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June 13, 2019

Searching Ancestry’s New Collections

Searching Ancestry’s New Collections

By: Sherri Bonham

If you have ever searched Ancestry, you may have noticed the search bar across the top that reads: Home, Search, Message Boards, Learning Center, Charts and Forms, and New Collections.

I would like to share the reason I frequently go to New Collections.

First, the name is misleading. New Collections lists all collections, but the first few pages list newly added and recently updated collections, such as:

Kent, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1538-1914   New


Michigan, Death Records, 1867-1952  Updated

Any search that we conduct when we click on Begin Searching draws information from the 10,371 collections in Ancestry’s records (as of June 4, 2019). Most of us would think that once an individual has been searched, there is no need to search for that person again, but that is not always true, due to new and updated records.

In searching for one of my ancestors, I found:

U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current

NAME: Ida May Cullison

BIRTH: 24 Aug 1871

DEATH: 21 Nov 1923 – Clarinda, Page County, Iowa , United States of America

The U. S. Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current is the name of the collection that the information about Ida May has been taken from. The beauty of a basic search is that it pulls names and close matches from thousands of records to provide search results. The problem is that due to name spelling errors or changes, unreadable handwriting and many people with the exact same name, the person that you know is in Iowa, may be on the third page and spelled oddly. You might not think it is a match.

So if you are sure that your ancestor lived in a certain state or country at a certain time, but you have not been able to find them, try New Collections.

As soon as you click on it, you will see that the name has changed to Card Catalog. A frequent search I do is to search for Indiana births, to see how far back they go in the state. Some records are Indiana Birth Records and some are Indiana Births.  If you enter Indiana Birth*, you will see both Birth and Births in the search results. Then scan trough the results for the date ranges of each collection that will be at the state or county level. If you just search Indiana, you will see specific group collections, such as family histories, church or veteran lists.

I also do this type of search for Indiana deaths and marriages. If you only want to see births, deaths and marriages, you can also click on the filter option to the left of the screen.

Indiana, Birth Certificates, 1907-1940

The biggest advantage of searching a specific collection is that, instead of searching 10,371 different collections with millions of names, you are searching one collection with many fewer names. The name matches that appear at the top of your results list are probably closer to what you want than when you search all collections by name. You also see name spelling variations more clearly. (Think of it, as instead of having to search your entire house for you glasses, you only need to search your dresser for them!) I recently helped someone looking for the family name of Dias and when we only searched one collection, found his ancestor with the spelling of Deas.

It does not take long to search for each town or county you have ancestors from just to see what is available. For example, if you type in Hamilton County Indiana, you will find “Compiled Records from the Hamilton East Public Library”. These Godby Trout funeral home records were given to the library several years ago. You might begin by searching by the name of the county and state your ancestor lived in. If you do not find anything, broaden to the state.

If you search New Collections/Card Catalog for Indiana, you will see one hundred records that pertain only to the State of Indiana or Indiana counties. Some examples are Indiana Federal Naturalization Records, 1892-1992, United Methodist Church Records, 1837-1970, and German settlers and German settlements in Indiana.

In addition, there are international records in Ancestry. Try searching for records from Ireland, Germany, and Mexico too. Good luck!