Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Changes to Mining Hints by Specific Record Collection - Updated!

Several readers sent emails to me in the past months asking "How do I find the database number when Ancestry has changed it to abbreviations" when they tried to use the "shortcut" explained in my blog post Changes to Mining Hints by Specific Record Collection (posted 16 May 2018).

After some discussion with my colleague Russ Worthington on Facebook about this, we did some experimenting and found a work around.

The principle is still the same - you use the "mining" URL
as explained in the May 2018 post.

You still find your Tree Number ("treenumb") the same way.

UPDATED  1 December 2019: has reverted to using the "dbas" numbers in the URLs for the record collections.  Ignore the information in the green section below:

The change is in the process of finding the database ID (dbid) number - the "dbas" number in the URL above.

I wanted to know the database number for the Pennsylvania Death Certificates, 1906-1967 collection on  I found it in the Card Catalog, and it opened showing:

The URL for this collection now says:

Where "padeathcollection" is located, there used to be (before February this year?) a four digit database number.  It is the number "dbas" that we input to the "mining URL" above.  Entering the database abbreviation ("padeathcollection" in this case) in place of the "dbas" number does not work in the "mining URL."

Can I find the "mining URL" in the present database so I can use this method?

YES.  On the search screen above, I entered the surname "seaver" (NOTE:  It could be any surname) in the surname field, and received a list of Seaver persons in this database:

The URL on the screen above does not contain a database number.  Bummer!

I clicked on the first record on the list, and saw:

The URL for the screen above is:

In the middle of that long dynamic URL is the segment "dbid=5164" and there is the "dbas" number to put into the "mining URL" - "dbas" = 5164.

UPDATED - Ignore the green section above this!

I put the mining URL into my browser, and added my "treenumb" and the "dbas" number into the URL, so it looked like:

I  clicked "Enter" and saw:

Hold on!  What happened here?  The list on the left says there are 114480 "Record Hints."  But there are only 24 pages of Hints on the top right page counter.

So Ignore the number of records on the list at the left.  I get 20 Hints per page, so I can calculate how many Hints I have for this specific collection using the formula 20*(NP-1) + n  where NP is the number of pages of Hints (24 in this case) and n is the number of Hints on the last page (it turned out to be 20), so there are 480 Hints (20*23 + 20) found to date in this collection for my Ancestry Member Tree.

Note that Ancestry does not search for every person in this tree in every database all at once.  Since I uploaded this tree in October 2018, they have found 480 Hints from this database.  There are probably records in the database for other persons in my Ancestry Member Tree who haven't been "Hinted" yet by Ancestry.  So I need to check back occasionally, but I can't isolate the new Hints on the list.

However, I now can "mine" this database for persons with Record Hints from this database and add the information to my Ancestry Member Tree (actually, I will add them to my RootsMagic tree, cite the source, and then TreeSync the profile to my Ancestry Member Tree).

I have already found four death dates on the first page of the results that I did not have, and will be busy tonight adding them to my family tree.

My thanks to Russ for the Facebook discussion on this.  A little trial and error worked out!

I will update the earlier post with the link to this post.


Disclosure:  I have a fully paid subscription at present.  In the past, has provided travel reimbursement to me to attend meetings in Salt Lake City.

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Copyright (c) 2018, Randall J. Seaver

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Cousin Russ said...


Thank you for sharing what we found. I had missed that capability. I do like working, following those hints, by Record Group (DBID). I learn about how to craft those citations by working several of those records in sequence and making notes in my notetaking program, reminding me what Information to Capture in my database as Facts or Events. And, fine tuning those Citations.

Oh, and I have had a couple of those same questions from my blog as well.

Thanks again.


Barbara said...

Thanks for updating this Randy! I have used this technique a number of times since you first posted about it years ago, particularly when a juicy new database got added. I kept the original (and updated) post to remind myself of the procedure if I haven't used it in awhile. I'll salt this update away for future reference. I've found a lot of cool records while mining data bases and every time I find one, I say, "Thanks Randy!" out loud. (My family knows to not pay any attention when I'm doing genealogy research!)

Diane Gould Hall said...

Excellent post Randy. I had searched by database number, but never specifically in my own tree, using my tree number. I expect this to lead to many more discoveries for me. Can’t wait to try it.

Dan Ford said...

I created a spreadsheet for my local society's Irish SIG and prepopulated it with Ancestry's catalog of Irish databases. If the feedback's good, I'll share. Again I am reminded how much I'd like to filter my Shoebox.

Annbaum11 said...

An easier way to find the dbid: in the catalog, search for databases in the area you are researching, then hover over the title of a database you are interested in. Look in the bottom left corner of the browser window, it shows the hyperlink to the database including the dbid. Doing this allows me to make a quick list of databases to mine for hints. I keep a list with date searched to remind me to check database after adding new relatives to database. Happy searching.