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We’ve all heard that old saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Nowhere is this more true when researching our ancestors online. If you tend to plug in a name, date and location into Ancestry.com to find new records, there’s a good chance the hits you’re getting will be the same over and over again – and that you might not be getting all the relevant results. Read on to learn three tips for searching Ancestry.com efficiently and sign up for our next session of Become an Ancestry.com Power User.
Make Use of Wildcards
Wildcards replace letters in a name to help you find misspelled, mis-transcribed, or other errant spellings of the names you’re searching for on Ancestry.com. Using an asterisk (*) will replace any number of characters in a name. A question mark (?) will replace one character. This offers a flexible approach to researching around those spelling and transcription errors.
As you type in a location, options for place names appear. It’s a good idea to click on the appropriate match for your search as it appears in the drop-down menu under the location search box. This allows you to produce the most matches based on how Ancestry.com has identified place names in its records.
Focus on the Special Collections
The Special Collections panel is another way to explore records in pertinent categories. This panel provides direct access to popular records inside broader categories like “Birth, Marriage & Death,” “Immigration & Travel,” and “Military.” Search inside the collections to get targeted results.