Refine your searches in fewer steps in new search

After listening, researching and testing with members, we decided to make the hot key experience in new search the default method for refining searches.

(Note: I got my dates wrong, it’s Tuesday, November 10th…so just a little more waiting.)
This change will happen on Monday, November 9th, sometime during the day.

The information you enter into your original search will appear at the top left of the search results page. Clicking “Edit search” will bring up your search query allowing you to edit your search criteria. (Note: You won’t be able to edit in the left hand panel any more; all editing will be done from a form.)

Also, the Narrow by Category panel is now higher on the page, providing easier access for narrowing your search results by types of records (e.g., census records, immigration records, military records, etc.).

These changes are designed to make searching for your family on faster and more efficient, resulting in even more successful discoveries about your ancestors.

Here’s how it will work:

  1. Do a search. Let’s say I’m searching for my ancestor, Zebedee Hash. You will see:
  2. To help refine the search, I now click on “Edit Search”:
  3. You’ll see a form pre-populated with the original query:
  4. Add in the information:
  5. Click on the search button either at the top or bottom of the form. (We put in two search buttons to make it handy to find wherever you are in the form. They do the exact same thing.)

  6. You’ll now see the summary of your search query in the panel:
  7. Now let’s say I want to make my Birth Year exact within a range. I click on “Edit search” again, and enter my new information:
  8. Click on the search button, and see the new result set. You’ll notice in the query summary, that the birth year range is in double quotes, telling you that you’ve marked that field exact:

So look for change on Tuesday, try it out, and let us know what you think.

Happy Searching!

About Anne Gillespie Mitchell
Anne Gillespie Mitchell is a Senior Product Manager at She is an active blogger on and writes the Ancestry Anne column. She has been chasing her ancestors through Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina for many years. Anne holds a certificate from Boston University's Online Genealogical Research Program, and is currently on the clock working towards certification from the Board for Certification of Genealogists. You can also find her on Twitter, Facebook and Finding Forgotten Stories.


1 nicholas RochesterNovember 7, 2009 at 10:18 am

The Rochester family has a group of ancestors that came from one original ancestor that came to this country (USA).There have also developed other families that use the Rochester Name although have no relationship to the family..they just picked up the name somewhere along the way..As the city of Rochester , New York is named after the family there are also over 17 other towns etc. named Rochester and as far as I know they have never asked the family for permission to use the ask..what is in a name when any maybe used ??

2 Andy HatchettNovember 7, 2009 at 12:42 pm

To the best of my knowledge, there is no requirement that anyone get “permission” from anyone to use a certain surname, be it for a person, place, river, mountain, or anything else. I’m quite sure that there was more than one origianl Rochester that immigrated to the United States that wasn’t related to another original immigrant that also came to the United States.

3 Andy HatchettNovember 7, 2009 at 12:45 pm

Anne RE: Search Improvement


This change is great- means MUCH less clicking and fiddling about.

4 JoNovember 7, 2009 at 1:55 pm

Anne, while you’re at it, can you fix the tabbing from the location field to the SEARCH button? When I try to tab from the location field to the SEARCH button, my cursor stays in the location field. If I tab once from the location field and tap my keyboard ENTER key, it activates the “tell us more function” and expands the box with more fields, so it’s tabbing right past the SEARCH button. I use Firefox 3.5.5 and WinXP Pro but I checked it on IE8 and get the same results.

Thanks. Jo (<—going back to old search again)

5 JoNovember 7, 2009 at 4:38 pm

Oh, I forgot to ask if maybe you could have them fix new search so it works with Firefox? If you check out this thread you can see my screen shot.

Thanks again. Jo

6 Anne MitchellNovember 7, 2009 at 5:35 pm

Don’t know about the Rochester thing, but I would think Andy is right. Lot’s of creeks and mountains and towns are named after people.

Andy, that’s what we thought, less fiddling, more time for searching :-)

Jo, I’ll have someone look at it.

Happy Searching!

7 Richard JohnsonNovember 7, 2009 at 9:35 pm

Glad to see this improvement. I have often been frustrated by having to reenter information that I’ve already entered.

8 Pat PudloskiNovember 8, 2009 at 2:23 am

I’m new to (in my 14 day trial period) and I’m having a heck of a time. I’m searching for my brother’s birth certificate. I did a search and came up with hundreds of thousands results. The instructions say to click on “edit search”. I don’t have a que for “edit search”. I’ve tried refining my search and still have tons of thousands of possible matches. Also, I don’t have an “exact” que for matching. Am I doing something wrong? I’m getting very frustrated, very fast. Please, somebody help me! Going back to the “learning center” in the meantime. Thanks.

