Sunday, July 16, 2017

Ch-Ch-Changes in the Genealogy World

There have been two major announcements in the genealogy world over the last few weeks. First, FamilySearch will be ceasing microfilm distribution. Second, Ancestry has made the decision to not allow users to manage multiple DNA kits under their account.

FamilySearch Discontinues Microfilm Distribution

Microfilm is getting more expensive to create copies from FamilySearch' vast collection out of the Family History Library and Granite Mountain vaults. Users can rent the microfilm for $7.50 but the cost to FamilySearch is more prohibitive. Amy Johnson Crow blogged about this recently. My tips to get through the next 3 years while digitization efforts complete:

1. Request microfilm before the August 31st deadline for anything pressing
2. Talk to your local Family History Center on microfilm rented out to see if they will send back after the deadline or hold onto it indefinitely.
3. Contact other societies that have microfilm loan services. Some organizations may be able to email you or print off a copy of the pages you need on the microfilm.
4. Check the catalogue to see if the records you are looking for have been digitized and are browsable
5. Leverage social media - you may find a volunteer going to the Salt Lake City library to research something for you.
6. Be patient - it's a change but we'll get through this!

AncestryDNA Multiple Kit Changes

Per AncestryDNA's announcement above, they have made the decision to give the testers a new user role "Owner" (since it is is their DNA) and can choose how to allocate access to their DNA kits. The owner can make someone one of the following roles: Viewer, Collaborator, Manager, The exception is that minor children can remain under their parent's kit.

This change to improve privacy controls is giving more control back to the tester and how their DNA is managed. You need to be a Manager or Owner to download your raw DNA. As someone who has helped adoptees and others locate parents, this change is welcoming. I can be assigned a Collaborator role and can assist with creating mirror trees without having to see messages come in or have the ability to manage or shockingly delete raw DNA from the system.

One of the biggest concerns I have seen in the community is how to manage kits with older relatives. AncestryDNA suggests creating a free account on (they don't have to have a subscription - there is no extra money being made on the account) and work with them to assign you access (once they give you permission). We know it will be a few extra steps but at the end of the day it is the tester's genetic material. They should have the right to decide who should view the results and what can be done with it. Also, not all users test to do genealogy - some just want to know their ethnicity estimates and health risks (esp. if they test with 23andMe or upload to Promethease).

I do like this change because I won't have to necessarily see tester initials when I view their kit in match list. I should see the name of someone that tested, which can be a big help (even if no tree isattached). The Shared Matches feature will still work to show other testers that share DNA with that user.

The change is taking effect on 7/18 and I'm sure it will be a bit bumpy as we help new testers set up their accounts. However, this change should make things more streamlined. FamilyTreeDNA requires a separate account per kit.

What are your thoughts on the changes?

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