Posted by Ancestry Team on April 28, 2009 in News, Site Features, Website

There is a long list of things we want to improve in search (and in new search in particular) – and we’ve started with what you’ve told us is the most important – getting relevant results; and relevance is our top priority this year in search.

And date relevance seems to be the most requested change. If you tell us grandpa died in 1910, you really don’t want to see a 1930 census record.

Making places more relevant and names more relevant are also important, but dates seem to be the one thing we’ve heard the most about. And not to worry, we will get to places and names as well.

Here are the changes we’ve made:

  • If you are searching for someone and you just know a birth year, we will assume the person lived about 100 years. And we will only return records from the birth year – 5, and birthdates + 102.
  • If you are searching for someone and you just know a death date, we will again assume the person lived about 100 years, and we will only return records from the death year – 105 to death year+2.
  • If you put in both a birth year and a death year, we will return records between birth year – 5 to death year + 2.

Why did we choose a 5 year “fudge factor” for birth year and a 2 year “fudge factor” for death year? We’ve spent a lot of time with census records, and vital records, and when those dates are wrong, they usually fall into that range.

I’m going to try and guess at some of your questions. If you have other questions about the changes we made to make dates more relevant, please post them in the comments.


  • So what if I use a range on the birth or death year? If you have a birth year of 1850, and choose a range of +-2, and a death year of 1904 +- 10, then we will look for records between (1850-2-5) and (1904+10+2) or 1843 and 1916.
  • Why do we use a fudge factor? Because our ancestors were absolutely horrible with dates and getting them right. Our tests show that a “fudge factor” of five for birth year and two for death year gets better results.
  • What if I don’t want the fudge factor added in? Then add five to the birth year, or subtract two from the death year and you’ve outsmarted the system. I wouldn’t recommend it; you may be outsmarting yourself.
  • Should I mark dates exact? Depends. Death date is usually a very bad date to mark exact, because so few records have a death date. So enter the death date as limiting factor, but don’t mark it exact unless you are specifically looking for records that have that exact date in them. Birth year shows up in lots of records, so that is a better choice for exact, though that does require that a record have a birth year or an age. And remember, you can mark exact and a range, and that will match anything exactly in the range. I recommend this strongly for birth year.
  • What if I see a record that looks like it should be date filtered out of my results set, i.e., I put in death date of 1903, and it’s from 1920? It probably means we haven’t reindexed that data set yet — we’ve covered about 95% of all eligible records for launch. Feel free to leave the name of the data set in a comment on this blog post and we’ll make sure it gets on
    the list. We are working our way through all of our data sets, but we started with some of the biggest and most commonly surfaced in our search results.

  • What if I don’t want you to date filter for me? If you don’t use dates at all, we can’t and won’t lifespan filter. Or you can type in a broader range of dates to include more records. But this one is a no brainer, as many of you have pointed out — lifespan filtering is going to give you better results. Now when we launch place filtering (hmm….wonder if that is a hint of things to come soon…) we will make that something you choose or not choose, because you will need more control over that.

This is a new addition to our algorithm, so if you have questions, this is the place. I’ll be keeping an eye on this blog post.

This will benefit both old and new search, but we really think you’ll see the difference most in the new search interface. There are many more improvements to come, and in the meantime, I’d encourage you to take a fresh look at new search and see how much this has improved the results you see.

One other thing – we’ve also heard from a number of people that you like to use new search for some types of search, and old search for others – but that switching between them is a pain. To make this easier, we’ve just retired the “introduction page” and introduced a simple link in the yellow bar at the top of the page to enable you to switch easily between the two searches. This will be available tomorrow (Wednesday) as well.

Happy Searching!


  1. judy

    your quote

    There is a long list of things we want to improve in search (and in new search in particular) – and we’ve started with what you’ve told us is the most important – getting relevant results; and relevance is our top priority this year in search.


    getting relevant results should have been ancestrys top priority right from the start should it not! if this had been then we would not have had cause to complain about new search for over a year already would we.

  2. judy

    your qoute

    Here are the changes we’ve made:

    If you are searching for someone and you just know a birth year, we will assume the person lived about 100 years. And we will only return records from the birth year – 5, and birthdates + 102.
    If you are searching for someone and you just know a death date, we will again assume the person lived about 100 years, and we will only return records from the death year – 105 to death year+2.
    If you put in both a birth year and a death year, we will return records between birth year – 2 to death year + 2.

    umm yes good idea but the range should be tweeked a little larger. why well i have two or three of my ancesters who lived to 104/105. yes i now this is not that useual but hay if i have them living to that age then so will others especially nower days the queen mother of course lived to 102. i think the oldest here in england was 114 until recently

    just an observation.

  3. Thnakgoodness for this. The search results are a disaster, really they are. How they ever ended up the way they did is something that should not of happened to start with. has the worst search results on the internet.

  4. Anne Mitchell


    If you type in a birth date of 1800 and a death date of 1905, we will cover 1795 to 1907.

  5. debra carrithers

    I have several ancestors who trace ack to a common ancestor {ie. two ggggrandmothers who were sisters}how do you designate this when fillling in the family tree

  6. Jerry Bryan

    This is just a clarification question. I don’t want to complain because you all are doing what we asked (grin!).

    In Old Search, the generic search on the home page had a date range option for records that worked great. That sounds like the same functionality that is being added to New Search. But in Old Search for any specific database (or collection, such as census), a date was really a date for a specific event such as birth, death, marriage, etc. (I hope I am explaining it clearly enough.)

    How does this relate to the new feature in New Search? That is, when is a birth date really a birth date that has to be in the record? And when is a birth date really the beginning of a range of dates for records? Or am I not understanding how the new feature in New Search is going to work?

  7. Jerry Bryan

    Here’s another clarification request in the same vein as my #7. Will the new “more relevant results” affect both exact search and fuzzy search (AKA ranked search), or will it only affect fuzzy search.

    One of the greatest tools in Old Search is that the date range feature works great with exact search. It also works great with places names, which is something I realize is coming in New Search but not yet.

    For an Old Search example, I can search exact from the home page for John Doe who lived in Tennessee and I can give dates of 1849 through 1881. It will find all records for John in this date range for example, in the censuses from 1850 through 1880, but there may be marriage records or other records in this date range as well that will be found. And it will limit the results to “Tennessee records” in a very clever way. For example, it will find John living in Tennessee, but it will also find John living in Missouri or Texas if his birth place is listed as Tennessee.

    With the caveat that nothing is being enhanced at this time with respect to place names, will I be able to do a single generic exact search for John Doe that will search for any records for John in the 1849 through 1881 date range?

  8. Jerry Bryan

    And here’s one more clarification request. One of several areas where New Search is woefully weak as compared to Old Search is searching marriage records. The major flaws in New Search for marriage records are 1) that it badly mangles and mixes the names of the spouses, especially the name of the second spouse and 2) that it is awkward at searching multiple marriage data bases with one search.

    Problem #1 is not being addressed at this time, but I wonder if maybe problem #2 is. That’s because problem #2 has to do with dates and it is date processing that is being improved at this time.

    With Old Search from the home page and with the Advanced option, you can specify a marriage date or marriage date range, and the all marriage databases will be searched. The closest New Search equivalent to this on the Home page is the “Tell us more to get better results” option. New Search doesn’t really have an Advanced Search option. Well, it has an option called Advanced Search, but the only thing its Advanced Search option does is show you the Exact option which should have been there all along. So New Search’s Advanced Search option is is misnamed.

    Anyway, with the “Tell us more to get better results” option, there is lots of data you can specify to filter your search. But curiously enough, marriage date is not such a piece of data. All you can do is to go through the marriage databases one at a time, or you can use the Narrow by Category option after your first search is completed. That’s why I say that searching all marriage databases at the same time is awkward. You need to be able to specify a marriage date or date range in the initial search.

    So while date processing is being enhanced, I was just curious if the ability to search all marriage databases at the same time from the Home page was one of the date features that were being enhanced.

  9. Reed


    Heaven knows New Search needs improving and I hope the announced changes work. That would be a good thing. But…

    Why, oh why, do you and Ancestry insist on “helping” us so much? I’ve been using New Search off and on for quite a while now, and I find I spend much of my time trying to “outsmart the system” (your phrase), just so I can control and limit my results in ways that are useful to me.

    Please, look at one of your own “Questions” about the new semi-exact parameters of the Revised New Search:


    “So what if I use a range on the birth or death year? If you have a birth year of 1850, and choose a range of +-2, and a death year of 1904 +- 10, then we will look for records between (1850-2-5) and (1904+10+2) or 1843 and 1916.

    “Why do we use a fudge factor? Because our ancestors were absolutely horrible with dates and getting them right. Our tests show that a “fudge factor” of five for birth year and two for death year gets better results.
    What if I don’t want the fudge factor added in? Then add five to the birth year, or subtract two from the death year and you’ve outsmarted the system. I wouldn’t recommend it; you may be outsmarting yourself.”


    Who thinks up this stuff? Nostalgic MS-DOS programers with a pathological distaste for well-designed GUIs? Former Internal Revenue Service “tax simplification” experts? Hollywood accountants?

    More to the point, who really thinks this is useful? WHY should we have to know this sort of folderol just to get a truly EXACT search (because, you know, sometimes THAT’S WHAT WE REALLY WANT!)

    And by the way, there were weeks (months!) of Ancestry-blog posts on just this topic and as I recall, there was an almost overwhelming preference for Exact Searches that were–whadda ya know!–Exact.

    These nanny-knows-best style defaults of Revised New Search take us further down the non-precise, non-intuitive path. Please. Keep it simple. Exact should be exact. Exact-plus/minus a date range should be just that. We are not infants. Let US decide what our Exact dates should be.


    P.S. And by the way, what if I want to search just one year? Or perhaps just 2 or 3 years? (I have my reasons, and I actually do useful searches like this.) With this new algorithm, there is no way I can search data from just–say– 1905. Or should I specify a beginning date of 1905-5 and an end date of 1907-2? Sheesh!

    Must stop now. Head about to explode…

  10. sounds as if you all are working very hard to help us w/all our searching. that’s good. what would be totaly awesome is if you could come up w/a 24/7 tech support so i could ask you to remove the legalzoom ads from the system. don’t need legalzoom.not yet anyway. would love less ads,way less. thank you

  11. Thankgoodness for this. Ancestry’s search results are the terrible.

    Hope it comes good because quite frankly, the results its a big put-off.

    One word.


  12. Diane

    Quick question on the third bulleted example: “If you put in both a birth year and a death year, we will return records between birth year – 2 to death year + 2”

    Should that be “between birth year – 5 to death year + 2”?


  13. Deb H

    Good grief! The length of the text required to explain what should be a simple date range search is mind boggling. I confess I stopped using “New Search” ages ago and was hoping for improvements that would make it simpler. But after reading Anne’s post, my head is spinning even faster. Why can’t a date range be just that; i.e., give me anyone with death dates between 1850 and 1880 – pretty simple. Re: Anne’s quote: “So what if I use a range on the birth or death year? If you have a birth year of 1850, and choose a range of +-2, and a death year of 1904 +- 10, then we will look for records between (1850-2-5) and (1904+10+2) or 1843 and 1916.” This looks like something I tried to solve (unsuccessfully) in 8th grade algebra! I’d prefer to redefine the search myself as desired results appear (or not).

  14. Anne Mitchell


    I am going to try and answer all that you posted, if I miss something feel free to ask again.

