Category Archives: Web Search

Reported Problem: Web Search Merge Stops Working

Re: FTM Mac 3 v.

Problem: Web Search Merge Stops Working sporadically and is greyed out.

I’m still trying to define the variables that lead to this problem but I have figured out that when it does occur I have to go back to People>Tree, find a shaky leaf, and click on it. That seems to reset it and then I am able to use this feature normally.

Note: You can report problems here:

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To Merge or Not To Merge

When I merge FindaGrave or Marriage records from Ancestry into FTM, many times there are other people listed on the record besides the person I am searching for info for. Let’s say that I have a FindaGrave record for Max Muggle. The Web Merge Wizard also shows his father, mother, wife, children. I have found that if I merge these extra people from Max Muggles record that it saves the Source Citation with his name instead of theirs. I have decided not to merge these records so as to avoid confusion and to keep things less cluttered. I merge each FindaGrave record individually which is time consuming but I really like having one Source Citation for each person.

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How To Test Out Info

When I run into new data in online Family Trees that is interesting I test it out before using it permanently. I want to document as much as possible and I do not consider Family Trees the best source of info. Granted, there is sometimes info that a family ‘just knows’ about someone that you can’t find documentation for. If I get info directly from a person then I source them but otherwise I do my best to find hard documentation. What is helpful for this is actually adding a piece or two of info into FTM and then checking the Shaky Leaf or even running a Web Search. This has worked for me many times. The key is that if you don’t find documentation, that you go back and move the ‘possible info’ into your notes and then add the date you searched and a note that you didn’t find anything. It really doesn’t mean that the info is incorrect, just that you didn’t find any documentation to support it at this time. Ancestry constantly adds new files so you never know when you will get a hit.

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How To Increase Shaky Leaf Hits

You can greatly increase your Shaky Leaf hits if you add approximate birthdates for those individuals that are missing birthdates. Just go to the People Workspace > Tree tab and look down your Index. You can also run a Filter so that the Index only shows those without birthdates. It’s good to have some rules set up so that you are consistent. See my post “How To Estimate Birth Dates & Determine Deceased.”

To set up a Filter to show blank birthdates:

1. Include All

2. Filter OUT: Birth/Date > Is Not Blank


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How To Increase Ancestry Search Hits

When you search for someone and you merge new info go back to the People Workspace > Tree View. Wait for the Shaky Leaf to reappear and then click it again to search again with the new info that was added. Hopefully the new info will result in more hits.

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How To Search for Death Records – Women

Sometimes Ancestry seems to have a hard time finding death records – especially for women. I have found a couple of little tricks that have helped me immensely.

  1. Edit your search and add her married name as the surname. Keep in mind that she may have remarried, divorced, or taken her maiden surname back. You can also add all of her surnames separated-by-spaces and see what comes up.
  2. Add a nickname to the beginning of the first name field. If this was the name they went by, then it may be what was on their death record and also on their tombstone as well.

Hope that helps. Do you have any tricks like these?

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How To Take Full Advantage of a Shaky Leaf

Those shaky leaves are really handy and I use them often. Something you may not have thought of is that after you merge records from a shaky leaf search go back to tree view and hit the shaky leaf again. Sometimes the new info that you have entered will bring up even more hints. So I guess you could call this a hint on a hint? (bad genealogy humor)

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