Technical Tuesday – Change on how to search on

There has been a lot of discussion about the changes at and how we search. According to 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 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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


Tried my search again.


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.


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

Selecting and searching from here I see:


1850 and 1860. More details are below.


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 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?


11 Responses to Technical Tuesday – Change on how to search on

  1. Jim McGowan says:

    Russ, do you do most or all of your searching on rather than within Family TreeMaker? If so, how do you reconcile your tree with your FTM tree?
    Thank you.


    • Jim,

      I thought I made a comment about that early in this blog post. I do NOT normally use the Ancestry Search feature. MY own research is done from within Family Tree Maker as you suggest. However, I do present at a couple of local genealogy groups, where I don’t or try not to talk about FTM2012, so I need to be able to search, online, LIVE for these groups. The example in this blog posting was one of the examples I have used. I have many others.

      Hope that helps,


      • Jim McGowan says:


        You’re correct – you did make that comment. Guess I was more tired than I realized! I probably read it the wrong way because I have had difficulties getting my trees on and in FTM to match.

        I don’t use the sync feature because it did not work well the last time I tried it. There are some search results on Ancestry that I added to that tree but some of the same results don’t show up within FTM. Odd, but I haven’t been able to determine why.

        Unfortunately I can’t find a way to print any reports from Ancestry, like source reports, people reports, etc. so I could compare them to the tree in FTM. BTW I still use both the old and new search methods on Ancestry. If I don’t seem to be able to drill down my search results using the new search I can sometimes get it done with the old search. Depends on what I’m trying to find.

        Thank you.

        Jim McGowan

        • Russ Worthington says:


          Trick for the TreeSync™ feature, that works for me. Tools, Compact File, Back Up, then SyncNow.

          I can’t work in two places. I work in FTM2012, the SyncNow. That does NOT mean that I haven’t done work in my AMT, but rarely. I have my own standards on how to handle data in my file and find it much easier within FTM2012.

          This isn’t my Family Tree Maker blog, so I’ll try not to get too deep into any Family Tree Maker issues. My Blog is:

          Not sure what you mean by “same results don’t show up on FTM”. You may or may not see the same hits. It depends on how you search. If you look at Hint (shaky leaves) in FTM and AMT, they should be close. I won’t say exact, but close. From the Web Search should give you similar results from the “new search”, but that depends on how much information you manually enter into New Search. Remember that FTM2012 fills in a fair amount of fields from your file into the Ancestry search engine.

          I think the “drill” down issue is how you use the New Search feature.

          For a “test”, but to duplicate what I blogged about here.

          I do appreciate your comments and feedback.


  2. I tried and tried these weekend to use the NEW SEA.RCH. Results for me were never there in the past and still not there. I was working with a new applicant and he cited a census reference. So I selected the year of the census and then the first and last nand and the state. Resulted in nothing. Tried what I though was every combination and nothing. Clicked for old Search and that census record came right up. When back to the New Search and entered some of the other family members and like the head of the census nothing back to old search and each and every one came up. Tried it again for another census citation and lots of hits but none were the right family. Went to old Search and with the state put in up that one famly came, Went back to new search and lots of potentials but not the family. Could find them and only them using the old search and lots of reults but not the right family in any of the suggested possible matches. Went back and old serach presented me with one and only one match and it was the family it could not find in the New Search. As in the past New Search is just not working for me. Tried it in both Chrome and Firefox and was getting the same results so I don’t think it was the browser just New Search is not finding people. This was exactly how it has been for the past several years. Doesn’t seem to have changed
    and I was not seeing anything better as I have been using only the new search (then would switch back to old search) After I would find it in old Search I would check New Search (got a lot more hits but it was always missing the exact match I was getting the old Search. If it is the same data why am I not getting the same results. This is one dissatisfied user inspite of the past few days of using it I am not getting matches that it should be finding. Same input and different output (New Search is showing me lots of useless data but omitting the exact families/Individual I can match with the old search. Correct results are what matters. Not the quantity of incorrect matches. I am trying but the New Search is just not working at producing valid matches like the old search does. Same references but highly different results.

    • Dr. Donald,

      Did you tried the steps I presented here?

      Please let me know of your example, and I will see IF I can find, in New Search, what you found in Old.

      An aside, HOW can I get to the “old” search. I couldn’t figure out which was the old search.

      One question about your “new search” ‘big fail’. Did you make sure that you did NOT have a check mark in the Use EXACT in the upper Left Corner of the search screen.

      Thank you,


      ps – I would love to duplicate your experience.


  3. jmcronan1 says:

    Russ, for this information. FYI to your readers this youtube is available: New Search
    “one questions with Christa Cowen”

  4. Court Worthington says:

    Russ came across this:

    If you would send me ur email address to me. Mine is Thanks Court Worthington

  5. […] Worthington also wrote about new search back in July 2013 here.  Randy Seaver also gave a good example […]

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