Friday, April 19, 2013

How I Search on FamilySearch - Post 1: Global Searches

I had several reader comments on my blog post, Is FamilySearch De-emphasizing Genealogical Research?, in my email, and in Google+ and Facebook that indicated the commenters needed help in how to search on  

There are three different ways that I use to search on FamilySearch, and it depends on my search goal and the availability of indexing specific databases:

I will address each of these three ways in a separate blog post.

For the Global Search, I start on the FamilySearch Search page ( I entered only a first name (Isaac) and a last name (Seaver) in the search fields:

I could have checked the small check boxes next to the names to make the search "exact."  I could have clicked on any of the other fields on this page (location, life event, relationships) and enter more data into the fields provided (clicking on a blue link on the screen above opens more fields for data entry).

I clicked on the "Search" button on the page (not shown in the screen above) and saw the record matches:

Since I searched only for a given name and a last name, and not "exact," I got 6,600 matches.  There is a "Refine your search" box on the left side of the screen above, and I added a birthplace (Massachusetts) and a birth year range (1820 to 1825) to the search criteria, and clicked on the blue "Search" button:

Now there are only 20 matches, and I can investigate each of them by clicking on the name on the match list (which opens a record summary) or by clicking on the down arrow on the right side of each entry, which opens a record summary without opening another window.  Here is a screen shot that shows what happens when I click the down arrow for the first entry on the list above:

As you can see, the indexed data for that specific match opens in a dropdown menu without opening a new window.  I can then judge whether I want to explore this record further (e.g., see, print or save the record image, if available).

This is only one way to search for records on FamilySearch.  I use it when I want to find all of the records for a specific person.  Adding information on location, life events or relationships really helps to narrow the search.  Adding the "exact" check boxes really helps also, as long as the name in the record is spelled as you have entered it.  

FamilySearch does permit wild cards, so I search with them when I cannot find records for my person of interest.  

I will address the Search a specific Indexed Record Collection in my next post in this series.

Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver

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