Posted by on 30 April 2010 in Site Features

AUTHORED BY ANNE MITCHELL (FROM ANCESTRY.COM)

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.

Earlier this week Tony Macklin announced that we will be launching a tour to give you a preview of changes to Ancestry.co.uk search.

In my previous post, I told you about our name filters which is one of our new filters we are launching to help you create better searches. Here 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 know what country it is in and we know what the adjacent counties are.

So if you choose Sussex, England, United Kingdom as a birth location, you will not only have the default settings and exact match available to you, you’ll be able to search Sussex County and any adjacent county. Or restrict your searches to records that at least have birth locations in England.

So how do place filters work

Let’s say you choose Brighton, England, United Kingdom 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 Brighton, England, United Kingdom, 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 Brighton, England, United Kingdom for a birth place, but the record has a birth place of Sussex, England, United Kingdom 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 Brighton, England, United Kingdom for a birth place, but the record has a birth place of Sussex, England, United Kingdom 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 Brighton, England, United Kingdom for a birth Place, and the record has a birth place of Sussex, England, United Kingdom, this will be considered a match, and the record can be included in the result set. If the record had Hastings, England, United Kingdom 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 country: This works like the county or state filter, except at the country level.

What if I choose a place in the US? What filters will I see?

Filters are based upon the location you have chosen. If you choose a place in the US, we will allow you to filter at the county, state, or country 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 have been available since last Thursday.

Happy Searching!

Anne