21 November 2008

Ancestry.com's Card Catalog

One frustration with some sites is the ability to search for databases that are in a specific locatilty. Libraries at least have a card catalog where one can search for locations, in particular counties, towns, etc. This makes finding specific materials easier. While global searches of websites are nice, there are times when I like to search a specific book instead of looking instantly at every book in the library.

The Ancestry.com Card Catalog will let you search by location, you just have to filter your way down to the level you want instead of typing in keywords to search subject headings the way you would in a library card catalog. The screen shot in this entry is reduced to show more of the page, but in the red circle is where you can filter by location.

Users can simply then scroll down to the desired state and click.

Once you choose a state, the list of counties will appear. That is what happened after I clicked on Illinois.

Every time you choose a new location, the right hand side of the page "updates" to reflect items cataloged based upon your new choice.

The county is as far down as you can go. When I choose the county, the list of locations from which to choose disappears. If you do not see anything, scroll up to the top of the webpage, that is what I had to do.

Then on the right hand side I saw my four references. On the left hand side (under the orangish search button) are clickable areas that tell me where my search is currently focused. I can click any of those to pull up the appropriate list again to change my filtering.

Or I can click on one of the "hits" and search it or (heaven forbid) actually read it.

Before you search the book, read the description so you know what you are searching. Remember that OCR searches do not always find people. I KNEW my ancestor's biography was in this book (I have a copy at home). Finding it searching for Ramply and Bamply did not located the desired entry. I performed a keyword search instead for the word "laurels" only because I remembered that word was in his biography (this has to be on the top of the list of minutia that I have remembered). Any way I did find his biography split over two pages, which is how it was in the original.

I even left the word "laurels" green from when I searched for it.
Of course if I save this material, I should track the book, author, publication information, online source, etc.
I like the Ancestry.com Card Catalog and am glad they either added it or I just noticed it. At any rate, it is helpful.
Now--if they would let me search just for materials in one county at a time instead of either books or just one book. I'm never satisfied.

And if any descendants of James Rampley (1803-1884) read this post, let me know. I'm his 3rd great-grandson.

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Anonymous Beth said...

Thank you so much for this explanation!!! I've never figured out how to work their card catalog.

7:57 PM  

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