    First, this feature is available in new search, and old fuzzy search, just not old exact search (it didn’t make sense there).

    The Old Search template allowed you to put in birth and death date, but it did not filter the data like we are doing here.

    Places are matched as they were before. So when you type in the place, it will contribute to the ranking in the same way. And if you are in exact, it matches records that have a place and that place.

    I really think that the marriage question will best be answered elsewhere — it is a good question and a good discussion, but outside the scope of this feature.

    Reed, if you use exact in new or old search, you get exact. That has not changed. However, I can promise you if you choose an exact date of 1833 for great granny’s birth year, you are most probably going to miss a lot of stuff. Maybe your ancestors were good at getting their vital dates recorded, most were not. There are many original documents that have incorrect dates.

    But exact is exact. You can choose the date you like, mark exact, and it works the same.

    As for searching one year, I’m not really sure how you did that before. But I suspect that hasn’t changed.

    Diane, thanks for catching the typo. 😀

    Deb, date range is simple. We don’t show you stuff outside the birth and death span.

    But, there are a lot of people who genealogical searches who love the nitty gritty details. I wanted to make sure that I explained it completely. The good news is, you don’t need to read it — it’ll just work.

  15. Tony Brothers

    “The good news is, you don’t need to read it — it’ll just work.”

    Wow – the London bookies will love the odds on this one. I’m of the belief that Ancestry’s entire system will explode and self-destruct before anything there “just works”.

  16. Melissa

    If I find mistakes in the transcribing of census images on your website. Do you want to know and will you make corrections?

  17. Anne Mitchell

    Melissa, there is a correction link that can be found on the record page on the left hand side.

    That is the place to record corrections to transcription errors.

  18. Jo

    Anne, are those record corrections ever going to be incorporated into new records or are they just going to be left as corrections forever? Just wondering because I used to print the records to go along with the images I was printing but some of them are so wrong it’s useless to print them.

  19. Anne Mitchell


    It depends on the data set as to how long it takes, a week, or a few, but they do get rolled into the data sets.

  20. Jennifer

    Don’t know where else to pose this question.
    Is there any way that the pedigree, family and family group sheet views can be printer friendly? Right now it prints the entire page, not just the relevant information, which makes the type get very small sometimes. If there were a feature like on map & directions sites that gives you just your own information, it would be very helpful.

  21. BobNY

    I am with Tony Brothers on that one. But, I did try to read it.
    The homepage now has an announcement (aka advertising) in its annoying rotating space that says:

    More relevant search results are here.
    Learn more.
    Click on the link and what do you get?

    We’re sorry. The page you tried to access is no longer available.

  22. Kenny Freestone

    Hi Jennifer,

    The pedigree and the family view both have a “printer-friendly” link in the upper right corner of the view.

  23. Linda Carlton

    Hi! I have repeatly tryed to get into Mexico’s records on birth death marriage and trying to connect family with no results. My search bars offer every country but Mexico. I have been a member since January of 2009 so that’s not the problem. Why does it not offer more to this country. Has this been improved? How can you advise us???

  24. judy

    first of please bare with me i’m dyslexic. firstly thanks for the answer anne

    yes of course anne i relize that but my point is just because i know my ancesters died at over 100 other people dont and more likly not expect an ancester to live to over 102. so they whould quite happily look by just putting in a birth year and then not finding them if persumerly they are over 102 and the search is therefore more likly to asume that you dont have the record or that it has been mis-typed and spend ages just looking for her/him to the age of 100 and then give up. (yes i have done this in the past so it does happen)

    ok the more expirenced of us would look on a greater scale of course especially if they knew like i did that their ancester lived to over 100. but i am asuming that most would not. so therefore concidering the advances in health care since the later half of the 1800’s when the age of our ancesters began to rise so that today to find that an ancester lives past 100 is not unusal re configering the range you set to get results for the death year when unknown to show for 5 years past the 100 years imputted by the searcher for birth year would be better than letting the system miss it just because the inputter dosent know the death year and has not thought (yes some will not do so).

    having a drop down of course is an advantage as in old search (which i myself feel is far more useble than the dreaded ambiguous new search) then we your custermers can then set our own limit but for you to asume that +2 past the 100 for records automatically only should be shown is i feel wrong.

    if you are going to atomatically set a limit they should be set as equally at present you say that the search will give results of -5 on the birth date and only +2 on the programs expected death date of 100 calculated from the searchers inputted birth date. why the discrepency should it not be -5 on inputted birth date and +5 on the programs expected 100 years.

    but i have this question too and of far more concern to me if you are trying to make the search more efficent in the first place why return atomatically with out our inputting (or infact requesting) a range the records past 100 years and before/after the exact date put in by ourselves.

    personly if i ask for a date of say 1900 i expect dates of those for 1900 and not dates of 1895 -1997 unless i persifically ask for the other dates on which ever field i ask for so if i ask for birth for 1900 i expect results just for birth for those in 1900 not everything else from birth to death and everything inbetween like census records and if i ask for the date for mariage or death i expect only marriage or death records for 1900 not anything else

    i hope i have not waffled to much. and its clear

    old search is the form that is most efficent a new search based on this format is what we all would much prefer not the over preforming ambigous new search format that you are currently implementing. give me old search every time with its clear laid out form.

    why i am at it the family tree search facillity at present in amt when you search it is sorted by submitter and not in any logical way either. this should be searchable by the name of the person with in the tree so that all the “aaron smiths” and all the “zebedy smiths” are listed together with everything else in between alphabetically listed at present they are all over the place. i cant for the life of me work out the reason or logic for the present system and concidering i regually replace my tree i as an adams sould be near the top if sorted by submitter but no of course i am not i am right at the bottom end and when you concider i was one of the first to submit my tree to amt anyway yes it erks me. for me an alphabetical search on names in the tree dispite which area field is filled in is what i expect.

    i quite often just want to find those listed for a particular area like WIELD hampshire enngland to see who else is looking and claiming people from this small rural village as i link to most of its inhabitants for about 150 years so those who list as having ancesters from there are likly to be connected to me some how but when i do this i get results for names such as westbrook and knight and crouch and giles showing all over the place and certainly not grouped together in an logical form or as i would hope alphabetically.

    anne please just try it to see what i mean. leave all other fields blank except to input the WIELD hampshire and see just what results you get and how frustrating it is and this from a place that only has 6 pages showing for all residents in the 1841 census which had only crept up to only 8 pages in the 1901 so the area is not that large at all. this shows the problem we the searchers have if you want to see results for a surname just one of the ones mention above within the village of wield!

  25. sissyblue111

    Hey!!!! Sounds good!!!!
    I just have ONE question = = =
    Does this mean that when I do a search – you will at least give me the right CENTURY and the right CONTINENT?
    If so = = I would be DELIRIOUS!!!!!

  26. Ann

    I sincerely hope that the new features will help! And, that the frustrations of the last few weeks have been created because you are in the process of implementing the changes.
    Up until about 6 weeks ago, when I searched, I got mostly relevant info, with a few extraneous bits of junk. For the last several weeks, I’ve gotten MOSTLY junk, with the rare bit of good info. Specifically, MY OWN TREE keeps showing up, often multiple times, in the search! I know my tree has good info – I’ve worked hard to get it to that point. But, if I am searching to add to my tree, seeing it in the search results is not useful.

  27. mary

    re message 26

    good one but don’t forget we are subject to the ‘fudge factor’ prehapse we should expect results to show from the moon too!

  28. Jade

    Re Melissa’s and Jo’s #16, #18 about “Corrections”.

    The actual answer to your questions are that Ancestry does not “correct” its faulty index entries or the frequently-erroneous transcripts of parts of the actual record.

    The “corrections” entered by users, as “Transcription errors” using the “Make a Correction” link, are entered as *suggested name* and *added* to the index.

    Ancestry never actually corrects this type of mistake by changing the index and erroneous extract.

    Often the source of the extracted/indexed item is quite legible to one experienced reading old handwriting, and sometimes the indexer/extractor has made typographical or other errors (such as including an occupation, but as a surname, where the enumerator was trying to distinguish between households of same-named persons). And sometimes the readings by indexers/abstractors are just wildly incorrect. There just really is not a “Snodgrap” surname!

    Often persons familiar with the involved families can decipher the names, where few others would be able to. But there are a lot of instances where the handwriting is difficult or very faded. When these elements are combined with an enumerator’s semi-phonetical spelling, what the entry “really” says can be reasonably interpreted by different readers in different ways.

  29. Mary Beth Marchant

    To Anne Mitchell-regarding corrections in the census-the ONLY thing that can be entered as a correction is the name-NOTHING ELSE. Other corrections have been promised for years but NOTHING has ever been done about that. I note especially the extremely annoying listing of the birthplace(GEORGIA THE COUNTRY) im 1850/1860 census records for the State of Georgia. Just how many Russians from the Country of Georgia made their way to the state of Georgia in 1850/1860. I would be willing to bet there were absolutely none. This absolutely needs to be added. This is copied from the option to correct a name
    “Currently we can only accept submissions for alternate names. We will soon add fields for alternate places, dates, and more. For now, please enter ALTERNATE NAMES ONLY.
    Other information will NOT be searchable” So, when is soon!! This message has been there since the census images were put up. Does soon mean 20 years, 30 years, etc.

  30. regina wright

    i recently found out my husband has/had two sisters. both are/was much older, same father. edna and vivian wright, sure about first name not about last name, i assume wright because thats his last name. also one sister came to visit my brother in-law 2008 he has since died,4/21/2008,he did not tell anyone what can i do to find them? last know address for edna,springfield,o vivian, new york. what searches can i use. thanks gina

  31. Mike Sullivan

    I would like to search just certain US census records – such as the 1920 census, for example. I don’t see how in Search, or even in Advanced Search, I can do that. Any help would be appreciated. mike sullivan,

  32. Ann

    Mike #33 – that’s an easy one!

    When you begin your search, select “census” – you’ll then get a list of each census each (you may have to scroll down to see). You can then narrow down even farther, to get US 1920 only, rather worldwide 1920.

  33. Nevadagenealogist

    When might you add the ability to sort the search results by the field of my choice? This would be a powerful tool I could really use.

  34. Marian

    (Honestly. I’ve already logged in to get this far. Why do I need to identify myself again just to leave a comment?)

    I don’t see how to sort the results by category. Shouldn’t that be at the top of the search results page? I NEED it.

  35. Jo

    Re: #19 by Anne Mitchell posted on April 29, 2009 at 8:43 am

    Anne, what exactly does “rolled into the data sets” MEAN?

    I want to know if new records will be created with the corrections on them instead of the errors that are there currently?

    Here’s an example on the 1930 census for Red Bank, Monmouth, New Jersey – my mother’s family, all surnames spelled Hawrsorce when it was really Harrison. I’ve made corrections to each of the ten family members but when I click the link for the printer-friendly version of any of their records, my corrections don’t show, the original mistaken names show and that’s all I can print.

    So, again, will NEW records ever be created so I can print them out?

    Thank you.

  36. Ann

    To 36 Nevadagenealogist – a person after my own heart. I keep hoping that one day the headers on the columns will be clickable, and I will be able to sort in a way that is meaningful for my research.

  37. When research records are wrong how do you get them changed?
    Wife’s grandmother Schmitt the first person to appear was a total stranger,for his family they had my family and my motherinlaw listed.The newspaper had his family listed in his Obit.I foun d out that Ancestroy won’t correct it is this true? Joe

  38. Malissa

    Ever since your change-over today, when I search for a record, the list that comes up is “cut-off” by the “add banner” that is on the right side of the page (and very annoying too!!!).

