Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) For Genealogy (Part Three)

Created using DALL·E with the prompt “make a picture of a lady genealogist looking at her family tree.”

A few weeks ago, I was exploring some of the uses I’ve found for artificial intelligence and genealogy. You can find Part One HERE and Part Two HERE.

In post One, I explored how you can expand the profile for your ancestors at MyHeritage, so now, let’s look at what can be done at Ancestry. In fact, I will use the same ancestor, my great-grandmother, Elizabeth Alice Clark, as I used in Part One.

To do this, go to your ancestor’s profile and choose Lifestory. Lifestory has been around for many years, and it compiles your ancestors’ story as you find new records. As I point out in the diagram below, you can also edit each point if you want to change or add to the story.

A little bit further down in Alice’s lifestory, we come to her birth information, which states that she was born in Horsham, England, and I show below; I can ask AncestryAI to provide some insight as to what Horsham was like when Alice was born.

I clicked the button and was given quite a bit of information. First, it explained where Horsham was, and then it got into the economy, community life, and transportation.

But it just doesn’t stop there. Below are more questions I can ask.

I tried each question and was given several paragraphs about each of the topics. This is all interesting stuff you could add to your ancestor’s story. Perhaps not all of it, but at least it might get you to look at other historically accurate books to expand on life in the 1800s in England.

I decided I’d ask ChatGPT DALL·E to depict a photo of Horsham in 1884, just as the above AncestryAI had talked about using this prompt: Depict a photo of Horsham in 1884 was a thriving and diverse community, with a strong agricultural economy, a close-knit community, and a well-connected transportation system.” Here’s what I got.

The AncestryAI prompts seem to be for events like birth, marriage, or death or when a location is mentioned in your ancestor’s profile. When I chose the AncestryAI for marriage, it talked about what the bride might have worn for that period and the food that might have been eaten. When I looked at the AncestryAI for Alice’s death, it talked about common causes of death, funeral and memorial traditions, and what the family might have worn at her funeral.

As I said, I might not use the information to change Alice Elizabeth Clark’s profile information, but it might prompt me to research more about the period and the places where she lived, making her even more real to me than she is. This might not be a big deal because I knew her, and I lived or visited some of the places she did, but what if this was someone I didn’t know.

Someone like Walter Walden, who I believe is my mother’s great-grandfather. He was born in 1835, so I looked at that time period. When I chose AncestryAI for England on his profile, this is what it said.

The 1830s saw a wave of social reform movements in England. The Factory Act of 1833 aimed to improve working conditions for children in factories, limiting their working hours. The Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 abolished slavery throughout the British Empire. The Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 aimed to reform the welfare system, but it also faced criticism for its harsh treatment of the poor.

Some of this I knew, but this type of information might get a person to research more and learn about the Factory Act of 1833, the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833, or the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 and how it could have impacted their ancestor’s lives.

And isn’t that what it’s all about? It’s not just collecting names and dates but learning about our ancestors and the things they went through and the hardships they might have endured. Those were the things that made them people and brings them to life as we research our family history.

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