9 Andy HatchettNovember 8, 2009 at 2:32 am

Unless your brother was born in one of the very few states to have certificate images online you most likely won’t find him- particularly if born after 1930.

You have to remember that most genealogy info is *not* online, especially images of newer records.

10 SteveNovember 8, 2009 at 3:08 am

Personally, I find “searching for [my] family on[.uk] faster and more efficient, resulting in even more successful discoveries about [my] ancestors” comes from using ‘old search’. ‘New search’ in my experience is a waste of time. Continue to tinker with it if you must, but if you want your users to be able to actually find what they’re looking for, keep ‘old search’ in place.

11 SusanNovember 8, 2009 at 10:01 am

What happened to the preview of newspaper articles? They just disappeared in the midst of my research this morning. Now I have to open every single newspaper page to see if it is relevant; whereas before I could tell from the preview if it was a possible match. Please return to the way it was before or allow that as an option for users. This part was a big step backward for users.

12 Stuart LeVineNovember 8, 2009 at 1:15 pm

I used the method described and still come up with the same incorrect images that have been coming up now for years. Every time I notify customer service they tell me it will be corrected “real soon now”. That’s what they say over and over. So what good is this new search technique?

13 Young SnodgrassNovember 8, 2009 at 2:01 pm

Enjoyed the “Search Webinar!” However, the on-line version doesn’t diaplay properly! It’s in a window that’s not full size, so parts don’t show on the display!
Also, for “older” viewers, it would help if there was a way to “pause” and/or back-up!
Young Snodgrass
Goshen, Indiana

14 BarbaraNovember 8, 2009 at 5:43 pm

I will tell you how else our search would be easier . When people look marriage you either have the Groom or the bridres name on that search .
It does not tell you the spouse that he or she is marry to no one will order a marrige certificate if it does not tell you the spouse’s name For instance looking up my Great Grandfather’s name which is James Foye well thier are several James Foye.That would help us out real good! Sincerely Barbara Bosy

15 Andy HatchettNovember 8, 2009 at 6:26 pm

In many cases Ancestry doesn’t know the name as they were working from whatever indexes they were allowed to use and it is completely dependent on how those provided indexes were set up.

In some cases there were Groom indexes and bride indexes that had name and certificate numbers and that was it. You then have to find that matching certificate number in the other index or have the index of certificate numbers themselves, which often time was not made available to Ancestry.

16 MichaelMcDermott72November 8, 2009 at 7:07 pm

Fifteen comments before mine! Obviously a welcomed addition. Let’s hope it is truly an improvement. In any case, thanks to Anne Mitchell for trying to make searching easier. Can hardly wait for tomorrow to test the “refinement.”

17 TeresaNovember 8, 2009 at 9:55 pm

Well, I’ve used this new search format all day today and honestly I don’t like it. It was much easier before when I had the person I was searching for, as well as their spouse and children and parents, at the top of the page to refer back to. I’m having to keep 2 webpages open and switch back and forth between them for information. Totally frustrating. It was also much easier having the box on the left side of the page to edit search parameters in and choose what collections to search.

18 TeresaNovember 8, 2009 at 10:04 pm

Nevermind. In continuing reading, I discovered that I can switch back and forth between old search and new search. I’ll take the old search. Hopefully that option will remain.

19 Andy HatchettNovember 8, 2009 at 10:27 pm

Teresa Re:#18

Old Search will remain-for now; but not forever. That has already been made clear by Ancestry.

I’m no big fan of NewSearch- but feel it is my own best interest to try and get used to it-a little at a time- before I’m faced with the reality of having to use NewSearch because OldSearch is finally gone.

Little steps I can manage, one giant leap would probably undo me completely.

20 Anne MitchellNovember 9, 2009 at 11:30 am

Pat (re#8), if you are looking for living people, doesn’t really have a lot of information; helping you find your ancestor’s is our goal. Also, many states and countries don’t make birth certificates available on line — you’d need to contact the government office that stores that information.

