Wednesday, January 17, 2018

When Did Last Index Ancestry Member Trees?

Several geneabloggers have complained about not finding Ancestry Member Tree profiles that don't have "Ancestry Sources" in a Search of Member Trees.  See Ancestry Member Trees, Indexing Rules, Cousin Bait, Source Citations and Me and RootsMagic TreeShare, Ancestry Member Trees, and Source Citations  for my posts.  

We discussed this extensively on this week's Mondays With Myrt discussion, and many of the viewers were not yet aware of the problem.  

1)  Besides the "Ancestry Source" versus "Other Sources" issue, there is another issue with Ancestry Member Trees that needs to be raised. is not indexing Ancestry Member Trees on a regular basis (like weekly or monthly).  

2)  Because of the "Ancestry Source" issue, I have been keeping track of when indexes the Ancestry Member Trees.

a)  I made my "Randy Seaver's Family Tree - November 2017" tree public on 1 November 2017.  

b)  When I did that, I created 4 "Ancestry Sources" for my 2nd great-grandfather, Isaac Seaver (1823-1901).

c)  I have checked every week since 1 November 2017, and an Ancestry Member Tree search for Isaac Seaver in this specific tree has not been found.

d)  My conclusion is that Ancestry has not indexed their Ancestry Member Trees since before 1 November 2017.

For example - here is the Facts page for the profile of Isaac Seaver (1823-1901) in my Ancestry Member Trees:

As you can see, I have four "Ancestry Sources" attached to this profile.

If "Ancestry Sources" are required for a search result, then this profile should show up in the search results.

3)  As I, and others, have pointed out, "Ancestry Sources" are not the only valid sources available in the genealogy industry and repositories - Ancestry does not have every record ever created.

For the Isaac Seaver profile in my tree, I have 56 "Other Sources" for this profile, many of them from non-Ancestry sources such as vital record certificates, FamilySearch microfilm of original source material, personal photographs, manuscript material, and more..

I currently have over 91,000 sources in this Ancestry Member Tree for over 49,000 profiles, but only 9 of the sources are "Ancestry Sources" resulting from attaching a record on Ancestry.  I created this tree through a TreeShare upload from RootsMagic, and all sources from this process are counted as "Other Sources" by Ancestry, even though many of them refer to Ancestry records.  The same thing happens with a GEDCOM upload - the sources in that Ancestry Member Tree are listed as "Other Sources."

The Ancestry Search engine will not find Ancestry Member Trees profiles with only "Other Sources" unless the user has  attached an Ancestry record to the profiles.

By not counting "Other Sources," Ancestry has limited exposure of my well-sourced tree to other Ancestry subscribers - they won't find my profiles which may provide a clue or a breakthrough for the other Ancestry subscriber.

4)  I request/implore to:

a)  Perform regular Ancestry Member Tree indexing.  Weekly or monthly at a minimum.

b)  Explain the criteria for indexing of Ancestry Member Trees.  

c)  Change the indexing criteria to include "Other Sources" in Ancestry Member Tree profiles for an Ancestry Member Tree to be indexed.


Disclosure:  I have always had a fully paid subscription since 2000. has provided material considerations for travel expenses to meetings, and has hosted events and meals that I have attended in Salt Lake City, in past years.

Copyright (c) 2018, 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.  Share it on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or Pinterest using the icons below.  Or contact me by email at


Marcia Crawford Philbrick said...

I've called several times on this issue. The 'pat' answer by tech support is that you can't do a search for your own tree. Thus, I ask other genealogists to do a search to verify that my tree isn't being indexed before calling. [Search matching all - First name Judson, last name - Crawford, death date 1949 -- Currently only 24 trees come up and none of them Heartland Genealogy (my tree)] I then ask Ancestry support to tell me when the trees were last indexed. On Jan. 2, 2018, they told me the trees were last indexed on Oct. 10, 2017. On a call dated Nov. 5, 2017, they told me the trees were last indexed on Oct. 2, 2017. When I called in August, the last indexed date was June 9th. On July 20, 2017, the last indexed date was May 25th.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for addressing this issue. Wow, I had no idea!

Marian said...

Thanks, Randy and Marcia, for bringing this to light and pursuing it. This problem means that member trees are of limited use to their DNA customers as well as those looking for relatives who have found less common records than the ones provided by Ancestry -- like family Bibles, manuscripts, documents from Civil War pension files, church records, photos, and plot diagrams from cemeteries.

The public needs to know about this, and Ancestry needs to fix it if they truly support their users.

Cousin Russ said...


I created a test tree, based on our conversation on Monday. I'd like to add that IF i have a folly documented Tree, as you do, with no Ancestry Sources, you may not receive any hints to that Tree.

I have the same person in a Private Tree (unrelated to anyone in the tree), with an Ancestry Sources, and many "other" Sources, that person in that Tree has 2 hints.

It a Private, but Searchable Tree I removed the Ancestry Source before I uploaded it, and that same person has no hints.

I did try to search for Ancestry Member Trees without logging in, and the Public Tree didn't appear. That may be caused by what you have said in this blog post.

What this tells be is that if you have only a Ancestry Account (free), and not subscription, it will not appear in a Search, but may also not receive hints.


Marcia Crawford Philbrick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marcia Crawford Philbrick said...

Russ' comment made me wonder whether there was a difference between the way hints populate on private vs public trees. Thus, I ran a trial to see of there was a difference and found that hints populate in both RM and on Ancestry almost immediately after the tree is formed. Details of what I did are available at Ancestry Tree Hints: Public vs Private Trees:

Gary said...

Russ and Marcia, on a possibly related issue. Many Ancestry Hint users are reporting that when following a Green Leaf in recent weeks, that the hint goes to an error that the link from the hint is no longer or temporarily inaccessible, this includes mostly Member Trees. Is it possible that previous provided Hints no longer work because the tree is being removed from the index due to the "Ancestry Source" issue, and the Hints are not updating at the same rate?

Marcia Crawford Philbrick said...

Gary -- I think I have seen those same error pages. However, I was seeing more of those prior to Christmas. I've been working thru hints for collateral lines the past couple of weeks and haven't seen the error page when clicking to review a hint. I did see the error page for at least two hints today when I tried to save them.

When it was happening, I didn't associate it with the indexing issue. These type of errors are basically errors stating that a web page is not available. This could be a server issue with Ancestry OR it could be an Internet issue.