Posted by Anne Gillespie Mitchell on April 27, 2009 in Website

As some of you have noticed, some of our data sets are not returning results when they are searched.

We are currently working on it and I will post updates as I get them.

We apologize for the inconvenience.

Anne Gillespie Mitchell

Anne Gillespie Mitchell is a Senior Product Manager at She is an active blogger on and writes the Ancestry Anne column. She has been chasing her ancestors through Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina for many years. Anne holds a certificate from Boston University's Online Genealogical Research Program. You can also find her on Twitter, Facebook and Finding Forgotten Stories.


  1. Andy Hatchett


    Just one question…

    Why does Ancestry refuse to acknowledge that they are a 24/7 worldwide business and set their staffing requirements accordingly?

    This is not the first time something happed late of a Friday or early Ssaturday and nothing was done until Ancestry “opened for business on Utah local time”.

    This is completely unacceptable.

    We, the paying userbase, are getting heartily sick of this ongoing situation

    Please-PLEASE- pass this up the chain to your boss, your boss’s boss, and your boss’s boss’s boss!

  2. This is the kind of ‘response’ that should have been circulated on Saturday – not over 48 hours after the first users experienced the problem. This was not a small problem, it was a major inconvenience to all subscribers.

    Ancestry / TGN should do 2 things:

    One – Completely revise their inane refusal to provide support at the weekend and investigate the possibility of 24/7 support.

    Two – Give every subscriber at least 2 extra days by moving all renewal dates out by at least 2 days.


  3. Jerry Bryan

    Much thanks for addressing this problem. It’s much appreciated. The more information you can provide, the better.

  4. Anne Mitchell

    We have fixed the issues with databases not returning results.

    If you see databases that still seem to be affected, please let me know.

  5. Ann – I know of at least one – that’s the one I’ve detailed in all postings this weekend and this morning.

    England & Wales Christening Records, 1530-1906. I suspect that this isn’t the only one still giving problems.

    Where are we with a refund?


  6. As a follow up, how on this earth can you state that “We have fixed the issues with databases not returning results.” if you don’t have a clue about which ones may still be a problem???


  7. Michelle Woodham

    This database is still not returning search results…

    Alabama Marriage Collection, 1800-1969


  8. Anne Mitchell

    Tony, we do have an idea which ones are the problems.

    I have reported this data set and it is being investigated.

  9. Carol Ellis

    Ontario Canada Birth, Death and Marriage records are still not working.

    I agree – you need 24/7 access to technical support

  10. BobNY

    What you missed is finding the root cause, rather than hunting around for the symptoms, or worse, asking paying subscribers to find them for you.

    Try asking the dipstick engineer or programmer who touched something Friday night exactly what he did, then perform a reset.

  11. Sherry

    Ontario Databases Not Working (have not checked each and every one)
    1851 Census
    1901 Census
    Marriages 1857-1924
    Deaths 1869-1934
    Births 1869-1909

  12. My family tree “Lorei KSBranch” when viewing the Alex Lorei record does not return a hit on Alex Lorei when searching Family Tree. My requiremnet is to actually see the Alex Lorei record result belonging to my family tree “Lorei KSBranch”.
    Thanks for taking the opportunity to excell. Enjoy and have fun!
    My user name is riffelalp.

  13. Diane

    The Historic Newspaper collection isn’t returned results correctly. If you search, you get a list of hits in various newspapers (and how many hits in that newspaper). But if you click on that hit link you’re taken to a screen that says no hits were found (even through the previous list indicated there were 2 hits).

  14. Bill

    The following data bases still will not give results:
    -Ontario Canada Births/Deaths/Marriages
    -1851, 1871, 1901 Canada Census

  15. Diane

    I have many years managing software products. At my companies, if we realized something was broken like this, we’d enlist all available employees — yes, including the execs — to help identify the broken data sets before we started asking our customers to randomly “tell” us.

    Since the Scotland 18xx census data sets aren’t returning results but the 1901 census is — a clue???

    I have not been a big complainer — I know software problems happen. But you need to be prepared to warn the customer base on a timely basis.

    Since so many data sets were affected, there should be an alert message on the home page and on main search pages — at a minimum. Let customers know you are on top of it even if you don’t have a resolution yet.

    Someone should have been able to upload that warning message on Saturday, April 25, within hours of the problem being reported and confirmed on your end.

  16. Sherry

    Ontario births, marriages, deaths are working but am still brought to the “new search experience” and wonder if this is permanent.

    I use to search “ontario” for “xxx” and all of the databases were brought up that listed “xxx”, now I am directed to invidual records.

    I know I then can select births, marriages and deaths, or census or whatever and then find the ontario database I need but this is a complete waste of time.

    Whoever thought of this needs their head examined.

  17. Jerry Bryan

    Re: Sherry #24 – you should be able to go back to Old Search. Go to the Search tab and you will see a place that will take you back to Old Search.

