FamilySearch Search Strategy Essentials

Discover the essential search strategies that every genealogist should be using when searching for records at FamilySearch.org, the popular free genealogy website.  In Elevenses with Lisa episode 64 Lisa Louise Cooke discusses:

  • Wild cards you can use when searching FamilySearch
  • Search strategies to help you get more results
  • Advanced Search strategies 

Episode 64 Show Notes 

FamilySearch.org is a free genealogy records and family tree website. You will need to be logged into your free account in order to search for genealogy records.

In this video and show notes I will outline strategies for searching for people by name in genealogy records. You can then apply these techniques to your genealogy research plan. Knowing what you’re specifically looking for will give you a better chance at success.

Learn more about preparing for genealogy research success by watching and reading 10 Questions to Rate Your Readiness for Genealogy Research Success.

familysearch best search strategies

Elevenses with Lisa episode 64 – Share on Pinterest

Starting Your Search at FamilySearch

  • In the menu go to Search > Records (then use the form).
  • Start with a broad search.
  • Search results ignore the order of first names but will preserve name order if there are two last names.
  • Click the Exact Match box to start narrowing in on specific names and spellings.
  • Even if you are confident that you know exact names and places try variations. For example, add or remove a name and turn on and turn off Exact Match.

Strategies for Searching Names FamilySearch:

  • Add or remove middle names.
  • Try searching for nicknames.
  • Try spelling variations. Use the Alternate Name You can search up to four alternate names at a time. Try clicking the Exact Match box for each alternate name.
example of Alternate Name search at FamilySearch

example of Alternate Name search at FamilySearch

  • Try spelling the name as it would have been spelled in the old country. (Example: Sporan / Sporowski / Sporovsky / Sporowski)
  • Use wildcards to help with search variations.
    Asterisk (*)  replaces zero or more characters.
    Question mark (?) replaces a single character.
  • Use cluster research techniques by searching on relationships.

A few words about searching on relationships: Try searching only with your ancestor’s first name and a known relationship such as a spouse, parent or other relative. In addition to specific people, try searching for a surname associated with the family.

  • Over time the spelling of a last name can change in a family. It’s important, even if you receive initial successful results, to try all variations, including language variations.
  • In the case of women, records will be under the last name they were using at the time the record was created. Therefore, try searching for them using their maiden name and then their married name (or names if they were married multiple times.)
  • Try leaving the last name field blank. This can be particularly effective when searching for female ancestors. This strategy works well in conjunction with entering additional information, such as the names of the spouse or parents.
  • Try just surnames, unique first names, and Other Person

Pro Tip: Use Snagit to easily create a search log

Learn more about Snagit: How to Use Snagit for Genealogy (episode 61)
Save 15% on Snagit with our exclusive discount coupon code: GENEALOGY15

Have you been using Snagit? Leave a comment

Here’s an example of a search log I created using Snagit. You can add custom text, symbols, highlighting and much more to create exactly the log that works for you. 

Search log created with Snagit

Search log created with Snagit

Here’s how to quickly capture and keep a research log of your FamilySearch searches:

  1. Run your search as usual.
  2. Use Snagit to clip the number of results and the terms searched at the top of the results page. (Set Snagit to “Region” to precisely clip that portion of the screen.)
  3. Continue searching and clipping. When done, go back to the Snagit Editor.
  4. Click Control (Win) or Command (Mac) and click to select each clipping you made in order. You can also select all of your clippings by clicking to select the first clipping and then hold down the shift key on your keyboard and click the last clipping.
  5. Right-click on the selected clipping to access the menu. Click Combine in Template.
  6. In the pop-up Combine in Template box, select a template. I like to use Custom Steps for a research log.
  7. Click the Next
  8. Give your combined image a Title. (You can edit this again later.)
  9. Select the font and canvas color as desired.
  10. The Number Images box will probably be selected. This will place a “step” number in front of each clipping showing the order in which you clipped. You can deselect this box if you don’t want to number your clippings.
  11. Click the Combine
  12. Edit the combined image as desired. You can click to select items to move and resize them. You may need to ensure you’re not in Text mode – click the Arrow at the top of the screen and then you’ll be able to click on items like the numbered steps and move them around. Grab the edges and drag them to crop if needed.
  13. Save your image: File > Save As.

