Ancestry.com

Ancestry Search: Controlling your results with filters

Posted by Anne Gillespie Mitchell on January 12, 2010 in Searching for Records

We believe that 2010 is going to be an exciting year for Search at ancestry.com. As you know, we launched expanded wild card functionality at the beginning of this year. But that was only the start of things to come.

Having spent much of last year listening to what you wanted, we will be launching a series of filters in new search with the aim of giving the experienced searcher a lot more control over your searches and therefore making it much easier to understand your results.

Over the next few months we plan to add a series of filters to new search, which you will be able to find in advanced search.

The first one, Record Type Filter, will be available on Thursday, January 14th. Following this, we will be adding filters to help you control which countries collections should be included in your results, others to give you more control over the Name variations that are used to expand your searches (including the ability to choose just Soundex), and much-requested feature, Place Filters, to enable you to restrict the results to the specific place you are researching.

Record Type Filters

At Ancestry.com, our collections fall into a number of different record types. (If you’ve ever used Old Search, you might be familiar with historical records, family trees, stories & publications and photos & maps).

Different types of records are useful in different ways, and sometimes it’s easier to look at one type at a time. In advanced search you will now be able to pick and choose which types of records you see in your result or category list.

At the bottom of the form you will see:

You can choose all four (which is the default), or any combination of the four. Each time you do a new search, we will reset to the default, and you can choose the record types that are most appropriate for the ancestor you are searching for.

We’ve broken our record types into four groups:

  • Historical Records: This includes census records, vital records, immigration records and other structured record types
  • Stories and Publications: This includes records such as public and private member stories, and family histories
  • Family Trees: This includes public and private family trees on the site
  • Photos and Maps: This includes public and private member photos as well as other photos and maps we have on the site

So let’s say you want to search for Family Trees that my ancestor Charlton Wallace is in. You would use the advanced version of the search form, and then enter your relevant information. At the bottom, just choose Family Trees.

Click on search, and then you can either look at the results in a general ranked listing:

Or in a category listing:

So give it try and let us know what you think.

Happy Searching!

Anne Mitchell

About Anne Gillespie Mitchell
Anne Gillespie Mitchell is a Senior Product Manager at Ancestry.com. She is an active blogger on Ancestry.com 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.

79 comments

Comments
1 Tom SommerJanuary 12, 2010 at 8:53 am

I hope future filters will allow filtering out non-USA and choosing a one State.

The record filter sounds like a step in the right direction.

2 Mellany IrbyJanuary 12, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Anything that makes the software more user-friendly will help. I have a problem with the way in which a Census is shown for a person that says no name for Father or Mother when his parents are clearly listed, along with their ages, and other data such as where they were born, and their other children are also listed. The information is clearly there on the Census Form, but is not available to be merged. At other times in my searches, I will pull up a Census, and the data will be availabe for merging to my Tree. I really appreciate having Ancestry.com and FAmily Tree; sorry to be so negative about this. I just need a little advice–perhaps it is something I am doing.

3 Andy HatchettJanuary 12, 2010 at 12:59 pm

Tom Re: # 1

For a peek at what is planned (and yes, filtered Place searches are in the pipeline) go to this link.

It is about an event Ancestry held last week in Salt Lake City/Provo.

You’ll have a much better idea of what future filters are being worked on.

http://genealogy.about.com/

4 Andy HatchettJanuary 12, 2010 at 1:16 pm

Anne,

This is great. Can’t wait for the other stuff.

Your search team really *is* listening.

5 Jackie KrearJanuary 12, 2010 at 4:16 pm

Oops. Your search uses “wallae”; but your results uses “Wallace”. AND, your search lesson says you will search in FAMILY TREES, but your form has been filled with an “X” in STORIES AND PUBLICATIONS.

Need to fix these up, to teach the lesson.

6 Andy HatchettJanuary 12, 2010 at 5:28 pm

Jackie Re:# 5

Good catch!

Those images are probably not actual screen shots but rather mock-ups made to post on the Blog. I’ve seen this happen before.

Having been allowed to play with it with live data last week in Provo, I can assure you it does work as Anne says. I’m going to try that search first thing after the rollout on the 14th just to make sure…

7 Anne MitchellJanuary 12, 2010 at 5:47 pm

WOOPS! I had the wrong image in there. It has been updated. And it does work as advertised.

It will be available on January 14th in new search.

8 BobNYJanuary 12, 2010 at 11:33 pm

Record Type filters are only effective if ACOM has a consistent definition of an historical record vs. a publication.

Case in point: “List of registered voters in the city of New York, for the year 1880″

This data set DOES NOT appear as an historical record, but as a publication. On the other hand, “California Voter Registrations” DOES appear as an historical record, carried under Census and Voter Lists.

When I questioned this discrepancy last year, I was told rather condescendingly:
“…the item in question is NOT a historical record. It is a book that was published in 1881. In other words, the item in question is NOT actual New York voter lists, but is instead a book ABOUT New York voter lists. Sure, the book may contain extracts from actual lists, but it is not actual lists. Thus, we placed it exactly where it belongs.”

WHEN DOES A LIST STOP BEING A LIST? Appparently whenever ACOM thinks it is a book, even though its title is “LIST of registered voters in the city of New York, for the year 1880.”

So why are the California BOOKS of registered voters being considered as LISTS and not BOOKS? And they are books, carrying both an accession number from the California State Library and a Dewey Decimal Classification of 929.3 Genealogical Sources (census records, court records, tax lists, wills).

So, if one were to perform a search for a person using the category “Historical Records” there would be no hits from the New York Voter Registration LIST. Conversely, if one were to use the category “Stories and Publications” there would be no hits for the California Voter Registrations.

9 Andy HatchettJanuary 13, 2010 at 1:09 am

My opinion- for whatever it is worth is this…

The category “Historical Records” should only contain those items which are the official records of, and produced/published by, a government entity.

Anything other than that needs a different category-whatever it is called.

