Posted by Ancestry Team on October 27, 2008 in Website

Today we rolled out an update to the logged-in homepage that we are really excited about. You can now add and remove sections from your homepage, as well as re-order them.  So you can create a page that is customized to how you use the site and to your style of research.

Just click the “Customize your homepage” button at the upper-right to customize your homepage.  This will let you move or remove sections you already have on the page, as well as add some new optional tools to your homepage.


You can still move sections up and down on the page by clicking the arrows or by dragging them to the desired location.  Click the “trash can” icon on each section to remove it from the page.  To add a new section, select one from the list at the top of the page and click the “Add to your homepage” button.  All of your changes are saved automatically, so when you are done customizing you can simply click “Exit.”

As part of this update, we have also introduced a few new optional items that you can add to your page. We will continue to add new ones in the future, so watch for the yellow announcement banner beneath the header to know when they are available.  The new items include:

Record Collections

Navigate quickly to key record collections including individual U.S. Census years, plus birth, marriage and death titles and the Card Catalog. You can also quickly find special collections focused on U.S. Military records, African American family history and Jewish family history.

Message Board Favorites

Keep track of all your favorite Message Boards with this one handy tool.  View a complete list of your favorites and the most recent threads posted to each board. Blog

Stay up to date with informational posts from the people behind the scenes at

24/7 Family History Circle Blog
Enjoy an educational blog perfect for anyone who loves family history. View recent articles, family history columns, research stories, photos and how-to articles.


  1. Mike

    I have never used the old home page and so likely never will the new. But when I just clicked on home what I get are 4 items endlessly loading:

    1) the one tree I have
    2) quick links
    3) to do list
    4) recent activity.

    They just sit there and spin round and round and never stop loading. Now I don’t use new search either, so perhaps having that enabled is requisite to have the new home page work. Again I don’t care either way, but thought I would mention it.

    Also for any other users who would like a customized home page without the headaches of the one the company provides, I would recommend the free program called Nvu which is a webpage creator. With that one can easily make one’s own home page or group of them, for Ancestry, and which just resides on one’s own computer. So start that page and and the links you programmed to your favorite parts of Ancestry will be there. And you can quickly change it as you like.


  2. Jerry Bryan

    The customization tool works fine for me so far. It’s great. We will just have to see if it continues to work fine for me.

  3. Jade

    The only things that actually completed loading for me were the search box and the ad.

    The only thing new here since the revision (allowing so-called customization) of the so-called user home page is addition of the no-brand genealogical ?articles.

    Paying users cannot move all boxes above the ad.

    The ‘New Ancestry Databases’ still does not have the LATEST ADDED databases.

    The default search is still New Fuzzy search interface, which is buggy, defective, and only slightly useful if you are looking for people born after 1850 (if you don’t care about getting jillions of results concerning somewhat similarly-named people in different places than those you are looking for). I see no way to change this.

    The link to the Ancestry Card File still links to the New Fuzzy interface with it which is nearly useless and if you are not *very* careful puts you in a wormhole.

    Why would I want this since I can bookmark anything I want to on my home computer with no ads and zero load-time, and still in Old Search mode?

    It would be useful for some if there were a genuine Ancestry home page with genuine links directly to the alphabetical Old-Search-style Card file, and directly to the general database groups, such as the ONE PAGE scroll-own lists of available Census records and Military records. The scheme to convert all these useful modes to MULTI-PAGE listings so you can add ad ‘hits’ to each tedious page is another Dirty Ancestry Trick. Boo, hiss.

  4. Jane

    I’d like the message board module to show the post dates of the messages. It would be easier to remember if I had read them or not. Also, maybe the module could be made wider which would allow more of the message title to show.

  5. Karl

    I like the improvements. Ditto, on what Jane said however. It would be nice to have the date or something next to the message, as I usually only check if they are recent messages; but can’t tell from the homepage if they are new or old.

  6. I like the ability to add these links. Now if I could just have the ability to customize the placement of the search box, so I could put it right at the top. And the “Start Your Family Tree” box to the bottom. I never use it and it is so frustrating to have to scroll past it every time I want to do a search that I usually just click the search tab and work from that page. Until I can work efficiently from the home page, I’m unlikey to use it.

