Today’s post is about shortening Ancestry links.
Lately I’ve been getting lots of very long URLs for links to specific Ancestry records and my clients are wondering about citing these resources permanently.

Here’s an example of a long URL for a record for my husband’s great-great-great grandfather Steven Kinsley in the 1820 U.S. census:

I want to paste this link into the citation field of my family tree program, as usual. But I quickly bump up against the character limits for the citation field in my family tree software, typical to many family tree applications, and I get this message:

Shortening Ancestry Links

What do to? There are several ways to overcome long URLs and shorten Ancestry links.

Here are two of the easiest and fastest:

  1. When you find an Ancestry record with a long URL, click on one of the records Ancestry suggests for that person on the right side of the window. Then click again on the link to the record you found originally. This time the page should load with a much shorter URL.

    However, some of Ancestry’s URLs for specific databases remain very long and can’t be shortened. The World War I draft database and the early U.S. censuses (censi?) are prime examples of long and unchangeable URLs. So, it’s time for the second way to shorten Ancestry links.

  2. Use, a URL-shortening service.

    This provider is based in New York City and shortens 600 million links per month, mostly for use in social networking, texts, and email. I find it ideal for shortening genealogy citation URLs, too. prides itself on creating permanent shortened links for URLS. When you create a free account at, you can monitor how your shortened links are used. I wrote a post about research on Martha William Saul. So when I sent a shortened link to fellow genealogists and family members on this post about my husband’s great-great grandmother, then showed the full post. And also shows me in my free account how many times the shortened link I created has been used.

Shortening Ancestry Links is a vital skill for all genealogists using