· Organising your research · Researching your family history

My process for searching Ancestry

As part of my research process, I use the Search button on a person’s profile to search for records. Since I want to download the records to my computer, I prefer not to use the hints, or at least not to begin with. If I use the hints, I have to attach the record to the person first, and then go back and download the record to my computer.  If I search from within the person’s profile, I can download the record as I am checking it, and then attach it to the person’s profile.

After clicking on the Search button, I then select one of the results.  At the moment, I’m working on Beatrice Emily Casey, the half-sister of my husband’s grandfather.  The result I first selected was

Beatrice Fiddes death index

Since there’s no corresponding image, I simply copy this record into a Microsoft Word document, which I named 2019-05-02 Beatrice Emily Fiddes death index.  I have always simply filed my documents in date order.  Since a lot of the research I’ve done over the last 28 or so years overlaps family groups, I have never found it easy to separate the research into family groups, so I find keeping everything in date order easier.

I then entered this “document” into my database

Beatrice entry in database

I then saved the record to Beatrice Emily Casey’s profile in my Ancestry tree.

save to ancestry

When there is an image attached, I go into the image to check if there are entries for other people in my tree.  For example, on this entry on the 1949 Electoral roll for Beatrice, there is an entry for Ailsa May Fidler. Ailsa May Fidler was born Aisla May Clyne, and she was the daughter of Henry Clyne and Annie Watt.  Beatrice is my ex-husband’s great aunt – Henry Clyne was his 2x great grandfather David Clyne’s brother.

Beatrice 1949 Electoral roll

When I get around to research Ailsa, I’ll be able to simply attach this record to her profile in my Ancestry tree, without needing to download the record to my computer.

Beatrice 1949 in database

Once I’ve added the document to the database, I then save the image to my computer, and then select Save to Beatrice Emily Casey to save to her profile in my tree.

save record

Another reason why I search from within the person’s profile is that it will pick up records that aren’t in the hints.

One of the problems with searching from within a person’s profile is that it depends on how much information is already in the person’s profile as to what results are shown.  For example, these are some of the results that came up when I first started searching for records for Elsie Marr, who married William John Sayer.

Elsie Marr Sayer results

None of these results are for Elsie Marr Sayer.

This is when it is more helpful to go back to the main search page, so that I can choose which information to include, and which collections to search.

These are the results when I chose the name Elsie Sayer, lived in Victoria, Australia, restricted to Australian records

Elsie Sayer results

Although the top result wasn’t for my Elsie, the other 3 are.

One of the good things is that once more records are added to the person’s profile, the results from within the person’s profile are updated to include more relevant results.

Another issue is when photos and stories have been attached to other people’s trees.  Unfortunately, there is no way to clear these results, even if you review them and attach them to your tree, and they always appear first.  Sometimes there can be pages of results, and often the same photos and stories are attached to multiple trees, and there are also times when people attach images that are from an historical record already on Ancestry.

What I do then is clear the boxes for the Family Trees, Stories & Publications and Photos & Maps.

clear boxes

It’s a bit tedious, because you have to do that every time you go back to look for the next historical record, but it is still quicker than scrolling through pages of stories and photos.

Once I have found as many historical records as I can searching from within the person’s profile, and from the main search form when necessary, I’ll then go back and check the hints.  Then I’ll go and double check the photos and stories that came up in my searches.

I occasionally use the Suggested Records. However, the Suggested Records don’t include as much information as the search results, so I find using the main search more effective.

In some cases, I still get too many irrelevant results, even when I refine my search.  For example, when searching for birth, death and marriage records.  In these cases, I then use the Card Catalogue to narrow my search to a particular collection, for example when searching for baptism records for my ancestors (and their descendants) from West Yorkshire and Somerset, I’ll go directly to these collections.