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Read the Description Before Your Search

Updated: Dec 26, 2018

   Back in July I retweeted a tweet from Ancestry about the importance of reading the description of a database.  I’m in Seattle this week for a wedding and some vacation time, so I thought I’d bring back a blog from a few years ago  Enjoy!


   Last week FindMyPast announced new databases of Irish non-conformist records.  Non-conformists were Protestants, not members of the Church of Ireland.  That would include Presbyterians, Methodists, Congregationalists, Baptists and Quakers.  If you had ancestors that were members of any of these denominations, you might jump in, search, the records and be disappointed because you didn’t find your family.   But did you read the complete description of the database?  The short paragraph at the top of the search screen states:

Were your ancestors part of a non-conformist church in Ireland? Discover when and where your ancestor’s baptism took place, as well as your ancestor’s residence, birth date, and parents’ names.

   Yes, mine were Presbyterians living in Donegal.  A search showed no matches.  Why?  Click on Learn More.  Under What can these records tell me? is an impressive list of the information that might be provided including birth year, date, place, baptismal year and date, parents’ names and address.  Wow!

   But there is another tab…Counties and collections represented in these records.  Records from only four counties, Clare, Down, Dublin and Limerick are included in this database.  That explains why my ancestors from Donegal  aren’t there.  I also have non-conformist ancestors from Down, but read a little further and the coverage is only two Presbyterian congregations: Anaghlone and Ballyroney…mine were in Annahilt    If your non-conformist ancestors were in Anaghlone or Ballyroney, however, this database is for you.

   Remember, all of our research starts with a question.  So often we jump into a database without knowing whether it answers the question we’re asking.  It’s exciting to see a new database with any company (especially with Irish records) but make sure you understand its contents before you search!

   Happy Hunting!

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