Friday, July 5, 2013

Comparing "Old Search" and "New Search" Results on - Exact Matches

In comments on Comparing "Old Search" and "New Search" Results on (posted 28 June 2013), a reader said the "Old Search" was better than "New Search" because "...the list is much more compact, much easier to navigate and I find what I am looking for much faster."  In a later comment, she noted that: "Checking what seems to be the equivalent of 'exact matches' on New Search gives results that have the same appearance.  My issue is the extreme amount of empty space presented on New Search, requiring much scrolling to read them all. Therefore it takes longer to scan through and find possible real matches." 

I've also had some comments in email and in conversations with society colleagues that there are differences between "Old Search" and "New Search" results, even with "Exact Matches" checked.  

so, I decided to see if there are any differences between them for an Exact Match search for my great-grandfather, Charles Auble (1849-1916).  I'm going to assume that I know his correct name and his birthdate and birthplace (like a beginning researcher might know from family papers, or a death certificate).

1)  Here is the "Old Search" Advanced Search form I used for Charles Auble, born 1849 in New Jersey:

I put a birth year range of plus/minus 5 years on the birth year.

2)  Here are the results in "Old Search:"

There are 18 matches for:

*  1 1850 U.S. Federal Census record - good match
*  1 1870 U.S. Federal Census record - good match
*  1 1880 U.S. Federal census record - good match

*  10 Private Member Photos - all good matches
*  4 Public Member Photos & Scanned Documents - all good matches

*  1 Public Member Stories - good match

3)  I clicked on the 1880 U.S. Federal Census item, and saw the Record Summary:

The list of "Suggested Records" shows a 1900 U.S. Census record (for "Chas Auble") and a 1910 U.S. Census record (for "Charles Aubbe").  The "Old Search" missed those two items because someone has not added an "Alternate Name" that could be added to the index.

4)  The same search terms were entered into the "New Search" Advanced Search form:

5)  The Search results, on the "Records" Tab in "New Search," is:

The 18 "Search" results include:

*  A "Matching Person" - a good match
*  1 1880 U.S. Federal Census - good match
*  1 1870 U.S. Federal Census - good match
*  1 1850 U.s. Federal census - good match
*  4 Public Member Photos & Scanned documents - good matches
*  10 Private Member Photos - good matches
*  1 Public Member Stories - good match.

These are the same 18 matches as found in the "Old Search" search.  However, it appears that the "Matching Person" match found in "New Search" was not listed in the "Old Search" search.

6)  The "Categories" Tab in the "New Search" results showed 28 matches:

The 18 items shown in  5) above are listed, but 10 Family Trees are also listed - 8 public, and 2 private).  

7)  The Conclusions I draw from this study of one person are:

*  "Old Search" doesn't provide "Family Tree" results, even though all of the "Categories" on the Advanced Search for are checked.  

*  The "New Search" results are exactly the same as found on "Old Search" - plus it lists the "Family Trees" matches.  

Some people might say "well, we all know that those Family Trees on Ancestry are not sourced, and have wrong data."  On "Old Search," they don't even give the user the chance to see if information in the trees is available.  If I search the "Family Trees," I will find that at least two of the trees provide quality sources, scanned documents, and photos more than just the three census records found by the searches.

*  Both searches missed the two census records with different spellings of the name, but the "Suggested Records" for both searches found them.

8)  I think that the reason the "Family Trees" didn't show in the "Old Search" results was because the search was conducted only in "Historical Records."  The "Basic Form" results looks like this:

When I had clicked the "Family Trees" tab on the "Basic Form," there were 7 "Family Trees" found - 6 public, and 1 private.  

The same thing happened when I left the name but eliminated the birth information, and clicked on the "Stories and Publications" tab in "Old Search."  The search found 76 matches in "Stories and Publications."  In "New Search," it found those same matches in both the "Records" and "Categories" Views.  

So, we see that "New Search" finds ALL of the potential records (that match the search criteria) in an "Exact Search" but that "Old Search" doesn't.

However, it did not find ALL of the records for this person.  There are some Ancestry databases that don't index a birth year or age, and therefore are missed in an "Exact Match" search.  some examples are City directories, Voter Registers, Public Records, Newspapers, etc.  A researcher needs to do multiple levels of searches.

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copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver

1 comment:

Cousin Russ said...


I know this guy .... What happens when you do a +/- 10 years for his birth year. Didn't he and his wife move to Chicago from Terre Haute?