Thursday, January 11, 2024

Exploring the AncestryAI Feature on

 I read Diane Henriks post Ancestry Updates: New AI Features for Your Family Tree and DNA! on 1 October 2023 and read about the AncestryAI family tree feature, but when I checked my own family tree, I didn't have it.  I have looked for it weekly, and finally saw it today.

Diane's post summarized it as:

"Learn about your ancestor in a fun, engaging, and educational way with the new AI feature for your family tree! With the new feature, you can learn about birth, marriage, death, and residence events during your ancestors’ lives."

 To find the AncestryAI feature for your family tree, go to a Life Story on one of your Ancestry Member Tree profiles.  Here is the top of the Life Story page my profile for Abigail A. Vaux (1844-1931), my second great-grandmother:

On the last line of the "Birth" panel, there is a note:  "BETA: What was Aurora, New York, USA like when Abigail A. Vaux was born?  Ask AncestryAI."

I clicked on the "Ancestry AI" button and a sidebar opened on the right sidebar with the answer (on two screens below):

At the bottom of the screen above, there are three more questions concerning children's clothing, birth traditions and popular baby toys for the time period.

The same type of questions and answers are provided by AncestryAI for marriage, death, and residence events on the Life Story page.  See Diane Henriks' post for a summary of the questions.

The only flaw I found in this text was that the place was assumed to be Aurora, Cayuga County, New York rather than Aurora, Erie County, New York [there is more than one "Aurora" town in New York!]. 

This feature appears to be a relatively "static" artificial intelligence implementation with several predetermined questions, rather than a "dynamic" AI implementation where the user can ask a general chat type question about specific events or ideas.  It does put the question in time and place context.  It is very useful for historical, cultural, tradition, and lifestyle information about specific locations at a certain time.  Of course, we don't know if these generalized statements are typical of what our families experienced at the time and place in question.  

I was interested in what one of the AncestryAI Death questions and answers were for San Diego, where Abigail A. Vaux died.  Here is the first Death question and answer:  

What was San Diego, California, USA like at this time?

In 1931, San Diego, California was a vibrant city with a population of around 147,000 people. Located on the Pacific coast, it enjoyed a mild climate and beautiful beaches, making it a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. The city was known for its naval presence, with the United States Navy having a significant presence in the area.

Economy and Industry:

San Diego's economy in 1931 was primarily driven by the military and defense industries, as well as agriculture and tourism. The naval base, located in nearby Point Loma, provided employment opportunities for many residents. The city also had a thriving agricultural sector, with citrus fruits, avocados, and flowers being major crops. Tourism played a significant role in the local economy, with visitors attracted to the city's natural beauty and attractions like Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo.

Cultural Diversity:

San Diego in 1931 was a diverse city, with people from various ethnic backgrounds and cultures. The city had a significant Hispanic population, with Mexican-Americans contributing to the local culture and economy. Additionally, there were communities of Asian immigrants, particularly from Japan and China, who brought their traditions and cuisine to the city. African-Americans also had a presence in San Diego, contributing to the cultural fabric of the city.

Challenges and Social Issues:

Like many cities during the Great Depression, San Diego faced economic challenges in 1931. The stock market crash of 1929 had a significant impact on the local economy, leading to high unemployment rates and financial hardships for many residents. The city also experienced racial tensions and discrimination, particularly against the Hispanic and Asian communities. Despite these challenges, the people of San Diego persevered and worked together to overcome the difficulties of the time.

Now I'm wondering what it will say about Chula Vista at the time of my birth, marriage and at present.  And Leominster when my folks arrived there in about 1870.  And Hilperton when my Richman ancestors lived there until 1855.  And Voss, Norway when my wife's family lived there until 1850.  I'll report back.

All in all, I think this AncestryAI is an excellent addition to Ancestry Member Tree features.  I look forward to exploring more profiles for the tree profiles I have from around the world and different historical times.

Do you have the AncestryAI features on your Ancestry Member Tree?  This feature is still in Beta development, so not every Ancestry Member Tree may have it yet.  I encourage you to go look for it and try it out.  If you don't have it yet, check your tree occasionally to find it.  


Disclosure: I receive a complimentary all-access subscription from, for which I am thankful. has provided material considerations for travel expenses to meetings, and has hosted events and meals that I have attended in Salt Lake City, in past years.

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ByAPearl said...

Hi Randy! Hope you and Linda are doing well. I didn't have the AI feature last night but it is live today. I just checked it out on my ancestor born circa 1810. The first time the AI gave me information on 3 topics: Demographics and Cultural Diversity, Economy and Agriculture and Social and Political Landscape. After reading the information I closed the feature without copying the entire answer to a document. When I clicked on the AI feature again for the same ancestor's birth year it gave me info on 3 slightly different topics: Population and Ethnicities, Economy and Daily Life and Cultural and Social Life. Basically the same information, with a few different details. I give it a thumbs-up. Thanks for bringing it to our attention!

Diane Henriks said...

Thanks for the shout out, Randy! Yay to you finally getting it! Glad you're having fun with it! :)