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MrSwan

Ancestry war diaries

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MrSwan

Could anyone explain how the Ancestry war diary search engine works? No matter how well crafted the search expression, it returns thousands upon thousands of seemingly random results. Entering anything as specific as a unit number will return virtually any record which has that number in any field. The "exact" option usually produces zero results and the date boxes appear to be purely decorative.

 

I emailed Ancestry about this and received THE most patronising answer ever. I've developed database applications professionally, so I think I know a bit about writing accurate queries.

 

Suggestions welcome.

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Sepoy

I find that the best way to find a required Battalion War Diary, is to go into the main page for either War Diaries France or Gallipoli and search via the "Browse Section" on the right of the page.

This gives a drop down menu for the Regiment, then Division and then piece number. The correct Division can be found via the Long, Long Trail here
http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/

 

It is also worth noting the Brigade Number, because if the required Battalion Diary can not be found via the drop down menu, it is worth looking in the Brigade Diaries where Battalion ones are sometimes hidden.

Long winded but it works. I hope this helps

 

Sepoy

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ss002d6252

Ancestry search engine is a perfect example of how now not to do it, it's pretty useless. Find My Past have a far better implementation.
 
In my experience the easiest way to find a war diary is to find it on the NA site first then use the 4 digit piece number as a keyword search in the Ancestry war diary section.


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Craig

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MrSwan
3 hours ago, Sepoy said:

I find that the best way to find a required Battalion War Diary, is to go into the main page for either War Diaries France or Gallipoli and search via the "Browse Section" on the right of the page.

 

2 hours ago, ss002d6252 said:

In my experience the easiest way to find a war diary is to find it on the NA site first then use the 4 digit piece number as a keyword search in the Ancestry war diary section.

 

 

Sepoy - so bloomin' obvious - I've been stampeding straight to the search screen without pausing to browse.

 

Craig - I didn't even think to use the NA piece number as a search string... after all the diaries I've downloaded (and paid for) from that website.

 

Thank you both!

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Sepoy

Thank you Craig

I had not tried using the TNA four digit reference  as a method to find war diaries on Ancestry.
In addition to the National Archives web site, this War Diary search engine is an useful way of finding the TNA Reference
https://arcre.com/wdsearch

 

Sepoy

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Lawryleslie

With Ancestry I have found the Card Catalogue filter system far more useful and accurate than a general search on the front page.

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Guest

I am a heavy user of Ancestry and TNA. 

 

By far the quickest way to find a diary in Ancestry is to use the 4-digit root of the WO95/  reference number from the National Archives website's Discovery search engine's Advanced Search. Put WO 95 in  the box closest to where it says "Search for or within references -  Any of these references" as it will limit the search to WWI War Diaries. If searching for 2nd Bn Blankshire Regiment use the simplified 2 Battalion Blankshire  as the Advanced Search does not like "1st, 2nd, 3rd...etc". type the 4-digt stem into the Keyword search in Ancestry. If it has been digitised it will appear 999 times out of a hundred in my experience. 

 

The problems with Ancestry's indexing is that the transcriptions are not particularly good, the Regiment drop-down menu is incomplete (Cambridgeshire Regt is missing for example and none of the 70 odd Cavalry and Yeomanry regiments are listed or the Indian Army battalions) it assumes in many cases you know which formation (Division) each battalion served in and when they served, and not all of the Battalions are listed under the right formations. You would have to know which Division the 5th Bn Blankshire Regiment served in to have a chance, and even then there is a good chance it is not indexed under that Division..... Additionally a large proportion of battalions are in Brigade War diary bundles and even when one has found the right brigade bundle under "Various (Infantry Brigades [insert number] Division" in the drop-down menu under Regiment or Unit in the Browse section (top right) one then has to slog through the 1,000 odd pages to tray and locate the diary as they are not kept in any logical order (A-Z or Order of Precedence. They are a shambles and it is arguably the worst indexing mechanism of any of the online providers. It is about as bad as it gets. 

 

MG

 

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