Posted by Ancestry Team on May 5, 2009 in Website

Note: For those of you who love the old search, it is still there. You can get to it by clicking “Old Search” in the tan bar on top of the search pages or here: Old Search. Old Search has always been there. The lifespan filter was applied to both and other than that we have not changed anything with either new or old search.


When you use lifespan filtering and date ranges, there is a small bug that will omit a few records.

Let’s say that you searched for John Smith, born in 1849 and you asked search to apply a range of +- 2. With a fudge factor (fudge factor is 5), you would expect the range of birth dates in records returned would be:

1842-1856 (1849 -5 -2) to (1849 +5 +2)

So our search engine will check the following on all records that match the name John Smith or some variation of John and/or Smith:

  1. If a record shows evidence that a person lived before 1842, it discards the record
  2. It checks to make sure that the record does not refute the idea that a person was born between 1842 and 1856. So if the record says the person was born in 1841 or 1857, it throws that record out.
  3. Then the search engine checks to make sure that the record fits in the lifespan, ie, if a person has a high range of 1856 for a birth date, then we assume that they could not have been alive after 1957 (1856 + 2 year fudge), so a record showing the person died in 1975, would be thrown out.

So the part that wasn’t working quite right? #2.

The fix has been determined and should be live on the site sometime tomorrow morning (May 6) on the west coast (US), noon-ish, on the east coast (US), and late evening in Europe.


  1. mary

    why dont you lot at ancestry listened to us we have brains we dont need you aticipating things for us we are quite capable of working out what dates we want to look at with out your help. it seems to me that you lot should stop and work rather than eating. because i for one am getting fed up with your stable diet specially when you applie it to the search program. its time to stop eating that unstatisfing sickly sweet unnessacry


  2. Annette Baker

    I like the new search better than I did before. I can now do a first name only search within a database. It used to tell me I needed more info and not try to search.
    Would you be able to combine more first names in a search? i.e. Burt, Bert, Bertie, Bird, Birdie, Albert, Alburt, Albie; or Stewart, Stuart, Stu, Stew, Steward.

  3. sgraiziger

    It would be so helpful, if during a historical search it would search only the dates that ancestor was living. It’s such a daunting and time consuming search to scroll through years of records that aren’t applicable.

    Thank you.

  4. Grandmajag

    I agree with 3, the filters don’t filter out much of anything. If I put African American it gives me white. If I say, Stewart exact it will give me Stewart and a whole lot of other things. Also, it would be nice to have a way to merge all the duplicates we keep getting.

  5. Ava Mullins

    I do not like the new search. It brings up areas that don’t have any thing to do with what I am searching for. It seems that I have to have the exact information before I even try to look for it. Why would I look for information if I already have it. I would like to be able to search specific states, dates, and occasions with out getting hits on people that isn’t even in my criteria.

  6. stubbytate

    Well, I’ll have to say that I get different results on all my lines of surnames on both the old and new search engines – even if using the exact same information. I, too, am frustrated with the lack of information for my lines or the confusing and/or non-relevant information that seems to spit out with practically every search. It seems there’s only the highly concentrated (read: populated) areas of the state(s) I’m researching where names will show up but not so much the rural areas where I’d like to see more information about. Conversely, my requests for information can be found by others who know the “tricks” and “secrets” to pull accurate information from ancestry. Is there a better blog that gives Ancestry 101 tips/tricks? (there are several but I don’t have the time to go to 400 different blogs that spew the same sometimes non-helpful information).

  7. Jeanne Marie McGreal

    Did this search system change recently? I have to root through hundreds of records now. Before, I usually got what I needed quickly.
    Jeanne Marie

  8. jerry bryan

    Anne, much thanks for your description of the bug and the fix. Could I ask for a clarification?

    For example, in your your example and in your criterion #3, what if there were a city directory record for John Smith for 1961 or a telephone directory record for John Smith in 1961. Is it safe to assume that such a record should be and will be thrown out by the search filter?

    The reason I ask is that city directories and telephone directories and many other documents do not explicitly mention actual birth dates and death dates. So does the search engine require actual birth and death records to function as you describe, or does it merely require “evidence” of birth and death as you mention in criterion #1?

    For example, I think #1 has a bug, not just #2. I can ask for a man born exactly in 1931 and get a Civil War era record. Using your fudge factor, I think the search should cut off at 1926, and 1864 or 1865 is manifestly before 1926.

    By the way, I’m firmly in the camp that the search process should not add a fudge factor at all for exact searches. I’m sincerely hoping that your automatic fudge factor only applies to searches that are not exact. Otherwise, I can ask for born exactly in 1931 and I will get a range of dates whether I want a range or not. If I want a range in exact searches, and can add the range myself with +-.

  9. Sherry Hicks

    What are you guys doing to the website? Are any of you genealogist or just super computer Techs? I have used this site for years now and haven’t had ANY COMPLAINTS until NOW. I want the old search system back. I am getting results that are not related by date, place or request. I want to enjoy my hobby, not learn different way to use If I want to find Tom Jones or any Jones in a paticular county and state, why must i scroll through people from different counties and states entirely? This new system is not working at all, in my opinion and frustrating you customers, youneed to get some feed back, then listen to it. As some have said before we have done this for years and we know how to search; please allow us to use our knowledge along with yours. Please address immediately, cause I’ve spent hours on ehat should have taken maybe an hour and still have not gotten anywhere.

  10. Kellie Williams

    This search is crazy. I typed in all exact info for my search. Filled in every blank with the exact info…and got 12,000 hits! Huh! Folks of the opposite sex, years older/younger, completely different names, etc, etc. This is the ol’ needle in the haystack. The HUGE haystack.

  11. Betty S

    Recently, Research that i had already completed the data has disappeared from my files. I do not want to have to redo. Does this have to do with fudge factor?? how or rather please return data.

  12. Debbi

    I attended a webinar last night and am trying out some new search features. I am very pleased with the new results I am finding – I didn’t see some of these records before even though I’ve learned a lot of tricks in searching. Thank you for your continued improvements.

  13. Joan

    I like the fact that you can still see pertinent info while you are searching. The person’s name, spouse, children and dates are viewed at the same time as the search is taking place. I have noticed that more results appear than before and it is hard sometimes to sort thru them. But for the most part, I like the improvements. When will the 1940 census be included?

  14. Jade

    Joan, #13, the 1940 US Federal Census will not be released by the Census Bureau until some time in the year 2012.

  15. Judy Wick

    I wish you’d find a way to allow us to search the alphabetical list of records by state instead of by alphabet. When I want to search Texas or Tennessee for records, I have to scroll down the whole list to get to Texas and if the record doesn’t start with the letter T, I have to find it by going through the whole list. I would like to search ALL records by state, so I can see what’s available for each state.

  16. N Hawke

    My ancestors went through a number of name changes, and spellings so searching for all is a challenge. For example the name in Russia was Malchik, changed to Malchicoff ( or Malchikov, or Malchikoff, or even in one record as Malchion – transcription error) and then by family who moved to the US to Malin. This is a challenge, and although you allow for alternative names, and ask to specify, it may not have been the name they were using at any give time. Any help would be appreciated. As well I have found a record that I believe is my great grandfather, but the birth date is 7 years, later than some Census documents would have me believe. Suggestions?

  17. Sharon Zingery

    I have been furious that … in the past … would list in the search people who died before my guy was born or born long after my guy had died. I truly hope this works because when I am frustrated, I stay away for awhile and tell people how frustrating has been. This is good news!
    I am tonight trying a first name only search and I have gone through about 173 pages so far and all I have seen so far is people with the middle initial of ‘M’ though I am looking for Minnette. Also, it shows me men when I indicated she was female????

  18. I have found alot of info with the new search but I like the old search also. With the new search I have found info on new ancesters that I wasn’t looking for but, it does take longer to sift though all of the info that is put up that does not have anything to do with what I am looking for. Although I do like the format. Now I have a question I hope someone can answer. I have two brothers that are married too sisters. I have both of their lines, but I found out they were brothers and sisters before I found thier parents. Now I don’t know how to merge the brothers without having two sets of familys. Any help will do Thanks Janet

  19. Reed


    I have read all your blog posts — and all the hundreds of user comments — regarding recent and pending “improvements” to Ancestry’s search engine. This post takes the cake for pointless complexity. Or, as you so inelegantly put it:

    “Let’s say that you searched for John Smith, born in 1849 and you asked search to apply a range of +- 2. With a fudge factor (fudge factor is 5), you would expect the range of birth dates in records returned would be: 1842-1856 (1849 -5 -2) to (1849 +5 +2)”

    Who thinks up this stuff? Was this originally written in English, or translated from the original Norse Runes?

    Why not make dates mean what they appear to mean?

    Why not let the **user** set whatever “fudge factor” he or she desires.

    Keep it simple, transparent and intuitive.

    Don’t expect the user to know and apply secret “fudge-factor” formulas in order to set what should be simple, straightforward parameters.

    Really, I think you’ve finally jumped the shark with this. Listen to the hundreds of frustrated, cash-paying users. Time to discard this muck and go back to the drawing board.


  20. John & Kathleen Riley, Jr.

    I have been frustrated, as are apparently many others, with the search results from Ancestry, both the old and the new. Why can’t we just get the records that fall within the parameters we set? I just tried to get info on an ancestor who was born and died in 18th Century England and got thousands of results from the U.S. Please just give us what we ask for.

  21. I have a question? You may have a fix. It appears when I tell the program to add a particular hint it will add all of the people to my tree even tho I have taken the X out of the box indicating I would keep that piece of info. Please let me know why this continues. Its time consuming to clear these out just to add a new source.

  22. I have read through the entire list and I have to agree. For the most part, they are 100% right on!!
    While I find some features of the new search advantageos, I find myself time and time again going back to the old search so that I can get to something specific instead of all the generalities.
    And like most the others, I do not appreciate the search returns giving me unuseable dates and jumping to England when I specifically said Kentucky (USA). Apparently the programmer/analsts have not yet been addressed to Geography and or date calculations, and even sometimes sound-alikes that don’t come anyplace close to the requested name….
    I will add one more PLEA. Please refine the search engine to recognize what we ask for? PLEASE

  23. John

    Looking at some of the responses, I can appreciate the kind of confusion and complexity of a search on steroids. I’m in the database business and it’s no small feat what you guys are doing.
    I really do like the power myself and wouldn’t want to lose it, but would also like to have a streamlined search option for when I know exactly who I want. It’s surprising how often I have precise criteria and do not get a hit — even though I’ve been there, know exactly where to look and what to look for. The only thing I’ve discovered is sometimes my locations have been too precise and generalizing criteria to a county or state level retrieves my record. Makes me wonder what resources I have written off when the system simply missed a legitimate record. One specific “user error” I’ve made more than once is to modify the location but, when birth is in expanded form, entered into the birth location instead of “resided” location. False negative! Maybe alternating sections’ colors could help or maybe just more practice is what I need.

  24. Carol A. H.

    In trying to “help” us with dates, I’m just more confused. I feel like I’m in Rube Golberg-land.

    “A Rube Goldberg machine is a deliberately overengineered apparatus that performs a very simple task in a very complex fashion, usually using a chain reaction.”

    I think I just will keep working as I have in good OLD search and hope it doesn’t get messed up.

    I like my “fudge” in a candy dish, please.

  25. Linda Hillman

    The most improvement that you can make at this time is merging. I just clicked on view hint and got 465. I’ve been working an hour and am only down to 456. Sometimes I have 5 of the same people listed with slight variations to name, birthdate, etc. I waste a lot of time deleting.

  26. JP

    Remember the old search form with first name, last name & keywords?

