Posted by on February 26, 2010 in Who Do You Think You Are?

I have this dream that one day someone will hand me the money to go on the family history trek of my choice. Not the one that takes me to Pittsburgh, to coal mines in western Pennsylvania, or to dig through a shoebox full of photos at my parents’ house in Alabama – all fantastic places, but if someone else is footing the bill, I’m going to find my Italian line. Southern Italy. Coastal. Villas. Vineyards. And Venturas – my grandfather’s surname. 

No one, however, has offered to send me there yet. You, on the other hand, may have a chance, if you’re the winner of the Ultimate Family History Journey Sweepstakes.

Grand prize should cover your trip, regardless of your family’s place of origin — $20,000 in travel cash. Don’t know where they’re from? That’s covered too: you get genealogy and local experts to help you out. And if, after visiting, you tire of that family line, you can easily switch to researching another since the grand prize winner and five of his or her family members score annual World Deluxe subscriptions to, gratis.

The sweepstakes is running in conjunction with the series Who Do You Think You Are? which airs Friday nights on NBC beginning March 5. And like all good contests, there are some official rules to read before tossing your cappello in the ring. Rest assured that your chances are even better since, as an employee of, I can’t actually enter to win. But you can – and often: once each day now through April 30.

Enter the sweepstakes and learn more at



  1. Ron Lankshear

    If you are restricting this to USA and Canada – why not say so in your announcement and clearly on web site – As I am in Australia you wasted my time.
    I had to click the page – enter my email and then a page with address etc and it was USA centric address format – so I clicked Rules which was way down page bottom and had to download a PDF and there was stuff about only USA and CA not Quebec.

  2. Baker

    they seem to waste a lot of subscriber’s precious time because not enough THOUGHT goes into their work before it goes live.

    i’m crying here…the overview timeline is all jammed up, using Firefox on mac, also same jammed up on Explorer on pc


  3. Al

    This should garner a lot of interest, I am sure it is a common dream (I know I have had it just when visiting local ancestor’s cemeteries).

  4. Arthur Granbury

    See Grandpa’s Homeland – On WHOSE Dime ?

    I wish you, Ancestry, would invest our subscriber dollars in more and better programmers to get your site in order.

  5. Jerry

    Baker (#2) — I’m also annoyed that the spacing issue for the Description on the Timeline still hasn’t been rectified. Why must Ancestry persist with adding new features — or promoting contests — before they’ve addressed *old* issues?

  6. Carel

    I am interested in information about European records,Genealogy information,can you help me. I find all the USA!

  7. Jerry Re: #6

    The code for the original roll out wasn’t written in a day- or even a week; the code correcting the problem will also not be written in a day- maybe not a week either; but it is being worked on (and it probably isn’t just the spacing problem that will most likely be re-written as there is also a text overflow problem).

  8. C

    Is Ancestry down again today? I’ve been receiving the “check back soon” page every time I want to bring up a record. This has been going on for several days now. What’s up?

  9. Carolyn Russell


  10. Jerry

    Andy Hatchett (#8) — I must admit that after viewing pages of other contributors, the Description line actually looks BETTER than it did before. Now the text runs nearly the full width of the Timeline before it wraps.

    However, when I view my own pages — *with* the new Add Media link — the Description line is not properly vertically spaced. So for example, if I have a page with ten events in the Timeline, and I add the exact same Description to all ten events, six of the events are improperly spaced. (I’m adding just plain text, no brackets, no quote marks, no special characters, pasted directly from Notepad so there’s no funny formatting).

    Thanks for your note of encouragement, I hope Ancestry will fix this. — Jerry

  11. Jerry Re: #11

    Do all events have the same date format (i.e. all full dates or all year only dates)?

    It has been noted that this can make a difference in different browsers. I’ve been told it is being checked on.

  12. Monika

    Since this is the blog dealing with the sweepstakes, let me first agree with #5. These sweepstakes are, most likley, subsidized by our membership fees. And, in addition to that, they want five names and addresses of our friends, to hussle up more membership. And, since the “add media” issue is also being revisited on this blog, I worked on my trees again a bit today, only to discover that the “source citation” line had disappeared. NOT the “add media” line that so many of us had hoped would disappear. I figured out that it is still there, just hidden from view. This will make it even less likely for people to add sources for their input into the ancestry site. Strange priorities. What happened? What did I miss?

