Many of us already know that some of Ancestry’s content is free to search for everyone. But did you know that you can use Ancestry’s powerful search interface to search genealogy databases on OTHER websites, too? This includes sites that may be in another language–and sites you may not even know exist!
You may have heard that there’s a lot available on Ancestry for free to anyone. Like the 1940 and 1880 U.S. censuses. Australian and Canadian voter’s lists. A birth index for England and Wales. The SSDI.
A few years ago, Ancestry also began incorporating off-site indexes into its search system. These are known as “Ancestry Web Indexes.” There are now more than 220 of these, and they point users to over 100 million records ON OTHER WEBSITES.
“Ancestry Web Indexes pull together a lot of databases that are already online from repositories all over the world, like courthouses and archives,” Matthew Deighton of Ancestry told me. “We index them here because we’ve found that people may not know their ancestor was in a certain region at a certain time. They may not know about that website that has posted those records. What you don’t know about, you can’t find.”
According to an online description, the guiding principles of Ancestry Web Search databases are:
- “Free access to Web Records – Users do not have to subscribe or even register with Ancestry.com to view these records;
- Proper attribution of Web Records to content publishers;
- Easy access to Web Records – Prominent links in search results and the record page make it easy to get to the source website.”
Better yet, you may have a better search experience at Ancestry than you would at the original site. Some sites that host databases or indexes don’t offer very flexible search parameters. They may not recognize “Beth Maddison” or “E. Mattison” as search results for “Elizabeth Madison,” while Ancestry would.
Results from Ancestry Web Indexes point you to the host website to see any additional information, like digitized images and source citations. A subscription to that site may be required to learn all you want from it. But just KNOWING that the data is there gives you the option to pursue it.
Doesn’t Google bring up all those same results if you just do a keyword search on your ancestor’s name? Not necessarily. Not all indexes are Google-searchable. Even if they are, Google may not present them to you until the 534th page of search results–long after you’ve lost interest.
And Ancestry specifically targets genealogically-interesting databases. Your results there won’t include LinkedIn profiles or current high school sports statistics from a young person with your ancestor’s name. (Learn how to weed out Google results like these with The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox by Lisa Louise Cooke.)
Some may be skeptical: isn’t it bad form for Ancestry to reference other sites’ material, especially when they often do so without consulting the host of the databases? They do have an opt-out policy for those who wish their databases to be removed from the search engine. Matthew says a couple of places have opted out–because the increased web traffic was too much for them to handle. That tells me that Ancestry Web Indexes are helping a lot of people find their family history in places they may otherwise never have looked.
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Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 218
with Lisa Louise Cooke
In this episode, Lisa answers your questions and shares your comments. Hot topics on your minds that are covered in this episode:
- discovering new records online,
- working with other people’s online trees,
- hard-to-locate military records;
- and getting help with early Pennsylvania research
NEWS: GOOGLE EARTH STORIES COMING
“Google Earth to let users post stories, photos in coming years” at DNAIndia.com
Lisa’s FREE Google Earth video class: How to Use Google Earth for Genealogy
The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, 2nd edition and Google Earth for Genealogy Video Series
Try Google Earth for Chrome (you must use the Chrome browser to access)
Download the free Google Earth Pro software.
NEWS: FAMILYSEARCH REACHES 2 BILLION IMAGES
Why you should have a free FamilySearch account and use it!
How to use the FamilySearch Catalog (it’s free! Everyone should use it!)
Best strategies for accessing content at FamilySearch.org (special podcast episode on the end of microfilm lending)
GEMS NEWS: LISA’S NEW COLUMN IN FAMILY TREE MAGAZINE
Purchase the May/June issue in print or digital download format
Subscribe to Family Tree Magazine: print format, digital download format or get a great price for both!
StoryWorth for Father’s Day: Invite your dad to share stories with loved ones every week, and then get them all bound in a beautiful hardcover book at the end of the year. Go to http://www.storyworth.com/lisa for $20 off when you subscribe. This Father’s Day is actually a gift for you, too!