10 Carol A. H.January 13, 2010 at 2:03 am

Once in awhile I have dipped my toes into the New Search waters only to pull them out again fairly quickly. Sometimes when Old Search isn’t finding what I want, I pop over to the New Search. I recall one time I did find something Old Search missed. I was hopeful and tried New Search more often, but the results were disappointing so I went back to reliable Old Search. I was intrigued by this newer New Search blog and I read the article Andy referred to and the comments posted to it. I understand Ancestry will add things in steps rather than just dump it on us. We are their marketing researchers and beta testers, free of charge. We, well some of us, let them know when we are unhappy. There is a quiet majority who say nothing one way or another. So of course Ancestry thinks these folks are happy.

I will look and try the newer New Search as each new feature comes out, but I still need to get some work done so I probably will have to go back to Old Search.

The one thing I’m sure of is Ancestry needs to do a better job of indexing everything. That has given me more problems than anything else. I have submitted countless corrections but I don’t have time to do all I could do. Some of the records don’t have a place to submit an alternative name or fact. It is true I have learned over the years how to deal with the quirks, discovered short cuts, and realized anything that uses OCR technology just is a pain in the you know what. But I know the way around that problem too.

So bottom line here is the indexing is the foundation of the whole site, and when that is weak, it will be a harder to find what you want. Not an insurmountable problem, but a problem.

I too would like a place to tell the search not to look. And I mean really NOT to look. The option to choose US records does not preclude the system giving me records from Canada, or other English speaking countries. Just giving “priority to US records” doesn’t do it. Giving more information even if you have it, frequently returns no records. So I give it less and it works better. What’s wrong with that picture? Why have more places to put search information if more is not better.

I will wait and see.

11 Andy HatchettJanuary 13, 2010 at 2:25 am

Carol Re: #10

In search, many, many times less really *is* more.

Look at it this way- the more info you provide the more search has to match.

For example:

Very few records contain:
1) Full info on birth and marriage.
2) Full info on birth and death
3) Full info on marriage and death.

By full I mean date,city, county state.

If you fill all that in you are likely to get 0 results from a search.

My advice would be to not “dip a toe” but to wade in ankle deep and kick up a few waves and see what happens before you are hurried into the deep end of the pool.

:)

12 DAFox321January 13, 2010 at 7:21 am

Mellany Re #2:
Prior to 1880, the censuses do not give the relationships of those listed. Ancestry does not assume who might be related to who, and to what degree.
1880 and after, the censuses do give relationship information. Ancestry gives the option to merge on these occasions. My personal opinion, however, is that it is never *safe* to merge without careful consideration and double checking the results on your tree. I’ve seen way too many mistakes of all different kinds. Census takers are not infallible, either.

13 Ernie Rivera-RamosJanuary 13, 2010 at 7:28 am

In search when I am looking only in Puerto Rico as location. I only can choose USA which is ok, then it ask me for State; and of cause Puerto Rico is a territory. In other words I don’t have a chose.

14 FussBudgetJanuary 13, 2010 at 12:08 pm

Time to rename this thing “Andy’s Blog” ?

15 Carol A. H.January 13, 2010 at 12:37 pm

In response to Andy #11.

I will be checking in and trying each new enhancement. Dipping my toes is just an expression. I do spend time with new search, but when I don’t find what I need, I have to go to the Old Search. You were there and saw what is coming down the road, so you know more than I do at this point about what is coming.

I have known for years “less is best.” It has been very successful. I can even find people by using only a first or surname. I search for relatives and find who I am really looking for in that way. I have lots of things in my bag of tricks. I give Ancestry a wide range to search and getting more records is much more successful because I can make a better decision on a record than the computer. I have other information in my head that there isn’t even a place to put which has some bearing on locating the records I need. I seldom use exact except when I give the least information.

I’m very familiar on what to expect from all the censuses, as they are my first approach. Most records don’t have all the information. Most records have some errors. Many records started out with misinformation. But when gathered together and reviewed, a good value judgment can be made. I do search other places besides Ancestry and find more information to add to my records. No one is more of a stickler that I am for sources. It makes folks crazy. They think I’m nuts getting so excited over dead people. I never copy trees. I use them as a possible guide. I don’t “collect” names.

The key is the indexing. I can even get around bad indexing and find my people. There is a psychology to using records which are badly indexed.

I have been trying since it first came out to use New Search and with each new enhancement, I keep hoping that maybe “this will be the one which will do it for me.” So far that has not happened. But I am tenacious and will not give up. As a librarian I need to be up on what to expect and how to use the tools which are available. Other people depend on me to give them answers. I love this work and will do it until I become one of those people in the SSDI, if I can.

#12: I agree totally. I learned this lesson the hard way when my trees had errors, duplications, typos, and other strange “stuff.”

#14: Andy does have some good ideas and it is very worthwhile to read his posts. I look forward to them as well as Jerry Bryan, Jade, Tony Cousins, and more whose names slip my mind

16 ReedJanuary 13, 2010 at 12:39 pm

Dear Anne,

This sounds promising, but I second all of Carol A. H’s. comments (#10) about indexing, and I continue to hope that the Ancestry search engine will discard it’s annoying date-search “fudge factor” in future versions.

One question (and I ask you since Crista Cowan has yet to respond to these same questions in her two latest blogs):

If I use the upgraded New Search and I *do* find a record of interest, will I be able to view the record? For example, the “Papers of Abraham Lincoln” and the new “Nebraska State Censuses 1860-1885″ databases produce search results but will not display images of the actual documents.

It’s been months since I inquired about the Lincoln papers and weeks since I asked Ms. Cowan about the Nebraska Censuses. I still can’t see the images and I still have no response from Ancestry or asolution to the problem.

Is this trend going to continue?

FYI, I’m using Mac Mini and G5 PPC machines with Mac OS 10.4.x and either Safari or Firefox browsers. (I am not alone in this problem; see Crista Cowan’s blog comments for more users — some using non-Mac platforms—with similar problems.)

It’s pretty frustrating when interesting new databases appear on Ancestry but the images won’t load, and no one at Ancestry can or will fix the problem.

