Thursday, July 2, 2015

What Facts Show Up in an LifeStory?

I wish I knew the answer to this question.  It's very frustrating sometimes.

I have added many different "Facts," "sources" and "Media" for my families in my RootsMagic 7 program, and have uploaded the GEDCOM file to  The "Facts," "Sources," and "Media" that I have uploaded show up in the "Facts" list for a person in my Ancestry Member Tree.

1)  For instance, here is the top of the "Facts" page (two screens shown) for my grandfather, Frederick Walton Seaver (1876-1942):

When I entered information into my RootsMagic program, I used the "Census" Fact for the census enumerations because that Fact incorporates much more information than just a "Residence."  It usually includes a name, an age, an occupation, immigration information, etc. and not just a residence.

2)  The only images that show up in the LifeStory for my grandfather are Birth, Marriage, Death and Residence events. 

But the "Census" Fact does not show up in the LifeStory list for some reason.  The Census, World War I draft registration, occupation, burial, obituary and funeral Facts that I have entered along with source citations and media items for these Facts do not show up in the LifeStory.

There are probably other Facts that are in my Facts list for other persons in my tree that don't show up in the LifeStory.  I don't know all of them.

I tested the "Residence" Fact to see if it would show up in the LifeStory.  Here is the top of the LifeStory for my grandfather:

On the Fact list, I added a "Residence" Fact for the 1880 U.S. Census, then connected the existing media item and the source citation.  I Saved the "Residence" Fact.

Then I went back to the LifeStory and sure enough the record image and the Fact information was now in the LifeStory:

3) provides a long list of possible Facts that can be added to the Facts list of a person.  Here is an image of the top of that list (you can see it by clicking on the "Add" button and then clicking on the "Select an event type" to see the list):

4)  My question is:  Why doesn't use EVERY Fact type on the list to construct the LifeStory?  Aren't these Fact types important in the life of the person?  

I have the different Facts in my person profiles for a reason - they are events in the life of my person.  In many cases, I have a Media item associated with the Fact which should show up on the LifeStory.

I know that the Census record will show up on the Fact list and on the LifeStory as a "Residence" Fact.  But a record image attached to the Fact does not show up.  For a Census record, the "Residence" is the only Fact that is added to the LifeStory.  A Marital status note appears which is not very useful.  No Occupation, or Age, or other Fact is added to the Fact list from a Census record.

Not every person attaches an record to the Facts in their Ancestry Member Tree.  On this particular tree, I don't do that because it is a "working tree" - one I upload occasionally as cousin bait.

5)  One more thing.  Yet the LifeStory of my grandfather has ZERO Historical Insights included.  Why?  My grandfather lived from 1876 to 1942.  Surely there were some notable Historical Insights (the newest feature of the New Ancestry design) during this period - I can think of the Spanish-American War, election of about 10 Presidents, World War I, the 1918 Influenza pandemic, the Great Depression, the start of World War II, etc.  (Yes, I checked the "Show historical insights" link to make sure).

6)  I like the LifeStory concept, but the implementation to date is lacking, in my humble opinion.  All of my Facts should be included, the Media items attached to those Facts should be included, and a reasonable number of Historical Events should be provided.

My opinion is that if you are going to create new features, and advertise the benefits of the new features, that they should be attractive, useful and helpful to the user, and especially to new users.  It should be a "WOW" factor for users.

What do my readers think about this?  Are you happy with the LifeStory feature two months after it was introduced?

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Copyright (c) 2015, Randall J. Seaver

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Geolover said...

"Why doesn't use EVERY Fact type on the list to construct the LifeStory? Aren't these Fact types important in the life of the person?" has divided up the constituents of the Person Pages into four sections. It has not offered any reason for doing this. One can speculate that it is to fit certain smaller hand-held devices. also has not offered an explanation for its rationale for including or excluding elements that ~do~ appear more or less correctly in the Timeline page.

No promises are made regarding accuracy or completeness in the LifeStory page, such as regarding tax lists, Census entries (as such rather than as "residences") and other matters. You *can* edit the narrative in the LifeStory. Limitations of this are not described anywhere, so far, so you will have to experiment. Note that all County names are omitted in the default narrative, as are names of Canadian Provinces. And place-names for other countries are an awful mess in the default narrative, although they also can be edited in the narratives for ~each person~, one by one.

The LifeStory is not at all set up to be a narrative report such as you can tweak from most home-genealogy programs. It is bare-bones and locationally confusing (what if your target person moved from New Brunswick to Ontario and then to Manitoba?) does not promise a rose garden. It does not promise anything at all. It just "does," and may or may not be responsive to what users see as bugs. One example is changing the designated-*portrait* thumbnail from a square to a too-small circle, so heads are partly cut off.

It remains to be seen what changes may be made, but the list of items to be added do not include any fixes to the things listed here. See the rather overly enthusiastic blog-entry praise for the "Facts" page, by Crista Cowen, for the list of upcoming items:

There is also a new blog about the Facts page:

Denise Doyon said...

If you use History Lines ( you will NEVER bother with the totally useless Life Lines section of again. History Lines does a wonderful job of integrating actual history (what a concept!) into your ancestor's story. I am writing a family history narrative and have found History Lines invaluable. It certainly doesn't negate the need for doing my own research, but it supplies a lot of facts and good leads for further exploration. has a LONG way to go to catch up.

T said...

Yes, HistoryLines does a much better job of writing the whole story. If you aren't going to write the whole story yourself, try theirs.

Has jumped the shark? Are they trying to merge with/be bought by familysearch? The similar web sites and the partnerships both have make me wonder.

PJ91977 said...

I'm having some complaints with the "gallery" feature. These items seem to be hidden once you add them to your tree, so don't know if there is anything in that person's gallery unless you actually look there. Worse yet, even if you click on the gallery setting to view what you have added, sometimes the site just "spins" and you cannot see anything in that gallery. I think Ancestry has missed the mark on their "improvements." What a shame for such a well-respected site!

Unknown said...

I don't find the "new ancestry" very user friendly and it is confusing. It may be fine for someone new to genealogy, but for a serious researcher not so much. I am making sure that all my Ancestry is backed up, my DNA downloaded and moving to either Roots Magic or Legacy for my software. I am uncertain about Ancestry's future since they are negotiating a possible sale, and I have not been pleased with their changes over this past year.

Jeani said...

Yes, I have noticed it would be great if Census facts were noted; perhaps they are still working on it?

One new way of editing facts is to click on each one, edit, and if it is a duplicate or erroneous, one can click on the delete icon, bottom right corner of page. This I like very much, and have used it during the last two days.

However, one cannot use the same editing tactic when a father (or mother) shows a child (children) more than once! I clicked on the child's page, and still cannot delete/edit the duplicate information.

Hope they fix this soon. One of my pages repeats the same children, birth and death, three times each! I believe this has happened due to my copying information from other family trees. I have recently stopped copying from family trees; just copying documents and citations. I may occasionally copy pictures and/or stories from others' trees, however.