Posted by on July 25, 2013 in Searching for Records

Did you know that not all records on are indexed? Even when there is an index available, sometimes it is useful to view an entire set of passenger lists or a whole neighborhood in the census to find the information you need.

In this video, we share how to use the “browse” features for any collection of images on You’ll discover how to understand records in context and gain another tool for finding those obscure relatives that might help you break through a genealogy brick wall.

Watch the video now on YouTube:

About Crista Cowan

Crista has been doing genealogy since she was a child. She has been employed at since 2004. Around here she's known as The Barefoot Genealogist. Google Twitter



In her video, Crista says that browsing NY Passenger lists is “notoriously difficult.”

Ancestry has made it even more difficult by changing the structure of the database.

In the past, browser functionality for this database allowed you to choose:
— year
— month
— date
— ship name

You were then presented with the manifest pages for that particular ship beginning with either the first page or the last page, depending on how the manifest was originally filmed.

Now they have changed both the input and output requirements for the browse. They have added the choice of browsing by Series and Roll. Whether that is useful remains to be seen. However, they have changed the “browse by date” methodology to make it more onerous and less specific.

One now begins by choosing whether to browse by Roll or Date. If Date is chosen, the option is then given to choose Year. Once a Year is chosen, the new drop-down asks for Month, then Day.

What comes up in the view screen is then hundreds of pages (perhaps Crista’s result of only 28 pages was a happy accident) for all the ships arriving on that day which you then have to scroll through page by page looking for your target ship. WHAT A MESS.

To top it off, they didn’t see fit to change the directions on how to browse the data:
To browse the images first select the “Year” in which you would like to search, followed by the “Month”, and finally the “Ship Name.”

July 26, 2013 at 7:14 am

Why isn’t there an “unindexed” sort in this card catalogue. A lot of people would just like to see the items that have not been indexed to see what it would be worth browsing. Surely this would be the most logical filter on the card catalogue

August 7, 2013 at 8:08 pm
Crista Cowan 

Thank you, Bob for the feedback. I will pass that along to our content management team.

Thanks also to you, sunsetsgrand. I think that is a terrific suggestion. I will forward it to our search team.

August 13, 2013 at 4:58 pm