Grrr…

—Reed

17 Don WurdemannJanuary 13, 2010 at 1:56 pm

What I don’t like is when I submit my family tree to a public tree , other people swoop in like wolves and try to change it and Ancestry.com keeps sending me green leaves to connect to them. It is totally unfair with the research I have done to have this happen. so until this is corrected I will be a private tree.

18 Renata WillingsJanuary 13, 2010 at 2:10 pm

The selection of life event possibilities that Ancestry offers is sexist. You offer “Ordination” for men who became priests, but no Investiture, Profession, or Final Vows for women who have entered religious life. I have to enter that information under
“Religion.” Please add those to the list of life event possibilities. A lot more women became nuns than men became priests, but you have overlooked that. Thank you.

19 Andy HatchettJanuary 13, 2010 at 2:14 pm

Carol Re: #15

I really believe that once all the planned new search filters are in place you’ll have pretty much what you want.

We’ll have a degree of granularity in search that we have only dreamed of in the past… and yes, the indexing is really the key to the whole system and that was also addressed at the Provo event.

Unfortunately there is only one way to cure the indexing problem and that is to re-index – and that takes time, lots and lots of time; there is no “re-index” button that the programmers can hit to make that happen.

As I said previously, last August I was ready to not renew my subscription and then things started to change- perhaps too much change too quickly at times, but I really think Ancestry is on the right track now (well, except for the copying from one tree to another) and they really are listening.

Thanks for the kind words.

Andy
agh3rd@aol.com

20 Carol A. H.January 13, 2010 at 4:52 pm

#16 Reed: There you are! You are one of the people who I always read but I forgot your name. #8 BobNY is another good poster. There are several others, but alas, I forget. Senior moments!

#17 Don: It is a shame you have to keep your tree private. I understand your feelings. I know of people who “follow” me. Once, I made a mistake in a date and someone copied my information. I corrected the error, a typo, but this tree still comes up as a hint and they have not corrected the error. It does feel a little like someone is stealing from you but there will always be folks who will take from other trees without doing any checking. My trees are public because I do want to share, but it bothers me folks don’t contact me first. But you have to weigh what is important to you and I’m sure there are many who feel as you do. You have found your answer. Gee, Ancestry offers the option to folks to contact people with private trees, so they could ask.

#19 Andy: I know re-indexing would be a gigantic job, but it won’t happen unless they start somewhere, sometime.

Also for years, yes I mean years, I have been begging and pleading for Ancestry to add missing pages of some censuses. I have given them all the information which I got from the actual films at the LDS FHC.

Keep posting. This has been a lively blog. Many of them are so boring. Subjects which don’t interest me too much. Anne does seem to get the interesting subjects.

21 Nick MartinJanuary 13, 2010 at 5:25 pm

Does this mean the end of all the “Error 400″ and “Bad verb” messages that I currently get when trying to filter search results ?

22 RachelJanuary 13, 2010 at 5:27 pm

The single best improvement (and it would be *huge*) would be an option to remove all subsequent items from a given collection in a set of search results.

For example, let’s say the first match is my ancestor in the 1870 census. Cool! Now don’t show me any other 1870 census matches.

Especially when sorting by relevance, the good matches will float to the top much more quickly that way.

23 Glen WaringJanuary 13, 2010 at 5:35 pm

Hi,

I purchased Treemaker 2009 last October and I now note there are patches and updates available for 2010 version.

I am finding that the program often hangs requiring closure, plus a few other glitches. While i compact files frequently this still occurs and is frustrating to say the least.
I am wondering, as I am registered, if there are patches available for this program 2009 and where I can access them as I expect my program to function properly.
Also is there an upgrade available for a fraction of the cost to 2010 version without buying the entire disk? How can I acquire updates?

regards

Glen 1772 ( Australia)

Also

24 Andy HatchettJanuary 13, 2010 at 5:47 pm

Carol Re: # 20

I believe the every field re-indexing of the 1790-1840 census is the start of the re-indexing effort. It will take quite a while, probably much longer than any of us would like, but it is being worked on.

25 RobJanuary 13, 2010 at 7:33 pm

Well yet another filter that wont work I guess. Using the filters for parents etc on the UK censuses they dont filter anymore and it is now not worth using them.

Once you get beyond the place of birth and the residence the rest fail miserably. I will stick with the old search pages and be done with it.

26 Andy HatchettJanuary 13, 2010 at 9:07 pm

Rob Re: # 25

The new filters are rolling out tomorrow- the 14th.

27 Jerry BryanJanuary 13, 2010 at 9:56 pm

Re: Andy #19 on re-indexing: ancestry.com has a community indexing project (I forget the name of the project). It’s a great project, but it’s restricted to new and currently un-indexed databases. I think it would be wonderful if users could in addition to voting on new databases to index could vote for re-indexing existing and already indexed databases through the community indexing project. I understand the logic of only indexing new databases – reindexing does not increase the number of databases that are indexed. But reindexing, especially through the community indexing project, could greatly increase the number of databases that are well indexed.

Re: Rachel #22. I virtually never use the sorting by relevance option. I always want results summarized by category. I think the latter is a much more effective way to drill down quickly to what are really the most relevant matches. Unfortunately, you can’t specify summarized by category at the front of the search. You have to wait until the search results are displayed the way you don’t want them and then change the option. And the fact that the option is even changeable is not at all easy to notice on the screen. The option needs to be much more prominent, and it needs to be settable at the beginning of the search. It used to be the case that ancestry.com would remember my choice of the summarized by category option between sessions, but it doesn’t seem to do that anymore. I have to reset the option every time I use the system. It does, however, remember the advanced option for me, and that’s a very good thing.

I will end by repeating that overall, I’m very enthusiastic about the direction that ancestry’s search team is headed. And I’m not very easy to satisfy.

28 RalphJanuary 14, 2010 at 8:19 am

What gives your company the right to post on your website for all to see, my personal info and family tree?

