Thursday, October 30, 2014

Demonstrating Adding Hints in a Specific Database to my RootsMagic Database

I have written several blog posts in the last month about finding record hints in a specific database for persons in my Ancestry Member Tree - see Finding Record Hints for Persons in a Specific Database on (posted 15 October 2014) and More on Finding Record Hints for a Specific Database on (posted 17 October 2014).

Last night (29 October 2014), on the Wacky Wednesday Hangout On Air (hosted by DearMYRTLE), I demonstrated the process I use to "mine" a specific database on and add information from that database to my RootsMagic 6 family tree database.  The YouTube video is at  You can watch it here also:

During the video, I demonstrated the following:

*  Finding your Ancestry Member Tree number (needed to find records in a database for persons in your Ancestry Member Tree)
*  Finding the Database ID number for the database you wish to "mine."  In this case, it was the 1940 U.S. Census (dbid=2442)
*  Modifying the example URL for your own Ancestry Member Tree number and Ancestry Database ID  number.
*  Viewing the list of the matches in the target database, and getting to the record image for the selected record.
*  Saving the file to my computer files, and renaming the file.
*  Accessing the Ancestry source citation information for the selected record.

*  For the person in the Ancestry record, finding the person in my RootsMagic database, and opening the Edit Person screen.
*  Adding a Census event for the 1940 U.S. census, using the place name from the record.  Adding the street address to the Census event.
*  Adding a source citation for the census event using the location, ED number, page number, and roll number from the Ancestry source citation, and the dwelling number and head of household name, to the source citation created in RootsMagic.  Memorizing the source citation so I can use it for other Facts and Persons in the census record.
*  Adding the saved record image as a Media item to the target person in my RootsMagic database, and tagging it to the Census event.
*  Adding an Occupation event and description in RootsMagic, using the record information and Pasting the memorized source citation from the Census event.
*  Adding the Census event for other persons in the census record and Pasting the memorized source citation.

*  Saving the record image to my Ancestry Member Tree.  

One item I did not demonstrate (because I forgot to do it!) was to add a Note to the Census event in RootsMagic that abstracts the information in the census record for the family.  I could have added other information from the Census record as additional Events in RootsMagic - like the Residence in 1935, the gender, approximate birth year and birth place, the education level, the household income, etc. to the Edit Person screen for each person in the household.   I usually add those items to the Event Note abstract for the head of household rather than create separate events and duplicate the Event Notes for each person in the household.

During the demonstration and in the discussion following, I made several other points;

*  Your Ancestry Member Tree needs to be "mature" - you have to give time to find all of the Hints for the persons in your Tree.  My experience is that adds 5 to 20 Hints each day to my tree added in July 2014 (the one I used for the demonstration).  I don't think the process is finished!

*  A user can enrich (or seed, or enhance, or drive, or tease, or stimulate) their Hint list by going into my Ancestry Member Tree in the "Family" view and selecting specific persons (say a 3rd great-grandparent), thereby seeing their descendants.  Ancestry will find Hints almost immediately for those persons in their databases (not only the 1940 U.S. Census).  I did that recently for a number of Seaver, Carringer, Auble and Vaux folks) and was rewarded with hundreds more Hints for the 1940 Census (and other databases also).

*  The database of interest needs to be "mature."  If Ancestry just added the database to their collections, not all of the Hints from that database will be immediately added for persons in my Ancestry Member Tree.

*  I have found that almost all matches provided to persons in my Ancestry Member Tree in the 1940 U.S. Census database were accurate - perhaps 1 to 2% applied to another person with the same name.

*  One of the most useful results from this capability is that married daughters and remarried widows may show up in the Hint list with their spouses and other family members.  That provides not only the relevant census data, but an census record can be used to provide "Suggested Records" for those persons that may provide more information about their lives -  census records, vital records, burial records, directory records , newspaper records, etc.

I have several reasons for "mining" specific databases, including:

*  I haven't added Census record events, and their source citations, to every relevant person in my database.  I've concentrated on my ancestors, but not the siblings of my ancestors, or their spouses, or the parents of the spouses.

*  It enables me to systematically add children or siblings of the target persons.

*  It is much easier for me to add events and source citations from one database at a time.  I can get into a rhythm of abstracting information, adding source citations, etc.

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver


Marian said...

Randy, many thanks to you and Russ for explaining this approach to updating my tree systematically with hints. I have a lot of hints that should be processed, and this will surely speed the plow.

In the Wacky Wednesday video, I noticed that you had to jump back and forth between windows to take text from Ancestry's little source window and retype it into your source fields on Roots Magic. I have resorted to dragging my mouse across that text in Ancestry's source window to get the "guts" of the census citation, then pasting it into my source citation in my desktop package (Reunion), manually adding a prefix of "1880 US Census" and a suffix with the date and street information, plus web site and access date. I live in fear of making a typo on an enumeration district, and cut-and-paste give me more confidence.

Diane Gould Hall said...

Can you believe it Randy? Ever since I read your post and watched the video 2 days ago, the Ancestry hints section has been down. I'm so anxious to try this method of researching and yet...still waiting.

Steve K said...

Randy, I am posting this comment more than two years after the original blog post, I hope you will still receive it and respond.

This is a great approach to mining the Ancestry databases. I have started using it and love it.

Now my question... How does (if it does) Ancestry keep up with what hints I have seen, and used in my trees. IF I accept the hint into my AMT they will of course know, but I prefer not to do that. I would rather:
1. Download the media to my computer;
2. Enter the facts appropriate to this information;
3. Write my own source/citation.

If I am using FTM (or FTMM3) and sync with my AMT, again Ancestry will see my facts, but not the specific info from the hints. Also, what if I use RootsMagic 7, then AMT will never know unless I upload a new gedcom to a new AMT.

Maybe the answer is that the hints are never updated, only added to. I hope this makes sense. I am trying to work through how to best use this tool.


Randy Seaver said...

Ancestry changed their URL system somewhat. Russ Worthington figured it out - I wrote about it in

Good luck -- Randy