06 February 2009

Ancestry: Interesting updates and news

Here's news of Ancestry content updates and future improvements.

While a number of Chinese American records have been added in honor of the Chinese New Year, these are not exactly useful for Jewish genealogists, except those researching the Kaifeng Jewish community. However, the addition of New South Wales (Australia) naturalization certificates (1849-1903) might indeed turn up some interesting connections.

To see the complete list (for several months) of recently added databases, click here.

A few weeks ago, when a group of geneabloggers visited the Ancestry office in Provo, Utah, they requested that Ancestry post feature changes each week and the company listened. Updates will appear on the company blog.

During 2009, Ancestry product managers will make a better effort to reach out more to customers via bulletin boards and blog. According to Content VP Eric Shoup:

And frankly, this helps hold our Product Managers accountable to our customers for building the right features and communicating sufficiently. This is an example of a broader objective this year within the Product team to “engage our customers in conversation.” We hope this will result in better products and a better informed customer base.

Shoup also announced some upcoming useful features:

- Ancestry searchers know that searches return records outside the date ranges we seek. Date filtering will be instituted and will return more relevant data.

- Better support will be provided for same-gender relationships in Ancestry’s Member Trees in the next few months.

- Improvements will be made to the member-to-member messaging system to have these available on Ancestry, without losing any emails.

US Content vice president Gary Gibb provided some upcoming February content with most focusing on Civil War records. Since many Jewish residents in the Southern states served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War, these may be useful databases for Jewish genealogists.

Civil War Service Records Update w/Soldier Photos Names with photos linked to service records, along with many bios and some signatures.

Confederate Pension Applications, Georgia. Extraordinary genealogical and historical information on Civil War veterans and their widows. Applications for pensions are often multiple pages long and answer numerous questions about the individuals involved. Many Jews in Georgia served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War.

Abraham Lincoln Letters. Letters to and by Abraham Lincoln, from the Library of Congress, including correspondence, speech drafts, notes and other printed material (mostly 1850s-1865).

Confederate Applications for Presidential Pardons (Amnesty Papers) 1865-1867. Following the Civil War, former Confederates not covered by general amnesty were required to request a pardon. This group includes letters of application and other related records.

National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, 1866-1938. The National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers were founded following the Civil War. This database contains records from 12 National Homes. Most records are historical registers, but also included are indexes to historical registers, applications, admissions, deaths, burials and hospital records.

Update to U.S. State Census Collection Names. New state census for Kansas and South Dakota, including updates to existing databases.

Update to Historic Land Ownership and Reference Atlases, 1507-2000. More than 10,000 maps have been added to many townships maps showing land plots with owners' names.

The update idea was an excellent innovation.

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