29 Jim LivermoreJanuary 14, 2010 at 10:11 am

+1 on Jerry’s comment:

Fix the sorting combo! Relevance is irrelevant in my opinion. Categorized results are the only option that makes sense.

30 Andy HatchettJanuary 14, 2010 at 11:39 am

Ralph Re:# 29

The company didn’t post it. A member did. Your “family” is also a part of another person’s family. You don’t own your relatives.

As to the posting of personal information…

Do you mean personal info (dates and places of birth, etc.) or private info (Soc.Sec. Number, credit card number, etc.)?

Personal info is *not* private info and any info obtained from public documents can be posted by anyone.

You can control your private info but can’t control your personal info.

31 JadeJanuary 14, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Anne, this sounds like a real improvement.

Does this mean that if I specify the place, state of Delaware, that I will no longer get results for:
–Forks of the Delaware (PA, NY);
–early Tennessee settlements;
–Natchez, Mississippi;
–Ohio land records
–References to the Lenni-Lenape Native Americans;
–photos of New York passenger ships;
–Manitoba obituaries
?

Now if I could only use Old Search and have the ‘priority on US Records’ mean ‘exclude all but US records’ I will be much happier :D

32 JadeJanuary 14, 2010 at 1:04 pm

DAFox321, your #12, quite right about many errors in so-called “record” (Ancestry.com extracts from documents such as US Federal Census enumerations).

One major one was corrected just last week: in the purported “record” was added an invention, “Ethnicity,” that was not part of the enumeration at all.

But there still are inventions in the purported “records.” The US Federal Census enumerations for 1880+ state relationship to head of household, but not to each other.

But Ancestry.com’s “record” often makes up relationships.

For example, one 1880 enumeration lists:
William, head of household.
Lydia, wife.
Samantha, daughter.
Charles, son.
Mildred, granddaughter.

The Ancestry.com “record” states that Mildred’s father was Charles. This is not stated in the actual enumeration at all, and in many such enumerations no parent of the grandchild is present in the same household as the grandchild. In this particular instance, Mildred was daughter of Samantha, and Charles was Mildred’s uncle. This is spelled out in William’s will, which of course is not incorporated in the enumeration. Mildred’s actual father is not identified in any record.

Unfortunately many do not look at the enumeration and use the anonymous Ancestry.com extractor’s unsupported conclusions in “the record” to construct trees.

Unfortunately there is background code that prevents connecting Samantha and Mildred as mother and daughter in my tree (it allows connecting Charles as son of William, son of Lydia, which is not stated, and father of Mildred).

What’s worse, even though both enumeration and “record” state that
Samantha was daughter of William, background code prevents my connecting her as such in the tree, even though I had long since entered the correct relationships in the tree.

Evidently the transcriber and coder thought there was somthing funny about Samantha’s relationships within the family, and may have concluded that she was actually Charles’ wife rather than daughter of the same father.

This ridiculous second-guessing and **invention** of relationships that are not given in the actual records really should stop. In such instances as the above, the inventions should be removed.

In such ways, Ancestry.com’s system more or less actively contributes to errors in trees.

33 Andy HatchettJanuary 14, 2010 at 3:30 pm

Jade Re:# 33

Can you give a URL for the “record” you are talking about?

I’d like to check something out.

34 Ron LankshearJanuary 14, 2010 at 6:00 pm

This change looks good – I’ve just tried and only ticked Historical records and it worked. But all the boxes are ticked when I log in again. My preference is Historical records. The Old search Tabs are better.

I am using only UK and Australian options.

I am trying to understand how some of the search boxes are supposed to work

Namely the 4 Location boxes.
It appears you have to start typing and then a list starts to appears and you must select one of these items. So it is a pull down list without the obvious arrow at the side as in the Gender box.

Yet the box also lets you type a word there and use a wildcard. These words appear to block a search.

I’ve been searching in London and entering Middle sex County, England, UK which worked but typing in just Middlesex or even Middle* resulted in no matches .

Then I tried with just the first name Ann and entering Spalding (which is in Lincolnshire UK) in birth location but there was no matching item in the pre-typed “menu”.
So I left just Spalding and search results were ridiculous not enough and included people who did not match. Such as Nil for 1861 census and 13 for 1851 which included people born in Africa.

Then I changed it to “Spalding, Lincolnshire” and this seems to work.
Very confusing

whereas Old Search appeared to handle it perfectly as it has pull down menus for Country and County and allows free form entering of places.
Except Old Search still seems to have problem with UK 1851 census on birth place. I hope that can be fixed

35 JadeJanuary 14, 2010 at 7:01 pm
36 Andy HatchettJanuary 14, 2010 at 9:51 pm

Jade Re: # 36

Thanks! A perfect example of AFNIE.
(Assuming Facts Not In Evidence)

37 DAFox321January 14, 2010 at 10:03 pm

Jade Re #33:
I hear you. I have had similar problems with Ancestry making up relationships. One of my favorites started out as an enumerator error, that was corrected on the page. Ancestry’s transcriber ignored the correction and gave away relatives to another family…

http://search.ancestry.com/iexec/?htx=View&r=an&dbid=6224&iid=TXT626_2315-0106&fn=Myrtle+B&ln=Gustavus&st=r&ssrc=&pid=64675371
Line 1: Myrtle B Gustavus. head. manager of a rooming house.
Line 2: Acelee Boyd. Servant. worked at rooming house
Line 3 through 23 are other residences.
The enumerator then goes back to the residents of the rooming house.
Line 34: Eva L Summers, neice to Myrtle from line 1.
Line 35 and 36: Eva Summers’ sons, William and Claude. (Since relationships are to the head of the house the enumerator should have called them “nephews” but instead calls them “sons”)
Line 37: Lucille Allison, daughter to Myrtle from line 1.

Ancestry, however, says that Eva, her sons and Lucille are related to Line 30: Monroe Marchet, who happens to be Mexican. Eva’s sons which are now Monroe’s sons have become Mexican according to Ancestry even though the enumerator put W. Eva is Monroe’s neice and Lucille is his white daughter.
http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=1930usfedcen&indiv=try&h=64675379.