21 Bill BensonNovember 9, 2009 at 2:31 pm

Dear Anne,

While I greatly appreciate any search improvements to I keep wondering why you folks don’t do more with Proximity searching? That is, a way to search for words close to other words. This search feature has been around since at least 1980 when it was used for Dialog and other professional databases. As it is, searching your giant database often results in very strange results, as far as I can tell, because of a “shotgun” approach where the words just have to appear somewhere in the text. A way to make them appear, say within five words of each other, would make searching a breeze. An option to do a “shotgun” or broader search would still be welcome, but I bet your users would love proximity searching. Respectfully, Bill Benson, former research librarian

22 SandraNovember 9, 2009 at 5:13 pm

Old search is going to be eliminated in the future after all?

That will no longer be kept as an option to searching on Ancestry?

I have tried all versions of the “new” search, and detest it.

This upsets me greatly and it will be a sad day indeed when Old Search is gone.

With all the changes, I use Ancestry less and less all the time.

Permanently removing Old Search will hammer the nails in the coffin.

I have been a member of Ancestry since 2000 and I am finding information the was previously available has disappeared; family trees are being removed by their owners on a regular basis, and the ones that are left are the cloned trees that were created under a member’s trial-period and left when the member did not continue their membership. These trees are riddled with errors and virtually useless.

Now I read the will be initiating another “down your throat” advertising campaign for membership to replace those members that have been lost since all the new changes on the website have been initiated

23 Andy HatchettNovember 9, 2009 at 6:19 pm

Sandra Re:#22

It may be a year, two years, or even 3 years or more; but Old Search will, at some point, go.

I’m convinced ther only reason it is still around is because of teh hue and cry that accompanied the release of New Search and the many faults with it.

When Ancestry gets all the major kinks of NewSearch resolved it will then become OnlySearch (grin)- but that day is, I believe, far in the future.

24 GaryNovember 9, 2009 at 7:25 pm

Wow You are saying thin new search is the future? It’s the worst. I might have to cash in if this stays like it is.

25 Andy HatchettNovember 9, 2009 at 8:35 pm

What I’m saying is that if you read all the old Blogs it becomes clear that- in the long run-Ancestry is committed to NewSearch.

They have said as much and they have said that OldSearch will remain an option until NewSearch meets their objectives as far as performance.

Nowhere have they stated that both OldSearch and NewSearch will both remain after NewSearch reaches their goals.

26 RinaNovember 10, 2009 at 4:11 am

Why oh why are they committed to a system that clearly doesn’t work and is hated by all those who have experience of using “old search”?
I currently use ancestry every day but will give up my subscription if new search is permanently enforced.

27 Tom SommerNovember 10, 2009 at 6:53 am

I am curious. Do we dislike the “new search” or just its results? I dislike the results.

I would like Ancestry to tell us how the databases are being queried, that is is it “or” or “and” or “contains” or “like” etc. It seems as if one does an exact search on first and last name, but has other data such as dates or places then you still get tons of data.

Also why have England come up if my ancestor only lived in the USA?

28 J.O. StreetNovember 10, 2009 at 2:52 pm

ANGRY MORE THAN ANGRY I’ve been dupt.I’m Canadain and after paying $345.00 I get nothing …Ancestry has taken over ALL Records in Canada and when wants them back and paid for them one gets nothing as they have made it so complicated one can’t get the records….I’ve had it after this year is up GOOD BYE ANCESTRY……………….

29 JadeNovember 10, 2009 at 5:14 pm

Sure, and some will find this minor format revision helpful toward minimizing the still excessive clickiness of the New Fuzzy Search User Interface.

But I would much prefer it if you could get New Search to not retrieve the tens of thousands or millions of non-sortable and often not even navigable irrelevant results.

Fixing all the erroneous place-referents would be a help.

30 JadeNovember 10, 2009 at 6:44 pm

Something wonky with Search has gone . . . .

In the database “West Virginia Cemetery Readings, 1941″ I used to be able to use ‘keyword’ to retrieve results of a particular cemetery that I had found listed accidentally. Accidentally because the description of this book does not list what cemeteries are listed in it, and there is no way to browse – the database completely consists in extracts rather than page images.

Okay, looking at the full cemetery listings enables finding listings that can’t be found by ‘search’ because of extract errors.

Now, however, search by keyword for Cemetery name does not work at all in either Old Search or New Fuzzy Search User Interface.

In Old Search there is no workaround at all.

In New Fuzzy Search User Interface for this database there is a drop-down menu (a great boon! :D ) listing cemeteries. But quite a few of the cemeteries in the book are not listed in the drop-down menu, such as:
Koon #1

Since the database description does not list the cemeteries, I can’t give you a full list of which ones are omitted from the dropdown.

