What’s the big deal, you ask? You’ll often get better matches using a database’s customized search page instead of Ancestry.com’s global search. And if you discover there’s no database covering the record, place and time frame you need, you can skip the search — and save the pain of wading through irrelevant results.
Before, users looking for individual databases had to browse an alphabetized list, making it virtually impossible to locate a compilation of, say, Louisiana births, without knowing the exact title. Is it under L for Louisiana or B for births — or N for New Orleans? Maybe I for Index? You get the idea.
But now you can search for databases that might contain your ancestors’ information by entering all or part of a title, keywords, year range or location. You even can use the catalog to find recently updated databases. The title search is your best bet, but you’ll need to experiment: Louisiana birth yielded the New Orleans, Louisiana Birth Records Index, 1790-1899; Louisiana births got nothing. Entering new Orleans in the Location field also failed to bring up the birth index. Still, this sure beats the heck out of that scary alphabetized list.
From the October 2006 issue of Family Tree Magazine.