· Researching your family history

How I Search on Ancestry

Randy Seaver on his Genea-musings blog wrote the post back on 2 May 2018 “Dear Randy: How Do You Search For Records on”

Since my subscription to Ancestry had just expired, I decided to wait until I had renewed my subscription before doing a post about how I go about searching on Ancestry.


To begin with, I look at the hints, since that brings up the most common records.

I went into my Ancestry tree, and chose one of my ancestors that had a hint – my great grandfather Joseph Whimpey.

Joseph Whimpey hint

Joseph Whimpey hints

The first hint was for Joseph’s marriage entry.  I already have the marriage certificate from the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages, but since I am using this tree just for Ancestry records, I attached this to Joseph’s profile.

joseph marriage

Suggested Records

As I am working through each hint (as well as when I’m using the different types of searches), I will also check the Suggested Records, to check if that picks up additional records that aren’t in the hints.  This can be useful for people with a common name, as it saves time trying to find records for the right person.

suggested records

Search within person’s profile

Once I have gone through all the hints, and suggested records, while I’m in the person’s profile, I’ll click the Search button


This uses the information you already have for the person to search for additional records

additional records from search


Search from the Home or Search pages

Home and Search

Searching from a person’s profile may bring up too many irrelevant results.  For example, Joseph’s wife was Sarah Jane Sharp.  When searching from her profile, I came up with a lot of results for the name Sarah Jane Sharp, which wouldn’t be for this Sarah, because she married in 1872.

sarah jane sharp

In these cases, I’d go back to the Home or Search page to clear all the criteria, so I can enter just the criteria I want, so that I don’t get as many irrelevant results.

sarah jane whimpey

Search from the Card Catalogue

I use the card catalogue to narrow my search to a particular collection.  This is useful when there are:

Too many (irrelevant) results

Records that should come up in a search, haven’t come up

To find browse only collections

For example, when searching for George Willis born 1828 in Wiltshire, England, the following were the first 3 results:

George Willis

None of these is the right entry, so to find the baptism for my George Willis, it is easier to go straight to the Card Catalogue, and enter Wiltshire, England in the Title field

Wiltshire card catalogue

Then I choose the relevant collection, and search for George there.

George willis 1828

My George is now the first result