Since this is not a huge database, it’s not so terrible that searching for the **surname** Morgan gets results with **first name** Morgan, or that search for surnames seems to be treated as *soundex* searches (try searching for “McIntire” and you get totally unrelated names).

I thought the reversal of firstname/surname had been fixed. Evidently not. It used to be only in New Search, but now occurs in Old Search as well. This is not an improvement. Those of us looking for surnames such as “Joseph,” “John,” and “Jack” are not having a Fun User Experience.

So can you please fix the drop-down menu in New Search to list ***all*** of the cemeteries in the database, to make the drop-down operable for each cemetery, and enable keyword searching for cemetery names in Old Search?

Please and thank you!

31 J. FulmerNovember 10, 2009 at 9:34 pm

So Anne, what’s the scoop? Are you wanting to dump “old search”? Your continued silence on this topic is deafening.

32 Andy HatchettNovember 11, 2009 at 1:09 am

J. Fulmer Re:#31

Actually, Anne has been far from silent on this subject – as shown below:

4 Aug 2008 Anne Mitchell said:

I know some of you would simply like the new search interface thrown out and the old search interface become the only search interface. I don’t think that is the correct answer.

This firmly implies that NEWSEARCH is here to stay.

20 Aug 2008 Anne Mitchell said:

Re #22 Mike, Let me answer your question specifically. We have
over 25,000 databases, where the search templates are individually
created. It is not something we want to spend time maintaining in
the future because it makes a lot more sense to be working on improving
the quality of search. If I have to choose between maintaining
templates or improving quality, I will always choose the later.
So one of the goals, and not the only one, is to build a search
UI system that requires less maintenance. We will not be making
changes to the current old UI system. Maybe not the answer you were
looking for, but I believe it is the correct answer.

Here Anne clearly states the reason behind the NewSearch and notes that they will be changing the underlying search templates of the databases. Changes will not be made to OldSearch so as those templates are changed OldSearch will become less and less effective. This is the major clue that OldSearch is on the way out- be it in 1, 2 or 5 years.

There are other comments in other Blogs by Anne and taken in total one can only reach one conclusion- sooner or later OldSearch will be GoneSearch.

33 Barb SnowNovember 11, 2009 at 4:59 am

In the old search: I can look at the listing of all the hits in a given census year (say 1880) and if none seem just right there is a box at the bottom of the page from which I can refine my search of the 1880 census. I can’t see how to do this in the new search. Am I missing something or has this very helpful feature been dropped in the new search?

34 Barb SnowNovember 11, 2009 at 5:00 am

Type your comment here.

35 Larry Van WormerNovember 11, 2009 at 10:11 am

An improvement, small but useful.

Actually, I’m finding the new search to be not bad, now that I’ve adapted. With careful use of wild cards in combination with setting the wild card entries to “exact”, I can avoid most of the useless data. And, with the improved wild card capability the search now has, I’ve even turned up a few ancestor entries I had previously missed.
(Still don’t like the “improved” image view screen for censuses, though. Much too cluttered as compared to the old version…)

Larry Van Wormer

36 bert hunterNovember 11, 2009 at 11:13 am

i guess i’m to old school, been a member since 2002 under this name. which memebers did you conduct this test with? your new method (Hot Key) takes so much longer to find the same information that would of taken a few minutes to narrow down, now you have to keep refining, and refining to the point like you already knew this information. thats what i do searches for is to find information i don’t have. like birth or death locations. under the old way it already broke information down by Category. i can’t do a fuzzy search if i’m looking for a first name like Enoch, i get anything that has an E in it. what?
is it the intent of Ancstry to make it harder to find same inormation for some reason? why can’t the customer still have the choice?

37 Tom SommerNovember 11, 2009 at 3:49 pm

I still would like a way to eliminate non-USA data when I search.

38 Carol HassemerNovember 11, 2009 at 5:33 pm

The new version is not intuitive and takes much more time. I try to adapt to change, but I’m struggling to see how this is better. If I want to look at a country and see what options are there, I want to start with the country. Sorry, not an improvement and I see me using less and less.

39 EmilyNovember 11, 2009 at 10:17 pm

Since the “Refine” change took effect I can no longer search census records by county. Very frustrating.

For example, a search of the 1870 US Federal Census using these criteria:

Last Name: Piper
Lived in (Residence): Massachusetts, USA

returns 364 results. Many of them are in Worcester County, MA. However, a search of the same database using these criteria:

Last Name: Piper
Lived in (Residence): Worcester County, Massachusetts, USA

returns 0 results. Which of course can’t be true.

