Wow! Thanks to everyone for the kind words about the new blog and newsletter! Iâ€™ve been overwhelmed by your amazing response. Weâ€™ve still got a few kinks to work out and itâ€™s been interesting trying to adjust to the new schedule, but weâ€™re getting there.
Since thereâ€™s been quite a bit of discussion about Ranked Search, I thought Iâ€™d post some observations from my experience. When Ranked Search first came out, I wasnâ€™t very interested. I got on quite well with the Exact Search, so while I did play around with it a bit and made a few finds, I tended to stay with the Exact Search.
I have, however, gained a bit more respect for the Ranked Search as of late. A while back, I thought Iâ€™d tackle one of my brick wall lines. I entered the name of one ancestor, who continues to bewilder me.Â (Heâ€™s been a brick wall for the past ten years and thanks to his penchant for giving every record keeper he met a different age, we can only estimate that he was born sometime in the late 1830s or early 1840s in England. (At least he was fairly consistent with that!) We know of no siblings or other family members.
Anyway, I tried several Ranked Searches for both him and his wife. While I only located a few possibilities, I did come away with this:
- I found results in databases I wouldnâ€™t have thought to check, and although they are not exact matches, several bear further scrutiny.
- I uncovered variant spellings I hadnâ€™t thought of before. I found his wife living with a daughter and her family. I had previously been unable to locate this entry because of a misspelling.Â
- Last, but perhaps most importantly, it caused me to reevaluate information I had and the theories had formed around it. The first census entry we have that could be the couple is in 1860, but his date of birth is so far off from other dates, that I have always wondered if this was really them. Their estimated immigration dates were off by about six years, but this information is from their death certificates. Since they were dead, clearly they werenâ€™t supplying the information, and so this information is quite possibly wrong on one or both. He was from England, she from Ireland. The initial assumption was that they were married here. When I saw UK census records come up unexpectedly in a ranked search for her, it reminded me of the possibility that perhaps, she had emigrated to England and they had married there before coming to the U.S. I also noted quite a few UK census entries for his surname listed Ireland as place of birth. Perhaps he had gone to Ireland where they were married and then moved on to the U.S.
Proving or disproving any possibility will require more research, but it generated thought and new ideas and that is very helpful in my book!
Once things settle down with the transition and Iâ€™m able to get back to serious research again, I do plan on revisiting the Ranked SearchÂ for other ancestors. The Exact Search will most likely be my first choice when searching specific databases, and probably where I start out in searching for an ancestor. However,Â using them both will allow me to cover more ground and perform more effective research. When one tool fails, itâ€™s really nice to have an alternative.
One last tip–if you’re being overwhelmed with results, use the stars. As George mentioned, there is a drop-down box at the top of the results page. If you’re seeing too many results, whittle it down by requiring more stars.
If you don’t see any results, add more information. With one search I performed looking for 4 stars or better, I only had two hits. When I added a birth place, I ended up with 4 hits, one of which wasÂ the person for whom I was searching.
Looking forward to next week. . .
In next weekâ€™s Ancestry Weekly Journal, Iâ€™ll be following up Georgeâ€™s article on Ranked Search with some tips on using the Exact Search and Paula will be writing about some lesser used church records that can contain helpful information. And of course, weâ€™ll have tips from you. Please donâ€™t forget to keep those Quick Tips coming. You can email them to [email protected]
Have a good evening!