Posted by Jeanie Croasmun on March 18, 2011 in Who Do You Think You Are?

Keep the St. Patrick’s Day energy flowing with an encore episode of Who Do You Think You Are? featuring Rosie O’Donnell on a search for her family’s Irish roots. is a sponsor of the show, which airs tonight at 8/7c on NBC. Take note: Rosie’s journey is full of family history detective work in the U.S., Canada and Ireland, where she searches high and low to discover her family’s hometown and more. Rosie even jumps in herself, asking questions, searching online and turning her share of microfilm reels to get the answers she’s looking for. You can catch a preview at And visit for tips to making the discoveries featured in Who Do You Think You Are? in your own family tree.

Jeanie Croasmun

Jeanie Croasmun has been working at while futilely attempting to prove the horse thief story in her family history for over seven years. During that time, she learned enough about her family to determine that the story is likely a great work of fiction. But the search continues ...


  1. Wicked Witch

    Since there is no other forum to air this problem and since Ancestry seems to refuse to admit to there being a problem, why not commit a highjack on this blog?

    Why doesn’t Exact Search do what it should any more?

    Why won’t Ancestry sort it out so that we can conduct our research effectively?

  2. Rocco

    Wicked Witch,

    Are you aware of the Community Messages boards of the site?

    Maybe spending a wee bit of time exploring the site, reading existing posts, posting about your difficulties in using the search function, might help you learn how to use it effectively.

    If you can’t understand how to use New Search then try Old Search. You can find numerous threads about how to use search functions on the boards, specifically Member Trees and Ancestry Site Comments boards.

  3. Ruthann

    I’ve really enjoyed these shows but have missed a couple of them. When will they be aired again? Or some new ones?

  4. Grrrr ! Silly Keyboard!

    Member Trees & Newbies
    Join us for a Webinar on March 19
    Space is limited.

    Hosted by Andy Hatchett

    Reserve your Webinar seat now at:

    A webinar to aid new members of in preparing an Online Member Tree.

    Title: Member Trees & Newbies
    Date: Saturday, March 19, 2011
    Time: 8:00 PM – 10:00 PM EDT

    After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

    System Requirements
    PC-based attendees
    Required: Windows® 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server
    Macintosh®-based attendees
    Required: Mac OS® X 10.4.11 (Tiger®) or newer

  5. Lori

    My favorite show! AND ANOTHER RERUN!!

    If someone is going to produce a show – do you think we could see 6-8 episodes before we have to watch reruns???

    Love the show – let’s get on with it!

  6. Mary

    Amazing that we came back after a back to back rerun and then another rerun. Did not change plans in order to watch this time though. This show is a lot like a “Who done it” and nobody watches a mystery show two weeks in a row. They will watch a mystery over and over again but there has to be time enough to be a bit vague on the ending so there is some payoff. It does seem like this may be happenng because of sports, so I will give you the benefit of the doubt. The good news is you may have some faithful followers to be getting comments at all.
    Great idea for Andy to promote a webinar on this blog. This is the first place newbies will come and it would be great to get them off on the right foot. Too bad it wasn’t mentioned with a new show.

  7. Julie Mutchie

    The show is not my favorite, but is interesting. The hours I spend researching… NBC can put in 43 minutes after months of professional help and thousands of dollars.
    It would be great to have professionals verify my research, but I love the challenge and will continue my search.
    Julie Mutchie

  8. Mary Re: #9

    My webinar is not associated with Ancestry in any way, shape, or form.

    It is strictly on my own initiative as a private individual, although I am pleased that a couple of Ancestry’s staff have asked for an archive copy since they can’t attend.

  9. Wicked Witch

    Rocco #2

    Been there, done it all. Been doing this for years and using Ancestry for years. Had you tried the Old Search on Exact Search, you would realise that this problem exists there too.

    Why don’t you let me know what/where the answer is.

  10. Mary

    Andy, Bit confused by your response. Did you mean you are not connected to WDYTYA? Or that you are not paid by ancestry. Anyway glad you are doing it.

  11. Mary Re: #13

    I am a retired private individual. I’m neither associated with nor employed by Ancestry, WDYTYA, NBC, or any other organization.

    The webinar I’m doing is strictly on my own and no one else is involved in any way.

    Hope to see you there!


  12. Winlee

    #5,6,7,11,14,etc.etc.etc. your a trip, get a life…. oh I don’t have one….now eat another box of twinkie’s, suck down a few more coke’s and get back to sticking you nose into everyones business…and oh if you aren’t on anc. payroll then you “REALLY””REALLY” don’t have a life.

  13. Donald Hausmann

    the show “Who do you think you are” would be a lot more interesting if you would use regular people. Like the celebs really need any more notoriety or money. The real key is to find regular people with interesting family lines.

  14. Jan Murphy

    For all the viewers who say that WDYTYA would be more interesting if the show would use “regular people” instead of celebrities — I don’t see what difference it would make. Most of the celebrities come from ordinary families — their parents and siblings are “regular people”.

