Ancestry’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.
“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 listof the planned feature roll-outs, along with the estimated dates for them.
Have 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.
End 2016 on a high note with these new and updated genealogical record collections. Lisa soaked in Christmas tunes of Harlan County Kentucky’s pride and joy, Jordan Smith (winner of The Voice,) in a concert over the holidays. Harlan County can also be very proud of their incredible genealogical records. Today we are highlighting their county GenWeb page. This U.S. county GenWeb page has gone above and beyond in making Harlan County, Kentucky records accessible to the masses. Also this week, United Kingdom apprenticeship records, parish records, and Scotland mental health and prison records.
United States – Harlan County, Kentucky Records
This is not a new collection, though it may be new to you. Discovering the many U.S. GenWeb sites dedicated to genealogy is a great help to many. This week, we wanted to give a special hat’s off to the amazing work that Harlan County, Kentucky has done on their GenWeb page.
You will find digital images of people, places, schools, and newspaper clippings, but the best part is their extensive birth, marriage, and death indexes. The marriage records begin as early as 1818 and end about 1925. The birth record index begins in 1852 – 1940, though some years are missing. Lastly, the death records begin in 1852 – 1959, with a special collection on coal miners deaths.
Christian music superstar Michael W. Smith accompanies Jordan Smith singing “O Holy Night” in Dallas, Texas. 2016.
United Kingdom – Gloucester – Apprenticeship Records
The Gloucester Apprentices 1595-1700 at Findmypast contain over 20,000 apprentices, masters, and their relatives who were listed in the Calendar of the Registers of Apprentices of the City of Gloucester 1595-1700. The calendar has been digitized with optical character recognition (OCR), which allows you to search images of text for your ancestor’s name or a keyword.
Each record will list the apprentices trade, residence, the name of their father, the name of their master, the name of their master’s wife, the length of their term and the amount they were paid at the end of their training.
These records will be particularly helpful for those unable to find civil or church records regarding their ancestors.
United Kingdom – Kent – Parish Records
Also at Findmypast this week, over 36,000 new additions have been made to the Kent Parish Records collection. Specifically:
Each record includes a transcript of an original document and may provide your ancestors’ birth place, birth date, former residence, and the institution they were sent to and the date of their admission.
Each record lists the prisoners age, birth year, birth place, occupation, former residence, offence and place of imprisonment.
Start the New Year off Right
Here’s a New Year bargain you can’t ignore – 10% off 12 month premium subscriptions to Findmypast. Today is the last day to save! They have over 2 billion (yes, that’s billion with a B!) records and more are added every day. Make 2017 a year full of fascinating family history discoveries by clicking on this image link below.
Show Notes: WorldCat.org just got a facelift. That means it’s time to revisit this library catalog website and do these 5 important things so you can effectively use it for your genealogy research.
Video Premiere with Live Chat
Show Notes: WorldCat
If you are interested in finding out more about your family history and you want to build out your family tree, you are going to need records and resources. That’s exactly what the WorldCat website provides.
WorldCat.org is a free website that provides access through its card catalog to millions of materials from libraries around the world. You’ll find items such as:
United States Civil War and other military records
Family Bibles, church histories, and records
Publications such as directories, handbooks, and magazines
Birth, marriage, death, wills, and obituary indexes
Microfilmed genealogy and local history collections
Newspapers from around the world
It’s important to keep in mind that not all libraries participate in WorldCat, and they can participate at different levels. Therefore, you’ll find different amounts of information about these different repositories.
The WorldCat website has received a facelift and now sports a new user interface, making it a great time to get reacquainted with this rich resource. Here are five things you should do right now to take advantage of WorldCat:
#1 Sign up for a free account or transfer your existing account.
To use all the features at WorldCat that we will be discussing you’ll need to have a free user account.
To create your WorldCat account, click the Create an Account link and follow the prompts.
If you already have a WorldCat account you will need to transfer it. Click the Sign In link and follow the prompts for transferring. You can transfer your favorited libraries and lists. However, because of the new website, the following data will not be transferred: profile picture, reviews, saved searches, watched lists, interests, and tags.
Transferring can take quite a while. Leave your browser open until it completes. In fact, when I transferred it never showed complete, so after about an hour I refreshed the page and attempted to sign in again. I was prompted to create a new password, which I did, and was then able to access my account and my transferred data did appear.
Sign into your account whenever you visit the site so that you can take advantages of the many features offered, including our next item, Lists.
#2 Create and Search Lists
Lists are a great way to organize the wide range of resources you can find through WorldCat. I like to create lists for surname and subject research.
How to Create a WorldCat List:
After you run a search you will receive a list of results. Click the List (bookmark) icon on any item
Click the List icon
The add Item to List box will appear. In this box you can add the item to an existing list or click the Create List button to create a new list.
Name the list, enter a description and indicate whether it is public or private.
Click the Create button to save the list.
You can find all your lists by clicking on your account icon (upper right corner on desktop) and select My Lists
In addition to creating your own lists, you can search the public lists of other WorldCat users. Click Lists in the menu to browser popular lists. To search for a list by keyword, go to the search bar and select Lists from the drop-down menu, and search by keyword. When you find a helpful list, click the Follow button.
You can have up to 50 lists with up to 500 items.
#3 Discover Libraries
The best way to discover libraries near you is to add your location. Click the Update Location icon just under your account profile icon. Enter your town or zip code and libraries will be prioritized based on their proximity to you. If you’re going on a research trip, try changing the location to the zip code of the place you are traveling to, and then search for libraries and materials.