Most of the other mistakes I have found aren’t quite so complex, but no less irritating, especially when compounded by some tree makers (I couldn’t bring myself to call them researchers) and those that copy them.

Of course, I had to learn this the hard way and hopefully have rectified every mistake that crept into my tree while I was learning about the pitfalls of merging.

38 JadeJanuary 14, 2010 at 10:50 pm

DAFox321, your #38 –

Wow, the extractor went to a lot of trouble making up stuff for that one.

I ran across one 1880 enumeration district where the copy sent to the US Census Bureau omitted all relationships.

The extractor made up relationships for the household members, to put in the purported “record” anyway. To be fair, this may have been LDS’s work rather than Ancestry’s.

Wish I had saved the URL, but I didn’t. It was just exploration regarding a possible collateral-line group that did not prove out, so it had no personal consequence other than in general methodology.

Users beware.

39 JadeJanuary 14, 2010 at 10:59 pm

Andy re: #37 –

Yup, right up there with the WHMBs (Widely Held Mistaken Beliefs) out of hoary old non-researched genealogies.

Where is Donald Lines Jacobus, when we really need him?

40 Mary FoxworthyJanuary 15, 2010 at 10:11 am

I’ve sent an email about this, but want to bring it up here, too. I’d like to be able to include “birth” countries that appeared on census and immigration records but no longer exist. In my case, Prussia and Bohemia, but there are plenty of other nations that either no longer exist or have had name changes.

41 sharon parksJanuary 15, 2010 at 1:31 pm

I really hope that you will continue to add to the Delaware Death and Birth Records that is new this year. I know that there are many many more, and since my family evolves from there, I am anxious to see more added. Thank you

42 DerricJanuary 15, 2010 at 1:43 pm

I have a question. I’ve not tried the new changes out yet, but from reading the initial description, my question is, “How is the new filtering different from careful use of the “Exact” checkboxes?”

For example, entering Alabama, USA in a place and choosing exact will “filter” the results to only be from Alabama. I can go on down to counties and cities if I want.

Also, the record “type” can now be chosen BEFORE the search is started … but with the new system I guess you can choose more than one type?

I’m always looking for new and better tricks to search and I hope these add some! I’m just trying to see how they will add to what I can already do and that it is not just moving options around on the menus.

Thanks.

Derric

43 DerricJanuary 15, 2010 at 1:48 pm

Just to add a bit to #41 (ie., being able to use now non-existant countries), you also need to be able to use now non-existant US counties.

For example: My main “home” county’s was changed after it was created. It was Baker in 1870, then Chilton thereafter… however, I basically cannot use Baker for searching the 1870 census – it simply does not work at all.

I’ve Emailed this to support before with details and can do so again if necessary.

Derric

44 Andy HatchettJanuary 15, 2010 at 5:43 pm

Derric Re: # 43

These latest filters are only part of what is coming In themselves they may not seem a huge improvement, but as a foundation stone for other planned filters they lay a solid foundation for the future.

45 Ron LankshearJanuary 15, 2010 at 6:44 pm

RE Derric re #43
The filter Anne has introduced are some tick boxes that say what kind of 4 records you want. Whereas Old Search had these as Tabs and you set the default one. New Search previously searched ALL records so you got hits on family trees etc when all I wanted was Historical
But these 4 boxes are all ticked every session so I have to keep unticking 3 boxes to simply select my preferred default – Historic Records

What is strange the items alongside the ticks Historical records are very faint grey almost unreadble and I am on a large LCD monitor

At least the “exact” button seems to stay ticked.

46 Ron LankshearJanuary 15, 2010 at 6:53 pm

Re Mary 41 Derric 43 and 44 and my 35 on Birth (or Death – Living ie residence etc) location searches.
As there is a list behind the search box which comes up when you type – are only items on this list searchable?

As my Spalding worked when I entered Spalding, Lincolnshire and that was not on the “list” then other criteria are at play.

So when all else fails I use the Keyword box that does not have a list behind it and works very well

So why have the Birth etc boxes

47 Bonnie6January 15, 2010 at 7:10 pm

How about developing an e-reader for members with large trees.

48 TWConnellJanuary 16, 2010 at 9:46 am

A couple of ideas that are in the same vein as filters. The return from a old census record is almost always given as an abt. date because only the age is listed in the census record. It would be very useful for the return to be a DATE RANGE based on the reported age when compared to the census month listed at the top of the form. This is a pretty simple calculations algorithm to implement.

I have also found that families can be split across two different pages so a hint triggered by a child will not update or even recognize the existence of an older child or parent. Oddly enough , even though the same amount of information is available on the relative the hint will not trigger for them. I suggest as a simple first step fix you add a function button allowing a search previous search next page for the record. Down the road I would like to see the search automatic and the results listed in the “show family members” option.

49 Jerry BryanJanuary 16, 2010 at 10:31 am

I ran into a curious problem with the new wildcard support. This is all with New Search. A search for mar* karpus in the California Birth Index gives the dread error message that says “The wildcard query resulted in too many matches”.

The same search from the main search page does not give the error, at least not exactly. The search appears to work. I’m in Summarized by Category Mode. It says that there are 43 matches under the Birth, Marriage & Death Category. The California Birth Index is not one of the databases listed (there are too many databases to list in the summary). When I click on See all 43 results…, then I get the too many matches message.

If I switch to Sorted by Relevance, there are no error message but the search fails to find a Martha Karpus that manifestly is included in the California Birth Index (two of them, actually).

Finally, the over all number of matches keeps changing. It varies from 109 to 111 to 127. So something funny is going on.

With Old Search from the main search page, searching for mar* karpus gives 46 BMD matches rather than the 43 matches from New Search. But the California Birth Index is still not among them. Clicking on View All 46 Results does not give the too many matches error message as it does with New Search.

With Old Search from the California Birth Index, searching for mar* karpus gives the too many matches error message. So at least that is consistent between New and Old Search.

