Thursday, August 6, 2015 Hides Record Image Breadcrumb Trails

Rant ON:  What happened?  Did Ancestry eliminate the "Breadcrumb Trail" that I relied upon and used in source citations?  Did you notice this?  Does it matter to you?  Actually, they only HID the record image "Breadcrumb Trail."

One of the neat things I thought did, starting in about 2012 and up to the latest "New" changes in June 2015, was to provide a "Breadcrumb Trail" for digitized images of records so that a researcher could find the specific record while browsing a record database by following information in a source citation.

1)  In 2012, I made this record image for the marriage of Sophia Buck and Lambert Brigham in 1816 in Sterling, Massachusetts:

Note the information in the red box above.  It includes the Database title - in this case "Massachusetts, Town Vital Collections, 1620-1988" in the first line, and the "Breadcrumb Trail" in the second line - "Sterling - Births, Marriages and Deaths."  The image number is also provided below the green line on the right-hand side.

This specific record database has millions of indexed records from thousands of town record books in Massachusetts that were digitized from the Holbrook microfiche collection.  It is absolutely necessary to know which town record book the record came from - the town, and the record book number.

For this record, I crafted a source citation for the marriage of Sophia Buck and Lambert Brigham as:

Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988, digital images, ( : accessed 20 September 2012), "Sterling Births, Marriages and Deaths," Marriages, page 261 (penned), image 231 of 1007, Sophia Buck and Lambert Brigham entry; citing original data in: Town and City Clerks of Massachusetts. Massachusetts Vital and Town Records. Provo, UT: Holbrook Research Institute (Jay and Delene Holbrook).

Note the "Breadcrumb Trail" in the source citation (highlighted in Bold).  That is how someone who saw this source citation would find the exact record image by Browsing the record database. changed the "look" of the record image page and the Breadcrumb Trail in early 2015, but it retained the feature at the top of the image and moved the image number information to the bottom of the image.

2)  Now, after the June 2015 "improvement" to the "New" website, the same record image looks like this:

Note that there is no "Breadcrumb Trail" above the record that tells the user which town and record volume the image is from.  The record image number ("231 of 1097") is an overlay at the bottom of the image.  There are also icons on the right-hand side of the image for "Full Screen," "Record Information," "Tools" and "Zoom In and Out."

When the second icon for "Record Information" is clicked, the information box appears on the right-hand side of the screen.  There are three tabs - for "Details, "Related Content" and "Source."  The "Source" information tab looks like this:

And there is the "Breadcrumb Trail" information - the Town and record book title, and the Ancestry Source Citation.

So now, in order to find the "Breadcrumb Trail" information for an Evidence Explained quality source citation, I have to click two more times (once on the "Record Information" icon and then on the "Source" tab)  from the record image to find the information that was provided on the record image page before.

There are many record databases in the Ancestry record collection that have these new "feature" changes.  This record database is not unique.

This is a significant change, and is not, in my humble opinion, an improvement to the record image experience.  It makes my task more difficult.

3)  Frankly, should include the "Breadcrumb Trail" for record databases like this in their own Source Citations.  The source citation for this specific record is: does not provide source citation details for these records - they only provide the master source information, and the original data.  The source citation detail for this specific record should identify the date accessed, the town, the record book, the page number, the image number, and the persons in the specific record.

How many users will even see the icons on the right-hand side of the image?  How many users will take the time to craft an Evidence Explained quality source citation?

4)  Rant OFF.  I feel better now, but I'm still frustrated by "improvements" that make my life's work more difficult.

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Copyright (c) 2015, Randall J. Seaver

Please comment on this post on the website by clicking the URL above and then the "Comments" link at the bottom of each post.  Or contact me by email at


Geolover said...

They have been planning to hide a reasonable facsimile of source-data for a couple of years. We are lucky they retained the source-data at all.

Increasingly the site is being tailored to devices with smaller and smaller viewscreens.

Whether the source-information will continue to be attachable to a tree is questionable, given the most recent fragmentation of tree functions and related data (such as dysfunctional and erroneous place-name displays).

T said...

I've lost count of the clicks required to do ANYTHING at ancestry since the new and improved site. In the PAST, I worked on a tree there and synced with my software. I have given up on the site. Now I use my software and look in other places for the information I need. Documents, photos, notes, facts, etc. are all added on my computer. They won't disappear every two years. No more big bucks for a subscription. I upgraded my software buying on eBay for a fraction of the cost. Ancestry has lost me as a customer. My life is difficult enough without paying someone to make it more difficult. And the shocker - I went from every day ancestry to occasional visitor when I'm notified one of my cousins has added something to their tree. I use 2 other sites for DNA so I don't even need ancestry for that!

anitab said...

I sure did notice this change! In the past, I always did a 'screen shot' of the info, as well as downloading the document, so I've been very frustrated by the changes lately.

Also, maybe I'm missing something, but part of what you could do at the top was use drop-down windows to search a nearby area - another part of the county when it's a census record - when I'm hunting hard, I've been known to do page-by-page looking...

I appreciate your desire to maintain as positive an outlook as possible. I try to do that, as well. However. I've about had it with Ancestry!!

leslielawson said...

While looking at the record, hit the S key. Source box opens.

June said...

That was one of the two changes that frustrated me, the other is the printer-friendly version of the fact page. The other change I noticed that any document image I have already add to my tree is not accessible now that I'm on Ancestry break. In the past when I was on break it allowed me to see already add document images.

Mary Foxworthy said...

I, too, have pretty much given up on Ancestry. For now at least. I don't like the new interface at all. It requires far too much scrolling and there's to much redundancy in the Facts pages. I find it very awkward. I'm hopeful that they'll pay attention to feedback and make modifications over time.

And I'm another person who resents not being able to view sources that were added in the past while I'm on an Ancestry break.

My library has world subscription so that's my source for Ancestry searches these days. When I need to re-subscribe, I'll do it one month at a time.