Screen shot of Ancestry LE showing drop-down menu
Ancestry.com has just announced that it now has over ten billion records in its database. Wow! It wasn't all that long ago that I looked at the database and decided it didn't have enough Canadian or international content to make it worthwhile. Things change very quickly. Now I can’t imagine how we would function without our Ancestry LE subscription.
Of course, finding something in a database with 10 billion records can be something of a challenge. I liken it to being dropped in the National Library with the notion that somewhere there is a book with information about my family in it. Now go find it. Yikes, this could take a while.
There are a couple of fundamental strategies for finding information in a gargantuan collection such as this. The first thing I always recommend is for new users to look at either the Card Catalogue (you can find that by hovering over “Search” or clicking on the arrow beside “Search” on the front page of Ancestry LE) or by checking the locale where you are searching (you find the interactive map by clicking on “Search”). That way you can find out what records exist for the area you are searching. It pays to know what is in a database before you start searching. For example, if you are looking for a birth registration for someone in Alberta, you’d probably like to know that those records are not in Ancestry before you spend valuable time looking for them.
The next tip is to search one record set at a time. If you fire your name into the general search, you could turn up thousands of records, many of which are not relevant to you. By using the card catalogue to narrow the search down, you know that your results will be more likely to be relevant. Of course, this method requires that we know what we are looking for, which is one of the first rules of genealogy. It is always easier to find what you are looking for if you know what you are looking for (no matter what the advertising and “Who do you think you are?” say to the contrary.) If your search is for “grandmother’s birth record,” you have a better chance of success than if your search is for “everything about grandmother.”
Keep in mind, as well, that Ancestry LE has a great learning centre that can be accessed by clicking on “Help” in the upper right hand corner. There is a Wiki and an Answers section that can both be searched by keyword. It is a great resource to check if you are just starting out, or if you have encountered something in a record that you can’t figure out.
So, with those pointers in mind, visit us at any branch of the Calgary Public Library to try out Ancestry LE. You can access it with your library card number and PIN in any of our 18 branches. We've come a long way, from dusty originals to digitized records.
Screen shot of Ancestry LE showing interactive map and tabs