Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Tuesday's Tip - Search Ancestry.com Hints by Record Collection

This week's Tuesday's Tip is:  Use Ancestry.com Hints for a Specific Database to Add Content to Your Ancestry.com Member Tree.

Did you know that you can filter your Ancestry.com green leaf Hints by record collection?  I currently have over 41,000 Hints in my "big" tree with almost 43,000 persons in it.  More are being added every day.

How do I deal with them?  Well, I've chosen to add content to my Ancestry Member Tree (facts, sources, images) by mining individual databases.  I manually add the events, sources and images to my RootsMagic database also.  I find this process easier to handle one database at a time rather than one person at a time, or one page of Hints (20 Hints per page, so I have over 2,000 pages to look at!).  When I finish a selected database, I have a feeling of accomplishment.  And I've added content and sources that enrich my database and may help other researchers who find the information in my Ancestry Member Tree.

I've written about searching Ancestry.com databases by record collection previously in:

*  Finding Record Hints for Persons in a Specific Database on Ancestry.com (posted 15 October 2014) 

*  More on Finding Record Hints for a Specific Database on Ancestry.com (posted 17 October 2014).

*  Demonstrating Adding Ancestry.com Hints in a Specific Database to my RootsMagic Database (30 October 2014)

If you read those posts, you can see that there are two key numbers to learn:

*  Your Ancestry Member Tree number - if you open your Ancestry Member Tree to the tree chart, the Tree number is in the URL (Internet address) at the top of your screen.  

*  The Ancestry.com database number for the selected database.

Let me demonstrate it again here.  

1)  The screen below shows my Pedigree view of my Ancestry Member Tree:

At the top of the browser page (not shown above) is the URL (Internet address) for this Ancestry Member Tree:

The URL is http://trees.ancestry.com/tree/71134866/family

My Ancestry Member Tree number is the 8-digit number in the URL:  71134866.

2)  Use the Ancestry.com Card Catalog to find the database number of the database you want to search.  I chose the World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918.

In the URL line on my browser is the address for this specific database.  It is:


The Ancestry database number for the World War I Draft Registration database is number 6482.

3)  Now, the magic URL to search my Ancestry Member Tree (71134866) by this specific database (6482) is:


You will have to substitute your own Ancestry Member Tree number and the database number that you want to search.  You can add my URL above into your browser but don't click Enter.  Put your cursor in the URL and substitute your Ancestry Member Tree number in place of mine and the database number you selected.  Once I had these numbers in my browser address line, I saved the URL in my Bookmarks so I could easily use it again.

4)  When I plugged the URL for the World War I Draft Registrations into my browser, I received my results:

I had 191 entries for persons in my Ancestry Member Tree in the World war I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 collection.  I can then go through these one at a time, attaching or rejecting the record image to persons in my tree, which will also attach the Ancestry.com source citation, and adding the information to my RootsMagic database.

I usually click on the link for the record for the person - in the screen above I chose the link to the image for Leslie Delmar Acker, the first person on the list above:

I can add the pertinent information to my RootsMagic database, and a source citation to Evidence Explained standards (note that Ancestry.com's source citations are not to EE standards).  

The World War I Draft Registrations, 1917-1918 are for males born between 1874-1900, and the coverage is fairly complete.  The record always contains a full name, a birth date, a current location, an employer, a next of kin, a signature, and a description of the person.  This is an excellent record for males born in that time period; some states do not have birth indexes or certificates for that time period.  

5)  Ancestry.com is still finding Hints for me (about 5-10 each day!), so I will have to revisit these specific databases every so often.  So far I've completed the Social Security Death Index, the 1940 U.S. Census, and Find A Grave using this process.  I'm currently working in the 1930 U.S. Census.  

My experience is that the Hints provided are 95% to 100% accurate - the Ancestry.com search engines are excellent.  Of course, they don't find everything due to really different name spelling variations, or errors in my Ancestry Member Tree.  My guess is that they find 80% to 90% of the possible matches.  

This process works well for me - I continue to add content and source citations to my database, enriching the profiles of my Tree persons gradually, one record at a time.  I have a feeling of accomplishment when I finish a database.

It makes more sense to me to let Ancestry's search engines do these tasks rather than fumble with search field entries.  It saves me time, and energy, and I can sleep at night while Ancestry.com works to find records for my Tree persons.  

6)  It would be really helpful if Ancestry.com would enable this to be done with one click - for example, a link on the selected database page that says "Search your Ancestry Member Tree for persons with entries in this database."  

The URL for this post is:  http://www.geneamusings.com/2015/01/tuesdays-tip-search-ancestrycom-hints.html

Copyright (c) 2015, Randall J. Seaver


Geolover said...

I do not get search results using the basic URL in your post (of course, adjusting the tree number and changing database number).

Are you using a chrome browser? I do not use this because I object to the google tracking embedded in it.

Have you tried it using other browsers?

I use Firefox.

