This year one of the things we are focusing on is adding new ways for you to control what’s returned in your search results. Over the past few months, we have already launched improvements to wildcards, Collection Filters, and Record Type Filters
Yesterday, I told you about our name filters which is one of our new filters we are launching to help you create better searches. Today, I’ll continue with place filters.
This option will be available on any text box in new search when you are in advanced mode. If you don’t choose a place from our type ahead, you will see the following options:
If you use “Exact matches only” you will default to “Restrict to this place exactly” and will the same as it has before.
The interesting options for place filters happens, when you choose a location from our place type ahead.
Filters options when you use the place type ahead
When you choose a place from the type ahead, this allows us to not only quickly identify that place in our record sets, but it also lets us make use of other useful information that we know about that place. If it’s a county, we now what state it is in and we know what the adjacent counties are.
So if you were to choose Appomattox County, Virginia, USA as a birth location, we know it is in Virginia and the counties adjacent to Appomattox are Amherst, Nelson, Buckingham, Prince Edward, Charlotte, and Campbell. And we know the states adjacent to Virginia, USA are Delaware, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina. This allows us to create place filters that will enhance your search.
So once you choose Appomattox County, Virginia, USA, you will not only have the default settings and exact match available to you, you’ll be able to search Appomattox County and any adjacent county. Or restrict your searches to records that at least have birth locations in Virginia. Or Virginia and the adjacent states.
So how do place filters work
Let’s say you choose Oakland, California, USA as a birth location. You will see the following filters under the birth location search box:
You know the person you are searching for was born in Oakland, Alameda, California, USA, so you apply the filter “Restrict to this place exactly”.
This choice means the record must have exactly the same place, as the place you choose. If you have chosen Oakland, Alameda, California, USA for a birth place, but the record has a birth place of Alameda, California, USA then the record will not be included in your result set. So if you aren’t finding what you are looking for, you might try selecting “Restrict to this county” or “Restrict to this county/adjacent counties”.
Just because you know where something happened, doesn’t mean that is where it was recorded or how it was recorded in the record. The ability to adjust the scope of your search, will aid you in locating those hard to find records.
How each filter works
- Default settings: If you choose default settings, there will be no filter applied. Records that match exactly what you chose get the most points; records that partially match the location you choose get some points, records that are adjacent to your chosen location get fewer points and if there is no match, no points. These points are then added to other points we gave this record based on the information you gave us and then they are used to rank that records against other records in your result set.
- Restrict to this place exactly: If you choose this, then the record must have exactly the same place, as the place you choose. If you have chosen Oakland, California, USA for a birth place, but the record has a birth place of Alameda, California, USA then the record will not be included in your result set.
- Restrict to this county:If you choose “Restrict to this county”, and you have chosen Oakland, California, USA for a birth place, and the record has a birth place of “Alameda, California, USA” this will be considered a match, and the record can be included in the result set. If the record had Fruitvale, Alameda, California, USA as the location, it would also be included, because you chose to restrict at the county level. But because it’s not an exact match, this result would not rank as high in your result set.
- Restrict to this county/adjacent counties: Sometimes the closest court house was in the next county, not in the county where your ancestor resided, and they may have recorded an event there. By choosing this option, we not only will match the county you’ve given us, but the counties that are currently adjacent to it. And state lines do not make a difference here. If the county is adjacent, we search it and we match it.
- Restrict to this state: This works just like restrict to this county, except at the state level. If you have chosen Oakland, California, USA for a birth location, we will match any record that has a birth location in California. However, if the county or city matches, the result will appear higher in the result list.
- Restrict to this state/adjacent state: This works like the county/adjacent county filter except at the state level.
- Restrict to this country This works like the county or state filter, except at the country level.
What if I choose a county in England? What filters will I see?
Filters are based upon the location you have chosen. If you choose a county in England, we will allow you to filter at the county, country or the UK level. Filters are adjusted to match the country you are in.
Not a sticky option, except for “Match all terms exactly”
Because each filter set is dependent on the location you have chosen, this option can not be sticky unless you choose “Match all terms exactly” which will set your filter to “Restrict to exact”
When can I try these filters?
These filters will be available sometime on Thursday.
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.
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