With a genealogy website as gigantic as FamilySearch.org, searching for ancestors’ old records can be overwhelming.
As I was putting together resources for our FamilySearch.org Power User Ultimate Collection, I thought it might be helpful to point out some of FamilySearch’s most-useful features for searching records, viewing matches, and browsing collections:
1. On the records search page, you can use wildcards in names when searching records and family trees. An asterisk (*) stands for any number of letters and a question mark (?) stands for one letter.
2. Matches automatically include similar name spellings. Click the boxes by the first or last name to search on exact name spellings.
3. You also can click Exact boxes to search for the exact place of residence, birth, death or other life event you specify.
4. Use the Search with a relationship section to search with the name of a spouse, parent, or other person who might appear in a record with your target ancestor. This can help the right records rise to the top of your results list, especially when you’re searching for someone with a common name.
5. Use the arrow in the Preview column to view indexed information from each match.
6. To run a new search, instead of going back to the search page, use the Refine Your Search box to the top left of your search results page.
7. In your search results, the filters located on the left side of the screen let you narrow the results list by collection (such as 1920 census records or WWI Draft registrations); places and year ranges (1700s, 1800s, 1900s) for birth, marriage, death, residence and other life events; and gender.
Finding the Best Collections to Search
8. To find collections of digitized records that you can search individually or that aren’t yet searchable (because they haven’t been indexed), go to the Browse All Records page and use the filters to narrow the list by place, year range, or type of record.
For example, if I want to look for church record databases related to places in Germany where my immigrant ancestors are from, I would click Place filter Continental Europe and then Germany. From Collections, I’d choose Birth, Marriage and Death (where church records are categorized). You also can search withthe Filter By Collection Name box, but you have to be able to guess a word in the collection title.
9. Collection titles with Browse Images in the Records column aren’t indexed