions on the product BLOG.
    3)Thanks for the Irish tip. We love Irish records and are always trying to get more. We have a lot of very cool international content coming.

    We are excited to bring you great new records every day. We have an exciting plan to deliver lots of core records to help you in your research every month for the rest of this year and 2008.


  60. Fran

    My plea is to make the search documentation better. When I do a search for newspaper clipings I discovered that I get the name of the paper, but no information on the date of the paper. I know that one can save the page and the info will be there, but it does not make sense that you have to figure out a way to document it, and you can forget facts and the date. I know I can write everything down, but it seems crazy, when you have a computer. Also the information obtained may be of value, but if someone is often in the newspaper saving every issues is of little value.

    I also have found that when I imported a partial tree early on into Ancestry, there was no source listed. I spent lots of time re looking for stuff. There should be consistant documentation and the ability to go backward to find source again easily. The documentation provided by census data is great, but for other data it is spotty. More consistancy would be helpful.

    If enhanced documentation is not possible, then a stable note pad where infor could be recorded quickly and then incorporated into the program a few minutes later would be a nice enhancement.

    Finally, if you want to continue to serve those with dial up connections, you need to speed up the search function in FTM 08. While I am happy with ver 16 now, I will move to another program which provides greater speed quickly.

  61. Bill Smith

    Twice I’ve corresponded with your “contact us” people to report that the Washington State Death Index is missing virtually all deaths from 1955-1964, and that your file description does’t disclose that fact, and twice I’ve received disinterested responses. I hope you’ll make a greater effort to respond to legitimate complaints about your databases. In this case, the underlying microfiche are readily available, so there is no excuse to mislead subscribers that a database is more complete than, in fact, it is.

  62. Mitzi Allen

    I find the “newspaper” files almost useless since the search highlights not names and words. Search for the name “Pace” directs me to newpaper where every horse, rider, walker, etc., etc., at a pace is then highlighted. “Elkin” highlights all the newpaper accounts of an Elk. “Walker” gets you walk.

  63. Heather

    When will the newspaper database be updated? It says soon, but how far off is soon? Thanks in advance!!!

  64. Chris

    Comment by: Gary Gibb, Posted on: November 7, 2007 at 5:11 pm:
    “Regarding the problem with the Austria/Australia transcription error we are working on the fix for this.”

    OH COME ON, Gary. This error wasn’t reported yesterday. How many years has the 1900 census – including this error – been online, and just HOW MUCH LONGER do you need for this fix?

    This is exactly the type of “laughing behind our backs” response that causes users to lose faith in not only your comments, but in the credibility of the entire company.

    AT A MINIMUM, there should be ( and should have been all along) a prominently displayed WARNING attached to the 1900 census, alerting users to this error.

  65. Ken Bigos

    I would greatly like to see more BMD records available – indexed or not.

    New England Historical Society has digitized all BMD records for Massachusetts up to 1910. That type of information gets my $$$.

    Indexing is a huge effort but providing “raw” data with the intent to index at a later date would be fantastic.

  66. MRF

    I agree with BMDs in their own section. I would also like to know when a database is updated WHAT has been updated, more years, more counties, more info on each record, just give us a clue.

    I second all those who would prefer Ancestry to emphasize orginal content over family trees. Trees have some value but much, much less than original records.

    I would like to see more BMDS and more coverage of newspapers.

    I miss the Daily News. I do check the What’s New but I find that some databases are noted as updated as a past date, in other words they were not shown as updated on the day they were actually updated.

  67. Donna Harbeck

    Ancestry is lacking in European ancestry documents and I expect, as a “World” subscriber, to have access to more than you currently have. I don’t think you need more USA content. I would like to see more Polish, Ukrainian,and German pre-1900 archives, including vital statistics and census records. Also, more Canadian content would be wonderful.

  68. K Stryker

    Thanks for the opportunity to suggest improvements. 1) I’d love to be able to sort search results. 2) the Netherlands has an online database called Genlias – would like to see more Dutch resources. Also, German records would be phenomenal. 3) I personally find the tree an amazing resource – I use it as a way to connect with others, document sources easily, and share my work with family members. I fully utilize this resource. However, I have many family members who are living but born before 1930 – it would be nice to just have a box to click “living” for those situations to respect the person’s privacy. 4) would like to see more historical newspapers – with better search capability. 5) I once ran across my grandmother’s yearbook from high school – more of that would be great. Overall, I am blown away by the capabilities that are available to me online in one place – I live in Alaska and am very far from primary resources where my ancestors lived. In just a few short years, has come a long way.

