Episode 367 - RootsTech Connect Shines / Family History Library Goes Global / Ancestry’s New Databases & Genie Spring Cleaning

podcast episode Mar 15, 2021

Host Scott Fisher opens a loaded show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historical & Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. The guys open Family Histoire News with news of a pair of twins who were adopted out. They attended school together and have known each other for decades. Enter DNA! Then, Ancestry.com is reindexing their US Probate Records Index. Hear what this may mean to you. DNA has again stepped in solve a nearly 40-year-old Colorado double murder case. And the suspect is still around. Then, a collector in England is looking to find descendants of people pictured in some 400 wedding pictures. Plus, hear where you might be able to find letters written by your relatives during all the wars in America’s history.

Fisher next interviews David Rencher, director of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. David fills us in on the monumental success of RootsTech Connect and how the numbers continue to grow. He also talks about new services the Library is offering or will be offering that will make it more of a global genealogical source.

Then, the Archive Lady, Melissa Barker, visits with Fisher about some of the latest contributions to her archive in Tennessee. Melissa explains what you might find in your ancestral archives and offers some important tips for making the most of your visits there.

Next, Crista Cowan of Ancestry.com, (an Extreme Genes sponsor) talks about a new partnership with The Home Edit ladies, and how spring cleaning can apply to family history.

Crista then reviews some of the latest updates to existing Ancestry databases as well as what’s new.

That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!

Transcript of Episode 367

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 367

Fisher: And welcome America to America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth on the program where we shake your family tree, and watch the nuts fall out. Great to have you aboard here, we got guests, guests, guests today, lots of them and lots to say. David Rencher, he is the director of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. He’s tied with FamilySearch.org the people who put on RootsTech Connect. And the numbers from that are just off the charts. So, we’re going to talk to David about the fallout from RootsTech Connect, it was incredible, plus great changes coming to FamilySearch.org and the Family History Library. We’re going to cover a lot of ground with David. After him, we’re going to Melissa Barker, she’s the Archive Lady. Yeah, they’re still bringing stuff in. It’s a great reminder to all of us about the archives of our ancestors and things we might be able to find in those places. She’s got some great tips as well. And then Crista Cowan is coming back from our sponsors at Ancestry.com talking about spring cleaning in genealogy. Some great stuff they’re doing with that and new and updated databases that you’ll find on Ancestry right now.  Hey, if you haven’t signed up for our Weekly Genie Newsletter yet, you know what to do by now. All right. You go to our website. You go to our Facebook page, somewhere there, you just signed up for it. It’s free. You get a blog from me each week, links to past and present shows, links to stories you’ll appreciate as a genealogist. Right now, let’s head out to Boston Massachusetts where David Allen Lambert is standing by, the Chief Genealogist for the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Hello David. 

David: Hey Fish, how’s things with you in your part of the world? Sunny and warm I hope.

Fisher: Sunny and warm and I got my first shot last week so I’m feeling like oh, we’re just one step closer to getting back to normal.

David: It’s a great feeling of freedom, isn’t it?

Fisher: Yeah. Yeah as we continue forward, and I know you got yours as well.

David: I did. One down and one to go.

Fisher: Sweet! I took a selfie during mine by the way just to document the moment because it is an historical moment within a family, right?

David: It really is. I’m going to do the second one. I didn’t do the first because the gal was camera shy. She was all, “Oh, I’m afraid to be in the camera” and I said, “Oh, don’t be shy. I’ll crop out your face. I’m really just interested in the needle in my arm.” [Laughs] 

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: Well, you know, I’ve got some exciting news, for me personally, and I’m excited to announce that VirtualHistorians.com is a real thing. Terri O’Connell and I moving forward to embrace history, archeology, VR (virtual reality) technology, and moving forward we’re going to have some great guests. Already had a couple, and hopefully gonna get a guy named Scott Fisher on the show.

Fisher: Looking forward to that David. Congratulations! Sounds great!

