Monday, April 27, 2015

AncestryDNA $79 Sale Today

imageTo celebrate DNA day, AncestryDNA is offering its $99 DNA kit for $79 today. With AncestryDNA it’s always a good idea to wait for their $79 sale. Their other sale price is $89. I’ve never seen anything less than $79, although they apparently have done limited price testing for as low as $49 (according to the Genealogy Junkie). So if you’ve been waiting for the best price to come around, unless they drop their list price, $79 is probably the best you can hope for. The sale ends today, 27 April 2015.

In addition to your own autosomal test, it’s a good idea to have your oldest (generationally) )living progenitors tested as well. For more information, see “AncestryDNA is a Team Sport,” a recent article on the Ancestry Blog.

For more information about AncestryDNA and to see the whole sales pitch, visit

For a comparison of the genealogy DNA tests from the various companies, see “Autosomal DNA testing comparison chart” on the ISOGG wiki.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

FamilySearch Worldwide Indexing (Arbitration) Event

FamilySearch Indexing's arbitration program looks like thisFamilySearch currently uses a double-blind methodology for indexing. (They’ve indicated that this could change for some projects. See “FamilySearch Considers Alternatives to Double-Blind Indexing.”) In double-blind indexing, two indexers independently abstract information from an image of a record. FamilySearch compares the values and if the indexers disagreed in any way on anything on the image, it is routed to a third person called an arbitrator. The arbitrator is something like a trusted, master indexer. As a minimum, the arbitrator must provide values for any mismatched fields. But the arbitrator can review and correct any field, even those for which the indexers agreed. The arbitrator has the responsibility to specify the final values that FamilySearch will subsequently publish.

That responsibility can be scary. Perhaps that is why FamilySearch is falling behind in arbitration. There is a backlog of 6.5 million images, according to FamilySearch’s Spencer Ngatuvai. (See “A Clarion Call for Arbitrators: Worldwide Arbitration Event” on the FamilySearch blog.)

To help remedy this, FamilySearch is sponsoring a “Worldwide Arbitration Event.” The event is being held over eight days, from 1 May 2015 to 8 May 2015. FamilySearch hopes to reduce the backlog during the event by two million.

A side effect of the event may be an increase in the number of arbitrators. Arbitrating doesn’t have to be scary. “Preparation is key,” said Ngatuvai. If you are not currently an arbitrator, start preparing now by reading “How to Become an Arbitrator.” It takes some time to qualify, so now is the time to begin.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Ancestry Academy's Laura Prescott launches Ancestry AcademyWow. This is’s second big announcement while I’m on this road trip. They need to do a better job of coordinating with my schedule. <smile>

Last week launched Ancestry Academy, a new, educational website. I don’t have time to write about it. Again, you’re on your own. For more information, see these resources:

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Insight Into FamilySearch’s Record Acquisition and Indexing

FamilySearch's Jake GehringRecently, FamilySearch’s Jake Gehring disclosed details on how FamilySearch decides what to acquire and what to index. Here’s a synopsis of the information from two articles from the FamilySearch blog: “Where Do Indexing Projects Come From?” and “The Inside Story: What Determines the Pace of an Indexing Project?

Of course, FamilySearch can’t acquire and publish a record that it doesn’t know about. “FamilySearch representatives often discover collections of value by talking to archivists, librarians, county clerks, and genealogists who know their local records well. Preferred are records that describe family relationships, contain vital information (births, marriages, and deaths), and cover a broad section of the population,” said Gehring.

FamilySearch can’t just show up at an archive, take pictures, and publish records. First, the record owners must give permission. Usually, that involves a value swap: FamilySearch digitizes the records for the owner in exchange for permission to publish it. FamilySearch has over 275 crews across the world photographing records. The images are sent back to Salt Lake on hard disk drives, or via the Internet.

FamilySearch must decide what to do with the images once they are received. Options include cataloging, publishing images only, and indexing. Projects must be scheduled for available resources. Indexing projects require special setup “with project instructions, sample images, field helps, and a variety of special instructions.”

At any given time there are about 150 indexing projects under way. Predicting how quickly a project will take is challenging. Projects that finish quickly generally are easy, personally appealing, or have tremendous genealogical value. The 1940 U.S. census shared all three of these attributes and finished in record time.

FamilySearch takes steps to move projects along. If you’ve indexed, you know a project may be listed in red as the suggested, highest priority project. FamilySearch also promotes groups of projects, such as it is currently doing with obituaries. FamilySearch may provide special training to volunteers or societies.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Civil War Docs Free on Fold3 Through End of April

Fold3 Free Civil War Documents in April 2015Fold3 is offering free access to its Civil War collection of documents. The offer goes through the end of April 2015. See for more information.