    I suggest you start from scratch with that search form. It works just fine except for the databases that aren’t reached from the main search engine.

    If you want David Smith born in Pennsylvania in 1849 all you have to do is:

    first name: David
    last name: Smith
    keywords: Pennsylvania 184*

    The only thing I would considering adding to this is father’s name and mother’s name and maybe a box for the age with the +/- and the birth places for the parents.

    Ancestry is trying to make things too complicated and all you get are messes.

    I can put what I want in the keywords box faster than I can using the dropdown choices.

    I always use exact with a wildcard.

    What we need is the ability to use a wild card with only one or two characters rather than the three.

    BYW, with a few forms the three characters wildcards aren’t working.

  27. Sherry

    N Hawk #16

    Have you tried using a wildcard? I have not yet tried this in the new search but it works in the hold.

    Search exact and enter Malchi*k or Malchi*f. You could also use Malchi* or Malch* but you may have to go through a bunch of records.

    With ancestry, I think you need at least three characters before inserting the wildcard (*) but I find this extremely helpful when there are several surname variants.


  28. Little Ireland

    The new search is overly complicated.Are you sure that it’s for the customers benefit.

    New Search:Using a name in my family tree,I wanted to find the Birth Index of this person;I pressed the “search historical records”,button and came upon list after list of possible search’s,for this person.

    Old search:Using the same name in my family tree,to find the Birth Index,I again pressed “Searh Historical records”button….and low and behold,the information I wanted..appeared immediately.

    A saying comes to mind;If it’s not “Broke” Don’t fix it”

    Too complicated and not, CUSTOMER friendly.

  29. Bernita Kantner

    I do not like the new format that you have for searching. Seems like a shame to fluster anyone trying to do research

  30. irishlass1940

    Mine is one more voice who does not like the new search. I searched in city directories, found my sister’s name and went to the pages it suggested. The pages were from years before my sister was ever born. Who attaches these things anyway?

  31. Darlene Riddell

    I would like to know how I can see my whole tree at one time. Is there no way? Also, if I want it printed do I have to pay the site to do it? Also very hard to merge info. I end up with tons of duplicates and that is so time consuming.

  32. Suzanne Hines

    I’m a new member and so don’t know the old format – but what I do miss from other sites is the lack of ‘sort by columns’ ie if the search for John Smith born 1820 brings up thousands of results then to be able to sort the columns by christian name column or surname or date of birth column etc would be very useful
    Thank you

  33. Gary Workman

    As others have said, there are a few advantages to “new search, but for the most part “old search” is better. Why do you force the “new” on us when we like the “old” better? Now I can’t even find the “switch back” button for old search. Is “old search” gone forever?

    Before, if I wanted to know if a certain person died in Florida, all I had to do was start with the main Search page, click on Florida on the map, and click on Birth and Death Records. Now I don’t even know where to start.

    Before, if I wanted the U.S. Federal Census, it was listed right there on the main Search page. I could click on it and all the years from 1790 to 1830 would be listed. Now I can’t find any such list of just the Federal Census years. Where is it?

    Please read all of these frustrated comments carefully, especially # 5, 7, 9, 19, 22, 29, 31, 32 and 33.

    And please understand this: WE DON’T LIKE NEW SEARCH. It has a few helpful tricks, but on balance OLD SEARCH was much better. Do you see anyone blogging here saying the opposite? Please listen to your paying customers before they quit paying.

  34. ksims337

    I did extensive searches yesterday that worked fine. Today several things have changed (not for the better).
    1 census record adds to persons info do not ask me if I want to add the relatives anymore.
    2 Attach this record to someone in family tree keeps defaulting to my first alphabetic tree, not the tree I was in when I did the search – this is new and very annoying. Of course I wouldn’t be doing this if item 1 was working.
    3 Searches are extremely irrelevant – have tried some of the same searches as yesterday which worked fine, and now get garbage.
    4 Searches in publications are returning pages and pages of public member stories, apparently matched only be the last name. This also worked properly yesterday. Yes I want to see public member stories, but as a seperate category from the printed histories.

    So, I hope we are getting these results because the changes are being implemented in pieces. Otherwise, put everything back to yesterday – PLEASE!!!

  35. Donna

    I am fed up with this so called new stuff. I have spent the better part of an hour searching and searching for one name in Ohio and I have the whole world to choose from. I pay for the sight to find info I want and need without the hassle of sitting here going cross eyed reading through pages and pages of names that aren’t even what I put in.
    Go back to the format we had before, I am so unhappy that when my renewal comes up I doubt that I will return.

  36. Why do I have to do separate searches on Crandall, Crandell or Crandle without wading through unrelated names?

    If I put in Charles Crandell, I get lots of soundex versions that are nowhere near any of these variations.

    Also, I’m fairly satisfied with Ancestry, but, would like to see more concentration on US records. (How about county land records and more newspaper listings?)



  37. Debi Daniel

    I prefer to use the old search. Please don’t take it away. Since you have started changing things, alot of records come up that don’t apply at all, on both searchs. If I am researching a specific state I don’t want info about Europe to come up. Suddenly mostly on new search, when I am attaching records to a specific tree, it switches to another on I have with you and I have to select the tree I was already on. System is frequently very slow. If all this was free I wouldn’t complain.

  38. Anne Mitchell

    Lifespan or date filtering is a separate issue than old and new search.

    Old search is still available. If you click on this url you will be using old search.

    You can also click on the “Old Search” and “New Search” links in the tan bar that appears on the search home page and the results pages.

    Both have had the new lifespan filtering applied their ranked search queries.

    Use which ever search you feel most comfortable with…use them both for different things.

    If you have questions about trees, I am probably not the best person to answer those. Instead, I suggest you find one of Kenny Freestone‘s posts, and ask there. If you have a family tree maker question, I would find a post by Michelle Pfister and ask there. If you have questions about US content, Chris Lydiksen is your guy.

    Jerry, you ask a good question in comment #8. If a record does not have a birth, death or marriage date, it may have a residence date. An obvious example is a census record. The 1850 census record has a residence date of 1850 for everyone who is in that census. And that would be evidence of living in 1850. If the Civil War record has a birth date in it, and you specify 1931 as a birth date, then the Civil War record should not show up.

    Depending on if that particular Civil War record has a residence date attached to it, that would also throw it out in some cases.

    I know in an earlier post you pointed out that a US Tax list wasn’t being caught by the date filter. It was keyed with a residence date — we are looking at that one to try and figure out what is the best way to address it.

  39. Anne

    Suggesting people may want to try other Ancestry blogs for specific problems like FTM or Trees or US Contect may not work too well since the cut off date of 14 days that was announced by Heather Erickson on April 24th 🙁


  40. Anne Mitchell

    True Tony, but most of these people post pretty regularly.

    And I am just not the best person to answer those questions. I live, eat, and breath search. 🙂

  41. Regina

    I happen to like the new search,although I do agree that the old search option should be available to those who wish to use it.
    There are too many examples to give as to why I like the new search so lets stick to one.
    I was searching for an ancestor that arrived in the usa around 1884. I went to the bottom of the search page and narrowed my search by passenger lists (comment #36,this works for birth and death,census records,etc.)Okay so now I am in passenger lists. Halfway down the second page I see something that may be a match but the birth year is wrong.I look anyway by looking at the picture of the record. Lo and behold! the birth year on the record may look like a 5 or an 8. Looks like an 8 to me,all the other info matches and I can now use this as a record. Do you think that I could have found this record using the old search?
    To address some other issues that you all have had that I have had also.
    1. Searching from your family tree pulls up a lot of records because there is either a lot of info or none at all. I get around this by searching just the name and dob first and then adding extra info on the search,i.e. spouse name,residence place. When I have entered a piece of info and had 850 matches but add residence place Nebraska and now have 10,000 matches I take out Nebraska and look through those 850 records.
    Quite frankly, I like the option of searching through more records. Yes it is time consuming but remember the old way. Write the county where you suspect the person was born. Recieve answer in about 3 weeks. Send request for the record,recieve it in 6 weeks. During this time your mother has told you that they actually were born in next county over,start all over again. Another 9 weeks gone. Hmm all that only took me 3 hours on Ancestry and internet.
    Sorry this is so long.

  42. Marcia Zeigler

    Any improvement in the filtering is and will be appreciated. I would like to be able to search just a specific state if I specify the state. And I would also like the results for just a specific race–white or black–or let me say all races. And i would like just women if I specify women and not get men and women all mixed together. The more specific the search is, the less time I have to spend sorting through useless names and data. f

  43. Oh dear Anne, you may want to suggest that the other Ancestrians 🙂 post a little more often.

    Chris – last post April 20, Kenny March 31 – Michelle is nearly as good as you are at frequent postings.


  44. Anne Mitchell

    “Ancestrians”. That made me smile.

    Many of you have said, and I am summarizing, date filtering great, what about places and names.

    I’d say in order, the requests have been fix dates, places, and names.

    We’ve just launched the date filtering which should help there a lot. We are now working on places…also not a trivial thing to implement and this one will require UI changes as well. And then we will work on names.

    Just so you know. 🙂

  45. Linda Eddy

    I completely dislike the new search. With all search info added, it still brings up everyone in areas but the area searched. No longer is it a pleasure to research using Ancestry. I am ready to cancel my subscription.

  46. Virginia Huebner

    I wish that you would go beyond 1930 with your census materials. i have family that I lose at that time and look everywhere for them and can’t find them. How about some more up dating? It would make it easier for us to track down family members. I don’t understand this privacy thing.

  47. I would like to see a way to merge duplicate names in our main list.

    Also, I am having trouble finding out where a person I have listed where that person came from. I need to go backwards to see whom a certain person is related to in relation to me the main person.

  48. Anne Mitchell

    Virginia, the US government only publishes census’s after 72 years. The 1940 census will be available in 2012, the 1950 census in 2022.

  49. Laurie

    I agree with the search being a problem. It was almost easier to go to the library and look up info in the soundex. At least you could see exactly what you wanted there instead of getting all kinds of random names, dates, and places that had nothing to do with what you were looking for.

  50. Diane

    To Dwayne, post #39: To get all people with those names, use the handy wild card of *. In the last name field, enter crand*l* and select Exact (not soundex). You will get Crandall, Crandell, Crandle, and some other variations you might not have thought to look for. The wildcard function isn’t touted enough. Has saved me hundreds of hours.

    And to everyone, I prefer old search because the UI for the results lists is more succinct and readable in its tabular form, tighter font, occupies full page and makes it much easier to scan the result lists. New search occupies 3 lines per result with its two lines taken for View/Record (why not just show View and save a line?) and then the useless star ratings, has a larger font and requires much more scrolling.

    Lastly, putting a behind-the-scenes fudge factor on top of a selected fudge factor seems silly. We can already fudge using the -+ function. Yes, I know to click Exact to eliminate the behind-the-scenes fudge factor but most novice users probably assume Exact contradicts the -+ (which it doesn’t). I think the behind-the-scenes fudge factor is an attempt to give some purpose to having Exact/Non-Exact apply to date fields. The -+ function already does. Just creates more confusion.



  52. Loni Fuller

    I am disappointed in the new search process. It is much more cumbersome than the old process, and I don’t understand why it was “fixed” when it wasn’t broken. Did you have complaints? Until now, I have NEVER had a complaint with Please continue to allow us the option of using either the new or old search.

  53. R Wolff

    I would like to re-read postings by several people regarding the newest search engine. What happened to the blog posts from Tuesday May 5th, 2009? Why did they disappear?

    Can you please tell me under what catagory I would find the previous postings.

  54. Scott Johnson

    Over all I love this site.

