AI technology opens treasure trove of historical family data to power meaningful discoveries and connections for members
LEHI, Utah & SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today, Ancestry®, the global leader in family history and consumer genomics, is releasing the new Newspapers.com Obituary Collection and announcing an upgrade to its U.S. Obituary Collection, adding to what is now the world’s largest, searchable digital archive of over 262 million worldwide obituaries and death announcements, containing almost 1 billion searchable family members.
Obituaries are one of the most comprehensive records available about an ancestor. An obituary can act like a ‘starter kit’ for family history -- it can include places of birth, marriage, occupation, residence, and family members, and may even suggest burial site location. One-third of Americans are unable to name all four of their grandparents,* but obituaries offer one of the easiest ways to understand recent family history and launch a journey of personal discovery.
“Obituaries are one of the most powerful and useful records for family tree building. They help novices get started and more advanced members unlock new clues in their family stories,” said Nat Natarajan, Chief Product and Technology Officer, AncestryⓇ. “We wanted to make it as easy and efficient as possible for members to search our millions of obituary records, but no existing tool met our standards. So our team of data scientists and engineers used AI to create our own innovative models unlike anything else currently available.”
Using new sophisticated artificial intelligence technology, Ancestry updated its collection of US Obituaries by combing through millions of digital obituaries to key names, relationships and other facts so members can now easily search these records with just one click. And in the case of the Newspapers.com Obituary Collection, Ancestry data scientists developed a way to first locate individual obituaries in newspaper images among other articles and ads so the family history information could then be extracted and point users to the original newspaper page. By expanding and simplifying search capabilities, Ancestry continues to grow and give members access to the largest collections of digitized records available. The expansion of digitized obituary records allows consumers to fill in the gaps of an ancestor’s life story that may have been lost or unknown through the generations. This powerful connection can help bridge not just the past, but the present, by sparking meaningful connections and conversations among immediate family members as they learn important information about their ancestors.
“In today’s digital world, we share so much of our lives online – from our jobs to important life events. However, for past generations, obituaries are often the only 'biographical sketch' devoted to an individual. By making these obituaries accessible, Ancestry is providing the resources to make new discoveries about your unique family story and legacy,” said Jennifer Utley, AncestryⓇ Family Historian. “When you deepen your understanding of your family history, it can spark meaningful conversations about the collective experiences that brought your family to this moment in time.”
The new Newspapers.com Obituary Collection and the upgraded Ancestry U.S. Obituary Collection will expand Ancestry’s unparalleled historical record collections that enable people around the world to uncover their family history, spark their own journey of discovery and inspire meaningful conversations.
New Newspapers.com Obituary Collection: Newspapers.com is the largest online newspaper archive, with over 525+ million pages of historical newspapers, including obituaries, from thousands of printed newspapers across the United States and beyond. Ancestry leveraged powerful, new artificial intelligence algorithms to locate the obituaries found within these Newspapers.com pages and extract key facts including names of the deceased and family members, relationships, important dates, and locations. This indexed collection includes facts from nearly 200 million Newspapers.com obituaries and the extracted information is available to all Ancestry subscribers.
This new searchable collection is available on Ancestry to all subscribers and the original obituary images are hosted on Newspapers.com. Members with an Ancestry All Access or Newspapers.com Basic subscription have a 1-click option to view the full obituary on Newspapers.com. Some images may require a Publisher Extra subscription as certain newspapers require additional licenses to view their content.
Upgraded U.S. Obituary Collection: The Ancestry U.S. Obituary Collection contains recent obituaries from 1930 to the present day. With new records added every day, Ancestry regularly extracts key details from digital obituaries, including the name of the deceased, important dates, and location information into a searchable database to help members discover them. But most recently, Ancestry has taken on a massive project to upgrade this collection using machine learning algorithms to extract even more details, now linked and indexed for easier searches and discoveries. This crucial and significant advancement expanded this collection to now include 4x more searchable family members. This technology advancement means Ancestry members are likely to receive more search results and record hints while exploring the U.S. Obituaries Collection. And, this new upgrade makes it simpler for members to add multiple people to family trees from the discovery of just one obituary.
Ancestry, the global leader in family history and consumer genomics, harnesses the information found in family trees, historical records, and DNA to help people gain a new level of understanding about their lives. Ancestry has more than three million paying subscribers across its core Ancestry websites with an extensive collection of over 20 billion records and has more than 15 million people in the AncestryDNA network. Since 1996, members have created over 100 million family trees and 11 billion ancestor profiles on the Ancestry flagship site and its affiliated international websites. Ancestry offers a suite of family history products and services including AncestryDNA®, Archives®, AncestryProGenealogists®, Newspapers.com™ and Fold3®. AncestryDNA is owned and operated by Ancestry.com DNA, LLC, a subsidiary of Ancestry.com Holdings LLC.
*Survey conducted by OnePoll for Ancestry with a sample of 2,000 Americans from December 5-11, 2018