These kinds of problems with search results not being repeatable have been reported before. My greatest fear is that when you guys (or ancestry) tries to replicate my results, you will get something entirely different than my results, and that your results *will* be repeatable. But I promise that I did these searches correctly.

50 Jerry BryanJanuary 16, 2010 at 10:38 am

Oops, sorry. I posted #50 in the filter thread, and I meant to post it in the wild card thread. I don’t know of any way to move my message to the other thread. In any case, I didn’t say so explicitly in #50, but it goes without saying that all the searches I described were exact.

51 JadeJanuary 16, 2010 at 12:13 pm

While the ability to select category of record on main search page is useful for New Search, New Search is still very wonky in presenting relevant results.

Searching for:
given name Coverd* (not exact)
surname Cole (exact)
b’date 1755 +/- 5 years
b’place Delaware
d’date 1830
d’place West Virginia, USA
search only Historical Records
~priority United States

The first page of results yields no one by this name. I know for sure there are entries for Coverdale and Coverdill Cole.

The first page of results is occupied by 1930 US Census entries, which are for 100 years after this person died.

New Search still gives totally irrelevant results for the simplest sort of search.

If I eliminate places of birth and death and instead put ‘Delaware’ in as keyword, I get one of the 2 entries for this person in deValenger’s Calendar of Sussex Co, DE Probate Records and nothing else.

This is sort of an improvement over a non-navigable list of more than 2,000,000 results of which the only relevant entries are in the very last of hundreds of pages.

But it is highly incomplete. I want the results to be the 2 entries in deValenger plus the 1810 & 1820 US Census entries (in Monongalia Co, VA) plus the entry in Ross Johnston’s mis-named /West Virginia Estate Settlements/.

The last group is too much to ask for since the page he is on for 1820 is not indexed at all.

New Search still does not prioritize names properly, still does not prioritize dates properly, and still excludes results that do not *literally* reflect the field entries: anything not giving a birth place as Delaware, USA, if that is entered in the search box, will be excluded from results, even if not made “exact.”

I want no results dating after his death in Historical Records, particularly I do not want the list of results to begin chronologically with 100 years after his death for no one with a similar first name.

If I make the death date exact New Search will exclude all records that do not give this date of death.

Might it not be time to dump existing code for New Search and start over?

52 Andy HatchettJanuary 16, 2010 at 9:16 pm

Jade Re: #52

The new Filters for Places, restriction search results to a particular collection, etc. haven’t been rolled out yet.

Yes, new search is still a bit wonkey in places but I promise you that when all the new filters have been rolled out you’ll be very pleased with the results.

Just look at new search now and when it was first introduced – a HUGE difference.

And the difference between New Search and New New Search (or whatever they wind up calling it) will be even greater.

53 Andy HatchettJanuary 16, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Jade Re: # 52

I’m confused….

you said:
“If I make the death date exact New Search will exclude all records that do not give this date of death.”

Isn’t that exactly how it should work?

You’ve told the search engine “I don’t want to see any records except the one that have this exact date of death”.

If that isn’t what you think it should be doing, just how do you define ‘exact’ and how do you envision it working?

54 JadeJanuary 16, 2010 at 10:56 pm

Andy, re: #54

I want records for the person who lived between those dates.

No death records were made in the state he died in until more than 20 years after he died, and US Federal Census enumerations and State/Territorial enumerations do not begin showing ages until 20 years after his death.

If I make the year of death not-exact I get the aforesaid Census records for 100 years after his death, with persons having same surname only. That is, the search engine disregards his death date as a cutoff point. There happen to be exactly two records in the Ancestry.com databases for him for the year of his death (US Census enumeration and estate record index).

If I make the year of death exact, I get no relevant records because Ancestry.com does not have a death record in that vicinity for a person by that name (in fact it has no death records at all for that vicinity). The search engine does not retrieve the 2 1830/31 records.

So the search engine does not prioritize the dates as bracketing for records, and does not prioritize first name as well as surname.

I have no interest whatever in 1930 Census enumerations for other persons b. in same place 100 or more years years after his birth-period with same surname. They are not even distant relatives since his whole family left that state in 1796.

I want the search engine New-Search interface to come up with the few records in the ancestry.com databases for *this person*. If it can’t, there is no point using New Search at all.

55 DerricJanuary 17, 2010 at 3:45 am

Jade #55

I put in the new search exactly as you listed the criteria (with one exception) and *did* get some results. The difference is that I “chose” “Delaware, USA” from the popup rather than just typing “Delaware.” In my experience, in New Search, it seems that if you type something in the place fields, it doesn’t work. You *MUST* choose one of the popups. I have numerous examples of this that are repeatable and I’ve Emailed support about it.

Anyway, when I choose “Delaware, USA” in that field, I get the first item as a “Sussex County, Delaware Probate Records…” where “Coverdill Cole” is a witness. Then there is an 1810 Coverdale Cole (VA) record and then an 1830 Cverdel Cole (VA) record. However I did NOT see on the first page of 50 results the others you mention.

Further, if you make the wildcard field (coverd*) exact also, you will get exactly and only those three records!

Second, regarding “exact” death dates… you can’t think of it as a limit… I don’t think the search engine has a concept of a life beginning at birth and ending at death. It is just matching a death date field in a record to what value you put in. (Ie. a death date is just another field to match on – it has no other significance.) Perhaps it should consider fields with no death date a Pass rather than a Fail, as it apparently does now(?).

Derric

56 DerricJanuary 17, 2010 at 3:59 am

Jade#55

One last thing … I tried in the Old Search to get your results and did get the 2 FC, but not the probate (on the first page of 50). Only when I made the wildcard exact did I then get the same 3 that I got under new search…

I’ve not used the Old Search too much, just the New… however in this example I don’t see any difference in the results at all – and I never did see a 2nd Probate reference on either one… (Just remember to always “choose” a place and don’t use your typing).

