Ancestry frustrates subscribers by removing ‘birth’ search field in Quebec Drouin collection

Subscribers who conduct research in one of Ancestry’s largest record sets, Quebec, Canada, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1968, may have noticed a change to the search criteria, and are now feeling frustrated.

Ancestry recently removed the field that allows subscribers to search by year of birth. The good news is the Marriage and Death fields are still there.

For genealogists who research their Quebec ancestors, the Drouin Collection is probably the most important record set on Ancestry. It contains almost 17 million baptism, marriage, and burial records. The majority of the records are Catholic, but the collection includes non-Catholic records, such as Anglican, Baptist, Greek Orthodox, Jewish, Presbyterian, Russian Orthodox, and Salvation Army.

Now, because of Ancestry’s surprise change, it has become unnecessarily tedious to search for baptisms in the Drouin Collection.

To find out why Ancestry removed the Birth field allowing researchers to search by year, genealogist Debbie Pelletier posted a query on Ancestry’s Facebook page last Saturday.

She wrote, “I have a new issue when searching the record set ‘Quebec, Canada, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1968.’ The ‘birth’ box is blocked out for several days.”

Here’s Ancestry’s response, posted a few days later:

Thank you for taking the time to get in touch. We are very sorry for the delay in our response. It’s not currently possible to search the record collection via birth year – this function was recently removed. This is most likely due to the fact that the record collection is a Church record and lists the year of baptism rather than birth year. Of course this is mostly generally a technicality given that the year of birth and baptism will most often align but if the information was previously listed as “birth year” it will need to be corrected so it lists it as “baptism year”. This is most likely the reason why it’s temporarily not possible to search via birth year, as the data would need to be re-indexed correctly before it can be accurately searched.

Not to worry though, to work around this you should be able to search the record collection by entering the year of birth/baptism in the “ANY EVENT” field. This should pull up the records you’re looking for. Alternatively you can use the BROWSE THIS COLLECTION column on the right side of the page. Narrowing down the search using the first three heading will eventually give you the option to choose a specific year. Sorry about the inconvenience involved in all this. We have submitted your feedback to our web technicians for consideration. We hope that helps and we hope you have a great day!

Why the need to re-index?
Ancestry’s explanation about why they removed the Birth field seems odd. I checked American church records, and the Birth field is still available, even when only baptism dates are available.

Why do Ancestry’s web technicians need to re-index individual baptism records when these records are already indexed, identified, and categorized as baptisms?

If Ancestry wants to make the change, all they need to do is change the label of the field from Birth to Baptism.

Why is Ancestry making one policy for search fields for searching Quebec church records and another for American church records?

As for Ancestry’s recommendation about using the Any Event field, I tried it and had to scroll through pages of marriages and burials before baptisms appeared.

I didn’t have any problem when I used the Birth field.

Ancestry saying they’ve submitted Ms. Pelletier’s comment to the web technicians “for consideration,” isn’t acceptable.

Subscribers don’t want the issue to be considered. We just want it fixed — or even easier, put the Birth field back the way it was.

It wasn’t broken — so why did they try to “fix” it?

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4 Responses to Ancestry frustrates subscribers by removing ‘birth’ search field in Quebec Drouin collection

  1. Randy Seaver says:

    I feel your pain. This may be a result of Ancestry changing their search engine for specific collections from their “home-grown” search engine that had “custom” fields for each collection to their use of the “Solr” search engine that doesn’t permit custom fields – there is a standard set of fields, and square pegs sometimes don’t fit the round hole.

    I wrote about this in

    But there was a “Births” field before…so things don’t make a lot of sense to me either.

  2. Toni says:

    Could it be because ancestry isn’t interested in fixing anything, only in selling DNA kits?

  3. Teresa says:

    I imagine if more than one person raises this, there might be a change. I agree with you – change the label from Birth to Baptism and it’s fixed. Sheesh! It’s not like the results are always accurate no matter what labels are on the various fields we use, so removing Birth from this one record set seems ridiculous.

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