To browse libraries near you click Libraries in the menu. Add libraries to your list of favorite libraries by clicking the star icon on the library entry.
You can find your list of favorite libraries by going to the account icon and selecting Favorite Libraries.
#4 Use the Advanced Search Feature
The best way to search for items is to use the Advanced Search feature from the beginning. Click the Advanced Search icon to the right of the search box. (See image below)
Click the Advanced Search icon next to the search box
Start your search by selecting the type of thing you want to search from the first drop-down menu. For example, select Keyword and then type a word (such as a surname) in the field next to it. To the right of the field, select what you want done with that keyword, AND, OR, or NOT. This will include, exclude or make the keyword options. Then go to the next line and do the same thing. You can set up to three parameters.
Next add a year range if desired. For example, 1900 to 1950. Then select the type of materials you want in the results by clicking Format. For example, you could leave it on All Formats to receive all types of materials or select just Newspapers.
You can also narrow your search by language. Once you’ve made all your selections, click the Search button.
On the results page you have the option to adjust the filters in the left-hand column.
#5 Search Name Variations
As you search for family surnames, it’s important to understand that it will not automatically search for name variations. Either search for variations in separate searches or use the Advanced Search using the OR or the AND feature. (See example below)
How to search for name variations at WorldCat
More strategies for getting great search results at WorldCat
Search for family names by entering the family name followed by the word “family” (e.g., “Mansfield family”)
Search for specific people by entering the person’s full name (e.g., “Emily Mansfield”)
Search for organizations by entering terms to describe the organization (e.g., “Lutheran”)
Search for geographic locations by placing name in combination with the abbreviated and full state name (e.g., “Union City IN” and “Union City Indiana”)
You can then narrow your search by returning to the main search page and entering more specific search terms such as “Mansfield family bible”.
Include multiple search terms in one search (e.g., “Lutheran” and “Union City IN”)
Final Thoughts on the New WorldCat
Like with any change to a website, the new WorldCat takes a little getting used to, and there are a few bugs that still need to be worked out. However, by doing these 5 things you’ll have access to millions of rich resources that can help you climb your family tree.
Do you use digital archives in your genealogy research? You should! Check out these new digital archives relating to notable women in the U.S. and Sweden; Scottish WWI hospital records; the WWI Armenian genocide; Ohio; Irish-Americans; and African-American military...
Genealogical records and research for your Denmark ancestors has just gotten a little easier! New and updated genealogical collections for Danish genealogy have been added to FamilySearch. Also new this week, new and updated records for Sweden, Hungary, Britain, and Ireland.
Denmark – Census
It was truly a Danish delight when we heard the 1916 Denmark Census is now available at FamilySearch. Danish genealogy is just a bit easier with the availability of this census, especially when paired with the already published 1911 Denmark Census, also at FamilySearch.
This is an every-name index to the 1916 census of Denmark. This index was created by MyHeritage from images provided by the National Archives of Denmark. The collection at FamilySearch includes an index or abstract version in English and a digital image of the original.
This census was taken for the countries of Denmark, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and the Danish West Indies, however, only the records for Denmark are available at FamilySearch. The enumeration for Denmark was divided into three sections with a different form for each of the sections: Copenhagen city, other cities, and rural areas.
This census names each individual in the home and includes: sex, calculated birth date and year, marital status, relationship to head-of-household, and residence.
Other genealogy record collections for Denmark can be found on FamilySearch, too. See the entire list here.
Sweden – Church Records
FamilySearch has four Swedish church record collections that have recently been updated. Church records are especially helpful when civil records such as birth, marriage, and deaths, are not available. Check out these four updated collections and their titles below.
The records are bound volumes of pre-printed forms with event information recorded by hand. From 1895 through 1906, the forms are one page per event, but beginning in 1907 each event occupies one row in a printed table, so there are multiple events recorded per page. The records are in Hungarian.
Civil registrations include birth, marriage, and death records. You may be able to find the following information in each of these groups:
Date and place of birth
Name of child
Gender and religion
Parents’ names and mother’s age
Signature of informant
Date and place of marriage
Groom’s name, date and place of birth
Groom’s religion and occupation
Groom’s parents’ names
Bride’s name, date and place of birth
Bride’s religion and occupation
Bride’s parents’ names
Witnesses’ names and their residence
Name and age of deceased
Date, time, and place of death
Deceased’s residence and occupation
Cause of death
Signatures of informant
United Kingdom – 1939 Register
Like a census, the Register can tell you a lot about how your ancestors. You can find names, occupations, and more. The 1939 Register of more than 32.8 million records is now available at Findmypast.
The 1939 Register is pretty unique. It required people to explain exactly what they did. General terms, such as Foreman, Overseer, Doctor, Mill-hand, Porter or Farmer, were not acceptable. Instead, people were asked to be as specific as possible, giving details of the trade.
Additional information you will find on the Register includes:
Full date of birth
Ireland – Directories
Also at Findmypast, the Ireland, 19th Century Directories allow you to search more than 120 volumes of directories that contain more than 74 thousand records. Listings may include your ancestor’s occupation, place of business, or home address.
These directories were published annually, which means that you can easily track your ancestor year to year.
You will want to be aware that most of the details in the directories were collected six months before publication; therefore, all the listings are six months old.
The records are presented as PDFs (portable digital files). This feature allows you to narrow your search by publication, year and page number. After selecting an image, you can read through the whole directory by using the previous and next buttons at the top of the image.
Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting Genealogy Gems!