    I started researching records in March 2009 and have found and verified 85% of the first 4 – 5 generations back.

    I was able to contact relatives I was not aware of.

    I am still new to this search engine, put I would like a filter that filter races.

    More death certicate records could be added.

    Overall I am 95% happy.

    Thank you

  55. I have one request; please do not take a way the old search possibility. It actually works a lot better in some cases, some indexes/data bases are just worthless in the new search mode. I try to avoid the new search and I don’t think I’m the only one.

    Also, could we discuss the transcription part some day here? it seems to me that people from all over the world are working on transcribing census and other indexes without having enough knowledge about the language…or even worse, they can’t read the documents. I can give you a thousand and one example on this in the Scandinavian records and related. You could do a lot more, sell a lot more abroad if you could make it easier for everyone, not just for experts to do research. I’m available for any clarification or assistance.
    in the

  56. charlotte harris

    how can I find one tree when I know the name of it. Example Notes on Nash. I wanted to ask him how he is releative to my husband’s grandfather? charlotte

  57. Anne Reeves

    Hi! I’m an English user with a world sub so that I can check out the occasional branch family member who left the UK.

    I too find the new search annoying for many of the same reasons that others have raised. Our criteria are so often ignored that it seems virtually useless providing them. And now when the census year is specified (this certainly happens with the UK censuses), the order is not as stated “most relevant” first; rather the ordering of the list is from the oldest person with the same name (eg. I search for Sarah Harper born about 1860 in Darlaston Staffordshire in the 1891 census and get a list beginning with a Sarah Harper born 1825, one who may or may not have been born in Darlaston). Now, to get to those records that may potentially relate to my Sarah Harper, I have to go through all of them until I get to those born around 1860 – possibly three or four pages of 50 a page! That did NOT happen with the old search – or even the new one a few months ago.

    Another problem with the new search that I have frequently encountered is the inability to search first names only, no matter how much other information I provide. This was a very significant advantage of the old search and its loss to the new search,especially in the light of the huge number of mistranscriptions of surnames (and of UK placenames!!!!), is very disheartening.

    A comment to the writer who wishes for the 1940 US census and thinks it about time that it be made available: How fortunate are Americans to even have the 1920 and 1930 census records available!! At least your “gag” rule is only about 70 years; the one for the UK is 100 years (not, I am sure, for the benefit of ordinary folks). We had to petition heavily for the release of the 1911 census – TWO years ahead of schedule!!

    Thanks for “listening’! And please, ancestry – DO listen to your subscribers – their interests are yours, too.


  58. Sandra Brown

    I like the concept of the new search but it returns too many choices. I don’t like the fact that it searches too many databases. Asking for a particular state gives a lot of England census records. Trying to keep it narrow by checking exact match on state doesn’t help much either. If I want the United States, only give the state I ask for if I ask for exact. I really like the program but there is room for improvement. Also there is no fast way to get back to the individual seach person from within the seach if you change any of the boxes to ‘Exact’.
    I have been involved in searching large darabases about 30 years ago when we had no fancy tools, not even good hierachical databases and we had a very crude soundex built-in system. It only dropped vowels and searched. There are millions of titles for magazines created around the world. Try to find the magazine ‘Oui’ using our algorithm. Whole database search! I only say this because I think your speed at finding thousands of probable matches is great. We ended up designing our own soundex system. Thanks for listening to an “older” systems programmer.

  59. Elizabeth Wilson

    What have you done? When I search “Historical Information” all I get anymore is Public Family Tree info. with a few other things scattered in the mix. I can look at the public family tree’s on my own if I want. PLEASE FIX THIS!!!!!!!!!

  60. Thomas

    I agree with Mary (1), it would be helpful to me to be able to search on specific dates. I would like to see search options for the search being specific for individual items. It is very annoying to get all states when you know that you are only interested in a specific state. Hopefully Ancestry will take this into consideration.

  61. Stacey

    Absolutely HATE the new search method! It’s not at all what we genealogists need. I am very, very disappointed.

    As for your “fudge factor”, don’t bother. We’re perfectly capable of adding that in ourselves and don’t need to be hand held on this. And “assuming” that a person can’t be alive past 100 is ridiculous. Ask my grandfather’s cousins…106 and 108.

  62. Jeff Ford

    I would like extraneous results in searches tossed out. What I mean is that when I am searching for someone born and died in the United States, I get results from England and the rest of the United Kingdom.

  63. Sandra Fairbourn

    Ancestry should be setup like google..what we type in should come up….Don’t worry we’ll pay the same amout for the information…
    I do appreciate all information in the Ancestry site..I don’t appreciate wading through information I don’t need…

  64. Anne Tanner

    What are you thinking? Did it ever occur to you that your customers should be able to play with the search before you unload it on us? I’m getting hundreds of “hits” when I used to be able to focus closely. Please don’t do our work for us – just make the info available and searchable. I want to decide what’s valid and what isn’t. I intended to do a lot of work this afternoon and now all I have is a headache.

  65. What I would like to see “filtered” is when I search for someone b. in the US, d. in the US, OMIT all the Great Britain “matches.” Also, allow me to exclude certain “matches” after I have looked at them & determined that they may be close, but NOT my person, so I won’t end up looking at the same “match” every month or three!

  66. Leslie Rankin

    I would also like it if I did not find my own stuff! It does me no good if all the hints are my own family tree.

    Thanks for all your hard work.

  67. Ann

    To Charlotte #59

    When you would like to contact a tree owner, click on the owner’s user name (I’m assuming you have arrived at that tree from a hint), then on the “contact” button, which will allow you to send the owner a message, through ancestry messages.

    If I have misunderstood your need, please let me know, and I will try to help further.

  68. Joyce McKeehan Keeney

    I hate to tell you this but frankly, LDS Pilot Search is far better than any search engine you have on Ancestry!! You need to take lessons from them. When I can’t find something on Ancestry, I search in “Pilot” ~ it gives me the right people even with misspelled names, yet filters-out most the wrong info, and requires minimum info to do this!! Ancestry is loaded with great information ~ by searching Pilot first, I find out what spelling to use and what census to look for. Pilot is quite limited. Hope they expand their program, so I can use it together with Ancestry. I have your World membership, have a tree on your site to which I have attached 6000+ records. I have also submitted 100’s of name corrections/variations for “McKeehan” and others. I am on your site, daily for up to 10 hours day and evening hours. But . . . your search programs still leave a lot to be desired. Joyce (jgkeeney1)

  69. Ann

    Am I correct in understanding that the “fix” has been rolled out?

    If so, I am not seeing an improvement. I am searching on an ancestor who was born in 1857 and died in 1940. I am seeing results from as early as 1757 and as late as 1993.

    Using new search

  70. When will records from Mexico be included on Ancestry? How can a HUGE (and neighboring) country NOT be included in “World” subscriptions?

    Thank you,

  71. mary

    re #43

    And I am just not the best person to answer those questions. I live, eat, and breath search.

    could that be because new search is getting to full of fudge that you have to wade through irelivant results so you have no time to do anything else but pass the buck!

  72. Charlie Morgan

    I get lots of results that are unrelated. the Filters need to work and not present information that is out of the requested range, date, name, etc.

  73. Andrea Whitaker

    Both the old and new searches have their pros and cons. I have been able to break through some long-standing brick walls recently with the new one, although it does bring up too many unrelated hits. Even so, there has been a time or two where a seemingly bad match has actually fit someone related, or led me to a match.

    The best way to resolve this would be to add an option to “hide” particular hints, just like when we are given hints for a person in the tree itself. If a record is obviously not what we are looking for, we can click the “hide” or “don’t show” option, and it would remove it from sight. If we later decide we want to see the full search, we could select “show hidden” to look at it again.

    Also, I would love to be able to “sort” a list of hits by name, or date, or location, or whatever criteria may be available. This would help dramatically in searching larger lists of results.

    Finally, for those who mention being able to filter by race and gender… while this would be a good feature, do not rule out hits that “appear” to be opposite of what you are looking for. One of my paternal great-grandmothers, named Isabel, was transcribed from a census record as Joseph. More dramatic than this, I just recently found a record for one of my “elusive” 2nd great-grandfathers on my maternal side. His death certificate, while looking “overwritten”, clearly says female. I have also located the birth certificate for an uncle of mine, who’s name was transcribed “Lea” instead of “Leo. Just be sure you do not throw out the baby with the bath water.

  74. Debbie Redmon

    Thanks for this great website. I have filled in many missing puzzle pieces and have your website to thank for that!


  75. R Wolff

    To # 69 Written by: Ann to R Wolff. Thank you for the reply. I think I’ve had way to much ‘fudge’ and its blurred my thinking. I’ve also gotten a headache from a grim determination to find something good and happy to say about the latest search engine.

  76. RP McMurphy

    What happened to saving a record to someone else in my tree??? Now I have the option of starting a new tree with the person that I want to save to one already existing. I’m referring to census records from 1850, 1860, and 1870.

  77. RP McMurphy

    RE: #77 – I have been asking for the “sort” feature from day 1 of my subscription. I’ve yet to see any response to it.

  78. Jim Nygard

    Ditto comment 80… I could merge to an individual this morning and now I can’t… and it doesn’t seem to make a difference what type of historical record…

  79. Jim Nygard

    I would like to second or third comment 77 and 81… both the hide hints and sort features are sorely needed. I am so tired of having a hint pop up for a find in another tree that I either already have looked at or is not of interest. I would like to see the Historical Hints and the Ancestry Tree Hints seperated… preferably by option so those who want them together can still get them together and those that don’t can get them seperate.

  80. John Bishop

    Look I pay good money for this service. I’m sick and tired of these
    screw-ups.If you do not get this search problem fixed I’m ready to cancel.I’m 72 years old and do not have time for this lost time.Put it back as it was!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  81. Jim Nygard

    I am not sure this feature would fall under search or not but in FTM it tells you what the relationship to the Home Person is which I have found to be helpfull in delegating how much time and effort I spend on a particular individual. I would like to see that feature replicated in and be able to perform a search based on the relationship. Example… if I am searching for the 3X Great Grandfather on my wifes side and I don’t know his last name, I could search for 3X Great Grandfather and all records that match in my tree would populate a screen.. similar to the Hints screen.

    At the very least a Life Event called Relationship populated like what is in FTM 2009.

  82. Billie Bournias

    Question: I have found a census in 1870 (for example) and Marvin is in houshold of grandparents…I want to save to Marvin but it says….do you want to start a tree for Marvin….no I don’t want to start a new tree…Marvin is already in My tree….so how to I save it to him?

    Billie Bournias

  83. I too only now have the option of starting a new tree or saving to my shoebox. What is going on??? I am paying good money. Also, sometimes this site is sooooooo slow. It takes forever for all the advertising to load.

  84. Jim Nygard

    To ALL… I have found that if you clear your Temp Internet files, cookies and your cache that the ‘new’ pages show up and that the merge feature works correctly. Haven’t had a chance to check the other stuff out…

    Why we were not told to do this is anybody’s guess…

  85. Robert Esch

    I agree with those who favor the old search. It was far from perfect, but there is at least the chance to get the information you seek.

  86. Jim Nygard

    Spoke to quick as it was only a temp fix… now I am bac to the same as before and can’t merge.

    One thing I want to point out is when I did have the ‘new’ search it does not provide for a way to change anything to expand your search… example: I wanted to change the spelling of a surname and couldn’t. If this is how the ‘new’ search is going to be… I don’t want any part of it… don’t know if this is part of the ‘Life Span’ update or not…

    I use Ancestry better then 8 hours a day and I’m not happy with what I am seeing today. May just have to dump all my trees and go back to using FTM locally where the tools and features are more advanced. Guess I will have to check and see how the search is working from there…

  87. Ann

    To #88 Jim Nygard
    Glad to hear that has worked for you, but it did not help me.
    Before you posted, I had already cleared and shut down and restarted, in hopes that would help.It didn’t.
    After I saw your post, I cleared again, with no success.

