Unofficial Guide to

Unofficial Guide to
By Nancy Hendrickson
Format: Paperback
Other available formats: EBOOK

unofficial guide to ancestry

“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

You’ll love this if…

  • You’re an subscriber who wants to get the most bang for your buck
  • You’re using an trial and want to maximize your free time
  • You want to know how can help you before buying a subscription
  • You need help improving your search results (including Old Search fans transitioning to the current search interface)

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 all the world’s biggest genealogy website has to offer—and how to find answers to your specific family tree questions within its 12 billion records, 50 million family trees and 31,000 databases. As an unofficial guide, this book also tells you when and where to look when doesn’t have the answers you need.[tvo_shortcode id=2422]

What You’ll Learn with the Unofficial Guide to

  • Step-by-step strategies to structure your searches to get the best results, and find what you’re looking for faster
  • How to drill down to specific records, time periods and topics using the card catalog
  • Details on each of’s historical record collections, including what you can expect to find in them—and when you need to look elsewhere
  • Tips for creating and managing your family tree on, as well as connecting your tree to others on the site
  • Timesaving tricks to make the most of the site’s tools, including your Hints (a.k.a. the “shaky leaf”), Tree Sync with Family Tree Maker, and the mobile app
  • How to use to research more efficiently and effectively
  • How to find previously unknown ancestors using DNA Circles

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.

Contents of the Unofficial Guide to

Chapter 1: Getting Started with
Chapter 2: Family Trees on
Chapter 3: Search Basics
Chapter 4: The Card Catalog
Chapter 5: Working with Census Records & Voter Lists
Chapter 5: Birth, Marriage and Death Records
Chapter 6: Military Records
Chapter 7: Immigration & Travel Collection
Chapter 8: Newspapers, Publications and Maps
Chapter 9: Stories, Memories and Histories
Chapter 10: Pictures
Chapter 11: Schools, Directories & Church Histories
Chapter 12: Tax, Criminal, Land & Wills Collection
Chapter 13: DNA and
Chapter 15: Collaborating with other users

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