If you are using Ancestry’s sign in page exclusively to do your searches, you are missing out on a lot and that includes some of your illusive ancestors. You should be using Ancestry’s Card Catalog. Card Catalog? It is an option that allows you to narrow your searches. It provides you with four specific filters: By type of collection, by location, by date, and by language. You can use one or more filters. To bring up the Card Catalog, check out the first illustration.
When you start going into collections, you are going to find that a specific collection or database may have more or varied filters, than what is used on Ancestry’s sign in page. On that page you can search all the collections within Ancestry, known as a global search. That sounds pretty good, doesn’t it. Well, not really. A global search misses a lot. Think about it. Ancestry is one very big database made up of over 31,o00 smaller databases. That is a lot of territory to cover and the search is nowhere near as refined as when you search a smaller database. In the card catalog you can look for a Civil War soldier by narrowing you search down to “Military” and then narrowing that down to “Draft, Enlistment and Service.” Then you can narrow the search down to USA and 1860s. You can also add “Civil War” as a Keyword search. With all those limits, you should come up with a searchable number of individual databases. If your original information is correct, the more you narrow your search, the higher the chances are that you will find your ancestor.
To the left you see Ancestry’s Card Catalog. The orange rectangle is the Search button. Once you have chosen the parameters of your search, you hit it. Above the search button are your Title and Keyword search boxes. The Keyword box is where you would type “Civil War” mentioned above. Directly below “Search” you find your four filters, starting with broad categories for Collections. Once you pick a category, you will find sub-categories that will help you narrow your search still further. Below categories you will find locations, then years, then language. You can keep using these to narrow your search until you get a reasonable number of databases you can search. Once you complete the search for one person, don’t forget to hit the “Clear All” button to the right of “Search.” Otherwise, when you start searching for a new person, the program will remember your old search and keep adding your new search filters to the older filters, leading to some very strange results.
The larger section to the right of your filters is a list of databases by popularity. The list includes individual databases, what collection they belong to, how many records are included, and if there has been any updates and when the most recent update was added. Useful information. You can change how this section is sorted. Instead of popularity, you can choose “Database Title” or “Date Updated” or “Date Added” or “Record Count.” The Card Catalog give you a great deal of flexibility.
If you don’t have a personal subscription to Ancestry, check to see if your local library does. If it doesn’t, perhaps another library in your network or system does.
vea/22 May 2014
Newton Free Library
Library website: http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog: http://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com
Genealogy LibGuide: http://guides.newtonfreelibrary.net/genealogy