David: Thank you. Yeah, it’s going to be a lot of fun. Well, let’s move on to our business here, which is Family Histoire News. And ah, I love this story. This comes out of Indiana. Now, Karen Warner and Michael Jackman went to school together.  In fact, they lived seven blocks apart. They’re 51 years old and they’ve been friends. She always used to wave to him when she goes by because she remembered him from school, right? Yeah. 51 years ago they were fraternal twins and put up for adoption.

Fisher: Oh, wow! And now they know through DNA. Don’t you love that?

David: The sad thing is that their birth mother passed away back in 1991 and their biological father died in 2011. But now they have each other and brother and sister can now share their stories. Good stuff. You know, I’m always happy with what things are going on in the world of genealogy. Ancestry of course, has wonderful databases out there, but how will you redo your database? And that’s what they’re doing. They’re actually re-indexing their U.S. probate records collection. And they’re doing it in such a way, Fish that they’re looking for all the names included. So, say for instance that Thomas Fisher has a probate. You’d search on and find Thomas Fisher, now you can find his kid, but how about if Thomas Fisher had enslaved individuals?

Fisher: Oh!

David: Now you can find their names too. It’s amazing. And it’s going to really open up and help anybody who’s really invested in looking at local history or their own genealogy, and especially for African American genealogies. 

Fisher: Excellent. That’s great news.

David: You know, genetic genealogy is a tremendous thing and it reconnects us, but it also helps law enforcement, as we know with our good friend CeCe Moore with all of her work at Parabon. Genetic genealogy has led to the alleged killer of two Colorado women from 1982 and they’ve actually been able to perhaps solve this case that has been nearly 40 years old. And at age 88, the mother of one of the ladies that was killed never thought she would live to see her daughter’s alleged killer behind bars.

Fisher: Isn’t that great.

David: You know, I think people who try to connect other people with lost artifacts are some of the coolest people in the world. Going across the pond to England, Charlotte Sibtain collects wedding photos. She buys them at antique stores and thrift shops and on eBay. And she has over 400 wedding photos in her collection. And these photographs have enough clues to allow her to reconnect the descendants of the person in the photograph.

Fisher: Wow!

David: And I would love to find someone that maybe had a wedding picture of any of my grandparents. Don’t have any like that. Anyways, thank you Charlotte for your efforts. And this collection by Charlotte is about 400 photographs and it is small compared to the collection at the Center of American War Letters headed by historian Andrew Carroll. In their collection, they have over 100,000 war letters from the Revolution right down to Iraq and Afghanistan. And one of the things that Carroll loves is he tries to connect the family members so they can see these actual letters. That’s tremendous.

Fisher: And get a little history there can’t you.

David: It really does. In fact, I rescued all the war letters between my wife’s grandmother and grandfather who were both in the U.S. Coast Guard in World War II. They were sitting in a sock drawer folded up with a ribbon, about 40-50 letters all kind of tied up. And I’m glad I did because they may have just been tossed out. Well, that’s about what I have this week. And remember, if you are not a member of AmericanAncestors.org go to our website and save $20 by using the coupon code EXTREME for Extreme Genes.

Fisher: All right David. Thank you so much. We’ll talk to you again next week.

David: Talk to you then.

Fisher: All right my friend. And coming up next, we’ve got al all encompassing visit with David Rencher. He is the Director of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. We’re going to talk about RootsTech Connect, were going to talk about new features at FamilySearch.org connecting back to the family history Library, and what the library is doing to go global. Lots of ground to cover, coming up next when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show. 

Segment 2 Episode 367

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Rencher

Fisher: Well, here we are, basking in the afterglow or is the current glow of RootsTech Connect? Hey, it’s Fisher here. It’s Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. And I’m delighted to have the Director of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City on the line with me, David Rencher. And David, what a different experience this time around, but wow! Talk about success.

David: That it was Scott. It’s great to be with you again. But yeah, we’re completely blown away.

