Posted by Matthew Rayback on July 16, 2010 in Wiki

Let’s be honest. When we’re researching our family history, there are always more places to check. The records of our ancestors’ lives don’t rise and set with the census, do they? I know that for me, one of the problems I run into is simply not knowing where to look.

For example, my Russian great grandfather didn’t immigrate until 1917, so I exhausted census and immigration records for him pretty quickly.

Then, while looking for something in The Source for work, I found myself browsing the newspaper chapter. I’d never thought much about newspapers; it seemed like such a long shot that any of my people would be listed. But The Source opened my eyes to historical newspapers and showed me ways my great grandfather could indeed be found there.

As it happens, had just added the Greeley Daily Tribune, the very paper I needed. So, following the guidance of The Source, I searched and sure enough, I found him. Of course, most of the listings were notices that he’d been fined for breaking the law (burning trash), but here was something about my ancestor I would never have found without broadening my horizons.

Since it’s based on The Source and Red Book, the Family History Wiki is all about helping you broaden your horizons. It’s about helping you find new places to look and about helping you make better use of your current strategies.

So what are you working on right now? Have you checked the wiki to see if it can offer any help?

We don’t have articles on everything (yet!), but there’s a lot there, just waiting to help. For now, our content is focused mainly on record types and locality searches. Below, I’ve linked to some good places to start browsing. Or, you can type a topic in the main search box on the left side of the wiki.

I’d love to hear what you find. In the comments, let me know if you found anything interesting or useful. And more importantly, let me know if you didn’t find anything. That way we can know better where to focus our efforts.

Places to Start

Happy family history.


  1. Hello Matthew,

    Strange this Blog entry shows up now. I was just about to write Laura Dansbury and make a suggestion that all the new State and County pages Ancestry just re-did should have a link on them to the Wiki article on the corresponding location and vice versa.

    I think you two should talk as it could really leverage the usefulness of both resources.

  2. worshacf

    Let me start with the fact that I pay for a World Delux Membership, but almost all my searches are done in Scotland or in Ontario, Canada, there is a huge problem that just occured today:

    When I find a record and attach it to my ancestor tree, I frequently like to add other details that were not added during the attachment. For example, I attach a marriage, and it is logged for the date and usually the county where the couple married.

    It does NOT log what the bridegroom’a occupation was, or where the bride and groom resided at the time of the marriage (which often times is very different than where they were married).

    In addition, I usually use the marriage “description box” for details about the ceremony and who the witnesses were, but I like to do two separate timelines for the residence and occupation.

    Prior to today, I could put in the (residence or occupation) timeline, then go back into that timeline and scroll down to “Add a Source” and pick “Ontario Marriages 1857-1924”. Job was completed and sourced as the information originally came from the marriage record (I’m just breaking it into three timelines).

    As of today, I went through 4 steps to do the same task, and had to fill in a lot of extra details as well. This change is NOT A GOOD THING.
    Ancestry seems to keep adding new features, but it always bumps something else that was usable and simple out of service.

  3. worshacf

    Andy #5
    This is what came up:
    #1. “Select a Source” from a pick list. I selected “Ontario, Canada Marriages 1857-1924” (this would finish the source as on past occasions).

    When I clicked to Save, a pink error message came up stating I must fill in the #2 area for “Citation”.

    #1. Next: So, I TYPED IN the words “Ontario, Canada Marriages 1857-1924”

    #1. Next: Required a date be typed in, so I TYPED in the date of the marriage

    #1. Next: Required “Transcription of Text”, so I TYPED in the location of the marriage

    #2. Notes: Left blank

    #3. Media: Left blank (a radial button was already on a default of “no” media to be added)

    #4. “Fact or Event”: It gave a Pick List to choose from, but it was set as a default of what I had first typed into the description box when I created the timeline. Interestingly, the Pick List also gave possibility of various other notations I had made to the groom’s profile in each description box, i.e. Burial, Name, Occupation, and other residences from sseveral census records.

    Andy, I use a high quality genealogy software on my iMac, I’ve been diligent in recording all details of my entire family tree/ancestors precisely the same on each (online and home software) in the past. Incidentally, there isn’t a interface with ancestry to the software so everything has to be done in cut and paste fashion, or by downloading a GEDCOM)

    But to continue to go to all this trouble just to have to fill all this in for additional details of the same timeline just isn’t worth the effort. It would be different if the timeline wasn’t already there (in this case, the marriage record).