  69. Marianne Wagner

    Under “See All Data Bases”, I wish the titles were in some kind of order, ie: Country, State, City, etc. I am interested in Pennsylvania, so it would be nice to see everything related to PA together, then broken down by County and/or City. I don’t have much time to devote to my ancestors, but my suggestion would make it easier for me. Also, are there PA census records? How about Swiss records? PA Cemetery records? PA Catholic Church records?
    Thanks, Marianne

  70. Gary Gibb

    Thanks for the comments.

    Here is some additional information regarding “newspapers coming soon”. We are hoping to get another couple million pages of newspapers launched before the end of the year. We have an even bigger collection (more than doubles are entire current collection) that we are hoping to release in the first half of next year.

    The suggestion regarding updates is a good one. More details about geography and time frames of the update would be helpful. We will work on communicating that better.


  71. I would like to be able to search by “Birthplace of Parent”. I have a greatgrandfather with no siblings or parentage available to be found. To make matters worse the surname is “Smith”. But if he had sisters I would need to search by “Birthplace”

  72. Dan Clancy

    Would it be possible to put in the old Polk Directories in?
    I search for people throughout the USA primarily from 1940-2008. My starting information is usually an address somewher near 1950. If you have suggestions please let me know.

  73. Patricia Peoples

    Newspapers!! Please! I’ve been fortunate enough to find some newspapers on line for my families but they stop in 1922. These are invaluable sources of information, filling in much missing detail! Please add more all the time!


  74. Bruce Paramore

    PLEASE either correct the census data or allow others to make comments on all the fields. The many thousands of people who live in Indiana who are incorrectly indexed as being from India in 1900, 1910 and 1920 is totally unacceptable.

    And here is another strong vote for returning keyword to searches – removing it has made many of my searches much more difficult.

    For people like me who try to rigorously document my online tree, please make it easier to document a family from a census – it is very time consuming to go back and forth to add children and/or spouse to family tree, then Save Record, search for the same family for each individual, etc.

    Another vote for changing the wildcard functionality – as a programmer I understand the problem of too many returned values, but simply requiring one search term with more than 3 letters along with any shorter wildcard term would take less of you resources than the current requirements do, and return better results for the searcher. One example from today I had a common last name but had to find Emilia, who was also spelled Amelia, Emelia, Emillia, etc. as well as nonsense such as Dmelia and Ennelia.

    Many thanks for the recent emphasis on state censuses. They have filled in many gaps of info and having images is so much better than any index.

    Many improvements can be made to OneWorldTree, including using the linked records in the linked trees to suggest records when searching for more records for a person who already has a link from my tree to the OneWorldTree, fixing the hints so that OneWorldTree does not show up on the shaky leaf when the person has already been linked, and allowing linkage between OneWorldTree and my public tree even when it is not hinted to me.

    Search results do need to be ranked better – exact matches may have the same or less stars than nonexact matches. When documenting a person and following the hints, adding extra search info to narrow the results causes the hints page to forget who I was searching for, making that task difficult.

    Email updates to Invitees occur too often. Even if I am updating my tree every day, I may not be updating their branch, and I have lost valuable resources through overloading them with e-mails.

    The content pipeline does seem very promising if it has the emphasis on vital records that you mention- I have hopes that content additions can come much more frequently as they did until two years ago. Currently we go much too long between releases that have importance for any large number of people.

  75. Linda Wood

    How about a section on the homepage for recently visited databases (similar to the recent searches idea that is currently on the homepage). has such an extensive amount of databases that it can be cumbersome to scan through them all. I frequently visit the English BMD indexes and would like to just click on those from the homepage.

  76. Linda Matthews

    Quanity is a nice goal but quality should be the primary goal. One of the fields in my father’s WWII Army Enlistment record was wrong. It was an import error on the part of The original database was correct. I contacted support. They told me they were aware of the problem and said I should go through the correction process to correct the record in error. No! It is a import error, not a transcription error. I originally went to for the enlistment records but now I’ll get the information from a credible source…the original database. It has been in error for sometime and now I have to correct all those I have in my database.

