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Ask Ancestry Anne: Search Tip #3 - Card Catalog

It’s easy enough to lose yourself in the Census and Vital records, but with 30,000+ data collections out there, you are most likely missing some great bits of information.

The Card Catalog is a great place to start discovering those hidden treasures.

If you mouse over the Search tab in the header, you’ll see a list of options with Card Catalog at the bottom:

On the top left, you’ll find the Title and Keyword(s) search boxes.  Typing a word into the Title box searches just the title, which is what you will see in our listings. If you enter a word into the Keyword(s) box, we will search both the Title and the Description.  Note: You can use wildcards in your searches.  You might try using Passenger* to match both Passenger and Passengers.

Below the search boxes, you’ll see the filters.

You can filter by collection type, location, dates and language and you can use them in any combination.

If you choose North Carolina as a location, we will show you any data collection that includes records for North Carolina.  This is different than the listing on the North Carolina Place Page which lists data collections which have data ONLY about North Carolina.  A different way to slice and dice.

You can also sort data collections:

The sorts are:

  • Popularity: How often this collection is used by the membership
  • Database Title: Alphabetical listing
  • Date Updated: the last day we added or changed the data collection
  • Date Added: the day we added this data collection to the list, most recent first
  • Record Count: the number of records in the data collection

So if I wanted to know what was most recently added for North Carolina, I would set my location filter to North Carolina and I would set the sort order to Date Added:

And to see the actual dates that data collections were added and updated I need to mouse over the title:

Look for Search Tip #4: Finding Local Histories, or review Search Tip #2 : Place Pages

Happy Searching!

Ancestry Anne

Three Days, Three New Classes

I hope you’ll join me and several of my colleagues for three days of free online classes.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012, 8 PM ET Searches: A Behind the Scenes Look
John Bacus

(Note: This class was last night but will be archived soon in the Learning Center. John gave a very good presentation on some of the inner workings of search and some great tips.)

Learn how search at works AND get an inside view of tricks you’ll need to take full advantage of its power. John Bacus, Search Product Manager, walks you through the tech side and presents you with plenty of tips, advice and even a few workarounds—all of which will help you make your next search at more effective, productive, and better than ever.

John is a Principal Product Manager at, where he is responsible for the core search features of the site, such as search forms and search results. Prior to his time at, he held search-related product management roles at AltaVista and eBay. John’s interest in genealogy was first piqued with the family history his grandparents put together when he was a child, and has enjoyed validating and building upon the research they did with two curious minds, some spare time, and a motor home.

Click here to register.  

Thursday, 24 May 2012, 3 PM ET
Common Surnames: Finding Your Smith
Juliana Smith

Despite his common moniker, your ancestor was unique. Get the tools and tips you need to find your ancestors with common surnames in this free one-hour class with Juliana Smith. In this class you’ll learn how to craft the best search on, and how to save your findings in a way that makes it easy to pick your family out of the crowd.

Juliana has been working for for just shy of 14 years and began her family history journey trolling through microfilms at the tender age of 11 with her mother. She is a certificate holder in the Boston University Genealogical Research program, and wrote the “Computers and Technology” chapter of The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy. Her favorite part of family history is discovering the stories in the records of her ancestors.

Click here to register

Thursday, 25 May 2012, 1 PM ET
Forward thinking: Tracing the children of your ancestors. And their children…
Crista Cowan

Are you stuck in your march back through time identifying ancestors? Turn around. Revitalize your research. Rekindle your desire to continue with some success. Descendancy research utilizes much of the same methodology as ancestral research but can lead to a whole new way of looking at your genealogy. Often it can lead to discovery of cousins who have missing pieces of the puzzle needed to complete your picture of common ancestors.

Crista Cowan has been doing genealogy since she was a child and has been an employee since 2004. Known as the Barefoot Genealogist, Crista brings her passion for family history into her presentations and provides common sense solutions for the challenges we face in the search for our ancestors.

Click here to register