Welcome to the new quarterly Ancestry Community Update blog post for Australia and New Zealand.
My name is Jason Reeve, and I’m the Head of Content & Community for Ancestry in Australia and New Zealand. Many of you reading this first blog post may already know me from meeting at a family history expo or through a genealogical society. To those who I am yet to meet, I’m looking forward to it sometime in the future.
At Ancestry, we’ve been wanting to create an ongoing newsletter and this associated blog for our valued family history community in AU & NZ for a while. It’s a way to keep you – some of our most dedicated and experienced customers – up to speed on the latest product updates, local community engagements, events, upcoming content releases on the site and more. If you haven’t already, be sure to ‘Opt In’ to future newsletters here.
Although Ancestry is a very large company, the Australian & New Zealand team is actually very small – six at the current count (including myself). We’re passionate about family history and in future newsletters and blog posts I’ll introduce you to some of the team.
I’m also keen for you to help shape the content of this blog, so if you do have feedback, questions, or stories to share then please email [email protected]. I will do my best to respond, but may not be able to respond to every email. If you’re seeking help about your Ancestry account or similar enquiries, see below for details on how to do this.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. There’s a lot to share below, so I hope you do find this first post of interest and I look forward to seeing you at an event soon.
Head of Content & Community
At Ancestry®, we aim to mobilise our global Ancestry family and products to build more connected and resilient communities by empowering the next generation of history makers. For nearly a decade, AncestryClassroom™ has helped students learn more about themselves, navigate the world around them, and become more resilient. We do this by providing educators with access to classroom resources, professional learning tools and Ancestry historical record collections at no cost. In an effort to reach more students globally, Ancestry is thrilled to be expanding access to AncestryClassroom™ to educators and students in Australia and New Zealand.
Would you like Ancestry access at your school for no cost?
See the full post for more information.
Ancestry® Grant Program
The Ancestry Grant Program for 2022 is now open for submissions.
Every year, Ancestry offers a series of digitisation grants to support the family history & archival community within Australia and New Zealand.
See the full post for more information.
Geneanet Joins Ancestry®
At Ancestry, we are committed to growing our global community so that more people can easily discover, craft and connect around their family story. That is why we are pleased to announce that Ancestry has acquired Geneanet, a leading French genealogy company, to enable family history discoveries and connections for even more people around the world.
See the full post for more information.
Alongside a commitment to adding millions of digitised records a day to the website, Ancestry is also constantly developing new technologies and tools that provide AncestryDNA customers with the most refined and up to date experience.
The latest update, SideView™, is a first-of-its-kind scientific innovation that separates DNA into parental sides, giving AncestryDNA customers new insights into which side of the family they inherited their genetics from. With more than 20 million people in its growing consumer DNA network, Ancestry is the first company to be able to provide this type of genomic information without requiring a parent to be tested.
See the full post for more information.
Upcoming Record Releases
Throughout July, August and September we’ll be launching several more regular record collections and updates on Ancestry. The ability for us to acquire more content for Ancestry over the last couple of years has certainly been impacted by Covid, but thankfully many archives are now fully operational again and we have some exciting new partnerships in place.
When new records are acquired by Ancestry, they can take anywhere from 6-18 months to be available on the website, due to the process and timings required for those records to be prepared correctly. They may need to be digitised, or indexed – or both. In the future I’ll share more about how the content process works, from agreeing to work with an archive to the content being available to you on Ancestry.com.au.
Here’s a few recent launches from AU & NZ;
– Nearly 10 million additional AU & NZ ‘Find a Grave’ burial records
– Over 1.5 million additional South Australian records
For those researching their UK roots, we’ve also launched;
– Over 11 million Church of England records
– Over 25 million UK Phone Book records
Back here at home, we’re expecting to publish the follwing over the next three months;
– Over 1 million additional AU & NZ Newspaper.com obituary records
– Over 1 million additional AU & NZ Newspaper.com marriage records
– Over 2 million Queensland School Admission records
These numbers are just a fraction of what’s coming over the next year, so stay tuned!
An important part of these blog posts is sharing what’s happening in the community. This may cover partnerships or activities Ancestry is involved in, or shining a light on activities that we feel you’d be interested in.
(1) The Find Them, Remember Them: Creating Citizen Historians
Ancestry is delighted to support the ‘Find Them, Remember Them – Creating Citizen Historians’ pilot program, created by John Gillam & Yvonne Fletcher aka ‘Untraceables’. Students at several schools across Australia will work as Citizen Historians to research the life and war service of a forgotten soldier using their unclaimed military medal as a starting point. They will then present their research findings at a medal handover ceremony in which they’ll educate the wider local community about the soldier’s service and the sacrifice made for his country. During the program the school will have custody of the medals and if a family that is connected to the medal is located, it will be handed back to them.
