Posted by on April 20, 2010 in Website

We’ve been working on some changes to search, and want to give you a preview before it’s finalized, so we’ve created a small guided tour.

First of all, I’d like to say thanks to all of you who have put time into helping us, posting to your feedback on the blogs, on our message boards, during usability studies, at conferences, in focus groups, those who we have visited in your own homes, and especially those who have contributed to the user group which reviewed the early prototypes.

What we heard was that Ancestry Search needs to give you more control of your searches, more relevant results, better ways to find our data collections, and ways to search more efficiently.  Based on your input, over the coming weeks and months, we’re planning on making a number of changes to the way search works.

Here are some of the areas we’ll be changing:

Search homepage – We’ll be developing a new genealogy search form, a clickable map, links to all our content categories, and new features to help you find information you’ve seen in the past.

Explore by Location – We’ll be offering a new browse experience for data collections by country, state, or county.

Recent Activity – We’ll be introducing new ways to keep track of recent searches and the collections you have browsed to recently. You can restart your research more quickly after taking a break with these new tools.

Search Forms – We’ll be making some changes to both the basic and advanced search forms – some elements will be launched in advanced search this week, others are still work in progress.  We’ve tried to find new ways to help you enter the information you know more easily and give you more control over the results you get back.

For those of you who are using “old search”, we are not proposing any changes. However, we hope you’ll give the new tools a go as we launch them onto the “new search” site, and be open to trying new ways to see if you can find elusive ancestors that maybe the new tools can help you uncover… we’ve paid special attention to feedback from users of “old search” and hope you’ll find this reflected in the upcoming changes.

You can find take the tour by clicking here:

We’re still in the process of finalizing the design, and we want to hear what you think. Please take the tour, and give us your feedback by filling out a survey at the end.


  1. Pat Blanchard

    I’m excited. So far all the improvements you have made have made my research life so much easier than in years past. I can only imagine what you’ve got up your sleeves this time.

  2. Virginia Britten

    I work with your program helping patrons at a Family History Center. I still prefer to use the “old search” because I find it simpler and easier to find the census record search, and the card catalogue. In our case, where multiple users use the website, the family tree ability means nothing. Because on our “family Tree” are all the people who visit our site and their searches. This can become very cumbersome over a time.
    Patrons get confused using this new search. I know ancestry should be used at home as a single program, but many people do not have their own computers or not the ability to purchase a subscription to ancestry and must use Family History Centers with that ability. The “old search” just makes it a lot easier for us to help them. Please consider this when complaining about people still using the “old search” feature.

  3. vee_jay

    Have the updates to the site taken the entire website down?
    If I try to search it knocks me out and asks me to log in…
    2PM Eastern

  4. Donna Willaford

    I am very disturbed by what I have seen and experienced the past two days. I am a long time researcher and long time member and I am with Virginia. Ancestry was my library and now it seems to be a connecting and keeping our information site so others have it easy as the TV show.My research has become full of errors and copied. I help others also and I do not wish to have my information or where I search collected by Ancestry.I cannot delete unwanted mail, etc You keep it even if deleted.I do not need help to search again.My homepage is full of various items which do not concern me. Please stop “improving” what was working and that means the way we search.I do not want a tree or to be in one on Ancestry and find myself there without permission because I gave assistance to others.

  5. Ellen Dallton

    Keep up the good work. I’m 89 years old and not a computer guru but I like a lot of the new program. I haven’t mastered it all yet but is will come H— or high water. By the way your customer service is wonderful

  6. j h davies

    I have not been able to use Ancestry search since Tuesday April 13. I was searching for several hours then I got a message “Come back soon”. I am still getting the same message after a week. Why?

  7. P J Evans

    I hope that sometime you’ll give us the ability to search newspapers by *location*, rather than by newspaper name.
    I usually know *where* to look, but I don’t know *what* to look for – and then you have places with two or more newspapers being published at the same time.

  8. Marg

    I have been having trouble loading pages for weeks now, I think since the last “new” search was added. Will this change make searches easier or add to the problem? It has recently taken so long to load pages that I am not using Ancestry right now and losing the benefit of my subscription. I am not sure if I’ll renew my subscription.

  9. Thanks for the comments – I have contacted several of you who have been experiencing problems, and hopefully these should be in the process of being resolved. Please contact me directly on if you are still having issues.

    The tour is now live and can be found here:

    Over the next couple of weeks, this link will appear in email newsletters, and will also be linked to from various places in the site.

    Please take a look, we value your feedback



  10. Susan

    I took the tour and it looks very promising!
    I am still having trouble with the search on the family trees. For one of my ancestors. He is a Mayflower descendant 7th generation and opens up a new line for hundreds of descendants to join heritage organizations. I have spent hundreds of dollars to obtain documents and information which I have freely given in my family tree and have more I can provide. There are many new families who should be able to document their lines now. Nevertheless this key person with all the expensive information still does not show up in the family search and it has been over two months. I wonder how many new families would come to ancestry and stay on ancestry in order to document these new people and yet they may never see this information. People seriously documenting their lines are potentially long term customers for ancestry. Many times they cannot do this without the documents found in the family trees. The family trees provide hundreds of dollars of information. Please continue to work on this.

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