Ancestry Day — Quite a Day

Over 700 enthusiastic genealogists and family history buffs, new and experienced, packed into the Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center recently for Ancestry Day.

People lined up to talk to Crista Cowan -- we couldn't get enough of her!

People lined up to talk to Crista Cowan at Ancestry Day — we couldn’t get enough of her!

Many of us had attended the previous day’s lectures at the Washington State History Museum (see my 9/24/16 blog post), but Saturday, Sept. 25, was the “main event,” sponsored by genealogy records giant  After an opening welcome by Secretary of State Kim Wyman and presentation of the colors by the Washington State Color Guard, Sons of the American Revolution (SAR), we launched into “Ancestry 101, a Beginner’s Basics Class” with Crista Cowan, the Barefoot Genealogist. (I’m always amazed at how much new info I can learn in a “beginners” class!) Crista has been employed by Ancestry since 2004, and really knows her stuff. (Check out her YouTube Channel for a plethora of genealogy videos.) Her witty stories and valuable lessons entertained us all day.

After the beginner’s class, Crista guided us through the benefits (and cautions) about shaky leaf hints (that don’t shake anymore), family trees, suggested records and the card catalog (her personal favorite resource). My only wish during the info-packed hour was that there was a handout — nearly got writer’s cramp taking notes as fast as I could!

The next speaker was Anna Swayne, Ancestry’s DNA education expert. I was particularly struck with her explanation of “genetic inheritance” — how she and her three sisters all had differing degrees of DNA ethnicity. It all seems very clear to me — wish I had her as my personal consultant on what to do with all the kit results I have! Anna was followed by the high-energy of Hannah Z. Allan who gave us insights into “Involving the Younger Generation.”

After lunch (and a lot of door prize drawings!), we heard Craig Bullough, Ancestry’s content acquisition specialist. We knew Ancestry was big, but did you know, Ancestry has:

  • 18+ billion records (over 2 billion just in the last 2 years!)
  • 80 million family trees
  • 8 billion individual profiles
  • 300+ million photos and stories uploaded
  • 2 million records PER DAY
  • 75 million searches DAILY
  • Records from 80 different countries

Now THAT’S big!

The day ended on another high note with Crista Cowan sharing how to “Tell Your Family Story.” There are so many stories and adventures to be found and shared in the world of genealogy. She encouraged all 700+ of us to share, share, share our stories.

Compliments are extended to Ancestry Day’s sponsors:, the Washington State Historical Society and the Washington State Archives.