  4. Hmmmm…

    Well, for some time now, I’ve been advocating that Ancestry shouldn’t allow assertions of fact to be posted without sources and citations (not, as they call them, “Source-Citations”; they are two and distinctly different things) and it would appear they have finally taken me upon it.!

    I believe that when it asks for the citation it means the specific location within the source (page, vol #, certificate #, etc).

    I haven’t added anything that required sourcing since the change so I’ll have to play with it a bit to see what type of work around can be done to reduce the typing – mabye just a space or non-breaking space will do the trick.

  5. Worshacf Re:#6

    I can’t find a database called “Ontario, Canada Marriages 1857-1924″ in the Ancestry Card Catalog. Can you five me a link to the specific record you are using?

  6. worshacf

    Andy, either do a search for John Edward Hendry b. 1901 d. 1975 (Burnett/Hendry Family Tree) and view all marriage verses death citations; here’s what was said about the original (not the additional timeline) marriage source citation:

    Source Information: and Genealogical Research Library (Brampton, Ontario, Canada). Ontario, Canada Marriages, 1801-1926 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010.
    Original data:
    Ontario, Canada. Registrations of Marriages, 1869-1926. MS932, Reels 1-793. Archives of Ontario, Toronto.
    Ontario, Canada. Marriage License Books, 1907-1910. MS945, Reels 1-12. Archives of Ontario, Toronto, Ontario.
    Ontario, Canada. Delayed Registrations of Marriages, 1892-1919. MS948, Reels 1-5. Archives of Ontario, Toronto.
    Ontario, Canada. County Marriage Registers, 1858-June 1869. FHL microfilm 1030055-1030068. Family History Library. Salt Lake City, Utah (Archives of Ontario, MS 248, reels 5-18).
    Ontario, Canada. District Marriage Registers, 1801-1858. MS 248, Reels 1-4. Archives of Ontario, Toronto.
    Ontario, Canada. Roman Catholic Marriage Registers, 1828-1870. MS 248, Reels 20-23. Archives of Ontario, Toronto.
    This database is an index to approximately 3.2 million marriages recorded in Ontario, Canada between 1801 and 1926. Each entry includes the names of each spouse, the marriage date, the marriage county, and for marriages recorded between 1858 and July 1869, the age and residence of each spouse, the birthplace of each spouse, and the names of both spouses’ parents.

  7. worshacf

    Andy #5, 7, 8 & 10
    I was playing around with it this morning again, and found that by choosing the “Ontario Marriages 1854-1924” from the pick list, then retyping just that wording again in the “Detail” box, then clicking Save it takes it without the error message coming up a second time.

    Thanks Andy, I appreciate your assistance. At least doing that will make the required documentation a little quicker.

  8. Joohn is a misleading and money grabbing site and organization. They list a multiple all over the net as free information and when you search you are directed to a pay site that you must join and pay before you can see the information

  9. Carolyn Pierce

    What in the world is all that garbage you have done with the census references attached to each person. It takes forever to wade thru them now in order to check on something. It takes up way too much room on the page and honestly, who really needs that? Yikes! you have done so much useful streamlining and this is ridiculous. granted, the sources are necessary, but why make us wade thru such gobbledy gook? It makes it much harder to work quickly and efficiently… not all of us have main frames, you know.

  10. worshacf

    Carolyn #13
    See what Andy Hatchett says on blog #7, he mentioned he is the one who requested what you are referring to.

    I agree, the new census references take up entirely too much room on the left side of the profile of the person. Personally, I dislike the census references displayed in the new manner, and find that all what is shown is somewhat unnecessary for normal everyday records we obtain on ancestry. In contrast, when someone is making up a custom source reference, then the new method would be extreemly helpful.

    Furthermore, if wishing to take another look at something, it is somewhat troublesome to click on a census or record from the left side. However, in the middle of the profile page of each person, each of the timelines has a source. If you click on “Show Sources”, then after the source is shown, click on the source shown, and the tag will come forward, enabling viewing the original image. It’s a tiny bit quicker method of getting to view the record.

  11. Edwina Fletcher

    Hi Matthew

    Thanks for the article on Wiki. I’m in the UK and trying to find out where a great uncle died in Michigan around 1917. I found a book “Souvenir of Negaunee, Michigan 1912” by Wm H. Israel through the site. I haven’t traced my great uncle yet but have viewed some amazing photos taken around the time he arrived in Negaunee. Now I know why so many of the mining cousins emigrated there from Cornwall!

