Friday, May 24, 2013

Follow-Up Friday - Helpful and Interesting Reader Comments

This week's helpful and interesting, and sometimes challenging, reader comments (and my brilliant repartee) include:

1)  On Dear Randy - How Do I Research My German Ancestors? (posted 21 May 2013):

*  Annick commented:  "You gave very good advice to Dieter. I am in the same boat, but I am from France with NO one on this side of the pond either. My family doesn't really want to cooperate, so I had to fend for myself. I have found lots of leads on Geneanet (great suggestion), I have searched for blogs like yours in French for tips and tricks on how to research in France over the internet, I have gone to each of the "departements" official sites where I know I have ancestors and searched in their on line records (I am sure the Lander in Germany has some too), I have a world subscription at which was very disappointing (over $300 for a total of 25 documents with no hope of finding more), I have paid for a membership in the genealogical society of the department where I have the most ancestors and plan on doing it again in another where I have found some leads (advise I got from numerous American genealogy blogs). And I have downloaded loads of great French Google books for FREE to improve my knowledge of my country's history to allow me to place my folks in the proper context. I am learning so much about the past, if not so much about my family, but this makes me happy anyway and it certainly gives a workout to my brain."

*  bgwiehle offered:  "Your correspondent has 3 major advantages: he knows the language (which helps immensely with older texts and handwriting), he has lived and was schooled in Germany (will be familiar with German geography, history and civil procedures), and he is now in the US (some record-access restrictions in Germany are not applied when looking at the same records in the USA, esp. FamilySearch microfilms).

"Hopefully he has contacts and will find someone with knowledge of his family's origins a couple of generations back. Without a starting place, finding records will be like looking for the proverbial needle. There have been MAJOR population movements in the last 150 years that complicate people's origins in Germany - from the late industrial revolution to the two World Wars to the end of the Iron Curtain and more recent times. Assuming from his query for German ancestors that his family is not Polish, Russian, Turkish, etc. within recent memory (or obvious surname), they might still have been displaced from some other region in Europe.

"Most of the resources you mentioned will be helpful to orient a beginner genealogist. Once past that point, they focus on English-speaking, usually US, descendants of the German immigrants. Even in Crista Cowan's talk on German research last week, the focus was on searching all the US records first - censuses, then naturalizations, then passenger lists, and finally in Germany itself, maybe. Not helpful to Dieter, the new immigrant himself.

"Correction to your point 3): It should not be necessary to subscribe to the World Deluxe subscription at if only German records are needed - subscribe at the German site,

"A MAJOR German website that was omitted from your blog post, is GenWiki [], which has its own mailing lists, family trees (Ortsfamilienbücher & Gedbas), links to regional genealogical societies and many, many other resources. Many of the sub-domains have multiple language options."

*  Ernie Thode said:  "I would also suggest the metasearch site to get 10 different databases at once, including, among other things, Ortsfamilienbücher (local heritage books), submitted family research, and directories (Adressbücher). This is the metasearch site for the GenWiki that bwiehle mentions, kind of a one-stop shopping site. This is available in both German and English."

*  Gary Fredericksen noted:  "Great suggestions. I would like to suggest two additional basic sources - 1) Google "Genealogy Research Germany (or any other country) and 2) review what is on Cyndislist. Both of these give good starting places in addition to what you gave."

*  Jeff Hodge said:  "I just want to point out one of the FamilySearch instructional videos (Randy's list #2). On the second page of that link is a couple of excellent courses in German handwriting. It really helped me with some Bible records figuring out person's names, dates, places, and terms (marriage, etc)."

*  Anonymous commented:  "If one lives in San Diego County, the San Diego Genealogy Society has a German interest group that meets the 3rd Wednesday of the month, 1:00 at the Family History Center in Mission Valley. Next meeting is June 19. Also just posted a new video on YouTube about German research."

*  Bobbie offered:  "I have found good connections on and

"There are a number of German genealogy groups in the US, that may be of some help."

