Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Mining the Obituary Index Record Hints on Ancestry

With over 59,000 entries in my RootsMagic family tree file, it is a challenge to keep up with all of the records that are available online - especially newspaper articles for marriages and deaths.

Fortunately, provides Hints for records in their collections for persons in my Ancestry Member Tree.  I synchronize my RootsMagic tree with my Ancestry Member Tree every week using TreeShare, and every time I change a name, event, date, place, note, source, etc. in my Ancestry tree, Ancestry's search engine goes to work to find more record hints for that tree person.  Now I have over 139,000 Record Hints, and try to resolve some of them almost daily.

Using the tool for mining Record Hints for my tree people in a specific Ancestry record collection (see Using the "Mining Hints From a Specific Collection" Tool for more information and directions) has been of great value.  

Today, I went looking for Hints for my tree people in the " Obituary Index, 1800s-Current" (Database number = 61843 for those keeping score).  There are over 4,000 entries in this collection for my tree people (not counting the ones already found), so it is a challenge to find "new" information - sometimes there is too much information!  

Here is a screen shot of page 160 of the 209 pages with Record Hints for this collection:

There are two entries here for a William Seaver, and I don't have a death date for either one of them.  I clicked on the first one, and saw the record summary:

I clicked on the green "View Image" button and saw the page image on with the specific article highlighted:

From this article, I found out that William Seaver, age 81, a retired photographer, died on 2 September 1954 in Genesee County, New York, and that he never married.  I had hoped to find out the name of his wife and children, but no such luck.  But now I know he didn't have any, at least according to his family.

In one hour, I was able to find about 15 death dates for some of my tree people, and in one case, added a whole family of 5th cousins to my RootsMagic tree as a result - they might be DNA matches!

Are you using Record Hints on for your Ancestry Member Tree profiles? does not provide Hints from every record collection (they have 32,863 collections right now), but they do provide Hints from about the top 10% of them (by record count, I think) and they can be very helpful.  Some of them are wrong (my guess is that 80 to 90% are for the correct person).  

The above is one method to find Record Hints on, and one I frequently rely on because it's easier to source entries from just one database in a period of time, and I don't have to search for a specific person.  These Hints are "low hanging fruit" for persons in my family tree.

NOTE:  Other record providers provide record hints for tree people - including MyHeritage, Fndmypast and FamilySearch.


Disclosure: I have a complimentary all-access subscription from, for which I am thankful. 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.

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