  7. Eldon

    You can move the search box up to the top–I just did. There are up and down arrows on each box that you can move around when you click to customize the page.

  8. Virginia

    There have been some improvements here. Thank you.

    There are still some things that don’t work correctly:
    1. If I search for given name “j r”, for example, I get all the j’s and all the r’s, not the specific j r’s.
    2. If I narrow my search, there seems to be no way to widen it again, short of starting over.

  9. bromaelor

    I just tried adding some message boards to the home page. Every one of them appears as “General” and there is no way of working out which is which!

  10. Robert


  11. M J Clark

    Is there any way to get back the “Old-Search-style” mentioned by Jade? I don’t get the same great results with some of the census searches, especially the 1900.

  12. Jade

    Regarding M. J. Clark’s #15: on any search page, look for the narrow yellow ribbon across the top; over toward the right is a small curved arrow with a link to return to old search type.

    However, this change may not ‘take’ if you use the New Home Page as a base for the links to census and other collections. You’ll want to make bookmarks in your browser to what you often use, but after you switch back to old search.

    I think they have been messing around with the old search interface. For example, a few days ago looking at some results for the 1930 US census, I could not get the Old Search to come up with any names but Heads of Household. Something is very very wrong if Ancestry makes Fuzzy the mandatory mode, and one cannot persuade the search engine interface that one really does want it to search for the data in the search form.

    The “we know better than you do what you want” is a major cause of many users’ problems with the Ancestry Search Experience.

    Another current blog suggests searching by Collection, which many of us already do. This works a lot better with Old Search than with New Fuzzy.

    And there are two antithetical problems with this approach. Anne said one could get the Search Engine to “emphasize” a country. In global search this doesn’t work – many of us continue to get Canadian and UK results listings for queries that mention only US places and only dates far earlier than the Canadian and UK databases begin with.

    On the other hand, the database search continues not to allow a search of all Maryland databases or all New York databases for a person. And the supposed geographic-area selector continues to operate by keyword in the databases rather than by true area. For example, selecting databases for Delaware don’t include all the DE newspapers because the word ‘Delaware’ is not in their title; yet the listing includes items for Delaware County, NY, or for the Forks of the Delaware River in PA. Whoever has been setting this stuff up should be given a tutorial on US geography.

  13. Edith

    The “new” full homepage customization is a joke. You cannot remove everything and you cannot downsize that giant search box that takes up the whole screen. I do appreciate you putting the compact box of census records on the page but the page is still so worthless I won’t be using it.

  14. How do I get information from Canada?
    My sister’s father was in the French Canadin Army. She was born in Illinois in 1926 and my brother was born in 1929. All I have is his name, Claude Goodhue and a picture of him with my mother. I don’t even have a bith date.

  15. Ray

    Today 11-12-2008, I tried to use The page that opened said that all items on my homepage have been removed! Then I am referred to a link that will allow me to customize my home page. A list of items is supposed to appear on the left side of the screen. From these, I am to choose the ones I want. PROBLEM: THERE ARE NO ITEMS TO CHOOSE FROM! RESULT: I AM UNABLE TO USE THE ANCESTRY.COM THAT I AM PAYING FOR. MY RESEARCH IS STOPPED!

  16. Karen Sowards

    I do not want to have a “customized” Ancestry homepage. Your new and improved program is not only dysfunctional (aka does not load correctly or speedily) it is not wanted.
    As one who pays for access, I should be able to choose what I want for my money. I do not want this update.
    I am technologically savvy, and I love change as long as it is an improvement.
    Stop the condescention regarding “people just don’t like change” because we do when it works.
    Give me back what I payed for or the market will create an alternative. The rise and fall of software programs and websites is legend. Do you want to become a past note or the future?
    Karen Sowards

  17. Deb

    I have been unable to spend as much time as I’d like on researching my family history due to work. My Ancestry renewal date came and went right around the same time as the infamous “new search” was implemented. I tried the new search and found it to be most unsatisfactory – and that was only for census searching! I only wish I’d known prior to my renewal date. I’ve been following this blog and I have already put a reminder to cancel my subscription next year in my Outlook calendar (I’d do it now but Ancestry does not offer any pro-rated refunds for subscriptions which are cancelled during the year – even if one is no longer getting the same service.) It’s sad but hopefully another organization will step up with a similar service that’s actually geared toward the end user.

