Friday, July 16, 2010

Links to Individual Collections

Dear Ancestry Insider,

How can a specific database (e.g., "Scandinavia Vital Records Index") be accessed directly without having a link like you have provided in the examples?

Dear Direct and Specific,

The good news is, it is easy to figure out. The bad news is, FamilySearch has never said whether the links will continue to work in the future. Because of the beta and pilot labels, I am not counting on it.

Regardless, here is how you do it.

Record Search Pilot

  1. Start at .
  2. Click on Search or Browse our record collections. (Sorry, there is no direct link to this page.)
  3. Click on Browse Collections or click a continent on the map.
  4. Find the collection of interest and click on its name.

The address bar of your browser now contains a link to the target collection. You can now:

  • Search just that one collection.
  • Add the link to your favorites or bookmark it. (Different browsers use different terminology.)
  • Drag the icon from the address bar onto your desktop.
  • Select the address. Right click on it. Copy it to your clipboard. Paste the address into an e-mail, document, or web application such as Twitter, Facebook, blog, etc.


  1. Start at .
  2. Click on All Collections.
  3. Find the collection of interest and click on its name.

The address bar of your browser now contains a link to the target collection and you can do the same things as listed for the RecordSearch Pilot.

So, Direct and Specific, I hope this information is helpful. However, who knows how long the addresses will last.

No extra charge for this… Here’s how to get addresses on

  1. Click on Search on the menu bar.
  2. Click on Go to the Card Catalog.
  3. At 29,868 databases, has gone way past listing databases by continent. Use the features of the card catalog to find the database of interest. Click on its name.

The address bar now contains the link to the target database. Do with it what you will.

Incidentally, I notice that the addresses look different than I observed two years ago. Addresses used to look like this:

These addresses still work, but the card catalog now uses addresses like this:

As before, I’m probably the only one interested by such trivial technicalities. But in my upcoming series on citations, address changes will be of interest to us all.


  1. The Ancestry catalog does allow you to drill down to the county level for searches.

  2. Bit concerned by your final sentence:

    "But in my upcoming series on citations, address changes will be of interest to us all."

    I suspect this means pursuing citation formats that specify the web sites containing the digital images of interest; and quite possibly also informing the reader of the exact date the image was viewed (but usually not the exact time).

    In that light, my following comments are by way of a pre-emptive strike and a note that not all genealogists see the need to slavishly follow the absolute preciseness of academic standards that bring no benefits and seem to require unnecessary increased size and complexity of preparation of citations - that results in the preparation of citations being seen as an academic discipline in itself which (I have seen) spreads discouragement in using citations of any value.

    In my view, such a pursuit of absolute preciseness is a waste of time and counter productive to producing citations that can be readily understood and used for the purpose they are intended.

    A problematic example is what you referred to in this article, namely, the relocation and changes to the technical specification of web page locations. A further example is in the re-branding or future extinction of web providers of digital images - what then of our carefully crafted precisely correct (at the time) citations.

    It is my view that citations involving digital images viewed over the Internet should and need only be concerned with the guardian/owner repository and should use the citation reference of the particular image as used by the guardian/owner repository. It is of absolutely no consequence which particular web provider put the image in front of me or the date on which I viewed it; If it is a concern of variable quality on differing dates of the images provided, then you might just as well feel the need to specify the screen resolution used or the wattage of the bulb used in the film viewer used - all could have an influence on the image as viewed - and be just as useless in any practical use of such a citation.

    Instead, any reviewer of my citation can easily ascertain which web providers have been licenced to display the image identified in the citation and can use their preference as to which provider to use to access the identified image.

    Why complicate the preparation of citations?


  3. Thanks for the information. I suppose NFS is in a period of rapid transition and we can expect the unexpected. I checked out the Scottish marriages collection for a FH library patron and found this collection available at the pilot site but not the fsbeta site. The other curiosity I noticed was that although the particular marriage was listed on the old IGI fiche and the Scottish marriages CD, it is not listed in the pilot site collection and a search in fsbeta proved fruitless. Also, an advanced search in using the batch number found the batch but not the marriage in question. The marriage is however in NFS. I am wondering if this is generally the case that once a record is part of the NFS Family Tree in the interest of reducing duplication the record is deleted from the other collections.

  4.'s Card Catalog, suggested by AI, is very difficult to search for databases in using NewSearch.

    Last week just rolled out the same map setup for its global NewSearch (located below the search form in the global search page) that has long been available in Old Search.

    One can click on the locations and generate location-specific lists of databases to browse.

    They are not necessarily complete, but the location compilations have been improved over what they were a year ago.

    It is not possible to do a locality-specific search, such as to search all USA-Pensylvania-specific databases, or all Sweden-specific databases.

    Putting locations in the global or "collections" (by topic) search forms turns up hordes of irrelevant results because the search engine retrieves innumerable items that are keyword-indexed. This type of search thus retrieves items where one of the target names and a place-name are on the same page, such as Manitoba obituaries or NY Passenger Ship Photos for someone who never left Tennessee.

  5. A.I.,

    Thank you for the very helpful supplemental information.

    from "Direct and Specific"


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