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Hidden Records on Ancestry – Are you Missing a Trick?

Hidden Records on Ancestry – Are you Missing a Trick? you know that not all the records on Ancestry are indexed? Did you know that Ancestry goes into archives and scans lots of books and printed material as well as the main documents such as parish registers and census? And did you know that a lot of these records even if they are searchable by name won’t come up on your searches or as a Green Shaky Leaf? And do you know where these genealogy gems are hidden on the website? Do I hear you say that no you didn’t know that? I thought you might not, which is why I am going to tell you all about them. I think of the end part of the Ancestry Card Catalogue as a Genealogical Bermuda Triangle ! It is where great resources go and then seem to disappear and where no one ever finds them. Until now that is!

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How can you find this Genealogical Bermuda Triangle?

Let’s go through the process step by step…

1. On the front page of Ancestry click on Card Catalogue.

2. You then get the front page of the card catalogue. Click on “only records from UK and Ireland” and type into the Keyword Box the name of the county in which your ancestors lived. In my example I have put in Berkshire. Click Search.


3. This takes you to a page in which all the data-sets with the key word Berkshire in their description are shown. At the top you can see headers Title, Collections, Records and Activity. You can see that 239 data-sets have come up, the records have been automatically sorted by Ancestry by Popularity, but we want to change that to Record Count. Click on the box and choose Record Count.

4. The page will now show the data-sets with the highest number of records at the top working down to the data-set with the lowest number. These are shown at around 25 data-sets per page so as there are 239 data-sets they will be spread over a number of pages. Go to the bottom of the page and click on the green arrow to go through to the last page.

5. Then working through from the end,  look at the data-set descriptions and click on any that look as if they may be of help with your research. You can see that the last entry for the Berkshire search is titled “Finley of Maberacolton and McArthur of Miltown, County Tyrone”. A Top Tip is to put the cursor over the title and right click with your mouse and choose the Open Link In New Tab option so that you can easily keep your place on the data-set list on a separate page. Even though I have told the search engine that I want records for just the UK and Ireland I have found that some records you can only view if you have a Worldwide subscription. I have emailed Ancestry and asked then why it is that a data-set that by it’s title is obviously about the UK and Ireland has been catalogued as only accessible with a Worldwide subscription. I’ll let you know the reply.

As an example here is a book that only a very small number were printed in 1932 – “Bucklebury : a Berkshire parish, the home of Bolingbroke”. I spend hours in the Society of Genealogists in London working my way through the book extracting all mentioned of my Berkshire families. It was a very enjoyable task, but I had limited time there and could have used that time looking at other documents and books if I had known that this book was online at Ancestry. I only came across it online later. To give you an idea of how much information this one book held here are two lists from the index with references to my Pocock and Pottinger family.

You can see why I have become such a big fan of using the card catalogue. I highly recommend that you spend an hour familiarising yourself with how it works and I can almost guarantee you will find some genealogy treasure in there!

If you want to research these data-sets and you don’t have a subscription to Ancestry then do remember that Ancestry offers a Free 14 day try before you buy period.

Ancestry FREE 14 Day Offer – Click here to try before you buy









2 thoughts on “Hidden Records on Ancestry – Are you Missing a Trick?

  1. Interesting, I’m in the U.S. and do not see “Card Catalogue”… and instead of “Record Collections” heading, I have “Products and Services”. However, if I go to the “Search” link, and scroll all the way to the bottom, there I will find a button for “View All In Card Catalog”.

    1. Hi Bonnie, Thank you for your comment about the difference between and I’ve just taken a look and can see where I find the Card Catalog button in the UK site is missing on the USA site. Also as you say the Card Catalog button is situated at the bottom of the drop down box under the search tab. I can see that I will have to search both sites from now on and give alternative instructions for my USA readers. Thank you for pointing this out, a great help. Have you subscribed to the MadAboutGenealogy mailing list, the link is the is the yellow band at the top of the Home page? I can promise not to bombard you with emails, but I always send out an email once a week with the latest genealogy news and also any breaking news that is so interesting and important I can’t wait to tell my readers plus of course any discounts or special deals for genealogy items Kind regards, Linda

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