Monday, October 6, 2014

More Ways to Search on - Using AMT Persons

As I mentioned in My "Suggested Records" Lists Are Back on, But That's Not "All There Is," there are many ways to search for records for a specific person on

If you have an Ancestry Member Tree on Ancestry, you can have the search fields filled in automatically by  Here's an example:

1)  I wanted to search for my wife's mother, Edna May (Schaffner) Leland (1913-1979).  On the Search tab, I started typing her first name:

A list of Edna persons appeared from my active Ancestry Member Tree.  Edna Schaffner is down the list, so I scrolled down the list of names:

2)  I clicked on Edna May Schaffner on the name list, and the Search form fields were filled in (two screens below): added the name, including the maiden and married surnames, the birth, death and marriage dates and places, the parent's names, the spouse's name, and the children's names.

I checked on the "Historical Records" and "Stories and Publications" boxes, and did not check the "Family Trees" and "Photos and Maps" categories.

3) I clicked on the "Search" button, and received 25,900 matches (two screens shown), on the "Records" tab:

Notice the Sliders in the left-hand column.  All search parameters are set on "Broad" except for the surname field, which is set on "Exact, sounds like, and similar)."

A look at the records provided above show that the first six matches are for the correct Edna (Schaffner) Leland.  There are other matches for the correct Edna Schaffner, but they are further down the list (in some cases, below the screens above).

4)  I wanted to see how the list would contract if I made the First Name more focused, so I moved the First Name slider to the "Exact, sounds like, and similar" setting, and received "only" 10,855 matches:

The first six matches were for the correct person, and were the same as with the broader search.

5)  The six matches found in both searches match six of the eight Hints for Edna in my Ancestry Member Tree (the other two Hints are Ancestry Member Trees, and the California Find A Grave Index entry).

6)  However, it did not find all of the record matches.  For instance, the 1930 U.S. Census record for the Paul Schaffner family was not found - because it was indexed as Schaeffer (although it is clearly Schaeffner to my biased eyes).

7)  This study shows that, if you have an Ancestry Member Tree, and the target person has a birth date/place, death date/place, parents, spouse, children, etc., you are likely to find most of the records for that person using the Ancestry generated search fields.  The obvious exception is that of a surname with one of the consonants missing (probably one of the first three in the name) may not be found.  When I use this search method, I note what records seem to be missing - in the case above it was the 1930 U.S. census - and try to find it using wild cards for the surname, or just using the first name, birth date and birth place, and a parent or spouse's first name.  When I did this, I found Edna, her sister Muriel, and her parents Paul and Edna residing in San Francisco.

8)  But you still have to search for the individual using the known names and wisely picking the other parameters.  By using the name Edna Leland, without a birth year or birth place, and only records for San Francisco County, California, I found two voter register entries, and two City Directory entries that were not found by the general search on the first 100 matches.  They were on the long match list.  For searches like these, I find that the "Categories" match list (rather than the "Records" match list) is easier to use to find the prospective match.

9)  note that if you "Search Person" from within your Ancestry Member Tree, you get essentially the same results as above.  It doesn't find the 1930 U.S. census, but it does find (buried in the long list of matches on the "Records" tab) the Voter Registration and City Directory matches.

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Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver

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