  18. The databases I search are working fine, but I keep getting errors when I try to pull up user profiles. I like the messaging feature, but why is Ancestry only going half in on the social aspect? Just go all in! I should be able to bookmark profiles and create a network of “cousins” so that I can easily find their trees and talk to them. The new navigation and search is all very cute and whiz bang, but not nearly as useful as actually being able to CONNECT to other users doing the same research as I am.

  19. Deb H

    It is truly sad that the first acknowledgement of this problem by Ancestry was on Monday morning, AFTER an entire weekend of widespread database issues. Lack of weekend support at what is billed as the preeminent source of on-line genealogical records is completely irresponsible. Please notify all subscribers immediately when we can expect compensation, either in the form of a refund or an extension of our service.

  20. When I am doing my “hints” search I no longer am shown the spouse and children of my ancestor on the right side of the screen for comparison. I must first print my results so I do not duplicate the records. When did this start happening?????

  21. Mary Beth Marchant

    Speaking to the person who wants Ancestry to be a social networking site, I am absolutely opposed to that. If you want to network, go to the obvious networking web sites. Ancestry is a genealogy web site, not something wherein you can join with all your cousins and friends. Go look for great grandma and grandpa and when you find them, go to your social networking site and tell all your friends. Just don’t expect Ancestry to do that.

  22. Anne Mitchell

    We have rolled some new code last night which should have fixed all the data sets.

    I have run through the one’s reported here, and am getting results in all of them.

    We are also reviewing our monitoring lists to make sure that we are indeed looking at a good set of data so this gets reported much sooner and someone will start dealing with it as it happens.

  23. dklart

    The Historical Newspaper Collection is not loading at all. I selected a number of states in the main search, and none of them load.

  24. Anne Mitchell

    dklart, I went to both the old and new versions of the home page and then went to newpapers, and I am getting results.

    I suspect I am not understanding exactly where you are.

    Could you past a url in of the search you are using so I can figure this out?


  25. dklart

    Hey # 28 Terry Van Zuidam

    I’ve been having the same problem since last week, I thought is was just my DB, since no one posted over in the Member Tree forum. I contacted tech support about it, and it is working today, but it still needs some tweaking. I’m told it will be worked on tomorrow.

  26. Anne

    I am intrigued by your comment – “We have rolled some new code last night which should have fixed all the data sets.”.

    The normal reason to ‘roll new code’ is to fix a problem caused by old code. As the data sets did not have problems before Saturday was it some code that was implemented on Friday that caused all the problems?

    Or was it Gremlins? 🙂


  27. Anne Mitchell

    You should be intrigued. It was a code roll, not gremlins. And it is all in the name of a much requested improvement. There will much more information on that within the next 24 hours.

    There, how’s that for intriguing? 😉

  28. Hey Anne,
    Not really intriguing, more like cruel – leaving a person hanging like that 🙂

    But from your own words – the problem at the weekend was caused by a code roll out and not gremlins – isn’t that what you said? 😉


  29. charles minor

    I have not been able to get any results from any of the data bases today. what is the problem.
    charles minor

  30. Anne Mitchell

    As much as I’d like to blame gremlins, or sunspots, it was code.

    As for the other thing, let’s say that relevant search results is a theme this year. Tomorrow is step one.

  31. Anne Mitchell

    Charles, which data set(s) ? Can you give me a specific one or ones to look at?

    I’ve checked the one’s listed here and others that we knew were problematic, and they were working.

  32. dklart


    I may have jumped the gun, the pages load, but are taking better than 1 minute + to do so.

    Here’s where I’m jumping off:

    I tried several links; Nevada, Illinois, New Hampshire, all more than a minute to load to the state specific directory.

    I went direct to the Historical, after a search I did in Stories and Publications turned up something in a newspaper, but it came up blank via that route. I tried several others, all blank. I then went direct to the Hist News and that’s where nothing loaded when I first wrote about it here.

    I just tried again, and now they are working, via Stories and Pubs. This all in the past 20 minutes.

    Just checked Historical News….before I post this, still over 1 min load time

  33. Raphael Anthony Shaw

    I am searching for ancestors from India who came to Guyana, South America, when Guyana was British Guiana and under the rule of the British.
    Your web site keeps directing me to USA only and to people with the same surnane as mine.
    These people are not whom I am looking for.
    Set your website to gave more information and not USA alone.

  34. Jade

    In database “Berks County, Pennsylvania Estate Records, 1752-1914” I search for just surnames names I know are in there, but get no results.

    This database cannot be browsed.

    When I enter a year-number as keyword, such as “1881”, I get exactly 27 results no matter what year, beginning alphabetically with ‘A’ surnames. For the 1880s that gives me surnames beginning with ‘A’ and some beginning with ‘B’.


  35. Anne Mitchell


    That is a tricky one. Try only use the keyword “berks” and no names are anything else.

    That will get you the list of 36,976 results. Sure it’s a long list, but it will get you probably send you in the right direction.


    I am getting results for “Smith” in both: and

    dklart, I’ll try and have someone check the timing issues on that scenario you described…but it may take awhile.

