I was trolling through the online newspapers at www.Ancestry.com and found a "better way" to search for my people. This may fall into the "you already knew this, but I just found out" category, but that's OK - there may be some Ancestry.com users in the vast (yeah, right!) Genea-Musings readership that could use the information to make the searching task easier or better, especially for common names.
In the past, I have always put first name and last name in the search fields when I've searched Newspaper and Book collections on Ancestry.com. I received an email today that said "have you looked at keyword searches?" Ummm, no, not really.
I started out on the Newspaper Collection page on Ancestry.com - and there was a helpful link to a Juliana Smith article from 2009 titled "Searching for Newspaper Stories." This article suggested that:
"Typically when searching for a person, it’s best to leave the “Match all terms exactly” box unchecked. This allows us a little wiggle room, but when searching for common terms, it’s easy to become overrun with results. For keyword searches it’s helpful to keep that “Match all terms” box checked. (Just bear in mind that when you go back to searching for people, you’ll want to uncheck this box again.)"
"Remember that if you want to search for several words together, you can put them in quotes which will tell Ancestry.com to look for that exact phrase (e.g., “cholera epidemic”)."
Read the whole article - it helps! Here's a screen shot of the article page:
To illustrate the differences between a Name Search, using names in the first and last name search fields, and using a Keyword Search, I'm going to use my grandfather's name, Frederick Seaver. For the Name Search, I entered First Name = "Fred*" (because he went by Fred and Frederick) and Last Name = "Seaver." I clicked on "Restrict to Exact" for both names. The Search fields are shown below:
I received 341 matches from my Name Search, in a number of newspapers:
The Fitchburg (MA) Sentinel was one of the local newspapers for Leominster MA, so I clicked on that link, and saw 53 matches:
The results page above has snippets showing one or more matches on a given page. When you look at the matches produced by the Name Search, you see that not all of the matches are for Fred* Seaver. Some matches are for a page with Seaver in one place and Fred* in a nearby place on the page. Some of the matches found using the Name Search are for Frederick W. Seaver, which I definitely want to find.
I clicked on the Fitchburg Sentinel link again and saw:
There were only 26 matches for the "fred* seaver" Keyword Search, and all of them were for my "Fred* Seaver" or his wife listed as "Mrs. Fred* Seaver." However, none of the matches for Frederick W. Seaver are listed. Drat! I did another search for "fred* w seaver" in the Keyword Search and there were 16 matches.