Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Ancestry Database Card Catalog

Did you know that www.Ancestry.com has a Database Card Catalog? They hide it well - it's at http://www.ancestry.com/search/rectype/alldblist.aspx. The only place I found it was on the Search tab sub-page at http://www.ancestry.com/search/Default.aspx.

Why don't they put a link to it on their main entry Home page www.Ancestry.com so that it's easy to find and use? I often want to look through the card catalog for a specific county, state or country - just to see what is offered in their 25,000 plus databases.

For instance, I was looking for Mississippi databases - just browsing so I can help a colleague. On the Card Catalog page, I input "Mississippi" in the "What location are you interested in?" box.

I received a list of 8,562 databases - including all of the census records, military records, etc. Checking this out, 8,231 of them are the Family and Local Histories. It's not clear if they all mention Mississippi, but I sincerely doubt it.

So I selected "Birth, Marriage and Death Records" in the "Record Type" box, and there were 24 matches. Including four that are specifically related to Mississippi only - all marriage indexes. Others that obviously have MS records are the Social Security Death Index, the Obituary Collection, the Freedmen's Marriage Records, the New Orleans French, etc. But there are some listed - e.g., Boston BBMDs 1630-1699, Mayflower Marriages - that surely don't have a single mention of Mississippi in them.

With "Mississippi" in the "Keyword" box, I got essentially the same numbers for the different record types.

This Card Catalog could be very useful if it had sufficient keyword applications applied accurately.


Thomas MacEntee said...

I agree with you - I'm glad you didn't keep Ancestry's card catalog a secret the way I did. It is one of my most used bookmarks.

I use it to see if a book is available rather than start to look at Google books. I am often able to find what I need.

Elizabeth O'Neal said...

Why does Ancestry make SO MANY things difficult to find??

That's the $64,000 question, IMO.

Thanks for sharing, Randy.

Anonymous said...

You should also be checking HeritageQuest to see if they have a book available. Your local library probably has a subscription and you probably even have remote access. Check your local library's webpage. Librarians created card catalogs for a reason. ;>