Wishing you a happy holidays! + Giveaways!
Welcome to the Dec 2023 ‘Ancestry Community Update’ blog post for Australia and New Zealand.
For anyone I am yet to meet, my name is Jason Reeve and I’m the Head of Content Acquisition & Community Engagement for Ancestry in Australia and New Zealand. You’ll likely end up meeting me at a family history expo or through a genealogical society.
You might be wondering what happened to the September Quarterly update, well I’m here wondering what happened to September itself, and July, August, October, and November too.
The whole year has flown by so fast and it’s fair to say that I ran short on time – and the blog may have suffered a little as a result. But, there are two pieces of good news to come from that, the first is that being ‘busy’ generally means new records for us all to explore, and secondly, I’m going to give the blog a bit of a boost for 2024 – but we’ll get into that in the new year.
For now, I want to wish everyone a very happy and safe holiday season. For some of you, you might be travelling or holidaying, whilst others will be enjoying downtime at home – maybe with a side of family history research! But whatever the next few weeks have in store, I hope that you can spend some quality time with your loved ones and end the year with a smile.
Since we find ourselves in the season of giving, AncestryDNA is now on sale leading up to Christmas – you can find the discounted pricing here.
But also, I have a few giveaways too, so read on to learn more…
Head of Content & Community
Ancestry Know Your Pet DNA™
Ancestry® unveiled Know Your Pet DNA and its first product offering—a dog DNA test.
The Know Your Pet DNA test is the most scientifically advanced dog DNA test on the market.
It offers customers detailed insights into their dog’s behavioural qualities and traits—like their likelihood to have separation anxiety when they are left alone, their stress in veterinary situations, willingness to share with other dogs, noise sensitivities, and more. Know Your Pet DNA analyses more than twice as much of a dog’s genetic data compared to other dog DNA tests on the market, providing a more comprehensive understanding of each dog’s genetics and behaviours and empowering pet owners to better know and care for their four-legged family members with deeper empathy and affection.
Read more about the new kit here.
An ongoing reminder that we have expanded access to AncestryClassroom™ to educators and students in Australia and New Zealand.
If you’re a teacher within an Australian or New Zealand school, get in touch with us to learn how to use AncestryClassroom™.
If you’re interested but based elsewhere, send me an email to find out how you can access Ancestry at your school for zero cost.
Ancestry® Grant Program (Currently Closed)
Each year, a total of five digitisation grants will be awarded within AU & NZ (combined). Once the grant recipients have been selected, scanning will begin at the earliest opportunity.
The program aims to encourage and allow holders of historical content collections that are in an original format (of any size) to achieve a digitisation outcome that may otherwise be difficult.
Projects to date have included occupational records, land records, military records, newspaper collections and various registers. Some of these collections have been large, others have been very small. In either case, I highly recommend that you contact me when the program re-opens.
You can see the full post relating to the now-finished 2023 program here. The program will launch again in June 2024.
Upcoming Record Releases
Did you know? 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.
Want to learn a little more about the process? Take a look at this recent video from our digitisation team.
We don’t only add ‘new’ collections, sometimes we’ll also revisit an existing collection to improve the information that has previously been available (i.e. add more fields or correct known errors). We’ll also seek to add additional records to existing collections, and this is a called an ‘update’.
Here’s a few recent launches from AU & NZ;
– 3 million Victoria, Australia, Petty Session Records, 1854 – 1922 [visit]
– 3 million Australia, Coastal Passenger Records, 1852 – 1924 [visit]
– 300k Brisbane, Australia Burials and Cremations, 1831-2023 [visit]
– 300k Adelaide, Australia Cemetery Collection, 1840-2022 [visit]
– 105k New South Wales, Australia, Immigration Records, 1840-1902 [visit]
For those researching their UK roots, we’ve also launched;
– 700k UK, Royal Hospital Chelsea Admission Books, Registers and Papers, 1702-1980 [visit]
– 200k UK, RAF Officer Service Records, 1918-1919 [visit]
– 430k Ulster, Ireland, Ulster Covenant, 1912 [visit]
Back at home, we’re expecting to publish the following over the next couple of months;
– 2 million Australian City Directories and Almanacs, 1845-1948
– 1.5 million New South Wales Government Gazettes, 1853-1899
– 430k Queensland Immigration Indexes, 1848-1972
The ‘pipeline’ for new records coming for Australia and New Zealand continues to be full of large, small, interesting and comprehensive collections that will help all of us (me included!) to make new, fascinating discoveries about the lives of our ancestors.