I sure hope this will be fixed soon!


40 Jerry BryanNovember 11, 2009 at 10:44 pm

I think a distinction must be made between two different discussions. One discussion has to do with the relative merits of New Search and Old Search. That discussion has been been beaten to death.

The other discussion has to do with the mechanism within New Search to refine a search. There is the old way of refining a search within New Search and the new way of refining a search within New Search. I think the new way of refining a search within New Search is a huge improvement over the old way of refining a search within New Search.

The old way of refining a search within New Search was very awkward to use and it made very poor use of screen space. It left the screen too full and cluttered, and yet wasted a lot of screen space. The new way of refining a search within New Search is much easier to use and it makes somewhat better use of screen space.

One immediate additional improvement I would like to see in New Search would be to change the size and shape of the refine Search box so that it’s not so tall. It won’t fit on my screen, so I often have to scroll it up and down. One small change that has already been made that does help in this area is that there is now a Search button both at the top and at the bottom of the Search box. So I may still need to scroll down occasionally to see the whole Search box, but I no longer need to scroll the Search box down and and then back up.

41 Jerry BryanNovember 11, 2009 at 11:06 pm

Re: Emily #39. I have seen the problem you describe before, and I have seen it long before the “Refine” change took effect. However, when the problem happens it is always intermittent in an odd sort of way. Which is to say, it happens very seldom but when it happens it keeps happening as long as I stay in that particular county. Indeed, when it happens I find that blanking out the surname doesn’t help. It still gets zero matches.

When it happens, I switch to Old Search and all is well. Then the next day I can try again with New Search and all is well.

Just on a lark, I tried your search for Piper just now with New Search. I got 322 matches on the 1870 census and Massachusetts, USA. Then I did it several more times, and got 358 matches each time. Finally, I added Worcester County and got zero hits just as you did. I promise I did the first search correctly, the one where I got 322 matches. In any case, none of my searches matched your 364.

I ended up by logging off and logging on, and then trying it all again. I still get zero matches on Worcester County, Massachusetts, USA. And I get the zero matches even when I blank out the surname.

42 Andy HatchettNovember 12, 2009 at 12:45 am

Jerry Re; #40

You said:
The other discussion has to do with the mechanism within New Search to refine a search. There is the old way of refining a search within New Search and the new way of refining a search within New Search. I think the new way of refining a search within New Search is a huge improvement over the old way of refining a search within New Search.

I quite agree it is a vast improvement. Who knows- if they keep progressing like this they may eventually get to a point where even I may be able to feel somewhat comfortable with NewSearch.

43 LynnNovember 12, 2009 at 12:36 pm

Has this change already rolled out??… because when I do a search from the main page, I’m not seeing any screens that look even remotely like what you’ve posted here, although I can click on Advanced Search from the main page and I do get the yellow advanced search box which again doesn’t look exactly like what you’ve shown here….but I have no green EDIT SEARCH button, no pink “Searching For” box, etc. What am I missing and how do I get to this new search so I can try it out too? If you need screen shots, I can send you some to show you what I’m talking about.

Also, currently I can do a search for any given person from my database, born & died in one particular state, with the dates of birth and death, and I end up getting pages full of irrelevant hits from literally anywhere but where I want to look. I used to be able to find whatever I needed quickly, but now have to wade through pages and pages of useless information. What gives?

44 LynnNovember 12, 2009 at 12:46 pm

OK…nevermind. I found the New Search link after going to the SEARCH tab at the top bar of my main page and selecting Census and Voter Lists. The link to New Search was on the upper right side of the next page.

45 Jerry BryanNovember 12, 2009 at 4:27 pm

As a quick follow up to my #41, it’s now the next day and as predicted the problem has magically healed itself. Today I get 75 matches with New Search on the 1870 census for the surname Piper living in Worcester County, Massachusetts, USA. No fiddling around that I do with the search will make it fail. If I could just time travel to yesterday, I’m sure it would fail again.

46 Anne MitchellNovember 12, 2009 at 5:48 pm

If only we could that time travel thing. :-)

The system did not magically heal itself, it was a configuration issue that took a while to track down. But exact places were not working for a few days. Everything should be back to normal at this point.

47 Andy HatchettNovember 12, 2009 at 11:05 pm

Anne Re:# 46

Would it not have been better to have alerted the membership once you knew there was a problem rather that waiting a few days until it was fixed?

