4 Tips to Improve Your Ancestry Search Sessions

By Vanessa Wieland

Are Your Searches Turning Up Effective Results?

A search is a search is a search, right? Not necessarily, especially when it comes to’s massive database. If you want to increase your success in finding records of your ancestors, you’ll love these Ancestry search tricks and strategies from week 2 of our four-week workshop, Master in 4 Weeks. Not only will you learn effective ways to search through the database, but you’ll also discover how to turn into a powerful problem-solving tool in your research.

Search Strategically

Craft a Strong Search Plan

Before you type in a single query, create a search plan. What is it that you want to know? This is one of the most overlooked steps in our hurry to discover new things. However, if you can formulate your search into a question, you will be able to determine what records you need to find the answer and you’ll cut down on aimless searches.

Tweak Your Ancestry Search

If you’re investing in an subscription, you want to be able to turn up all the relevant records in the database. Ancestry has millions of records in over 37,700 collections, so if you’re not getting the results you want when you search by name and date, try using’s filters to refine the search. You can also try reversing the first and last names.

Research the Card Catalog

When you’ve created a plan and have your question in mind, you’ll find that it to do some research on the available collections. The Card Catalog not only lets you search within a specific collection; you can also learn about the overall records. Some even offer search tips inside the collection, so they can save you a lot of time and effort.

Watch this video to learn how to search the Card Catalog.

Master the Art of the Hint

Hints can be incredibly handy, but you have to explore them closely to ensure they match the ancestors you’re researching. There are steps you can take to improve the quality of the hints you’re receiving, and that includes making sure your online tree is as accurate as you can make it.

These four tips are a great place to get started, but if you’re interested in learning more, sign up for Master in 4 Weeks, starting February 4th. You’ll get lessons on building a mistake-proof online tree, how to use AncestryDNA, and how to turn the site into a powerful problem-solver. You’ll also get more tips on searching effectively. The instructor, Gena Philibert-Ortega, who will be happy to answer your questions and provide assistance.

Ancestry search

Are you an power user? Become one with these 11 little-known facts.

Download our Cheat Sheet!

Keep this cheat sheet nearby whenever you’re searching It’ll keep you from getting lost in this huge genealogy website and help you maximize your subscription dollars!