Friday, July 3, 2015

Free Access to Database of Early New England Immigrants

"Landing of the Pilgrim Fathers" illustration from p. 83 of _British Enterprise beyond the Seas_ by J. H. FyfeThe New England Historic Genealogy Society (NEHGS) is offering free access to its “Great Migration” databases starting last Wednesday and continuing through next Wednesday, 8 July 2015. Access requires free registration. The goal of the Great Migration Project is to “compile comprehensive genealogical and biographical accounts of every person who settled in New England between 1620 and 1640. Between these years about twenty thousand English men, women, and children crossed the Atlantic to settle New England.” The databases currently cover 1620-1635.

The databases are taken from a series of books compiled by Robert Charles Anderson. NEHGS just announced the latest, Great Migration Directory: Immigrants to New England.

To access the Great Migration databases, visit

Thursday, July 2, 2015 News Ketchup, 2 July 2015

Ancestry Insider KetchupI’m way behind on articles. Time to ketchup…

Bullet Ancestry.comFollowing close on the heals of the announced availability of AncestryDNA in Australia and New Zealand came news that AncestryDNA is now available in Canada. (See “Now Connect to Your DNA Cousins in Canada and Australia” on the Ancestry Blog.) The AncestryDNA database has grown to more than 850,000 people. (Family Tree DNA boasts 737,664 records as I write this, while 23andMe recently announced it has over a million.)

Bullet Ancestry.comAccording to a story on, AncestryDNA has done a study of birth rates and census data and calculated the average numbers of cousins Brits each have. A typical resident of Britain has five first cousins, 28 second cousins, 175 third, 1,570 fourth, 17,300 fifth, and 174,000 sixth cousins. That sums to an average of 193,000 living, close relatives. Ancestry’s Brad Argent points out that we probably come into contact with these relatives daily with no knowledge of it.

Only five first cousins? I have 30. I venture to say that trend continues up and down my family tree. How many living relatives do you think I have?

Bullet Ancestry.comIn a recent blog article, Ancestry explained a little more about Historical Insights. Historical Insights are items about historical events sprinkled throughout the LifeStory of a person in your Ancestry Member Tree. (See “ Releases Historical Insights.”) Historical Insights are like hints. They may be relevant, they may not. Click the Review button and select Keep or Ignore. Only two Insight hints appear on the timeline at once. You must keep or ignore them to see more.

Bullet Ancestry.comAndy Orin of the Lifehacker blog interviewed Crista Cowan to learn what it is like to be a professional genealogist. Some of my favorite quotes:

  • “As a genealogist, I spend the majority of my time researching, both online[,] and offline in libraries, archives and courthouses that hold documents yet to be digitized and placed online.”
  • “One misconception people often have about my job is that it is easy for anyone to get started in family history.”
  • “Family history is really a journey of discovery, not a sprint to see who has the most ancestors.”
  • “By attending a conference, it will quickly be apparent to you that you don’t know what you don’t know.”

Crista says that Ancestry has 16 billion historical records and is adding 2 million every day. Read a transcript of the interview, “Career Spotlight: What I Do as a Genealogist,” on the Lifehacker blog.

Bullet Ancestry.comHere’s an item that’s been sitting in my inbox since April, waiting for me to have time to write about it. Now, I only have time for a brief mention. Ancestry released an Apple Watch App. Doesn’t this look cool?

The Ancestry Apple Watch app

Okay, it doesn’t look all that practical to buy an Apple watch just to be notified about which ancestor was born today or to learn that someone just posted a photo of Uncle Harold. For a tiny bit more information, see “Family History on Your Wrist: Introducing Ancestry’s Apple Watch App” on the Ancestry Blog.

Bullet Ancestry.comI found something on the Ancestry website that made me smile. On your profile page you can specify your occupation, or at least your field. Given that most every professional genealogist in America has an Ancestry subscription, “Genealogist” and “Genealogy” may be the most prevalent occupation and field of all their subscribers.


Well, I think I’m just about caught up!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

FamilySearch News Ketchup for 1 July 2015

Ancestry Insider KetchupI have just two items of news about FamilySearch. Not much to catch up on…

FamilySearch tree bullet

FamilySearch has announced its free webinars for July. They include classes on Danish and Wales research, fuentes on FamilySearch(is that Spanish sources?), U.S. naturalizations, Boy Scout genealogy merit badge, and beginning LDS research. See the schedule in the FamilySearch wiki.

FamilySearch tree bulletFamilySearch released a new feature of its image viewer. It shows the indexed information in table format below the image. (Sound familiar, users?) It’s still pretty rough. It exists as a separate viewer from the regular image viewer. For more information, see “FamilySearch Combines Indexes and Record Images in a Single View” on the FamilySearch blog.