  15. Mary

    I think the majority of posts I have seen on these are encouraging WDYTYA to mix in ordinary people, but I see no sign of WDYTYA going that route. Why beat a dead horse.

    Seeing the ads for a new show of WDYTYA. Hope it really is a new one since you are promoting it.

  16. Monika

    Hi, Andy, my helpful friend! Sorry I missed your webinar! Those of us with a little more intellect than #15 have always been grateful for all your help! Have another question for you today: I see some trees that have established a “link” to websites (Weblinks) on individual profile pages. Can you guide me through how to do that, and would you recommend doing that or do I risk to introduce a virus into the program by doing that?

  17. Rocco #2

    What an inane post. Try the old search James Ingham, England Lancashire exact.

    Select England and Wales birth index 1915-2005 – 144 records and they’re all Inghams. Good so far. Try to drill down so using the same details for name and county but choose 1925 as the date and a +/- 10 year span, wonderful – now there are only 55 records.

    But wait a minute, we selected ‘exact’ why is the first person in the list James Adamson – the 12th entry is the first James Ingham – so as WW said – where is the answer?

    Wicked Witch #1 and #12
    Well said, I’ve been hijacking these blogs for a while, when I get really irritated that is, – and that’s every time I use exact and get fuzzy totally irrevelant results.

    Until someone from Ancestry comes up with an answer as to why exact doesn’t mean exact we should continue to post in these blogs. The really good ones are no longer being started – like the ones about search for example.


  18. Monika Re: #19

    Adding a weblink to a profile page is real easy.

    In the lowest section of the right hand sidebar is a green bar that says “Web Links” and under it is a button that says “Add a web link”. Click that button.

    Then just enter the URL of the page you want to link to and under that give it a name. Then click the “save” button.

    I use it all the time to link to on-line obituaries, etc. that I find on the net and have had no virus problems.

  19. long time user

    #15 Winlee:

    We are all trying to learn to do a better job researching. Some folks have more experience and we are glad they share it. We “old folks” can’t eat another box of Twinkies or suck down a few more Cokes. When you grow up you will learn that. In the mean time, get lost!

  20. Kevin J. O'Brien

    Soledad O’Brien’s grandfather came from Dunsallagh Townland, Co. Clare and is a shirt tail relation of mine.

    I would like to see the television program “WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE” do an episode on her family.

    With her Irish, Australia, Cuban, American heritage it would be very interesting to the public. There is also the aspect of the DNA where she is directlly related to Brian Boru High King of Ireland 944-1014 AD. My DNA has been confirmed with Family Tree DNA.
    Thank you,

  21. Hi,
    I have really got a problem with this new search
    engine you have started. Sometimes I have very
    little to go on when searching for a specific person. I will know a person’s name and the year he
    may have been born or died. Sometimes, I may not
    even known when he was born or where. Now, I have
    to go through over 14,000 same last names on public
    trees over 5,000+ for One World Trees. I don’t have the time to go through all that looking for
    one person. Isn’t there a better way? The old
    search engine seemed a whole better, especially
    when you are doing more than one family.
    I would appreciate any help. I have been with
    ancestry for awhile now.

  22. Margaret Re: #19

    The only help I can offer is to advise that you forget you even heard of OneWorldTree. It is the single biggest piece of computer generated junkology ever to have been created and isn’t worth the pixels it takes to display it on screen.

  23. Wicked Witch

    Tony C #20

    Thanks for the supportive comments. I know that you have raised this issue before, and I have been one of those agreeing. Since then I have contacted Ancestry, and all they do is refer me to the FAQs – which are as much use as a chocolate fireguard as far as Exact Search is concerned – or ignore the question. And before anyone suggest it, I have been polite and informative in trying to explain the problem and ask for a solution.

    The ones I like (hate!!) the most are the London marriages. Eg here you can search for all marriages for Harry Potter on an Exact Search. You will get (sorry HP fans in advance for the examples):

    Harry Potter marrying Hermione Granger
    Harry Snape marrying Dolores Potter
    Ron Dumbledore, son of Severus Smith Malfoy, marrying Myrtle Shunpike, dau of Mundugus John Weasley

    Exactly where, (Ancestry), are the exact searches, exactly?

  24. CousinCeCe

    Tony C and Wicked Witch,

    I tried Tony’s suggested James Ingham search and received exactly the results I would expect to see. There are 55 results returned – 28 of them are men named James Ingham, 27 of them are men named James with mothers whose maiden name is Ingham. Your exact query – give me every record containing the names James + Ingham, born 1925 +/- 10 years in Lancashire, was answered exactly.

    If that is not what you want – and apparently there are some who agree with you, hence the changes made by Ancestry – do the same exact search in New Search. You will only get the 28.

    As for me, I often want all possible name combinations. So, even though I use New Search predominately, I appreciate the way that Old Search works when I want those kind of results.

