Saturday, January 9, 2021

How I Tackle Ancestry Hints

 I recently have had several conversations with my cousin Peter about Ancestry hints. Yeah, if you are an Ancestry user I am talking about those shaking leaves that pop up on your tree. They indicate that a particular person has potentially been identified in records. 

Our conversations have been about how do you handle them. I mean, I literally have thousands. 13,777 of them as of this moment exist for my family tree which consists of 3,578 people. I also have dozens of other trees I maintain for friends and clients. Does anyone really have the energy to keep that number down to zero? I sure as hell don't.

So what I do is look at my tree in pedigree view and review any hints that pop-up for my direct ancestors back to my great-great grandparents. On Ancestry, when you look at your pedigree view with yourself at the far left it branches back to your great-great grandparents. I keep that section of my tree free of hints by reviewing every one that pops up.

I have found that if I didn't review the hints, and either add the resources to my person's record or dismiss it, that leaf would hang out there forever and I'd wind up reviewing the same hints over and over again never making a decision as to what to do with the record. Do I attach it or not? 

So now I review all the hints that come up for me, my parents, my grandparents, my great grandparents, and great-great grandparents; those 31 people. And what about the other 3,547 people? I get to them when I decide to work on a line.

Very often I find myself telling my students or clients that "you have to go out to get back." Everyone is so interested in getting their lineage further back in history but I have found that very often my direct ancestor is not as well documented as, say, their brother. And it's that sibling's records that give me the information to get a generation further back. I mean, after all, my tree does have 3,578 people in it. They aren't all direct ancestors. You have to look at the extended family. You have to! But when you get around to them. 

Additionally when you start to poke around on someone you have left untouched for awhile more and more hints seem to spill out. 

So this is my tip for tacking all your Ancestry hints: Pick a branch and stick. One line at a time. Make a decision about the hint the first time you review it. You can always come back to it in your "ignored" list which is on the individual's profile page on the hints page.


  1. Very good info. I also try to look at all hints up to my great greats and then review the others as I work on those ancestors.

  2. A few years ago I lost information in my tree when I tried to split it into 2 trees. I use the hints as a way to go through the trees in an orderly way and repair the damage. Working first on the direct ancestors is a good idea as I go along.