Thursday, January 19, 2017

AncestryDNA Caps 3 Million Samples

AncestryDNA surpasses 3 million samplesThree million. It’s staggering, really. AncestryDNA has exceeded three million samples in its DNA database!

It took AncestryDNA three years to get the first million samples. (See “AncestryDNA Exceeds Million Mark” on my blog on 22 July 2015.)

It took them 11 months to get the next million. (See “AncestryDNA Database Reaches Two Million” on 28 June 2016.)

They have grown another million in just seven months. (See “AncestryDNA Surpasses 3 Million Customers in DNA Database” on the Ancestry blog from 10 January 2017.) That’s astonishing. Every day the AncestryDNA database gets more and more valuable.

  • AncestryDNA has found 15 million close cousins (3rd cousin or closer).
  • Ancestry has identified 6 million DNA circles. (For an explanation of DNA circles, see “Aaron Orr Talks Ancestry DNA at BYU Conference – #BYUFHGC” on my blog.)
  • AncestryDNA is available in 37 countries (although I’m not certain collaterals have been translated into all those languages).
  • Ancestry.com (parent company of AncestryDNA) has 80 million trees.
  • Ancestry.com has 19 billion records (including the persons in the 80 million trees).

For more information, visit https://www.ancestry.com/dna/lp/genetic-testing-news.

Somewhere along the line, AncestryDNA gave their home page a facelift, which I hadn’t noticed:

AncestryDNA Home Page

Perhaps it was to make the page adaptable to small devices. On a smartphone, the three boxes neatly stack on top of each other.

Speaking of smartphones, have I written before about the AncestryDNA App? Have I heard of the AncestryDNA App before? I’m really losing it. Well, regardless, Ancestry released the AncestryDNA app back on 28 September 2016. Since then they have mostly made bug fixes. The app lacks many features, so perhaps they haven’t said much about it and I’m not losing it.

One thing it can do is map your ethnicity (below, left).

AncestryDNA app ethnicity estimates and map AncestryDNA app can share your ethnicity results.

And it can share your ethnicity (above, right). That’s useful marketing for Ancestry.

But it can’t do any serious genealogy, like review your DNA matches. The matches icon at the bottom leads straight to a browser link (below left). (Gosh, I have 18,200 matches! I’m related in a measurable, DNA way, to almost 1% of the 3 million people in the Ancestry database. My Viking ancestors really got around!)

AncestryDNA app links to browser for serious tasks.AncestryDNA app setup screen

The final navigation icon, Settings, leads to the screen above right.

Perhaps we’ll hear more about this app when it comes a littler further along. The app is free and is available now in the iTunes app store and the Google Play app store.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

#RootsTech News Ketchup 17 January 2017

Insider KetchupRootsTech is generating news faster than I can keep up. Time to ketchup.

RootsTech tree icon I loved Tyler S Stahle’s “Survival Guide to RootsTech 2017.” He covers

  • The official RootsTech app – Get it. Use it.
  • Technology – Bring a portable device. There is free wi-fi and charging stations in the Expo Hall
  • Warm clothing – Outside temperatures typically range from 25 to 44 degrees. (Sounds high to me.) Tyler doesn’t mention inside temperatures, but most conference centers run cold, maybe 68 to 70 degrees.
  • Walking shoes – This is a big conference in a big building.
  • Events – He mentions the Tabernacle Choir/Hammerstein event, the Innovator Showdown, and the Cultural Celebration. I think these are included free in your conference registration. I think the closing event is also included.

To read the complete story, see “A Survival Guide to RootsTech 2017” on the FamilySearch blog.

RootsTech 2017 50x50 The Getting Started track this year is not included in your RootsTech registration. The Getting Started classes are only available to Getting Started pass holders. This is different than in past years where the general RootsTech pass would allow access to the Getting Started classes.

RootsTech 2017 50x50 The current plan is to have the Getting Started track in room 155, which is in the North extension to the Salt Palace Convention Center. Be forewarned. The 1st floor lobbies of the Salt Place and the North extension are not directly connected. To get to room 155, cut through the Expo Hall, or go up to the 2nd floor, over to the extension, and then back down to the 1st floor.