    Now, I can only see the first 2-3 letters of whatever information was returned for my search.

  39. Ann

    Malissa 41 – got to say, I’m not seeing any change. I was wondering when on Wednesday ancestry plans to change. Nothing has changed for me – not better, not worse, not different. I was expecting to notice something – hoping for better, but zip, nada, nothing.

  40. RICK

    I just signed up yesterday and have not been able to enter the search database. When I try I get a page message that the sight is down for maintenance or they are having technical difficulties.

    When I tried to cancel my subscription, it would not accept it and advised me to call during business hours. Right now I really feel as though I’m being scammed.

  41. judy

    Can we just skip the other family trees in New Search, or put them after Census and other public records? We get those trees with the Hints. When I do a search, I am usually wanting to see Census, Marriage, death, or other date related public records. Takes a lot of effort to get past the trees which I have uually either already merged or discouted.

  42. Judith Pettitt

    I really liked the old search…After misplacing old files, I found virtually none of the information I had before. Fortunatley, I remembered some of the names and places…otherwise those would have been lost. How can I get the old search back? I also prefer to go to Family Trees when I’ve exhausted everything they are not always correct.

  43. James Ralston

    I, knowing that I am not alone in stating this, would like to know what planet you people are from, when it comes to search engines? One thought comes to mind when you use your search engine, “IT SUCKS”. If I want use your search and enter Edward C. Rayburn, then I should not have to look and search through Willis Rayburn, Adam Rayburn or anyone else other than those records in the databases that say “Edward C. Rayburn”, regardless of birth dates. What do you not understand about parameters such as “exact” “soundex” and the like? Just like Adobe, when searching a PDF file, enter Rayburn and you only get, Rayburn. Is it that difficult to use parameters like Adobe uses or do you still have genius people like those that gave us that wonderful piece of junk, FTM 2008.

  44. Robert Atcheson

    You have currently made it very difficult to access records directly. I have several copies of census records that I have tried to access that your “new” search engine ignores. I have found leads by trolling the record data base and eye-balling the data. I would rather not be “out of the loop.”

  45. Anita J. Lawson-McGlynn

    What have you guys done to Ancestry? Even documents I have found in the past I cannot find on your new system! So far, any search request that I have entered has come back “your request for ??? has returned zero good matches”. Not one good search has come back. Why did you fix it when it wasn’t broken? But then I don’t expect to hear back when negative comments are forwarded.

  46. Fran Cook

    I hate your new search. I can’t find any of the info I found yesterday. Have names, birth dates and death dates, city, county and state. Still will not give me info.

  47. Cynthia Simonds

    New search does not seem to be auto filling the person’s information the way it used to. As I type the first name, I get a handful of choices from my tree, but no way to scroll down for more choices. As I type the surname, I am not offered any names at all. That means typing in all the personal data that used to fill in automatically!! Seems to be a step backwards!

  48. Sarah Ayerst

    I am searching for a marriage between Stanley Ayerst and Florence May Knapp on August 3rd 1931 and cannot find it under either name yet I know it exists! How can this be?

  49. Jade


    Using Old Search with the date-related revision is a mess.

    I am getting much less useful search results in US Census.

    The search engine is now setting *date* as a priority when I enter a birthdate estimate, rather than *name* as a priority.

    For example, searching for Christopher Core, Monongalia Co, WV in the 1850 through 1880 enumerations (each individually). If I enter 1845 as a birthdate estimate and set +/5 and the age of one was given as 38 in 1880 I do not find him at the top of the list. Instead, I get a seemingly random people having miscellaneous names, not even same surname, and not in the specified County. For 1880 the one I was looking for was entered as age 38 (born about 1841/42).

    Previously, my search results would give Christopher age 38, and his cousin by the same name, both in the same County. This is the most genealogically helpful result, letting the researcher know there were contemporaries by the same name who should be sorted out.

    Then if I do not manually clear cookies, I cannot get a list with both in the same enumeration, when I search without entering a date.

    I like the way Old Search handled *name as a priority* first, with the one closest to my entered birth-date listed first.

    The problem with the way Old Search handled dates was in *exact* mode where it disregarded (and still disregards) the date-range specified by the user. It only searches for the earliest date, and if there is no entry for that you get no results at all.

    This change in Old Search is exasperating rather than helpful, since the person sought is found a lot less often.

  50. Jerry Bryan

    Anne, I confess I really didn’t understand the answers to several of my questions. The most basic question is this: does the new support for more relevant relevant search results apply to exact searches? I really can’t tell from the descriptions of how the new support is supposed to work.

  51. Jerry Bryan

    On Jade’s #54, it appears to me that part of the problem is that Christopher was both enumerated and indexed in 1880 as Christoper rather than as Christopher. It works better if the search is for Chris*, for example. Searching either for Christoper or for Chris* moves your guy to the top of the list.

    It also seems to me that the deeper problem is in search engine, much deeper than the date changes that Anne is talking about at the present time. Namely, the problem is in the calculation of the stars, where the search engine is determining that there is a two star match, a three star match, or whatever. Christoper Core should be a closer match to Christopher Core than is N.C. Core, John C. Core, etc.

    So the matching algorithm needs much improvement. But beyond that, the star calculation algorithm also needs much improvement. In particular, the star calculation algorithm should be changed from a linear and additive formula to a standard mathematical distance formula that is subtractive and not linear. Namely, the star algorithm should be based on the idea of the square root of the sums of the squares of the distances.

    It sounds complicated, but it isn’t. It’s just the standard way to calculate the distance from point A to point B. And here, the “distance” being calculated is the distance between the actual data in the database and the search filter entered by the user. Christoper is closer to Christopher than is N.C. or John C., but the search engine doesn’t see it that way.

  52. Kristine

    One thing that is driving me nuts on here is that I can’t filter the search results to go in chronological or alphabetical order. When 300 (or a thousand) records come up, this would be GREAT.

  53. Very pleased to see you are refining search, because I need Canadian records, and when I put that in as a priority, I still get hundreds of American references and no Canadaian.

  54. Alice

    To Kenny, message #23 —

    You wrote,
    “The pedigree and the family view both have a ‘printer-friendly’ link in the upper right corner of the view.”

    Not on mine they don’t.

    If you start in the Pedigree view, the bar across the top has three view options (Pedigree, Family, Family Group Sheet) on the left, and “Publish and Print” and “Printer-Friendly” options on the right.

    Click on the “Family” view, and only the “Printer-Friendly” option is available.

    Click on the “Family Group Sheet” option, and you get “edit” and “Search Records” options, but the print options disappear.

    It would be great to be able to get a printer-friendly version of the Family Group Sheet! I like it so much better.

    I would also like to be able to include your Family Group Sheet (as it appears online) and the Profile pages to print in your “Print & Share” options. I like the way they look, and would like to include in my printing project.

  55. Ann

    Well, Wednesday has come and gone, but no changes! And, that “easy” way to switch between old and new search, is more trouble! Takes me to a blank search page, so I have to back out of my search and come in again, to switch between the 2 searches!

  56. Jade

    Anne and Jerry, re Jerry’s #56 and my #54 — I was actually searching for “Christ*” knowing of the erroneous indexing and that sometimes the name is given as Christian or Christoph.

    The problem remains that the search engine should in non-exact mode sort with all by similar first name matching Christ* first, then by surname in same county. Instead it sorts by same birthdate, regardless of name and place. If I specify Monongalia Co, it should not list persons ***not*** by similar name in Iowa or Texas before listing persons by matching first-name and surname.

    This change in Old Search is getting quite aggravating.

  57. Dear Anne mitchell

    i typed in my date of birth 8/8/51 and all ptivate details came up about myself and my mothers maiden name can you please delete this entry i was born in meriden my mothers maiden name is tricklebank. please do not show this entry, thank you
    Sheila Meredith

  58. Scott Smith

    While I love the fact that I’ve found out more about my family in the last year than I have in the last 41 of my life, I must say that I find it appalling that a database as large as the one on this website does not offer any sortability on search results. Every week you send me e-mails about how you have 7 million new records of this and 10 million new records of that and you never thought to make the search result headers clickable??

  59. Anne
    I seem to have just started getting some really obscure results in the old search – which I still prefer 🙂

    Surname is Franklin no first name, country is England and Wiltshire is the county – exact search.

    I got a death record for ‘Child Daggett’ from 1843 in Massachusetts!

    On looking at the record the father was Franklin Daggett and the town where the poor child died was Tisbury, Massachusetts.

    So – there is a Tisbury in Wiltshire, UK and Franklin was in the name so really I shouldn’t complain – but I’m going to. How on earth does Ancestry justify showing this as relevant.

    There was a second record from the same search – an obit for an 85 year old man in White Settlement outside Fort Worth – he was born to George Franklin Thrasher – also mentioned in the obit is someone from Swindon, England.

    In both cases and there were more than these 2, there was no mention of Wiltshire and the surname was not Franklin – 2 of the 3 fields that I wanted exact matching on.

    You must admit – these are really obscure ‘matches’, and totally irrelevant. How is the search finding these?


  60. Anne Mitchell

    For the record, old search with exact marked, has not changed at all with this launch. But I’ll try and take a look at the example you posted Tony.

    Search is still name priority, date filtering, filters dates, it doesn’t make dates a higher priority in the search.

    Some of you have reported finding 0 matches. I’m sort of shooting in the dark here, because I don’t which search you are on (old or new), but here is a guess. On old search, at the bottom of the results you could set your star level. If you set your star level to say “5 stars” in old search, and then moved over to new search, and a query only had at best results with 3 stars, you would not see anything. Go back to old search, reset your star level, and see if that fixes it.

  61. Ann

    To Anne Mitchell

    I am surprised that there has been no official comment about the “new features” still not available, a full day after the touted launch.

  62. Anne Mitchell


    They are available. There were no UI changes for date filtering — it just happens when you run a query.

    There is a small UI in the tan header of the search home page. When you switch between old and new search, you just toggle between the two searches.


  63. Ann

    I believe you misunderstood my question, so I will try to be more specific.
    BTW, you might note my complaint (msg 60) regarding the unhelpful nature of the old to new search switch.

    My msg 67 refers to your lead article of this blog – “more relevant results”
    The home page still shows them “coming soon.” Since you announced on Tuesday that they would be coming “this Wednesday,” that would be yesterday. Still not here.

    And now this blog – I have to log in to ancestry to access, re-identify myself to post, and NOW you’ve added a captcha! You must really not want to hear from your paying clients.

  64. Anne (Mitchell) 🙂

    Maybe the announcement of changes to the search gives me more critical eyes – maybe the totally irrelevant records were there before and I just ignored them.


  65. Anne Mitchell


    The changes we made to the algorithm rolled out on Wednesday morning, as stated previously.

    There are no user controls to see, it is all in the results.


  66. Chuck Nostrome

    What about name relevance, you check the exact box, and you get all kinds of crazy surnames, Why???

  67. Ida French

    #50 and #51 I am with you. I tried to search for the last name Lane in 1820,1830 and 1840 and according to the search I didn’t give them enough information. It use to work with the last name only and now it doesn’t.

  68. Jade

    Ohhh Noooo

    The yellow banner with “return to Old Search” is now gone from the search pages.

    Please, please put it back!

