Clicking on the link brings up a page to choose which of the two database files to search, either individually or together. You choose which of the files to search by checking or unchecking the boxes next to the names of the files.
Detailed information about the Ancestral File is found in the FamilySearch.org Research Wiki article, appropriately titled, "Ancestral File." The Ancestral File was included in the original version of the FamilySearch.org website back in 1999. Many people believe that the Ancestral File program disappeared when the present FamilySearch.org website was introduced, however, as you can see, the file is still alive and well on FamilySearch.org.
The Ancestral File is a compilation of Family Group Records, Pedigree Charts, and even GEDCOM files submitted to FamilySearch over the years. All of the submissions were examined closely and then merged to eliminate errors and duplication. About 100,000 of the individuals in about 25,000 families in the Ancestral File date from before 1500 A.D. All of this pre-1500 information was carefully scrutinized before it was included in the file.
The Ancestral File has some significant limitations. These are outlined in the Research Wiki article as follows:
- It contains no notes or sources.
- Submitters are responsible for the accuracy of the information. FamilySearch did not check the accuracy of any submission.
- Submitter information, previously available, is now hidden for privacy reasons.
- Ancestral File contains many errors and corrections are not accepted.
- Unlike the new FamilySearch Tree and Pedigree Resource File (PRF), Ancestral File is static.
- As previously mentioned, information in Ancestral File is second-hand. Verify the information before accepting it.
It is unfortunate that sources were not included with the original file as the users of FamilySearch.org Family Tree are now adding sources to those same individuals.