Friday, December 28, 2012 Celebrates New 2012 Collections early vital records offerI am taking the week off so I forgot to tell you about a special offer from They are offering free access this week to 30 collections new or updated this year. To access the collections, visit As usual, to access free collections on Ancestry you must provide your name and email address to obtain a free account.

The 30 collections are:

For the 1940 census, Ancestry has indexed additional fields:

  • House owned or rented
  • Value of home or monthly rental if rented
  • Attended school or college
  • Highest grade completed
  • Employment code
  • Hours worked the week prior to the census
  • Duration of employment
  • Occupation
  • Class of worker
  • Occupation code
  • Weeks worked in 1939
  • Income
  • Income from other sources

The 1940 census asked additional questions for two people on each page. Ancestry has indexed these fields for those individuals:

  • Father birth place
  • Mother birth place
  • Native language
  • Veteran
  • If child, is veteran father dead
  • Military Service
  • Usual occupation
  • Usual industry
  • Usual class of worker
  • Usual occupation code
  • If a women have they been married more than once
  • Women age at first marriage
  • Number of children ever born

May your ancestors always be those two individuals. (And may the odds always be with you.)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

My Christmas Card to You

Christmas photograph of the Ancestry InsiderI still have my The Generations Network Christmas shirt as you can see in the photograph to the right. I wear it once a year, even though changed their name.

FamilySearch. did something interesting with their logo—see below—in a Christmas greeting they recently sent me.

Christmas greeting from FamilySearch

If FamilySearch can play with their logo, so can Here’s what Ancestry did for a recent email campaign:


Ancestry holiday header


On a serious note, recent tragedies have underscored the importance of family, friends, and community. I pray you and yours will have a very, merry Christmas and a happy holiday season.

--The Insider

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 Opens and FamilySearch Closes

FamilySearch announced it is closing its forumsIn separate announcements announced it is opening a public forum and FamilySearch announced it is closing theirs.

“While the Ancestry Message Boards are for finding people and places,” said Ancestry spokesperson, Matthew Deighton, “our new Support Communities is the place to go to get answers to product questions, and to find tips and solutions submitted by community members.”

The top three issues on the Ancestry Community Forum thus far are:

  1. My subscription will end—what will happen to my tree?
  2. Problems with sign in
  3. Received DNA results…confused

Meanwhile, FamilySearch’s Janell Vasquez announced that “due to user feedback, we are discontinuing these forums as of December 31, 2012… We apologize for the inconvenience that this will cause for those of you who have come to enjoy your collaboration with each other on these forums.” Vasquez suggested users join FamilySearch Facebook groups or contact FamilySearch support. Several users posted comments that they didn’t trust Facebook. A couple of users announced that they will probably stop indexing because of the change.

FamilySearch said it is “transitioning our Forums into a new question and answer tool.” Information will be posted this week with instructions on how to help test potential replacement software.

The idea behind a community forum is that ordinary people like you and I answer questions that others have. In my mind there is some question if the genealogical community is large enough or interested enough in helping vendors support their products.

Stay tuned…

Monday, December 17, 2012

Monday Mailbox: FamilySearch Family of Websites

Dear Mr. Insider,

I have noticed a number of web sites for Is there some place that lists all of the different variations/locations that are connected to

Signed, Jerry

Dear Jerry,

Believe it or not, you can navigate to almost all FamilySearch websites from The few exceptions are specialized websites or websites that can’t be reached because of broken links on

Signed, The Insider

What Jerry really needs is a good site map. Too bad FamilySearch won’t provide an official one. Here’s a quick attempt.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Talking Photos No Longer Limited to Hogwarts

Matthew Caldwell's story and picture is an example of what can recently announced it had become the first certified web application to read the new FamilySearch Family Tree.

This special certification allows our LegacyStories members to search for and bookmark their writings, photos and oral narratives to ancestors found in the Family Tree.

In early 2013, FamilySearch is planning to launch the revolutionary TreeConnect feature. At that time our members will be able to easily link their bookmarked stories to the Family Tree.’s “Talking Photos” feature allows users to record a narrative on their computer’s microphone and associate it with a photo.

The entire press release can be read on the web.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

NARA’s Bill Mayer Speaks About Genealogists

NARA's WIlliam A. “Bill” MayerWilliam A. “Bill” Mayer became Executive for Research Services on 18 June 2012. In a recent interview Mayer made comments of interest to genealogists.

With so much changing in terms of digital access through our partners like and FamilySearch, I’d be very interested to hear from the genealogy community how their practices are changing. … I’d also welcome discussions that highlighted ways the genealogy community could support NARA as well: deeper more effective citizen archivist programs; citizen scanning projects; sharing of expertise from our most expert public researchers – any other ideas?

Did he say “citizen scanning projects”? That sounds intriguing. I wonder what that means.