Double Karma said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Randy Seaver said...

I use Chrome as my browser.

I downloaded Firefox to my laptop and clicked on the link for my tree and the World War I database, and it worked fine.

You have to be careful adding your own AMT number to the URL you copy from the blog post.

J said...

I had been hoping something like this was possible. Thank you so much!

Cousin Russ said...

As a follow up to Randy's blog post, I did a Video Blog post on this topic. This process works well.


Cheri Hudson Passey said...

Thanks so much! Been using Ancestry for years and did not know that I could set things up like that. Very helpful.

tlisinaz said...

I tried this tip and it worked great. It is going to be very helpful in future searches in my family tree. Thanks for the tip.

Tom Larkin
Tucson, AZ

TK said...

Well, THAT is just the coolest thing since my dogwalk this morning. Thanks, Randy!

Diane Gould Hall said...

As I recall you had mentioned this before. I didn't do it then, because don't you know Ancestry was down for at least a day just at the time I needed it. Thanks for posting this Randy. I will be using it tomorrow (please no site problems). Can't wait to give it a try.
Love your posts. They are so helpful.

Charlene Baer said...

Thank you! This works great! I'm having too much fun doing this.

Unknown said...

The update has broken (among many other things) this trick. Has anyone gotten it to work?

Just FYI, Ancestry rechecks hints for every person updated. That's typically where my new hints come from, but I have gone through my entire tree, made and change and changed it back, to have all available hints. (I made a macro to do it.)

Randy Seaver said...

For Unknown,

I just checked it with five links I posted previously or saved in my Bookmarks. It still works for me (using Windows 7, Chrome browser).

Double Karma said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Randy Seaver said...

Ancestry changed their URL system somewhat. Russ Worthington figured it out - I wrote about it in http://www.geneamusings.com/2016/05/mining-ancestrycom-hints-by-specific.html

Good luck -- Randy

T said...

I couldn't get it to work in Firefox.

Cousin Russ said...


The browser is not an issue.

Do you have any details about "couldn't get it to work in Firefox" ?

Do you know your Tree Number ?

Do you know the DBID ?


Unknown said...

Did they change things again because when i try it, it just takes me to my All Hints page. I know I'm doing it right because it worked for me way back when you first told us about it, but I forgot about it and am just now retrying it. Thanks for any help.

Cousin Russ said...


Not sure what you are saying. The only change, and this happened a while ago, is that you see the All Hits page BUT the number of Pages are many fewer.

Look at your AMT, All Hints, see how many pages or Record Hints, then use the link for a specific Record Group (DBID) and the number of Pages will be reduced.


Unknown said...

When it goes to my All Hints page it shows hints for all categories not just the specific one that I asked to look through. I put in my /amt and the DBID for Social Security and it was showing me hints for census records and other records. Vickie

Cousin Russ said...


What was the DBID that you used for the SSDI?


Randy Seaver said...


Ancestry changed their URL system somewhat back in May 2016. Russ Worthington figured it out - I wrote about it in http://www.geneamusings.com/2016/05/mining-ancestrycom-hints-by-specific.html

Unknown said...

Randy, Thanks, I did see that post and Russ I used the one you put in the database posting you had about the changes. I used 3693 for the SSDI number and I did put my number in the right place too. I basically copied and pasted my info in. Vickie

Unknown said...

Hi there - Fellow hint filterer here. The base hyperlink does not seem to be working today. Is anyone else running across this issue? If so, whoever figures out the new link will be my hero!

Cousin Russ said...


Yes, Ancestry changed to URL format.


XXXX - your Tree Number
#### - DBID


Unknown said...

Not all heroes wear capes. Thank you, Russ!

Randy Seaver said...

Thank you, Russ, for answering Lauren's plea.

I'm not getting email notification of the Comments for some reason (perhaps it's GDPR related?), so I'm not trained yet to check for them every day. Sorry I missed your comment, Lauren.

Bernie said...

It seems more Ancestry collections have switched from a numeric db# to a shortened name. Example US, Evangelical Lutheran Church Records used to db #60722, but is now elcabmd. Has anyone figured out how to alter the Search String to get alphabetical db names to work?
Using the Search String with 60722 still works, but using elcabmd does not.

Randy Seaver said...

Hi Bernie,

Yes, I noted that they are using the alpha db names. When you click on the database in the Card Catalog, the db number shows briefly and it switches to the alpha name.

I haven't tried to use the alpha name, but you did and it didn't work. Bummer!

michelorraine said...

If you 'Inspect' the record in the Card Catalog view, you can find the DBID.

I found the DBID for the "Newspapers.com Obituary Index, 1800s-current" by right clicking on the hyperlink once the search results are completed in the Card Catalog, and selecting "Inspect".

Upon Inspecting the collection, I found the link:

The DBID for the Newspapers.com collection is 61843. It worked for me.

Unknown said...

THANK YOU!! This is so helpful!