RootsTech 2017 50x50 Believe it or not, I’m not the only ambassador. There are 46 RootsTech 2017 ambassadors who registered to have their social media information shared amongst ambassadors and their readers. Check them out. You’ll find old familiar general-interest writers like DearMYRTLE, Judy Russell, Randy Seaver, and Thomas MacEntee. There are a couple dozen more that I know are terrific. (Apologies for not listing you here.) Other names you are all familiar with are ambassadors but didn’t submit to this list: Dick Eastman, Lisa Louise Cooke, Diane Hadad, etc. There are non-genealogy bloggers (whose readership surpasses all us genealogy bloggers).

RootsTech 2017 50x50 Dear Ancestry Insider,

Thanks for giving us these links to Innovator Showdown semifinalists! I am really excited about four out of the ten, and would like to be able to weigh in with the judges....is that possible anywhere?

Signed,
Meredith A. Lane

Dear Meredith,

You won’t have the opportunity to participate in narrowing of the field to five finalists on 8 February 2017. I’ll publish their names. But there is a people’s choice award and my guess is you can participate from home. The 2017 Innovator Showdown will be broadcast live on RootsTech.org at 10:30 am MST on Friday, 10 February 2017. Voting for the people’s choice award will be via text message. I assume the RootsTech broadcast will show the phone numbers so that you can vote from home. (I haven’t asked, so I’m not certain.) Either way, you’ll enjoy watching the competition.

For more information, read “Third Annual 2017 RootsTech Innovator Showdown Boasts $100,000 in Prizes” in the FamilySearch media center.

Signed,
---The Ancestry Insider

RootsTech 2017 50x50 From 8 February 2017 to 11 February (the week of RootsTech) is the Family History Library  discovery center grand opening, according to their Facebook page.

The state-of-the-art discovery experience, is free and open to the public. The discovery experience hours will match the Family History Library.
Monday 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.,
Tuesday - Friday 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Saturdays 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Extended hours will be offered Saturday, February 11th in conjunction with RootsTech 2017 Family Discovery Day.

“Our guests, particularly those who are completely new to family history, will be able to enjoy fun, personal discoveries through interactive technological experiences with their family's history,” said Tamra Stansfield, manager of the Family History Library.

For more information, see “Family History Library Discovery Center” in the FamilySearch Wiki.

RootsTech 2017 50x50 According to a private RootsTech source, RootsTech will have the video streaming schedule this week. (Since I write on weekends, perhaps it is already online. I’d check RootsTech.org to see.) Unlike previous years, this year all the keynote speakers will be televised live. (Last year, the Bush mother/daughter duo were not broadcast. Was there another one? Doris Kearns Goodwin? My guess is that people who make their living partly by speaking, don’t like to damage their income stream. I think that’s fair. But I digress…) Even some Innovator Summit presentations will be broadcast.

RootsTech 2017 50x50 The RootsTech syllabus will not be available for download on RootsTech.org this year. I’m disappointed, but fine with that decision. Some presenters make their living partly by presenting; posting their handouts for anyone to easily find and download seemed inappropriate. Individual class handouts are still freely downloadable; but you must do it through the RootsTech App. One big complaint there: the handouts download with obnoxious names like 641956154d1a58ea4cdc9e636cc562a5_1. How am I supposed to remember that that is the handout for Kelli Bergheimer’s “Getting Started in Genealogy” class? If you want to read the handout in iBooks, or keep notes in Adobe Acrobat, that’s a big issue.

Purchase a printed copy of the entire syllabus for $35 through the registration webpage.

RootsTech will not have printers onsite for printing handouts. You must prepare beforehand by printing desired handouts at home. I have a fancy, network-connected printer that has its own email address. From the RootsTech App I can email handouts directly to my printer. It couldn’t be simpler (for me). Frankly, though, I plan to use the handouts on my iPhone or iPad. It is still a good idea to prepare before the conference. Download desired handouts before you come. Then you don’t fight bandwidth issues as thousands of people start downloading handouts at the start of each class.

Be sure to print or download backup classes as well, in case the classes you want are full.

RootsTech 2017 50x50 Toni Carrier, a RootsTech Ambassador from Lowcountry Africana, wrote an article laying out the African American track of classes at RootsTech this year. “This year, for the first time, you can fill your entire time at RootsTech attending sessions on African American genealogy!” she wrote. Read “Great African American Genealogy Lineup at RootsTech 2017”  on her blog.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Fee Increase for Immigration Records

Fee increase by USCISOn 25 December 2016 I received an email from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services warning of an upcoming fee increase, to be effective 23 December 2016. Yup. Two days before they sent the email. That’s your government at work. The new fee schedule webpage states:

This chart lists USCIS' fees effective December 23, 2016. Applications and petitions postmarked or filed on or after December 23, 2016, must include these new fees or USCIS will reject your submission.   

