Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Ancestry.com and FamilySearch Look Back, then Forward

Happy 2016!Ancestry.com and FamilySearch separately looked back at 2015 and announced some of their plans for 2016.

It’s Ancestry’s 20th anniversary and in a New Year’s greeting sent to subscribers, Tim Sullivan noted accomplishments of 2015 and gave a peek at the coming year.

Ancestry’s users have contributed more than 70 million member trees and uploaded 300 million photographs and documents. Ancestry’s DNA database surpassed one million DNA samples. Ancestry claims more than 16 billion historical records from 80 countries. In 2015 they added the U.S. wills and probate collection as well as 200 million Mexican records.

Tim gave a nod to the retirement of Family Tree Maker, although he didn’t mention it by name. “Our team has worked hard to streamline and improve the overall Ancestry experience for everyone,” Tim wrote. “That meant saying goodbye to a few products so we can better hone our focus.” LifeStory received explicit mention as one of the products receiving focus. He also called out AncestryDNA’s exciting, new New Ancestor Discoveries.

“We’ll be launching international content to help you connect to your roots outside of the U.S.,” Tim wrote, “with more to come from Germany, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Ireland, and Scandinavia.”

I wonder if international expansion may also be in their DNA plans. Tim wrote, “We’ll bring you more global family connections using our powerful DNA network to continue to uncover family history and discover new ancestors with a more in‑depth look at your ethnic origins.” Does that mean they are seeking permission to sell their DNA kit in additional countries?

FamilySearch also celebrated the launch of Ancestry’s Mexico collection, but as a joint accomplishment.

“This announcement is about two things,” said FamilySearch International CEO, Stephen T. Rockwood. “First, it is a celebration of the joy of discovery now available to more of our patrons with Mexican heritage. Second, it is a recognition of our valued partnership with Ancestry.com and how working together has made these high impact collections searchable online much quicker for personal family history research.”

FamilySearch provided the images and Ancestry paid for the indexing. According to FamilySearch spokesperson, Paul Nauta, “without Ancestry.com’s assistance, some estimates suggest it would have taken 20 years or more for volunteers to index the records.” FamilySearch patrons can access the indexes at FamilySearch family history centers or—if they have Ancestry subscriptions—on FamilySearch.org.

For more information, see “Vast FamilySearch.org Collection of Mexico Ancestor Records Continues to Grow” on the FamilySearch blog.

12 Things to Expect from FamilySearch in 2016FamilySearch outlined 12 things they plan to accomplish in 2016.

  1. FamilySearch Family Tree will be faster and more robust.
  2. User guidance will improve. (I think they mean the onscreen helps.)
  3. A relationship feature will show how you are related to people in Family Tree.
  4. Searching will be more user-friendly, the search results will be better and easier to use.
  5. Adding photos, stories, documents, and audio files will be easier.
  6. The home page will be dynamic and personalized.
  7. There will be more partner apps.
  8. FamilySearch will add to the 319 digital camera teams that today produce 125 million images per year. The new cameras will focus on international records.
  9. There will be more mobile apps on IOS and Android platforms through FamilySearch.
  10. This is the year of the new, web-based indexing tool! (It’s a good thing, I’ve been holding my breath for how many years?)
  11. More people than ever will see RootsTech via live streaming and recordings.
  12. There will be an added emphasis on attracting youth.

There was a 13th item, combined with item 1. Perhaps FamilySearch wanted to avoid the number 13.

  • Record hinting will get faster (it used to take weeks for new hints to show up) and hints will come from more collections.

To see the list in FamilySearch’s own words, see “12 Things You Will See from FamilySearch in 2016” on the FamilySearch blog.


  1. The best thing ancestry.com ever did for me was the planned retirement of FTM2014. It rarely synced as promised, tech support was of no value and now that I have moved all my research to Legacy I can see the garbage that working on ancestry.com added to my tree. Has anyone ever noticed that if you really want to source a City Directory (from the USA) ancestry.com did not film the pages which include the year, location and publisher. So when you add their source to your tree you really don't have any way to prove the information. I use "Unsourced Cith Directory from Ancestry" Also, the DNA results are useless without a chromosome browser. I ask all my matches to upload their results to gedmatch.com so we can at least triangulate our results and determine if the relationship matches the shaky leaves at ancestry. Guess what, they don't always. So ancestry.com is providing inaccurate DNA matching. But - gotta love the records they have. I have been a member since 2000 and use it every day for research. Just wish they wouldn't take so many shortcuts and try to dumb down genealogy research and DNA testing.

  2. “That meant saying goodbye to a few products so we can better hone our focus.” LifeStory received explicit mention as one of the products receiving focus. He also called out AncestryDNA’s exciting, new New Ancestor Discoveries.

    Drop one thing that was really useful and that so many people wanted/used in order to focus on two things very few people wanted or used. Yup. Makes sense to me.

  3. I wish familysearch could define what they mean by "robust" and "dynamic". I have no idea what I am looking forward to...


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