Monday, March 7, 2016

Monday Mailbox: HeritageQuest

Dear Ancestry Insider,

I emailed support last evening after talking with a support rep. He had no clue about my question.

I found many United States Census Records on HeritageQuest that I cannot find on Ancestry, specifically for Caleb Smith in Hector, NY in 1830 (there are many more).

I had heard that HeritageQuest was the go to place for Rev War records.  I searched Martin Peck and found none on HeritageQuest.  Ancestry shows some, but Fold3 has a lot more. And all three say they are from the National Archives.

Does Ancestry “split-up” which records are available on each of the three services?  HeritageQuest and Ancestry are obviously the same web site, just HeritageQuest saves in My Discoveries where Ancestry will download to my computer.

I am using the remote access feature of HeritageQuest through my local library.

Thanks for any clues you might have on “What is going on?”

Carty Ellis

Dear Carty,

Fold3 is, indeed, owned by Ancestry purchased it from iArchives. At the time, it was called Ancestry has positioned Fold3 as a source of original military records and renamed the website to connote military respect and honor. When Ancestry acquires new military records, it usually publishes them on Fold3, although not always.

HeritageQuest is not owned by Ancestry. It is owned by ProQuest. I have unfocused memories of HeritageQuest and microfilm rentals. The Encyclopedia of Genealogy website says that HeritageQuest acquired the American Genealogical Lending Library back in 1998. I can’t remember how HeritageQuest made its way into ProQuest. Anyone know?

So why does most of HeritageQuest look almost exactly like ProQuest is licensing most of HeritageQuest from Ancestry, including both website, search engine, and some record collections. Last March Ancestry started “powering” the HeritageQuest website. (See my article “ Did Not Buy HeritageQuest.”) At that time HeritageQuest’s census databases, with their bitonal images and head-of-household census indexes disappeared and Ancestry’s appeared in their place. You should get the exact same search results for census records on both Ancestry and HeritageQuest. If you don’t, I’m guessing there may have been inadvertently different search settings. Send me an example and I’ll look into it.

You had understood the HeritageQuest was a good place to search for Revolutionary War Records. Here is what HeritageQuest looked like before the current arrangement with Ancestry:

Source: Kristen McCallum, “Getting the Most Out of Heritage Quest,” slide presentation, In SlideShare ( : accessed 1 February 2016), slide 4.

Ancestry doesn’t have a license for PERSI and the U.S. Serial Set, and ProQuest’s license for those collections did not allow it to give them to Ancestry. Consequently, they have quietly disappeared from the Ancestry hosted HeritageQuest. However, the remaining collections, including the Revolutionary War collection, are still present, both on HeritageQuest (and Ancestry).

---The Ancestry Insider


  1. Love your posts. I can still see and use both Persi and the U.S. Serial Set on HeritageQuest.

  2. I used to access Heritage Quest through It contains many records that are not available at Ancestry. I no longer can access HQ as it seems to be available only at libraries. I am handicapped and can no longer easily visit libraries so my research is now limited to onlne sources. Some of my favorite sources at HQ were church records. I found information on many of my colonial ancestors through HQ's wonderful collection of church records. Thank you HQ! I miss your records very much!

    1. Barbara, Heritage Quest is not just available at libraries, it is available for remote home access through the use of a library card via library websites. If your local library has a website, you should check it out to see if they have it there, and if you don't have a library card, you might want to get one, since some libraries also have additional genealogy databases available on their websites.

    2. You may be thinking of a different database. HeritageQuest never had a collection of church records--unless you mean its collection of digitized books, which does include some indexes and transcriptions of church records.

  3. You might want to track down a DAR or SAR member to help with Revolutionary War Patriots!

  4. PERSI and the U. S. Serial Set are still available at Heritage Quest. When you first go to Heritage Quest instead of clicking on "Begin Searching", click on "Search" at the top of the page. Then scroll down and you will see both PERSI and the U. S. Serial Set. -Patricia Poland, Union County Public Library, Monroe, NC

  5. It was a sad day when HQ census records disappeared. They could be searched differently than Ancestry's and I used both. Please bring them back.

    1. I agree wholeheartedly. You could generally get better indexing results and I used the images more often than the poorer quality Ancestry images. Now I generally look at Family Search for the image quality if I need it. Sad not to have all the wonderful options.

  6. It was a sad day when HQ census records disappeared. They could be searched differently than Ancestry's and I used both. Please bring them back.

  7. How ProQuest acquired HeritageQuest (originally Heritage Quest):

  8. Both images and search results were better than Ancestry before the hookup with Ancestry. I've been very disappointed that the old HeritageQuest census is gone. The search algorithms or whatever finds the names were evidently different. I could find people on HeritageQuest that I could never find on the same census year on Ancestry. After finding the record on HeritageQuest, I could go page by page on Ancestry and find the same record; it would never appear through a search. Images on old HeritageQuest were much easier to read.

  9. Too bad someone doesn't make up a grid with what's available where. This prose version is very confusing. is becoming nearly useless for many searches, returning things that aren't even close, or sensible with the search term used. NO ONE seems to be addressing the quality of transcription of census records, there apparently is no one "proof reading", i.e., a second pair of eyes. I find nearly as many errors as correct entries when I compare the printed summary and original record of census records. Better than the olden days for sure for availability online, but the quality doesn't seem to improve, and the confusion of all these commercial entities buying/selling their data makes a time-consuming, detail-heavy activity even more so.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.