Ancestry.com Search Secrets

Ancestry.com Search Secrets

Start Your Search 1. From Ancestry.com’s home page, click Search in the navigation bar to get to the standard search form.   Clicking Show Advanced in the top right will separate the Name field into fields for first and last names and add an Exact box to each...

Start Your Search

1. From Ancestry.com’s home page, click Search in the navigation bar to get to the standard search form.
 
Clicking Show Advanced in the top right will separate the Name field into fields for first and last names and add an Exact box to each field.
 
Click Tell us More (which we’ve done here) to expand the form with options such as Lived In, Family Members, Gender, Race/Nationality and a keyword (such as an occupation, school name or fraternal organization). 
 
Type in the person’s full name and your best guess of the birth date and place. You can include a woman’s maiden and married surnames in the same search. The search automatically fills in names from yourAncestry.com family tree if you have one, so make sure the name is correct.
 
After you type in a place of residence, you’ll have the option to add another place, up to four.
 
Finally, click Search.
 
View Search Results
2.  Records from all Ancestry.com’s databases are grouped together and appear in order of relevance to your search terms.

 
 
You could use the pull-down menu in the top right corner of the results panel to group results by record category. But it’s more helpful to separate matches using the Narrow By Category section on the left side. Click a category heading to expand it and drill down from all census results to, for example, just the 1920 census or the 1925 Illinois state census.
 
You may find a note among your results stating that following records are unlikely to be your ancestor. Only you can decide when to stop clicking on records. Think of it as a Google search: After a few pages, it may be more constructive to refine your search rather than keep looking at matches.
 
3. Hover over a record name list to see a record preview—a pop-up with basic details. The yellow triangle means anotherAncestry.com member has added information (in this case, an alternate transcription) to the record. Ancestry.com’s index does include members’ notations.
 
Click the record name to see the record summary page with more details (and, for censuses, a link to view others on the same page). Or click the record “thumbnail” to open the image.
 
 
4. If a record might be your ancestor’s but you want to look more closely at it later, save it to your Shoebox using the Page Tools on the left side of the record summary page (you can access your Shoebox from yourAncestry.com home page). At the bottom of this summary page, you’ll find a source citation for this record.
 

If you know the record is a relative’s, use the Page Tools panel to add the record to your Ancestry tree, share it with relatives and/or save the record to your computer. Page Tools also lets you add an alternate name or a comment to the record.

 
 
 
Refine Your Search

 
5. Use the Refine Search panel to the left of your search results to change your search terms, add terms or check Exact for some. If you haven’t already clicked Show Advanced, do so at the top of this panel. Click on the triangles to expand sections of the form.
 
 
 
6. If you check exact for a date (as we did), consider choosing a range of one, two, five, 10 or 20 years using the pull-down menu next to the date field. Next to Priority, choose from the list of heritage-based selections so records from that collection will appear earlier in your results. Click Search.
Our results narrowed from 106,000-plus to 7,649. Matches inAncestry.com family trees display first. Our Celestine’s 1930 census listing is the third record.
 
 
 
7. Use Narrow by Category to look at results from the 1920 US census. There’s a listing for a Celestine Shon, possibly Thoss—the right person with a mistranscribed surname.
 
 

View a Record
8. Click View Image to see the record. On the Image Viewer toolbar, use the magnifying glass icons to zoom in and out on the record. Type in a page number or use the Prev and Next buttons to look at surrounding pages. Other buttons let you order a copy through MyCanvas, print your own copy, save the record to your hard drive or share it with a friend via e-mail. The Help button brings up frequently asked questions about the Image Viewer.

 

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