    I’m still seeing records for 175* for my ancestor who was born in 1857 and died in 1940.

  88. Ann

    To 86 Billie – Have you gone directly to that census page, or have you navigated there? That is, one click from the search page, or did you have to search forward or back a page or 2 to find the person? I have found that issue only if I have navigated away from the original sheet in the census.

  89. Sherry

    Jim #88

    Although unrelated to ancestry…but worth a mention…we had an issue at work where we could not log onto the company’s bank website and this was solved yesterday.

    We are using IE7 at work so I can only speak for this browser. In the “tools” / “internet options” / “browsing history” / “settings” – be sure that the browser is set to “check for new pages” / “every time I visit a webpage”. My bosses computer was set to “never” and I wonder if this was due to one of those pesky updates from Microsoft as he did not have an issue until a month or two ago. Sometimes he could log in and then others he would receive an error message stating the website was unavailable.

    All being said, I switched mine to “never” a couple of days ago because I am afraid of losing the old search :{.

  90. what I find confusing is the print process. I print a page then go to the next but some is left out. So I have to go back to get that & on it goes with duplicates & missed people. Is there a simpler way to print the tree so you can keep track of everyone? Plus I have people who I don’t know where they connect to whom etc. It is confusing to say the least.

  91. Jim Nygard

    Thanks Sherry 93.. I’ll check and see what my IE settings are… I did just clear everything again and got the merge back only problem is the first merge worked fine and the second one somehow switched trees and the merge went to an ‘old’ tree I have. I also checked searched from FTM 2009 and found that, as expected, the same search engine is used… so no help there either.

    I am so frustrated I am stopping for the day… Let’s hope tomorrow everything is back on track…

  92. Jim Nygard

    I posted a similar comment earlier about not being able to edit the surname in the ‘new’ search page… well here is another issue… the new seach page is not automatically picking up the married name for an individual like the old one did. What I have had to do is go back in to the persons vitals and add the married name before the ‘new’ search would work.

  93. Trevor Rix


    “… but what I do miss from other sites is the lack of ’sort by columns’…”

    Firefox plus the addon TableTools will give you the ability to sort results by column. It’s great.

  94. Sherry

    Jim #95,

    I may be speaking out of turn as I do not know FTM’s capabilities with regard to newer versions.

    I initially started with FTM 2005 (I think) but have since switched to Legacy. They have an excellent Sourcewriter that aids in proper documentation of sources and they search databases other than ancestry (I personally think the search is too broad in all of the databases. That being said, might also steer you to new databases that you were not aware of).

    There is a free download available at in the event you would like to give it a go.

    Unfortunately, Sourcewriter is not included in the “free” version but well worth the monies if you decide to go that way.

  95. Andy Hatchett

    Attn: Anne Mitchel

    Want to get a lot of people oof you back about this search thing…

    1). Get rid of that stupidly insane built in fudge factor – it is useless; particularly as it serves more to confuse a new user (who probably doesn’t even know about it) than it helps anyone.

    2) Eliminate *all* online trees from any search whatsoever except when using the “Family Trees” Tab on the old search screen.

    Those two actions alone would be most welcomed by most users- and give you time to really *think* about we are saying instead of trying to convince us you know what we want better than we do.

    Andy Hatchett

  96. iam very unhappy i updated my account to world wide to find people in germany and checoslovakia and all i ever get is the imigration side the did not immigrated they lived and died in the old country i want to find out about relatives but i do not get any further i think you dont look at all you only show what people put in becouse everytime i put my grandpa in i know his date of birth but not his deth i know where he lived and where he is burried but still the response i get we can find nothing like he never existed and for that i spend over 300.00 dollars to search but nothing is happening iam very upset over this

  97. ann

    To 97 Trevor

    I was so excited by your post. I already use Firefox, so immediately hunted down and installed Table Tools.

    But —-

    The results information in both old and new search is not really in columns, so will not sort, so far as I can tell.

    If you have a secret tip, please do share!


  98. Sherry

    Cynthia #103

    You must have some inside knowledge of this new search feature as you say it is easier.

    Please share this as I certainly must be missing something.

    What do you like about this new search as opposed to the old search?

  99. Joy Henning

    I also am frustrated with spending so much time on unrelated individuals in my search. If I am looking for a John Glenn in Page Co VA I would like to see all the possible matches Jn Glenn, John Glen, Jn Glan, J Gleen, etc. in the particular census or area. Now I have to scroll through pages to find other possible spellings in a particular county. Also, I wish you would leave things alone, they were working just fine.

  100. Andy Hatchett

    340 Comments on this subject since April 28!

    That alone should tell Ancestry something is very, Very, *VERY* wrong with the entire search thing – but they probably will just write them off as meaningless.


  101. Lynn

    I am totally confused. I can’t find what I want. Please give us the old search back!!

  102. Vallery

    I agree with 4, I would like to merge duplicate records in my own tree. I tried to delete some duplicates and lost several links in my tree. Merging similar to what you do with other trees would compare records to preserve the integrity of the tree.

  103. Yvonne

    Sorry Ancestry! I am feeling very frustrated. I have names with many variants and I like Wild card and Soundex searches. I see that Wild Card is not working well at all. I am sorry but I do not like the new Ancestry approach. Is there a way to chose and go back to the old search method or am I going to be forced to use this new method? For the most part you had a good thing – sorry to say I certainly have my doubts now.

  104. Reed

    Dear Anne,

    I think what is becoming more and more frustrating to many Ancestry users is the way that Ancestry makes an effort to appear to care about customer preferences and feedback but, in reality, just chugs along doing whatever the company and its software engineers want anyway.

    See for yourself. Go back to late 2007 and the search-related posts of Kendall Hulet (your predecessor as Search Commander), and your earlier posts. So many customers, always making the same requests and not getting what they ask for. Here’s part of what I wrote on your blog on 10 August 2008:

    “[…] Anne, please ask yourself if, compared to Old Search (with all ITS many problems), when you use New Search do you:
    (1) get more (and better-quality) hits?
    (2) get fewer meaningless hits?
    (3) find New Search’s interface more logical, more ergonomic, faster, and easier to use (and can be customized to turn off patronizing pop-ups and distracting advertising—especially animations)?
    (4) find it easier to sort and resort search results?
    (5) find that the wildcard functions (*) and (?) work with less than three initial characters?
    (6) find that Exact searches really give exact answers with easily set (and altered? and Boolean?) parameters?
    (7) find, in general, the time you spend on Ancestry is more productive and more user-friendly than before?

    “[…] New Search is a step in the WRONG direction—PHILOSOPHICALLY, TECHNICALLY and ERGONOMICALLY—and most of your users and blog-commenters agree. […] Finally, I agree—emphatically—with the other commentators that have discussed the wrong-headedness of the HYPER-EXACT literalness of New Search.”

    Years and months later, how many of those problems have been IMPROVED, let alone SOLVED?

    Morosely yours,

  105. Reed


    Just to clarify my post #111, above. This remark that I cut-and-pasted from last August:

    “Finally, I agree—emphatically—with the other commentators that have discussed the wrong-headedness of the HYPER-EXACT literalness of New Search.”

    This had a very specific meaning in that blog thread. The “hyper-exact” problem was that searches with, for example, the name BAKER and place name variations like:

    Chicago, Illinois
    Chicago, Cook [county], Illinois
    Cook, Illinois
    Chicago Ward 2, Illinois

    were all returning different numbers of hits and different hit-content, despite the fact that the City of Chicago lies wholly within the larger boundaries of Cook County, Illinois, and the BAKER family in question should have shown up on any of these searches, but did not.

    Let me be very clear, especially when it comes to dates, EXACT should mean EXACT. There should never be hidden “fudge factors.”


  106. arlene miles

    Your quality control procedures needs work. Take a look at the New York Passenger Lists 1820-1957, there are way too many of the same birth date for a large part of the results. I hope this can be fixed easily.
    And while are at it, try putting search option on items in the shoe box,and why does it always have to go back to the first page, it could return to where we leave of, too much scrolling.

  107. Mike

    I want to echo Reed’s last couple comments in #111/112. Exact means exact.

    And Ancestry is as it has all along, refusing to meet our needs and instead implementing in many cases only what it thinks we need.

    Two factors drive this I imagine. One, a desire for the newbs to get lots of hits, meaningless or not, to make them think they are getting value from their subscription, and also “protect” them from themselves in searching so that they don’t adopt methodologies that return “too few” hits.

    Second, Ancestry cares about server performance more than it cares about advanced users being able to sort/filter in ways that return the best results *for them* according to *their* criteria, ignoring that more servers and better algorithms could reduce performance impacts.

    The bottom line is that if Ancestry continues to refuse to give us a true exact search, even if it is buried so the newbs can’t “harm” themselves with it, then all protestations about caring about customer input is just BS.

    Also, although I don’t wish to be harsh or belligerent here, the simple fact is that ignoring our concerns while saying you care about our concerns, is tantamount to lying, and most damages the one saying it. Which is why the higher ups delegate such tasks.

    The good will we give to new Ancestry reps here quickly grows thin in the face of more of the same long term intransigence on the part of the company to the concerns of experienced users. Then the next move in the “game” is to replace the current spokesperson on these issues, i.e. Ann, with someone new who requests our forbearance yet again. Same thing different faces.


  108. Hazel Clack

    Guess it’s a good thing I never completely learn one search update before another one takes affect. Why? I’m to busy sorting through hundreds of thousands of records for one simple search…or hitting the “Back” button to get out of the search so I don’t have to close the program and reopen it!. I’ve been frustrated with Ancestry from the very beginning and to think I pay for it!!
    I totally agree with everyone elae. The technical team there is not listening to what the users, their paying customers, have to say. Each one of them should have to spend a week doing the types of research we do and then they would be glad to listen from that point forward. The only consolation I have is that no matter how bad and time consuming the search engines are on Ancestry, I guess it’s better than nothing.
    And one last thing…my friend and I decided to try an experiment on search results. We both put in the same information to search and we both got different search results. Go figure!

  109. Pam Durant

    I agree, it is very frustrating to scroll through years of records from a time that my ancestor did not live, and information from countries they never lived in. I swear the English census from 1841 shows up long before what I really need. It sounds like we may soon get some relief from this great time waster!



  111. Marsha Ensminger

    Forget the fudge factor!!! If I tell you 1849+/- 2, I mean 1847 – 1851. How hard is that to understand?

    The part that isn’t working right? YOUR ASSUMPTION!!!

    Not to mention the search form that skips directly from Country to Date without allowing an entry in State.

  112. Dianne

    I do not like your so called improvements which do not give you the results that are expected. I search SC records alot & use to find what I needed very quickly. Now I must go thru a lot of records that are not even relavent. Example, if I seached by the last name for a county, I would receive info in alphabetic order by name. I usually found what I needed quickly. Now information is displayed in birth date order (info is not correct) resulting in me spending up to an hour to find the records I needed. What are you guys doing?????? I am still using the old search method also as your new search method does not filter as well as the old. Why don’t you listen to your customer’s needs?

  113. Is there an easy way to get rid of the duplicates that Ancestry adds for some reason?? If it doesn’t accept an ‘existing person’ as already existing, it creates a “New” person. This creates 2 or 3 or more of the same ‘person’, and it’s awfully hard to manually merge the info from each into one person.
    Hope this makes sense. Thanks.