Tuesday, June 30, 2015 Changes Privacy Agreement announced changes to its privacy agreement last Friday, 27 June 2015.

The changes expand the agreement to Ancestry Academy. It looks like Ancestry also offers or will offer to other companies as a cobranded “powered by” website. The new privacy agreement applies to those websites as well.

The changes allow Ancestry to make you go to each of its websites to opt out of promotional email.

By using any of Ancestry’s family of websites, you consent to let users share your family history information with users of any of Ancestry’s websites, including,,,, and any other website on which Ancestry provides a link to this privacy policy page. Does that means stuff on Find A Grave can be shared with users of

You consent to allow Ancestry to monitor, collect, and share with other users information about your activities on their websites, such as the courses you’ve taken on Ancestry Academy.

Ancestry reminds users that it publishes legally available personal information on records about you. Such records include census, birth, marriage, and death records. I know there are other sources of information, such as some state driver license registrations. It will consider removal of your information from its indexes on a case by case basis. I think that removal of your name from images is another matter. It would be pretty expensive to blot out your name on a census, for example. They also can’t remove your name from the original records, as those are controlled by state governments or other information owners. Before publishing such records, they redact sensitive information. They don’t mention what they consider to be sensitive, but I imagine it is information like social security numbers.

While Ancestry will generally send marketing information to you by email, you consent to contact by direct mail or even by telephone. These include promotional offers by both Ancestry and third parties. You can easily opt out of the emails, but I think to opt out of telephone solicitations you’ll need to contact Ancestry.

Ancestry and various websites show Ancestry advertisements. The privacy agreement allows Ancestry to specialize the ads shown to you based upon your demographics. This includes year of birth, geographic area, and gender. Gender information is useful because males and females have different buying patterns. I know that companies can purchase other demographic data, such as your household income based on your address. The privacy agreement allows Ancestry to specialize the Ancestry ads shown to you, not just on Ancestry’s websites, but other websites as well. Those Ancestry ads you’re seeing on other websites? The agreement allows Ancestry to customize them just for you, perhaps according to which subscription you own, if any, or whether or not you’ve purchased a DNA test. However, Ancestry is not disclosing individualized, personal information about you to other advertisers.

Personally, I would rather have specialized ads designed to match my interests than to get random ads I’m not interested in. But if you don’t want specialized ads, you can opt out by visiting a link to that is provided in the agreement. You won’t find Ancestry listed on the page on I think it lists ad networks that show specialized ads, not the advertising companies. I suppose you’ll need to opt out of all the companies listed. You’ll need to go through the process on each browser and each device that you use. If you delete the cookies for a browser, you will have to make your election again. And I think your election applies to all specialized ads, not just Ancestry’s. Ancestry doesn’t say so in the agreement, but on another webpage states that there is a second webpage you must visit to opt out of additional specialized Ancestry ads. Note that opting out of specialized ads doesn’t stop all advertisements from Ancestry. You’ll still receive generic ads.

Ancestry also monitors what websites you visited immediately prior to visiting one of the Ancestry websites. They track the MAC of your network hardware, “your computer type, screen resolution, operating system version and Internet browser.” They track your device type and IP address.

You agree to let Ancestry disclose your personal information if it is necessary to preserve Ancestry’s reputation.

If Ancestry sells part or all of its business, it will sell your personal information along with it. If Ancestry goes bankrupt, your private information can be sold off as one of the assets used to raise money to pay off its debts. In that case, the agreement doesn’t specify that your personal information will remain protected to the degree outlined in this agreement.

Some features of the Ancestry website are provided by other companies and governed by the other companies’ privacy policies. I don’t know if Ancestry discloses all of them, so some things you do on Ancestry websites may have unforeseen privacy consequences. Ancestry calls out logging in via your Facebook password or clicking the Facebook “Like” icon as examples. Entering Ancestry contests or surveys are subject to different privacy policies. Before participating, you may wish to check the terms.

Ancestry allows you to control the disclosure of some of your information. It provides webpages to do so. See section 4 of the agreement for links to the pages on its various websites.

If you contribute information (such as a public member tree or a photograph) and other users copy it, and you later delete it, Ancestry will not ferret out all the copies other users have made and delete the copies. However, they delete the attribution formerly given to you.

If someone has violated your privacy rights, you can contact Ancestry to have the matter resolved. Ancestry “will only implement such requests with respect to the personal information associated with the particular email address that you use to send us your request.”

If you were an Ancestry website user prior to 26 June 2015, then the changes don’t become effective until 26 July 2015. If you decide you don’t like the new policy, you can choose to discontinue your account. To see the privacy statement yourself, visit