Tuesday, August 19, 2014

FGS Conference for $49 Saturday - #FGS2014

The FGS 2014 annual conferenceThe Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) has announced special pricing for those who wish to attend their annual conference on Saturday, 30 August 2014. The Saturday-only registration rate is $49. This is a tremendous opportunity for those within easy driving distance of San Antonio. Since you don’t need to pay for airfare or a hotel, attendance is very affordable. See “Directions and Parking in San Antonio” for parking costs and driving directions.

Your Saturday registration gives you access to more than 35 lectures plus optional workshops and luncheons. Visit the Exhibit Hall to see product demonstrations and presentations on two stages or meet with vendors and exhibitors in their booths. To learn more about the Saturday programs, download the conference brochure or visit the website at www.fgsconference.org/program.

Today is the final day to register online. Register at http://www.fgsconference.org/registration. Or you can just show up at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center Saturday morning. Registration starts at 7:30am on Saturday. The first lecture begins at 8:30am.

See you in San Antonio!

Monday, August 18, 2014

FGS Conference Online Registration Deadline #FGS2014

The FGS 2014 annual conferenceI applied to be an ambassador for the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) Conference but I’ve given up being accepted. Bummer. That won’t stop me from telling you about this great conference coming next week. I’m a big fan of the three national conferences. They draw from nation-wide and local experts. The conference will be held in San Antonio, Texas (remember the Alamo?) on 27-30 August 2014.

If you wish to register online, you need to do so today (18 August 2014) or tomorrow (19 August 2014). Register at http://www.fgsconference.org/registration. Pre-registrants will have online access to the syllabus before the conference. Pre-registrants also have a better shot at registering for extras before they sell out:

  • 13 luncheons over the 4 conference days
  • 10 workshops over 3 days
  • Wednesday Night at the Institute of Texan Cultures on 27 August, hosted by the the San Antonio Genealogical and Historical Society and the Texas State Genealogical Society.

I know Friday evening’s “Night in Old San Antonio” at La Villita is already sold out. I don’t know about the others. If the Wednesday night activity doesn’t sell out beforehand, onsite registrants may still be able to purchase tickets.

I hope to see you there!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Ancestry.com New Terms and Conditions

Clipart of contract by AlastairOn the first of August, Ancestry.com released new terms and conditions. Keep in mind that I am not a lawyer nor do I play one on TV. My opinions about the Ts & Cs should not be considered legal counsel. If you have questions, be sure to consult a licensed attorney. One schooled in Utah contract law might be advisable because my understanding is that merely using Ancestry.com establishes a contract between Ancestry.com and yourself. That contract is the Ts & Cs, so it is good to read through them once in awhile. Here are some changes I thought interesting:

The new terms and conditions apply to Ancestry.com, Fold3.com, and Newspapers.com. I don’t know how much the Ts & Cs of these three differed before, but it is certainly easier for users to have just one to understand. However, Rootsweb.com, genealogy.com, and mundia.com were removed from the list of “the Ancestry Community.”

Ancestry.com has added a section explaining that the contents of the websites are provided AS IS. While they attempt to make it accurate, they make no claim that it is “complete, accurate, reliable or error-free.”

I often hear people ask if they can download stuff from Ancestry.com and put it up on FamilySearch Family Tree. Ancestry.com has added language clarifying what can and can’t be done:

You may access the Websites and use the Content only for personal or professional family history research, and download Content only as search results relevant to that research. For example, the download of the whole or material parts of any work or database is prohibited. Resale of a work or database or portion thereof is prohibited. Online or other republication of Content is prohibited except as unique data elements that are part of a unique family history or genealogy.

Interpretation of the word unique there seems pretty important. Tempting as it is, I’ll resist giving any.

Ancestry.com has added a section addressing the issue of the public domain documents it has digitized (mostly from NARA).

Ancestry does not claim an exclusive right to images already in the public domain that it has converted into a digital format. However, the Websites contain images or documents…that, even if in the public domain, are subject to restrictions on reuse. By [accessing the Websites], you agree to not reuse these images or documents except that you may reuse public domain images so long as you only use small portions of the images or documents for personal use. If you republish public domain images, you agree to credit the relevant Ancestry Website as the source of the digital image, unless additional specific restrictions apply. If you wish to republish more than a small portion of the images or documents from any of the Websites, you agree to obtain prior written permission from us.

I skipped some language of that section to emphasize your contract regarding public domain images. Let me do the reverse now for non-public domain images.

The Websites contain images or documents that are protected by copyrights or that…are subject to restrictions on reuse. By [accessing the Websites], you agree to not reuse these images or documents….

