5 Tricks for Better Search Results on Ancestry.com

Family Tree University newsletter    July 20, 2015

Tyler Moss
Online Editor
Family Tree University

Ancestry.com is a genealogy black hole.

How many times have you started searching on Ancestry.com at 10pm, only to look up at the clock and see it’s past midnight? That experience certainly strikes a familiar chord for me, as I’m sure it does most genealogists who subscribe to the massive family history database.

But here’s an important question: How constructive is that chunk of time spent scrolling through search results or paging through old documents? In the end, hours spent on Ancestry.com can equate to few actual additions to your family tree.

The six videos in the week-long workshop, How to Maximize Ancestry.com, will help you make the most of your time. In addition to learning advanced search strategies, you’ll develop skills for searching family trees, searching special collections such as the federal census, and even learn about AncestryDNA. See the full course outline here, and register today!

5 Tricks for Better Search Results on Ancestry.com

Course Details: How to Maximize Ancestry.com: A One Week Workshop
Date: 7/24 – 7/31
Length: 4 weeks
Price: $129.99
Instructor: Nancy Hendrickson
Register Now

1. SEARCH WITH WILDCARDS. Ancestry.com lets you use a ? to stand in for one letter or a * to stand in for zero to five letters in a name. You can use a wildcard as the first or last character, but not both, and the name must have at least three non-wildcard characters.
2. GET AUTOMATIC HINTS. Ancestry.com can automatically search its vast collections of records and family trees for your ancestors. Just keep your family tree in Family Tree Maker software for Windows or Mac or create a free Ancestry Member Tree online. Working in the background, Ancestry.com searches its records and family trees for matches to people in your tree. A waving leaf by a name in your tree indicates a potential match. Just click to view the hint. You can review the record to make sure it pertains to your ancestor and then attach it to your tree.
3. EDIT YOUR TREE ON THE GO. Use Ancestry.com’s free mobile app for Apple or Android to create and edit your Ancestry Member Tree on your phone or tablet. You can add records you find in Ancestry.com, as well as those uploaded from your device. Changes will automatically sync to all your devices.
4. FIND IT FREE. Search the Ancestry.com card catalog on the keyword free, and many of the results will be free databases. You can access almost all of Ancestry.com’s records free from a library that offers Ancestry Library Edition on its computers. Check the website or ask your librarian to see if your library offers this service.
5. DON’T LOSE ACCESS TO YOUR RECORDS. Anyone can create an Ancestry Member Tree for free and as a paying subscriber, you can attach records from Ancestry to people in your tree. But if you let your subscription lapse, you could be in for an unpleasant surprise: You’ll be able to access your tree and any records uploaded from your computer, but not the records attached to it from Ancestry.com.
To avoid this, when you attach a record to someone in your Member Tree, save a copy to your computer with a descriptive name so you can easily find it. You also could use Family Tree Maker software so you’ll have a copy of your family tree on your computer that automatically syncs with your online tree.

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