80% of genealogy searchers polled, by Ancestry.com, do not scroll to the right side of the census page…

Roots Tech 2012 is on its last day–with a power-packed agenda for genealogists, like you my loyal readers, hungry to learn what is in store for their research in 2012.

The Saturday keynote was an amazing ( and inspiring) presentation by Timothy Sullivan, President and CEO of Ancestry.com and a panel of five of his lieutenants–a group of men who expressed what genealogists think in their heads would be Nirvana:

  1. Hide the technology behind the access to ancestors in the records
  2. Clear the screens of extraneous stuff, so the website does not get in the way of our research
  3. Ensure that the tech allows genealogists to get all the record has to tell
  4.  Show the interpretation of the information displayed

What gave these wise men their clues about what we all have been thinking?  They asked.  And 80% of genealogists polled revealed that they did not read the right side of the census image.

Let me add to this revelation–

  1. Some 75% of my clients submit copies of Ancestry.com census images when they order a research package from me
  2. Of these images, over 50% are only the printed summary that precedes the actual image in the Ancestry.com search–which does not feature the right-hand side of the census image
  3. I try hard not to duplicate the research work already completed; however…

Accurate research conclusions require review of the whole census page–all of the data.  And in the order provided by the census taker as he hand-copied his notes onto pre-printed forms to submit to the Bureau of the Census.  (Please recall that what we see as the image is a copied version, a second copy made by the enumerator.)

The printed summary may place the names in alphabetical order, rather than the order by age on the handwritten  image.  And many entries in the printed summary appear to create family units–which may not be supported in the image itself.

How cool will it be to have a responsive provider of the raw data upon which we all depend to build correct and complete family trees?  Databases and data sets that represent the very best versions of images and summaries.  Then as we research for ancestors, we can find a relevant entry from all those presented.  And correctly interpret the data extracted and indexed from it.

BRAVO!  Again and again, bravo for listening to us and trying to supply what we all want.  Your favorite genealogist, Arlene Eakle

PS  As you know, I am learning the technology to build faster and better family trees.  My new computer has Windows 7 with most screens having no print button!  A lot of browsers have eliminated the print button too.  I am typing this blog at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.  Their new website screens do not have print on the bar or an icon.  Could we please have a print button or icon on each and every page?  Whether we print to flashdrive or hand-held device or family tree.  Or print a paper page–we need the images to prove our conclusions.  Don’t leave the newby struggling to find the print button.  A printed extract is not the same as the real image–not for proof.

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