Ancestry.com announced several weeks ago that they had added to and improved their "Search" page to include more maps, links to place pages, a list of recent searches and a list of recently viewed collections. The announcement was made on 13 July 2010 in Updated new search homepage, place pages, recent searches & recently viewed collections on the Ancestry.com blog.
I finally was able to shake loose from several presentations (including one on Ancestry.com on 12 July!), blogging and updating my database to check out the updated site.
Here is the "new" Search" page - available only for "New Search" users (two screens below):
As you can see, there is a map of the USA on the "Search" page with links to each state (either by clicking on the state in the map, or by clicking on the state name below the map).
The map above shows the USA tab - there are also tabs for UK & Ireland, Europe, Canada and Australia.
I clicked on "Wisconsin" in the map above and saw the Wisconsin "Collections" page (note the tab):
This page provides a list of statewide collections by category. In the right sidebar is a list of the counties of the state. I wanted to see what was available for Dodge County, Wisconsin, so I scrolled down the county list and clicked on "Dodge":
There are a number of databases for Dodge County, Wisconsin, and most of them are newspapers. It seems like it is much easier to search for a specific county for a specific person rather than use a general search for a specific person in all databases.
There are two other tabs available for Wisconsin (and every state). The "History" tab looks like this:
The page above provides a thumbnail history of Wisconsin, including demographic information, some interesting facts, featured data collections, famous people, and help/advice. There are with links to "more help" on the right sidebar for a map of the state, Wisconsin message boards, Wisconsin member directory, and pages for understanding records and handwriting help.
Note that there are these "History" pages only for the states, not for the counties.
The third tab is for "Resources" which leads to links to other websites with information about the specific state:
Information about state research notes, research resources, vital records, statewide resources, and regional research are provided.
These "Place Pages" are very useful because Ancestry.com has almost 30,000 databases in their collection, and it is very hard to find records for a specific state or county, especially in newspaper records.
I thought that the country and state Place pages would form the skeleton for the Ancestry.com Family History Wiki, but the Wiki pages are somewhat different - see Wisconsin here (from the Red Book), Wisconsin County Resources here, the list of Wisconsin Counties here, and Dodge County here. Most of the County Pages on the Ancestry.com Family History Wiki are stubs, waiting for knowledgeable researchers to add content to them.