I wrote a blog post in February, “No Image Available? Maybe There is One!” In it, I described searching on FamilySearch and coming with a hit on an index record, complete with the dreaded “No image available” message. I outline a workaround where sometimes you can find the image on FamilySearch.
A similar situation sometimes happens with an Ancestry.com search. I recently found a result on Ancestry for an 1885 Iowa census record.
In my search for John Goodall, I got this screen on Ancestry. Note the “No Image – Text-only Collection” notation on the top left. But near to the bottom are two important notations – “Family History Film: 1021457” and a few lines above that “Page Number: 363.” Let’s see what I can find on FamilySearch!
On familysearch.org/catalog/search, I typed the film number in the box labeled “Film/Fiche Number” and clicked “Search.”
I got one result.
When I clicked on “State census, 1885” I got a couple of options.
Where it says “Records of Iowa State Census, 1885 are available online, click here” I clicked and entered John Goodall and Crawford in the name and residence boxes. My first hit looked like the one I was looking for:
When I clicked on the document icon, I get a transcription of the record, a source citation, and a link to the census image.
Here's the image
In this case, FamilySearch had the “Records of Iowa State Census, 1885 are available online, click here” button, which took me to a search page. If they hadn’t had that direct link, I could have scrolled further down the “State Census, 1885” page until I got to film number 1021457.
Again, with the magnifying glass image, I was able to search the film, but even without the search capability, the presence of the camera icon is a clue that I can browse the records. I’ll be linked to the correct film and will just need to poke around until I find page 363.
Note that sometimes when you click on the camera icon, you’ll get a message that the records are only available for viewing at a Family History center. It all depends on the agreement that FamilySearch has with the agency who owns the records. I like to save these searches up, and monthly or so make a trip to my local Family History Center and look at all the images I can’t get from home.
But remember, when you’re searching on Ancestry and they won’t show you the record image, if you see a reference to a “Family History Film” follow my steps and see if you can find the image on FamilySearch. For free, even! Score!!!
Say what?!!! I’d never heard the word “Yeomanette” before today. But, with highway projects, lane closures, and the Pride Parade in Seattle today, my husband and I decided to take the ferry home from our weekend getaway, rather than driving. And that set me off on a whole new research adventure. As we pulled into the ferry waiting area in Bremerton we noticed the “Navy Museum” right next door. Neither of us had ever been and we had a few minutes to kill before the boat arrived.
It’s a charming little museum, with an exhibit on aircraft carriers on the second floor and an exhibit about the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard on the ground floor. And that’s where I learned a new word, "Yeomanettes." During World War I, the shipyard’s workforce grew from 1,500 in 1916 to over 6,500 by late 1918. Many of these new hires were women who worked in offices as clerical personnel as well as in the shops and docks. These Yeomanettes “filled navy clerical shortages and received the same pay as their male predecessors.”
As part of the exhibit, the museum has displayed the uniform of Gertrude (McGowan) Madden, along with a group photo of Gertrude and a couple dozen of her colleagues. I admit I the type of genealogist who, when she sees a person’s name on an exhibit, I am compelled to then do some sort of research. Who was she? Where was she from? What can I find?
And true to my addiction, I came home and set to work to discover a little about Yeomanette Gertrude McGowan. She was the middle of three daughters and a son of Irish immigrant Michael McGowan and his wife, Mary. On the 1920 census, Gertrude, a typist, and her older sister, Elizabeth, a clerk, both worked at the navy yard, along with their father who was an inspector there.  Gertrude lived to the ripe old age of 95. Quite something.
As I researched her more, I found a BIRLS (Beneficiary Identification Records Locator Subsystem) death file indicating Gertrude indeed enlisted in the Navy 19 October 1917 and was discharged 2 August 1919. I suspect she wore this uniform with pride. Thank you for your service, Gertrude.
Any other fellow geeks out there compelled to research those random folks you find on your travels? I’d love to hear your story. Reply in the comments below.
 Text of exhibit at the Navy Museum, Bremerton, Washington. 25 June 2017
 "United States Census, 1920," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MHFJ-RPW : accessed 26 June 2017), Gertrude Mcgowan in household of Michiel Mcgowan, Bremerton Ward 4, Kitsap, Washington, United States; citing ED 52, sheet 12A, line 6, family 273, NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1992), roll 1931; FHL microfilm 1,821,931.
 Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2011. Number: 348-30-0914; Issue State: Illinois; Issue Date: 1953-1955. Accessed 25 June 2017
 Ancestry.com. U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: Beneficiary Identification Records Locator Subsystem (BIRLS) Death File. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
I’ve recently been searching for a family with the surname “Thomas” and discovered a quirk with Ancestry’s search filters. Ancestry does not appear to be using a Soundex system for name searches.
Soundex is a code based on the first letter of the surname and the next three consonants. Consonants are divided up into six groups of letters that sound similar to each other. Vowels and the letters “H,” “W,” and “Y” are not considered in the Soundex system unless they fall at the beginning of a name. So two names with the same consonants in the same order should be found on a search.
I was searching the 1940 census on Ancestry for Cordelia THOMAS born in Nebraska. I could not come up with her. I finally had to resort to a first-name only search and use some additional first names of other people I expected to see in the household. With that grouping of names, I eventually hit upon Roy THOAMS and family.
When I looked at the census image for the family, the enumerator wrote THOMAS – however the indexer for Ancestry transposed the “M” and “A” and indexed it as THOAMS.
THOMAS and THOAMS have the same consonants in the same order. In a true Soundex system, they would be indexed in the same group of names. But Ancestry does not always put them together. I have found dozens and dozens of THOMAS families indexed as THOAMS. And in my spot check of people listed with the surname THOAMS in Ancestry, every single one I looked at on the census was a THOMAS.
A couple of takeaways –
If you know other family members in the household, try searching just by first name. Unfortunately, I don’t always know other household members.
Remember that Ancestry doesn’t use a straight-up Soundex. You might have to think of alternate ways to spell even simple surname. And be sure to consider transposition errors.
if you are interested in more strategies for finding people on the census, check out my "Censational Census Strategies" talk. You can see when I'll be giving it presentation schedule on the "Lectures" tab of my website.
I love teaching! It’s great to be able to share what I know, and a wonderful bonus when one of my students teaches me something.
About a year ago I wrote a blog post, “Spreadsheet Magic - Importing Data from Ancestry.com.” Importing data from a website into an Excel spreadsheet can give you the chance to play around with it, make notes, and manipulate the data to help to see patterns and find more about your ancestors. I demonstrated this at a recent presentation I gave at King County Libraries, and Marvin, one of my students, taught me a new trick. Seems my way of importing is “so 2016.” There a new tool on the block, Power Query, that whittles the importing process down to one quick step.
Power Query is a Microsoft tool, included as part of Excel 2016 and available as a downloadable add-on for Excel 2010 and Excel 2013. You can download it here:
Once you install Power Query on your computer, it will show as a new tab on the Ribbon at the top of your Excel Window. When you open that tab, you will see several icons. In the left most section, “Get External Data,” there is an icon, “From Web” which will allow you to import data quickly from a web page.
I am curious why my husband’s Irish immigrant ancestors settled in Madison County, Ohio in the early 1850s. If I research some of the early Irish settlers in that community, those who were born in Ireland and lived in Madison County by 1850, I may find one who was from the same place as Mark’s great-great grandfather, Bartley Roddy. I’d like to do a search on Ancestry to find a list of these people, and then use a spreadsheet to track and study them and record my research notes.
I did a search on Ancestry for everyone born in Ireland and living in Madison County, Ohio listed on the 1850 census.
I could type all that data in, but it would take me quite a bit of time to record all 130 names. But with Power Query, I can copy the URL from the top of the page and get a direct import of the first 50 names. (For the remaining names, I can copy the URLs for the second and third pages of results, and repeat the process explained below)
To do the import, open up the Power Query tab, click on the “From Web” icon, and a pop-up window appears with a box where you can paste in the URL you copied from your Ancestry search.
Click OK. A new pop-up appears where you can click on “Table 0” and the “Load” icon at the bottom.
And voila!!!! An Excel table I can sort, filter, and manipulate to my heart’s content with space to record my findings. I’m going to crack those Roddy origins, yet!
Have fun importing web searches of your own. And thank you, Marvin, and all my other class participants who have taught this teacher such great stuff!
Mary Kircher Roddy is a genealogist, writer and lecturer, always looking for the story. Her blog is a combination of the stories she has found and the tools she used to find them.