    Between this error and other database errors and the poor poor quality FTM 2008 release, all the products in the TGN product line are losing their credibility. I have found some nice alternative sources for the census and family books which are my most used databases.

    I agree with some of the other posters that these blogs with no responses are useless.

  77. Mary Beth Marchant

    One of the things that was posted on the “new content arriving soon-Vitals, lots of Vitals starting in January”–I have yet to see any of these. What I have seen is that Ancestry has posted Federal Land Management Records which were already available for free on the Bureau of Land Management web site. Why in the world would you folks at Ancestry choose that instead of content not available anywhere else. I am still looking for Mortality Schedules which have been promised for so long they have grown hair and State census records which have also been promised for such a long, long time. You better look over your is gaining on ya!!!

  78. I wonder if I’m at the right place for this suggestion, but I would really like for the search engine for to be modified so that I could access some of the information in my own tree in different ways. My tree is large, so large that I will be pruning some of the additions I made that were more speculative than substantive.
    One thing I’d like to be able to do is to have the option to delete a person AND all persons in that person’s line back without having to do them individually and inevitably leaving orphan, isolated persons in unattached limbo. I can see where that would be tricky to incorporate with a fail-safe so you wouldn’t do it accidentally. A more likely feature I’d like to see also relates to the size of my tree. I’d like to be able to search my own tree for individual vitals. For instance, birth year, state, county, city, country, military service, occupation, etc. and search all these units in any combination. I know it would make it possible to find relationships and connections that are hidden or not so obvious. I often enter a new name & location and think, “I know someone else lived there about then.” I was reading a family history book that took place in Butte, Montana which had no index and I was sure that some of my distant relatives in Butte might be mentioned. If I could have surveyed my site for that dity or the county or nearby Anaconda, I might have been able to get more anecdotal information to add to my tree. I guess the past year of doing this tree has radically affected my reading of hisotrical non-fiction, because I inevitabley seek clues to relatives whom, I was amazed to discover were here in America in every period and almost all parts of the country. I also plan several cross country trips & ancestor searches when I retire starting next year and it would be great to be able to use my laptop to pull up ancestors and relatives in the areas through which I am travelling. These features are just on my wish list. That being said, I cannot express adequately my admiration for this website and all the incredible information it provides me. My Mother and Grandmother would have been the happiest ladies on earth if I could have shared this website with them when they were alive. I took the hard-won information they had assembled about dimly remembered family and places and put together a legacy for a really large amount of people and I am very grateful to the volunteers and professionals who made all this possible. Thank You!

  79. Jim Plogger

    I cancelled my membership yesterday after four years. The rep I spoke with didn’t even inquire why I was doing so. Your annual fee is now double what I paid the first year. In addition your pages are now loaded with ads. Errors that I reported as long as three years ago have never been corrected.

  80. Mary Ann Gibson

    Have you ever considered including a place to document family heirlooms and their provenance? It would be interesting to include photos of possessions that have come down from one family member to another and to include information about their origin. I would think this would be a fairly easy thing to do. It might be on the individual page along with other personal information.

    Hope you will consider this. Thanks.

    Mary Ann Gibson (Wagner)

  81. I’ve had great fun researching both the Julian and Roberts lineages and have managed to get back quite a few generations. I had DNA tested and it helped to confirm many of the ancestral loci, if not the names. Also, my living relatives have joined me in submitting pictures, etc., which does brighten up the presentation, and I’ve gotten input from other members which also helps.

    Now, I think is missing a huge population that is becoming increasingly important. I refer, of course to the Asians. The love of my life is Philippina, having immigrated over 30 years ago, and brought her parents and brothers and sisters with her. All of them are very well educated and contribute to the U.S. and Philipino cultures in the Americas. In fact, Belen is a retired school principal.

    I can’t trace beyond her grandparents. It seems to me that the Roman Catholic Church has kept pretty good records over the centuries and there must be geneological groups in the Philippines as well as other Asian countries. Why can’t we get together with them and expand our network globally?

    Kindest regards, and thanks for your hard work.