  114. I find this new version impossible to use. It is very difficult to use. Rarely have i been able to locate the information that I need even when I enter correct spelling, dates etc. If I did not have so much information on this site I would definitely look for another Genealogy service.

  115. Annmaj

    Thank goodness it’s not just me! I thought I was going mad trying to find someone on the English census the other day when it came up with a whole lot of rubbish, I have only now learnt about the ‘fudge’ factor. For goodness sake, PLEASE go back to the ‘old’ search, even the option to do that has now gone I see – shame on you! I actually like my fudge from the UK, not from Ancestry, I spent ages trying to find someone on the census but all I got was a whole lot or pointless and useless names, absolutely NOTHING like that which I was looking for – in the end I gave up and used a different site. How many of us have to leave Ancestry before you get the message – WE DON’T LIKE THE NEW SEARCH, and never forget we are paying you, and we can stop paying you! I dread to think what the ‘New Navigation’ will bring, more frustration I think.
    I miss not having records listed in a menu as well, as we used to have, so much easier to use. LISTEN TO YOUR CUSTOMERS PLEASE

  116. ann

    To 122 Annmaj

    While the way it searches may have changed, old search IS still available.

    Use this link:

    I am usually searching from within an existing tree I created and the link shows up on the upper right of my screen.

    If you are searching from the home page, the option will show up in the same place, after you have entered information and clicked search. The annoyance is that you will have to re-enter your search parameters.

    Good luck!

  117. Jeff

    WHY DO YOU CONTINUE TO HAVE A NEED TO DIRECT PEOPLE. GRANTED some are stupid and can’t find their bathroom. Most of us worked with the old search format very well, and don’t need complete direction. If I search for John Doe in Tennessee… Thats what I want to see, everything about John Doe in Tennessee. I have just tried, for 15 minutes to find a name I know is in the records. Your “new” search navigator can’t find any of the known information.
    Let the dummies have the new navigator…But BRING BACK THE OLD ONE.

  118. Jeff




  119. ann

    To 90 Jim Nygard

    I’m responding to your comment about being unable to change the spelling of a surname (or other field) in new search.

    I’m working from the assumption that you have clicked on search and have the resulting “Compare with people” page in front of you.

    On the left hand side, you have the “refine search” column, with “matches 1-50” on the right.

    Within the refine search column, every field is hot clickable. If I put my mouse over my Uncle Frank’s name and click, it breaks apart into first and last name fields, which can be changed and/or marked for exact (if you have selected advanced). Same works for birth, lived in, etc.

    Hope this helps!

  120. Deana Lewis

    if it wasn’t for i would still be in the dark ages as far as my research goes, it is not perfect but what else is in this vast world of ours, so buck up and enjoy what we have and if you have to work a little harder for what you need to find.
    i am sure they do the best they can and one must admit that it is MUCH better than if you had to go to each town and county to get your info.
    I for one want to thank you all for being here .
    thanks Deana Lewis

  121. Deana
    When I read your comments I wondered if you worked for Ancestry, but then I thought – ‘can I have some of what she’s taking – then I will also think that everything on Ancestry is wonderful’.


  122. judyharris 25

    I have looked at the “new” search feature, it’s overly complicated, throws up far too much information that is irrelevant, this feature is not a pleasure to work with and I have to agree with all other users of Ancestry that the nerds or techies do no listen to what the PAYING SUBSCRIBER wants, it is forced onto us as “better” without any thought given to the actual process, so I have to think that the people who dream-up these new features are not people who actually research. Remember the adage KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID.

  123. Lou

    I too have been frustrated w/the search engine giving stuff out of the time span requested. I now use the data catalog and use search words in the title: ie North Carolina and it gives me all docs w/NC in the title or key word and it gives me NC in in the geographic region. This way I get only what I am looking for. It can be a dauting task but it is faster and I find more info. I have passed this on to other Ancestry users and they were amazed at the books/documents they found.

  124. Rob

    I wanted the option of “Relevance” back in the Search feature. I don’t need specific search results based on specific names. I wanted “Relevance” back in its proper place!

  125. Ann

    I have to say that yesterday’s modifications seem to be giving me little relevant information, even when I know it exists – using both old and new search. I’m off to send a message to the help center, because I think we need it!

  126. ann

    To 131 Rob
    If you are in new search, there is a toggle at the top of results column, right hand side.

  127. Dave

    This filter is not working as you describe, if I search for an individual with exact birth and death dates I’m now getting records that are off by 50+ years from when the person was alive. Also, I now get other users tree’s listed first, even though they aren’t even close to the individual I’m searching for. As another user said, the haystack is now HUGE. Please get rid of this “improvement”

  128. R Wolff

    Would it be a disgrace for Team Generations Network to directly and publicly address our issues and defend their search engine design?

    A nice gesture from them would be for a the chief design guru to come online and explain or defend in KISS [Keep-it-sensible-simple] terms explain their propensity for producing complicated search tools.

    I think we could all be happier if this was addressed in a straightforward manner but I’m not holding my breath that will ever occur. They say they listen to our feedback, but do they really? Or is there some selective hearing going on where they hear only the parts they want to?

    As consumers we have the right post our positive compliments and negative complaints here on this board but until we take our complaints directly to the Better Business Bureau we will continue to get what we already have; headaches due to the constant frustration regarding the lack of 24/7 customer service related issues.

    The Better Business Bureau would unlikely be able to address our issue regarding the unpredictable results given by the search engine but they could address the issue regarding the lack of live/online or lack of 24/7 telephone customer service. Has anyone ever had success with the online self-help problem solving feature? I’ve tried and tried and tried that. I want a live English speaking person to speak with me. I simply do not understand their pre-programmed prompts.

    KISS = Keep-it-sensible-simple. The latest search engine appears to be a retooling of what many of us feel is already a complex and overworked type from the Rube Goldberg computer software design school. I’m sure the staff at The Generations Network is counting on the fact that in a couple of weeks our ranting will cease as we crawl back into our corner licking our wounds and mutter dark thoughts as we muddle our way through a complex device that should perform a simple task in a sensible way. 300+ complaints since 28 April. Hmmm. Not good, not good at all.

    Really, truly, according to many people I am nice and easy to get along with but today I’m beyond aggravated, annoyed and frustrated. I want someone to fix this and make it easier to work with. In my defense I will say that 300+ people can’t be that far off base in the uniform complaints with the end product.

    To end on a positive note I’ll just say no thank you to the ‘fudge’ that’s being offered, but I do like the consistent addition of new databases, that’s really nice, and I should mention the staff who monitor this webpage. Kudos to each of you. You must have very strong personalities to take all of the complaints on the chin and not fire off your own angry retorts to our negative commentary. I also like to read all of the suggestions offered by the posters, they’ve offered some very good ideas.
    R Wolff

  129. Mary Beth Marchant

    For Virginia Huebner regarding census records. Ancestry cannot do anything about the 1940 census until 2012. This is a Federal Law that prevents release of census decades for 72 years. So-1930 census was released in 2002 and Ancestry very quickly got it online. I am sure they will do the same thing with 1940 census when the census bureau releases it. Nothing anyone can do about that.

  130. Ann

    I have to say that yesterday’s modifications seem to be giving me little relevant information, even when I know it exists – using both old and new search. I’m off to send a message to the help center, because I think we need it!

    Well, I got a stock answer back from the help desk, which did not address the question.

    We appreciate your message.

    We appreciate your feedback regarding We have many enhancement projects underway, but we always welcome comments and suggestions at any time. I have forwarded your suggestion on as an enhancement request to our Development Team for consideration. We welcome any feedback regarding our site.

    If there is anything else with which we might assist you, please let us know.

    Member Solutions
    Customer (Margaret Ann Donnelly) 05/07/2009 10:44 AM
    I’ve tried searching today, in both old and new search, and even results that I know exist are not appearing.

    I think the latest patch to the “more relevant results” patch, still has bugs.

    If you take a look at the “lifespan filtering” blog page
    you will see that there are many frustrated and bewildered paying customers. It appears many may soon be former customers, if they make good on their threats to cancel if things don’t improve.

    I’ve cleared caches, switched browsers, even switched computers and the searches are just giving bad info.

    What do the techs say? Are they working on it?

    Thank you.

  131. Jade

    Anne Mitchell,

    Thank you very much for putting links to return to Old Search on more Search pages!

    Also thank you for putting the link for Old Search at the top of this Blog page – a very much asked-for item.

  132. Jim Nygard

    While I now have the ‘new’ searching working I still have some concerns.
    1.. when searching historical records you can not modify the search criteria from the search results page. The info provided from ‘The person in your Tree’ is all you get. In order to change the search criteria you have to go back to your ‘People Record’ and add alternatives. Not friendly at all.

    2.. As most have commented the results being returned from a search are all over the board. I would think at least they would or could be ordered by a value in the search criteria. Example: Looking for records for someone born in Wisconsin, the first values returned should all be Wisconsin, not Maine, New York, etc.

    3.. On a positive note.. I have found that it is doing a better job of recognizing namesm especially in the case of ‘other relatives’. Before I was haing to remove middle names before it would recognize a sibling.

    Thats it for now… I am new to the blogging but I’ll let you know my thoughts after using it a few days.

    Thanks to everyone for their comments.. I have been able to learn from some of them and I guess that is the reason for the blog to begin with.

  133. B Gray

    I wish the searches really were more specific. It would be so much more effective if a search for John Doe (a native american man born in 1808 in Kentucky) only gave results for Kentucky, 1808 and soundex names matching Doe, or even with “fudge” factors thrown in we’d still get results that might be our guy, instead of pulling up United Kingdom records, dates 100 years too late, or names wildly dissimilar. Then if we need a more general search we could make our requirements less specific. Like the 13th commentator, I like that the info of the person I’m searching for is side by side with the records, that saves a lot of time for me.

  134. Reed


    I hope you have taken notice of the large number of comments here (and in your previous post) that are unhappy with New Search as a whole and the recent search “improvements.”

    Blog readers/commenters that are new to this discussion might want to look at this summary post of mine commenting on one of your earlier blog entries.

    Scroll down to comment #74 on 3 September 2008, where I went back and looked through hundreds of Search-related comments and summarized the results thus:

    [From] May 29 [to Sept. 3], 2008, Ancestry has posted 9 blog threads related to New Search.
    •Total readers’ posts: 473
    •Total POSITIVE readers’ responses: 12
    •Total NON-POSITIVE readers’ responses: 381
    •Total MISCELLANEOUS readers’ responses: 64*
    •Total Ancestry responses: 23

    473 comments in just over 3 months, only 12 of them clearly positive. Most product managers would consider that an *unfavorable* response and think about major changes in product concept, design and implementation. Alas, no.

    FYI, at the end of my 3 Sept. 2009 blog post (#74) are hot links to all 9 referenced threads; read ’em and weep. It makes pretty frustrating reading as time after time the company rolls out changes that don’t work, aren’t wanted and do not address the actual, repeated concerns and requests of the customer-researchers.

    Historically yours,

    P.S. And by the way, NO ONE (besides yourself) has ever liked the “hidden fudge factor” for date searches. It’s insulting to our intelligence and skills as searchers and only adds to the number of unwanted, unhelpful “hits.” Make it go away, please.

  135. Jim Nygard

    I’d like to start by saying the ‘new search’ is working for me, however I have a couple of issues with it.

    1.. If doing a Historical Search you can not modify the search criteria from the results page. This is especially annoying seeing that apparently the search is not picking up the ‘married’ name. You must go bake to the People page and make changes or add alternatives. Not User Freindly at all.