  12. family tree additions

    I have just resubscribed and was surprised to find info from Family Trees such as marriage dates and death dates attached to my tree. I don’t know how this tree information without sources got attached to my tree. My tree is small because I have not been attaching information without sources/confirmed citations. Appreciate help in understanding what is going on as it has been a while since I have been on site. Barb

  13. Robin

    I am the first to admit that I am almost totally computer illiterate. I went to the wiki site and have never been more confused and lost in my life.
    I will stick with my own resources and maybe others will be able to benefit from what I do…
    1) If you have relative in Australia the National Library of Australia has every single newspaper ever printed in that country online. I have been able to completely document three family lines using NLA, also found pictures and articles about various family members. This site puts US newspaper archive sites to SHAME, it is absolutely free and complete.
    2)googlebooks. This site is amazing. It has all types of government reports published in years past, old magazines of specific trades, etc. The other day I found my great aunt’s obituary (until this time I did not even know when or where she died) in the National Telegraphers Union Journal, if you can believe that (her son was a member of the union, which I also didn’t know). Have found pics of family members here also.
    The above two sites have given me a third of the source information I have on my family, and a lot of extra daily life bits about them also.
    If I could change one thing about ancestry it would be to vastly add to your newspaper archive collection.
    Thanks for listening and hope this helps someone.
    Oh – I also dislike the new extra source info on the profile page.

  14. Sonya Russell

    “1) If you have relative in Australia the National Library of Australia has every single newspaper ever printed in that country online. I have been able to completely document three family lines using NLA, also found pictures and articles about various family members. This site puts US newspaper archive sites to SHAME, it is absolutely free and complete.”

    Oh Robin, how I wish it was true:

    The ‘Evening Advocate’ – the newspaper my grandmother AND grandfather worked on. I’ll have to make a trip to the QLD Library to access their copies one day.

    But otherwise, yeah I agree with you. Trove, etc are pretty darn awesome.

    If you are interested and had any family members that jumped the Tasman, New Zealand has ‘PapersPast’ which is a similar idea for the kiwis. It is my favourite haunt of late.

  15. Laura W. Sullivan

    PLEASE ! I am well aware of how essential newspapers are to family history research. I desperately need access to the NEW HAVEN CT REGISTER, 1880 – present and the FALL RIVER MA HERALD – NEWS, 1880 – present. These papers are available on microfilm in their respective cities, but I live in Texas and have no way of accessing them.
    I’m sure there are many others who could name specific newspapers they NEED to have access to. While I am, in general, thrilled with the information I can access through Ancestry, the newspaper collection is shameful, considering how often you publish articles about the value of newspapers in family research. Thank you

  16. James Saunders

    Dear Ancestry Blog,

    Please can we get an update on any news regarding Ancestry DNA? The last news was in October 2009. There was not even an anouncement when the whole of the MyFamily DNA groups were ported over to the new style website.

    Ancestry DNA seems a bit stagnant while the rest of Ancestry has a load of new features. Is there any news about future developments? products? promotions?

    Thank you,


  17. Roger W. Sahs

    In my searches, I found the 1855 Illinois State Census for Cook County in Bridgeport Township. As I scrolled thru the listing, I realised I was looking at many names I recognised from Bremen Township. Someone needs to correct this. I went to a Church in this are of Bremen Township and many of the names are in the old church history book for St. John Ev. Lutheran Church which when it was founded in 1849 was in Coopers Grove now Country Club Hills Illinois. I have made a number of name corrections thru the years for this area in the early Illinois Census listings. One other issue I have is in the 1850 Illinois Census for Bremen Township in Cook County from page 1 thru page 6 in the heading it reads Bremen Township then pages 7 thru 13 it changes and reads Lyons Township. I recognise many of the names in pages 1 thru 6, but 7 thru 13 there are no familiar names because they are not people that lived in Bremen Township. Can someone get this corrected also? Hope someone can solve these discrepancies because they have bugged me for quite a while. Good luck………

    Roger W. Sahs
    of Tinley Park, Bremen Township, Illinois

  18. You have made it absolutely impossible to search the census records with ease. PLEASE go back to the previous search.

    Thank you,

    Dorthy MACK
    Manteca, CA

  19. Jim McKinney

    Hey…why is it that when I do a search on someone on my tree when it goes to oh lets say Census’s the page refers to someone NOT on my tree!!!!
    Check your servers!!!!!this is hosed…..

  20. Rosemary Jones

    @Laura: Are those newspapers availably through your nearest FHL center? Check the catalogue on FamilySearch and see if they have the film you can request.

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