Monday, May 2, 2016

Mining Hints by Specific Record Collection - Updated

I've written about searching databases by specific record collection for persons in my Ancestry Member Tree previously in:

 Mining Records for Persons in Your Ancestry Member Tree (posted 29 January 2013)

*  Finding Record Hints for Persons in a Specific Database on (posted 15 October 2014) 
*  More on Finding Record Hints for a Specific Database on (posted 17 October 2014).
*  Demonstrating Adding Hints in a Specific Database to my RootsMagic Database (posted 30 October 2014)
*  Tuesday's Tip - Search Hints by Record Collection (posted 27 January 2015)

About three weeks ago, this process to find the Hints for persons in my Ancestry Member Tree in a specific database stopped working.  I think it was when changed the look and feel of their Hinting system.  Several Genea-Musings readers contacted me by email and on Facebook, and asked me if something had changed and if I had a solution for our problem.  I did not at the time, although I tried.

1)  Yesterday, my colleague and geneablogger Russ Worthington emailed me with a fix which he worked out somehow.  

Whereas the previous method was to use: as a URL,

where "treenumb" is your Ancestry Member Tree number, and "dbas" is the Ancestry database number.

Now, the new method is to use: as a URL,

where "treenumb" is your Ancestry Member Tree number, and "dbas" is the Ancestry database number.

Using my Ancestry Member Tree number (treenumb=71134866) and the database number (dbas=6061) for the 1920 U.S. Census, the URL for my Ancestry Member Tree Hints for the 1920 U.S. Census is:

Note that that URL will not work for anyone but me because my Ancestry Member Tree is usable only by me.

The result is shown below:

I have six pages (about 120 Hints) remaining for persons in my Ancestry Member Tree (I had about 1,200 when I started on them a year ago).  However, the number of Hints for this database don't show up in the list on the left side of the screen - the "Records" count is for my entire database, not just this one specific database.

2)  See Tuesday's Tip - Search Hints by Record Collection for specific directions on how to find your Ancestry Member Tree number and the database number.

I listed a number of database numbers for specific databases in an earlier post.  My list is:

*  1940 U.S. Census:  dbid=2442
*  1930 U.S. Census:  dbid=6224
*  1920 U.S. Census:  dbid=6061
*  1910 U.S. Census:  dbid=7884
*  1900 U.S. Census:  dbid=7602
*  1880 U.S. Census:  dbid=6742
*  1870 U.S. Census:  dbid=7163
*  1860 U.S. Census:  dbid=7667
*  1850 U.S. Census:  dbid=8054

*  Social Security Death Index:  dbid=3693
*  California Birth Index, 1905-1995:  dbid=5247
*  California Marriage Index, 1960-1985:  dbid=1144
*  California Death Index, 1940-1997:  dbid=5180
*  Texas Birth Index, 1902-1997: dbid=8781
*  Texas Death Certificates, 1903-1982:  dbid=2272
*  Pennsylvania Death Certificates, 1906-1963:  dbid=5164
*  Pennsylvania and New Jersey Church and Town Records, 1708-1985:  dbid=2451
*  Massachusetts Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988:  dbid=2495
*  U.S. Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935: dbid=2189

*  U.S. Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current:  dbid=60525
*  U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989:  dbid=2469
*  U.S. School Yearbooks, 1880-2012: dbid=1265
*  New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957:  dbid=7488
*  U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925: dbid=1174
*  U.S. World War I, Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918: dbid=6482
*  U.S. World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942:  dbid=1002
*  U.s. World War II Army Enlistments, 1938-1946: dbid =8939
*  U.S. World War II Navy Muster Rolls, 1938-1949: dbid=1143

*  1911 England Census:  dbid=2352
*  1901 England Census:  dbid=7814
*  1891 England Census: dbid=6598
*  1881 England Census: dbid=7572
*  1871 England Census: dbid=7619
*  1861 England Census: dbid=8767
*  1851 England Census: dbid=8860
*  1841 England Census: dbid=8978

*  1921 Canada Census:  dbid=8991
*  1911 Canada Census:  dbid=8947
*  1901 Canada Census:  dbid=8826
*  1891 Canada Census:  dbid=1274
*  1881 Canada Census:  dbid=1577
*  1871 Canada Census:  dbid=1578
*  1861 Canada Census:  dbid=1570
*  1851 Canada Census:  dbid=1061

3)  When I use the list of Hints by Specific Database, I either Accept the Hint or Ignore the Hint so that it disappears from the list.  That way, I only have Hints that I haven't seen in the specific database to look at.  