BONUS CONTENT for Genealogy Gems App Users
If you’re listening through the Genealogy Gems app, don’t forget to check out your bonus content for this episode! The Genealogy Gems app is FREE in Google Play and is only $2.99 for Windows, iPhone and iPad users.
MAILBOX: SARA’S FRIDAY RECORD POST DISCOVERY
Click here to view several recent Friday records posts and see what new records have appeared online lately!
Tell Lisa Louise Cooke about your “Friday records post” discoveries or anything else at genealogygemspodcast @ gmail.com or call the podcast voicemail at 925-272-4021.
MAILBOX: ONLINE FAMILY TREE MATCHES
Reviewing tree hints at Ancestry.com
MAILBOX: BACK TO RESEARCH AFTER 10 YEARS!
Lisa’s recommendations to a new Genealogy Gems Premium eLearning member for getting back into the swing of research:
Watch the Premium video, “Take Control of Your Family Tree” (Premium eLearning membership required)
Listen to the Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast by Lisa Louise Cooke. It’s a great series for learning the research ropes and well as refreshing your skills.
Listen to Lisa’s other podcast
Lisa Louise Cooke uses and recommends RootsMagic family history software. Visit www.RootsMagic.com
Lisa Louise Cooke uses and recommends RootsMagic family history software. From within RootsMagic, you can search historical records on FamilySearch.org, Findmypast.com and MyHeritage.com.
Keep your family history research, photos, tree software files, videos and all other computer files safely backed up with Backblaze, the official cloud-based computer backup system for Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems. Learn more at https://www.backblaze.com/Lisa.
MAILBOX: MILITARY DRAFT REGISTRATIONS
Click here to read about finding military draft registrations
INTERVIEW: JIM BEIDLER ON PENNSYLVANIA RESEARCH QUESTION
James M. Beidler is the author of The Family Tree Historical Newspapers Guide and Trace Your German Roots Online. Learn more Pennsylvania research techniques in his on-demand webinar download, Best Pennsylvania Genealogy Research Strategies.
Click here to read a summary of some of Jim’s tips AND find a collection of links we curated to help you find more Pennsylvania birth records online.
MyHeritage.com is the place to make connections with relatives overseas, particularly with those who may still live in your ancestral homeland. Click here to see what MyHeritage can do for you: it’s free to get started.
Lisa Louise Cooke, Host and Producer
Sunny Morton, Editor
Hannah Fullerton, Audio Editor
Lacey Cooke, Service Manager
Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting this free podcast and blog!
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This just in! Google Scholar and ProQuest are teaming up to provide a publicly-accessible index to all of ProQuest’s scholarly journal content. Google Scholar already delivers search results on your favorite genealogy keywords (names, places and records) from scholarly publications like dissertations, academic articles and more. (Click here to read my blog post about Google Scholar for genealogy.)
Now the search experience will become more powerful and inclusive. According to a press release, “ProQuest will enable the full text of its scholarly journal content to be indexed in Google Scholar, improving research outcomes. Work is underway and the company anticipates that by the third-quarter of 2015, users starting their research in Google Scholar will be able to access scholarly content via ProQuest.”
“ProQuest has rich, vast content that advances the work of researchers, scholars and students,” blogged the CEO of ProQuest. “Respecting the different ways researchers and librarians choose to conduct their research is essential to ensuring that content is simple to discover and use. We know Google Scholar is a popular starting point for researchers of all kinds. Our teamwork with Google will enable these patrons to be automatically recognized as authenticated ProQuest users and seamlessly link to their ProQuest collections, where they can connect with full-text scholarly content.”
It appears that there will still be a charge to access copyright-protected material (“authenticated ProQuest users” in the quote above are those that have access via a ProQuest subscription). According to the press release, “Users who are not recognized will be sent to a landing page with the abstract or an image of the first page, protecting all rights holders. To read full text, the users will authenticate themselves. There is nothing for libraries to set up – the linking will be seamless and automatic.”
Learn more about using Google Scholar and other advance Google search techniques to discover your family history online in The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox Second Edition. The newly-updated and fully-revised book is available now!