Search Strategy: Events

Try searching on known life events such as:

  • Birth
  • Marriage
  • Residence
  • Death
  • Any

Click the type of life event you want to include in your search. Enter the place and year range.

Life Events Search Tips:

  • Try your search with different events.
  • Try your search with no events.
  • Use the Residence option to find records identifying where a person was living. Some records contain an address or last place of residence. Birthplaces, marriage places, and death places are not the same as residence places.
  • Use the Any Event if you know a date and place for an event other than birth, marriage, death, or residence. For example, a search with an Any event can find dates of military enlistment or immigration.

Search Strategies: Places

  • In the place field try searching at a more or less specific place level. If you searched for a town, try the county, state, district or country.
  • Try using wildcards in place-names. (Enter * to replace zero or more characters. Enter ? to replace one character.)

Search Strategies: Years

  • In the year fields try adding a year before and a year after.
  • In the year fields, try searching with no years first, and then filter the results to narrow your search by year.

 Advanced Search Strategies

  • Include multiple events in your search when you are looking for a record that likely contains all the events.
  • Death records – try searching with both birth and death events.
  • Birth record, include only a birth event, since birth records usually do not contain death information.
  • To search for a child’s birth records, enter the child’s name, then click Parents. Enter the parents’ names. If needed, try variations such as these:
    • Both of the parents’ full names.
    • The father’s full name only.
    • The mother’s full married name only; then her full married name only.
    • The father’s full name with the mother’s first name.
    • The mother’s full maiden name with the father’s first name.
  • To find all of the children in a family, leave the first and last name fields blank.
    Then click Parents and conduct your search using only parents’ names. Try all the variations.

Searching for Marriage Records

To search for a marriage enter the name of one person in the first and last name fields. Click Spouses, and enter the name of the spouse. Try variations: the spouse’s first name and the wife’s maiden name. To limit your search results to marriage records only, click Type, and click the Marriage checkbox.

Search Best Practices

  • Have a specific search goal.
  • Start with a broad search. You do not have to enter information in all search fields. You often can get better results when you leave most blank, and then filter down.
  • FamilySearch doesn’t support Boolean Operators like Google does.
  • Expect records and indexes to contain errors, spelling variations, and estimations.
  • Try your search several times with variations.
  • Even if your ancestors had easy-to-spell names, expect spelling discrepancies. Anderson could be Andersen in some records. Try Anders?n in the Last Names search box.
  • Always look at the image, if possible. It often has more information than the index alone.

Resources

These show notes feature everything we cover in this episode. Premium Members: download this exclusive ad-free show notes cheat sheet PDF.  Not a member yet? Learn more and join the Genealogy Gems and Elevenses with Lisa family here

Genealogy Gems Premium Membership

New Genealogy Records Available Online April 15 – May 15, 2020

With so many new records coming online, I’m going to focus today on collections that are new, or have had a substantial update. These records are from around the world, and offer excellent opportunities to expand your genealogical research. 

New Genealogy Records Online

Keep reading here at Genealogy Gems for all the latest new records.

New Record Collections at FamilySearch

New indexed record collections offer new hope for genealogists yearning to bust a brick wall in their family tree. FamilySearch has recently launched several noteworthy new genealogical record collections. Some have substantial amounts of new records and some are just getting started. As always, they are free to access with an account. Here’s the latest:

England

England, Devon, Plymouth Prison Records, 1821-1919
Indexed Records: 13,495

Germany            

Germany, Saxony, Church Book Indexes, 1500-1900
Indexed Records: 32,709

Ireland

Ireland, John Watson Stewart, The Gentlemen’s and Citizen’s Almanac, 1814
Indexed Records: 17,266

Norway

Norway, Oslo, Akershus Prison Records, 1844-1885
Indexed Records: 808

Peru

Peru, Piura, Civil Registration, 1874-1996
Indexed Records: 878

United States

California
California, Geographical and Name Index of Californians who served in WWI, 1914-1918
Indexed Records: 27,306

Hawaii
Hawaii, Hawaiian Islands Newspaper Obituaries, 1900-ca.2010
Indexed Records: 243