It is this type of action on Ancestry’s part that tends to make people think Ancestry really doesn’t care about communicating with the membership at all- unless, of course, Ancestry is pushing their latest and greatest “improvement”.

I mean- how long would it really take to post such a message?

48 Randy SeaverNovember 13, 2009 at 12:00 am

Thank you, Anne, for fixing most of the problems. There are still random problems, I think, with cities. Some, like Oakland CA, are not assigned a county in thel ocalities list. I get six matches (New Search, Exact Matches) in the 1900 census for SMITH using “Oakland, California, USA” in the Residence field (the only available selection for Oakland CA). On Old Search, Exact Matches, there are 722 SMITH entries when I input California, alameda, Oakland in the Residence fields.

It’s worse for Denver CO. There are choices for Denver in Adams, Denver and Jefferson Counties, all of which return 0 matches for SMITH in the 1900 census. However, Denver is in Arapahoe county in 1900, and there are 1,657 matches in Old Search, Exact Matches.

I haven’t checked every city in every county, only about 10 or so, but a 20% error rate is not acceptable.

Granted, it is better than Wednesday when few city Residences were working, but all County residences worked.

49 Barb SnowNovember 13, 2009 at 5:50 am

Re no. 39 — the problem of getting 0 hits when trying to restrict a search to a county, even though entries of people living in that county are clearly visible in the long list of hits. When this happened to me, I found that by unchecking the exact box below that field, the hits came up. I supposed the reason was that they didn’t EXACTLY live in Worcester County, Massachusetts– they lived in Some Town, Worcester Co. Mass. But evidently the search works correctly when you limit by state, without unchecking the box. Perhaps, as Jerry suggests, it is just random, but it consistently works for me to uncheck the exact box when trying to find someone in a county. That should indeed be fixed…

50 Brady KerrNovember 13, 2009 at 6:56 am

Frankly I want to be able to use the “Old Search”. It was much easier to get to the people I was looking for. The “New Search” brings up millions of things-and 99% of what it brings up-is not what I am looking for. The “Old Search” to me was a million times better-please let us have it back!!!

51 Andy HatchettNovember 13, 2009 at 12:24 pm

Brady Re:#50

OldSearch hasn’t gone away…yet.

Just click “Search” in the menu bar and then at the top waaaay over on the right there is a link that will tell you which search mode you are in. If the link says “New Search” then you are in Old Search mode and vice versa.

52 J M StaintonNovember 14, 2009 at 6:42 am

With the old search I could find a UK census page by RG number/Piece/Folio/Page no Is there a way to do this search on the new system???

53 AprilNovember 14, 2009 at 9:40 am

What has happened to printing documents? I am also having problems with viewing records I find. They won’t load after clicking on them.

54 Terry FitzNovember 15, 2009 at 5:04 am

Heres a few comments re the improved New Search

AUTOFILL 1 Why have you discontinued the old Autofill facility ? Storing past entered names for reuse was an

essential aid to fast operation in research. Please – can it be reinstated.
Note = the autofill record from the ‘Old System’ is still functional for Last Name – although it will not record new data.

AUTOFILL 2 The new drop menu listing names already in an existing tree is an annoying feature. The object of a

Census Search is to locate new data – not to revisit stored records.
Could there be an option to cut this feature ?

AUTOFILL 3 Why should we want a prescribed list of Locations to select from rather than our personal choice ?
Who decided eg that entering ‘yor’ in the Location slot should give bizarre choices such as = ‘York Street, Saint Catherine,

Jamaica’ ? Could there be an option to cut this feature ?

BMD Search Matches – Sorted By Relevance
To enable jumping pages when searching – the page indicator should still have at least 5 select boxes [not just 2 and last]

& should also be repeated at the top of the Matches panel

LOCATION Why does the new search engine only accept County to define Location and fails to sort for District as

in past ?

SEARCH button repeated near the top of page is good !
Could this button be moved to top for BMD Index: 1837-1983 also ?

1911 CENSUS please make buttons [eg SEARCH] ‘live’ over total colored area

55 Terry FitzNovember 15, 2009 at 5:08 am


56 Charles WillfordNovember 15, 2009 at 10:49 am


The lower merger window no longer renews itself when select a name in the list of people that are presented in Census that show all the linked entries. If I find my head of household in an 1870 Census and want in merge his wife, I can no longer switch to her name in the list. It stays with whomever was found with the search. YIKES

This is new and unwanted behavior. I thought others would have complained my now. But I see no one has. This is a big OOPS. Now you have to research everyone in the family for those Census years that do not automerge the group. I.E. 1870 US Census and 1881 Canadian.