Fisher: You know, I was looking at the numbers during the event itself, RootsTech Connect, and I’m seeing okay, man it’s up to half a million people now. And then afterwards, just a few days later I’m hearing, “Oh, we cleared a million!” So, people are actually still signing up to experience RootsTech Connect because all the lectures and everything else is going to be up there for what, a year?

David: Yep. They all moved to YouTube videos and so we have a lot of people now still joining on to view those, which you can do throughout the year so the numbers for the event as far as participants and registrants will just continue to go up. Obviously, registrants where beforehand we had almost 658,000 registrants beforehand, but then we had a number of participants that came through one of two doors so either through the RootsTech Connect or through the relatives at RootsTech app. Right now we’re sitting at about one million, one hundred and seventeen thousand participants in total.

Fisher: [Laughs] That’s insane, and all over the world. How many countries?

David: 242 countries and territories. When you look at a heat map of the world, it’s got a lot of coverage.

Fisher: Pretty much all the world.

David: Yeah.

Fisher: Well, that’s exciting stuff and I guess the question people will have after this is, “What about next year and the year after that? Are we going to continue it in this virtual manner, or are we going back to a live one, or are we going to do a hybrid, how’s this all going to work?”

David: Well, certainly those are all the discussions that the teams are having right now. I mean, obviously, they’ve got to look at the numbers, they’ve got to look at the way it was pulled off, but literally I mean it’s changed the face of RootsTech forever.

Fisher: Yes.

David: If I had to put my crystal ball out there, and I have no insight or knowledge here, but I’m hoping for a hybrid. I think there’s still a great experience for an in-person event, but obviously what we’ve illustrated here is that you can have a global event at the same time. And so, this is a very interesting time for us as we literally shift gears. So, at the ten year mark, RootsTech just took off. We had 3000 registrants the first year and it’s just continued to grow from there.

Fisher: 3,000 to 1.1 million!

David: Yeah.

Fisher: That’s just off the charts. Unbelievable. So, speaking of globalization, FamilySearch is making some changes now and of course with your Library there in Salt Lake City. It’s really not going to be quite the same. It’s going to be much better and much bigger in its scope.

David: Well, yeah. The pandemic literally gave us the opportunity to look at creating a global experience for the Library as well as everything else. So, if you’re privileged enough to be able to visit the Library personally in Salt Lake, that’s one thing, but how can we make all of those resources available to you if you aren’t able to be here physically? And so we have launched new Library web pages on our website, and we have started online consultations, we’ll soon be doing look-up services, so there are a number of different things that really will help take this global.  

Fisher: Yeah. This is something that’s pretty unique because I remember back in the day when you’d read in the paper in Utah, “Oh, Helen Reddy is flying in from Australia to research her family at the Family History Center.”

David: [Laughs] Right!

Fisher: She wouldn’t have to do that these days.

David: Well, certainly not as much. I mean, I’ve done online consultations with people in Australia about their Irish ancestry, for example, right. We get to the end of that and 20-30 minutes later we get an email back from this guest saying that they had solved their problem. 

Fisher: Wow!

David: And they were just incredibly grateful for me just pointing them to resources that are readily available, and then just being able then to unlock the problem. And so, they’re doing the research, we’re just consultants in that. But it’s the same as if she had walked into our library and gotten a consultation, right?

Fisher: Yeah. That’s right.

David: She just didn’t have to come into the Library to do it.

Fisher: So, you’re using a lot of volunteers obviously with a little bit of expertise on various parts of the world?

David: Well, FamilySearch has always run on the back of volunteers. So, it’s a huge disproportionate number of volunteers to paid staff as you would imagine.

Fisher: Um hmm.

David: So, all the work that we truly get done is done on the backs of volunteers. The indexing, I mean, we post 1.1 to 1.5 million new records online on FamilySearch every day. That’s on the backs of indexing volunteers who just chip away at this index on a daily basis.

Fisher: From all over the world.

David: From all over the world, in numerous languages, numerous different record types, literally just making those available and searchable online.

