Posted by Laura Dansbury on November 2, 2009 in Collections, Webinars

Hello Everyone,

I want to thank everyone for your participation in the search strategies webinar. We had a wonderful turnout with thousands of comments and questions.  We answered as many questions as time allowed.  We have a list of the questions asked during the webinar and we’ll be posting answers to the most popular questions and topic areas.

There were many questions about the card catalog and about topics that can be researched using the card catalog. Most of them fell into a few themes which are summarized below.

Question: How do you find the card catalog?

Answer: The link for the card catalog is on the left side of the search homepage.  The search homepage can be found by clicking on the search button in the navigation bar at the top of web pages.  You can also hold your mouse over the search link at the top of the page without clicking and you will see the card catalog at the bottom of the drop down.  Here is a direct link to the card catalog and a screenshot of where you can find the links.

card catalog
(Where to find links to the card catalog)

Question: How can you specify a place and a year to narrow down the list of census data collections? How can you search for a state or county census record? How do you look up individual census documents?

Answer: You can narrow census records by date and location. First, go to the card catalog and select “Census & Voter Lists” from the left side of the page under “Filter by Collection.”  Then, under “Filter by Location,” choose a  country or region.  Finally, select the year you are interested from the left side of the page.  At the top of the page, you can change the sorting order of the census records. See the drop down menu that says “Sort by.” I like to sort by “Database Title.”

sort by card catalog
(Changing sort order in the card catalog)

To see the records for a particular state or county, repeat the first two steps above, but don’t choose a time period yet. Continue to narrow your location down to a state or county using the links on the left side of the page. The  screenshot below shows the first few counties in California.

card catalog california
(Narrowing census data collections to California counties)

Finally, choose a census collection title from the list of data collections located on the right side of the page to go directly to the page with the search form and browse links for a specific census.

Question: Where can you find cemetery records?

Answer: You can use the search function in the card catalog to search for data collections about cemeteries or many other similar topics such as “graveyard” or “burial.” Just type “cemetery” into the title field and click “search.” Then you can narrow the results by collection type, location, and year.  The screenshot below shows where the title field and where the “filter by collection” links are located.

(Searching for cemetery in the card catalog)

Questions: How do you find collections by country? How do you research records from Germany?  How do you find records for France or Paris?

Answer: You can use the card catalog to see a list of data collections for Germany and France.  Use the “Filter by Location” links on the left side of the page. Choose “Europe”, and then “Germany.”  As you can see in the screenshot below, there are 1,338 data collections available today for Germany.

germany in card catalog
(German records in the card catalog)

You can also narrow the choices further by selecting a collection type such as “military.”

Another way to search for place is to search by keyword. For example, to search for data collections about Paris, go to the card catalog and use the keyword field to input “Paris” and then click search.  For more information, you can view our webinar that focuses on European research.

Questions: How do you find military records from France during WWII? How can you find Navy records or records from other service branches from WWII?

Answer: Many countries do not release military records. Some military records will not be made public until the country in question decides that enough time has passed such that record privacy is no longer a concern.   You can learn all about our military collections by listening to the military records webinar. In addition, Ancestry magazine published an article about World War II in May.

To find our military data collections about France, you can either search or browse the card catalog.  You could start by filtering the card catalog by “Military”, then filtering by location to “France.”

You can also search the card catalog by keyword.  Try searching for “World War II” and for “WWII.” You may also want to search for keywords associated with the World War II such as “holocaust”.   Finally, I recommend trying a title search for “World War II” in addition to the keyword search.  Shown below is a screenshot for a search with “WWII” in the keyword field.

WWII  in card catalog
(Card catalog search results for WWII)

Question: Where can you find the ships records on

Answer: Go to the card catalog and look on the left side of the page.  Click “Immigration & Emigration.”   Then scan through the collection choices. We have hundreds of data collections from passenger lists and crew lists to passports and ship pictures.

card catalog ships
(Records about immigration and emigration including ships records)

Specific questions about errors or technical problems will be answered more quickly if you email or call the customer support center.  Our phone number is available on the bottom of the homepage and on our Contact Support page.


  1. Milan Hotels

    helpful post!! Yes, it is possible that when the cards are officially released, there will be a sheet listing all of the possible cards, but I rather like the interactivity of the site–pictures, thumbnails, links to discussions

  2. Henry Newbold

    A bit off topic, but as there is no other way to vent to Ancestry, I’ll take advantage.

    A constant irritation to me is the fact that Ancestry posts databases that have been “updated”, without providing even a CLUE as to what the nature of the update is.

    For long time users, this is a real pain. For example, the WW I Draft Registration Database has just been noted being “updated”. I’ve made good use of this database in the past. If I had an idea about what the nature of the recent update was, I would know whether or not to dive back into it again or not.

    Could Ancestry please explain to me why you cannot provide a short comment about the nature of any database update is?


  3. Bryan Pepper

    I now have a light green background on my home page instead of the blue white blackgroun i previousley had. it is now almost impossible to navigate to where i want to go, it used to be almost effortless. what has happened? This is not asseptable. Please advise.

  4. Arlene Castor

    Very helpful. I get discouraged when I can’t find the database I want and I know it is buried somewhere. Theis will make it easy to find.

  5. merleen gholdston

    I searched the card catalog for titles containing ‘new orleans’ and came up with 18 hits. Can I search this whole subset for a surname, or must I search each title separately?

  6. Roberta Grubaugh

    I am just learning how to get around Family Tree Maker 2010. I was fluent in Family Tree Maker version 16.
    Things are getting easier. But, I am struggling with getting pictures into 2010. It is complicated for me.
    I could not find a help topic to cover this process. At present I am scanning the photos, copy and pasting them into my e-mail. Then saving this to save as. This send it to a searchable link from 2010.
    Then I can copy this image ino 2010.
    My scanner is HP photosmart premier.
    This program was linked to Family Tre Maker 16 through the program.
    I could get pictures through the scanner or just copy the picture and paste it into Family Tree. If I liked I could also copy the picture in family tree and paste it to an email. I wish it was that simple in this 2010 Family Treemaker.
    It seems that verything I want to do requires more steps than my old program. It has not been easier for me.

  7. Gayle Young

    What happened to the ahnentafel part
    of I don’t like it since you took this away. Please advise.

Comments are closed.