How can you help? That’s easy, if you know of any great ‘family history relevant’ collections that are in desperate need of digitisation, or are already digital and would make a great addition to the Ancestry website, just let me know. I’ll reach out to the custodians of the collection(s) and explore whether those records could join the Ancestry database.
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 simply shining a light on activities that we feel you’d be interested in.
1. Remembrance Day Wrap Up
November 11th was Remembrance Day in AU & NZ – a day where we remember the sacrifices made by so many during times of war. I headed over to the Channel Nine studios & joined Sylvia Jeffries on the Today Show, where we chatted about her family’s extensive military ancestry.
On the Ancestry.com site, we opened up free access to all Australian and New Zealand records for the week to help everyone discover their ancestor’s military service.
Discover our WW2 Service Files here (AU).
2. Know Your Pet DNA – Puppy Yoga!
In November we held a launch event for Ancestry’s new ‘Know Your Pet DNA‘.
We invited some folks to come and join us for a morning ‘Puppy Yoga’ session by Puppy Yoga Sydney and suffice to say, it was a little bit cute!
Micro-sized cavoodles, bulldogs and dachshunds accompanied us as we attempted some downward dogs, but mostly, we achieved just the dog part, as the downward was quickly put aside in favour of puppy snuggles.
3. Know Your Pet DNA – The Morning Show
Continuing on with the Know Your Pet DNA interest and excitement, I popped into the Channel Seven studio to sit down with Jamie Malcolm and talk all things DNA – two-legged, and four-legged.
Jamie was fantastic – not only because he was great at asking relevant questions, but also because he was genuinely curious about DNA and the role it plays within Family History. We spent a good hour in the Green Room chatting about all things DNA, before joining Larry Emdur & Kylie Gillies in the studio for the segment.
4. Christmas Giveaways!
I mentioned that it’s the season of giving, so I’d like to give everyone an opportunity to win a DNA kit for Christmas. To be in the draw, simply complete the requirements detailed below and email your answer to [email protected]. Yes, you can enter every draw, but keep in mind you can only win one of the DNA prizes.
The draw will end on the 21st of Dec, with all winners to be contacted on the 22nd of Dec.
#1 – Win 1 of 2 AncestryDNA Kits
In 100-words or less, share with us the most significant discovery you’ve made using an AncestryDNA test and how it helped your Family History research. Please only share a story if you’re comfortable with that story being shared publicly.
#2 – Win 1 of 2 Ancestry ‘Know Your Pet’ DNA Kits
In 100-words or less, tell us why you’re eager to DNA test your canine companion, and what you hope to discover. Please include a cute picture of your pup too and again, only share a story if you’re comfortable with that story being shared publicly.
#3 – Win 1 of 5 double passes to ‘One Life’, the inspiring true story of Sir Nicholas ‘Nicky’ Winton. (Australia only)
We’re pleased to have partnered with Transmission Films, who are giving you the chance to win one of 5 double passes to see this extraordinary movie. Sir Anthony Hopkins stars as Nicholas ‘Nicky’ Winton, whose unsung endeavours on the eve of World War II saved more than 600 children from the Nazi regime.
You can watch the trailer for ‘One Life’ here (rated PG).
To be in the running for 1 of the 5 double passes, all you need to do is tell us in 100-words or less, an incredible story from your ancestor’s WW1 or WW2 service – either at home or overseas. Remember, please only share a story if you’re comfortable with that story being shared publicly.
Unsurprisingly, it’s a little quiet now!
Here’s two events for early next year – I will be presenting at both, so if you’re nearby then feel free to contact the relevant society and enquire about coming along.
Using Ancestry.com for Family History & An Introduction to AncestryDNA [In Person]
Where: Genealogy SA (SA)
Date: 7th February 2024
Using Ancestry.com for Family History & An Introduction to AncestryDNA [In Person]
Where: Ryde District Historical Society (NSW)
Date: 10th February 2024
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.
(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
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