57 JoyNovember 15, 2009 at 6:51 pm

Tried the new search today for the first time. All I wanted to do is find the name Glenn/Glen in the 1790 census in Washington County PA. Usually I just put in the surname and then the county and find all my surnames in the county. Well, first I couldn’t find the 1790 census without four or five clicks. Then it said there was no Washington County Pennslvania on the dropdown list. Seems I needed to put just “Pennsylvania Washington USA” Then it said no matches. Went to the old search and there were the David, Hugh and John Glen/Glenn I was searching for. This is not progress!

58 beverly varekaNovember 16, 2009 at 4:18 pm

I have a huge postcard collection. I would be willing to loan it to Ancentry dot com for copying.

59 J M StaintonNovember 17, 2009 at 5:30 am

If this is the case

“Census Search is to locate new data – not to revisit stored records.
Could there be an option to cut this feature ?”

How do we revisit a census

60 Dan CulpNovember 17, 2009 at 11:36 am

Can I still go back to the old search? I hate the new search because it clutters up my research with tons of records that don’t remotely match what I searched for, and it doesn’t group the matches by source the way it used to. I suppose this might be useful if you’re just getting started and don’t know a lot about the people you’re searching for or your family tree in general, but I’m looking for very specific information more often than not, and it’s really hard to sift through the extra junk now.

The only thing about the old search that I thought needed fixing was that you should be able to search by wildcard within the first three letters. A few different branches of my family include name changes/variations which affect the first three letters, and I have to do multiple searches to find them. I also liked it better when the newspaper and family tree results were displayed under separate headings on one page, instead of having to click through multiple tabs to find them. I almost never use the newspapers now because it’s so much extra work to look at them compared to how rare a good match is, where this was not the case before.

Both of these search tweaks have been a step backward and I’m very dissatisfied.

61 JEANNovember 17, 2009 at 1:29 pm

I was searching the trees in old search (new search is nothing but a load of !!!!) i put the surname in and the fact he was from england and westmorland but try as i might when ever i put KENDAL in i kept getting 0 results. so i took out the surname and tried just england westmorland and kendal you guest it no results even taking out westmorland did not help. SO IT SEEMS THAT SEARCH IS NOT RECOGNISING KENDALE as a place for some reason because at the very least it should have brought up my own tree!


62 LynneNovember 17, 2009 at 2:47 pm

I agree with Steve. Too much clutter. Too hard to narrow down results. Too many keystrokes. Too much wasted time.

The old search and result screens were much better.

For some reason clicking ‘old search’ does not work for me.

63 LynneNovember 19, 2009 at 7:00 am

Each day I log on hoping there is an option to go back to the old search (see below) and end up going elsewhere for my information because this ‘new and improved’ system is represents valuable time that needs to be put to se elsewhere.

Why is it when I do a search fo a particular persn in a particular state I get 1,216,526 results from the universe?

I cannot sort the results by state or county unless I ‘refine’ my search wasting more of more time than before.

The search screen with the US map on the left of the page and the result screens that followed (Particular state sorted by category) should be an option remaining for those of us who do not need our hands held or are not looking for all of the visual clutter we now see.

Is there a ‘Text only” option?

64 JadeNovember 19, 2009 at 12:42 pm

Charles W, your #56 — note that the 1870 US Federal Census does not identify any relationships between members of a household. Statements as to relationships (with extremely rare exceptions in individual entries in earlier years) were not called for until the enumeration for 1880.

You may have concluded something about the relationships, and there certainly may be other evidence for your conclusion.

This is one actually sensible feature of the add-record-to-tree-person mode: where the enumeration does not give relationships, you cannot make the record appear to state the relationships.

So you can attach the record to each individual member of the household, but you cannot make the attachment be evidence that X is wife and A and B are their children, for the 1870 enumeration in an automated mode.

65 Charles WillfordNovember 19, 2009 at 3:23 pm

64 Jade,

I understand the Census data. That was not the issue.

Any way, the last update fixed the problem and now I can select an individual from the family and add it’s data without having to go back and change the search request.

It’s fixed.


66 Patrick H O'BrienNovember 19, 2009 at 8:16 pm

It would be very useful if you could specify categories to exclude when refining a search. Currently, I can only speciy a category to include (thereby excluding all other categories).

For instance, after I have found all relevent census records, I would like to exclude census records and include all other catregories.

