As I write this, I’m getting ready for a trip to Utah. As a fairly frequent traveler, I know that to make the trip less stressful, I need lists. Lists are what keep me from wandering around the house searching for nothing in particular, grasping randomly for things I might need, and missing items I definitely need.
With a little forethought and a checklist, I do a much better job packing and spend less time running around my house like a crazy person.
When I’m searching for my ancestors, I like to take this strategic approach as well. A good research plan with a clear goal will allow you to choose the best path for your search.
There are a lot of different ways to search for your ancestors on Ancestry.com, and different strategies will work best in different situations. For example, if you’re just starting to research a family member, you might start with a global search of all the collections on Ancestry.com so you can grab the low-hanging fruit that will come up with just a few basic facts like a name, year of birth, and a place where the person lived. But if you have a specific goal, like finding him or her in the 1920 U.S. census, it doesn’t make sense to wade through all 14 billion records; going directly to 1920 will have you working with a much smaller and more manageable subset of the collections.
You could also search on a category level or in one of the many special collections that Ancestry has created for specific record types or ethnic research.
To help you navigate the different types of searches and what situations each one is best suited for, this month we’ve kicked off a series of free downloads on the various ways to search Ancestry.com. In coming months we’ll take a closer look at the various types of search and include tips that will have you searching like a pro in no time. Download our Search Strategies guide.