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Welcome back to Tenacious Genealogy! Today’s post is about various Ancestry tips to make your genealogical research on there just a bit easier. If you have yet to start on Ancestry, check out my post here, before reading forward.
Tip 1: Create as many family trees as you need
The wonderful thing about Ancestry is that you can create as many family trees as you need to work on your genealogy. There is no limit (as far as I have been able to find) and they don’t have to all start with you. For example, I have a line I’ve been working on where I’m trying to map out all the descendants of one of my ancestors and her brother. I can create a family tree dedicated just to her line and his line. If I found that I just want to specifically work on her line or just her brother’s line, I could create a family tree for each of them specifically. I can also set those trees to private while working on them if so desired.
Tip 2: Import your family trees if they are somewhere else
There are many websites nowadays where you can create and work on your family tree(s). A few examples are FamilySearch, MyHeritage, Findmypast, and Familyecho. And if you want to move those records to your Ancestry tree? Easy-peasy. The vast majority (if not all) of family trees online are in a file format called GEDCOM. Every genealogy website I’ve been to has the option for you to download a GEDCOM file to your computer. And importing that tree into Ancestry is quick and painless.
Voila! You’ve just uploaded your GEDCOM file to Ancestry.
Tip 3: Boolean search operators are your BFFs on Ancestry
Have an ancestor or a line with a commonly misspelled given name or surname? Boolean search operators are your friend on Ancestry. Take, for example, a surname in my family tree – ‘Vilandré‘. In my research, I have seen it spelled: Vilandré, Vilandre, Villandré, Villandre, Vilandry, ViLandry, V Landry, Villandry, and other various ways. So when I’m searching for a relative with that last name, searching ‘Viland*‘ (using the star as a Boolean operator) is a handy way to find records with ‘Viland‘ as the root of the surname. I can then do it again with ‘Villand’, ViLand’, or ‘VLand’.
You can also search in Ancestry used the ‘?‘ operator to find given or surnames where you aren’t sure of a letter. For example, another surname in my family is ‘Benson‘ – I could type in ‘B?ns?n‘ if I wanted to catch all records indexed with those consonants, but wasn’t sure of the letters/vowels in the spelling. ‘B?ns?n‘ will catch variations such as ‘Banson’, ‘Bansen’, ‘Benson’, ‘Bensen’, etc.
Note to remember: Ancestry requires three (3) non-Boolean characters (so letters or numbers) to search this way, so while ‘Vil*’ or ‘B?ns‘ would work, ‘Vi*’ and ‘B?n’ would not.
Tip 4: Indexing is your other BFF
If you click on the icon with two people on it, a partial screen labeled ‘Index‘ will open and you can see the names of the people indexed on the page. (This partial screen can be manipulated to take up more or less of the screen if you want to see more or less of the index at one time.)
For names that are misspelled or incorrectly read/indexed, or when looking at documents that are faded, blotted or otherwise hard to read, the index (and the work of indexing that makes it possible) is a time and life saver.
Tip 5: Connecting between Ancestry and FamilySearch
NOTE: You can only connect information from Ancestry to FamilySearch (and vice versa) for people who are noted as ‘dead’ in Ancestry. Otherwise, the option won’t even show up.
Ancestry to FamilySearch Options:
One word of caution: When changing information on FamilySearch from Ancestry, make sure to back it up with sources as well.
– ‘View this person on FamilySearch‘ – pops up a new tab in FamilySearch showing the person’s profile there.
– ‘Add relatives from FamilySearch‘ – is a great option if you have a pretty decent family tree in FamilySearch and are just getting started in Ancestry. With this option, you can connect one individual from FamilySearch then fill in their family on your Ancestry tree.
– ‘Disconnect person from FamilySearch‘ – is pretty straightforward. If you realize the person you are working on isn’t connected to the correct person in FamilySearch, or you otherwise want to disconnect the two accounts for the ancestor, you can do that easily with this option.
And there you have it! 5 fabulous tips for working on Ancestry.com.