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In an ongoing effort to help users locate relevant content for their family history, Ancestry.com has made some significant changes to the site, particularly in the areas of searching and online trees.
Additional enhancements are also in the works, in the form of a new Advanced Search tool that will give more advanced users more search options, including the ability to specify birth/marriage/death information, parentsâ€™ names, spouses, relevant locations, and keywords. Each field will include the option to mark it as an exact match or fuzzy match.
Recent changes include:
â€¢ Creation of a new search form tailored to each type of content to make searches more effective. The information in Ancestry.com databases is not homogenous. While most databases contain information that has been tagged as a name, date, or place, many databases do not have this information tagged or even contain names, dates or places at all. (A map, for example, typically doesn’t contain an ancestor’s name.) This makes it difficult to provide you with all of the information available for your family history. It’s also very difficult to rank these different types of matches against each other properly. That’s why we made a search interface tailored to find each type of content most effectively.
â€¢ Replaced the Exact Search tab with a checkbox option (â€œExact matches onlyâ€) on the search form so that we could use tabs to display different types of content that you can search for on Ancestry (e.g., Stories & Publications, Photos & Maps, etc.)
â€¢ Added tabs to the search results, so you can easily switch between content types from the search results page.
â€¢ Added a Card Catalog so you can search all of the database titles on Ancestry
â€¢ Created newÂ Member Trees, which provide a much better experience, allowing users to get smarter hints about matching source records and trees, and providing a tighter integration with the 4 billion plus collection of records. Other advantages of the Member Trees include the ability to easily attach records found at Ancestry.com to the tree; attach photographs; share your tree publicly or with family members to collaborate with you online; and connect with other researchers anonymously through the Ancestry Connection Service or by email if you have chosen to make your tree public. (More onÂ Member Trees can be found in the Ancestry.com Library.)Â
â€¢ Simplified the search forms for each tab by removing some advanced fields. (Enhanced advanced search capabilities will become available in a future update.)
â€¢ Added links to each of the members of the household on each census record page, so once you find one of them, youâ€™ve found them all.
â€¢ People Iâ€™m Looking For (PILF) functionality has been moved to theÂ Member Trees.Â Existing PILFs can be moved to a Member Tree by visiting the My Ancestry page and following the instructions in the blue shaded box.
Some things that havenâ€™t changed:
â€¢ Keyword searches are still available in many cases by searching databases directly. The new Card Catalog is very useful in locating databases of interest. You can also still browse a list of databases by location or record type through links found under the main search screen. (Click on Search in the buttons in the Ancestry.com masthead.)
â€¢ Trees submitted through AWT or WorldConnect are still available and can be searched by clicking on the Family Trees button found at the top of the page in the Ancestry mast-head, and then selecting Search Ancestry World TreeÂ from the box on the right of the page titled Family Tree Resources. They can also be searched throughÂ RootsWeb WorldConnect.
â€¢ Sometimes you find a record that might be the right one, but aren’t sure where to put it, or want more time to evaluate it. These records can still be saved to the Shoebox so you can easily come back to it later. The Shoebox can be found on the My Ancestry page.
â€¢ Ancestry.com remains dedicated to improving the user experience. Your success is important to us and improvements will continue to be made in response to your needs. You can post your thoughts in the comments section for this post or through the feedback form that is available through the link at the bottom of the Ancestry Community page.