Fisher: And then we have also now this umbrella that you’re creating over the Family History Centers and the affiliate libraries. And I think it’s important for everybody to understand the difference. Let’s talk about what an affiliate library is compared to a Family History Center.

David: Well, thanks for bringing that up Scott. Several years ago, obviously we recognized that there are a number of public and other libraries that have significant genealogical collections and resources. And the thought was, well, what if we could add our resources to their resources and make them a Center as well? And so, the affiliate library program was launched. And so, libraries apply for that program and then that unlocks the locked images that you have to go to a Family History Center for, that unlocks those images at the public library as well. And so now with just over a thousand public libraries, when you come on to our site and you look up the nearest Family History Center near you, what will also come up are those public libraries who have approved affiliate library status and those very well may be near you as well or they may be within a short distance for you to go to. So, you get the full advantage of their book collection and their film collection, on site images from our collection.

Fisher: Okay. And then the Family History Centers are basically FamilySearch Centers that are setup all around the world.

David: Correct. Yeah. And we have put together training and other things for those staffs, just basically trying to extend what we do at the Family History Library out through the reaches of the Family History Centers of which there are more than 5,000 globally.

Fisher: So, are there ways then to search say, the catalogues of the affiliate libraries as well as the Family History Centers at the same time, or how does that work?

David: Well, so right now there are a few of those who have been ingested into the system. We are setting up ways to be able to understand the resources in all of those centers and so it’s our hope and dream that we will be able at one point to look at the entirety of that collection as a collection, and that you can get on, and that you would be able to see where that resource is globally and know where it’s available. So, between that and our look-up services and some other things, our anticipation, our goal here is that there isn’t any resource that we have in our system that you won’t be able to gain access to in one way or another.

Fisher: That is so cool. That is so amazing. So, let’s talk about the digitization project at the vault. There’s this famous vault in Utah in Salt Lake City up above the valley where everything has been temperature controlled, and the right air pressure, and all that, and everything has been kept up there for years and years and years.

David: Right.

Fisher: And there was the digitization project that began for this entire collection just a few years ago, and I think the goal was to achieve it all by what, 2022?

David: Right. Right now we are on target to be able to complete it this year.

Fisher: Wow!

David: As far as the digitization of it. Publishing those digital images will take us a bit longer and that’s why we’ve pushed that date out a little bit because getting it digitized is only part of the endeavor. The other part is actually publishing it online. So, we actually have more digital images published online through the FamilySearch catalogue than we do in our indexed historical records collection. So, it’s a very important point that you understand the difference between the two because they’re very different when you look at what’s there and what’s available in those records. You may think that we don’t have the records, but we really do. You know, we’ve got probably approaching four point something billion images through our catalogue.

Fisher: Okay.

David: And 1.7-ish billion images through the historical records section. So, the indexing is the choke point, right?

Fisher: Yeah.

David: But we said we’re not going to hold those images back simply because they’re not indexed yet. Because there are other people who simply say “Well it’s okay I’d rather browse the images without an index then to have to wait until you’ve published an index for me to gain access.”

Fisher: Sure. Yeah, absolutely. And that will take probably many more years than it took to actually digitize all this. 

David: Well, we’ve come up with some things we hope can accelerate that as well so we’re certainly looking at automated ways to do that, and you know, technology is a fascinating thing and we see the application of technology in all of the different readers, certainly the optical character recognition cut its teeth on printed materials because those you know, basically didn’t change.

Fisher: Sure.

David: Although the quality of gave you some variances, and though CR technology isn’t 100% at this point, but the same thing as you transition from easy handwriting to more difficult and challenging handwriting, the other languages, so there are some fascinating things and progress being made. We’ve all known it was just a matter of time until we overcame the obstacles there. So, it’s starting to get really exciting for us.

Fisher: Well, and you started computer-assisted indexing for people to try out some of their own documents.

David: Right. Yeah.

Fisher: With handwritten records. I mean, that’s just incredible.

David: With handwritten records.

