Learning How to Tune Your
Ancestry.com Search
Anne Gillespie Mitchell
Roots Tech 2014
Basic Search Techniques Everyone
Should Know
Searching at Ancestry.com
Global searches = 31,000+ titles, 12 billion+ records
Two Things to Think About
1) What makes your ancestor unique?
•
•
•
•

Name
Places
Events
People

2) What unique aspects w...
What you put in your search form
will be matched in your search
results.
Unless you “tune” your search, just
one field nee...
Start with just a few basic facts
Name, location, estimated year of birth
Advanced
Search Options
First and Last name filters

8
Wildcards
Try wildcards
with exact on
names to find
unusual
spellings of
names.
Sm?th*
matches
Smith, Smyth,
and Smythe.
Y...
Wildcards
• * matches zero or more characters
• Ann* matches Ann, Anne, Anna,
Annabelle, etc.
Wildcards
• * matches zero or more characters
• Ann* matches Ann, Anne, Anna,
Annabelle, etc.

• ? matches one character
•...
Types of Locations
Lived in matches
a residence
event, such as a
census location
Any event
matches any
location in the
rec...
Location filters
Start searching at the “smallest location” you know, such as a county.
Expand your search as needed.

The...
Location filters

1
Location
filters

1
Sneak Peek Time!
Sliders
Sliders
Sliders
Sliders
Sliders
Back to Tuning Your Search
Lifespan Filtering
• Entering only a birth year
• Assume the person lived about 100 years.
• Records returned = birth year...
Lifespan Filtering
• Entering only a birth year
• Assume the person lived about 100 years.
• Records returned = birth year...
Limit your scope

At the bottom of the advanced
search, you can see the types of
records you will see

2
Collection Priority
Use facets

2
Do a Category Search

2
Search in a Data Collection

What’s there is what is indexed
Lived In in Census Records will get
you that specific county
...
Search in a Data Collection
What’s in the description?
• Source information

From Maine Marriages, 1892-1996
Search in a Data Collection
What’s in the description?
• Source information
• Data coverage

From Maine Marriages, 1892-19...
Search From Trees

3
Photos and Stories

3
Photos and Stories

3
Photos and Stories

3
What Question are You Asking
and Why You Need to Ask It
Global Search is great.

It’s a quick way to get started
finding information about your
ancestors.
But you need to know wh...
Ask yourself, what do I want to
know?
When and where was James Smith
born?
What was Jane Jones’ maiden
name?
Now that you have the question, you
can identify where you might find the
answer.
Let’s say James Smith was likely born in...
There are still lots of records that will
have the information:
• Census
• Obituaries
• Marriage records
• Family bibles
•...
Location, Location, Location
Records are usually created at the
location the event happened.
Understanding where it might have
happened is key to your ...
Timelines!
Framework Records
Start with the Card Catalog

Choose Census & Voter Lists
Now you can filter by location
Every data collection you see is
part of the Census & Voter List
category and has at least a few
records from the United S...
Every data collection you see is
part of the Census & Voter List
category and has at least a few
records from Virginia

Un...
There are 31 Data Collections that have at
least some Census & Voter List Records
from Virginia from the 1800
Maybe make a spreadsheet of Sources
you want to check every time you
research Virginians from the 1800s
You may want to browse to see
what is available

Ancestry.com has added over a billion
records from City Directories
Vital Records: Birth, Marriage
and Death
Before you look for a Vital Record,
determine if it exists
The Source and Red Book are both
available for free
Select Virginia Vital Records
Select Virginia County Resources
Summary of what was recorded and when
There are also Resources and History on the
Place Pages
Looking for Possible Locations for Virginia
Death Records in the 1850’s?
How about Augusta, Virginia?
Immigration: Where did they
come from?
Try http://www.ancestry.com/immigration
How about the Ancestry.com Wiki?
http://www.ancestry.com/wiki/index.php?title=Overview_of_Immigration_Research
Immigration Records for a Specific State or Country?

Place Pages
Immigration Records for a Specific State or
Country?

Place Pages
Military: What Wars Did They
Fight?
Search records by conflict

Try http://www.ancestry.com/military
Military Records? Fold3

Ancestry.com members get a 50% discount
Want to filter by time and place?
Card Catalog
Want to educate yourself?
Try the wiki
Categories of Records:
Local, Family and
Church Histories
Some of the most underused BUT most
valuable resources are Local, Family and
Church Histories
Need information about a specific County?

Even if your ancestor isn’t in a particular
history you may learn about what li...
Card Catalog will also help you filter down
your selections
Try putting a location into Keywords(s)
which will search title AND description

And choose Schools, Directories & Church
...
Or try a surname
Or try a religion
References and Useful Links




Where you can find me




Learning How to Tune Your ancestry.com Search
Learning How to Tune Your ancestry.com Search
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Learning How to Tune Your ancestry.com Search

