Genealogy delights in 2019: what's in store in the world of family history
2018 was an exciting year in the family history community, with a particular explosion of interest in DNA testing and the opportunities it offers genealogy researchers to connect with their deep roots and cousins across the world.
But what genealogical delights does 2019 have in store for family history enthusiasts? Family Tree magazine Assistant Editor Karen Clare donned her detective hat to find out.
Rafi Mendelsohn, Director of PR & Social Media, told Family Tree that MyHeritage has many exciting things planned this year, expanding its technology to help people around the world learn about their family history through building family trees and researching in the database of historical records, and offering DNA testing to help people reveal their ethnic origins and find new relatives. Rafi added: ‘MyHeritage is planning the major launch of a new feature that will revolutionise the ease with which people can make new discoveries. This exciting tool will involve billions of data points including family trees, records, and DNA. Stay tuned for more on this!’
Jenni Trimlett, Manager, International Communications, said: ‘2019 is set to be another exciting year at Ancestry with a host of developments including a mass of new content such as parish records, further updates to our WFA collection (such as survivors of WW1) and roughly one million new names being added to our 1939 Register. We will continue to innovate our DNA product experience for consumers with the addition of more detailed ethnicity regions across the globe and a range of new features becoming available throughout the year.’
Genealogist Nick Thorne, spokesperson, told Family Tree that in 2019 TheGenealogist.co.uk will be adding millions of new records to its Diamond subscription. ‘New data sets being released in 2019 will include the New Augmented Map Viewer. This major development will enable family historians to map their ancestors’ homes from the 1830s up to the present day. TheGenealogist’s Map Viewer allows researchers to locate bygone as well as modern streets and so view the location of forebears from historic records. This unique tool will launch as the new enhanced method to view the Lloyd George Domesday Survey collection. To begin with, those rate books and map records that have already been released on TheGenealogist will immediately become viewable using the augmented viewer. All new additions to this unique landowner set will in future be released using this powerful viewer.’
David Rencher, Chief Genealogy Officer at FamlySearch, said forthcoming developments in 2019 include:
1. Interactive Discovery Experiences Online
Select interactive personal discovery experiences currently only available through interactive kiosks in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City will be available on FamilySearch.
2. FAN relationships
FamilySearch Family Tree will support additional relationships beyond parental and couple.
3. Updated Find Capability
The FamilySearch Family Tree search capacity will be updated significantly to provide better and faster results and new experiences.
Memories will add the capability to organise memories within an album according to the user’s interest or needs, and ability to create an audio recording connected with an image.
Findmypast’s Alex Cox told Family Tree that the company’s DNA experience and partnership with Living DNA will be its main area of focus for 2019. ‘We are very excited about the opportunities this partnership creates for everyone, from serious genealogists to those just starting to explore their family history.’
The company will be launching its intuitive matching system and encouraging family history researchers who have already taken tests with other providers to upload their DNA test results for free: ‘We will accept uploads from AncestryDNA, 23andMe, MyHeritage and Family Tree DNA.’
Findmypast will also be developing its new shared tree, ‘a product that has been created to help users, both new and experienced, collaborate with others to discover more about their family. This will enable researchers to spend less time searching for ancestors and more time discovering and connecting.’
Living DNA co-founder David Nicholson said: ‘2019 will be a year where DNA testing starts to become normal across the world. The potential for family history is huge as new generations start to be involved in capturing the memories of the present for the future.’
You may also be interested in these stories and how-to guides to DNA research:
Else Churchill, Genealogist at the Society of Genealogists, said: ‘Developments in testing suggest we will soon be extracting DNA from our ancestors, not by cheek swabs of course, but from the envelopes and stamps they licked. While I’m sure this is exciting and will open new pathways to cousins and distant ancestry, it’s clear that genealogy from sources, records and evidence remain essential to explain the clues and matches given by DNA. This year’s SoG Getaway in May 2019 will give our members a chance to spend a whole week interpreting what a DNA genealogy test can tell you and how to use the results to complement your family trees and to follow the documentary trail in the library.’
This year The National Archives will be making continual enhancements to Discovery, its online catalogue, in particular focusing on the way search results are presented. It will also be adding details of collections, working closely with the wider sector, plus improving existing research guides and creating more.
The Federation of Family History Societies will be hosting Family Tree Live in partnership with Family Tree at Alexandra Palace on 26-27 April 2019, joining associate sponsors MyHeritage, FamilySearch, the Society of Genealogists and FamilyTreeDNA. Find the latest news and tickets here.
• This is an extract from ‘Ringing in the changes: Genealogy in 2019’, which appears in the January 2019 issue of Family Tree magazine. You can buy the January issue here.