12 April 2011

Tech Tuesday: Help!?! I don't know what to do next on Ancestry.com

Okay,

I took the plunge at got a one-month membership to Ancestry.com. Now that I've found all the family trees that mention my family members and gone through all of the Hints. Now I'm overwhelemed on what to do next.

First, I don't understand how to sort through the families I have accepted as hints.

Second, I don't understand how to refine the search historical documents so that I don't have 400,000 records that aren't even CLOSE to the individual I'm attempting to search. I guess I don't understand why I have so many options when I select a family member from my tree and the search field are completed for me.

Any help in the reverse would be GREAT! Thanks!

Tech Tuesday is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers, the genealogy community's resource for blogging. It is used by many genealogy bloggers to help them tell stories of their ancestors.

8 comments:

  1. Hmm, not certain what to do about the family trees. I would not build them using the hints. How big are they? Have you spent so much time on them that you cannot start over from scratch? I think it is better to add people manually (enter your own info) after you have checked everything thoroughly and are sure that you do want to include them.

    You are probably in New Search, which gives tons of results. My main advice would be to get back to Old Search, but I cannot remember how to do that from New Search (have had to do it myself several times, though). Clicking on "Exact" for the spelling box and giving a location help to narrow down the results. Also, you can use the tabs at the top to narrow your searches to specific sets of records.

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  2. Be really careful because sometimes the hints (and not just the other people's trees) are WAY off, or they look like they're you're ancestor but aren't. Double & triple check everything- don't just save all the hints. I've had hints come up for census years after my ancestor's death...basically the hints are a quick starting point but don't rely on even close ones too much unless you're sure it's right.

    When you go into an ancestor's overview and hit search for that ancestor, you can use the categories on the left side of the screen to narrow down what types of records to look for. I HIGHLY recommend doing different record types one at a time even if you want to see them all eventually - it really cuts down on the bogus results. Also, women will automatically be searched with their surname fields including their maiden and any & all listed married names. You can edit this in the search to limit it to one surname if you want, which will also decrease the number of hits (especially if, for example, you're searching for a census record before she got married). ALL individuals will have their first and middle names included in the given name search field...remove the middle name to cut down on hits of people with that name (although sometimes you might miss an ancestor going by their middle name- it's worth a shot to try).

    Let me know if you need more help, I love using Ancestry and have gotten pretty good at it (too bad I can't afford it all the time).

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  3. THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH!

    I promise I was EXTREMELY careful with the hints. I've gotten burned in the past with regards to finding the wrong ancestor. I am also extremely confident that most of the information that I have in my GEDCOM file is accurate because I've spent the last two-three months citing my information from my personal records and the Census and Vital Statistics I've obtained through FamilySearch.org.

    I found several books at the library about internet searching, but all the 'free' search recommendations have been taken over Ancestry.com. I obtained a membership as a way to take the research to the next step.

    I will try your suggestions on narrowing the options with the categories.

    Greta, if you remember how to get to the 'old' version, let me know.

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  4. The New Genealogist,

    Thought you'd appreciate this. I've found where some people have linked a Census record to a William Brown using the hints suggestion. But when you look at the record that it's cited... it's of Samuel Brown. They're both in Franklin county, but different townships! Ugh!

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  5. To get to the "Old Search," click on "Search All Records" from the pull-down menu under "Search." There should be a small link at the top right of the page that says "Go to Old Search." If you click on that once, it should change the search everywhere on the website.

    As for the "Member Connect" feature, some of those family trees are absolute garbage. A few people will uncritically attach any record if the name is even remotely similar. But I don't think they're purposefully spreading false information. To paraphrase Robert Heinlein, never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by ignorance.

    However, I've found several family trees where it was obvious they did their homework, and used that as a starting point for my own research. Even some of the suspect family trees have given me good leads to find records for my ancestors. The important thing is to develop a critical eye towards distinguishing between them.

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  6. THANK YOU... I will try out the old search feature next time I long on.

    Well said about the family trees. You're absolutely correct. I'm frustrated with the lack of source information. However, I've been one to pull links from others without establishing the proof. However, now that I've gone through the process of connecting the source information from my mother's research to the database, I know how important it is to do so. I've found numerous errors and I refer back to the source information for the facts when in doubt.

    For anyone who hasn't been critical with family trees on the internet, be forewarned. The commenters above know of which they speak.

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  7. Welcome to the world of Ancestry. The folks ahead of me have given very good advice. Remember, when you ignore a hint the link is still there under the "Hints" tab and divided into "Accepted" and "Ignored". You can always go back and revisit. It's much easier to "Ignore" and think about it some before accepting. It's much harder to undo an "Accept".

    You can tailor your search to ignore the member trees if you like. For someone new to Ancestry this will help filter the results.

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  8. Thanks Rosemary! I think I'm getting the hang of things now.

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