Derric

57 Andy HatchettJanuary 17, 2010 at 7:56 am

Jade Re;# 55

Date Range cutoffs are, if I remember correctly, one of the new filters that will be rolled out.

58 JadeJanuary 17, 2010 at 1:50 pm

Andy re: #58,

I was under the impression that Anne announced roll-out of date bracketing last summer.

Obviously New Search does not behave that way but has been coded to treat dates as searches for vital records.

Since Ancestry.com has so few actual vital records (leaving aside the stupid databases derived from genealogies and family group sheets, and quite aside from date entries in trees), and for Census enumerations it follows the erroneous pattern of subtracting age-in-years from enumeration year (including for enumerations as of 1 Jan, 15 Apr, 1 Apr and in Feb. of given enumerations). . . . there are significant errors in correlating such things with what the search engine is looking for. Presumably the 2-year additive diversion from entered dates, also announced last year, was in part an effort to compensate for this sort of indexing error.

59 JadeJanuary 17, 2010 at 2:03 pm

Derric, re: #55, #56 #57–

I did use the type-ahead/dropdown “Delaware, USA” for the birthplace field, as a way to signify what place records I wanted the search engine to find, in the initial search.

It worked well in the sense of getting the search engine to find persons with same surname b. in DE enumerated in 1930 US Federal Census.

Overall, Ancestry.com is tailoring its search functions (and database acquisition) for those mainly seeking data for roughly 1880-1940.

Some fairly recent tweaking has got the search engine to more frequently come up with pre-1880 results, but there still are blind spots.

60 Bob ILJanuary 17, 2010 at 3:31 pm

Does, or will, advanced search have a way to enter, and then prioritize or filter on exact dates (M/D/Y)?

If it’s there, I have never found it, and after all your other changes, will be about the only reason I alternate back to the old search. Today I had a perfect example. I couldn’t find a record I was confident existed, until I went back to the old search, and voila. This was a WW I Draft record, that have full dates. In my case today, I got the result I wanted, by ONLY entering the Birth M/D/Y and State. It has to be easier to transcribe dates than full names, and clearly it was in my case today, as the birth date/state was perfect, but the name mutilated, as the image was barely legible. This is why I couldn’t enter any name, as that sent the old search down the wrong path too.

Thanks, advanced search has improved steadily and dramaticly since I used it on Beta, but there are still some things I find annoying like this.

61 Cynthia GilcreastJanuary 18, 2010 at 11:55 am

I am TRYING to locate RONBESSANTES – his previous website was earthlink.com — he has a bible that belonged to my great-great-great grandfather and I would love to talk with him about it.

62 Cynthia GilcreastJanuary 18, 2010 at 11:56 am

I am TRYING to locate RONBESSANTES – his previous website was earthlink.com — he has a bible that belonged to my great-great-great grandfather and I would love to talk with him about it. The names are Daniel Hobbs – 1802-1877 and his wife Sally Johnson Hobbs – 1804-1863 – Hampton, NH

63 uberVU - social commentsJanuary 18, 2010 at 1:00 pm

Social comments and analytics for this post…

This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ancestrydotcom: Ancestry Search: Controlling your results with filters http://bit.ly/64lT5u

64 Ron LankshearJanuary 20, 2010 at 5:51 pm

Hi Anne
Could you please pass this on to who ever fixes UK indexes. This problem will affect considerably all UK subscribers

One aspect of search is birth year and looking for a death year. In UK the Deaths record contain the person’s age so possible birth year can be calculated.

The Death index 1837-1915 can be searched this way. (Prior to 1866 no age in record)

But the recent 1916-2005 has some problems – the searchable index for most records does not show the age so this is not birth year. The view record does show the Age so the data is there but just not in the search index. I presume the index needs to have a calculation run.

Some records do have birth year I assume from 1984 per the previous index system.

Additionally the Death index shows the year of death registration but not the Month/Quarter applicable. I have to open the image itself to find the Quarter which you need to order the certificate

65 Cathy LewisJanuary 20, 2010 at 6:05 pm

I would like to see this same type of feature in the card catalog main page which would allow you to select multiple categories of databases, ie: 1800′s AND 1900′s

66 Tim ColemanJanuary 21, 2010 at 10:31 am

Two things I’d like to filter out:
1. non-UK (i.e. don’t just give the priority to the UK)
2. family trees that I’ve loaded onto Ancestry (no point in showing me those matches)

67 Donna KiankaJanuary 22, 2010 at 7:27 pm

I would love to be able to search by profession. My family is custered into certain professions and had a tendencey to marry others in the same category.

68 Andy HatchettJanuary 22, 2010 at 10:00 pm

Donna Re: #68

Search what by profession? Census? Death Certificates? ???

Most of the databases have no search field for that kind of entry.

69 Molly HagerJanuary 23, 2010 at 7:19 am

I am frustrated. When I type the data into the old search I instantly come up the my correct info. Then I tried the identical info in the new search and come up with zero. I tried every variance I could think of and still zero. [specifically I was looking for Samuel Oliver in 1870 Washington Co., OH Census.] However the new search is wonderful in other areas.

I hope you continue to give us a choice

70 Jerry BryanJanuary 23, 2010 at 9:53 am

Re #70, your search for Samuel Oliver in 1870, Washington County, Ohio worked just fine for me just now, both in Old Search and in New Search. I was using exact search in both cases.

The only issue that comes to mind is the specification of Washington County, Ohio in New Search. Sometimes when I type a place name into New Search, it fails to match even though it seems that I have typed the place name correctly. New Search seems to work better if instead of typing the whole place name myself, I choose the place name from the drop down list. In this case, type enough of the name so that you can see Washington County, Ohio, USA in the drop down list and select it. If that doesn’t work, then I’m not sure what else to try.

The drop down lists for place names are one of the least endearing features of New Search, by the way. They seem to work a lot better now than when New Search was first released. But they still sometimes seem to cause problems.

71 Teresa FloydJanuary 23, 2010 at 7:01 pm

I really hope this gets improved. It is frustrating searching for someone who died say in 1860 and I get all kinds of records for someone living in the 1900s. Especailly frustrating is the Yearbooks that come up.

