If you are having trouble finding records on Ancestry.com you can go to my Genealogy page on wordpress.com and contact me for some help… Meanwhile I have written some helpful suggestions on how to find records quickly on Ancestry.com.
BASICS OF GENEALOGY: Get ready before starting – data sheets, family tree software, pedigree sheets – all online
BEFORE STARTING ANYTHING – GET A GOOD MAGNIFYING GLASS !!!!!!!!!!!!!
START WITH ONE SURNAME AND COMPLETE IT BEFORE YOU START ANOTHER. This will help you understand how the records fall together. Once you become a “PRO” at it , then you can spread out and work on as many SURNAMES as you like…..
Gather all the family information you can from living relatives.
Don’t spend a lot of time when you hit a roadblock
Don’t assume that the information you have found is correct. A lot of information that is online is from family members who have loaded it without any documents or backup to prove that it actually goes with the name it is under. The original census records way back when were taken by hand so many things were recorded improperly such as spelling of names, dates of birth, place of birth,etc. You will come across many of these errors as you search for your family lines.
Don’t give up
Online access to hundreds if not thousands of sites, message boards, forums, us and foreign records, etc.
Family Members- especially the older ones.
Trips to local libraries, local, state, and national historical libraries and associations, this includes cemetaries, town halls, churches, etc.
US census, Canadian Census, Ancestry Library, Family Search, Cyndi’s List for Genealogy, Ellis Island Records, Passenger Lists, Military Records, Church Records, Foreign archives, US National Archives, and the list goes on forever. Just remember to be specific for your particular search and be as specific as possible when you set up your search criteria.
USING THE ASTERICK (*) AND QUESTION MARK (?) WHEN SEARCHING ON ANCESTRY
I have been using this search method for many years and it has helped me trememdously in finding many records that I did not think existed. Also it narrows down the number of search records that you have to look at, which is a big help. Don’t get frustrated with it, it takes a while to get it right…..
First thing to do: If your search screen has “Show more options” on it, click on that to list more options on the screen. Now there is a line next to it that says “Match all terms exactly” with a small box on the left side of it. Click the box and a checkmark should appear. Now go back to the selections boxes for name(s), DOB, etc.
The * can be used with both first and last names. You must use at least 3 letters before or after the *. I am listing examples below:
Using the * at the front end:
Example – *ser – This will bring up any name that ends in ‘ser’ Balser, Bolser, Paser, etc
Using the * at the back end:
Example – Bal* – This will bring up any name that starts with ‘Bal’ Balser, Balsor, Baltzer, Ballentine, etc
Example – Using the * in the middle:
Example – Hen*son – This will bring up any name starting with Hen and ending with son
Henderson, Henryson, Hendonson, Henason, etc.
Example – He*n – This would bring up any names starting with He and ending with n. It would probably be a pretty big list.
Using the ? is fairly simple. A single character is represented by question mark “?” (e.g., “Sm?th” equals both “Smith” and Smyth” in your search).
I would recommend using a year of birth with any search (if you know it or approximate) with a + or – 2 year window. This will help narrow any searchs and bring down the amount of records that you have to look at. Like I said earlier, don’t get frustrated. Play with it until you are comfortable with the searches. Try it out on one person using several different searches and see what you get. It will help you understand how the search works. Than you can include more search info to cut down the number of records even more.
Good luck and happy searching. Let me know if any of this search method helps you out…