The New Ancestry Site: New Features, Mixed Reviews

Ancestry new site screenshotAncestry’s new site is now available to all U.S. users–across browsers, mobile devices, and the PC/Mac divide. It’s more than just a cosmetic or branding overhaul. The way Ancestry explains it, many changes boil down to helping users find family stories and improving their mobile experience. And while using the new site is still optional (see below), there are good reasons to start using it now. Mostly because the old site will be going away–possibly along with data you enter in it from this point forward. Many users adapt without much thought; for others, these changes are painful.

Ancestry logo new site“The new Ancestry experience was based on extensive research of problems our users are facing and their current needs,” states an FAQ on Ancestry. “We surveyed and interviewed thousands of users and found that new and long-time users wanted to be able to find and write their family stories. Based on this information we decided to provide more powerful storytelling features (LifeStory), coupled with tools to make research easier (updated Facts view) as well as organize media efficiently (Gallery)….Also, “the new experience was designed to work better across all mobile devices. You’ll be able to see the media gallery, Historical Insights, and LifeStory, too. More improvements for the mobile experience are planned.”

If you’ve been using Story View, the news is mixed. The new LifeStory feature is the next generation of Story View and “is better integrated into the overall profile page.” But Story View is going away–and as of June 1, “if you edit a Story View, the information will not be changed in the new LifeStory.” Also, the current FAQ says that Ancestry still hasn’t decided whether to transfer data from the Story View to the LifeStory.

Ancestry expert Crista Cowan explains the updated Facts view in the new Ancestry site: “Just like before, you will find the facts you’ve discovered and entered about the life of a person in your tree running down the page like a timeline. You will also find that the parents, spouse and children of the person are on the right-hand side of the page just where they have always been. The big change you will discover is that the sources that support those facts and relationships are now front and center.” Read more from her blog post here. The comments on that post and on the original announcement are great places to read the mixed opinions about the new site.

Below is Ancestry’s video about the new site:

Users can currently opt in or out of the new site (click Classic Site or New Ancestry on the username drop-down menu), but that option will go away soon. If you’re still on the fence about using the new site, read Ancestry’s FAQs about the changes, especially those that affect what changes you make from this point forward. Here’s a detailed list of the planned feature roll-outs, along with the estimated dates for them.

Ancestry for saleHave you backed up your Ancestry tree lately? It’s a good idea to do it regularly. We found ourselves reminding people how to do this recently in the wake of news that Ancestry may go up for auction. Read our how-to post here.

 

Genealogy Book Club: Facebook Chat and More Book Picks

genealogy book club genealogy gemsMany of you are reading (or have already finished) our Genealogy Book Club featured book for the quarter, She Left Me the Gun: My Mother’s Life Before Me by Emma Brockes. In the just-published November episode of the Genealogy Gems podcast, Lisa and I talk a little more about this fantastic book from the family historian’s point of view. We get a kick out of how she uses her mother’s dog-eared address book as a family history source.

What do YOU think of the book? On Thursday, December 4, we invite everyone to post comments on She Left Me the Gun on the Genealogy Gems Facebook pageWe welcome comments for a full 24 hours (12am-12am Eastern Standard Time, USA) for our worldwide audience. But we’ll monitor the page and give feedback from 9am-9pm EST. Emma Brockes herself hopes to pop in with comments and responses to your questions. (So start thinking of what you want to say!)

Genealogy Book Club Emma Brockes

Author Emma Brockes

Of course, I’m really looking forward to the December podcast, when you’ll hear my conversation with Emma about the book. Here’s my favorite quote from the interview:

“When [your] parent dies…your relationship with their history changes almost overnight. It suddenly becomes much more relevant to you because you feel like you are the only one left who is in a position to remember it. So having never wanted to know anything about my mother’s life, suddenly after her death it seemed imperative to me to find out absolutely everything….It felt to me that I couldn’t…stake out the parameters of what I’d lost until I knew everything there was to know about her.” -Emma Brockes, on She Left Me the Gun 

Meanwhile, we have two more books to recommend this quarter for our no-fuss genealogy book club, based on YOUR feedback:

One of our listeners, Mary, wrote to us about The Woman in the Photograph by Mani Feniger. She said, “I just ordered this book and thought you might be interested in reading it. I am looking forward to reading it myself.” Here’s a little blurb I found on the book: “Mani Feniger wanted nothing to do with the relics of her mother’s life before she escaped from Nazi Germany in 1936. But when the fall of the Berlin Wall exposed the buried secrets and startling revelations of her mother’s past, she was drawn into an exploration–of history and family, individuality and identity, mothers and daughters–that would change her life forever.”

