Five New things at


Peter & Linda Darby

– maybe I can’t count . . .  but there are more than 5 things here!

Thank you for letting us share this presentation with you.  Please note that we added some tips and bonus items that were not in the presentation!  Learning is continuous!

Based on a presentation by Crista Cowan – the barefoot Genealogist – at RootsTech 2013 – she did a great job – there are no notes for this presentation available on the RootsTech website. You might want to go to for videos and notes on other sessions – click on Schedule in the left sidebar then Main Schedule – then click on a session that interests you – scroll down on the session page to see links to handouts. Alternatively click on Downloads at the bottom of the left sidebar on the main page to get all the handouts in one big file – 98.6 MB zip file. is the #1 genealogy website in the world (according to GenealogyInTime magazine)  – and they are counting and separately.

We can access at AGS library in the city archives building, or at the LDS FH Center – which you can use before the AGS meetings

Not all the features in this presentation work on library installations

The presentation was entitled Five New Things at – but maybe it should have been called “what do they want us to know!”

  1.  If you add a tree at make it a public tree – people are naturally concerned about privacy – but know that at Ancestry trees living people are private as long as birth dates are within the last 100 yrs and you put nothing in death date field (i.e. don’t put living in death date field) – perhaps people are worried because they know they have mistakes in their tree and don’t want to perpetuate errors – make it public if you can – so we can collaborate together and hopefully correct errors.

How do you change or check your settings?  Go to your tree then tree settings then privacy

Recommended that you sync your tree with FamilyTreeMaker – if you use it

Keep your tree on own computer – why?

(1).  if you let subscription lapse for a while – won’t have access to documentation for tree

(2.)  not always on line – so need offline tree

(3.)  software by its nature is more robust than online version – eg filter and searching tools on desktop software  such as who lived in a particular place

You can now merge duplicates on Ancestry Family Trees – get list of names in tree from drop down by the search box – then select person then go to use More options link to get to merge with duplicate button

In desktop program build separate tree for tentative data.   As we do research we can merge the information into main tree when confirmed.

2.  Search

Constantly adding new content – usually added on Wednesday – learning center / what’s new – usually updated but the  best place to find the new collections is the Card Catalog – hover over search and then go on drop down to Card Catalog –  note: you can sort list of databases – currently massive number- use “sort by date added” so new things at top (default is popularity)

Then hover over item to get details

Let new data direct research – don’t think – I’ve been there and searched so I don’t need to go again

Use filters to narrow down – in card catalog –

e.g. 1. Canada, City and Area Directories 1819 to 1906 – helps fill in gaps between censuses – go to card catalog – search by title – Try city directories database on ancestry – done by OCR 2. Use filtering to get records by county in England

Shakey leaves – only hint about top 10% of most popular databases – not all 11 billion records – so still have to search

Need to go prove what family members have passed on to us.

Before searching – go to the advanced search form – if been there more than 10 minutes then not beginner – use advanced search form – get more control over every piece of information – not generalized search from beginner form.  Get better results.

Smart search tips and tricks on You Tube – 20 minutes – with Crista Cowan

In preparing this presentation I enjoyed Crista’s presentation Approach your Family History Research like a Pro!

Ancestry has a You Tube channel you can subscribe to.

There are 900 variants of name Catherine – so dictionary in search engine covers them

Uses soundex for surnames

2 ways to view search results – by relevance which is good for first look but don’t go too far down and Summarized by category – great for zeroing in on types of records available and what might be missing – e.g. go to criminal records – did my ancestor Andrew Guy really spend 6 weeks in jail for theft! – didn’t see record collection when viewing by relevance.

e.g.  Andrew Guy b 1828 in Nottinghamshire, England – use advanced search

narrow to only search English records – look at results for censuses – use tabs on browser so right click to open record in a new tab – then drag and organize tabs chronologically

3.  Ancestry DNA – in beta still

– YDNA – males only only traces paternal lineage

– mtDNA – get from mother – only looks at maternal lineage

– atDNA – autosomnal – anyone can take – looking at over 700,000 locations on your DNA  – now available at Ancestry – can help prove if you have native American DNA – but not disprove it – get half DNA from mother and half from father – what if it’s in the half you don’t get?  – don’t get same half as siblings – provides you with matches in the system to other people and closeness i.e. first cousin

3rd cousin means common great great grandparent (?? – not sure if I got this right!)

Goal is to figure out how you are related to your cousin matches

Works with your tree on Ancestry

On average find 40 shared relatives to help grow your tree and are finding one new common ancestor a  week

Gives you a shared list of surnames and location map of last 10 generations

Dropped price to $99

But – Not yet available in Canada!!!!!!

4. Collaborate – review recent member connect activity regularly – could save ordering a certificate someone else has already got

– contact them

– check your own messages regularly to see who is trying to contact you

– update your public profile – add a picture – people  with pictures get contacted 5X more – add a little about yourself and your genealogy experience

5.  Learning Centre

Explore – 1000s of articles on every imaginable topic

Also webinars and video classes

Has a FH wiki – including The Source and Red Book – big for US research

Social media community Tues and Thurs at 11 am – twice weekly mini webinars with Christa –  go to Learning Center – then FH 101 – then Live stream

Plus:  Sign up for the Ancestry blog – go to the bottom of most pages for link to the blog

  • Tip – clicking a province or state on the maps (lower part of the search screen) gives list of the collections for that location
  • Tip for solving Brickwalls – spend as much time trying to locate available records as you spend actually searching records

What do you like to use at Ancestry??

Great suggestion by Jo – how to search in public trees?  Click on Search – then go down the column on the right to the link under Family Trees to public family trees.  Then search by name

Alternatives to Ancestry?  HeritageQuestonline – free at home using your public library membership – great for US Censuses – or FindMyPast – great for UK records and free at the FH Centre –  or MyHeritage which is number 2 on the list!  – a large collection of family trees with smart matching – or FamilySearch with its large collection of records, wiki, and family tree – all have their uses but nothing has scope of the for data and images.


New item – since the presentation last night – Considering taking out an Ancestry account and want to save money? Read the section of the April 25 Lost Cousins Newsletter Saving $$$ at Ancestry – this could save you $90 on a worldwide annual subscription!


I was grateful to the kind person who came to rescue me during the presentation last night – when all my projectors were not behaving – I was so focused on the content of the presentation that I couldn’t think how to solve my technical problem!  Unfortunately I didn’t remember his name – my memory often fails me on names – and feel I didn’t adequately thank him!

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One Response to Five New things at

  1. Crista Cowan says:

    I can’t imagine how fast you must have been writing during my presentation to capture all of this. (And I don’t talk slowly!) Well done!

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