    Anne (Mitchell) in your #67 you say:

    “There is a small UI in the tan header of the search home page. When you switch between old and new search, you just toggle between the two searches”

    This is not on my Home Page (so-called).

    I do not use the Home Page for going to search specific databases, it is too time-consuming to wait for it to load and then navigate to the database I want. I bookmark them so I can go right to them with **one click** and no extra load-time.

    I do not use New Search because it still returns even more irrelevant results than Old Search and is just too wonky.

    So now how do we navigate to Old Search?

  69. Jade

    Phew – modified UI ribbon with “old search” link is back on Global Search page, but see it only in IE browser. Still not on Home Page.

    Please enable for Firefox browser!

  70. Jade

    Revised UI ribbon with “Old Search” link now viewable on Global Search page in Firefox — thank you very much!

    Hope this installing revised ribbon with this link overall is in-progress!

  71. Anne Mitchell


    I’m guessing the name being matched is an alternate. For example, if you do a search on John Smith, and choose exact, the first match is John Aldo which seems wrong, until you mouse over the little yellow triangle which shows John Smith as an alternate.

    Jade, if you choose old search (and don’t remove your cookies), you’ll stay there.

  72. Jade


    I shut down cpu to attend to real life items. When I returned, could not find a way to select Old Search.

    When I shut down Firefox I have it set to remove cookies on shutdown.

    There appears to be a software revision, combining the New Navigation Features mini-banner with a link to Old Search/New Search.

    It is being loaded slowly. Still not on my Home Page in IE or FF.

  73. Dean Shelby

    New Search, more relevancy.

    Ann, I have found that it is blood, sweat, and tears to “create” and only a very few even make the attempt.

    Thank you so much for you and your team listening and continuing to improve (simplfy) our research tools. Look forward to other improvments. Dean

  74. Don

    I am sorry I have to tell this but I hate it. You just ruined searching here for me. Please, please tell me there is a link to change back to the search engine that I had before you thought you could make better. If there is no way, I may just have to cancel, I really do not like this at all.

  75. barbara dehle

    I sure hope the searches will go back to looking for the name and state for first choices instead of the date of birth or death instead. When I put in a name and put Texas for both birth and death and get a jillion other people that had the same dob or dod it frustrates me no end…Texas searches should go to Texas//…what has happened lately?

  76. patience beasley

    You do not have all of the countries that I need to look up, I have ancestors from columbia and st. thomas in the british virgin islands and I can not find them in the immigration records or the census, the only record I got a close hit on is the sociol security death, birth, and marriage index, and in order for me to view anything I have to purchase the record , that is why I decided to go with the worl plan, but yet you don’t even have the countries where my ancestors came from in the list in your index.

  77. Jade


    Thanks for the search-switch URL! The link, as I noted earlier, is on the global search page.

    But it still is not on my Home Page as you specified in #67.

  78. Chris

    To all those nay sayers regarding the new changes, I completely agree with them all. Searches now return 0 matches if the “exact” box is checked and 200,000+ if the “exact” box is unchecked. On the rare occasion that I get a workable number of records returned, almost half of them are irrelevant to the person I am searching for. When I’m searching for family in New Mexico, I am really not interested in Mayflower lineage records. Please stop trying to do our thinking for us.

  79. cile

    I have had an membership for many years and it is not as effective for research as it was several years ago.

    It is so frustrating to key in a person born in 1640 to receive hundreds of irrelvant responses for persons born hundreds of years later.

  80. Sherry

    I do not think that this question was addressed…why are you “fixing” something that was not broke?

    You have heard from several folks regarding this “new” search.

    While I applaud your efforts at improving the site, there is something to be said regarding reinventing the wheel.

    Perhaps there are people who do not know about the ancestry blog. I only discovered it this weekend when I was searching for Ontario records in the wee hours of Saturday last. When I ran into trouble, went searching for site messages (I am a rootsweb subscriber and when their site is down (although I know sponsored by ancestry – many thanks for that), they post a message regarding same. Had it not been for the trouble over the weekend, would not have known that this resource existed.

    I will be the first to admit that I do not like change. I had the “old” search parameters down pat and it seems that unnecessary steps are now involved in the “new” search to attain the results that I took for granted in the “old” search.

    It seems to me that you have run the “dual” search for awhile. All I ask is that you keep that option open as so far, your “new” does not cut the mustard.

  81. Sherry


    This is not related to this forum but please fix the “back” button issue. It is driving many of us crazy.

    Please give your “paid” subscribers an “opt out” on the advertising.

  82. Martin W. Beerman

    Why when searching census records (and maybe others) when you specify a birthplace (state) and select all for residence you only get results for the state of birth? Very annoying.

  83. Stuart

    I hope it’s better- now I just copy and paste all of the search results into Excel, then do a macro to get everything into colums and rows – just so I can “sort” by any catagory I want. Cumbersome but effective. Why can’t we sort results?

    Also need to show what facts have already been imported for a particular individual – like version 16 did.

  84. Sherry


    I do the same thing….the cut and paste into excel to sort results.

    Can you do the same thing in the “new” search?

    Honestly, have changed by internet settings to not “looking” for newer versions of pages as a result of this “new search”.

    Let me know if you can still do this with the “new search”.

  85. kathie M. Smith

    In searching the United States Obituary records in S.C, I would like to see records for the 1960’s -1999. They are few and far between, most of the records are for the 2000-?


    Kathie Smith

  86. Jan Rubenkoenig

    I can no longer switch between new search and old search. New search is locked into my site someway and regardless of how many times I click switch back to old search it does not!!!! I do not like to use new search and do not see any changes that would make me want to use it all of the time. I just want to be able to choose which one I use and I can no longer do so.

  87. I would like to see a better search engine in the newspaper section. When I search in that section I usually get a ton of hits that do not even come close to the surname I am looking for. The search engine should be more refined to reduce the multitudes of data that is insignificant.

  88. James Ralston

    One thing is fact, when Ancestry tries to screw something up that was working, they do a good job. Plain and simple, why can’t you give us a search engine that works the way a search engine should? If I search for Tom Jones, born 1886, in Kentucky, then why should your stupid engine give me every, Tom, Dick and Harry, besides Mr. Jones, ones born on different dates and in different places? Guess what, you people didn’t learn diddly from the FTM 2008 fiasco. Now you have a new lemon on the line, screwing up many people’s research. Please, is this what we pay good money for you to do?

  89. Shirley Tomlin

    Your New Search sucks.Why are you trying to force it on us?????? How can I switch back to the old search.

  90. Jo

    Somebody changed something that caused other changes (as usual).

    The blue strip with “Coming Soon – New Navigation” has an x to close it but it doesn’t stay closed. Shows up again on every subsequent page after clicking the x.

    And every message board page has a pink background behind the “Page Tools” box that says, “Error Retrieving Board” although the boards seem to be working correctly as far as I can tell.

  91. Regarding changes to search:

    1. I never use “New Search.”

    2. I love “Old Search” and find it very useful. I am finding it cumbersome to get to in recent days. In the past I have stayed signed in all the time so that “Old Search” was always on the first page I accessed. In the past couple of days I seem to be signed out automatically, and I get “New Search” on the first page I access.

    3. Why are users of Ancestry not considered skilled enough to pick out what range of dates they want to search? For example, in searching census records I almost always enter a date +/- 2 years, and it nearly always will bring up results that include the person that I am looking for. If it doesn’t, then I have the option of widening the date range.

    Or am I misunderstanding something? Will the changes to date ranges apply only to “New Search??

  92. rose thrift

    I have been searching for my uncle Richard Earl Napier who was born in 1942 and died in 1969 somewhere up in New York due to a train accident. I cannot find any birth or death records on him. Is there anything else you can tell me to help improve my search for his records?

  93. Jade

    Rose, hsa basically only the newspapers held by NewspaperArchive, as of a year or so ago.

    Try this deep and marvelous site for NY papers

    The search engine is primitive and somewhat hampered by being OCR-based, so an ‘n’ may have been read as ‘r’, and ‘f’ or ‘t’ as ‘l’. Have some patience and you may hit a jackpot.

  94. Sherry

    Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935

    Why is it that this database is listed under a regional search for Ontario, but is omitted from the search results.

    It is also “partially” omitted from “search historical records”

    For example, in the regional search, if I search for Albert Barber in Ontario, the Canadian Passenger List is not included in the results. When I clicked onto the database itself and searched for Albert born England, he is there.

    If I search “historical records” and type in Albert Barber born England, lived in Canada, the same database is not included in the search results.

    It is included if I just enter Albert Barber in the “historic” search and do not enter a birth place or a residence.

  95. Carol

    I would really appreciate that the files didn’t duplicate themselves when you add or subtract information from them. Sometimes it takes a while to find information other than their name and I may not find it on Ancestry. Sometimes your program will decide the entire family needs to be reproduced and sometimes not. Then you delete the extra file card(s) and the person will disappear from your entire family. Don’t come up with an excuse that it’s my problem when we all know it’s not!

    It would also be nice to have a “Match & Merge People” ability – sometimes family will come together and then part. When you have a large data base it is impossible to remember who’s connected to whom and would like to move them together easily when found.

    When I ask for information on someone from the 1700’s, somehow people born in 1975 don’t matter to me and I just feel frustrated trying to weed my way thru.

    There are other things I’d like to be able to do on Ancestry that I can do on my stable Genealogy Program, but one or two things at a time.

    Thanks –

  96. Jerry Bryan

    For those of you all having trouble getting back and forth between Old Search and New Search, the link is on the Search page rather than on the Home page. The Search page and the Home page look very similar to each other, so you may be looking for the New Search vs. Old Search link on the Home page. It’s not there. Here is how to find the link.

    If you are already in Old Search, there are a series of tabs across the top of the screen. Left to right, they are called Home, Family Tree, Search, Print & Share, Community, DNA, Learning Center, and Store. Click on the Search tab. There will be a light blue ribbon under the tabs, and a goldenrod ribbon under the light blue ribbon. The New Search link is at the right end of the goldenrod ribbon.

    If you are already in New Search, there are a series of tabs across the top of the screen. Left to right, they are called Home, Family Tree, Search, Print & Share, Community, DNA, Learning Center, and Store — just like on Old Search. The New Search tabs don’t look as much like tabs as do the ones in Old Search, but they really are tabs. Click on the Search tab. This time, there will not be a light blue ribbon, just the goldenrod ribbon. The Old Search link is at the right end of the goldenrod ribbon.

    I have never had the New/Old Search links fail when I have used them. But given how similar the Home page and the Search page look, and given how much trouble people seem to have when switching back and forth, I think it would be very useful to have the links both on the Home page and on the Search page.

  97. Jade

    Jerry, re: your #108,

    Thank you for posting this explanation. Anne Mitchell called this the ‘search home page,’ when it is actually a Global Search Page – the default from which it can be exceedingly difficult to navigate to specific database search pages.

    I would greatly prefer it if the New Search UI / Old Search UI choice-link were restored to the head of each search page, as it was before yesterday.

    I think it is ‘way premature to make people use New Search, which is so frustrating for many types of searches. Restoring the ease of switching to Old Search would improve the User Experience of many.

  98. Jan Rubenkoenig

    reply to #108 – I have tried all that and it doesn’t work! I have been locked into the new search for about a week now and regardless of what I try it doesn’t work. I would rather be doing research than to keep trying to resolve this problem which Ancestry apparently doesn’t think exists. I am not a new user to Ancestry or to genealogy so I do have some knowledge of how it works and I’m saying that for me it doesn’t work like they are saying it does. I don’t really like the new search that much but when I use it I am very limited to what is returned and it seems to go back and forth with the same info regardles of what paramiters I put in the boxes. I seem to be getting only the first page of results and when I click next I am presented with the original page of options to search from. I have to admit there are some things in new search that I do like such as the checkmark beside a census that I already have included in my records, but I would like to have back the freedom that I had with the old search.