  18. Jade

    The main purpose of the New Home Page is to provide ‘hits’ for Ancestry income for the immovable advertiseement(s) on that page.

    Ancestry users are much better off to bookmark on their own computer what they use frequently, including the old-format Card File, the single-page scrollable Census listing, etc. A browser that enables ‘tabs’ within one window, such as Firefox, may be helpful for users.

  19. Jon

    The ancestry to-do list seems to keep disappearing at times from the page it should be on. So much for customising your own page when this keeps happening.

    I needed my to-do list as I was going to research in London but it now isn’t where it should be. This has happened before and is VERY annoying.

    I almost feel like I’m going mad as it isn’t there at times and then comes back. And now I can’t access my list what’s the point of having it there at all?

    What is this fault with ancestry and has anyone else had this problem? I am very happy with ancestry when all is working well but am starting to get increasingly frustrated with the on-going faults with this website.

  20. I am thorougly enjoying and making the journey to learn about ancestors back in time. However, I have come to a road block with my Mom’s side of the family who is from Holland. Your Tilberg study only covers the differnt counties in SOUTHERN HOLLAND. My relatives are all from NORTHERN HOLLAND so my tree on that side of the family has come to an abrupt halt. Would you PLEASE let me know when you might be ablt to get the records from Northern Holland, such as Amsterdam, so I can begin to explore that part of my famioly tree? Thank you so much. Cherie Ross

  21. kay risher

    by having the create new tree as the first item under “my trees ” with a choice of uploadinga ged or entering data by keyboard you would solve a problem for those of us who have more trees than will display in the box at one time. I have to fiddle around for a while to be able to see the end of my list of trees. The box does not stick (it quickly disappears) or have a slide bar to navigate down the list.

  22. eveh

    I have worked with computers for a long time. In the 90’s I taught customers to use computers for their first time.
    Your help site is very confusing for me to follow. Can you put things into simple english so I don’t spend extended time looking for an answer. A simple “link” for questions instead of multiple choice for what I am supposed to be asking.
    Thank you

  23. Carol Johnson

    I clicked 1 time on the Jewish records and now when I open the home page I can’t get rid of the orange bar at the top that tells me about it. Not a major problem, just a major annoyance like the advertisement that is there all the time.

  24. I do not like your New Ancestry search and revert to the old style constantly. Now the ‘My Ancestry’ choice (which still appears on your ‘Ask Ancestry’ page) situated between Home and Search has gone from my top bar. Why is this? After searching records I have to go back through ‘Home’ to reach the person I was researching – very inconvenient and slow. I also find that on some days the pages load so slowly it is tempting to go away and do something else. I don’t think that it is my computer because on other days it is fine. Generally I have been pleased with Ancestry, but some of the latest ‘improvements’ have not improved the service at all.

  25. Deborah

    Will not be renewing after a 6+ membership.

    It fully fails to deliver the required results,
    eg Wynford Davies born 1904, Pembrokeshire, Wales brought up 117,220 ‘hits’ for the 1901 census!!

    In addition, to get anywhere is SO longwinded.

    Never thought I could live without MY ancestry, but it’s not MINE anymore, despite the attempt to ‘personalize’it.

    I’m not a Luddite – I embrace change when it is for the best, but this change is atrocious.

    Judging by all the other comments, will be losing a lot of revenue during 2009.


  26. Selhawke

    I won’t be renewing my subscription either. Ancestry has made a real fine mess of things by trying to be too clever. Now nothing works properly and I can never find what I use most – there seems to be a policy of “show ’em the new stuff and hide the stuff they use most”.
    …and UK Census searches don’t bring up what they used to. Some parish returns have simply disappeared.
    What a mess!

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