  1. 1. Learning How to Tune Your Ancestry.com Search Anne Gillespie Mitchell Roots Tech 2014
  2. 2. Basic Search Techniques Everyone Should Know
  3. 3. Searching at Ancestry.com Global searches = 31,000+ titles, 12 billion+ records
  4. 4. Two Things to Think About 1) What makes your ancestor unique? • • • • Name Places Events People 2) What unique aspects will be included in records?
  5. 5. What you put in your search form will be matched in your search results. Unless you “tune” your search, just one field needs to match the record to be in your results.
  6. 6. Start with just a few basic facts Name, location, estimated year of birth
  7. 7. Advanced Search Options
  8. 8. First and Last name filters 8
  9. 9. Wildcards Try wildcards with exact on names to find unusual spellings of names. Sm?th* matches Smith, Smyth, and Smythe. You must have at least 3 characters to use a wildcard. 9
  10. 10. Wildcards • * matches zero or more characters • Ann* matches Ann, Anne, Anna, Annabelle, etc.
  11. 11. Wildcards • * matches zero or more characters • Ann* matches Ann, Anne, Anna, Annabelle, etc. • ? matches one character • Ann? matches Anne, Anna
  12. 12. Types of Locations Lived in matches a residence event, such as a census location Any event matches any location in the record
  13. 13. Location filters Start searching at the “smallest location” you know, such as a county. Expand your search as needed. Then select adjacent counties and work your way out geographically to expand your search. 1
  14. 14. Location filters 1
  15. 15. Location filters 1
  16. 16. Sneak Peek Time!
  17. 17. Sliders
  18. 18. Sliders
  19. 19. Sliders
  20. 20. Sliders
  21. 21. Sliders
  22. 22. Back to Tuning Your Search
  23. 23. Lifespan Filtering • Entering only a birth year • Assume the person lived about 100 years. • Records returned = birth year – 5, and birthdates + 102.
  24. 24. Lifespan Filtering • Entering only a birth year • Assume the person lived about 100 years. • Records returned = birth year – 5, and birthdates + 102. • Entering only a death date • Assumes the person lived about 100 years. • Records returned = death year – 105 to death year +2.
  25. 25. Limit your scope At the bottom of the advanced search, you can see the types of records you will see 2
  26. 26. Collection Priority
  27. 27. Use facets 2
  28. 28. Do a Category Search 2
  29. 29. Search in a Data Collection What’s there is what is indexed Lived In in Census Records will get you that specific county Exact means exact 2
  30. 30. Search in a Data Collection What’s in the description? • Source information From Maine Marriages, 1892-1996
  31. 31. Search in a Data Collection What’s in the description? • Source information • Data coverage From Maine Marriages, 1892-1996
  32. 32. Search From Trees 3
  33. 33. Photos and Stories 3
  34. 34. Photos and Stories 3
  35. 35. Photos and Stories 3
  36. 36. What Question are You Asking and Why You Need to Ask It
  37. 37. Global Search is great. It’s a quick way to get started finding information about your ancestors. But you need to know what you want to know before the information is useful.
  38. 38. Ask yourself, what do I want to know? When and where was James Smith born? What was Jane Jones’ maiden name?
  39. 39. Now that you have the question, you can identify where you might find the answer. Let’s say James Smith was likely born in the 1800’s in South Carolina. South Carolina didn’t have birth records then.
  40. 40. There are still lots of records that will have the information: • Census • Obituaries • Marriage records • Family bibles • Military records • Passenger lists • Naturalization records • And on, and on….
  41. 41. Location, Location, Location
  42. 42. Records are usually created at the location the event happened. Understanding where it might have happened is key to your search.
  43. 43. Timelines!
  44. 44. Framework Records
  45. 45. Start with the Card Catalog Choose Census & Voter Lists
  46. 46. Now you can filter by location
  47. 47. Every data collection you see is part of the Census & Voter List category and has at least a few records from the United States Select Virginia
  48. 48. Every data collection you see is part of the Census & Voter List category and has at least a few records from Virginia Unlike the Place Pages which were data collections specifically about Virginia but nowhere else, these collections may have other places as well Choose 1800
  49. 49. There are 31 Data Collections that have at least some Census & Voter List Records from Virginia from the 1800
  50. 50. Maybe make a spreadsheet of Sources you want to check every time you research Virginians from the 1800s
  51. 51. You may want to browse to see what is available Ancestry.com has added over a billion records from City Directories
  52. 52. Vital Records: Birth, Marriage and Death
  53. 53. Before you look for a Vital Record, determine if it exists
  54. 54. The Source and Red Book are both available for free
  55. 55. Select Virginia Vital Records
  56. 56. Select Virginia County Resources
  57. 57. Summary of what was recorded and when
  58. 58. There are also Resources and History on the Place Pages
  59. 59. Looking for Possible Locations for Virginia Death Records in the 1850’s?
  60. 60. How about Augusta, Virginia?
  61. 61. Immigration: Where did they come from?
  62. 62. Try http://www.ancestry.com/immigration
  63. 63. How about the Ancestry.com Wiki? http://www.ancestry.com/wiki/index.php?title=Overview_of_Immigration_Research
  64. 64. Immigration Records for a Specific State or Country? Place Pages
  65. 65. Immigration Records for a Specific State or Country? Place Pages
  66. 66. Military: What Wars Did They Fight?
  67. 67. Search records by conflict Try http://www.ancestry.com/military
  68. 68. Military Records? Fold3 Ancestry.com members get a 50% discount
  69. 69. Want to filter by time and place? Card Catalog
  70. 70. Want to educate yourself? Try the wiki
  71. 71. Categories of Records: Local, Family and Church Histories
  72. 72. Some of the most underused BUT most valuable resources are Local, Family and Church Histories
  73. 73. Need information about a specific County? Even if your ancestor isn’t in a particular history you may learn about what life was like during their lifetime
  74. 74. Card Catalog will also help you filter down your selections
  75. 75. Try putting a location into Keywords(s) which will search title AND description And choose Schools, Directories & Church Histories
  76. 76. Or try a surname
  77. 77. Or try a religion
  78. 78. References and Useful Links    Where you can find me    
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