  99. Jerry Bryan

    There have been a number of comments in this thread about people getting too many matches. The new “more relevant matches” feature that is the main topic of this thread is an effort to improve the “too many matches” situation.

    If you are relatively new to, you may not be aware that the searching process supports two different kinds of matching – exact matching and ranked matching. Exact matching often produces too few matches and ranked matching often produces too many matches. What we really need is Goldilocks matching that is just right, but Goldilocks matching is very hard to accomplish.

    The reason that new users may not be aware of the two kinds of matching is that new users only see New Search by default, and New Search only shows you ranked matching by default. So new users are usually going to see too many matches.

    If you are getting too many matches and would like to try the exact matching option, you have two choices.

    One choice is to switch over to Old Search as described elsewhere in this thread. On Old Search, there is a check box to specify exact matches and the check box is easy to see.

    The other choice is to enable exact matching with New Search. By default, there is no check box for exact matching in New Search. In order to see the check box for exact matching, you first have to click the Show Advanced option in the upper right hand corner of the search box. If you are a beginner, don’t be intimidated by using an Advanced option. The only thing the Advanced option does is let you see the check box for exact matching. My recommendation to is to get rid of the Advanced option in New Search and to show the check box for exact matching at all times.

    But be aware that whether you are using the exact option with either Old Search or New Search, exact matching is not a panacea. There are all kinds of spelling variations in old records that can prevent you from finding your records. That’s why ranked searching was invented. So if you are using exact matching, be prepared to try a number of different spelling variations in order to find your records. Also, there is a limited capability of using wildcards. For example, you can search on Tho* Smith to find Tho Smith or Thos Smith or Thomas Smith. But you cannot search on J* Smith to find James Smith or John Smith.

    I’m a big advocate of exact searching, and I use it more than 99% of the time. I personally don’t understand how anybody can ever find anything with ranked search. But I know of other researchers who use ranked search most of the time and who are successful. You will just need to try both and use whichever works best for you, including possibly using a mixture of both.

    By the way, if you look through the blogs you will find many references to fuzzy search and fuzzy matching. Fuzzy searching and ranked searching are the same thing in In this context, fuzzy is not a pejorative term. Rather, it’s a reference to a very serious branch of mathematics that deals with approximation rather than with exactitude. For example, fuzzy math is designed to deal with things that about about 95% equal or about 82% equal, whereas classical math is only designed to deal with things that are 100% equal or else that are not equal at all.

  100. Jerry Bryan

    Re: #110. Could you take a look at

    It’s a screen shot of the link from New Search to Old Search on my computer. How does your screen look different than mine?

    If we can’t figure it out that way, I would offer to take a look at your screen if you could take a screen shot of it and E-mail it to me. We will figure out a way to get my E-mail address to you.

  101. Josephine

    Re: #112
    Jerry, I tried the link to view your screen shot and got a little red x in the left hand corner, but that’s not unusual this week.
    The search options and views are different on my husband’s XP computer than on my Vista computer.
    On his, results are displaying this week with more stability but searching is even more painful on his. I ask for one name-place-date and get unending lists of unrelated people from everywhere, so give up.
    I am still having problems with viewing images on my computer this week and if they load, it takes a painfully long time to do so.
    When I think of the “old search,” I think of the one I had in 2007. It is no longer available. The “fudge” factor may be good for new Ancestry users, who don’t know that exact dates rarely are exact. For me, I hope I can select an exact date, place and person, and search for that first – sometimes adding a couple of years before and after. That is a quick way to narrow results and find the person I am looking for. IT WORKS or it used to.
    There were some good options in the “old search” for narrowing results – for one the SSDI, month of birth, state of issue.

  102. Lea Mitchell

    I hate this new search! I can’t find anyone with the exact search and get a million hits w/the not exact search. The old way was much better. My subscription is up in 7 days and I will not renew after over 5 years here because u messed this up soooo much I won’t waste my money nor will I recommend this to anyone else or put any of My info here now. U should at least give us long time users the OPTION via a TAB of still using the Previous way of searching. My frustration level is about to give me a stroke. I am KNOWN as being able to find people when others can’t but because of this new search my reputation will now go to heck. Thanks for nothing,Ancestry.

  103. Lea Mitchell

    How can I access the Old Search? The one I was able to use Last Week? I tried clicking on the SEARCH at the top of the Ancestry home page but That Still gives me the junky New Search which I can’t find Anything using.

  104. I am looking into the records for George Albert Rust.born 1.9.1877 to George Albert Rust and Mary Helena Graydon, she died when he was 3yrs, I believe I have found him in 1881 census, however the ancestory print shows surname Rush, looking closely at the census it appears to me that it should read Rust, he is in the care of Sarah Boulter born 1822.

    Can my findings be verified in anywat? Thank you

  105. I am looking into the records for George Albert Rust.born 1.9.1877 to George Albert Rust and Mary Helena Graydon, she died when he was 3yrs, I believe I have found him in 1881 census, however the ancestory print shows surname Rush, looking closely at the census it appears to me that it should read Rust, he is in the care of Sarah Boulter born 1822.

    Can my findings be verified in anyway? Thank you

  106. Jerry Bryan

    Re: #115. Click the SEARCH tab at the top of the Ancestry home page as you already described. Then, click Old Search at the upper right of the page. The Old Search link is at the right end of the goldenrod colored ribbon.

  107. dolores wood

    there are many relatives in my fathers family who have living children, i need a way to search for their names,birth dates etc.

  108. For those who are having problems getting back to the ‘old’ search try this link, it works for me – note the end where it says ‘new=0’ – if you change that to ‘new=1 it takes you to the new search.

    You will still need to check the exact box once you get to the old search.

    Hope this helps – it seems to set the default search.


  109. cant wait for the new changes–its frustrating when i want a marriage certificate and i get death records instead…
    I hope u can make it easy to get to the records over in europe as well….

  110. Gloria Doering

    I Want to CORRECT a mistake on my ancestey – Jean Baptiste D’Amours.
    Born 29 Oct 1694 in Quebec City,Canada. He was NOT married to Anne Marie Thibodeau,Born 2 Mar 1667 in Quebec,Canada-
    BUT, his father Charles D’Amours was married to Anne Marie Thibodeau in 26,Jan 1688 in Notre-Dame, Quebec City,Canada.

  111. Betty McCutcheon

    Why can’t births, deaths, and marriages be split by each category and also split be states? I give up when there are 7 1/2 million listings! Just some suggestions that would really help me.

  112. I do a lot of searching in South Carolina, USA, databases.

    I have done new searches and old searches for records in South Carolina to locate death certs or determine DOD’s when I have a full name and the probable county.

    I do not understand why state databases such as South Carolina cannot be searched county by county. The hit list for South Carolina Death Index will invariably list deaths in North Carolina first, throw in census records after I have filtered out census records, it will throw in names that are nothing like the person’s name I am searching on, it will also throw in other states.

    When the new search throws in other states when I have listed South Carolina as where the death occurred, then why should that occur and the other states will be listed first which assumes that those matches listed first are the best ones.
    This is not a competent search system. When this occurs and I am searching on a name that is very common and there are tons of people with the same first and last name and sometimes middle in the same county, and it also happens to be a female who can have multiple names besides a maiden name, she could have been married several times, she could have been adopted, therefore, she can have two maiden names, etc. with search coming up with things that are not ordered…makes this process extremely frustrating and time consuming. When this occurs, then I have to go to old search, to the Social Security Death Index or the South Carolina Death Index, know the year the death occurred, and search every death cert in that year if no name is indexed, and I may find the death cert and then I may not. When you have 270 pages of death certs to go thru and then have to wait for each of them to load…that’s a lot of time. There should be a better way. I know that computers can be set up to put things in alphabtical order or date order or place order as by county within a certain state.

    Okay, if I have listed that the death occurred in South Carolina, why should I get deaths in other states? This seems rather ridiculous. I will get as the best match a person with the same first, middle, and last name, but the other details do not line up. Why is this?

    Seems to me if the parameters for the search are listed, then the search results should list the best matches at the beginning. Instead I have to look thru pages and pages to find the right county, the right years, and the search results are not even in any kind or order.

    It seems that the search results could be ordered in some fashion to make the search easier and successful, such as ordering the results by county in alphabetical order, by person’s last name in alphabetical order, by year of death in sequential order…just pick a category to order the search results. No one wants to go thru hundreds of pages of names to find what you’re looking for or the best match on the last page.

    Today, I was looking in South Carolina Death Index, it had 270 pages. The index was at the beginning, then each individual death cert was randomly ordered neither by name, by DOD, by death cert number…nothing. The index did not even have the entire index because there were over half of the alphabet of surnames that were not included. I find it hard to believe that a death index covering 1821-1955 would have only 7 pages of index considering the number of people that have died during that period.

    In my opinion, the greatest improvement in search would be to organize the search results in some recognizable order.

  113. Ruth Johnson

    If Grandpa Edward Smith was born in Virginia I really do not want to see Edward Smith born in NY, MA, NJ ect….

  114. Cheryl Bateman

    I love the new idea’s. And what about the states marriage records?
    I would love to see more of them on the site!

  115. Pam

    Logged in today and can no longer find where to click on one state so that I can search a particular county and state.

  116. Sherry

    Off topic a tad but in the event some of you are not aware, the LDS (aka familysearch) is in the process of indexing / digitizing records that we currently “pay” for on ancestry.

    They have a long way to go but it is worth checking out from time to time to see what records are included.

    I know that they are way ahead of ancestry with regard to Michigan births, marriages and deaths. They also have the Ontario death records indexed a “tad more carefully”

    The web addy is:

    Sometimes when searching for Ontario deaths on ancestry, I go here when I am stuck.

  117. Deb

    This sounds great. I (for one) have Smiths and McDonalds in my tree. I currently get returns of over a million matches, many of which are 100 years off range or more. Anything that will narrow this down a welcome move.

  118. Jade

    For those who would like to search within State or County for specific types of databases, Anne’s response is not what you are looking for.

    In #132, Anne gave a link where one can select a State and get a list of databases related to that State.

    However, the State pages do not have a search function. One can select a database and search that one.

    Also however, the State pages still list items that are completely unrelated to that state. Such as, if you were to choose “Delaware” there are still listings for items that have completely **no** items related to State of Delaware or anyone living there, such as Mayflower Deeds and Probates, US General Land Office Records (which do not relate to **any** of the original 13 colonies) and items related to the 18th-century settlements in Natchez, Mississippi and the Cumberland Valley, Tennessee.

    The only way to specify State and County is in the Global Search page, which in New Fuzzy Search mode stil gives kilohits regarding unrelated places. Manitoba obituaries, or photos of NY Passenger ships, anyone?

  119. James Ralston

    If you have not noticed, isn’t it amazing how the “so called people in the know, at Ancestry” can’t figure out when THEY screw things up, totally anger the PAYING customers and then never seem to give anyone a clear cut answer as to why they do stupid things? Common sense says, “if it works then don’t take it apart and try to fix it”, listen to the paying customers and you may survive. Why can’t you seem to realize, your search engine sucks. Plain and simple English, give us a search engine that works, leave the stuff alone that we like. This search fiasco is getting to be worse than the FTM 2008,debacle you put us through. WAKE UP!