This seems to be a very reasonable request and consistent with how one would normally look for things. After I have found my g-father’s WW-I draft registration. I DON’T NEED to plow through hundreds of other people’s draft cards before getting to the mext possible military entry.

Just change the scheme to specify exclusion rather than inclusion in the list of databases listed when editing the search.

Pat O’Brien

67 Patrick H O'BrienNovember 19, 2009 at 8:53 pm

Specifying EXACT seems to have un-expected results. Merely specifying the last name to be exact will often exclude all previous results when the the previous result contained correctly spelled last names. Why is so restrictive?

Pat O’Brien

68 EmilyNovember 20, 2009 at 8:29 pm

Referring to messages #39, 41, 45, and 46. (Jerry and Anne, thank you for the follow up messages!)

Today I found yet another problem of the same type (see #39) in searching the California Death Index.

If I search with these criteria:

First & Middle Name(s): Charles Edwin
Last Name: Hammond

this fellow is returned:

Name: Charles Edwin Hammond
Mother’s maiden name: Dean

But if I search the same database with these criteria:

Last Name: Hammond
Mother: Dean

zero results are returned.

So I continue to find this sort of problem ever since the “refine” update (and I’m not talking about obscure little databases). I have associated this with the “refine” update because of the timing I experienced, but perhaps that’s just coincidental. And frankly, I don’t care what the cause is. I just can’t help wondering how such seemingly obvious bugs go un-fixed, if not undetected. (Is it policy to rely on customers to do this sort of Q&A? I wouldn’t mind doing it if I were being paid, rather than paying!)


69 EmilyNovember 20, 2009 at 8:36 pm

P.S. On a positive note, it was very nice to return to this blog and find my comment (#39) had been addressed. Usually if I bother to send a message to a company I never know if it was even read. Anne, I did notice when the census problem I mentioned was fixed. Thanks.


70 Andy HatchettNovember 20, 2009 at 11:23 pm

Emily Re:#69 & 69

I just went to thge California Death Index 1940-1997 and entered:

Last name: Hammond
Mother’s Maiden Name: Dean

and I got the over 50 hits- Charles Edwain Hammond was the first one.

I then repeated it with “Exact Matches Only” checked and got only two hits- Charles Edwain was first and a Marjorie Colvin Dean was second.

The above was all done in old search.

I went to new search and tried the same ting- in the first case I also got 50 hits- but Charles Edwain was not among them.

When I marked “match all terms exactly” I got 0 results

If I marked only last name :Hammond and Mother’s Maiden Name: dean
as exact I still got no results.

I will say this- until NewSearch can at least duplicate the same results as OldSearch it is not fit for prime time operation.

Once NewSearch can duplicate OldSearch results then we can- maybe- start talking about improving NewSearch’s results – but certainly not until then.

71 Darlene SteffensNovember 21, 2009 at 9:37 am

Over the last few days I have been searching for families whose surname is SEELEY and spelled in a variety of ways. When I enter a search for last name SEE or SEE* thousands of records are found for “[See User Comment]“. This seems to be a new search response. Could it be the result of recent site enhancements? Is there a method to eliminate the “[See User Comment]” responses from the search criteria? I am using the Old Search tool. Thanks!

72 Darlene SteffensNovember 21, 2009 at 9:55 am

Addition to #71 – I should have included in my previous comment the databases where I am experiencing the search result “[See User Comments]“. It will be found on all the US Census databases, the Social Security Death Index and the World War I Registration Draft Cards 1917-1918 to name a few.

73 Rhonda CorbettNovember 21, 2009 at 12:28 pm

It took a bit to get the hang of the new search set, I am a new member and was just getting the hang of the old one, but once I did I liked being able to filter out everything but the 1 census year or what ever I was looking for.
I love Ancestry but I have 1 area where I am feeling overwhelmed……….the list of people with hints. Alot of these names aren’t in my direct line and at this point anyway I am not really interested in completing those records. It seems like it takes forever for me to locate members of my direct lines to clear their hints. Is there some way to just have direct line ancestors or a “hot list tag” (for lack of a better term) to make it easier and faster to get to the hints you want and need NOW. ?

74 Andy HatchettNovember 21, 2009 at 4:11 pm

Rhonda Re:#73

The easy way is to just ignore all those little wavy green things and ignore other member trees.

Do all research by searching actual records.

If you hit a brick wall, then- and in my opinion, only then – you might want to check on a few documented trees for hints.

Many won’t agree with me and have their own opinion; and they are entitled to that opinion… even if its wrong. *grin*

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