Book Title: Unofficial Guide to Ancestry.com How to Find Your Family History on the #1 Genealogy Website
Author: Nancy Hendrickson, Second Edition, Copyright (C) 2018
Publisher: by Family Tree Books, an imprint of F+W Media, Inc.
The main objective of this book is as a companion guide to Ancestry, as the title suggests. It is a step-by-step guide for creating and managing your family tree, plus how to connect with other users and utilize the site’s powerful Hint system.
The Author, in her introduction, is very personable in her approach, which makes for a feel-good atmosphere. She even gives her email address and an offer to contact her if you need help, very admirable.
Her style of writing is personable through this book; she is interested in helping the reader get the most out of this book to use Ancestry with ease.
“In the years since we published the first edition of this book, Ancestry.com has grown at an amazing rate. The number of records available on the site has skyrocketed, and its functionality and interface have changed, making it more accessible to even the newest genealogy searcher”.
Part One: Getting Started with Ancestry.com
There are Three Chapters in this section.
Chapter 1: Learning the Basics:
Here, the author talks about Ancestry being the largest genealogy website and the extent of their records. She proceeds to mention the Ancestry Network, which is extensive.
The Ancestry.com Network:
Then we read about Ancestry.com Memberships
“Membership to Ancestry.com provides access to numerous collections and databases where you can find census, vital, military, and immigration records, as well as other members’ online family trees.”
“If you don’t yet have an Ancestry.com membership, you can join at four different membership levels.”
In my article “Genealogy Research Sites – Let’s Compare,” You can find a Site Comparison Pricing Chart PDF that has Ancestry Pricing.
Getting Started in Family Tree Research
The author then mentions how some families, might have Family Lore that has passed from generation to generation that suggests the family has a famous relative. She encourages the reader to avoid those temptations of starting with the famous person to no avail but begin with themselves. Then go back and see if the famous person appears. She gives wise advice as one could spend a lot of time and not find any relationship with the renowned family lore.
The reader is encouraged to start their family research by organizing what documentation they already have and any additional from family members, beginning with the older family members.
She goes through the different family history information to watch for, in your search for family documentation.
Then she proceeds to walk us through the process of Setting Up Your Ancestry Account; she is very detailed as she walks through this process. She often adds additional information that might get overlooked in the membership process.
We proceed to Explore the Menu Items; I like the way she explains and walks through each step. Explore the Main Menu Bar; she breaks this down with an image of the bar.
She then walks through the steps to View and Customize Your Home Page and is quite detailed of the benefit of setting up your page to assist in your research needs. In addition to default modules, you can add or remove different sections by dragging and dropping she, goes through this process in detail.
Chapter 2: Using Ancestry.com Family Trees:
Is the next part. Here the author introduces us to the process of, Building Your First Family Tree. Here you will learn how to manually create a tree or upload a GEDCOM to create your tree. She once again is very detailed in this process and explains the steps in detail.
The author also goes through software programs and how to connect your tree to the software, namely Roots Magic and Family Tree Maker.
Keep in mind other software programs will sync to Ancestry as well you are not limited to only two.
We then find information to Explore Your Family Trees. As the author goes to detail about how to view your tree in either Pedigree View or Family View, then proceeded with instruction on how to start research with the Individual Profile and how to use Search, Tools, Edit.
The rest of Chapter 2, you continue to discover more tools:
- Life story: Is a visual timeline
- Facts: displays your ancestor’s vital statistics
- Hints: that Ancestry believes are related to your individual
- Managing your tree: Each of your tree’s Info and Privacy settings & sharing
- Ancestry Mobile Apps: Leaves on the Go
- Add content to your tree: Photos, Video, Audio, Stories
- Analyzing: Using and correcting Hints
- Other Researchers: Connecting via Member Connect
The Author, to this point, is straightforward to follow. And as I have alluded to very detailed and easy to follow. I have been using Ancestry for quite a while. And in reading her introduction and the first two chapters, I picked up on things I have overlooked that would have made the process easier.
Chapter 3: Mastering Search and the Card Catalog:
“While chapters 1 and 2 introduced you to genealogy basics and the value of family trees, this is the chapter you’ve been waiting for—tips for searching the thousands of collections and billions of names on Ancestry.com”.
Yes, chapter 3 is the meat and potatoes of mastering the ability to research using Ancestry.com. In this section The Basic of Search you learn that this is the first section you see on your home page.
“If you use the basic search form, you should enter as much information about your ancestor as possible. If you’re lucky, you may immediately hit the jackpot. But if you are searching for a common name, even having an approximate birth year can yield thousands of results, most of them are irrelevant. Click Show More Options next to the Search button this will expand the search form so you can search with more information”.
The above quote from the book is just a small example of the information you will be privy to as you read and follow the steps in this book.
This chapter is full of valuable how-to research; the author is very thorough in her explanation of and once again goes into detail.
You will be learning in detail the different methods of using the search fields and the various combinations that can produce the best results; this is the hot spot.
Following, I have listed the Titles of the remaining Parts and Chapters: As you will be able to see, there are tons of valuable information. And The Author continues to go into detail in each section.
Part Two: Digging into Record on ancestry.com
Chapter 4: Making the Most of Census Records and Voter List
Chapter 5: Delving into Birth, Marriage, and Death Records
Chapter 6: Working with Military Records
Chapter 7: Using Immigration and Travel Records
Chapter 8: Digging into Newspapers, Publications, and Maps
Chapter 9: Searching Stories, Memories, Histories, and Pictures
Chapter 10: Making the Most of Schools, Directories, and Church Histories
Chapter 11: Using the Wills, Probates, Land, Tax & Criminal Category
Part Three: Uncovering Ancestors with Ancestry DNA
Chapter 12: Interpreting Your DNA Results
Chapter 13: Connecting with Others
Chapter 14: Applying DNA to your Research
Part Four: Diving Deeper into Ancestry.com
Chapter 15: Collaborating with other users
Chapter 16: Branching out with Newspapers.com and Fold3
Appendix: Quick Links and Shortcut Keys
About the Author: Nancy Hendrickson is a genealogy author, blogger, and instructor at Family Tree University <www.familytreemagazine.com/university>. A contributing editor at Family Tree Magazine, Nancy writes almost exclusively about Internet genealogy, research, and American history. She’s a member of Western Writers of America and long-time photography buff. Nancy is active on Facebook <www.facebook.com/genealogyteach>, Twitter (@genealogyteach), and Pinterest <www.pinterest.com/genealogyteach>. You can find her at her website or contact her via e-mail: email@example.com.
Hendrickson, Nancy. Unofficial Guide to Ancestry.com. F+W Media. Kindle Edition.
This book is a must for anyone serious about using Ancestry.com. In my reading of this book. I have discovered many techniques that I was unaware of prior and have found them useful as I tested them in my research.
When you purchase this book, make sure you read Chapters 1-3 the ones I summarized above are a have to read straight through.
You might also be interested in Nancy Hendrickson’s, Unofficial Ancestry.com Workbook.
The rest of the book, read for referencing when you are ready to research the topics of each chapter.
This book is a long read straight through if you are not already familiar with Ancestry. But used as suggested you will significantly benefit from all the knowledge that Nancy has so graciously shared.
So, my conclusion is that this book is perfect, very professionally written. And will benefit everyone regardless of the level of experience with Ancestry.com or any aspect of genealogy research.
Your thoughts will be gratefully appreciated.
Thanks for taking the time.