Thursday, May 2, 2013

CVGS Program Summary - "Searching Effectively"

I wrote this summary for the May 2013 CVGS Newsletter, and thought my readers might appreciate it:

The April 26th meeting of the Chula Vista Genealogical Society featured Randy Seaver's presentation titled "Searching Effectively."

In this presentation, Randy focused on searching record database, rather than family trees, DNA and the other features and services that provides.  He identified 19 different tools or methods to use to effectively search databases on, including:

*  Customize your Home Page (move the most important features to the top of your home page)
*  Use the Card Catalog Searches (Titles or Keywords) and Filters (Collections, Locations, Dates, Languages)
*  Consult the "New and Updated Collections" Page often  (
*  Search from the Home Page (basic form only), the Search Tab (basic or advanced form) and from within an Ancestry Member Tree.

*  Choose New Search (more search parameters) or Old Search (some people like it better)
*  Search or Browse a Specific Collection (e.g., Census and voter Records) or a Specific Database (e.g., the 1900 U.S. Census)
*  Remember that Search Forms are "Sticky" (they remember your last search form settings)
*  Select Ranked Matches (uses a star system to list probable matches) or Exact Matches (searches exactly what you specified)

*  Use Name Filters and Location Filters (only in New Search, Default, Exact or variations)
*  Sort Matches by Relevance (best matches from all databases in star ranking order) or Summarize by Category (number of matches listed by Collection and specific database)
*  Use "Edit Search" or "Hot Keys" to Modify Search Parameters (New Search only)
*  Follow Up on "Suggested Records" Provided by

*  Use the Source Citation information provided by Ancestry to cite the source of the information
*  Know and use all of the Image Viewer Options - Index, Correct, Source, Save, Print, Share, Full Screen, etc.
*  Understand the Wild Card Rules for Names and Use Them
*  Use Keyword Searches in OCR-based Databases (e.g., Newspapers, books, etc.)

*  Use Ancestry Navigation Tips/Tricks (go to home page using Ancestry logo; right-click to open one match or database from the match or database list; right-click on Back browser button to go back several screens, etc.)
*  The Customer Help button (top right) is your friend - use "Ask Ancestry"
*  Check the YouTube page weekly videos ( and Ancestry Anne presentations for more search tips (

Randy summed up the talk saying:

*'s “New Search” Capability is the Most Sophisticated and Complex Search Algorithm in Genealogy.

*  “New Search” has a Steep Learning Curve – Users Need to Practice to Learn How to Use It

*  Check Your Search Fields (they are "Sticky") Regularly – the Computer and Websites Do Exactly What You Tell them to do!

*  Use the Card Catalog and Filters to Find Hidden or Unindexed Databases

*  The “Help” Link or Button is your Friend!

Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver

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