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U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989

U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989

Posted: 13 Nov 2012 8:14PM GMT
Classification: Query
Suggestion to Ancestry.com:

Add the directories in the database "U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989" to the card catalog by location.

There are over 1750 cities in the database that can't be found via the card catalog.

For example, if you search in the card catalog for Amsterdam, NY directories you will get one link to the 1887-1890 directory database. You will not get a link/links to more than thirty Amsterdam directories covering 1867 to 1959.

Again, this is the same situation for over 1750 cities.

Finding these by location is especially important since the character-recognition is poor in the US City Directories database. Users would have the opportunity to browse these directories by location instead -- if they could find them!

Re: U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989

Posted: 14 Nov 2012 1:37AM GMT
Classification: Query
See attached link.

http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=2469

On the right side you can locate/browse city directories by location. Then a drop-down box shows the years available.

The search function is not great, but better than it used to be. I just search with last name and city/state and range of years. I suggest that you don't include first names in your search because they are often abbreviated or just initials in the actual city directories. Once you get to the page with the correct surname, you can usually find your person from there.

Sharon

Re: U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989

Posted: 14 Nov 2012 3:24AM GMT
Classification: Query
Thanks -- I know how to use the database -- that's how I found the 1750+ cities!

The way that it's set up now -- those users who use the CATALOG by location won't even know those directories exist.

Say, for example, that I know my ancestor lived in Atlanta and I go to the card catalog thinking that all Atlanta resources will come up -- they won't -- and I won't even know it. Do you see what I mean?

Re: U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989

Posted: 14 Nov 2012 11:57AM GMT
Classification: Query
I think the same is true for all nation wide record collections. Once you narrow down to a county/city level in the card catalog, it won't show collections that include more than that specific area. For example, if I narrow down to Philadelphia, it doesn't show the US Federal Censuses either, despite Philadelphia obviously being included in them. I guess it assumes that if you're narrowing down to a city, you're looking for collections specific to only that city. This may very well be the standard for a card catalog. Just something to keep in mind when searching!

Re: U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989

Posted: 14 Nov 2012 2:37PM GMT
Classification: Query
Isn't this board for suggestions to improve Ancestry.com?

It would not be that difficult to add links in the catalog. It's just text.

I'm not sure what you mean by "the standard for a card catalog"? a standard of not being comprehensive? Comprehensiveness is the point of a card catalog...?

"Users should just know what cities are there (somehow) or just deal with it" isn't an improvement. I already know these glitches and how to get around them. I'm suggesting getting rid of the glitches for other users who don't.

Re: U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989

Posted: 14 Nov 2012 3:04PM GMT
Classification: Query
I agree that the card catalog should be a way to find databases by location, title, author, keyword, etc., but it is almost useless. The only time I have ever found a database by searching the card catalog is when I already know the name of the database. Forget that.

However, the "explore by location" function can be useful.

http://search.ancestry.com/search/

Scroll down to US map.

For the US, click on the state. State resources are shown by category. On the right side, you can drill down to county level resources.

There are also tabs for UK, Europe, Canada, etc.

Is this method completely correct? I doubt it. But I have found it quite useful.

Sharon

Re: U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989

Posted: 14 Nov 2012 3:35PM GMT
Classification: Query
Of course you are free to suggest anything you'd like. I was just trying to point out that it is not just the US City Directory records which are excluded when you narrow down to county level (and therefore it's not a mistake or error) and there's probably a reason for that. Perhaps because if all the national collections were included, it would be harder to find the more regional collections. The nation wide records are pretty easy to spot, especially the big collections like the US City Directories, so it is not as necessary to include them on a regional level. The whole purpose of being able to narrow it down regionally is to exclude all the well known, national level records so you can find the regional ones.

I've never felt the card catalog is not comprehensive and never had a problem finding or using the US Directories collection.

Re: U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989

Posted: 14 Nov 2012 4:58PM GMT
Classification: Query
Edited: 14 Nov 2012 4:59PM GMT
Robin: Let me start over. Imagine Jane. Jane is new to ancestry.com. She knows her ancestors lived in Amsterdam, NY. She goes to the card catalog and plugs in Amsterdam, NY. She'll get a "hit" but she will miss a 90-year span of directories. They won't come up.

How will Jane know they exist?

I'm not suggesting this improvement for myself or for you (we don't have problems with this) I'm suggesting this for Jane.

Making the card catalog more comprehensive won't make it harder to find regional collections. It's not "either-or" it's "and." You can have cities AND counties AND states AND regions AND national entries.

You wouldn't catalog the census because that includes everything by default. You would include databases that are "partial" (such as the US directories database) so users do not have to go through them manually to see what's there.

It wouldn't be a problem if the character-recognition worked perfectly, but that's not the case. I'm sure future technology will change that.

I think I'm looking at this differently since I used to work in a library. I KNOW how to use the system, but I'm envisioning the patrons who don't. How do we make it easier for them? Again, how will Jane know there are dozens of resources for her? Wouldn't it be nice and simpler for her if they popped up in the card catalog?

Re: U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989

Posted: 14 Nov 2012 5:13PM GMT
Classification: Query
In my experience, the card catalog is not the first place most people look to search so I highly doubt that's the first and only place "Jane" would look. Most people use the main search function initially and only venture into the card catalog when they need to make more specific searches.

Re: U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989

Posted: 14 Nov 2012 8:10PM GMT
Classification: Query
It's illogical to say "Not that many people use the catalog, so it doesn't matter how it works." Maybe if it were comprehensive, then more users would use it?

Sorry, I'm an information junkie -- MORE info is always better, not less! To me, Ancestry.com is an online library. The MORE ways to find MORE info, the better.

Yes, Jane will probably also type names into the search fields -- but when her ancestors don't come up from the Amsterdam directories due to poor character-recogition in those books, and the resources don't come up in the card catalog -- How is she supposed to know that she's missing something? If she has a free trial, for example, she may just say, "They don't have the info I want..." and give up.
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