On Jon Elsas’s suggestion, I dug into Ancestry.com’s genealogy web site & did some searching for my wife’s and my ancestors. In additional to the personal and historical interest, I was curious to learn about the data and the data sets from an information seeking perspective.
Ancestry.com federates thousands of databases and archives of varying size, purpose and quality. They provide an interface for searching the data, for saving results, for building up family trees, and for connecting with other people.
Searching this collection presents a range of challenges both for the system designers and for its users.