  120. Jan Rubenkoenig

    I want to thank all the people that tried to help me with the search problem. I really mean it when I say nothing works. I have tried all the links to old search and I have even done a copy and paste when clicking did not have the desired effect. I have tried logging out and back in. I tried logging out rebooting then signing back in but it looks like the new search is locked as far as I am concerned and there does not seem to be any way that I can go back to old search. I see it but clicking on it only takes me to the home search page where I can fill in info on whomever I am looking for. The link is still there to switch back to old search. Previously when I clicked the link to switch back it would change to switch to new search. Now it does not change.

  121. Jade

    Jan, re your #137:

    It really sounds like your computer is showing you a cached page, and is stuck on the ‘default’ which has been set at New Search UI.

    Have you cleared your browser cache and deleted the cookies – or at least the cookies?

    You do not say what your operating system and browser are; if doing the above does not work right away, this information could help someone figure out what is happening.

  122. Lynette

    I find it hard to remember distant relatives names that are in a direct line with me when I add their brothers and sisters to the lineage. Would it be possible to add a highlight effect – to be able to highlight the direct line so you can see who is the right relative you belong to? To me this would be very helpful.

  123. mary

    re message 137

    jan download a program called ccleaner (its free). run the cleaner first tick all the boxes exept wipe free space at the bottom (takes too long)and clean then do the registre and fix all.
    trust me it is ok a computer enginereer told me about it works faster than the on board cleaner with microsoft

    now try reloading ancestry and see what happens you will need to sign in to any program that reqires a login so mach sure you know your details for each site first.

    this will clear all temp files and cookies and the reg refrences too!

    good luck

  124. Helen Gaskill

    in the new search page, why don’t you add the county names. Like, Montpelier, Washington, Vermont, USA since every other programs seems to want the City, County, State and County people are from.

  125. Alan Lathrop

    It is probably covered here some where but are you still going to keep the old search? I have tried new and old with the same data and come up with much better results in old. I don’t want to loose the old system at least until the newest version is tried and excepted.

  126. mary

    Needed improvement: when you know where someone lived their whole life (or most of it) and you enter the name of the STATE, I wish the results would ONLY SHOW THAT STATE YOU ENTERED.

  127. Mireta Woodward

    How is the best way to search for someone whom you do not have a birth or death date. You only know they were in a certain place at a certain time?

  128. R Wolff

    Why, oh why, does Ancestry insist on “helping” us so much? I’m not interested in dropdowns, navigation panes and wonky widgets! And questions. I have so, so many questions. My first one being; I wonder what the odds are that I will really like this new torment, er format?

    Will the hype and the rah, rah, rah really be something to go rah, rah, rah about? Or will I just hang my head and let the tears of exasperation flow? Or will I rant and rave and post yet another nasty and mean blog? I learned a long time ago, that when says’ they have come up with a new enhanced version of anything I just cringe since I’ve learned that disaster is sure to follow! Message to the design geeks: If it works, leave it alone!!! KISS: Keep it simple sweetie. If that old thing you previously launched and rah, rah, rha’d about before was so great and wonderful then why are you foisting this new thing upon us? I enjoyed the old, old, old search 2005-06 search engine that had a key word function right on the initial search page. I could type in the name, age range, state and then I could put any term I wanted in the keywords. like, white, male. or white female; Eddyville. I really felt I was in control of my search. Now I’m not. Sadly Ancestry is in full control of the how part.

    I want new databases that have actual records, and how about results returned by country; in alphabetical chronological order? I don’t want a search engine that gives me the same name for someone who lived between the years 1900-05-1980 when I’m search someone who lived between the years 1775-1850. Nor do I want results that show data for someone born in Preston, Lancashire UK when the ancestors I’m researching lived their entire life in Eddyville, Pope co IL.

    Why should online trees come up as a ‘database’ in my search results? Online family trees are not true ‘databases.’ I’m paying a hefty yearly subscription fee for access to all of databases. I don’t want someone’s online family tree showing up as an authentic database since people freely and routinely pick, pluck and plunder data from them for placement on their own tree. Online family trees are helpful and quite often the data is sourced but very often it isn’t. So how can I set my own search perimeters to filter them out of the results, or at least set them at the very bottom of the results returned?

    I quit using the older New Search two weeks after it was first launched. What a joke; I was thankful that the older version was available for use; to bad they didn‘t keep the 2005 search engine for use too. The hype and rha, rha, rha was much ado about nothing; a lot of hooey. I will pray that this one is the best and last; being the ultimate of all search engines, and that I can write something nice about it and the tech geeks.

    My last question. So, what’s the delay in providing 24/7 tech support, hmmm?

  129. Deb H

    Many thanks to Jerry’s #108 post – I really thought I was going to cry until I found it. Being a “weekend genealogist”, I logged in today – the first first time since the alleged “relevance search improvements”. I was brought immediately to an unfamiliar search screen which I did try on a couple revolutionary war database searches. Nothing but “we didn’t find any ‘good’ hits, but here are some others…” Then I couldn’t for the life of me find the “return to old search” button. Many thanks to people like Jerry and Jade for taking the time to detail search methods and where to find things. Ancestry doesn’t seem to be able to that. ONE QUESTION: re: Jerry’s post #111 – you say “new users only see New Search by default”…are they able to switch to “old search” at all or is old search only available to those of us who were subscribers at the time the disastrous “new search” was forced on us? I have every intention of cancelling my subscription at the end of the month, but I’m wondering if I find decide to join later in the year(as a “new” user, likely on for a couple months a year), or go to the library to check something, will I be able to access “old search”? Thanks again to all who are doing their best to keep Ancestry on its toes!

  130. Jerry Bryan

    Re #147. Anybody can use New Search or Old Search. Anybody can use the exact search option or the ranked search option. It’s just that new users may not be aware that Old Search exists, and new users may not be aware that the exact search option exists.

    New users are taken to New Search by default, and Old Search can be hard to find, especially if you don’t even know it exists.

    New Search does a ranked search by default, and the exact search option can be hard to find in New Search, especially if you don’t even know it exists. The exact search option was easy to find in Old Search and is very hard to find in New Search.

    Ranked search is the kind of search that gives you millions of matches that often make little sense. The improvement announced last Wednesday is an effort by to reduce the number of irrelevant matches from a ranked search.

    There is one other useful searching tool that can be very hard for new users to find in New Search. Your search results can be viewed as Summarized by Category or Sorted by Relevance. The default for new users is Sorted by Relevance, but I think that Summarized by Category is much more useful most of the time. You can’t specify this option at the beginning of your search. Rather, you have to do your search first and then change the View option. You can do so with a pull-down menu in the upper right hand corner of the box containing the results of your search.

  131. Suzanne Frantz

    I may be on the wrong page, but today, May 2nd, I am totally frustrated with Ancestry. I have been a member for 11 years and it has been invaluable. But today, I cannot search given my own parameters – the 1920 census, for example. I used to be able to put in surname with soundex, place of birth, perhaps year of birth + and – and get a list of results and make up my own mind as to what is relevant. Today, it seems Ancestry is doing this for me! And it’s not working. I know best who and what I’m looking for, not Ancestry. Sorry if this sounds like a rant, but I’m super frustrated – why fix what wasn’t broken? If I am in the wrong please let me know.

  132. Angela

    FINALLY!!! Yahoooooo! I can’t wait to try it! Now if you just allow me to be more specific about which records I want to search. If I am seeking a birth record (esp. of an ancestor who was possibly born out of wedlock in an era when this would have been kept hidden…), I really don’t want to see a death or marriage record. It is too much to work through.

  133. From day one of my experience I have been amazed at how wonderfully everything works! The improvements are always welcome, but you usually make them without any help from me.

    Great job!


  134. I wish there was a RETURN button that allowed you to go back to the original NAME (person) that you started you trail of searching on. When you are in View Tree/Pedigree and you click on “search records” you go down so many roads, I wish you were able to click on a button and go back to that person you were doing your research on easily.

  135. Jerry Bryan

    Re: #149. Soundex is supported in Old Search. Soundex is not supported in New Search. So you must be in New Search if you are trying to find the Soundex option and can’t find it.

    To get back to Old Search so you can use Soundex, click the Search tab at the top of the screen, and then click Old Search at the right end of the goldenrod colored ribbon.

  136. E!

    I heard about this today from a representative of Ancestry.COM that presented at out local GS. I was really stoked that this would finally be a much needed improvement to search quality. Alas, it does not seem to work. Yes, I am using the “new” search front end, but still it returns results nearly a full century after the death date listed.

  137. Shirley Novo

    How about names? My family name starts with “von.” That doesn’t mean that “von Anything” is relevant. I usually just skip the von when searching, but your hints for the first page of my family tree are just ludicrous.

  138. Larry Gallagher

    I like the othe way better. I used to type in a name and pick out what census to go to. The new way seems very difficult

  139. Jan Rubenkoenig

    #112 Jerry Bryan re:link to screen shot, I followed the link and my screen looks just like that, but when I click the old search it takes me to the search home page not to the old search like it used to. I have tried all the links that anyone has suggested with no change in the results.

    #132 Anne – it doesn’t work for me!!!!!!!!

    #138 Jade – I have Vista and IE8. I have cleared or deleted everything that is not necessary for Windows to function.

    #140 Mary – Thanks for the suggestion. I downloaded the program and cleared out all kinds of junk then logged back on to Ancestry and ……… luck there either!

    I tried the link that Anne Mitchell said should definately work and …… didn’t work either.

    At least I know that I am not the only one having this problem. It seems like about a third of the bloggers want to know how to get back to the old search. Which leads me to think the problem may not be with me but is somehow their problem. I don’t know why everyone isn’t affected but there are too many others complaining about the same thing.

    I think it is near time for me to renew and I am going to think long and hard before I give them my money.

  140. Great ! I just started using today, and I’m finding it impossible to find anything on any of my ancesters. Can’t wait for the changes !

  141. Jeff Ford

    >date relevance seems to be the most requested change. If you tell us grandpa died in 1910, you really don’t want to see a 1930 census record.

    THANK YOU! I think “we” were screaming for that back during the floating bar debacle.

    Good job!

  142. Jan Rubenkoenig

    Jerry Bryan – Thanks for all the help that you are trying to give. I believe I have solved the problem!!!

    I noticed your screen shot indicated that you are using Mozilla/Foxfire. I have been using IE7 and recently updated to IE8 and although I didn’t think much about it I started having the problem after I updated IE. Just on a whim I decided to download Mozilla and see if it would make a difference. Boy did it!!!! I can now use the old search again and can see the new search link on the bar at the top. Everything is where is supposed to be now. I can only surmise that IE8 is the problem since I was able to use old search with IE7. Anyway, I am happy now, we have in the past used Mozilla and I don’t have a problem with using it.

  143. Ronlad H Bubb

    I liked the old search.I am just an amatuer at the computer and don’t understand all of the new stuff that Ya’ll keep changing to.Actually,I’m not certain that this site will be of use to me,anymore.I may just cancel.What’s the sense of paying for something that I can’t even use?

  144. Jade

    Jan, re #161, glad you found the problem.

    IE8 in particular is still buggy and seems to do unpredictable things. For people using AOL, microsoft’s main advice is to uninstall IE8.

