Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Using the Family Finder

One of the sets of hidden researcher-contributed information is on the web site. It is called Family Finder, and it searches all of the databases at for specific names.

Many of the subscription databases at are similar to databases at or HeritageQuestOnline - for instance, the census records, the Genealogy Library online books, etc. Some of the subscription databases are only found at - for instance, the World Family Tree collection of user-submitted family trees, and the Family Archives CDs.

There are two fairly large databases that are free to all researchers - the Genforum Message Boards and the Family Home Pages.

When you go to the Family Finder page - at - you can enter a person's name (no wild cards), and birth and death dates and locations (if known). When you click on the Go button, you get a page with a list of resources for your search terms. Many of those items are in the subscription site databases, but the matches in the Family Home Pages are available to anyone.

For instance, if I enter First Name = "Isaac" and Surname = "Seaver", I get 3 matches in the Family Home Pages. By clicking on the link for the matches, I get a page with links to three researcher submitted web pages with genealogy reports that include an "Isaac Seaver".

One of them is my own web page at which has links to a number of genealogy reports. An "Isaac Seaver" is on at least three of my linked reports, but Family Finder does not link to them for some reason. It used to find all of the mentions of a name (and not just the name in the "home web page"), but has changed the search algorithm for some reason. It may be that, since I submitted my pages as a non-subscriber, and the pages were not created using FTM's web page creator, that it doesn't index my pages any longer. Family Finder appears to find the mention of names on some researcher submitted web pages, but not others.

I tried the surname "bresee" and the other variants in the Family Finder. If you just input the surname, it gives you a list of given names that are in one of the databases. I tested some of the given names and found no useful hits in the Family Finder.

Google, and probably other search engines, will find some of the mentions of individuals on Family Home Pages in my experience.

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