Fisher: Yeah. So, everybody should take a crack at that, it’s really fun. David Rencher is the Director of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah with of course FamilySearch.org. And David, thank you so much for your time. You’re very busy man. 

David: Well, thank you.

Fisher: And congratulations on everything that went on with RootsTech Connect. It was very insightful to pull off something that huge in the course of the pandemic, and it’s going to change the way things are forever.

David: Well, it was a great team that put all that together and we try to do our little part over in our corner of the universe, but what a terrific team to pull this off. Hats off to Jen Allen and her whole team.

Fisher: Absolutely. David, great to talk to you, and we look forward to catching up with you again down the line.

David: Thank you Scott.

Fisher: And coming up next, the Archive Lady, Melissa Barker returns talking about some new things she’s got in her archives, and what you might be able to find in yours, when we return in five minutes. 

Segment 3 Episode 367

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Melissa Barker

Fisher: You know, I can’t even remember the first time I spoke to my next guest Melissa Barker. She is known as the Archive Lady. She’s in Houston County, Tennessee. She’s got the finest accent you’ll ever hear. And Melissa, it’s great to have you back on the show to talk about what’s going on in your archives and what people might expect to find in their archives.

Melissa: Hi Scott, glad to talk to you. Yeah, we have been busy since the last time we talked to you.

Fisher: Yeah. Well, of course, we’ve all been busy because of the whole Covid thing and I would imagine that’s probably slowed down some donations for you, but maybe that’s just my thought. What’s the reality?

Melissa: [Laughs] The reality is that here in Houston County we’ve been extremely fortunate in that our Covid numbers have been low. We have been able to have the archives open pretty much the entire time we’ve had Covid. We had to close for a little while there at the beginning. But people are starting to venture out again, given their vaccines and venturing out and starting to bring us donations again.

Fisher: That’s awesome. So, what have you received lately?

Melissa: We have received many, many things that as a genealogist and an archivist, I just love the fact that they are being preserved and saved, and not being thrown away.

Fisher: Right.

Melissa: We got a collection of records from a very dear and beloved basketball coach here in Houston County. His name was L.C. Baggett. He passed last year and his wife wonderfully donated some of the things from his career. But one of the things she donated was about thirty of his basketball scorebooks.

Fisher: Oh, wow.

Melissa: Yeah. These are the scorebooks that they would have filled out at the games that listed the players for the home team, listed the players for the visiting team, the scores, who won.

Fisher: How many points they scored, assists, rebounds, and all that stuff.

Melissa: Absolutely. It had all that information in it, just wonderful. And these books date from about the 1930s up to 1985. I think that he had them in his office over the years or from previous basketball coaches, but this is some fantastic history that is not going to be found in a government record.

Fisher: [Laughs] You’re right about that.

Melissa: [Laughs]

Fisher: Well, you think about it, first of all, you’re covering ’30, ’40, ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, that’s six decades there which is off the charts unbelievable. So, you’re probably going to have records of parents and grandparents, or yourself and your father which is incredible. And then the visiting teams too which may not have come from Houston County, right?

Melissa: Exactly. These are visiting teams that were coming from surrounding counties and counties from a little bit further away. And some of the counties don’t have maybe an extensive records collection in their archives. So, maybe this is something we can get out there and advertise what we have, and genealogists can find their ancestors listed in one of these scorebooks.

Fisher: Now, is this something your archive may digitize to make available online?

Melissa: We have actually already digitized them. We had a volunteer, Mr. Donald Bateman who actually digitized these for us and then we are going to get these online as soon as we can.

Fisher: Well, that’s amazing. And this is the whole point of why we talk to the Archive Lady periodically to find out what she’s gathered in her amazing archive that she started, by the way, ten years ago.

Melissa: Thank you.

Fisher: Everybody’s archives are filled with different things that you can’t even imagine. And I’ve gone to some of my ancestral hometown archives and found things I never imagined would be in there. A photograph of my grandfather with his young son who died as a teenager, it was in a negative collection. So, I was able to make a perfect photograph of this that now is a 100 years old. And there are so many other things like this that are unique. Talk about some of the other materials you have there because they don’t necessarily always relate to family directly but to your area, and how they lived.