My comments:  THANK YOU all (and I'm sure that Dieter thanks you too!) for all of the great suggestions and commentary.  What a wonderful example of crowd sourcing when the geneablogger has no clue... I completely forgot about Cindy's List!  One thing I tried to do for my list was to make it as generic as possible - for most of the items on my list, you could plug in another country in place of "Germany" and get a decent start on researching in that country.

*  Nancy Marty noted:  "At the moment, I'm frustrated with's new search format. I had saved a census record several months ago and wanted to go back to see the page before and after it. When I entered the person's name for that census year, it first told me there were too many results to list. Then I added the city, etc. and it couldn't find any results! When I looked closely at my saved document, I noticed the name, Schaufert, didn't have the 'c' in it. Previously, Ancestry would have included that in the results. I had to spell it the same way for it to be included in the results. I checked and nowhere did I have an exact box checked. And the new format didn't give me a column on the right with suggestions of other records for this person. I loved that! So far, I can't say I like the new format and the results of the searches I've done tonight."

My comment:  I think that you could have found your previously found record by going to the Shoebox on the Ancestry home page and clicking the "Downloaded and printed records" tab.  A "Best Practice" might be to save every record you want to keep to the Shoebox.  It's just one more click and could save you lots of time searching for it again.  

I don't believe that Ancestry has changed the search algorithms recently, only the search box on the home page.  The "Search" tab fields and settings are "sticky," meaning they are set the way you had them the last time you used them.  It's possible that your earlier search used settings somewhat different than when you tried recently.

*  Sharon said:  "The only way I use is with 'old search.'"

*  Diva Donna commented:  "I'd been able, thru some huge luck, save a search from the really old search page that I continued to use.  I've hated every new search they've come up with.
Now, the only link I had saved, won't bring back that old page, & this new one is worse then the last!  It was so much easier for me to find people in the old search!"

My comment:  "Old Search" is still there, and still works well, at least on the standard Ancestry site (perhaps not on the Ancestry Library Edition site).  You have to go to the "Search" tab, and in the upper right-hand corner, just below the menu ribbon, in very small print, is the "Go to Old Search" link.  The "Old Search" home page even has an "Exact matches only" check box.

My guess is (and I have no inside information about this) that Ancestry will eventually discard "Old Search" and everyone will have to use "New Search" (which will then be the next "Old Search" when another search algorithm set is introduced).  I don't see any benefit to the current "Old Search" and use the "New Search" with all of its' bells and whistles to find my ancestors.

*  T asked:  "How do you make the name collage? I would love to do this as a wall hanging for my family."

My response:  I did the name collage on  I made the different name sizes by putting 5 entries for some, down to one entry for others.

*  Susan Cline asked:  "Here's a question for all you knowledgeable people. Daughter of Moses Barber and Susannah West was Dinah Barber who married Edward Wilcox in 1716. Born was Martha Wilcox abt 1722 in Westerly, RI. She married Daniel Burdick, 1746 in Stonington, CT. Died in No. Stonington 1815. No record of birth in Westerly Town Hall. No record of marriage in Stonington, and no record of death in North Stonington. Not mentioned in her father's will. Does anyone know anything about Martha Wilcox Burdick? Need for Mayflower connection to George Soule."

My comment:  Perhaps someone will read your question and have an answer.  Unfortunately, the "Silver Book" for George Soule (#3 in the Mayflower Families Through Five Generations series) doesn't carry the Moses Barber/Susannah West descendants forward.  

5)  Thank you to all of my readers, and especially to those that make comments on my posts that are helpful, interesting and challenging.   I learn a lot from them!

Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver

1 comment:

Densie said...

The advantage of "Old Search" on is the lack of dead space. New search has so much empty space between each entry that it takes forever to scan through lists to quickly find possible matches.

On a recent search Old Search showed me a list of over 23 census records without having to scroll down, New Search had 4, then I had to scroll down to get the next four. Wastes much time.