To support the program, Ancestry is providing all participating schools free access to Ancestry. We are excited to empower the next generation of history makers by providing free access to Ancestry resources within schools, helping our young minds to develop that essential link to their past. By unlocking the past, we realise our shared humanity.
You can read more about ‘Untraceables’ and the Find Them, Remember Them’ the pilot program on their Facebook page.
(2) The Society of Australian Genealogists turns 90!
Society President, Melissa Hulbert, wrote recently to members:
On 29 August 1932 a meeting attended by those with an interest in family history took place at the Education Building in Sydney and a decision was made to form a Society of Australian Genealogists. This meeting also saw the formation of a temporary committee and suggestions for a card index, reference library and the publication of a quarterly magazine. In 2022, we are 90 years young and the Society has come a long way since that inaugural meeting and witnessed many changes both in local Australian history and also world history… The Society of Australian Genealogists has been helping people trace their families and tell their stories for 90 years. I do wonder if the attendees at that inaugural meeting ever envisioned that family history would be as popular, if not more so, 90 years on. I think they would be rather pleased to know that something that started as a meeting of family history enthusiasts has grown into the organisation and community we are all proud to be a part of today.
SAG will be commemorating the milestone throughout National Family History Month so keep an eye out for activities via www.sag.org.au/events.
(3) Talking Family History / Family History Fridays
Many of you may know Fiona Brooker and Michelle Patient from Ancestry’s Family History Friday’s (Facebook live sessions in 2020 and 2021). Between them, they have worked and volunteered in the family history world (Australia, New Zealand, England, Ireland, USA and online) for over 60 years. In March 2020 Fiona & Michelle founded Talking Family History (TFH) together, an online service which aims to promote, educate and enthuse others interested in researching their family history. Both are members of the Association of Professional Genealogists and individually Fiona runs Memories in Time and Michelle is the DNA consultant to the SBS TV series Every Family Has a Secret.
They host fortnightly Friday meetings for TFH subscribers where they cover genealogy news, discuss their recent genealogy insights, future plans and hold an open Q&A with attendees. They also host one off online events such as the DNA Discovery First Steps course – 8 sessions including 2 live Q&A sessions. For those who have moved beyond the First Steps with their DNA research coming up is a DNA Discovery Day on 10 September 2022.
Head to the Talking Family History website to find out more, or visit them on Facebook.
AFFHO Congress – Norfolk Island, NSW
Dates: 02 Aug – 04 Aug 2022
Auckland Family History Conference – Auckland, NZ
Dates: 12 Aug – 14 Aug 2022
Christchurch Family History Conference – Christchurch, NZ
Dates: 19 Aug – 21 Aug 2022
Public Records Office of Victoria ‘Melbourne Writers Festival’
Dates: 02 Sep – 11 Sep 2022
‘Riding the Waves of History’ Conference
Dates: 16th Sep – 18th Sep 2022
‘Sands of Time’ Conference
Dates: 21 Oct – 23 Oct 2022
Family History Down Under – Castle Hill, NSW
Dates: 08 Nov – 11 Nov 2022
Getting Help / Feedback
As family historians we often find ourselves hitting the dreaded brick wall. As an Ancestry user, you may also have questions about the website or your account.
There are numerous ways to get the support you need – and below you can see which option is most appropriate based on the type of question you have.
(1) Ancestry Support – The first place to go if you have an Ancestry website question or account issue is the support page.
(2) Ancestry Message Boards – If you have a website question, or one that leans more towards family history research, then why not try posting your question on the Ancestry message boards? Once logged in to your Ancestry account, you can find the message boards via the ‘Help’ link along the top navigation bar.
(3) Genealogical Societies & Libraries – If you’re after more ‘hands on’ support for genealogy more generally, or wish to take your learning to the next level, then a genealogical society or library-based family history group might be right for you. There are supportive and active groups all over Australia and New Zealand – just try googling your area, nearest major city or head into your local library.
(ii) New Zealand Society of Genealogists
Email / Website
(4) Facebook – Just like the above, there are some incredibly knowledgeable and supportive groups with a presence on Facebook. You can also use Facebook to engage with Genealogical Societies outside of your local area (for example, in an overseas area you may be researching).
(i) Family History & DNA – Talking Family History
(ii) DNA – Using DNA for Genealogy Australia & NZ
Q & A
Each quarter I will endeavour to answer some popular questions submitted by you.
I won’t be able to answer every question (as I expect there will be many) but using the link below anyone can ask up to three questions. If you don’t have three questions, or you only have the one, then you can also up-vote other questions that have been submitted.
Each time the Quarterly Blog Post is published, I will aim to answer at least the top few questions.
I’m also still testing this functionality, so please let me know if you experience any challenges adding a question or voting.
Add your own question(s) and vote on Question 1 here.
Add your own question(s) and vote on Question 2 here.
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