Introduction to Hints

When you’re setting up your family tree, one of the first things you’ll want to do is set up hints. Hints are automatically generated suggestions for sources based on the information in your tree. American AncesTREES will search databases from some of the biggest providers of genealogical data and give you starting points for growing your family tree.

Set up Hint Settings

In the left side menu, click on Hint Settings near the bottom. This is where you’ll set up which people you want hints about, and which sources you would like American AncesTREES to draw on when finding hints.

  1. At the top of the page, click the checkboxes to select whether you want hints for direct ancestors, people at the ends of lines without parents, or everyone in your tree.

  2. Under “WHERE DO YOU WANT HINTS FROM?” review the list of potential sources. If you want to receive hints from everywhere, click the “All sources” checkbox at the top of the list.
  3. When you’re satisfied with your settings, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click “SAVE.”
  4. You may need to wait some time for hints to start appearing in your tree. This should typically take less than an hour.

Types of Sources

Hints from historical record sources, with the exception of FamilySearch, come from collections which require paid subscriptions to access some or all of their records. If you do not have a paid subscription to these sites, you will still be able to receive hints for free—however, if the site requires payment for that record, you will only receive a preview. In order to access the full record, you will need a subscription to the site in question. This includes records from American Ancestors: your free guest account will allow you to access a portion of our databases, but you will need to buy a membership in order to access all of the records we have available.

In the case of FamilySearch, all records are available for free, but you will need to agree to share your tree with the FamilySearch Genealogies archive. FamilySearch users will be able to view the deceased people in your tree, but not be able to change your data. If you click “SAVE” before you click the second checkbox under FamilySearch, you will be prompted to go back and do so. After you do, you will be guided through logging into Family Search or setting up an account, so that your tree can be synced with the archive. This only needs to be done once.

Online tree sources are drawn from free services where users can post their family trees and information about their ancestors. Hints from these sources may not include historical evidence, but can provide a jumping-off point for your own research.

Research Hints vs. Search Hints

Research hints are specific sources identified based on the information in your tree. When a research hint for a person in your tree is identified, you’ll see a green circle next to their name in your tree view. You can also visit that person’s profile page and look in the Hints section on the right side of the page.

Search hints work differently, since they point to databases rather than specific records. On a person’s profile page, go to the toolbar under the profile header. Click “Research,” and select “Search Hints” from the menu. American AncesTREES will suggest specific databases from record collection sites which may contain information relevant to this person. Clicking on one of these hints will take you to the search page for that database and automatically fill out the search terms for you.