  82. Dawn Tedder

    A couple of things that should improve include and can be done, from my understanding, without a huge expense in time and labor to Ancestry are:
    1. Provide greater options in pricing to the consumer! Other sites I’ve used give access for 72 hours for $15.00 or access to only one part of the database for a reasonable fee. $30 a month or $300 a year is too much for many to pay. I also would prefer paying for the records I want and not having to pay for the stuff I don’t/can’t use such as the trees, publications (try searching for Daily/Dailey in the newspapers alone!), etc. A number of folks I’ve shared with and are excited by genealogy are unable to join Ancestry specifically because of the cost.
    2. Allow greater wildcard searching! I’ve a number of names where the 2nd or 3rd letter is where the spelling goes awry to begin with so I have no way of narrowing the fields. Along with the increased search abilities allow users the ability to move from page 1 to ??? in the search pages by allowing us to enter page numbers. It can be done that way in certain sections such as some publications but not in the opening search page. Why?

  83. Darlene Schnatz

    I get 50 to 100 emails a day. I can’t deal with it on a daily basis. Once a week, I can spend some time reading about what is new and exploring the new content at leisure.

  84. Darlene Schnatz

    Newspapers was too broad an option. I believe that if Newspaper Obituraries had been a category, that would have been through the roof.
    Also, more funeral parlor records would be fabulous.
    My husband’s grandfather was an undertaker, one of those in home ones that were so numerous in New York City. When he died, the records decayed and were lost. I would hope that Ancestry would send out a mailing to all existing funeral homes offering to purchase any and all records.

  85. Dona Hatthorn

    I was not among those polled but would like to add my request…..PLEASE try to get the STATE Census into your search data….ESPECIALLY those closest to the 1890 US Census. They are invaluable to that 20 year period…and most are available, but you have to go to that state and many are not online. Appreciate your considering this addition.

  86. Rogelio Botello

    OK, I am a sucker. When I upgraded the Family Tree Software, I was told that there would be no other free, etc, etc. I understood that to mean NO ANUAL FEES. Just buy the software upgrades. This after waing a long time because your contract with database provider experired! By the way, although the info is provided is good, It takes sveral minutes of scrooling through names, to find what you need, if is there. Can’t the database be sorted in its enteriety, instead of being sorted by source. If you can’t do better than that, then this is not a good deal at any price. Time is very important to me and so is money!
    Would you take some time and reply? Better yet, tell all new customers what they will encounter, BEFORE they purchase!

  87. Kenneth Kestner

    Several content items:

    1) The U.S. 1900 census. The majority of the images are badly corrupted, and approximately 1/4 of the names are missing from the index. You have a more complete index and quality images on Unfortunately, doesnt support wildcard, soundex, or last name searches, making it almost useless. Please merge the two products together, this redundancy isnt needed. Scrap the images from ancestry and use genealogy’s.

    2) Census family summaries.
    The later censuses give a summary of the family before viewing the image. This is a nice feature that should be added to all of them.

    3) Newspaper Archives. The addition of the Kingsport Times (TN) was great. However, it would be nice to have its date range extended back to the early 1900s. Also, papers from SW Virginia such as Bristol Herald Courier and the Smyth County News would be extremely useful.

    I have a number of ancestors who moved to the Hannibal, Missouri ( Marion County ) area. A Warren County paper starting in the 1890s would be great.

    4) Obituaries. You typically link to another site to view obits. A number of these sites archive their obits after a certain amount of time, making your links outdated. You should consider caching this data on your site ( like Google ).

    Thank you.

  88. Leslie McConachie

    Although I’ve been an Ancestry subscriber for about as long as Ancestry has existed, I have been disappointed since the very beginning that you seem unwilling to correct your own errors. The census is your most basic product, yet you’ve never re-scanned bad images or added missing counties. Since I’ve been forced to access them on the original microfilm, I do know exactly what I’m talking about – they are there and they are readable. Further, you have no mechanism for users to suggest (or just plain correct) some of the very ludicrous misspellings of your indexers. Why can’t you be more user friendly? You won’t fix your core product, and you won’t let us help.

  89. D. A.

    Today, I was viewing census records for Tennessee, and since I am not from Tennessee and I don’t have room for a huge map of the USA showing the counties, I wished for a place to click to bring up a map of counties of Tennessee. I knew many of my ancestors were from Warren County that was once part of White County, but I had no idea where some of the other counties were located. Knowing that people did not usually travel long distances from their home, I wondered if my ancestor could have know someone from the various counties. How far away were the counties, etc? If I could click on a dot and a map of the state would appear in a tiny corner of the census page, it would be so helpful. I’m sure there must be someone out there that could create such a computer program for you.