    I would imagine (though the Harry Potter example she gave is not duplicatable)that were WW to actually look at the records returned by the search she is performing (rather than just the search results) she would find that both the given and surname she searched on were found in every single record.

    Where is the problem, exactly?

  25. Wicked Witch

    Cousin CeCe

    Exact = Exact

    What we want is an Exact Search match, ie if you want records only related to people called John Smith, that is what you should get. In the Name column. As the Exact search used to do before someone messed with it.

    The Harry Potter example was just that, an example. However some people (like me) are descended from people called Smith. In fact lots of people are descended from people called Smith.

    OK, we will do the search for
    London Marriages + John Smith + 1860(+/-10 years). I get 12,033 results.

    By page 38 I am still only at the surname Fittall (Charles Fittall married Anna Matilda Smith who was the daughter of John Smith). I can only go 4 pages forward at a time so it is taking some time to advance.

    By the time I got to the marriage of John Howe son of John Howe and Johannah Golden dau of Joseph Smith, I was on page 58.

    Four pages at a time, I finally reach p70 and William Shadrach Bullen (son of Shadrach John Bullen) marrying Susannah Lovell (dau of Edward Smith). But let us plod onwards and upwards.

    Finally by p103 I reach my first John Smith. However, things are still not plain as the list is sorted by Surname then Estimated Year of Birth, and not by Surname then first name, so after John comes John Owen, then Jessey, then Joseph, then Henry, then another John, then Maria, then Charles, then William, then another Maria, then William Sidney, then another John, then Mary, then Susannah, then William, then David………..

    How much more do you need to understand that this is not an Exact Search. This is a General/Universal Search. If I want John Smith in either the father or spouse field, the option is there to put it in. I want to use it in the main fields to bring back records with a principal person of John Smith and to list records with John Smith as the principal name in the Name field – JUST LIKE IT USED TO DO!

    Please ask further if you still do not understand what the problem actually is.

  26. Wicked Witch

    Further to above. Before someone suggests that I can put John and Smith in the Spouse name.

    This does bring back only Exact Matches on spouse given and surnames. However, it is not listed for the spouse, it is listed for the principal person who is the bride in this case. Therefore looking for the name of the man and his birth year is not possible.

  27. CousinCeCe

    Well, I for one appreciate that it works that way. Old Search returns all records where John + Smith exist anywhere in the record. (Not that I would ever take the time to go through 12,000+ results. With such a common name I certainly would do some more research and narrow my search a little more with some additional information.)

    If you want to see only the 6,581 John Smith’s who were married between 1850 and 1870 use New Search. It works exactly the way you seem to want it to.

    It’s nice we have options to meet our varying research styles and needs.

  28. Wicked Witch

    Cousin CeCe #31

    Your answer displays just about what I expected it to, with the addition of an unnecessarily supercilious attitude – in an ideal world we would all narrow things down more, but unless you use the 100%-Accuracy-Guaranteed-See-All-Crystal-Ball (or just copy from a tree already online), you are going to have to trawl through piles of data at some point.

    The examples I used were 2 extremes. You didn’t get the Harry Potter one, so I used the John Smith one. I don’t really know how to make it any simpler, but shall we try a paint chart?

    You take your car to the garage and ask them to paint it red. You pick the exact red you want on the chart and point it out them. But when you go back it is done in three stripes – one purple, one orange, and one brown. When you complain, saying you wanted it red, they reply that they cannot understand your problem, as all of those colours have red in them.

    Let us not lose sight of the basic problem here. It is not that I am asking for something totally new and innovative. Exact Search USED TO WORK – Exactly. It worked for years. And now it doesn’t.

    So we don’t actually have an option which meets this research need any more.

  29. Wicked Witch

    Exact Search

    An exact search is a great search option when you know a few good details including exact names, and dates regarding your ancestor.


  30. Bekko

    Yes, EXACT (old) search did use to work, and it was one thing I liked about Ancestry — when the ability to search with wildcard characters was introduced, it was perfect. The (old) page layout is clean and simple, and it is easy to quickly scan the results page without being distracted by meaningless gold stars and interminable scrolling.

    What used to be pleasurable anticipation when beginning research on a ‘new’ ancestor now feels like a chore.

  31. WOW – what a fire storm, great examples from Wicked Witch and I really don’t know what CousinCeCe is trying to say, except maybe drop the old search.

    Which as Bekko stated – it is a simple and clean search screen which brings results uncluttered by the ‘pretty’ but irritating stars rating.

    Wicked Witch – what a wonderful example using the paint, but then I think if the others were too difficult for CousinCeCe to comprehend then this one will be way over their head:)

    The last post in these blogs about the search issues was on December 8th 2010, which just about highlights the importance Ancestry are putting on that subject. Maybe they are still looking for a replacement for Anne Mitchell who was(is?) the product manager for search at Ancestry and was very active on the blog. Not heard from her since then.


  32. patricia jameson-sammartano

    Where can I find the Irish census for 1851? I’m trying to narrow down the whereabouts of a family who sailed from Galway in 1860.

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