  13. Monika Re: #11

    Do you mean that after adding a source there is no “1 source citation” link right above the “Add Media” line on the right hand side?

    To the best of my knowledge there never was a source citation line before an actual source was added,

  14. Reality Check is a public company — they should be trying to increase their market share — this contest helps to promote that goal. Through the revenue generated via an increased market share, they can continue to grow their business and the offerings that members benefit from.

    I am sorry to be critical, but when you pay for something (i.e., membership) it is no longer YOUR money, but the revenue that the receiver can do with as they see strategically fit. If you think should spend it money pleasing every one of us – consider the fact that this would cause them to go into bankruptcy trying; each and every one of use has a different ideally product in mind, including myself.

    Although I think there is a lot of future potential (as well as changes that I personally would like to see incorporated), I believe is moving in the correct direction!

  15. Jerry

    Andy (#12) — You’re a Scholar! When the date of the event is a full date, or a Month and Year, or even an ‘about’ Year, the Description is properly spaced. But when the date is a Year only (YYYY), the Description is ‘too close’ to the Location. Obviously a programming problem that can be solved. Thanks for pointing this out. I feel better.

  16. Monika

    Andy #14 – Well, dddaahhh! You are absolutely right, Andy! My trees have so many source citations, I forgot that! (See what this silly “add media” section has done to me??) That’s why I walked away from doing ancestry for a few days! I was getting burned out after the last few changes! Also, #15, your point is well taken! Still do not plan to “sell” the names of my friends for a chance to win a trip!

  17. Rina

    Thanks Andy for letting us know that the spacing issue is being addressed. My descriptions are looking very messy at the moment as I tend to include a lot of info there 🙂

    Am also disappointed like #1 that this competition is being restricted to the U.S. & Canada. I would love to enter – we all have our dream trips to follow our ancestors/familys mapped out. Since we all pay for some kind of subscription (mine happens to be Worldwide), this appears to be

  18. Annie

    I have a thought about the contest being available for U.S. & Canada only.
    Do the laws of the other countries allow ‘contests’? International laws can be very restrictive.

  19. Jeanie, please can you send someone to fix the Overview Event problems

    programmers are learning that it’s a lot easier for them to break stuff than it is for them to fix it!

    is anyone supervising those programmers?

    and who’s doing the critical review before code goes live….LOL!!

    i need to print for mailouts but ev’thing is jammed up, hence illegible


  20. Re Andy and #18. I was not able to work on my Tree until you moved the Add Media. Too Discouraged! Now you have moved it but it is still very distracting. I use the descrption a lot and it is now very hard to see because of the Add Media Line. Many times I have ten lines of different information using the Custom Heading Option so I have 10 Add Medias. Please just have Add Media once on a Page!! Also, I just corrected an address on a Residence. The print was so small I could barely see it to do the correction. Yet the other side of the page was blank except for Add Media stuff all over it!

    Carole Alexander

  21. Please ask the programmers to be consistent and put AddMedia on the AddEvent (or EditEvent) page where you have AddSource.

    on Overview Timeline, display AddMedia similar to the way you have programmed to display SourceCitation. show it if it exists, don’t show it if there is none.

    thank you.

  22. Lee Re: # 21

    From what I understand, they are still working on getting the photo/story/etc. icons moved from between the location and description fields and a few oter things so this isn’t the final version.

    As to the “Add media” filling blank space, even if the add media verbiage were not there your description field couldn’t fill it as the line length of the description field is limited to something like 73 characters.

    I know they are actively working on this so am willing to wait a bit and see what they do to correct the flaws we’ve pointed out.

  23. i’m trying to find how to AddMedia picture to a story?
    In the Media Gallery, how to AddMedia relevant picture icon instead of a default generic text page icon?

  24. Baker Re: # 24

    To the best of my knowledge you can neither add a picture to a story nor can you change the default icons used to indicate Story, Audio, or Video.

    What you could do is use a Custom Event in the timeline and put the story itself in the Actual Text portion of the source for that event and then add a picture to the Story event in the timeline.

    Kind of a kludge but the only way I know to get even close to what you want.

  25. Am glad to be here and read your blog, your blog is really interesting and worth reading, thanks for sharing it with us!

