30 March 2015

If There Was A Bear in the Creek, I'd Never Find It On Ancestry.com

Locations are crucial to genealogical research.

Ancestry.com understands that in theory. I'm not so certain they understand that in practice.

One of the civil townships in Hancock County, Illinois, is Bear Creek Township. Bear Creek Township has been called Bear Creek for some time. How long I'm not certain, but Hancock County adopted township government in November of 1849.

Ancestry.com obviously knows that Bear Creek Township exists--they've coded it in as location in the 1910 census as shown below.

However, Hancock County's Bear Creek Township does not appear in Ancestry.com's drop down list of locations.

How hard can it be to include geographic locations from the census in the drop-down list of geographic locations? It certainly would make it easier for the user to narrow their searches to just Bear Creek Township if desired (now the workaround to search just Bear Creek Township is to use "bear creek" as a keyword and search only in a location of Hancock County, Illinois). It's frustrating to have to gerryrig the search for some locations and not for others.

What about Bear Creek Township?

Bear Creek Township--from Wikipedia
 placed in the public
domain by creator Omnedon
Errors like this are frustrating for paying users of Ancestry.com. The naive user will think the location does not exist if it's not in the drop down menu. They may even blame themselves for not being able to find it. Experienced users will realize that it's probably just a quirk in Ancestry.com's system and see what workarounds are available.

Cynical users will wonder if Ancestry.com can't manage to find a 36 square mile area in Illinois what else can't they find?

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