Wednesday, July 26, 2017 Quirk: The Vanishing Search Result

This quirk happens fairly often for me when I am searching for a person:

1)  I found a record for a Vivian Seaver, born 1932, in a record.  So I did a search on with the given and last names as exact information.  I received this result, using the "Categories" list of matches in specific databases:

Aha, maybe there is a Social Security Applications and Claims Index entry that will provide a birth name, birth place, and parents names, not to mention marital history.

2)  Here is the list of matches on the Social Security Applications and Claims Index match list:

Huh?  No matches?  But the search engine said there were three matches.  What's up with that?

If I add a birth year, 1932 (broad), I get the same result - 3 matches in the Social Security database.  If I make the birth year plus or minus 10, or 5, or 2, or 1 year, or exact, I get no results.

It even happens when I move the slider to include initials for the given name - then there are 15 matches in the SSACI database, but I get a list of zero in the SSACI list.

3)  When I used the "Records" list of search matches, the three matches are there - for a Vivian M. Seaver who was the mother of three different children in the Social Security database, viz.:

4)  Why doesn't this record show up in the "Categories" result on the search result page?  

This frequently happens to me when I search on  I wish the search results would reflect what is in the indexed entries.


Copyright (c) 2017, Randall J. Seaver

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Barb said...

Same thing just happened to me. I used a different path to get to the end result. I was aiming for the SS App collection after I had done a full search, so I whittled it down by using the left-side column, under "All Categories". I clicked on the "Wills, Probate, Land, Tax and Criminal" category and it said I had 18 hits for the SS App collection, but when I clicked the individual collection it only returned 5 results. Obviously, I could still get to those 18 records, but I had to weed through the other collections in the category. Something is not working. There should be an easier way to report this to Ancestry without having to make a phone call.

Unknown said...

Did you do this in the card catalogue. I often get this type of zero results, even when I tried to search for something I know thought I was doing something wrong. I just watched a video where the person placed the first name & birth year. Bingo tge result popoed up. It was to do with an incorrect transcribing of the actual records. Given some of the results I see it seems people can't read cursive writing very well. Interesting topic.

Barb said...'s been happening all day and not just one collection. Pa Church and Town Records, results tell me I have 18 hits, but when I click on the collection it only shows 2. There were many more instances of this type of problem. Time to call Ancestry...

Gina said...

There are two issues:

1) The search result number is the number of times the surname appears in the collection, not the number of records.

2) If the surname you're searching for is not in the primary name field on any of the records, when you click through to the search results, you get no records found.

**Example of issue 1**

1. Search "Social Security Applications and Claims Index" for the surname Gualco

2. Results say 67 records found BUT when you click through the search results, only 42 records are returned.

This is because there are 67 occurrences of the surname Gualco, not 67 records, and the search results only returns those records where Gualco occurs in the primary name field.

.....a.) That is, clicking through to the search results only brings up the 42 records where the Gualco surname occurs in the primary "Name" field although Gualco may be one of several names; for example:
Beverly June Coleman
[Beverly Jun Morley]
[Beverly Balestri]
[Beverly Gualco]
[B Balestri]

.....b.) There are 21 records for which the father's surname is Gualco

.....c.) There are 4 records where the mother's surname is Gualco

All told there are 47 records where the surname Gualco appears at least once five of which don't show up when you click through to the results, which brings me to issue #2.

**Example of issue 2**
Using your Vivian Seaver example:

1. Search "Social Security Applications and Claims Index" for "Vivian Seaver."

2. Results say 3 records found BUT when you click through the search results, no records are returned.

This is because Vivian Seaver appears in the mother's name field on three records, not in the primary name field.

Hope this helps.