  145. Jade

    Anne Mitchell,

    I am not seeing a real improvement in date-relevance in Global Search, Old Search.

    I have tried many samples, and find that for persons who died before 1810 the results do not include valid 1790 and/or 1800 US Federal Census entries at all, but do include 20th- and 21st-century telephone book entries as well as the usual large number of Civil War and irrelevant census entries.

    In one case the only *close* item in time period (35 years after death of the person) was right surname, wrong first name.

  146. Lisa

    This is great news I will be waiting. However, it took me 3 years to find my grandmothers family simply, because the transcribers spelled her maiden name wrong in census 1880,1900 and 1910. If we could acess different spellings when we search that would help. Ancestry is great, I’ve found things I’d never have known because my family have all passed away.

  147. Chiegtech99

    Dates will be helpful, limiting to Places will be great as sifting through the whole country is a pain.
    The War Remembrance book does not move by more than one page for Southampton

  148. Jane Cheney

    Why is it when I search for a specific person eg Heman Robinson born 1817 in New Hampshire and died bef 1880 and also stating that I wanted to search US Records first, I get taken to more UK records than anything.

  149. Jim Livermore

    In #145, R Wolf says:

    “I enjoyed the old, old, old search 2005-06 search engine that had a key word function right on the initial search page.”

    I’m pleased someone else remembers that nice little feature. I used it extensively and miss it greatly.


    I really like this idea! This should be less time consuming. Keep up the good work. ~~~~~Pam

  151. Jerry Bryan

    Re: #161 – that’s great news. I use Firefox nearly all the time, and it had never occurred to me to test your problem with IE. And even if I had, my IE is still IE7. There just hasn’t been motivation to upgrade to IE8 since I use IE so seldom. But because I use it all the time, my Firefox is completely current.

    Actually, I used IE for and Firefox for everything else for many years. The reason was that I couldn’t get the advanced image viewer to work with Firefox. But about a year ago, I tried Firefox again with This time the advanced image viewer worked with Firefox, I switched, and I have been happy with the Firefox and combination ever since. The combination probably would have started working several years sooner if I had tried, but I had no reason to try since I had something that worked just fine.

    I have tremendous sympathy and respect for vendors like in dealing with browser bugs and browser compatibility issues. I don’t know how they do it. I’m in charge of IT at work, and we have a lot of browser based applications that we support. Sometimes it can be virtually impossible to find a browser combination that will work correctly with all the applications, not to mention Java version levels and other similar idiosyncrasies.

  152. Karen

    Bravo !

    I look forward to these changes. It will sure make things simplier and save hours of time.

    Thank you !

  153. Jerry Stevens

    After reading all the above posts and seeing all of the negative feedback on the “New Search”, and also doing an internet search reading much negative feedback on the subject at many genealogy blogs, I feel that Ancestry is flirting with something that might come back to bite them.
    It’s an, “If it aint broke, don’t fix it”, thing that Ancestry doesn’t seem to get. We are the ones that sit hours at a time doing these searches and want it as streamlined and as quick as possible, with no new aggravations written into the software. KISS and not too clunky.

    As long as Ancestry doesn’t move entiely to the New Search feature, I’ll hang around. If the Old Search is eventually phased out, Me and my $$ will have to be outta here. It’s a retired, very fixed income thing.

    I learned quick that I can easily work around the overrated New Search.
    I just want a choice. I only wish I could set “Old Search” as my default.

    Off topic a bit, and on a brighter side, I just recently took the time to set up my Home Page and it has really helped speed things up for me.

  154. JanetiveyHuffman

    I hope this is not representative of your vision of an improved search engine – this is TERRIBLE. I have been a member for – I forget – a number of years – and my annual renewal is here – your search engine has taken a giant step backward – feel like I’m back with treemaker – get better, or you will lose this formerly happy member. The results for very specific information offered often has NO relevence whatsoever.

  155. Michael Kepler

    Hi Anne.
    Just tried an obituary search for surname Kowalik in Texas. As you can see from the results returned below (I just copied the first several), the results are fairly useless. Any chance you guys can work on this as well. Below are the top results returned:
    Record Type Information found in record

    United States Obituary Collection
    Obituary Collection
    Name: Memorial Remembrances May Be
    Publication: 14 Sep 2005 – Kerrville, TX, Us

    United States Obituary Collection
    Obituary Collection
    Name: Memorials May Be Made To The Muscular Dystrophy Associaton
    Publication: 30 Sep 2005 – Bryan, TX, Us

    United States Obituary Collection
    Obituary Collection
    Name: Memorial Remembrances May Be
    Publication: 5 Oct 2005 – Kerrville, TX, Us

    United States Obituary Collection
    Obituary Collection
    Name: Memorial Remembrances May Be
    Publication: 26 Oct 2005 – Kerrville, TX, Us

    United States Obituary Collection
    Obituary Collection
    Name: May 12, 1921 – November
    Publication: 11 Nov 2005 – Torrance, CA, Us

    United States Obituary Collection
    Obituary Collection
    Name: May 18, 1941-Nov
    Publication: 15 Nov 2005 – Gainesville, GA, Us

  156. Michael Kepler

    Oh, when I ran the obituary search I typed in the primary name of Kowalik with other family names last name) of May. Maybe that is why I received the strange search results?

  157. Carol A. H.

    Michael, you probably already know the obituary suff is a result of Optical Character Recognition (OCR) which is one of the stupidist, lazy, useless way of indexing. I have submitted many corrections of these ridiculous entries.

    I can understand ancestry’s point that it would take more money, time and people to do it manually. But we pay for good records and indexing. So in that respect I don’t sympathize with them. They brag about so many new records but give them to us to correct.


  158. Carol A. H.

    Michael, You didn’t say what other information you entered so I tried 3 things: the surname “Kowalik” and the country “USA” and the state “Texas.” I did get some junk but I also got several people with the surname of “Kowalik” in just the first 50 results. Try it in OLD search with just those 3 items.

    Good luck.

  159. Carol A. H.

    Barbara, #159. You need to tell who, when and where to get someone to try to help you. This is really not a blog to get one on one help but without any informaion no one can even attempt to help.

    Repost and I will try.

  160. Dave

    Your new search page is completely worthless to me. I’ll cancel my account if you can’t give me access to the old search format. I have to scroll through much more crap to find what I’m looking for. I’m glad I only signed up for the 3 month commitment – I will have only lost the cost of 3 months.

  161. Shirley Fillion

    I find this site very informative, but why when I ask a woman trace, I get a lot of men’s names and they are not relevant. Also, you give us information for US and Canada, when we specify Canadian. Hope that your changes keep up with us. Thank you. If I pay for a year, why am I not covered for the US and internationally??

  162. Robert MacKenzie

    I searched (for example) for George Minnick born in Maryland at a level 5 setting. Nothing came back. I searched for the same man with a level 1 setting, and got back perhaps fifty returns.

    What gives? How can I do this better, more restrictively?

  163. mary

    when I ask for census records, they only go to 1900. when i ask for birth records in conneticut, I get texas and california – anything but conn. the new search process is not as good a the old one unless I’m missing something.

  164. Connie

    I am glad to see that when I click “search historical records” my own tree doesn’t show up–that was getting bothersome. I’m still getting 20th century results when I’m hunting for 18th century. After reading through all 140+ letters, I got some really good ideas for narrowing the monstrous list of names. I’m also glad the photos aren’t showing up on the search results. I remember the search engine of 5-6 years ago, too; and this, even with its difficulties, is a vast improvement. I have a couple of family names that are spelled different ways, and the old old search was such that I had to enter each spelling separately–or have thousands of unrelated soundex results.

  165. Annmarie J. Christian

    Also would be good if when searching for records and… you know birth and death date, eliminate birth and death records in search for i.e., Great Britain or other countries. When the person I am searching was born and died in the United States, I hate having to scroll through records for other countries, it takes forever to scroll the census records, death records, etc.

  166. Dina Bensen

    Reading over all the reader comments, I found one I really agree with….the newspaper search is so bad I won’t use it again. I can’t be bothered with scanning through all the erroneous hits!

  167. When I search for a birth, I get mostly death records. When I search for an event in Maine, I get other States and foreign countries. I would think that the first things in relevance would be the event and the location. Why do I get all of those irrelevant events and countries? Freeland K. Smith

  168. Harvey Davis

    I am having trouble finding my Grandmother on the 1940 and above census. She is still alive, Her name is Flora Adamson

  169. WHy is info that I have saved already to someone not highlighted when I do another search? I am continually having to go back and click on it, leaving my search request.

  170. Jerry Bryan

    Re: #189 – For reasons of privacy, there is a law passed by Congress that says that censuses may not be released to the public until 72 years after they are taken. The 1940 census will be released in 2012. The 1950 census will be released in 2022. Etc.

  171. Robert M. Gardner

    I have been with for quite a few years. I can’t always get the filtering I want. If I want to know all the people of a certain surname who lived in a specific county, say in 1860 or 1870, I get a lot of extraneous infomation that I have to search through. If I give you dates of birth, it doesn’t always help even using yor new criteria for age approximations. I even like the old system, where I give you a name and you listed which censuses that person appeared in.

  172. Deborah

    How about giving us a seach box so we can find Ancestry features that are difficult to locate. I wanted to go to the “find living people” function and couldn’t locate it. If we could type in something we’re looking for on Ancestry’s specific functions or features like “blogs” or “Site Updates”, it would be a lot quicker and easier to do some things than just hunting for it all over the place. Some people have a limited amount of time to do Ancestry research and they don’t want to be clicking on every button to find things they need.

  173. Deborah

    I prefer the Old Search as well as many others. I think the new search which I’ve tried several times, gives a lot more nonsense results and not what I want.

  174. Barbara Crites

    This is good news! I think it will help a great deal. I sometimes get very frustrated with the old system of showing dates as late as 1900’s when I specifically placed a span 1850-1880.

  175. Jerry Bryan

    Despite all my posts, I really hadn’t tried the new feature on More Relevants Results (I always use exact searches anyway), so I tried it out.

    I tried the following: search not exact, Theodore Clifford Stratton, born 1931. I was set for my results to come up Summarized by Category. The first category that came up was U.S. IRS Tax Assessment Lists, 1862-1918. All the people that came up in the first page of the results were born in 1864, 1865, and 1866.

    So for this particular search, the new feature definitely does not seem to be working.

  176. Deb H

    Anne’s quote:

    “…And date relevance seems to be the most requested change. If you tell us grandpa died in 1910, you really don’t want to see a 1930 census record.”

    I agree…but the search engine still doesn’t. I ran the same search using both old and new searches, both from the home search page to be consistent. Not a single result is even close to be being date relevant.

    Using OLD SEARCH from home page
    (Not exact)

    Search criteria:
    First name: James
    Surname: Hamm
    Death date 1819
    Death Country USA
    Death State SC

    Results in order of appearance:

    1st: 1820 United States Federal Census
    Next 10 or so: U.S. Phone and Address Directories 1993-2002

    Using NEW SEARCH from home page
    First name: James
    Surname: Hamm
    Death date 1819
    Location: South Carolina, USA

    Sampling of Results from different categories:

    U.S. IRS Tax Assessment Lists, 1862-1918
    1900 United States Federal Census
    U.S. Civil War Soldiers 1861-1865
    Wisconsin Marriages 1973 – 1997


  177. Tanya Hood Reeves

    Re: Post #199 & Many Others

    Deb and other frustrated subscribers:

    Like many of you, I am getting more Irrelevant Searches now than I did a few days ago (new search or old search makes no difference). I left Ancestry a couple of years ago out of frustration and returned about 1 year ago out of necessity.

