On July 1st Ancestry.com launched StoryScout, and I had a chance to work with it, and I thought I’d share. (Currently, it’s available in the U.S., but I understand that it will expand to other counties later.)
StoryScout is included in your Ancestry DNA purchases, and that’s not only good news for people testing their DNA, but it might be good news for the seasoned genealogist or genetic genealogist. Why do I say that? Well, I think once you see what StoryScout does, you might agree.
So to begin with, you have to enter one of your grandparent’s names and identify where they came from and then click Explore Now.
In this case, I choose my grandmother, Gladys Mabel Oliver, who was born in Sussex, England. The system then asked me to tell it a little bit more information or switch to another grandparent. So I identified that Gladys had also lived in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
This time the system gave me three possible people. My grandmother was Mabel Gladys Oliver on the right. (It even figured out that although I’d entered Gladys because that’s what she went by, her correct name was Mabel Gladys.
The next step is to click on the “This my grandparent,” and the system takes me to the next screen where it’s searching for records.
The next screen shows that my grandmother is in Canada in 1921, which she was.
The next record I see is telling me about my great grandmother, Alice Oliver, Gladys’ mother, and providing information from the census. Again the information is correct, and this information comes from the 1921 census.
I’ve gone through this same process for two of my other grandparents, and it interesting how StoryScout starts finding records that are not only for my grandparents but starts to delve into the lives of my great grandparents.
Below is an overview of my StoryScout page. As you can see, it’s given me some information about my great grandfather’s, and it’s also given me information about my 4th Great-Grandmother, Ann Stott.
One of the last stories StoryScout found for me was quite intriguing and still relating to my grandmother Glayds’ line. It said that Abraham Baldwin is my 4th cousin 7x removed. That would be quite something if that’s correct, as I am only vaguely aware of some family lines that went to the US.
So it is telling me that this has been researched but that it is also using public trees and as you know that can be dangerous. But I’m thinking if that was acknowledged and noted, then people could then be taught how to go about researching this possibility to validate the information.
What’s interesting about the Abraham Baldwin connection is it even gave me a chart showing how Ancestry thinks we are connected. I’m not taking it as gospel, but I’ve done part of my tree and the part I recognize I feel confident about. Do you think I’ll be checking the rest out? You bet I will.
I’ve already confirmed most of the genealogy back to William Harman, so it would be interesting to learn more. I do see some significant gaps in years between generations, so I’d have to see if a few generations are missing. But still, don’t you think if you were a new person testing their DNA that you might be intrigued and get interested in genealogy?
One of the complaints of those of us that use DNA is that there are so many missing trees when you get a new cousin match. This might change that.
Right now, StoryScout has been launched on the US dot com site only, but even with my very English family, I was able to find things. I think that had I seen something like this 20 years ago, I would have gotten interested in genealogy.
I recall that something similar happened to me when I got started in family history. I’d signed up for a basic genealogy course at the Alberta Genealogical Society, and I thought I’d just check on the internet and see what I could find out about my family.
You know how it goes when you are searching, and you go here and there and really don’t know how you go where you are. I finally came across a UK 1901 census for my great grandfather Jesse Oliver. He was 19 years of age, and he was living with his mother, who was a widow, and his brother Arthur and his sister Beatrice. Jesse was a plumber, and his brother Arthur was a lithographer and their mother a dressmaker.
It was at that moment that they all became real to me, and it’s probably the moment that I became a genealogist. I wanted to learn more about them, and I wanted to learn how to do it right. I later learned that the website I’d stumbled upon was; the National Archives UK.
StoryScout has the potential to do that exact same thing for a person taking a DNA test for the first time or someone that just wants to see what “genealogy” is all about. StoryScout has the potential to show people how to research and share the story of their ancestors. For those of us that have been doing genealogy for a while, this is good news.
Because now there might be even the tiniest of twigs attached to that new DNA cousin account, and that’s all I need. A few names and dates, and then I can work to fit them into my tree.