Melissa: Yes. We actually have a very interesting story about a ski slope that was in Middleton Estate here in Houston and Stewart Counties. It was actually on the border. And it was all started by the McWhorter family. They built it back in the 1980s. And if anyone knows Tennessee state, you know that this is not where you’re usually going to find a ski slope where you go skiing.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Melissa: [Laughs]

Fisher: Yeah. This is not something we associate with Tennessee. You’re right.

Melissa: So, Eugene McWhorter was the one who actually had the idea and he built the ski slope. They used nineteen snow making machines to make the snow for you to ski on.

Fisher: Yeah, that makes sense.

Melissa: And it was very popular. People came from all over, even from other states. You purchased your ticket for $15 and you got to ski on a ski slope in Middleton Estate.

Fisher: So, were you going to get a snow making machine for the archive? [Laughs]

Melissa: Uh, no. As much as I love snow, I don’t think the people here in the courthouse where our archive is located would appreciate a snow making machine.

Fisher: Yeah. Yeah. Probably. What are you going to get there from it or what have you gotten from it?

Melissa: Well, we’ve got some newspaper articles about it and the sister to Mr. Eugene, her name is Audrey McWhorter. She is going to bring me an original ticket.

Fisher: Okay.

Melissa: So, we’re going to get one of those. But some of the equipment from the ski slope is actually still in existence on the property. So it’s pretty interesting.

Fisher: Wow. Well, we said that does not necessarily tie to family, it ties to the area, but the reality is that maybe you had a relative who worked at this ski slope at some point or another and this would be of interest there. Business cards, that sort of thing. Do you have business cards?

Melissa: We do. We actually had about 2-3 days ago, a local resident who is a good friend to the Houston County Archive came by and donated his business card collection. [Laughs]

Fisher: Wow!

Melissa: Yeah. So, we were very excited to get that because one of the things that we try to do here in Houston County and I know a lot of archives do the same thing. Is to try to collect documents, photographs, and memorabilia, about the local businesses from the time you know, in the beginning, all the way to today because our ancestors interacted with these businesses. If they didn’t own them, they shopped at them or they used their services.

Fisher: Sure. And there are a lot of names on those cards as well. How far back do they go?

Melissa: I believe they go back to about the 1970s which at the time when I said that, I thought to myself it’s not long ago, but it really is. [Laughs]

Fisher: Yeah, it is. And you think about it, somebody who’s young now might find a card from their father, or grandfather, or grandmother, or maybe somebody could find their own business card from back in those days.

Melissa: Absolutely. You know, that’s a good point. If you had a business and you’re looking for memorabilia or records about your own business that’s one way to find it. It also helps us with local history to help us document the local businesses to find their places, where were they located in the area? That’s a huge help for us. One of the local businesses that we have had and it’s been a staple of our county since 1949 who was Accents by Bonnie who was a local florist. And in 1949 the building was built, it’s actually today the local Erin Theater. Erin, Tennessee. It was a theater and it became several other businesses, but the last business that it became was Accents by Bonnie who was a local florist. And sadly, the last couple of months it actually burned.

Fisher: Ooh.

Melissa: It burned overnight. So, the whole community has actually been very saddened by this and sadly the building had to be torn down because it was just not safe. But one of the things as an archivist that I try to do is I try to gather memorabilia of things so we don’t forget because the building is gone. And give it 5-10 years and people are going to say, what used to be there? So, we have some of the original flagstone that was the facade of the Erin Theater and we also have some bricks that they put over the facade in the 1960s that was part of Accents by Bonnie. So, we have it here on display in the archives a memorial, as a remembrance so that we will document this building. These businesses so that future generations don’t forget.

Fisher: So, the question always when we talk Melissa is for the audience, what is in your local archive? You have no idea. And I remember Melissa one of the first times we ever spoke you said the best advice when dealing with a local archivist is to ask them to take you in the back because in the backroom is all the good stuff that may not have even been documented yet.

