How to use ancestry.com
A few words about Ancestry.com
I have noticed that most people who go to Ancestry.com, put in a name and maybe a date or place, push search and wait for what they want to pop up. Sometimes this is all they need, but more often than not what comes up is a list which is hard to read through and without a great deal of familiarity with Ancestry, it is just plain confusing.
Using census records is easy. Just look at the bottom of the main search page and find the year you want to search, then search. But if you look just to the right of the list of census years you will see a list of "collections". There are only a few listed, but at the bottom of the list it says "see all databases".
Clicking this can be a little daunting as there are currently 30,741 collections or databases. Many of these collections are only availble at Ancestry.com. These are sorted usually by popularity, but that can be changed to by Title, Date updated, Date added, or Record count (each collection can have many records in it). Some of these databases are lists of people in cemeteries, or birth, deaths and/or marriages in particular countries, states or even towns. And some are old (very old) books which contain the lineage of the first settlers of the colonies in America. These are invaluable as they were written within 10 to 100 years of the actual settlements, often by actual descendants of the families they are listing and are much more accurate than later books and studies.
There are also filters on the left. You can filter by continent, country in North America, and language. Other filters include census & voter rolls, birth-death & marriage records, newspapers & periodicals, and several other catagories.
Although these filters can be useful since there are so many databases, sometimes they also sort out collections which contain small hints which can make a big difference in finding ancestors.
The databases are all readable on Ancestry without doing a search. What that means is that going to the databases and choosing one gives you the choice to do a search for a name or to just read the document. I know that, especially for the new researcher, reading or scanning a document can be time consuming and tedious. But I also know from experience that it can be very rewarding.
One more tip I would like to share about using Ancestry.com or any website which redirects you to another page for the actual information. When you right click on the link you will usually be given several choices including opening the new page in another tab or window. I usually use another tab so that the original page is preserved and I do not need to go back and forth often losing the original page.