Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Dear Randy - "What is Your Work Flow With An Ancestry Hint?"

 Reader Nancy emailed me asking:

"...For now I will continue with RootsMagic 7. I have once again read your post: and you are very clear on what you do not do with respect to Ancestry hints but I am not clear on what you actually do. Do you go to the hint, accept or reject, and then if you want the information you add the record (image) to RootsMagic with your own citation, as if the hint never existed? Where do you store the image? When you sync RootsMagic with your ancestry tree how does this record appear, i.e. is the image and your EE source online?"

My response to Nancy (edited a bit):

1)  When I see an Ancestry Hint, I decide if it is one I want to use in my family tree.  For non-ancestors, I don't bother with the compendium type of Hints - e.g., Millenium File, Public Records, Phone and Address Directories, City Directories, School Yearbooks, Family Histories, etc.  For ancestors, I look at them more closely and add them if they have value.  For other records that come from a real record (e.g., BMD vital records, indexes of BMD vital records, Find A Grave, draft registrations, Social Security, church records, census records, some military records, passenger lists, passports, etc.) In RootsMagic, I create an Event (or use an existing event), and add the date, place, and a free form source citation.  Many of my Events have more than one source citation.  I also  create Alternate Names in RootsMagic when the entry has a different name for the person, and add the source to them. 

2)  I almost always check "Ignore" rather than "Accept" the Record Hint to my Ancestry tree because I don't want to spend the time dealing with the Ancestry Member Tree, which I will eventually delete.  The "Ignore" Hints are still on the Hints page on the Ancestry profile if I want to see them again, and they are in the RootsMagic WebHints for each profile.  I don't download the record image unless it is for an ancestor.

3)  If I do download an image, I rename it and put it in a family file folder in my digital file system.  I've written about the file system in Dear Randy: "What Is Your Naming Convention for Downloaded Documents?" and My Genealogy Digital File Folder Organization.

4)  When I TreeShare my RM tree to my Ancestry tree, all of my RM sources appear as "Other Sources" in my Ancestry Member Tree (even the Evidence Explained sources) and are linked to the event in the timeline.  I mainly use free-form sources in RootsMagic because the EE source templates don't export well in a GEDCOM file.

5)  If I have an image connected to the RootsMagic person, I usually choose not to upload it to the Ancestry Member Tree because of the time it takes to upload and the relatively short-lived Ancestry Member Tree.  

6)  The above reflects my goals for my RootsMagic family tree (and by extension my online family trees):  I want to gather every bit of information on my ancestors and include them in my trees.  For the profiles in my collateral lines, surname studies, and descendants studies, I want to gather names, relationships, birth or baptism date/place, marriage date/place, death date/place, and burial date/place.  


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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Bill said...

Hi Randy-

Thanks for describing your process with RM.

Working on Ancestry research this morning and seeing a completely new process for viewing record hints and adding them to a tree.  Haven't seen an announcement from Ancestry yet - are you aware of this?

When you click on e.g. 1900 census for a person, a box opens up in the right hand side of the window.  It has the person's name, census info and also any family members.  You can add that information to existing tree people as well as adding new tree people, e.g. parents, siblings, spouse, children.  

I'm finding this to be a huge improvement, because when you click to save, it does not go into a spinning loop that ends up with the screen of death - "We’re sorry. The page you tried to access is no longer available."

Ditto on saving news articles, pictures, etc from others, they open in the box at the right where you can read and evaluate them, and save directly with no spinning loop.  Time spent evaluating and adding records to trees is greatly improved, I figure this will double my efficiency since adding each record will not have to end up having to reload my tree and then click Tree Search to bring up the last name I was researching.  This issue has been going on for about two years and the fix takes it back to the previous levels of Ancestry research efficiency.

Unlike you, I add new info directly to ancestry, not to Roots Magic, etc.  I'll be interested to hear how it works with your process

Bill Greggs

Unknown said...

Hi Randy,
I agree with Bill. I save all my information to Ancestry. I have found that I can download a gedcom to my Roots Magic. I keep a separate file for those names I am currently working on.
I have been working on my genealogy since 1979, and yes I have had some monumental disasters happen to my "stuff". Thank goodness for back ups. By the way I feel that Captcha is a great game to play. I now know where every stoplight in the country is but I still can't get into the things I need online :-)

JN1943 said...

I really dislike the new change for hint review. I used to be able to go through the hints rapidly. This change really slows me down. It takes so many more clicks and much more scrolling to see the information that we used to see on one page. This is obviously meant to enable cell phone use. I do not do genealogy on a phone, nor does anyone I know.

After a lot of playing around to get rid of the pop-up, I finally discovered that there is a link near the bottom of the information called View Record Page. This will take you back to the old view. This needs to be at the start of the info instead at the end! We shouldn't have to click & scroll so much to get to the information.

Also, I tried to save a PDF of an obituary. What is saved is not the text of the obit, but a list of the pop-up details. I haven't been able to get around that yet.

This new change is a total fail!

Randy Seaver said...

Thank you for the comments about the new Ancestry "features."

I don't have it yet, but I've seen some examples on other blogs.

I've said before that my preference is to not attach records to my Ancestry tree people because they add extra facts, inconsistent place names, and poorly crafted source citations. If I downloaded my Ancestry tree via GEDCOM or TreeSync, I would have to standardize tens of thousands of events, places and source citations in my RootsMagic tree people.