Share this story Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

Ancestry top ten search tips


Use these top tips from Ancestry to track down missing ancestors and expand your family tree on the Ancestry genealogy website. 

1) Focused searching

Searching all our records at once is extremely powerful, but it can give you too many search results. Consider searching categories, such as census or military records. Or whenever possible, think about where and when you’re looking for your ancestors, and search within particular record collections.

2) Recent collections

On the main Ancestry search page, look for ‘Recently viewed collections’ in the top-right corner. These links will take you straight back to the record collections you last looked at.

3) Recent searches

Slightly further down the page, on the left, you’ll find ‘Recent Searches’. This provides a list of the ancestors you last searched for – click on them to go straight back to your search results.

4) Local records

At the bottom of the main search page is a map of the UK. Click within the map to see lists of record collections for any country. You can then use the options on the right to see just the collections for a particular county.

5) Find more records

We’ve created pages for each of our main categories to help you find more useful records. For example, Ancestry includes links to all our census and electoral collections – as well as help for using those records. You’ll find a full list of these pages in the ‘What’s Happening’ section of your homepage.

6) Card catalogue

For a wider view, use the Card Catalogue – you’ll find this at the bottom of the Search menu at the top of the screen. This lets you see all the record collections across our whole site, and filter them by category, location and date.

7) Collection priority

The ‘collection priority’ option lets you focus on different parts of the world. Perhaps your great-uncle ran away to America? Switch the collection priority to United States to view mainly American records, and tick ‘show only records from these collections’ if you don’t want to see anything else.

8) Result views

There are two ways of viewing your results. – switch between them using the ‘View’ option in the top-right. ‘Sorted by relevance’ presents each individual record with the closest matches at the top; ‘Summarized by category’ groups your results together, so you can see what categories and collections they come from.

9) Narrow by category

Perhaps you’re only interested in census records or travel records? You can easily filter your results by selecting one of the options under ‘Narrow by category’. You’ll then see more filter options, such as date ranges or sub-categories.

10) Hot keys

You can use keyboard shortcuts to move through your results more quickly. For example, pressing ‘r’ will let you edit your search, while ‘p’ brings up a preview of the record you’ve selected. There’s a full list of your Hot Keys in the bottom-left of the results page.

Find more top tips in the Ancestry Help & Advice centre.


Back to "Family history tips & advice" Category

27/09/2017 Share this story   Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

Recent Updates

How to work with family archives for family history

It's one thing telling your family story - but how do you uncover those clues in the first place? Discover ...

A look at the new world FindMyPast family tree (beta)

Findmypast's new global family tree is a product that is being created to help both new and experienced ...

Making the most of DNA matches

Many of us are attracted to take a DNA test to discover our ethnicity, however this is only the start of the ...

Why do you need a DNA test for family history?

Which family tree DNA test is best? How can a DNA test help with your family history? Debbie Kennett explains ...

Other Articles

Doing your family history online – 50 best websites for family history

The internet is packed with websites, large and small, dedicated to helping us trace our family histories. To ...

How to get your family history organised

Get your family history records organised and under control with Denise May Levenick's top tips for ...

How to cite sources: create family history research worth keeping

Sources are invaluable for noting where you found information about your ancestors but what's the best way to ...

Start your family history or refresh your family history skills!

Welcome to the first-ever Family Tree Family History Week! Whether you want to find out how to start tracing ...