I try to do 20 or 40 Hints each week in a specific database.  I can do about 20 in an hour - reviewing the Hint, deciding if I need to add the content and the source citation to my RootsMagic database, and then doing it.  

I was almost finished with the 1920 U.S. Census when this problem occurred.  I have already completed 1940 Census, 1930 Census, World War I Draft Registrations, Pennsylvania Death Certificates, and several more.  However, Ancestry keeps adding more Hints to persons in my Ancestry Member Tree (I have 42,922 persons in my AMT, but Hints for only 7,920 persons - they add Hints to several persons every day, it seems), so I'm never done. 

4)  How hard would it be for to create a link on each searchable database that says:

"Search this database for persons in your Ancestry Member Tree."  Perhaps like this for the 1920 census:

Such a button and link should be easy to configure and program by the coders at, and it would make doing research in a specific database much easier for many researchers.

5)  Kudos and thank you to Russ Worthington for figuring out the magic URL that unlocks the Hints for a specific database.  Now I can go back to work.


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Copyright (c) 2016, Randall J. Seaver

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Pam Carter said...

Thanks for posting this, Randy! I've been looking for a way to do this very thing.

Geolover said...

The earlier URL link never worked for me in Firefox. I hope the new one will -- with thanks to Cousin Russ!

Steve K said...

I've been using this method for almost a year now, with first the original url and lately with the new one. I find it much more efficient to work from one source at a time.

I am currently working on the U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index (db= 60901) which includes parents.

My workflow is to download a record file (in the example, as an index, I download a PDF of the page), name it appropriately, IGNORE the hint. (I want all syncing from my desktop (FTMM3) to my AMT). After downloading records for all matches in this database.

Then in my database I process each record. This makes sourcing go quickly as the sources are all the same, with adjusted citations.

Magda said...

You guys are lifesavers. I have been using your methods of finding hints in specific databases for awhile and so happy to employ that method again !

Unknown said...

Not sure you've mentioned this before, but while you're manipulating the URL there are other things you can do to it.

Besides ordering by the "last" name field, you can replace the "last" by "first" or "date", in order to list the results by first name field, or by the age of the hint.

Even more interesting is that you can catenate the database id string, if you want to list hints from more than one database. This might be useful if two databases are related, such as for marriage records and then another database for the marriage record index. Might as well do two at once.

E.g. if you want to do the 1850 and 1860 censuses together, the string becomes "&hdbid=7667&hdbid=8054".

For my searches a good example is both the Iowa Marriage Records and the Iowa Marriage Record Index:
which is kind of enlightening as it shows that some people get hints for both while others get hints for just one database.

Jay at 1FamilyTree said...


When RootsWeb World Connect Trees came back online last March 15th, they no longer had the "" HINTS links they used to show on many persons.

Any Ideas on when that will be back or how to work around it?

For instance the "hints' link for my father used to be


LStifel said...

Thank you SO MUCH for this fabulous tip; I love it. I do have a question about mining by specific record collection. Once I pull up the specific records with hints to my tree and actually click on the "yes" button and accept the hint, I lose the specific record collection. My computer takes me back to the All Hints, Records, Photo page. And then I have to paste in the url that I have created from the specific database and my Ancestry Member Tree Number. Am I doing something wrong, and if so, what can I do right?! Thanks again for your generosity in sharing valuable information from which many of us can learn.

Randy Seaver said...

Hi LStifel,

Well, I haven't attached the records to persons in my tree...and you're right, it goes back to the All Hints, Records, etc. page with the Records Hints shown.

My reason for not attaching records to my tree persons is that I will eventually replace the tree on with another one - updated by all of the Hints I have used and put into my RootsMagic database with EE-quality source citations (I detest Ancestry's citations).