  26. Bill Houghtaling

    I cannot logon to for the 14-day free trial. When I attempt to do so, I am told that I “apparently” already have two user IDs, bhoughtaling and also billhoughtaling|| (appears to be 2 vertical bars). I cannot even contact your tech support, because apparently in order to do so, I need a valid user name and password, which I am unable to create. Doesn’t make much sense to offer a 14-day free trial if you don’t allow new users to sign on, and then, you also do not allow them to contact your tech support!!!
    Bill Houghtaling,, phone 919-676-1756.

  27. antoienette marie mercado

    my god if i won it be like dream come true my grandfather was from san juan puerto rico i never meet him or any of his family members my grandfather is like ghost to me my father was adopted and raised in mental hospital last time he saw his father he was 3 now he is 71 if i win i taken my dad and we are gone find all about my papa and connect our roots its funny how this contest showed up at right time god i hope i win i even let it be filmed who know grangpa may even been some one special that make me happy it be dream just know who i am just like show come on nbc it hard not know who you are youneed know were come from to know who you are really that so true love anna

  28. Thanks for the opportunity to visit relatives in the country of my ancesters.

    It’s curious so many complainers can find their way out of the wood work, even at a give away program.

    An old saying comes to mind, never look a gift horse in the mouth.

    There are people who can find something to complain about at a free food bank distribution.

  29. jeanniesroots

    What have I done wrong? I entered the Sweepstakes and when I attempted to return to my home page, it looked different. Surprise! I was entered as a new person. I am not happy with that and do not understand how it happened. Unless Jeanie Croasmun really is descended from magicians, and has cloned me. Either way, how do I now enter my daily bid for a win? My excitement is turning to frustration. Please help, and here’s an advance “thank you!”


  30. “On our dime.”!!!!!

    Your nationalistic–can’t get past the Americian border–tendencies show in your title. I didn’t bother to read the article. It would be a waste of time seeing as you can’t seem to start where others come from.

  31. innerjuju

    Good gosh. can not even write a blog entry without it turning into a free-for-all about the “Add media” brouhaha. In the appropriate blog entries, they have already said they are working on it- how many times do they have to say it? Place a caveat in every entry?? You couldn’t pay me to work for Ancestry and have to deal with all these sourpusses. I LIKE Ancestry and FTM- even if the rest of you don’t.

  32. Thanks Andy i’ll try it.

    re: inner
    i like ancestry too.
    yes a brouhaha over s’thing they broke and apparently can’t fix, or it would be fixed.

  33. Ron Duncan

    With all the concern about stolen identifications, you require the person’s full birthdate(month,day and year) to enter. If you’re concerned that someone under a certain age is trying to enter, why not ask for just the year. I don’t know about you but I’m not giving out my birthdate, social seuritynumber or mother’s maiden name anywhere I don’t legally have to do so.

  34. Well.. I watched the program.

    A nice story but seriously lacking in several areas- such as showing the real work in tracing your ancestors!

    I talk to a parent, fly back and forth across the county to meet with a few people who just happen to have all the documentation I need and _Presto! I have a family tree.


    How many hours and dollars were actually spent doing the actual research.

    The only thing worse than the show were the commercials.
    I sign on- follow the shaking green leaves to other people’s trees, copy that and again_Presto! I have my family tree.

    Unfortunately, it will draw a great many new people into the field, most of whom will have unrealistic expectations and soon depart.

    Far better that Ancestry should have spent the money showing how to do REAL research and teach people to be REAL genealogists and REAL Family Historians.

    A golden opportunity- utterly wasted.

  35. David Smith

    Here’s a good opportunity for Ancestry to demonstrate proper genealogical technique by putting up a page walking us through the research they did.

    Before the site melted down I did a quick search for some of the key names.

    Unfortunately I couldn’t replicate their results using historic info available on Ancestry and while there are trees containing the Elwell and Hodge family lines shown on the show there are none that have a complete line through to SJP’s ancestor John S Hodge and the one tree I found with him in it has several glaring errors that jumped right off the page at me immediately.

  36. Colleen

    I think the contest is a grea idea and Good Luck to all those out there who want to win this really bad…like myself!

    • Jeanie Croasmun

      No, Who Do You Think You Are? is based on a British TV series of the same name (I believe there are or have been Australian and Canadian versions as well). I never saw Find My Family — if you watched it and Who Do You Think You Are? please let me know how the two compare.

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