I want to thank everyone for your participation in the search strategies webinar. We had a wonderful turnout with thousands of comments and questions. We answered as many questions as time allowed. We have a list of the questions asked during the webinar and we’ll be posting answers to the most popular questions and topic areas.
There were many questions about the card catalog and about topics that can be researched using the card catalog. Most of them fell into a few themes which are summarized below.
Question: How do you find the card catalog?
Answer: The link for the card catalog is on the left side of the search homepage. The search homepage can be found by clicking on the search button in the navigation bar at the top of Ancestry.com web pages. You can also hold your mouse over the search link at the top of the page without clicking and you will see the card catalog at the bottom of the drop down. Here is a direct link to the card catalog and a screenshot of where you can find the links.
(Where to find links to the card catalog)
Question: How can you specify a place and a year to narrow down the list of census data collections? How can you search for a state or county census record? How do you look up individual census documents?
Answer: You can narrow census records by date and location. First, go to the card catalog and select “Census & Voter Lists” from the left side of the page under “Filter by Collection.” Then, under “Filter by Location,” choose a country or region. Finally, select the year you are interested from the left side of the page. At the top of the page, you can change the sorting order of the census records. See the drop down menu that says “Sort by.” I like to sort by “Database Title.”
(Changing sort order in the card catalog)
To see the records for a particular state or county, repeat the first two steps above, but don’t choose a time period yet. Continue to narrow your location down to a state or county using the links on the left side of the page. The screenshot below shows the first few counties in California.
(Narrowing census data collections to California counties)
Finally, choose a census collection title from the list of data collections located on the right side of the page to go directly to the page with the search form and browse links for a specific census.
Question: Where can you find cemetery records?
Answer: You can use the search function in the card catalog to search for data collections about cemeteries or many other similar topics such as “graveyard” or “burial.” Just type “cemetery” into the title field and click “search.” Then you can narrow the results by collection type, location, and year. The screenshot below shows where the title field and where the “filter by collection” links are located.
(Searching for cemetery in the card catalog)
Questions: How do you find collections by country? How do you research records from Germany? How do you find records for France or Paris?
Answer: You can use the card catalog to see a list of data collections for Germany and France. Use the “Filter by Location” links on the left side of the page. Choose “Europe”, and then “Germany.” As you can see in the screenshot below, there are 1,338 data collections available today for Germany.
(German records in the card catalog)
You can also narrow the choices further by selecting a collection type such as “military.”
Another way to search for place is to search by keyword. For example, to search for data collections about Paris, go to the card catalog and use the keyword field to input “Paris” and then click search. For more information, you can view our webinar that focuses on European research.
Questions: How do you find military records from France during WWII? How can you find Navy records or records from other service branches from WWII?
Answer: Many countries do not release military records. Some military records will not be made public until the country in question decides that enough time has passed such that record privacy is no longer a concern. You can learn all about our military collections by listening to the military records webinar. In addition, Ancestry magazine published an article about World War II in May.
To find our military data collections about France, you can either search or browse the card catalog. You could start by filtering the card catalog by “Military”, then filtering by location to “France.”
You can also search the card catalog by keyword. Try searching for “World War II” and for “WWII.” You may also want to search for keywords associated with the World War II such as “holocaust”. Finally, I recommend trying a title search for “World War II” in addition to the keyword search. Shown below is a screenshot for a search with “WWII” in the keyword field.
(Card catalog search results for WWII)
Question: Where can you find the ships records on Ancestry.com?
Answer: Go to the card catalog and look on the left side of the page. Click “Immigration & Emigration.” Then scan through the collection choices. We have hundreds of data collections from passenger lists and crew lists to passports and ship pictures.
(Records about immigration and emigration including ships records)
Specific questions about errors or technical problems will be answered more quickly if you email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the customer support center. Our phone number is available on the bottom of the homepage and on our Contact Ancestry.com Support page.