Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Ancestry Needs to Improve Search

Instead of spending money on making the different screens look better, Ancestry.com needs to spend money on improving its search engine.  I wanted to find the newspaper article on Frederick A. Snyder's death.  I went to the exact newspaper that I wanted, the Berkshire Eagle.  I used the Advanced Search screen to enter his name and the exact date of 25 Oct 1948 and name of the publication.  I received over 4200 search results, many from any year but 1948 and many other Warners besides the Fredericks.  At this rate it will be easier for me to get in my car and drive an hour to the Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield, Mass., to look up the article on microfilm in their local history room than to find the article on Ancestry.  

 The search engine also has difficulty returning results on a phrase.  I received as many misjointed results as I did with full names.  For instance the result might be Frederick Chase on one line and Gary Warner on another, instead of Frederick Snyder all together in one line of type.

If Ancestry wants to maintain and increase its membership, I very strongly advise it to improve its search engine.

I was very happy to see there was a link to a survey at the top of the screen at one point asking my views on the search screen and the results. You can be assured I told the company what it needed to do.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Family History Learning and Sharing

I find that using Ancestry.com upsets me. My mother lost touch with her relatives in Indiana.  My paternal family lost touch with our relatives in Ohio and Michigan.  I grew up unassociated with most of my relatives through no fault of my own.  Mine's been a fairly lonely life.  On Ancestry I see all these people who are researching the same people yet don't seem to want to connect with their own relatives. Just before Mother's Day I went through a spate of writing to her relatives hoping to reconnect with someone to no avail.  I can't help but wonder why people don't want to know me.  On Ancestry we can't be complete strangers because we can see our relationships.  Even when they're kept private, it's easy to deduce that's where the connection is.

I never thought the sole aim of family history research, otherwise known as genealogy, was gathering information about dead ancestors.  For me it is also a way to learn not only what happened to my family in the past, but to find out why my family is the way it is and to find out what happened to the rest of it.  As for wanting to connect with living relatives, what could be more natural?  Human beings are social.  We are not meant to grow up and live alone.  As we can see, when we are too separate, individuals and society suffer.

I fear that the popularity of scandalous and bad news in the media and the plethora of who-killed-whom-with-what-this-time shows and movies have made people much more suspicious of strangers and some downright paranoid.  I can understand a certain amount of caution in the Internet Age, but too much is not a healthy way to live.

With my families, there is also the additional element that all grandparents were mixed European and Native.  I have had cousins drop contact because I brought that topic up. It's really time to accept facts and let go of any racist feelings.  There are people from many races living on North America.  There are people of many religions living on North America.  There are good people and bad people in each and every group so pointing fingers at another is not valid.  We are all here and we need to learn how to live peacefully together to heal the people and the land.