Posted by on 23 April 2010 in Site Features


We’ve been working on some changes to search, and want to give you a preview before it’s finalised, so we’ve created a small guided tour.

First of all, We’d like to say thanks to all of you who have put time into helping us, posting your feedback on the blogs, on our message boards, during usability studies, at conferences, in focus groups, those who we have visited in your own homes, and especially those who have contributed to the user group which reviewed the early prototypes.

What we heard was that Ancestry Search needs to give you more control of your searches, more relevant results, better ways to find our data collections, and ways to search more efficiently.  Based on your input, over the coming weeks and months, we’re planning on making a number of changes to the way search works.

Here are some of the areas we’ll be changing:

Search homepage – We’ll be developing a new search form, a clickable map, links to all our content categories, and new features to help you find information you’ve seen in the past.

Explore by Location – We’ll be offering a new browse experience for data collections by country, state, or county.

Recent Activity – We’ll be introducing new ways to keep track of recent searches and the collections you have browsed to recently. You can restart your research more quickly after taking a break with these new tools.

Search Forms – We’ll be making some changes to both the basic and advanced search forms – some elements have been launched in advanced search this week, others are still work in progress.  We’ve tried to find new ways to help you enter the information you know more easily and give you more control over the results you get back.

For those of you who are using “old search”, we are not proposing any changes. However, we hope you’ll give the new tools a go as we launch them onto the “new search” site, and be open to trying new ways to see if you can find elusive ancestors that maybe the new tools can help you uncover… we’ve paid special attention to feedback from users of “old search” and hope you’ll find this reflected in the upcoming changes.

You can find take the tour by clicking here:


P J Burton 

Whatever the new front end has done, it has not got rid of the odd search engine you use, which has produced worse results as the years go by. If I search on a surname I have much data on, and try to specify London, I get results for other locations in England. If I use Middlesex as the location, I get a few from there, but many more from Kent and other locations.

When I try to edit the search you provide an odd set of “collections” which show no relationship to Civil Registration in the (current) UK!

I can choose from: Australian and UK; Canadian; English; German; Italian; Irish; Scottish; Swedish; UK and Irish; United States. It would seem that whoever decided on these categories for collections has only a hazy idea of the UK/Great Britain. Where, pray, is Wales?

How, exactly, do you define UK? You do need to state this.

Most people researching their ancestors this side of the pond would like to search England; England and Wales; Wales; England, Scotland and Wales, and then perhaps include Ireland. And what about Northern Ireland?

Back to the drawing board, methinks.

24 April 2010 at 11:24 pm
J DaSilva 

I agree with the previous comment.

It would also be helpful to have a choice in “LOCATION” of “CONTAINS” so you can enter a word and it will narrow the search. We used to be able to but it doesn’t seem to work anymore.

25 April 2010 at 3:28 am

i take it you are both using NEW SEARCH in my opinion that is a waste of time! as you have found out. my advice and i know ancestry wont like me for this you need to use OLD SEARCH. you will find you have much more control than you do in NEW SEARCH what many of us have constantly told ancestry was a mistake in the first place to roll out.

(go to second tab.. search.. in the top right it will either say old or new search. if it says old click on it when the search form changes make sure you tick exact.)

this is the link to the blog for and message boards where we have made frequent comments.

25 April 2010 at 7:50 pm

P J Burton #1, I’ve expressed the same opinions to Ancestry on several occasions! Take this example:

I used the type-ahead feature and accepted:

Shrewsbury, England, United Kingdom

and chose “Restrict to County”. But what county?? Ancestry, in their infinite wisdom, have chosen to remove all counties from English places when using search-ahead!!! We do get the superfluous “United Kingdom” though, presumably to help those Americans who are not quite clear as to where England is? Does the “United Kingdom” add anything that England, Wales, Scotland or Ireland did not already tell us???

So instead I chose “Restrict to Country”. But which country, “England” or the “United Kingdom”??? I don’t believe that Ancestry recognise the difference?

The notes in the US Blog state:

“What if I choose a county in England?”

But what if I chose a county in Wales, Scotland or Ireland? Does this not apply???

Perhaps it’s time for a geography lesson for the Anglo-centric Ancestry team?

30 April 2010 at 2:23 pm
Charlene Chen 

Thanks for your comment. Currently, it is not readily apparent what county you are searching when you select Shrewsbury, England, United Kingdom from the type-ahead. When there is only one county option that a city can be in, counties are not specified in the type-ahead in order to save space. We are aware that our members are keen to see the county listed and are in the process of looking at ways of improving the place filter functionality.

Please be assured that if you do a search, say in the 1901 UK census, and choose ‘Restrict to this county’, you will only see records where the residence is Shropshire, with the records that are from Shrewsbury appearing first in the list.

I hope that helps!

6 May 2010 at 11:58 am