the scoop on ancestry day in arlington
september 29, 2013
Ancestry Day in Arlington on the 21st was an exciting and informative event for beginners and for the more seasoned genealogists. From the show of hands when asked the question, most in the audience were beginners. The rest of the attendees had been researching for five or more years. The thought crossed my mind that the speakers would tailor the lectures to those just beginning. I was wrong.
Lisa Arnold, Ancestry’s Senior Records Analyst on the Global Content Team showed slide photos of records from libraries, archives and courthouses they found from all over the world that were in deplorable conditions, yet the company’s technology recovered and preserved most of these for generations to come. There is no cost to the record keepers. Ancestry takes these precious records on loan and recover the contents, preserve them, digitize them and return the ‘like new’ records to the owners. I have personally experienced the recovery of a census record from Northampton County, Pennsylvania. Before they worked their magic on the census, only part of the pale to blank sepia words were readable. Now, all the words and letters are completely legible.
Another bit of information she imparted was the amount of money they pay for restoring and digitizing records throughout the world each year. That makes their subscription price even more reasonable in my mind when I think about being able to access over eleven billion records at home, anytime, on my computer. Lisa also explained why Ancestry asks for credit card information to access the free information or to access the database for a trial period. Having this keeps people from signing up for a free trial period repeatedly.
Lisa also told us about their launch of the Ancestry DNA Kit for the moderate cost of $99. I thought that was an excellent price because I paid much more than that to analyze our DNA. Lisa went on to tell us that Ancestry only makes a small profit because they pay the lab $89 for testing each individual kit. If you have not had your DNA tested, the results are interesting. We never know what we will find when we begin Tracing Our Roots, and getting the results from a DNA test is just as interesting. Especially when mine came back to report that I not only descended from European and British ancestors, but also from someone in Southeast Asia.
She gave a simple definition of DNA that all of us could understand. The males pass their YDNA from father to son. Only females pass their mtDNA down the line to the next generation. It is the Autosomal DNA testing that many do not understand. Lisa explained that autosomal is the rest of what is left after YDNA and mtDNA. Ah, such a simple definition.
Crista Cowan, a.k.a. Ancestry’s Barefoot Genealogist (she hates wearing shoes), told us the difference between a younger person working on a computer and an older generation. The younger group sees a button and wonders what happens when you push it and pushes it. We mature researchers see the button but are afraid of what might happen if we push it. That sounds about right. With that, she proceeded to show and push all those buttons on Ancestry.com to educate us about the advantages of doing so.
Crista explained that if you post a picture of yourself on Facebook and Ancestry you are much more likely to have people contact you. About all you see of her picture is her laptop, her stretched out legs and toes. She did not say to show you face on your photo. You can access her live show every Tuesday and Thursday at 2 p.m. on http://livestream.com/ancestry. She is also often on the Ancestry Blog.
Meg Hacker, Fort Worth Archives Director, spoke about the many strange but interesting things found in the archives. She did let it slip that in 2014 the Native American Indian records will be available and indexed on the Ancestry.com site. It will be announced next year. For now, it’s a secret.
Many Plano family historians were present as were several of my readers. I wish all of you could have attended for it certainly will make a difference in using one of the most used genealogy databases.
Brenda Kellow has a bachelor's degree in history, teaches, and lectures on genealogy. Before retiring to publish her family’s histories in 2007, Brenda held certification as a Certified Genealogist and as a Certified Genealogical Instructor. Send reunion announcements, books to review, and genealogy queries to: email@example.com.