Ancestry not indexing “other sources” – my solution

Randy Seaver on his Genea-musings blog has written a number of posts about Ancestry not indexing “Other sources”.  See:

RootsMagic TreeShare, Ancestry Member Trees, and Source Citations

Ancestry Member Trees, Indexing Rules, Cousin Bait, Source Citations and Me

In summary, if you want people to find your tree, you need to use Ancestry sources.  The only problem is that Ancestry sources aren’t as good as the sources that you may have created using your family tree software, such as RootsMagic or Legacy.

In January, I had decided to do a genealogy do-over, which meant that I wanted to start my family tree from scratch.  I also knew that my subscription to Ancestry was due to expire at the end of March (I later found that I had an extra month, and that it didn’t actually expire until the end of April), so I wanted to download as many records as possible before my subscription expired.

I decided that since I was wanting to research mainly on Ancestry before my subscription expired, and I wanted to have an Ancestry Public Member tree that had mostly Ancestry records to serve as cousin bait, I decided it would be easiest to work directly in my Ancestry tree.

So, I created a GEDCOM of my current tree, and I excluded all the notes, sources and other events, so that I would have just the basic tree to attach the records to, and I then uploaded this new tree to Ancestry (I deleted my old tree, because I found that it was too easy to be working in the wrong tree without realising it).

At first I was using the Search button on an individual’s profile to find records, then I would copy the index details to a Microsoft Word file.  I copy these details so that I can create better source citations later.  I also use my Word files to create a transcription of the record. I would then download the media files to my computer, which I would then rename with the same name as my Microsoft Word file.

I kept getting the error “Failed – Network Error” when I was downloading records, so I was having to go back and redownload the records all the time.  I have the paid version of RootsMagic 7, so I decided to see if I used TreeShare whether I would be able to download all the media attached to my tree, and I found that I was able to download all the media without much problem, so I decided to skip downloading the records as I went, and to use TreeShare instead. The only problem is that my media files will no longer have the same names as my Word files, but that shouldn’t be that much of a problem, because when I’m indexing my files, I’ll be able to go into my tree and find the person, and find the media item(s) that are attached to them.

I also found that using Search to find all the records for a person felt like it was taking too long, so I decided to concentrate on just the hints.  I hadn’t been using the hints to begin with, because you can’t download the record at the same time, unless you go back into the record once it’s attach to the person in your tree, but this was no longer an issue when I was no longer downloading the records as I went.

The computer I bought back in January only had 32 GB storage, so two weeks ago, I had to do a clean install of Windows, as I only had 2 GB left.  While I was waiting for Office 365 to be reinstalled, I decided to use Notepad, instead of Word, to copy the index details.  I found that it was quicker to use Notepad, rather than opening and closing Word all the time, (in Notepad you don’t need to close a file first, it automatically closes when you open a new file), so I have been using Notepad instead since then.  It’ll be easy enough to convert them to Word files later, as I just need to open them in Word and then save as a Word file.

My process towards the end therefore was:

  • Select a person
  • View each hint, and determine if it belongs to the person in my tree – sometimes this would mean searching for additional records for the person, on Ancestry, in newspapers on, or on other websites
  • Copy the index details to a Notepad file

index details

  • Attach the record to the person in my Ancestry tree

Then I would periodically use TreeShare to download my tree, with all the media, to my computer. Because I have been attaching so many records to my tree, it was quicker to create a new RootsMagic tree each time, rather than go through and attach all the new records individually, because I could do other work on the computer while TreeShare was working in the background.

How did I do?  I started with 11853 individuals in my tree.  I now have 14020 individuals.  That’s an increase of 2167 individuals, or 18.28%.  There are 4365 photos, 254 stories and 25564 records attached to my Public Member Tree, and I have downloaded 12786 media items.

What are my plans going forward?  I still have 1008 individuals with hints, and 6664 hints.  I have only worked on the branches of the family that migrated to the United States and Canada, and the descendants of my 2x great grandparents.  I therefore plan to resubscribe to Ancestry in a couple of months to go through the rest of the hints, and to search for additional records.

Since the Ancestry source citations aren’t as good as the source citations I can create using Legacy Family Tree, I plan to have my Ancestry Public Member Tree to primarily be just for Ancestry sources, and to set up another tree using Legacy Family Tree to be my main tree, which I’ll add to my website  So, for now, I’ll:

  • Create an index of all my old research and all the new records using my Microsoft Access database (you can read my old posts about my Access database by selecting Microsoft Access from the Categories on the right sidebar)
  • Transcribe any documents I haven’t transcribed yet

My options then are:

  • Start a new tree from scratch in Legacy Family Tree
  • Create a new tree in Legacy using my Gedcom from RootsMagic, and then just adding the “Other Sources” to this tree, and creating new source citations for the Ancestry sources
  • Use my existing Legacy Family Tree, and just go through and fix up the problems in this tree

It would be quicker to use my existing tree, and just fix the problems in it, rather than start a tree from scratch.  Since I find it quicker to use TreeShare to download to a new tree in RootsMagic, rather than adding the new records individually, I would need to wait until I have finished the hints before I can do option 2.  I have therefore decided that I will use my existing tree, and just fix the problems in this tree.  This makes more sense anyway, because it has notes, sources and other events already set up, so I can just update the tree on my website as I fix the errors and add additional records.

Background of featured image is a photo from Unsplash – Photo by unsplash-logoQuentin REY