Melissa: Absolutely. I encourage genealogists all the time, when you’re working with an archive, especially if you’re going to be visiting them, talk to them beforehand, plan ahead and ask them for a tour of their archives.

Fisher: She’s the Archive Lady Melissa Barker in Houston County, Tennessee. Melissa, always great to talk to you, have a great year and we’ll talk to you again down the line.

Melissa: Thanks so much Scott.

Fisher: And coming up next, it is spring cleaning time with Ancestry.com. We’re going to talk to Crista Cowan when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 367

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Crista Cowan

Fisher: Hey, welcome back! It is Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, and always a pleasure to be on the line with my good friend, Crista Cowan from Ancestry.com, one of our great sponsors. And Crista, you've got some great things going on right now that you've been blogging about all over the place, because you've got this partnership going with the ladies from The Home Edit. Tell me about this.

Crista: Yeah, Clea and Joanna. For those of you who are fans of The Home Edit, have teamed up with Ancestry.com to jump into some spring cleaning, which is kind of exciting. All of us have a little bit of antsyness, right, as we head into spring and want to freshen up our spaces. And so they've got some great tips for how you can start with the dusty boxes in the basement, on the back of the closet.

Fisher: Yeah.

Crista: Go through those things, particularly photo albums or documents and get those scanned and uploaded to your family tree on Ancestry.

Fisher: Yeah, absolutely. You know, there's so many things that you can do at this time, because even though we've got the vaccines working and everything right now, I've found that I've been able to get more done in the past year in things like the spring cleaning and it’s really fun to think about what things you can frame or what things you might want to make copies of that you can frame, so the originals don't fade and how you can share them, because there's just so much that we all have. I mean, really, there's a network of family archives that we all have. And imagine if we were all in this, doing this together, what an amazing archive we could create collectively.

Crista: Yeah, absolutely. So, I inherited quite a few pictures from, you know, great grandparents and grand aunts and uncles and have spent years digitizing those things. But I had the opportunity just this last weekend to go down to California. My aunt passed in January and so I got to help clean out some of her home. And there we found photos that nobody had ever seen before.

Fisher: Oh wow!

Crista: The fact that she was sitting on those even though she knew I was something of a genealogist [Laughs] and had been collecting those things for years. So, all of us have something somewhere that we've either forgotten we have or that we need to just find and get copies made and given to the hands of the rest of the family.

Fisher: Absolutely. And Ancestry's a great way to do that, sharing it up to the page of each ancestor on the tree. So, this is kind of fun, too, because The Home Edit ladies, they're into family history as well.

Crista: They are, absolutely, yeah. When you start thinking about heirlooms and keepsakes and documents, when you're cleaning up your space, those are the things you don't want to get rid of, but you also want to make sure that you're displaying them correctly, that you're preserving them and taking care of them in a way that the next generation can enjoy them as well.

Fisher: And you know, one other thought too on this, I can't tell you how many times I have run across a really important document or record that somebody else has shared that they rescued from the dump heap at the cleaning out of some relative's home. And you know, you think about it that you were able to take these items that you have and you scan them or you take photographs of them and you get them up on Ancestry, then you're going to find that no matter what happens in the future, if somebody is thoughtless enough to get rid of these stuff, it still survives.

Crista: Absolutely.

Fisher: And that's really the most important thing. It would be great if we could keep all the originals, but let's face it, that's why they're rare. Over time, they're tossed by somebody in some generation or another.

Crista: Yeah, absolutely. And I think one of the reasons some of those things get tossed is because they're not labeled, nobody knows who they are, and so, this is the perfect time to get your family together on Zoom and hold up some of those old photos and see who remembers who these people are and make sure that you've got them.

Fisher: Where can people find out about some of these great tips that The Home Edit ladies have put together with Ancestry?

Crista: Yeah, if you just go to the Ancestry blog, its blogs, B L O G S, Blogs.Ancestry.com.

