How to use

From FamilySearch Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

A few words about

I have noticed that most people who go to, 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.

Finding census records can be easy. Just look at the right side of the main search page and find the year you want to search, then search.  They are sorted by US, UK, and Canada. At the bottom of the main search page is something called Quick Links which allows you to search just one type of record, such as Birth, Death & Marriage or Military, or Newspapers etc., instead of using all the databases on Ancestry at one time. At the bottom of this list it says Card Catalog.

Clicking this can be a little daunting as there are currently 31,665 collections or databases. Many of these collections are only availble at 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.

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 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.