  36. Andy Hatchett


    Re#31-You said:
    “We are also reviewing our monitoring lists to make sure that we are indeed looking at a good set of data so this gets reported much sooner and someone will start dealing with it as it happens.”

    Does this actually mean that someone will be minding the store on week-ends from now on so this type of thing- *or any other system problem*
    will be handled when it happens and not on Monday mornings?

  37. Constance Pentzer

    What about the databases that have been having problems for months? I have sent in reports with urls and examples for Names in Stone vol 1 and 2. Any name I search for gives me a processing error. I was told “As we are only able to update our databases periodically, there may be some delay before changes are included in the database.”

    These resources are a big reason I have subscribed. If something is not working, it should be fixed whether it is time to update that particular database or not.

    It is nice to see new data added, but I feel that the maintenance of the system is being sacrificed. Is the emphasis on adding new data or keeping existing resources available?

    What is the definition of “some delay”? As a subscriber who may be considering whether to renew or not, I should know what resources are available. We should be told when, in terms of actual time, we can expect something will be fixed. It is reasonable to expect to get what I am paying for.

    If the subscribers can’t use the databases, there may be “some delay” in getting us to renew.

  38. Jade


    Re your #46 anent “Berks County, Pennsylvania Estate Records, 1752-1914,”

    “That is a tricky one. Try only use the keyword “berks” and no names are anything else.

    “That will get you the list of 36,976 results. Sure it’s a long list, but it will get you probably send you in the right direction.”

    Thanks for what sounded like a possibly workable (if insane) workaround.

    It does not work. No matter what page the screen says I go to (got as far as record no. 12,650), the default-alphabetized “results” list displays nothing after the surname “Bland”. The identical page of results no matter what the record#/page-navigators say.

    I assume this also means that so-called ‘global search’ will not get beyond middle-of-B-surname for this database.

    Are there others like this???? Yoicks!

  39. Sheila Nelson

    I am getting no results when searching,,period. Every name I use,,whether it is for US census info, or Ontario Drouin info, I get the response that there are no results for the name searched.

  40. hdouglas161

    I have been trying to locate various ancestors on the 1850 and 1860 census in Louisiana. When I input my search criteria I get a list of names, few if any of which are in Louisiana. I then have to troll through page after page of irrelevant names and still haven’t found the person I was seeking. I’ve seen these ancestors on the 1850 / 60 census before, but was foolish enough to think I didn’t need a paper copy, that I could just go to I’ve spent hours on this stuff and am getting pretty disgusted. Is this a temporary problem or is it systemic? brian

  41. Anne Mitchell


    Have you tried setting “Lived in (Residence”” to Louisiana, USA?

    And if you are in exact search, try just making that field exact,no others.

    And then on the left hand side, scroll down and choose Census and Voter list — that will narrow down to census’s.

    And from there you can choose the era or decade.

  42. Jan Rubenkoenig

    In response to #25 who said just click on switch to old search… no longer works for me. I can only use the new search option and I don’t even like it that much. Some things have been an improvement but I would prefer to use the old search option and I can’t even get it activated. When I emailed the help desk I was told to try again. I would not have even reported it if I had not tried numerous time with no sucess to switch back to the origina search option. Maybe #24 is haveing the same problem as me.

  43. Kathie

    I’m really glad we got the results issue taken care of but what about the “ads” issue. When we hit the back button, we have to go thru a series of Ancestry ads. You told me it was my PC but I think its obvously not since it appears that many others are having the same problem. Like one person said, we’re all members. What are you trying to sell us?

  44. Russ McCle

    The results issue has NOT been solved. I just tried to search for Anna Morris, born in NJ and lived in NJ and received over 1,290,000+ results in the census database alone. It picked up every Ann, Ann and Morris in the US Census collection. Why do you keep screwing up your search engine and the search and results page. KISS Keep It Simple Stupid and if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. I am getting very tired of all this BS.

  45. Russ McCle

    I just re-searched Anna Morris adding Year of birth, and date and place of death and received 7,156,642 results, how broken is your search engine? And no tech support until Monday? Very poor customer service or should I say disservice. If you want to keep your customers, you have to improve customer service.

  46. Marylea

    When trying to narrow down the census search to a specific year (i.e.1880)the choices I get do not include the US 1880 Census. Is this part of the data set problems?

  47. Susan

    My blood pressure is through the roof trying to do my genealogy. Ancestry, you are taking the joy out of it> Why do you keep changing things that used to work. Search in the census do not work half the time. I put in a name and county of a person whom I know to be there, but you bring back either no results, or they are in the list somewhere within 50 pages of results. When I put in Louis C. Holloway in Ellis Co Texas for the 1920 census, and get no results, after just looking at the darned thing on, and a whole lot faster than Ancestry, it makes me crazy.
    PLEASE PLEASE fix this, and I think you owe everyone some free time at the end of our subscriptions, because we can’t use this half the time.

  48. Constance Peck

    What Andy said…

    Just one question…

    Why does Ancestry refuse to acknowledge that they are a 24/7 worldwide business and set their staffing requirements accordingly?

Comments are closed.