    Date Relevance is still one of my biggest frustrations and it is still missing. The supposed new date parameters are non existent in my search results…

  178. I am looking for Death Certificates Dolores Roche Previously Cockrell, born Kaczmarek 4/26/ between 1929and 1932. Died March 26th or 27th 2009 In a nursing home in or around Cleveland.
    Also; Her Brother, Daniel Kaczmarek born august 26, 1936 Died Feb. 17, 1996. Parents of both Sylvester Kaczmarek & Clara Magalski/Kaczmarek.
    Please reply to

  179. Barry

    I would rather you put your efforts into correcting the myriad of transcription error’s. These are not errors arising from the genuine cases of difficulty reading poor writing or images but which appear to arise from using transcribers who are unfamiliar with the language and the country in question.

  180. Judean

    Which Wednesday is it happening? Last Wednesday—it didn’t happen.

    This Wednesday, May 6th? May 13? May 20?


  181. The new changes are not giving results when I search. All I get are family trees. It doesn’t search the states listed and to compound the difficulties I’ve encountered the search continually puts the middle name or initial in the surname line. I’ve advised you about this peculiarity on a number of occasions.

  182. Jerry Stevens

    Andy wrote:
    > It appears we have been left on our own in this forum.

    I just left the Member Feedback feature on the Community Page and left a suggestion to not do away with the Old Search feature. Maybe if everybody that likes the Old best also left a note, it might help keep the old online along with the new. If we’re being ignored here, take it to another level,,, can’t hurt.


  183. Anne Mitchell

    You guys were busy over the weekend.

    A couple of notes;

    • I can’t respond to specific requests about searches for specific people — it is outside the scope of this blog post
    • Old search is still available as multiple people have said on this blog. If you are most comfortable using the old search, by all means go ahead and use it. We are investigating if there is an issue with the IE8 and vista combination.
    • Some of you have asked for place filtering as well as date filtering, we are working on that now…I can not give you a date on when it will be live. There is a lot of effort that goes into making that work without impacting performance.
    • I’ve see posts about strange things happening when you start on a tree node and do a search — we are investigating.
    • There always a lot of work being done to maintain data sets that are live on the site and fixing problems as well as getting new data sets out on a regular basis. And nothing is worse than when it is the data that you want that is not right. I would suggest either posting on the message boards, calling customer service, or posting on blogs that are specific to content.
    • #175, I’m still looking into that one.
    • And, finally date filtering works in both old and new ranked queries.
  184. Carole Gardner

    If this is the “New” search, you blew it.
    You are giving me “too much Help”, and not allowing me to search using a variety of bad spelling, or a location that would narrow the search, or similar names that might actually be the correct person. Those drop-down locations take much more time than typing in a city, state, county, etc. If I want to choose soundex, you limit me to a year range even if I know an exact date, and only one location. If you are searching for a female that you only know the given name, and no surname – it doesn’t allow you to choose gender to narrow the search, or a birth location.
    This is a REALLY BAD change..and I have barely begun to see it all.

  185. Jerry Stevens

    Anne said
    > Old search is still available as multiple people have said on this blog.

    Thanks Anne,

    I knew it was still availible, I normally use it many hours a day.
    I just wanted to make sure it would stay available.
    I was afraid it would be phased out eventually.

    Thanks again,

  186. Jade

    Anne in #215 said:

    “And, finally date filtering works in both old and new ranked queries.”

    I really don’t know why it is not working in Old Search, Global.

    But Randy Seaver in his Genea-musings blog, reported an answer he received concerning its not working right in New Search UI, in his May 1 post:

    One Tony Macklin stated:

    “It turns out that you’ve uncovered a very specific bug in the code for lifespan filter (that we launched on Weds) that had managed to slip by our QA process.

    “What is happening with your search is that on new search, lifespan filter SHOULD be looking for records where birth date could be anywhere from 1821 to 1825. However, because of the bug, it is ACTUALLY only returning results where the person was born BEFORE 1821 and lived until AFTER 1825. Unfortunately, this only impacts new search as this code only appears in the new search UI. Once we correct this, you should see the results returning exactly as you expected.

    “We are correcting this as a matter of priority, and will push it live to the site as soon as we can within the next week. I’ll let you know as soon as I have an exact date.”

    So maybe this coming Wednesday . . .?

  187. Barbara Jeanetta

    My Great Grandparents changed their name after settling in the U.S.A. We show their changed name as the last name in our family tree. How do we look up their arrival, etc. by the name they came to the U.S A.with?

  188. how do you go back using the old Need Paying for it and can’t find anything useful on the new ancestry. com. Let me know asap on how to get back to the old one. thank you, sandra

  189. Kevin

    My main problem I have is I want to see the ability to choose the records you want to see eliminated during a search. Censuses are great, birth and death records great, wills and probate great, But the endless list of the same family tree that has been copied about 1,000,000 times gets annoying. If only I could eliminate just the trees and keep all the other records I would love it. My only choice is to keep clicking from catagory to catagory to find what is the most relevant in each. Why not give the option to eliminate catagories so we can choose to look at the records we want to see without all the clutter.

  190. Karen

    I am amazed at the amount of complaining that has gone on here. The amount of info that you guys at Ancestry have to deal with must be over whelming, to sort through and fix so that we may search and make our family connections. Sure there are problems but I would like to see someone show me a web site that is absolutely perfect!!! I have been researching for years now and have made so many family connections through this site it is great! So please people if you can’t at least thank these people for trying their hardest to bring us the best site they can then don’t say anything at all!
    Thank you to all Ancestry staff and keep up the good work that you do for us researchers.

  191. David

    I am not finding anything else then my grandparents parents. there is no more documents to check in Puerto Rico other than the census. And the oldest one is from 1910, so I cannot get information of anybody else.

  192. Virginia Byrnes

    I think the article is great and and would like to see if you ask for a particular state that you would be able to get that state and not all the others included.

  193. sharon

    hope the search returns are better filtered. Very frustrating to say the least to go through a list that has nothing to do with your search criteria. I don’t feel I should go through 300 to 500 names before I can find a weak link connected to my search. Searches are not user friendly.

  194. Karen

    Please, please enhance your alphabet on your searches! About 50% of the time, due to the census taker’s spelling or the variations in relative’s first or last name, the census record is wrong. You may have your relative’s full legal name, but the odds are almost stacked against you that the census will read that way. Many times, the ONLY and best way to find the record quickly is by going through all the last/first names that start with B, etc. for a particular county or state. Let’s say my relative’s last name starts with a W and they moved to a different county or I know they are in one of two different states. Imagine for a moment how many hits there are to find them if their name is misspelled, page after page. Imagine if their birth date/place is wrong or transcribed wrong, which occurs a lot. It would be heaven to have an a-z alphabet at the top of the search and just be able to click on the W and go to the last names starting with W, without have to page forward in 5/10 page increments through 30,000 people all the way to the Ws. Try finding Pruiet. The variations are endless. Try William. Try John. Please help by adding an basic alphabet to get me to the Ws.

  195. Jerry Bryan

    Re: #211 – The Randy Seaver blog is most enlightening. He appears to have confirmation from that date filtering is not working at the present time.

    Indeed, I tried my search from #199 again this morning for a man born in 1931. Both New ranked search and Old ranked search are still showing records from the 1860’s.

  196. BobNY

    Apparently it is possible to delete entries in this blog. The system then renumbers the remaining responses.

    This gives rise, for example to current entry #211 which begins:
    “Anne in #215 said:”

    Any reference to a prior entry is now renderd meaningless. Is there a fix for this?

  197. Carol A. H.

    To Karen # 218

    At this time there are 3 posts to this blog with the name Karen, but I felt the need to address yours. Yes, we do a lot of complaining. A few people do praise and complement ancestry. They do deserve thanks for just being in business, but it just that, a business. As a customer I continue to subscribe and pay for this business. As a customer and any other customers, we have the right to complain. It is also a way to let ancestry know what’s not working, what we would like and what we don’t want changed.

    I have had very good luck doing my research on ancestry mixed in with strong frustrations on how the site and records are presented and managed. We continue to pay for this service so that is our way of thanking them. Without the money coming in they would have no business. Everyone has a right to say his or her two cents worth.

    Please also notice that many people help others on this site. As I have said before, we give of our time and knowledge and do it without compensation. So you are welcome to say how you feel, but so are we, the ones who have problems with the site.

  198. Pat

    I know you are trying to make everyone happy, but what ever happened to KISS.

    Have a search that if all I have is the name, I put in the name and I trove thru until I find another factor. If I have the name, state, county, birthday, I put that in, again I get results that match, etc. Why have 2 or 3 different search areas, if you want to search this way go here, etc. Give me the option of putting in what info I have and have the results that match that info. And PLEASE, either make soundex to also include “sounds like” or add a “sounds like”. Sometimes soundex WAY WAY

  199. Pat

    I know you are trying to make everyone happy, but what ever happened to KISS.

    Have a search that if all I have is the name, I put in the name and I trove thru until I find another factor. If I have the name, state, county, birthday, I put that in, again I get results that match, etc. Why have 2 or 3 different search areas, if you want to search this way go here, etc. Give me the option of putting in what info I have and have the results that match that info. And PLEASE, either make soundex to also include “sounds like” or add a “sounds like”. Sometimes soundex WAY WAY off the name. Example, Musselman and you get MC****** as soundex when all you may need is Mussleman (different spelling).

  200. Cathaleen

    I was amazed to find that using “people with hints” actually found data new to me, and concerning the people for whom I have spent years searching. I too hope to see new features (being able to sort the results would be my first priority), but I was impressed last evening to hear in the Town Hall meeting what is being proposed for the future.

  201. Carol A. H.

    To BoBNY #224

    Very sharp, Bob. They do have the ability to delete a post because some with objectionable language have been deleted. I remember one such incident. There is also the possibility of a poster typing the wrong number when referring to another post. I’m guilty of that. My typing would not get me a job. None too speedy either.

  202. Ann

    Tony –

    I was wondering the same thing – even searched on ancestry for quite a while, without success.

  203. Chery Reichardt

    I don’t want 250+ Family Trees (including my own) to pop up every time I search. Most of the info on the Trees has been passed back and forth, unsourced and then squeezed like Cinderella’s step sisters feet into shoes that don’t fit. And now I’m getting Family Trees at the top of the search. Now it’s also matching 1st names (the heck with sur names)so there are more Trees to weed through than ever.
    Ancestry has an amazing historical data base, that’s what I’m paying for, that and a useable search engine.
    All I want is to type in my gggrandfather’s stats and have Ancestry search for all the Racherba* it can find. I’ll decide what’s relevant. Simple stuff.

  204. Barb

    I have not seen any improvement when it comes to relevant searches from my point of view. I still get names that have no relevance in my search. If I look for Joseph Code, I get code of ethics, morse code, Joseph Daly and Bill Code. If someone has seen an improvement in the specifics I have mentioned, please comment.

  205. tafwys

    I search for Evan Evans, born in Wales and died in Wales. The top results I am offered are:

    # Shropshire, England: Parish and Probate Records
    # Yorkshire, England: Parish and Probate Records
    # Staffordshire, England: Parish and Probate Records
    # Lancashire, England: Parish and Probate Records
    # England (General): Parish and Probate Records

    How are these “more relevant” searches when they all refer to the wrong country?

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