You can see a demo of how Ancestry Labs works here. Leave feedback by using the green Feedback tab on the left side of the Ancestry Labs site.
“The projects we place in this area are likely to be early prototypes, and although some of them may make their way into the main Ancestry.com site, some may not,” reads Ancestry.com’s announcement.
The first idea at Ancestry Labs, called “Person View,” includes two components:
- Web Records: This feature searches for your ancestor on the internet, shows you basic information (name, date and place) from web pages mentioning your ancestor, and links you to those pages. Sites searched include free databases such as the Western States Marriage Record Index. In a demo in August, project manager Brian Hansen said Ancestry.com is attempting to avoid duplication by not searching the same collections that are already included in Ancestry.com databases.
If this sounds familiar, it’s because Ancestry.com offered a similar search in the maligned Internet Biographical Collection, which was pulled down shortly after its introduction in August 2007 amid copyright and other concerns. The difference is that the Internet Biographical Collection actually cached web pages’ content and displayed the results on Ancestry.com, so traffic wasn’t directed to the site and the content’s creator wasn’t credited.
Ancestry.com is hoping to avoid the same mistakes with the new Web Records view. “In providing access to these, it’s very important to us that we are respectful to the publishers of these websites,” the announcements says. “We will always strive to follow web industry standards for website crawling permissions … We will put in place processes to remove the content from our search if the website/content owner requests, with the goal of doing this as quickly as possible. We will clearly publish how to contact our team to do this.”
- Person Consolidation: This way of viewing Ancestry.com search results groups matches by person, rather than just listing each result. The search algorithm decides whether records are for one person, and your results show a person’s name with links to categories of records—Ancestry Records, Family Trees (with no living people included) and Web Records—for that person. Click one of those links to see more links to view each record in that category. The search results also list a person’s family members, and you can click these names to see that family member’s records.
Person View gives you just the first 10 matches to your search. The advantage is that it Person View simplifies your search results, but the algorithm can make mistakes by grouping together records for two different people, or displaying one person as two different people.
Here’s my first PersonView search for Henry Seeger:
And the first match, which consolidates content about Henry Seeger from 15 Ancestry.com family trees (no Ancestry Records or Web Records were found for this Henry). It lists people the search engine believes to be in Henry’s family (I’d have to look at each tree and decide whether I think they’re all really related to Henry). Clicking on a name, such as Henry’s son Charles, will perform a new search for that person.
Clicking on Henry’s name brings up a timeline of events from those trees, with a little map showing places mentioned in the trees:
Links on the right bring up information about each tree and let you save the event to your tree:
If your matches contain Ancestry Records, the timeline will link to information from the record (a WWI Draft Registration card, in the case below, was the source for a February, 1873 birth date):
Web Record matches bring up similar basic information, with a link to the site that has the record (you can’t yet save Web Records to your Ancestry tree):
Click Comments to let us know what you think of Ancestry Labs and Person View.