Unofficial Guide to, 2nd Edition


Unofficial Guide to, 2nd Edition
By Nancy Hendrickson

“Many genealogists—including me— rely on for family history records. But it can be hard to find your ancestor’s record in the vast collections on this site. Our guide will cut through the confusion and show you how to search like an expert.” – Diane Haddad, Family Tree Magazine Editor

What You’ll Learn with the Unofficial Guide to

Discover the secrets to success! This book will help you get the most out of your subscription by showing you how to take advantage of what the world’s biggest genealogy website has to offer–and how to find answers to your family tree questions within its billions of records and massive network of family trees.

This newly updated guide reflects the site’s many changes, with screenshots that demonstrate how to create family trees, navigate the site, and use’s search engines. A new section on AncestryDNA will also help you dive deeper into your research, with detailed guides to interpreting test results and applying them to research.

What you’ll learn:

  • Step-by-step strategies for structuring your searches to find what you’re looking for faster
  • Details on each of’s historical record categories, including what you can expect to find in them
  • Tips for creating and managing your family tree on, as well as connecting your tree to others on the site
  • Timesaving tricks to maximize your experience, including Hints (the “shaky leaf”), AncestryDNA, and the mobile app

Whether you’ve just begun dabbling in family history or you’re a longtime subscriber, this book will turn you into an power user!

Three Sample Search Tips

  1. It’s important to add a date to your search, even if it’s just an educated guess. Otherwise, your search will return people with the same name, but living across centuries.’s search function is built to look not only for the exact parameters you’ve indicated, but also results that are “close.” What this means: If you type in 1800 as a date, won’t limit the results to 1800 (unless you specify exact), but it will pull results around the 1800 date.
  2. Don’t specify “exact” in your census searches. Even if you know the exact name, place, and more, resist the urge to check the Exact box. Errors might have been made by enumerators, transcriptionists and ancestors, so the information recorded in the census may not exactly match what you know about your ancestor.
  3. Once you’ve filtered down to the databases you want to search in the Card Catalog, right-click (on a Mac, control-click) your mouse on the database you want to search and select Open in New Tab. After your individual database search is complete, you’ll want to return to your filtered list to explore the other relevant databases. If you navigate away from your filtered list, you’ll have to redo your filters when you’re done with your database search. But if you open a database in a new tab, you can just return to the first browser tab containing your filtered Card Catalog list.

Each chapter includes step-by-step examples with illustrations to show you exactly how to apply the techniques to your genealogy. Whether you’ve just begun dabbling in family history or you’re a longtime subscriber, this book will turn you into an power user!

Nancy Hendrickson is the author of numerous books and hundreds of articles on online genealogy. A contributing editor of Family Tree Magazine, she has been interviewed as an Internet genealogy expert in the New York Times, Kiplinger’s and Better Homes and Gardens.

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