Today, I want to explore the Search fields a bit more and determine the best way to navigate around the site. I logged in as a member, so I could access more of the databases, and clicked on the "Advanced Search" link on the "Explore" menu. The Advanced Criteria"form looks like this:
There are fields for First Name, Last Name, Year Range, Category, Database, Record Type, Country, Province/Country/State, and City/Town. There is a checkbox above the Last Name field for Soundex. There are eleven Categories:
* Atlases, Maps and Reference Materials (2 databases)
* Census, Tax and Voter Lists (25 databases)
* Court, Land and Probate Records (22 databases)
* Diaries and Transcripts (7 databases)
* Genealogies, Biographies, Heraldry and Local Histories (42 databases)
* Immigration Records (5 databases)
* Journals, Periodicals and Articles (21 databases)
* Military Records (12 databases)
* Societies and Organizations (6 databases)
* Town Records (10 databases)
* Vital Records (including Bible, Cemetery, Church and SSDI) (about 200 databases)
If you choose one of the categories to limit your search, then you can choose "All" databases or select one of the databases in the Category (by clicking in the Database field), as shown below:
This is a Search Field nuance that is not obvious. I checked to see if a general search of all databases with First Name = "William" and Last Name = "Seaver" picks up this entry in the Dedham MA Vital Records. It should, but it doesn't.
I clicked on the "Search" button, and received five matches in this one database:
In the first match, I clicked on the underlined link and saw:
Down at the bottom of this Results page is a detailed description of the history of the source material that includes the specific record, and a source citation for the source material is included at the bottom of the web page.
Vital Records of Dedham, Mass. 1635-1845 (Online Database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2007), (The Record of Births, Marriages and Deaths, and Intentions of Marriage, in the Town of Dedham. Volumes 1 & 2. Editied by Don Gleason Hill, Dedham, MA, 1886)
Navigation within the http://www.americanancestors.org/ Advanced Search pages has a learning curve. My navigation comments include:
* The "Search" key is "below the fold" on my computer screen - it should be placed near the top of the Search Box so that users don't have to scroll down to find it. The user can fill in some blanks and press the "Enter" key to initiate the search.
By far the most important Search tip is to be sure to read the Search Tips for specific databases. I would not trust a general search of all databases with a First Name and Last Name because apparently some databases are not indexed by First Name (see my example of William Seaver in the Dedham VR book noted above).
By the way, did anyone catch the typo in the source citation noted above? My spell-checker did!