    2.. As with most commentors the results being returned are all over the board. If the search would order the results based on an element of the search criteria it would be a BIG help. Example… I am searching for someone born in Wisconsin… the first results should all be oredered by Wisconsin and not Maine, New York, etc.

    3.. On a positive note… the name recognition seems to be much better especially when merging additonal family (when available), like spouses and siblings. Before I was having to remove middle names before it would recognize that person in my Tree and even then some times it wouldn’t.

    Thanks to all for commenting… I have learn a few things and also discovered that I am not alone.

  136. Anne Mitchell

    Reed, I believe the fact that old search is still an option on the site and that we have not forced anyone to use it, is evidence that we do listen and have given people the option to choose what search they prefer using. We recognize that there are features in old search that users love that are not in new search. And we’ve stated that many times. I wrote most of those 9 blogs posts you refer to and spent many hours reading and responding. I know them well.

    I’m not sure why everyone thinks we are about to yank old search with this change, we are not. Simply not. We have not disabled old search with this change.

    We do want to find one search solution eventually, but it absolutely has to combine the best of both. And we made the decision months ago to not tweak new search just to tweak it, but to go back to our proverbial drawing board, and redraw so speak.

    Old search is still there. You can get there from the top of this post, or the tan bar on the search pages.

    As for the fudge factor, you can can always check exact, choose a range, and use that option to not use the fudge factor. But in a general ranked search that is fuzzy, the fudge factor gives better results.

    Jim, I’ll investigate the married name issue. And your #2 is one we are looking into.

  137. awarriorangel

    No company or web site is perfect. But, good job Ancestry for trying to provide the best service available. This blog and your site is a service and a courtesy on your part that some people seem to forget… often. We seem to lose site that providing a location to store historic documents was not requested of anyone. Ancestry took the challenge upon themselves. Let’s try to remember that people.

    For those who “hate” the new search:

    Have you even noticed the nice, simple, and convenient link at the top of the search page to switch back to your coveted old search experience? Apparently not. But, since the trend seems to be to come here and complain about Ancestry, allow me to provide the opposing view.

    Why insult, complain, or find fault in a company that is trying to provide the most information on the web in one convenient location? Heaven forbid they have to make changes to make things load faster, store more information, or just keep up with technological standards. Heaven forbid that if they have to keep things up to date that many people complain that they are expected to keep their computers up to date.

    Keep up the good work Ancestry. No one else is able to provide such wealth so freely to all of us. No one else seems to be able to meet the never ending demands for continued growth. Yes, some of your changes require me to learn again how to use the site. But, in the end, it’s worth it.

  138. Virginia

    Each time that I have entered the date relevant or time frame plus or minus years, the results are well past the time frame, and the name or location inputted is also wildly different. I just put in a search for a common male name in the early 1800’s in the obituary section, only in one state, and have faced pages and pages of results for males, females and possibly aliens in the 2000’s and in countless states. I do not understand why this would be the case if the search engine even slightly filtered the search request correctly.

  139. Recently while searching your website, I place a full name, and get Ads, Sport data etc with misc information.
    Genealogy is genealogy, and has nothing to do with Ads or other misc. data.
    Can you be more precise, I know you can, one or two times I was getting the actual data, no problem.

  140. Margaret

    To #141 Jim
    I’d be happy to help you with changing search criteria on the results page in new search. It is fairly simple.

    You can reach me directly on hooksett416 AT

    I also have had problems with the married/maiden name thing – even had a case where the maiden was duplicated, so my ancestor became “Mary Casey Casey Hughes.” I went back to Mary’s record, opened it to edit, made no changes, but re-saved it, and it now searches on “Mary Casey Hughes.” Agree, we should not have to, but it worked!

  141. Barbara Hill

    When I state that someone was born and died in the USA, why do I get England & Wales Christening records?

  142. Anne Mitchell

    Barbara, because other pieces of information match that particular record very well.

    A couple of ways to improve that, use exact, or at least partial exact (available in new search) on the location and you will narrow it down.

  143. I see I am not the only one who is disgusted with the new Ancestry,
    And “Old Search” does NOT show up on the HOME PAGE. Only on seach.
    I too get so sick of seeing “we didn’t find any strong matches but these still might be helpful”
    Why not search what we fill in instead of all the ‘junk’. Why can’t I search for a particular YEAR in the IA State census instead opf now ALL years at once and Ancestry is to stupid to find a year in the right Range even. The old way worked perfectly,Why change it?
    Some people are so Computer smart that they are common sense dumb.
    For now I have had it with ancestry and am dropping it.

  144. Mike


    On your #142 and Old Search. I asked pointedly in the past whether you could guarantee that it would always be available as an option, and you said no. So I can only conclude that Ancestry is only willing to let it continue as long as New Search is being “tweaked”. And once you settle on a final version whether we like same or not, the company will remove Old Search. Is this a valid conclusion?

    Also this apart from the issue that even if Old Search continues, you already gutted some of its functionality whereby you cannot do an advanced search on trees alone. And the company will not continue to improve it.

    Most importantly though, despite your continued protestations and guarantees in the past that “once size fits all” won’t be shoved down our throats, that is exactly what is happening with the hidden fudge factor isn’t it? Is there any *good* reason the fudge factor can’t be another option for an advanced user to toggle on/off?

    Trying to get NS tweaked down to some utopian “optimal” algorithm is exactly one size fits all. Let *we the customers* determine what criteria we want including a truly exact exact search. We don’t need a genealogy nanny and you and your co-workers are not qualified for that position anyway.


  145. Anne Mitchell

    Mike, you are an making assumption that we have concluded that there must be a one size fits all solution. No one has concluded that.

    Your conclusion that once we find a final version whether or users like it or not, we will remove old search is not really valid either. Can we find a solution that makes 100% of the people happy — no, of course not. Can we find a version that makes a lot more people happy than either of the current versions? I think so.

    Currently, if you choose exact, and a date range, you have a optional fudge factor. Are you asking for a toggle on/off for the fudge factor or the date filter?

    And I’m not looking for a utopian optimal algorithm or interface. I’m looking for one that has date, place and name filtering with appropriate controls, handles BMD records in a easier to manage way, has a more scannable output and couple of handfuls of other things.

    Would it be utopian? Probably not. Would it give our members the ability to find what they are looking for quicker and find stuff they didn’t even suspect was there? Yes. I think we can get there. And we are working in that direction.

    We built new search, but a signficant portion of our users said they didn’t like it. So we decided to leave both versions out there until we can find a solution that makes sense to people. I think that is pretty strong evidence that we are listening and reacting in ways that are in the best interest of our members. Is everybody a 100% happy. No. I don’t think anybody thinks we can hit that. But we can always do better. And that is exactly what we are trying to do.

  146. Tony Brothers

    “And I’m not looking for a utopian optimal algorithm or interface. I’m looking for one that has date, place and name filtering”

    We don’t want FILTERING.

    We want MATCHING.

    “We built new search, but a signficant portion of our users said they didn’t like it. I think that is pretty strong evidence that we are listening and reacting in ways that are in the best interest of our members.”

    Seems to me that a “significant portion” doesn’t like Lifespan Filtering either. Why won’t you acknowledge that?

  147. Reed


    Thank you for your reply (#142). Just to be clear, I am not some stick-in-the-mud who gets all misty-eyed about the “gold old days” of Old Search. Both Ancestry search machines have plusses and minuses. (Believe it or not, I have been using New Search more often than old lately. The Preview feature for books, newspapers and directories is a real help in sorting out the mountain of chaff from the few kernels of grain.)

    The issue here is that all your R & D is being poured into New Search and the result is an increasingly non-intuitive, fussy, complex and unreliable search process that does not yield better, more accurate results for the user.

    Neither search engine incorporates features that users have been asking for for years, in particular:

    *exact searches that really give exact answers
    *exact searches that omit data outside the defined search parameters
    *exact searches that include an “exact or null” option to narrow search parameters
    *easily set and adjustable parameters, including real, user-defined Boolean searches
    *easier sorting and resorting of search results (by column, by hiding data, etc.)
    *better wildcard functions (*) and (?) that work with less than three initial character

    These are, and have been the core issues. Please stop telling use that if we don’t like the direction New Search is headed we can just go deal with Old Search (and its many inadequacies).

    And to “awarriorangel” (#143), you need to read more of these posts. The issue is not:

    “Have you even noticed the nice, simple, and convenient link at the top of the search page to switch back to your coveted old search experience? Apparently not.”

    Yes, I have noticed, and I use it often. The issue is getting improved functionality. New Search is a poorly designed time-waster and does not deliver the goods as advertised. Further, your comment:

    “No one else is able to provide such wealth so freely to all of us. No one else seems to be able to meet the never ending demands for continued growth. Yes, some of your changes require me to learn again how to use the site […]”

    conveniently ignores the salient facts that (1) the rest of us pay hundreds of dollars a year for a *service* that would not exist without our subscriptions and (2) many of us *know* how to use the site. That does NOT mean the search engine is well-designed. (And let’s not even begin to discuss the long-standing issues of poorly indexed databases and databases missing hundreds or thousands of images.)

    We’re not Luddites. We are intelligent, hard working, dues-paying subscribers and researchers who value good data and efficient, well-designed tools to access and organize that data.

    And I am really tired of having to repeat that.


  148. Anne Mitchell


    Believe it or not, we agree on a lot. 🙂

    Our R & D is not being put into the new search interface, it’s being put into improving the algorithms, and then building the appropriate interface around that.

    Somebody said that he doesn’t want filters — I think you do. You want to be able to say, find all the John Smith’s and filter the results so that you only see people who lived in Brooklyn New York. And then if yo don’t find the guy, filter to Queens, or New York City. That’s a filter that’s what you want.

    And then on names, wild cards only go so far. Did you know there are over 800 (!) variations of Catherine. Now how do you match that with wild cards? You don’t without a lot of different queries. What you might want is to be able to say, match the 10 most common variants of Catherine, and if that doesn’t work, try the most common 50. (We currently match all variants, btw, if you use fuzzy.) I could go on for hours.

    I’m not telling you that you have to choose between the two existing interfaces. There are better solutions. But it takes time to get where we want to go and it takes incremental steps. And filtering out 1930 census, when your ancestor died in 1910 is the first step. That’s what lifespan filtering does — it doesn’t show you the ones that just aren’t going to fit in your ancestor’s lifespan.

    There is also this idea that exact is the answer. But so much data in records is just wrong. You will miss so many documents if you only use exact. But the option is there if you choose it.

    And in honor of free speech, you can slam on us all you like, but don’t slam on the people who are happy enough with what they have. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, and I think I have been pretty welcoming to all of them. I’d like every else to be as well.

  149. Mike


    On your #153:

    “There is also this idea that exact is the answer. But so much data in records is just wrong. You will miss so many documents if you only use exact. But the option is there if you choose it.”

    We don’t need a lecture from you on genealogical search methodology. Though I truly don’t mean to be rude, you just are not qualified to teach us genealogy. The company does have professional genealogists on staff but they are not participating here.

    Also you seem to be ignoring what Reed is saying about how *we* define exact. Go back up to his #152 and his bulletted points. Why *exactly* will you not include those features in some search engine old or new *precisely as written*?

    Give us those things and then do what you wish for the majority practicing junk genealogy.