Filing fees increased for most forms, and we published updated versions of the forms at uscis.gov/forms. We strongly encourage customers to download and submit these new versions, which are updated with the new fees and have an edition date of 12/23/16. We will accept prior versions of forms, with the exception of Form N-400, until February 21, 2017. However, all filings postmarked December 23, 2016, or later must include the new fees or we will reject them.

Immigration Benefit Request New Fee ($) Old Fee ($)
G–1041 Genealogy Index Search Request 65 20
G–1041A Genealogy Records Request (Copy from Microfilm) 65 20
G–1041A Genealogy Records Request (Copy from Textual Record) 65 35

That’s a pretty substantial increase. I’m glad they gave genealogists advance warning.

The email explained that:

Our agency is funded almost entirely by fees. By law, we conduct a fee review every two years to ensure that we recover the full cost of processing immigration benefits. The Genealogy program has not increased its fees since the program was created in 2008.

If you have any questions, please write to Genealogy.USCIS@uscis.dhs.gov.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

FamilySearch Reviews 2016 Accomplishments – Part 2

This is a continuation of yesterday’s article. FamilySearch recently published a review of their 2016 accomplishments. Here is the information plus commentary and a comparison with their 2015 figures.

FamilySearch 2016 accomplishments relative to: HelpHelp

“In 2016, FamilySearch added a Help Others feature to guide consultants and more experienced genealogists in assisting others. People seeking help provide their username and a helper number that allow helpers to look online at their records, find opportunities for research, and help guide that research,” wrote FamilySearch’s Diane Sagers.

Facts and figures:

  • 15 million volunteer service hours. This is up from 12 million in 2015.
  • 11 million of those hours contributed by indexers. Up from 9 million.
  • 315,000 volunteer indexers. Up from 304,000.
  • 3.7 million hours contributed by service missionaries. Up from 3.
  • 4,807 service missionaries. Up quite a bit from 3,850.
  • 4,960 FamilySearch Centers. Formerly called family history centers. Up from 4,891.
  • 103 new centers this year. My math says the difference between 4,891 and 4,960 is 69, but there were centers that closed as well. The Layton FamilySearch Center alone replaced 48 family history centers (according to a 27 November 2016 article in The Davis Clipper).
  • 3,108 centers outside the U.S. This is up 244 from 2,864 the previous year. This is wonderful news. Some countries of the world don’t allow FamilySearch to loan microfilm. Researchers in those countries can now access records in their centers that aren’t available otherwise.
  • 1,852 centers in the U.S. This is down 175 from 2,027. This is discouraging since many records on FamilySearch.org are only available to the general public in FamilySearch centers.

FamilySearch 2016 accomplishments relative to: Discovery ExperiencesDiscovery Experiences

In 2016, FamilySearch opened a new FamilySearch Center in Layton, Utah; broke ground for a large FamilySearch library in St. George, Utah, that will include discovery experience stations when it opens in 2017; and began remodeling the first floor of the Salt Lake family history library to include discovery experiences.

Facts and figures:

  • 375,000 RootsTech Attendees. [Fine print: Includes in-person, online, and local Family Discovery Day events.] This is up 75,000 from RootsTech 2015.
  • 133 million FamilySearch.org visits. In 2015 they reported 291,000 visits per day, which yields 106 million visits. (Techie comment: If I am not mistaken, FamilySearch uses the Adobe Omniture definition of a visit: If a person views a sequence of pages, that counts as a visit. If they take a break of more than 30 minutes, it counts as a new visit. If they visit for more than 12 hours, it counts as a new visit.)
  • 7.4 million registered users.

FamilySearch 2016 accomplishments relative to: MemoriesMemories

“Family history is about stories; it is more than dates and facts,” said Steve Rockwood, CEO of FamilySearch. FamilySearch added the memories gallery view, added user-to-user messaging, and has the ability to make audio recordings.