Fisher: All right, excellent, great advice. And coming up next, more with Crista from Ancestry talking about their latest database releases some of those that have been updated as well. So much good stuff going on when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 367

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Crista Cowan

Fisher: We are back at it for Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth with Crista Cowan once again from our great sponsor, Ancestry.com. Crista, you've got another great batch of databases that you've released recently. Let's go through some of them, because they're pretty exciting.

Crista: They are, yeah. One of the things that people might not realize is that FindAGrave, which is another website in the Ancestry family of websites is constantly being updated. And so, every few months, Ancestry actually updates our index to the grave sites being updated on FindAGrave. So we did that this month. We have 11 different FindAGrave databases for 11 different countries, including the United States and we now have almost 200 million tombstones and memorials that have been uploaded on FindAGrave and indexed on Ancestry.

Fisher: I'm sorry. Wait, my head just exploded, how many?

Crista: [Laughs] There are 11 countries and almost 200 million records total.

Fisher: Wow! And so you're constantly upgrading this, and this is the important thing for people to remember, if you’ve checked FindAGrave in the past for something you're looking for and it’s not there, just check back in a week or a month or a year, it continuously grows and that's what's so fun about it.

Crista: Yeah, absolutely.

Fisher: And we've got of course March, we've got St Paddy's Day, we've got a bunch of Irish sites also being enhanced right now.

Crista: Yeah, Ancestry has more than 170 databases for records from Ireland. And again, 100s of millions of records. And one of the things that is really easy to do is go into the Ancestry card catalogue, just type in Ireland and you'll see we've got all sorts of fun records. Not just civil registration, birth, marriage and death church records, but also prison registers. I think we've talked about those before.

Fisher: Yeah.

Crista: Burial indexes. And one of my personal favorites is the dog licenses. You think that wouldn't be valuable for family history, but surprisingly, it is.

Fisher: Well, you're absolutely right. And you know, we just did a segment on this on Extreme Genes that you're going be hearing soon about pets and your ancestors and how they really are a part of the family story and its really interesting if you can find out what kind of pets they owned and when and it does say something about your ancestor, doesn't it?

Crista: It does, absolutely.

Fisher: Yeah, this is so much fun that you're getting this, because Ireland has traditionally been a very difficult place to research for many reasons, loses of census records and the like, but it’s getting better and better, because of course Ireland itself is getting engaged, because they're recognizing that Irish research is really useful in bringing in tourist, and so this is a great advantage for all of us that you all at Ancestry are collecting this data.

Crista: It is, absolutely, yeah. And the Catholic church registers and the passenger lists in and out of Ireland, those are going to be super valuable, especially for American researchers.

Fisher: Absolutely. Well, thanks so much for coming on, Crista. It’s always great to catch up with you and find out what's going on at Ancestry.com. And we look forward to checking out these brand new databases, these updated databases and of course finding out what's happening with The Home Edit. Talk to you again soon.

Crista: Thanks.

Fisher: All right, that's our show for this week. And how strange it is to be basking in the afterglow of RootsTech Connect, and yet, RootsTech Connect continues on for the coming year. There's still so much there that we can benefit from. Thanks once again to David Rencher from FamilySearch, of course the people who put on RootsTech Connect and sharing with us all the numbers from it, which are just off the charts, unbelievable! Also thanks to Melissa Barker, the archive lady for sharing with us some of the things going on at her archive to help remind us of all the things that might be available at our ancestral archives. Great stuff there, and of course to Crista from Ancestry.com. Next week, we're going to talk Gena philibert Ortega. You know, it is women's history month and she’s got a lot of great advice about how to find your female ancestors. And Maggie Taylor from Legacy Tree will be on, talking about ancestral pets and how they fit into your story as well. Hey, thanks for joining us. If you missed any of the show, of course catch the podcast on iTunes, iHeart Radio, ExtremeGenes.com, Spotify. I mean, the list is really long. Talk to you again next week. Thanks for joining us. And remember, far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!


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