On online access Mayer said,

"Access" in general, regardless of format, is a primary mission for NARA, and Research Services especially. I see methods that focus on both the in-person and the online as critical to our work today and into the future. But to be realistic, there’s simply not enough funding to do everything we see necessary to provide comprehensive, high-functioning systems for access. So choices need to be made. Arguably, digitization enables a broader reach for records than ever before. But what about the guidance and pathfinding through the maze of information found online? How do we support that?

Mayer expanded on that topic.

Access to information is never done well by a "one size fits all" approach. Digital access is an excellent method for expanding the reach of the record and exposing the record to wider audiences – but that access has to be coupled with excellent customer services that make the most of the connection between the record and the researcher. My top-level plans are to focus our work on the key areas of Discovery (finding what we have), Access (getting to what we have), and Preservation (ensuring content is available for generations to come).

On the seemingly opposing goals of access and preservation, Mayer said,

Protection and Preservation of our holdings does not mean we can’t facilitate easier access. That’s why you see such a rise in digitization efforts.

Asked about when the content digitized by and Fold3 would be available free to the public, Mayer said,

Those are rolling dates depending on the collections being digitized and the agreements that govern each collection. New records are released regularly, and free access to the public is available at every NARA facility nationwide the moment the collections are available on the partner sites. There are quite a number of these collections, so I’ll look forward to sharing a more explicit listing for future communications.

In other news, NARA has announced the addition of census reference reports to the existing set of genealogical research reports consisting of African American, Military, Native Americans, and Immigration. Reference reports are one to four page papers describing research strategies for frequently used records.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Monday Mailbox: Please Tell Me Your Name

Dear Ancestry Insider,

Please tell me your name so that I may know who I am looking for in Las Vegas, ok?

Ron Bremer

Dear Ron,

You thought I’d fall for that old trick? Straight up asking?

Ask me in my 2013 NGS Annual Conference session and I will tell you my name. But you don’t have to wait until then. Several people approach me each conference to tell me that they recognized me from my picture.

The Insider

Dear Ancestry Insider,

Hi, I guess you can not enter the contest if you don't own a cellphone!

Not everyone has a cell phone and not all cellphones have an app capability or camera. I'm one of those people.

Diane H.

Dear Diane,

As was I until September. I hear you. However, my previous smart phone had gotten dumber and dumber. When it broke, I took the plunge. But it’s more expensive and not everyone can afford that.

The Insider

Friday, December 7, 2012

FamilySearch Family Tree is Coming

FamilySearch Family Tree is ComingI found a video on YouTube that demonstrates the basic functionality of FamilySearch Family Tree. It is titled “Family Tree from FamilySearch.” It was not posted by FamilySearch, so it does not give official pronouncements. For example, it states that, “Later in 2012 this massive database of family information will be made available free to everyone” Still, in my opinion it gives excellent information.

After all the rumors about FamilySearch Family Tree’s public availability (or lack thereof), I thought I’d check the FamilySearch blog for the latest news. I searched for [Family Tree Is Coming]. I found an article available to the general public that was posted 19 November 2012 and is titled “Family Tree Service on Coming Soon.” While throughout the year FamilySearch has stated that Family Tree would be available to the public by the end of the year, this article seems to be squirming in that regard. The article starts off by stating that “Within the next few months, FamilySearch will make Family Tree available to everyone on its website.”

Stay tuned…

Wednesday, December 5, 2012 Holiday Contest

The Ancestry Insider's Holiday is running a holiday contest. Prizes are: a six month US Deluxe subscription, an AncestryDNA kit, a copy of Family Tree Maker 2012, or a gift membership. To enter the contest use your camera phone and Instagram. Take a photograph and tag it with #ancestryholiday.

Instagram is a free photo sharing app for Apple iPhones and Google phones. For more information and for links to the respective app stores, visit the Instagram website.

Monday, December 3, 2012

NGS 2013 Conference Registration Opens

Do It Yourself Photo Restoration by the Ancestry InsiderBlame the 2013 annual conference of the National Genealogical Society.

You’ve noticed I didn’t post many articles in November. I’m teaching a session at the conference and preparations have been so fun, I’ve spent all my free time working on it.

In “Do It Yourself Photo Restoration” I teach how to use a free and simple program, Paint.NET, to do basic photo restoration. I’m having a hard time tearing myself away to write articles, do genealogy, and work on extra-curricular professional activities.

The 2013 NGS Conference will be held in Las Vegas, Nevada from May 8th until May 11th at the Las Vegas Hotel and Casino adjacent to the Las Vegas Convention Center and one block off the Las Vegas Strip.

The weird thing about this conference is that I’ve been asked to be a luncheon speaker on Saturday. Isn’t that weird? Other than you few, nobody’s ever heard of me. It’s audience participation, so please come and help me out.

Register now for the early bird discount. For more information, visit the NGS 2013 Family History Conference page of the NGS website. Visit the Online Conference Program to see me (and other speakers, I suppose). While you’re at it, see the conference brochure and register for the conference.