Facts and figures:

  • 5.6 million memories [stories, photographs, documents, and audio recordings] added in 2016. Last year FamilySearch reported a total of 10.3 million memories, so the total must be about 16 million. 
  • 4.7 million photos added. Added to the 9 million total last year, FamilySearch.org now has 14.5 million.
  • 521,000 documents added. These are documents that users have scanned and uploaded to FamilySearch.org. They now have 1.6 million total. I hope everyone is scanning and uploading your home sources (birth, marriage, death, and military discharge certificates; funeral programs; newspaper announcements; Bible pages; etc.). Don’t have a scanner? Use your cell phone camera.
  • 362,000 stories added. With 747,000 last year, FamilySearch now reports having 1.1 million.
  • 50,000 audio recordings added. FamilySearch reports the total is now 92,000 recordings. That is disappointing. Tom Jones has said, “What should be our first priority is to do what future generations cannot do.” (Jessica Murray, “Answering the Big Genealogy Puzzle With Tom Jones,” Ancestry [Blog] [http://blogs.ancestry.com : 25 August 2014].) Recording elderly relatives is one of those things.

For more information see “FamilySearch 2016 Year in Review” on the FamilySearch Blog and “FamilySearch 2016: Connecting families across generations” on the Deseret News website.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

FamilySearch Reviews 2016 Accomplishments – Part 1

FamilySearch 2016 accomplishments relative to: Family Tree[THE INDICATED BULLET WAS UPDATED 14 JANUARY 2017 TO ELIMINATE MY BAD MATH.]
FamilySearch recently published a review of their 2016 accomplishments, just as they did last year for 2015. As I did last year, I thought I’d present the information here, along with commentary, and a comparison with their 2015 accomplishments. I found a few surprises.

FamilySearch organized the accomplishments around the five discovery experiences presented in Steve Rockwood’s 2016 RootsTech presentation.

Family Tree

In 2016, FamilySearch made Family Tree more stable, made it possible to merge duplicates, added more record hints, made record hints more accurate, added user-to-user messaging, and broadened the ability to identify your relationships to persons in Family Tree.

Facts and figures:

  • 1.1 billion persons in FamilySearch Family Tree.  FamilySearch has previously reported that 28 billion people have lived since 1500 AD. Few records exist that uniquely identify people who lived prior to that date. Had FamilySearch met their objective that there be no duplication in Family Tree, then the Tree would contain 4% of all the recorded people in the world’s history. However, there is a lot of duplication in the Tree. 1.1 billion is the same size reported last year, so the number of new persons must be less than 100 million.
  • 561,759 new contributors in 2016. This is up from 120,000 in 2015. I think this includes those who contribute in any way, not just the addition of persons.
  • [Updated 14 January 2017]3.45 million total contributors. That sounds high, even though participation is considered a mandate for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Current Church membership stands at 15,634,199. Total contributors was up from 2.47 million in 2015.

FamilySearch 2016 accomplishments relative to: Searchable RecordsSearchable Records

“Millions more searchable records were added this year as employees and volunteers digitally converted FamilySearch’s vaults of microfilm for online viewing and added millions of new record images from archives across the globe,” wrote FamilySearch’s Diane Sagers. “Partnerships formed with other genealogy search companies, such as Ancestry.com, FindMyPast.com, and MyHeritage.com, broaden its searchable databases.”

Around the world, 320 camera teams digitally preserved over 60 million records in 45 countries. FamilySearch reworked the U.S. census collections in 2016.

FamilySearch, along with the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, other organizations, and 25,000 volunteers, indexed and published records from the Freedmen’s Bureau. “These records are pivotal for African American research because they document freed slaves and others who struggled to redefine themselves after the Civil War.”

Facts and figures:

  • 5.57 billion total searchable records online. This is 260 million more than the 5.31 billion reported last year.
  • 275 million total records indexed [during 2016]. This is up from 110 million in 2015. According to the math, volunteers indexed 15 million more names than FamilySearch published. Makes you wonder if they have a growing backlog.
  • 37 million non-English records indexed. FamilySearch must be having trouble recruiting non-English language indexers, since that is just 13% of the total. On the positive side, 37 is up quite a bit from 19 million in 2015.
  • 125 new 2016 historic records collections. This is down from 158 the previous year.
  • 2,174 total collections. It was 2,049 at the end of 2015.
  • 60 million record images published. FamilySearch cut in half the number of images, 122 million, published in 2015. That is disappointing. One possible explanation is that FamilySearch now publishes some record images exclusively through their catalog—much the same way that NARA does with their catalog. If you are not using the catalog as your primary search mechanism, you are missing out on what looks to be millions of records.

See tomorrow's article for more information.