  90. Barbara Garza

    I would like very much to see more New York City information. State census (doesn’t even have to be indexed, just images), vital records and cemetary inscriptions in particular. Most families immigrated through this great city and alot of Americans have roots in the city. Also, more, more, more Ireland records. Ireland is so stingy with their records.

  91. Gary Gibb

    Thanks for your blogs. It is great to hear from so many.
    First let me respond to the fixing errors on the site comments made by Chris & Bruce & Jim & Leslie. I try to not be overly optimistic or pessimistic when talking about our efforts in this area. We do fix thousands of errors weekly. Unfortunately, this is only a small percentage of the possible corrections of the 6 billion records we have online. We do not have near enough resources or money to ever fix every transcription error made on this huge base of records. However, we are making 3 significant advances in the next few months.
    1) We will be launching refurbished images and indexes for all the US Federal Census starting in the next few months. This is a huge undertaking and we will be announcing the details about this soon. This is our most popular content set and these enhancements are very significant. We are excited to bring it to you.

    2)We are developing a tool to allow all our visitors to make comments and corrections on all the fields in our content (not just the names).

    3) We are also developing a way to publish more “raw” data earlier on the site. This will allow people to browse very large collections or even help key them while we index as much content as we can afford to key as fast as we can.

    I am hopeful that these advances will be extremely helpful to you.

    A few additional quick comments. We have launched millions of vital records already in 2008. For example we posted vitals from North Carolina 1958-2004, Washington births, SSDI 2008 update, South Dakota, and Missouri Birth records. Coming over the next short while: Millions more vitals from Missouri, Tennessee, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Washington, and several more.

    Last comment: We are working on a lot of new Asian content that will also be made available in the next few months.

    Thanks for your suggestions.

  92. I found out by accident that in the immigration passport section that turning a page opened up more information on the person I was researching. I wonder how many people never turn the page and miss the photo or letters about the person they are searching. Maybe you need to put a note on the search format telling them to be sure and turn the page on the passport applications.

  93. Jean Menzies

    Some few years ago I notices articles written by my Uncle, Sen. Homer T. Bone. Someone wrote to me offering them but I could not accept their offer at the time. Sen. Bone’s papers were made public and I would like to get them now. Please tell me where on your site I can find them again

  94. Raymond Kogge

    I would like to see more Historical Newspaper listings for New Jersey newspapers, especially those newspapers dealing with the Hudson County area – Hoboken, Jersey City, Union City, etc. Newark NJ would also be another area. Many people in the 1800s came into NYC but settled across the North (Hudson) River to ‘the country’ to start their lives in America, and many of them stayed there through the 1960s. Lots of history is outlined in the newspapers of the 1800s and early 1900s. Thanks

  95. Each time I fill in a survey, i always request more data from Southern states, SC, GA, AL, AR, MS such as marriages, deaths, etc. So far they are not forthcoming and my research is stalled in those states, making it almost worthless to me.

  96. Laural

    What about state census records? I would love to click on New York State census records that were enumerated in between federal census
    records. Thank you for all you are doing for us!

  97. Etta Jane St. John

    I am looking for info on St. John, Kuykendall, and Godwin families. My Tree is St. John

  98. duane mills

    I think databases and census records are wonderful, but just looking at your individual trees and one world tree are enough to make me log off.´s trees can not be taken seriously without some method of “peer review”. I constantly note entries I personally know to be incorrect or where children are born after parents are dead and even when I believe the posted info is correct, there is no way to check because normaslly there are no source citations. This causes serious researchers to either give up, or waste time chasing dead ends. The answer is obvious: future submissions should require sources and citations. Without this, serious researchers will continue to snicker about all the wrong info that gets spread by the trees as they are now and the wrong info will continue to dominate and crowd out the very few sourced entries.

    Duane Mills
    Stavanger, Norway

  99. Sharron

    Will you be getting records from Puerto Rico anytime soon. Work I am trying to do is very difficult, with trying to get copies of records from there at this time. Any insight would be welcome.

Comments are closed.