72 Terry WellsJanuary 24, 2010 at 6:39 pm

Andy says:

“The category “Historical Records” should only contain those items which are the official records of, and produced/published by, a government entity.”

So where would you put Parish Records then? (Baptisms, Marriages, Burials) They are not Stories and Publications, Family Trees or Photos and Maps.

73 John AtkinsJanuary 24, 2010 at 8:59 pm

Since your Jan 22 maintenance, the search for historical records page has changed. Beginning from a PROFILE page it no longer appears possible to easily modify (on the search results page) the data for a person. This layout had enabled me to tweak the search input data and Search Again in just a few key strokes. In addition, it no longer appears possible to specify race/nationality and gender.

These were filters that were useful.

Finally, in order to make a change, the edit input box (now at the bottom of that screen instead of on the left side of the results) now has a very limited selection of inputs.

Apparently you’ve simplified the historical records search inputs from the PROFILE page to the same inputs as on the HOME page. It contains only the basic data choices on the HOME page. Selecting the Advanced search choice requires you to input even the names again (from a new web page). This is just like the Advanced click from the HOME page. So – this was easier for your programmers, but bad for the CUSTOMERS.

THIS IS A GIANT STEP BACKWARD. WHAT WILL YOU DO?

Since last week I’ve become EXTREMELY dissatisfied.

Fellow customers: This was written in haste and irritation. I hope I wrote reasonably clearly.

74 Andy HatchettJanuary 24, 2010 at 10:46 pm

Terry Re: #73

Aren’t Parish Records usually Church of England records? The CoE is, and always has been a government entity; at least that is what I’ve been told.

75 Andy HatchettJanuary 24, 2010 at 10:55 pm

Teresa Re: #72

The yearbooks are, in my personal opinion, the second greatest waste of Ancestry’s resources ever seen (the first being the creation and maintaining of that ungodly OneWorldTree).

76 B. LawsonJanuary 25, 2010 at 5:38 am

Jan 25, 2010.

Yes, a filter that could focus on only one state, when that particular state has been entered, i.e New York.

77 Hazel ClackJanuary 25, 2010 at 4:46 pm

I have been frustration for years with the information and issues within Ancesty.com. For instance: I upgraded to FTM2009 from the 2006 and rather than upload my data from 2006 into the 2009 I decided to do it manually and that way I could spot any incorrections I might have had, thinking that since the 2009 program added “Hints” that it would be a piece of cake adding the prior documents that had been pulled from Ancestry. Well, I found out that documents, of all types, that I had pulled into my 2006 program were no longer available to me in the 2009 program. Most of my research was in the state of GA and 99% of it was in one county…my family went to GA To this particular county in the mid 1700′s and never left. Ancestry has 3 different catagories, by years, of marriage records for GA and either none showed up or only one showed up and not with the surname I searched for. This still happens on occassions. Now I am having an issue with the ERROR!!! message, or the search goes into loop mode and never brings up a record. The GA Death Records will not allow it to be merged if the image is opened. I search for a specific surname and I get everything but the surname I searched for or none show up for GA and I know the record was there when I added it to the 2006 FTM. I agree with all the issues regarding the census records. I never merge a census record until I view the image. The translations of some of these censuses is just awful. I would like to see a search feature that allows one to search records from a specific state and for a specific county for any given record. I don’t need nor do I care to scroll through thousands of irrelavent records for other states. If I am searching in GA, born and died there, I don’t need all the extras. Granted, some are better at using filters than other, I’m an ‘other’, however Ancestry does have lots of issues at the present that need to be handled First and once that’s done then add your bells and whistles to the program. Ancestry should be adding more of the GA records to their database. Every addition of records they have added do not pertain to a few of the original southern colonies. Georgia is a state that drew many immigrants from Maryland, VA, NC, SC etc and then some of them spread into other areas as land became available and states were formed. The rescanned censuses using the ‘new light’ method. Good idea and it does make some of the censuses mor readable but then there are the ones that were hit with so much light that the image is barely readable. Happened last night and I couldn’t report an image problem. There was no Report Image Problem listed…and if there was, there would have been no place to explain the light situation. If there had been, and if there was a correction to make it readable then I’d have to remember to go back and recheck the census.

Ancestry has issues and I trust they are doing their best to please everyone, however bottom line is fix what is wrong; stop putting bandids on the problem; stop adding bells and whistles at the expense of time that could and should be devoted to records, enhancing records, adding records for the small counties in the southern states..some are being tossed..The record search is a hit or miss and I haven’t found any of the upgrades to be any better.

As for putting any information in an online tree, no way. Not even to make it private. To me private is private and in no way should anyone be able to access it or see any Living information, but glitches do and have happened. Otherwise, my Living family would never have shown up on someone else’s tree. Ancestry can not control everything with a 100% certainty.

78 Diann CosgroveJanuary 26, 2010 at 4:35 am

I have not been able to figure out how to work this site. For instance I need to know how to get rid of the pop-up that comes up for every new page re: Internet Explorer 6 which says “it is time to upgrade your browswer”. This is a work computer and we are not allowed to download programs etc.

More on the subjects you all have been discussing, I too would like to be able to exclude records. I have a last name of “Baptist” to research. Imagine the thousands of records I get for every Baptist church or minister in the world. I hate getting thousands of telephone listings for people living before the telephone was invented. I dislike having to start over again when I find a record and save it to my family tree and then start searching again I might have found the record way down the line at 10,001 or something like that and have to page through all the records again to get to it. I find that the less info given the more likely I am to get hits for my tree but it is a paining searching through so many. In most cases, I too would like to be able to restrict the search to just Canada (or even Ontario, Canada) or just Ohio or just Washington State (this gives me a whole bunch of Washington cities usually on the east coast).

79 John AtkinsJanuary 26, 2010 at 2:14 pm

Update to #74 -

The search pages referred to have reverted back to the previous version. Thank you.

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