Ancestry Uses Artificial Intelligence to Sift Through Hundreds of Thousands of Obituaries

UPDATE: The article below shows the original announcement as written by Ancestry. However, the company later released an updated version of this announcement that is both easier to read and easier to understand. To read the newer announcement, please go to

From an article in the Market Research Base web site at

“Ancestry used synthetic intelligence to extract obituary particulars hidden in a half-billion digitized newspaper pages courting again to 1690, knowledge invaluable for patrons constructing their household bushes.

“The household historical past and consumer-genomics firm, based mostly in Lehi, Utah, started the venture in late 2017 and launched the brand new performance final month. By its subsidiary, the corporate had a trove of newspaper pages, together with obituaries — however it stated that manually discovering and importing these loss of life notices to in a kind that was usable for patrons would possible have taken years. As a substitute, Ancestry tasked its 24-person data-science workforce with having know-how pinpoint and make sense of the info. The workforce educated machine-learning algorithms to acknowledge obituary content material in these 525 million newspaper pages. It then educated one other set of algorithms to detect and index key information from the obituaries, resembling names of the deceased’s partner and youngsters, start dates, birthplaces and extra.”

The full story may be found at:


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I hope that was a computer-generated press release, because if it wasn’t, the quality of journalism at Market Research Base leaves a LOT to be desired.


I wonder how many of your readers are working on their “household bushes”.


I’ve been a subscriber to for years and never have I gotten so much mis-information as I have in the last month. All to do with obituaries. I have gotten notices of obits for 4 of my closest relatives – 3 1st cousins and my son-in-law. They all live close to me and are alive and well. Very frustrating and upsetting.


    Paula Tuano
    November 19, 2019 at 8:09 am
    I’ve been a subscriber to for years and never have I gotten so much mis-information as I have in the last month. All to do with obituaries.

    They’re simply suggestions for your review and not foolproof facts.
    I’m guessing your frustration is due to the sheer volume of entries, coupled with it being a new technology that will be improved. Common surnames add another possible reason for an incorrect hint.


    I have had the exact opposite experience – in the past couple months have come across more Obituaries valid for my researching purposes via hints then I could have imagine possible.


“Constructing their household bushes”? The language used in this is interesting to say the least.


This article was obviously written by someone who has minimal control of the English language. Disappointing.


You couldn’t find a better written article than this?????


I’m speechless. This press release was clearly written by someone who took a few paragraphs in another language and then ran it through Google Translate. Whatever they’re selling, I’m not interested.


Here is Ancestry’s news release on the topic. In real English.


This service from ancestry dot com has been one of the few useful thing they have done for users in the past couple of years. I have over 8000 names in my tree and no way can I search each one individually in So it’s very helpful for ancestry’s search engine to crawl through its sister company’s data and give me hints to follow up. Most of the hints were accurate. They enabled me to add death dates to some profiles and also to learn of spouses and children. In one case of an older obituary, it led to five generations of new names for my tree.


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