  150. Cheryl Beggs

    I don’t know what the advantage to this new search is when I Put in a name for instance William F. Durr 1881 Lousiana and hit search the top three findings are
    John A Miller
    Age: 30
    Est. Birth Year: 1886
    Home in 1916: Manitoba, MacDonald, home in 1916

    Name: John A Miller
    Spouse: Clara F Miller Clara F Miller
    Birth: 1886 – location
    Residence: location, township, city
    Other: MacDonald, Manitoba

    Albert J Park
    Age: 40
    Est. Birth Year: 1876
    Home in 1916: Alberta, Calgary West, home in 1916

    Name: Albert J Park
    Spouse: Clara F Park Clara F Park
    Birth: 1876 – location
    Residence: location, city
    Other: Calgary West, Alberta

    1916 Canada Census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta
    Census & Voter Lists
    View Image Preview
    Name: Stephen Pearce
    Age: 30
    Est. Birth Year: 1886
    Home in 1916: Alberta, Calgary East, home in 1916

    Name: Stephen Pearce
    Spouse: Clara F Pearce Clara F Pearce
    Birth: 1886 – location
    these are all Canadian not Lousiana.

    I cant seem to merge the information to my tree in the old search and some records I could previously attach say no preview it is very fustrating. And I can’t find the OLD Search on the search page I have to go to this page to get there help.

  151. Andy Hatchett


    Re: #153

    There is one vital point you seem to be missing…

    *ALL* initial searches should, unless otherwise specified by the user, be exact searches.

    If we want fudge factors then *we* get to decide what they are and add them; if we want a fuzzy search then *we* get to decide that too.


    Just give us the tools to make our own and we will be happy.

    One more thing- please stop telling us how to do genealogy. I was doing it way before you were in nappies.

    Why you are even bothering with a new search thing is beyond me when it will be searching databases in serious need of corrections, re-indexing,etc- THAT should be Ancestry’s first priority- even above adding new content!

  152. Anne Mitchell

    Andy, you prefer to start with exact searches, not everyone does.

    If you start with exact, you get that.

    I’m pretty sure I’m not telling you how to do genealogy. My experience is there are as many approaches as there are people who research genealogy whether they be professional genealogists, someone who just is curious to see if they can find a document for their grandfather and everyone in between. I am pretty sure there is not one right answer on how to do genealogy.

    And btw, there is a lot of time and effort being put into correcting, re-indexing, etc. There are over 8 billion records on the site.

  153. Andy Hatchett


    Re: re-indexing

    Yes, we’ve seen the results of re-indexing.. leaving out the Enumeration Districts!

    With re-indexing like that who needs it/

    Is there no one at Ancestry in thinking of *all* the details before something is put into action?

    If not- where do I apply?

    Now- will you comment on each specific point of why or why not the search function can’t be made to perform the following functions as per Reed’s post.

    *exact searches that really give exact answers
    *exact searches that omit data outside the defined search parameters
    *exact searches that include an “exact or null” option to narrow search parameters
    *easily set and adjustable parameters, including real, user-defined Boolean searches
    *easier sorting and resorting of search results (by column, by hiding data, etc.)
    *better wildcard functions (*) and (?) that work with less than three initial character

    These are, and have been the core issues.

  154. Tania Porter

    I would just be happy if the ‘only’ or ‘exact’ features worked. When I say I only want a specific name I don’t want 3000 results coming back because they have the same initials as my search parameter.

    Another thing that would save hours of time would be an ‘omit’ button once the search results come back, so say I wanted to see everything but links on other trees or newspapers, there should be an option that lets us omit a single result set at a time instead of only letting us look at a single set.

  155. Sherry

    Anne #153

    I do not think we are “slamming” anyone (unless I missed something), just trying to understand the logic of the “new search” and making it understood to ancestry that it is not a welcome change (at least for now) for many of us.

    I have been with ancestry for a number of years and really appreciate the site, but when I order a steak, I do not want a burger. If I am specific in what I order, and I am paying for it, that is what I expect to be served. I do not want the waiter to second guess me and decide I should have a burger instead. While I am being served, do not want to see advertisements for Chinese cuisine. If I did, would be dining in a Chinese restaurant.

    In reading all of these posts, it is apparent that the new search has been an issue for quite some time and am left to wonder why the change is necessary and why the comments made much earlier were ignored.

    There is no online database (with a bazillion people) free of errors or quirks, I certainly understand this.

    With regard to Ontario deaths, I cannot tell you the number of times I visit the family search pilot site to get the spelling of the surname on the death record so that I can locate the image on ancestry. Whatever they do with regard to “soundex” is far better than whatever ancestry is currently doing.

    PLEASE READ: With regard to your example of wildcards and the variant spellings of Catherine, I can go to as well as and ask the database to return all matches that start with a “C” or a “K”. I do not even have to use a wildcard there. If ancestry were not so stringent with the use of wildcards, many issues would be solved. We could spend the rest of our days doing a happy dance with the wildcard search and attain the results that we need using “exact”. Ancestry currently requires three characters in order to do a wildcard search.

    And I also agree with the sentiment of many on this list. We do not need a “built-in” fudge factor and are quite capable of performing this on our own.

  156. ifi go to ancestry .com, & put in a name &date of birth, plce&death why do i have to go through so moch of my computer memory to find other states & people?does not make sence to me & iwaste so much ink, costly, i might ad. just a little thought. thank you , maxine

  157. Why do the people I put in keep disappearing. I will have the family several generations back. The next time I look they are all gone and I have to spend time putting them back again. I have called an talked with someone about this. They did not know any more than I did. After this happens several times, I don’t have time to look for anyone else. I spend all my time just trying to keep what I have.

  158. Mike


    On your #157: “I’m pretty sure I’m not telling you how to do genealogy.”

    But you are when you lecture us about potential pitfalls of exact searches. We already know that. Notice that Reed keeps harping on having *too many* hits, not too few.

    “I am pretty sure there is not one right answer on how to do genealogy.”

    There are indeed many different types of research strategies. And competent genealogists can also disagree on the relative strength of a research conclusion. But one thing that is fairly set in stone is proper methodology as in use of research calendars/logs where one needs to note *exactly* what was searched, as in the title of the individual record and not some amorphous Ancestry collection title name (see Ancestry Insider’s recent post on titles), what was found or not, etc. And this requires that the *exact* parameters of a search be noted so that one knows what has already been done and what can be done next (which includes re-doing dynamic or expanded data collections).

    Ancestry does *nothing meaningful* to teach less experienced genealogists the need to keep good research logs and notes, and in fact discourages same with fudged, fuzzy, global searches on very large datasets which includes multiple actual titles.

    As a challenge to you, I suggest that you include in future search examples you give, how such would be noted in a research log/calendar.

    Also let me say again I don’t mean to be rude or overly aggressive. And I realize that you are talking to two different audiences here, as in the less and more experienced genealogists. But if you truly believe one size does not fit all, then you can tailor your remarks to each audience.

    Best wishes,


  159. Trevor Rix

    To Ann #102

    Please try this example., old search, 1861 England census, conduct a search for whatever you wish. The results are displayed in six columns any of which may be sorted.

    Parent or spouse names
    Birth year

    I use Firefox + TableTools to sort firstly on Birth year and secondly on Residence. I have not tried it on new search because old search is still king.

  160. Anne Mitchell

    On the exact, I agree with you guys that exact is important. But I think we could build tools that would give you options between exact and complete fuzzy on both places and names in addition. And I think they could be important new tool sets for genealogist of all types who do online searching.

    For places and names, does exact not work? Can you give me specific examples where it doesn’t? Cause it should and I want to know.

    And everyone, including me, gets passionate and excited about this stuff. Whether it be the hunt or the methodology that we use. One of the many things I love about working at ancestry is that our members truly care about the product and how they use it. It makes my job very rewarding.

    Trevor. That was cool. It appealed to my geeky side. 🙂 I got it to work perfectly in a single database in old search. Not completely in new search. Interesting, most definitely. Gives me something new to think about.

  161. Sherry

    Anne #165

    Somewhere on this page you state that the old search has not changed.

    I just did a regional search for Ontario (first clearing out cookies and temp files) and am now directed to individuals rather than individual databases.

    Prior to your “update” was directed to “individual” databases and am now on individuals.

    What gives?

  162. Mada

    I use both the old and the new search function. Each has their uses. What I’d really like to see on the search pages is sortable column headers. I like the drill down by year in the the censuses, etc. I like the look of the old search.

    I’d also like to “see” who else linked to a document.

    I’d like each person to have a shoebox.

  163. islesail

    I agree with the comments that suggest the user put in date ranges and the results not exceed that range. The same goes for such things as State names. I get annoyed when I must wade through a long list of folks in Texas when I had no family in Texas. If I input Alabama, I mean Alabama. Even when given the chance to check ‘exact’ the results do not always adhere to that.

    Otherwise, thanks for an overall great job.

  164. Cindy Skipps

    It would really be nice to have a feature that let you merge individuals as to avoid having the same person listed 4 times.

  165. I am not pleased with the new system. I am have difficulty finding what I need. I am frustrated by not being able find my was around as I used to with ease. I get new info but cannot follow up
    because of the change in this program
    Please give me the option of which method I can use.

  166. sissyblue111

    To #162 = =
    The same thing happened to me – and then I figured out that I was “doubling” whole lines of people. Check your name list and see if you have doubled many names. If so, as in my case, now you will spend the rest of your time, trying to get your tree back together, since now you have several long lines that are the same (doubled), and no good way to “merge”.

  167. I agree with all the responds. I find that although the search give a wide results. I am sure that the reason is because of the misspelling of names etc. it is time consuming but if we are looking for information and it did not give us this information we would be at a stand still. I too dislike the extra information, but still find it helpful. As we know many of us are looking up family information on family that we have no history or stories on family members. I to wish that I could find things easies. i can say that I have found other family members in search of one other family by looking in all the information. Truly this taste is not an easy one. I could find lots of negative thing to say that I dislike, I still have found lots of positive things. It is time consuming.

  168. Mary

    So why is it that when I search for someone born in 1844 I get an entire screen full of family trees for a couple guys born in the 1700s?

  169. Arthur Granbury

    please tell me how to edit or remove obituary hunters. I have the quick link which says add/edit but it just takes me to the blank form again & again. where is the list of the ones I already have? thank you.

  170. To Ann Mitchell,
    I have been using along with some others since before was I find it to be a little ways from perfect BUT I would suggest that the people that are complaining so much, take a strain and kinda learn to work with the new search stuff, I did not care for it at all when I first started with it (the new) but I am still finding new info all the time and if you do not like it you may use the old search.
    Please Do consider what would be yout main genealogy search page if Ancestry said they were tired of trying to please everybody and shut down the site. Take it easy and work with the search stuff. Genealogy should be a hobby not an obsession.

    Thank You fron a pretty well satisfied user.

  171. Before I could attach Australian Electoral rolls through my Family tree maker program, or “Search Historical records” on my Family tree page I am adding to Ancestry…now I can’t seem to attach the records at all…..or is it me!!!!


  172. I’m sorry, but I have used your various search fields since January 2009, and I do see any improvement! As another user put it, you check 1877 as being exact and your program returns 1885, 1886, 1888, or 1889, or I check male as being exact and what does your program return? females along with males! I have found your program does a more sensitive search when I use Where I’m NOT signed in as a user! Otherwise your search capability is in serious need of wholesale improvment!

  173. Robert Esch

    It happened again. I was ready to use “Save record to . . . ” for a person in my tree, but that option was replaced by “Start a Tree with this person.” I don’t know why this is happening. It happened yesterday for a while, too. But then it mysteriously stopped. I was in the “Old Search” mode, and in the 1870 census.

  174. Ann forster

    I wish the “exact” search confines worked better, and really did in fact search “only” NY records, rather than pulling up records from other states and time periods that I then have to wade through. This often takes hours to pick through. I’ve found information I was looking for one pages 6-22,rather than on page one and had to sift countless non relevent records that have nothing to do with I am trying to find.

