Ancestry.com: Maybe Old People Are On To Something

Ancestry.com makes its money off the older set. People don’t usually get interested in researching their family history until they are much older. But I think most engineers should consider signing up themselves. The sheer amount of raw data available staggering, and the problem solving possibilities are endless.

Here’s an example: I knew that my great grandmother’s maiden name was Mathis and that my grandfather had a cousin named Sydney. When researching records, I found the 1930 census record of them living in Queens. It shows them living in the same house as a family named Mathis, with a son named Sydney. So, they were living with their cousins, which opened a whole new lineage for me to research. The ah-ha moment is exhilarating.

On Monday, the 1940 census will be released to the public (individual records are kept sealed for 72 years). It is an exciting time for the genealogy community because it opens up a tremendous amount of new data. 

I’m hoping to find new connections to family members I don’t yet know of. I’m hoping to find information about some great-grandparents who seem to have slipped through the cracks of the 1930 census. Moreover, I’m really just looking forward to finding something totally unexpected.

A co-worker once asked “Why do you care?” I didn’t know how to answer, because I’m not sure why. But once you start digging through old records, discoveries become addictive. So I encourage any engineer to take advantage of a two week free trial on Ancestry.com, and see what they can achieve with that much data.

I should probably mention that I own a small amount of Ancestry stock. I invested in it for the same reason I invest in any company, because I like their product.