Technical Tuesday – Change on how to search on Ancestry.com

July 1, 2013

There has been a lot of discussion about the changes at Ancestry.com and how we search. According to Ancestry.com 2% of their current users, continue to use the “old” search, while 98% of us, use the “new” search. My only question is why have TWO different ways to search. Or in words that I have seen “two different search experiences”.

I don’t normally, for my own research, use either, or use the search on Ancestry that “is there”. I have learned how to use it. What ever the current version “it” is. BUT, I attended the Fairfax VA Genealogy Conference earlier this year and attended a presentation on how to get the most out of Ancestry. I came home so excited that I offered and was able to give two presentations to two different groups to take advantage of the new search engine.

So, when all of this discussion came up over the past few days, from what I am guessing is the “2%”, I was scratching my head. Then I read Randy Seaver’s Geneamusings Blog. Also, from reading earlier blog posts by Randy, he was giving similar presentations in local groups near where he lives.

Here is my take and how I am able to take advantage of the “new” features. I must say, that I did not try to answer my Genealogy Question with the “old” search, so I can’t compare Old vs New, but only can show how I answered this question.

Where did Ready Cash reside for the 1840 – 1880 Census?

What I knew, is that Ready Cash was born about 1800, and was located in Rockbridge, Virginia. I wanted to be able to pick him up specifically in the Census from 1840 until 1880. Before then, I might not be able to locate him, but I did for each census year mentioned.

Going to Ancestry.com and entering Ready Cash, Born 1800, and was in Rockbridge, Virginia. When I entered the Location, I started to type R O C K, and stopped and selected Rockbridge, Virginia from the drop down menu. I made sure that I did not have Exact Only selected at the top, Only Historical Records from the US Collection at the bottom of the search screen.

Search-01

The results were overwhelming. 4,251 Records from Census and Voting Lists. Far too many (for me)

Search-02

I have to do better at this. So, I put a check mark in EXACT ONLY at the top of the Edit Search window. Not marked in the screen capture above, but I can go in and EDIT my Search criteria by clicking on the Edit button just above the Census and Voting List “red box” on the left.

Search-03

You will notice that each entry has a check box next to “Exact Only” or the text below the box that says “Restrict to exact”. This should shorten my list.

Search-04

And it did, but now I am down to only 2 categories of records with Ready Cash listed. 1840 and 1870. Too far. But, lets look at the Records and not just the Categories, to see if there is any hints there.

Search-05

Looks like my person, but missing a couple of census years.

My experience with Census Records is Ages of the person, implying the year of birth, so I left the birth year at 1800, but added the /- option of 5 years. Again, the green Edit button, and in the pull down menu selected 5.

Search-06

Tried my search again.

Search-07

Gee, added 1880. When looking at the Records Tab, I just wanted to make sure that I was seeing the results for the right person. I see his name spelled three different ways, different birth years, but they do look some what consistent and that I am seeing the right Ready Cash. BUT, I am still missing 1850 and 1860.

Back to the Edit button, I wanted to loosen up the Location a bit. The New Search has an option for Adjacent Counties. Maybe he moved for those two census years. I am picking up the name differences and birth year differences and am not picking up any other “Ready Cash” names. Looks like there is only one person in the area with that name.

Search-08

It’s a pull down menu under the Location field.

Selecting and searching from here I see:

Search-09

1850 and 1860. More details are below.

Search-10

He was in Boteourt, Virginia for 1850 and 1860.

I have been able to answer my research question. I started with 4,251 hits and got it down to 1840 – 1880 census records for my person.

In reality, the first search I did, there were 1,342,175 hits. The 4,251 were only Census and Voting Lists.

Bottom line, for me is, I like the New Search at Ancestry.com. It’s a change for me and others, but in about 10 minutes I was able to answer my research question. Where did Ready Cash reside for the 1840 – 1880 Census?


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