 

And here’s a suggestion from Mike: “Here’s a book I found that you and your listeners might also enjoy. The Lost German Slave Girl by John Bailey recounts the story of a poor emigrant family and what happened to one of the daughters.  I found it fascinating.  The story is non-fiction and takes place around New Orleans in the first half of the 19th century.  There is much family research involved, some heart-wrenching descriptions of what the emigrants suffered, and delightful insights into the New Orleans of that time period.  It’s the kind of research that we family historians love to do but is more dramatic than many of the personal stories we work on.”

Mark Your Calendar: Thursday, December 4
We invite you to post comments on She Left Me the Gun on the Genealogy Gems Facebook page.

How to Use Evernote for Genealogy: The Ultimate Education

organize genealogy with EvernoteUsing Evernote for genealogy will make you a more efficient and effective researcher.

Genealogists all over the world are harnessing the power of Evernote to organize their family history researchThis free software (and website application) can bring all your research materials (text notes, photos and images from mobile devices, video, audio interviews, web content and URLs) together in one place.

Then it goes even further by making all the text items keyword-searchable. So you can much more easily locate that one little piece of information you recall only as “that bit about the fire station he worked for.”

Better yet, Evernote goes with you. With the Evernote software and companion app, your genealogy notes will be accessible from and fully-synced across all your computing devices. Sigh! It’s wonderful!

Here’s how to get started

1. Download the free Evernote software here.

2. Create your free or premium Evernote account. (Click here to learn more about Evernote account options.)

3. Go to your Account page and make note of your unique Evernote email address. (Help>Go to My Account Page>Account Summary and scroll down to “Email Notes to.”)

4. Download the free Evernote web clipper for your web browser.

5. Download the free Evernote app from the App Store or Google Play and sign in to your account.

Now you’re ready to use Evernote to collect your research content and source citation information!

Here are 5 ways to add content to Evernote

1. The Web Clipper: Pull data from websites with the handy web clipper and Evernote will often automatically capture information about the site you got it from.

2. Drag and Drop: Images, scanned  documents and other multimedia content can be dropped right into new or existing notes.

3. Smartphone and Tablet: Snap a photo of a record, tombstone or any other genealogical item. (I like to do a quick photo “Edit” cleanup to get it in the best shape possible). Tap the Share button and send it to Evernote.

4. Email Content: Use your unique Evernote email address to send content from anywhere to your account.

5. Good Old Typing: Click “New Note” and start typing. You can always add other content including merging notes together.

Resources for Success

There’s so much demand for learning to use Evernote for genealogy that I’ve created a variety of helpful resources in video, audio, print and online formats (because everyone learns differently!).

FREE YouTube Video Series: Evernote for Genealogy

I’ve posted two videos so far on my free YouTube series:

Evernote for Genealogy Quick Reference Guide

Evernote for Genealogy Quick Reference GuideMy laminated reference guide is super handy for every day support! This guide includes:

  • A Getting Started Checklist
  • Quick Keystrokes
  • Getting the Most Out of Clipping
  • Maneuvering the Desktop Client
  • Genealogical Organization
  • Little-Known Search Strategies
  • Specialized Genealogy Focused Techniques
  • Comparison of Evernote Pricing Tiers

The guide is available for both Windows and Mac users, in both print and digital download format. Click below to view:

The Ultimate Evernote for Genealogy Education

Ultimate Evernote Education abbreviatedGenealogy Gems website Premium members have a full-year’s access to my popular in-depth video classes, which include The Ultimate Evernote for Genealogy Education video series. This series includes the following full-length and mini-series classes:

Evernote genealogy family history organizeKeep up on all my latest Evernote news and Q&As!

Click here to read my Evernote blog posts.

Sign up for my free email newsletter (that sign-up comes with a free bonus e-book!).

Who else do you know who would benefit from getting organized? I hope you’ll share this page with your friends, relatives, family history buddies and fellow gen society members using the share icons below. Thanks!

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