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Ask Ancestry Anne: Search Tip #17 - Search from Your Trees

There are a lot of reasons to use online trees, especially now that you can sync between FTM 2012 and online, but one I particularly like is that using your tree you can pre-populate your search.

Let’s say you are on a page for Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. (I’m not related to this famous Union Soldier, I just use Civil War Generals as an example tree.)


Right underneath his icon, you’ll see the Search Records link:

Click on that link, and we do a search for you with everything you know about Joshua pre-populated in the search.

If you want to change the information, click on the Edit Search button.  And you can apply any of the tips and tricks we have discussed to this type of search.

Next tip: Search Tip #18: Read the Form or review the previous tip: Search Tip #16: Use Facets

Happy Searching!

Ancestry Anne

Ask Ancestry Anne: Search Tip #16: Use Facets

Do you want a certain type of record?  Say Military?  Then you may want to try the Category and Sub Category facets down the side of your search results.

Let’s say I’m searching for Tarlton Gillespie:

But I suspect because of the year he was born, about 1787, that he may have served in the war of 1812, so I just want to see military records.

You’ll notice on the left hand side, the category Military:


Click on that and we will just show you military records:

Combine that with a “Summarized by Category” search and you’ll see a list of military collections we think he is in.

Next tip: Search Tip #17: Search From Trees or review the previous tip: Search Tip #15: Do a Category Search

Happy Searching!

Ancestry Anne

Ask Ancestry Anne: Search Tip #15 - Category Searches

Sure it’s nice to a long list of all the possible records we have for the person you are searching for.  But sometimes you want to know what data collections we think your person is in.  This is where you want to use Category Search.  Let’s say you are looking for my ancestor Tarlton Gillespie:

To flip this to category search, in the upper right hand corner, where it says “Sorted by relevance” change that to “Summarized by category”:

And then you will see the results list by category and data collection:

This is a sticky feature, so once you set it, it will stay this way.   This is a great way to find specific records and see possible collections.  Any of the other features I’ve talked about also apply.  Don’t want UK records? Set to US only.

Next tip: Search Tip #16: Use Facets or review the previous tip: Search Tip #14: Limit your scope

Happy Searching!

Ancestry Anne

Ask Ancestry Anne: Search Tip #13 - Wildcards

Try wildcards with Restrict to Exact selected (see Search Tip #11 - Name Filters) to find unusual spellings of names.

There are two wildcard characters:

  • ? (question mark) : matches one character which can be anything
  • * (asterisk) : matches 0 to N characters

So if you enter Sm?th* you can match Smith, Smyth, Smithe and Smythe

Ann* will match Ann, Anne, Anna, and Annabelle

My maiden name is Gillespie, and it is very often spelled: Gillaspie, Gillispie or Gillespie or even Gillespy.

I can use wildcards to match a variety of combinations.

Look for Search #14: Limit Your Scope  or review yesterday’s tip: Search Tip #12 : Location Filters

Happy Searching!

Ancestry Anne

Ask Ancestry Anne: Search Tip #12 - Location Filters

This is my favorite search filter. Sure it may never have occurred to you to have a favorite, but I find this one incredibly useful.

When you are in search form and you start typing in a location, you will see our type ahead suggest a list of places for you.

Choose from this list.  This allows us to quickly identify everything we know about that place.  Once you’ve picked the place, you can then click on “Use Default Settings” underneath.

If you choose “Restrict to this place exactly” the place you’ve identified must match exactly.  So if you entered, Chicago, Cook, Illinois, USA, and checked Restrict to this place exactly, you will not get matches for just Cook County, Illinois, USA.

If you choose County, then you will get matches for both the city and just the county.  And if you don’t find your person in those locations, you might try expanding to county/adjacent counties.  You don’t need to know what they are or if they crossed state lines, we know, and we will search them. 

If you just choose state and have Chicago, Cook, Illinois as your location, we will match those locations that are in Chicago first, but as long as the state is Illinois is in the location, it matches.

Give this one a spin.  By adjusting this you can expand and contract your searches easily to locate those elusive records.

Next hint: Search #13: Wildcards  or review Search Tip #11 : Name Filters

Happy Searching!

Ancestry Anne