    It would also be great if one could do an advanced search where it was possible to screen out results from other areas like ancestry world records. I don’t want to have to wade through european records if I only have a US membership. Nor do I want to see immigration records when i am looking for census data or Us death certificates.

    Something else on my wish list would be a Mac friendly program to equal Family Tree Maker, and the ability to search single topics rather than searching by name, such as the ability to type in “train wrecks, NY”

    I love ancestry, but it is not at all an intuitive system. For the life of me, I can’t figure out how to post a message to the boards, or to find info that would explain how to do it.

    Thanks so much, Annie

  175. ha30

    Work around for Judy Wick comment 15.

    There is a wonderful add-on – called TableTools – to the Firefox browser which enables you to sort tables on websites by whichever column you wish.

    You just rightclick on the column you want to sort, say State, and choose Sort Alphabetically from the context menu. Done!

  176. RP McMurphy

    #178 – I hear ya! Same thing is happening to me. This is so extremely frustrating!!

  177. I do not know what you have done to the website, but I do not like it at all. I have read some of the comments here and I am frustrated as well.
    One noted that they were not able to add, I too have found this. I wanted to add to my tree and it tells me to start a new tree!! what??
    This is ridiculous

  178. Yesterday I found an obituary for the son of the name listed, switched to that son and could no longer find the newspaper obit, nor could I find a way of attaching that to the person.

  179. tricia

    I agree with 3 it’s very time consuming to have a lot of stuff not even i the right year span

  180. Amorita

    Finished reading most posts. For the last year +, I have filed more complaints with Ancestry, than I care to recognize, and this is only the tip of the iceberg.

    There has been a problem with one thing or another, and it seems to me, someone is not minding the store.

    It’s truly unfortunate to feel totally helpless, since Ancestry has the complete control, having all the information.

    We pay for services and, for whatever reason they choose, they have not been able to provide to 100% satisfaction, apparent through the postings.

    Yes, problems occur. I have suggested a updated server for the last 2 years. It wasn’t until January they decided to install. I called in March, “It takes time to install a new server”, was the reply.

    Now, how stupid do you really think we consumers are? What? Take our money for a hobby we enjoy, and think that’s all you have to do.

    You’re nothing more than the idiot that preys on the innocent. That takes a lot of nerve to be so arrogant.

    Filters…. Another pipe dream.

    Updated site… Someone got bored and tried to reinvent the wheel, or wanted a feather in their hat?

    It’s a simple thing. Read the posts, and take what people want or displeased with, and run with it.

    After all… who pays your bills?

  181. Sarah T

    I noticed today when searching records from the persons profile page that any middle names are being put into the last name box. Example: Alvy Johnson Haynes: Alvy in first name box; Johnson Haynes in last name box. Could this be causing a problem with results? I am getting so much “junk” to look through.

  182. Sarah T

    On the Firefox browser sorting tool, that would be great. Unfortunately, Firefox is not compatible with my internet provider’s service.

  183. Morning Anne

    I have a question, and it is one I’ve been meaning to ask for a few days. I know you suggested that we contact other Ancestrians about other topics but I believe this is directly related to the search results so here goes. 🙂

    Once you’ve found the person – let’s say for arguments sake exact search for Christian Shultz in Pennsylvania in the 1860 census. He was born around 1832 and is living in Strasburg, Lancaster County, PA.

    In the past the household members have been listed in the order that they appear in the census, not recently, they’re now listed in alphabetical order which to me makes absolutely no sense.

    Now to a second problem – this is what made me bring this to your attention. Check out the Christian Shultz household – on the image, not the alphabetical listing. Where on earth did the Mortin family come from – they aren’t on either page that the Shultz family spans?

    Methinks these are more problems than just the plain old (no play on words intended) search.

    So, finally my question 😉 why was the decision made to sort the list of people?


  184. Theresa

    I don’t like the features of the search at all they need to be more exact. When I’m searching for the 1880 census containing Mary Mutersbaugh born May 1879 I don’t want to get Steven Mutersbaugh born in 1848 They need to filter out first names and dates that don’t apply

  185. Jade

    Tony Cousins, re: #188,

    You are talking about the so-called “record”, that is, the partial transcript of the US Federal Census record.

    There are many many many errors in these transcripts. I seriously doubt that is going to go through the millions of such transcripts and compare with the actual records. should stop calling them “records”. Anyone who attaches these to their trees, instead of uploading the image of the actual record as a ‘photo’ that they save to their computer, is making a big mistake.

    So many thousands do this without even looking at the image!

    Once rolls out the expanded ability to offer corrections to items other than names in indexes, these erroneous transcripts may be a significant part of the user input. That would be too bad, since they are so trivial. But they are part of the marketing campaign to attract subscribers via the Member Trees hosting, who will add names that will add to the numbers to be used in advertising campaigns.

  186. Hi Jade
    I know there are many problems with the transcriptions, and not just 1930 – but my main concern here was why sort the household?

    And if you do the search for Christian and then select the one born 1832 living in Strasburg you will see the 2 families listed as one household.

    The Shultz ‘record’ clearly shows page number 86. Click on Eliza Mortin and the page number in the description now shows 75. So is it a transcription error or an indexing problem?

    Shultz – Source Citation: Year: 1850; Census Place: Strasburg, Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Roll: M432_789; Page: 86; Image: 174

    Mortin – Source Citation: Year: 1850; Census Place: Strasburg, Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Roll: M432_789; Page: 75; Image: 150.


  187. Jade

    Tony C, re: #191 – it is not an indexing problem, the Mortins are indexed and the link to the *image* is correct.

    On their stupid-ancestry-transcript so-called “record” thingie, however, the Shulz group is listed after them, exactly as listed in the so-called “record” for Christian Shulz.

    This is just one of uncountable numbers of similar mistakes in compiling the transcripts. It has nothing to do with indexing or the search engine and interfaces.

  188. Hi Jade
    Index-shmindex 🙂 – I don’t really care – but why sort the household alphabetically??? Why this change – it serves no purpose?


  189. Lynne

    Thanks for the very clear explanation. Keep up the good work and don’t mind the fussbudgets!

  190. Beverly Watson

    I don’t have enough spare time today to tell you how many things I HATE about the way your search features work, but I’ll mention my top 2 or 3 issues. 1. If I enter a birth date of 1750 and a death date of 1820 – I DO NOT WANT TO PAGE THRU A VOLUMINOUS LIST OF CITY DIRECTORIES FROM THE 1990’S. 2. When I enter a birth place of Virginia and Kentucky as the place of death – I should not have all manner of UK results appear in the search results. I have also reported errors for pages that do not open properly months ago that have stil never been corrected. Where do you get your programmers? The minute you have any halfway efficient competition, I will discontinue this service immediately!

  191. buzsally

    Lifespan filter on “Old Search” YES IT IS THERE IN FULL LIFE..Now when you look up a person on the 1920 US Census and ask to see the “others on the page” in Old Search – the filter scrambles the families out of family number order. What is the purpose for that?

  192. michele k.

    All of your efforts, whether they work perfectly or not, are greatly appreciated. I have spent months (when you add up all the hours) combing thru records, and sometimes it is the looking thru all of them that one relevant shows up.
    I’m excited that you are still streamlining the process. It’s that instant gratification ideal that allows people to never be satisfied not matter what.
    In graditude and sincerity,

  193. Michelle #198

    In some ways I agree, the information that has been amassed on Ancestry really is mind boggling, but that only takes money to buy the collections and scan them. It’s the transcription, indexing, presentation and searching that is paramount. Ancestry is not doing a very good job on that, especially the relevancy of the search results.

    Ancestry Anne:

    I do believe that someone at Ancestry has been listening – I don’t have to hit the back button multiple times just to go back one page. If that is the case then please pass on my thanks – if it isn’t the case please don’t switch it back on again 😉


  194. Ed Western

    The new search doesn’t always group blacks together. A lot of times a search for blacks is different than a search for coloreds or negro. When will Ancestry work on this?

  195. Janis Jones

    I “feel the pain” of others who have posted about problems that occur with the changes to new search. In my own research, I’ve used a lot of “tricks” to get the results I want fairly consistently, regardless of the ongoing glitches. However, the decision to have public and private trees returned at the top level of search is one of the worst ideas anyone has had since I subscribed. Other people’s trees are, literally, the very last thing I want to see when I’m using the search tool for individual information. I want original source material: Census, vitals, military records, not trees. They are useful enough for suggesting new leads or contacting others researching the same persons, but they should not be the first information presented on a search.

  196. Barb

    I have not found the new search useful at all and see no improvement. If I search for a person named Joseph Code, the results I received are zip code, morse code. William Code, Joseph Daly. None of these are relevant. Scrolling through all of the irrelevant searches, of which there are many, is a waste of time. If someone else is having success in my examples, please comment, and if you are not please comment. I cannot believe that I am the only person who is running into this problem.

  197. Jim Nygard

    Is anyone else having this problem??

    There is a bug in the Merge function…
    When I find data that I want to merge in to the record of my open Tree and I select the save function it changes from the OPEN tree I am working in to another tree in my list of trees and saves the data there… and Yes I have the same indivdual in two different trees…

    The “REAL” concern is that there is no indicator of this happening until AFTER the merge has completed and you are back to the Person Page.


  198. Linda Clark

    I also find it takes entirely to long to look up any records since the new and improved changes were made. It is so tedious, I often just give up and turn off the computer. I know progress is important, but the parameters are often way to liberal. I want to have the option to do the way that works best for me whether it is the old or new version.
    When I look for someone I know is in KY, why give me information from someone in California. I know you have a difficult job trying to make us all happy, but I am a very unhappy camper right now.

  199. Ann

    To Jim #203

    Hi Jim,

    Yes, I also have the same person in 2 trees – my original tree, that just got too messy and will eventually be deleted, and my “good tree” that is and will be a work in progress for years to come.

    I also sometimes get the issue that ancestry decides to save the info to my “bad” tree, so I have learned to watch very carefully when I get to the point of attaching the info. There is (in small print) the option to change the tree to which you are saving.

    Good luck!

  200. Kent Forrest

    In general I see the New search as a work in progress. It is still a BETA as far as I am concerned.

    What truly disappoints me is the a host of other issues that seem to be entirely ignored: (e.g. lack of ability to organize photos into folders, no tags for group photos, can’t easily control relative link merges with mispelled names, etc.)

    I would rather have Ancestry work on perfecting the organization of what I have than wholesale rooting though questionable data.)

    I could go on but no one is going to respond so …..

  201. Anne Mitchell

    Two hundred and eight comments…if nothing else, we can agree that there is interest in search. 🙂

    A few things:

    • Trees is not my area, but I do know they are working on some merge problem, or some other problem and they are rolling a fix sometime on Monday, so trees should be in better shape on Tuesday.
    • When you search on historical records from a tree page, you get a long list of trees, which you shouldn’t and there have been issues with names not going in the right places. That fix is scheduled to go live, last I heard, on May 20th.
    • As for the ordering of household members in alphabetical order instead of page order, yes, I agree it is annoying. Results have been reordered to be alphabetical in search results, because it’s more efficient, and because it tends to make more sense to our members. Down side of that is that it shows up in alphabetical on the record page. And yes, we need to go spend the time to order it differently, but I’ll go out on a limb here and guess that it’s not in your top 5 of things you really want us to do.
    • I’m closing this blog post to comments, because I’m to NGS in Raleigh, NC and I won’t be able to pay a lot of attention to this until I get back. If you are at NGS, stop by the booth and say hi, or come see my search presentation and you can ask me questions all day long! 🙂

    Happy Searching.

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