In my work flow, I Review the Database Hint, add content and sources to my RootsMagic database, then go back to the Database Hint page, and Ignore the Hint. When I Ignore the Hint on the Hints page, it goes back to the Database Hint page with the Ignored Hints not listed.

I don't have an elegant fix for you other than what you have done - keep the Specific Database link handy.

One thing you could do is not Accept or Ignore the specific Database Hints until the end of your session, then go back and do them one at a time (which means you have to use the link many times). You could make a list of the persons and go to their Hints pages in your tree and accept the specific hint - that would be quicker than reloading the Hints page many times.

LStifel said...

Thanks for your note. The reason that I accept (or ignore) the hints is that I then synch ancestry with FTM 2014. I create the specific database in Word and then copy and paste into the url. While it is a bit annoying, all I have to do is "Control V" in the url whenever I accept a hint. As you mentioned, when I ignore a hint I do not have to copy and paste.

Unknown said...

This is so great. I've wanted to do this for some time. Thank you.

Unknown said...

I had not been aware of this trick before and I do look forward to using it.

Regarding the problem with going back to all hints after reviewing one in this limited set, what seems to work for me is to RIGHT click on the "review" button and select "open in a new tab", then review and take whatever action you like in that tab and close the tab. This takes you back to the tab with the limited set of hints, where you can now choose "ignore" for the one you just worked on and proceed to the next hint.

AC said...

Randy - is this still working for you in November 2017?

Steve K said...

Craig, it worked for me as recently as yesterday (6 Nov 2017)


AC said...

Thanks, Steve, it is working. I tried four new databases with no results - nothing is showing for them, although older ones seem to work - maybe it is still indexing?

Randy Seaver said...

Craig, You're right, the Hints don't get added from new databases for some time. Eventually, you will receive them. If you "touch" the persons in your tree, you will stimulate a search and Hints.

However, Ancestry provides Hints for only about 10% of their databases based on Record Count. That may or may not include the new databases, depending on their Record Count.

I get 10 to 50 Hints every day on my 48,000 person tree that are selected somehow. Ancestry seems to select four or five persons from my tree (randomly?) and provides these Hints. I get Hints for persons that I've updated in my AMT using TreeShare from RootsMagic too.

The bottom line is, you still need to do a Search, especially if you are in a hurry. The best Search results come from searching from within your Ancestry Member Tree - the search form is filled with BMD, spouse, kids, parents, siblings names, etc. with a broad search criteria for everything except surname (which is the next step on the slider). That forces the "best" matches to the top of the results list.

AC said...

Good to remember - thanks so much, Randy.

Shosh said...

Hi Randy -- does this still work for you? It's not working for me today. Thanks

Barbara said...

I have the same question. Would love to use this method on a specific data base, but it isn't working for me eiter. With all the changes Ancestry has made recently, I guess that's not surprising. Any ideas?

Randy Seaver said...

This system still works, but Ancestry changed their URL system.

The latest is:

xxxxxxxxx - your Tree Number
#### - DBID

Barbara said...

Thank you so much Randy! You're the best!

Unknown said...

I’ve been looking for a way to manage checking the hints Ancestry offers and thought this would be just the thing. But I’m not sure if I’ve misunderstood how the hints search work or if there’s a deeper problem. I’ve just run a custom search for my tree against the dataset “England & Wales, Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills, 1384-1858” [dbid 5111]. I got three hits - one clearly not one of my people, one I already had, and one new one. But I didn’t get two others that are already in my Ancestry tree and do come up if I run an explicit search for that person in that dataset. Any idea why?
Dick Mathews

MusicWheelie said...

It would appear Ancestry may have changed their website structure yet again. I tried today (13 June 2021) and was sent back to the Ancestry homepage each time I tried it for 5 different US Federal Censuses. Anyone else having issues today or is it just me?

Randy Seaver said...

I haven't had issues with it recently. Just tried again for and it worked, but I had to refresh my browser the first time.

John Cordes said...

I'm living in Canada and found the URL provided didn't work. However, this variant does work for me:
Note the additional query string "src=hw" has been inserted.

MusicWheelie said...

Thanks John! Curious what the query "src=hw" does?

John Cordes said...

Sorry, I'm afraid I don't know what "src=hw" does.