When you contribute content to Ancestry.com websites, you grant them a license to use it. That only makes sense. They have strengthened the wording of that license by specifying the license is “perpetual, royalty-free, [and] world-wide” and licenses them to “otherwise use your submission to the extent…we deem appropriate…. This license continues even if you stop using the Websites or the Services.” As before, you still retain ownership of your content. You just can’t demand that Ancestry.com give it back to you.

Ancestry.com’s hasn’t yet closed the loophole that I’ve seen used to allow multiple people to justify sharing a single subscription. In both the old and new Ts & Cs, Ancestry.com specifies that “distribution of your password to others for access to Ancestry is expressly prohibited.” To this they have clarified that “you must keep your account password secure.” I’ve seen people login to a subscription in a public place and leave it logged in with the express purpose of allowing a group to use that one subscription. Should someone accidentally logout, the account holder must show up and reenter the password, so as to not violate the Ts & Cs.

You should not depend on what I’ve said here. You should read the Ts & Cs for yourself at http://www.ancestry.com/cs/legal/termsandconditions. The old Ts & Cs are available at http://www.ancestry.com/cs/legal/TermsAndConditions_2012_04_26_US.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Ancestry.com United States Obituary Collection of Limited Value

NewspaperI recently tried using the Ancestry.com United States Obituary Collection after not using it for, say, five years. Something has happened since I last used it. When this database was first published it was a compilation of obituaries cached from other websites. The short database description seen when hovering over the title in the catalog still describes it as a compilation. But Ancestry.com seems to have scrapped the scrapes in favor of providing links to the original websites. I asked Ancestry.com when this took place, but didn’t receive an answer. Does anybody know when this change occurred?

Caching other companies’ webpages and serving them up in static format never sounded legal to me. But it was sure good for Ancestry.com users. Obituaries in particular seem to be quite transitory. I mentioned to an Ancestry.com spokesperson that many links in the collection go to non-existent pages, or are redirected to pages that don't contain the cited obituary. He said that Ancestry.com’s engineers suggested I send him bad URLs for evaluation. Let me do that right now.

Dear Ancestry.com Engineers,

Enclosed please find obituary links that need to be evaluated. According to the card catalog, there are 29 million of them. To print the list, go to http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=7545, fill your surname into the “Last Name” box, and click Search.

For example, try “Deighton.” I tested the first five entries:

View Record

Name of Deceased

Age at Death

Birth Date

Death Date

Newspaper Location

Other Name Mentioned


View Record

Charles Eugene Deighton



Fresno, CA, US

James Graham Monroe

Obit is Gone

View Record

Charles Eugene Deighton



Clovis, CA, US

James Graham Monroe

Obit is Gone

View Record

Christy Deighton


Great Bend, KS, US


Obit is Gone

View Record



23 Nov 2015

5 Aug 2004

Callicoon, NY, US

Daisy Rumsey Moffat

Obit is Gone

View Record

Frederick E. Deighton


14 Dec 2015


Ann Arbor, MI, US

Frederick Dexter E.

Obit is Archived. $2.95 to view.

I was tempted to keep going until I found one that worked, but don’t have time to check 29 million URLs.

---The Ancestry Insider

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Ancestry.com Declines Revealing Databases Not in LDS Subscription

After last week’s article about FindMyPast, I thought I’d get a list of databases from Ancestry.com that are not supported in the LDS subscription. It turns out that is not so easy. I asked Ancestry.com for a list and was told “all of the messaging actually comes from FamilySearch.” The spokesperson referred me to a marketing manager at FamilySearch who told me that Ancestry.con has not provided a list.

Both individuals quoted to me the official corporate-speak:

FamilySearch’s agreement with Ancestry.com gives LDS church members access to all of Ancestry.com’s content collections around the world, with a few limited exceptions where contractual limitations prevent free access. For these few collections, an option to view these records on a pay-per-view basis is available. Ancestry.com has over 32,000 collections available to search and explore. Currently over 99% of these collections are available for free via an LDS member subscription. The Ancestry.com LDS member subscription excludes Fold3 and newspapers.com which may be added in the future. 

If LDS members have any issues with their subscriptions or access to content collections, please contact Ancestry.com directly at 1-800-ANCESTRY (1-800-262-3787).

From the BYU conference I learned that supposedly there are 21 databases that are not included. Someone working in the computer lab told me that the United States Obituary Collection was among them. Saturday night, 2 August, I verified the limitation and captured this image from my browser:

Message: This collection is not available with your free LDS-Ancestry membership.

I also heard that there are Manchester databases, so I poked around and found these databases are not included:

I randomly came across another database that was—bizarrely—not included:

As I wrote this article last Saturday, I tried this book again and it was then included! I tried the U.S. obituary collection again and it too is now included. (More on U.S. Obits tomorrow…) Maybe that is why there is no list. Maybe Ancestry.com is still reviewing contracts to determine which databases can be offered up in this fashion.

What about you? Have you come across databases not included in the LDS Subscription? Let me know.