Maine
Maine, Alien Arrivals, 1906-1953
Indexed Records: 199,010

New Mexico
New Mexico Alien Arrivals, 1917-1954
Indexed Records: 17,240

Oregon
Oregon Death Index, 1971-2008
Indexed Records: 1,063,054

Oregon Divorce Index, 1991-2008
Indexed Records: 340,289

U.S. Newspapers
United States, GenealogyBank Historical Newspaper Obituaries, 1815-2011
Indexed Records: 1,827,447

Updated Records at FamilySearch

FamilySearch has also added indexed records to several interesting existing collections:

United States

United States, New York Land Records, 1630-1975
Indexed Records: 3,868,777

New York, Southern District, U.S District Court Naturalization Records, 1824-1946
Indexed Records: 103,000

Michigan, Detroit Manifests of Arrivals at the Port of Detroit, 1906-1954
Indexed Records: 323,121

Austria

Austria, Vienna, Jewish Registers of Births, Marriages, and Deaths, 1784-1911
Indexed Records: 27,317
Added indexed records to an existing collection comprising 1.8 million historical records.

Chile

Chile, Catholic Church Records, 1710-1928
Indexed Records: 8,575

Chile, Cemetery Records, 1821-2015
Indexed Records: 87,220

Italy

Italy, Benevento, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1810-1942
Indexed Records: 155,594

Italy, Brescia, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1797-1943
Indexed Records: 78,275

Italy, Salerno, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1806-1949
Indexed Records: 32,447
Images: 31,969

Peru     

Peru, Diocese of Huacho, Catholic Church Records, 1560-1952    
Indexed Records: 260,438

Venezuela         

Venezuela, Archdiocese of Valencia, Catholic Church Records, 1760, 1905-2013
Indexed Records: 306,392

MyHeritage

MyHeritage, the leading global service for discovering your past and empowering your future, announced today the publication of three important Greek record collections:

  1. Greece, Electoral Rolls (1863–1924),
  2. Corfu Vital Records (1841–1932),
  3. and Sparta Marriages (1835–1935),

comprising 1.8 million historical records. Click here to start a 14-day free trial at MyHeritage.

This release constitutes the first substantial set of Greek record collections available on MyHeritage. All three collections have been indexed by MyHeritage and for the first time are now searchable in English, as well as in Greek. The total size of MyHeritage’s historical record database is now 12.2 billion records. This release positions MyHeritage as an invaluable genealogy resource for family history enthusiasts who have Greek roots.

“As the cradle of western civilization and a crossroads of continents and cultures, Greece is becoming a gem among MyHeritage’s historical record collections. The records in these collections are rich in detail and have pan-European, Balkan, and Mediterranean significance. The communities documented were shaped by Greek, Italian, French, and Russian influences, have been home to significant Catholic and Jewish communities, and represent some of the world’s most progressive systems of governance. These collections will prove valuable both to novice researchers and experienced genealogists,” said Russ Wilding, Chief Content Officer of MyHeritage.

The publication of these collections furthers MyHeritage’s commitment to providing new avenues for Greek family history research. In one of the company’s pro bono initiatives, MyHeritage Founder and CEO Gilad Japhet personally traced the descendants of a Jewish family that was hidden during World War II on the small island of Erikoussa, north of Corfu. The entire population of the island collectively gave refuge to the family, and saved it from death. His genealogical detective work, combined with MyHeritage’s extensive global database of historical records, culminated in recognition for the courageous people of Erikoussa, who were presented with the House of Life award by the Raoul Wallenberg Foundation. This was depicted in the books ‘When the Cypress Whispers’ and ‘Something Beautiful Happened’ by Yvette Manessis Corporon, whose grandmother was among those who saved the Jewish family on Erikoussa.

Japhet utilized his hands-on experience in Greek research to develop the enhanced method by which MyHeritage now handles Greek surnames in the new collections. In Greece, a woman’s last name is the genitive form of her father’s surname, or when she marries, of her husband’s surname. The new Greek collections on MyHeritage have been made gender-agnostic so that searches and matches will work to the fullest extent. For example, a search for the Jewish surname “Velleli” in the new collections on MyHeritage will also locate people named “Vellelis”. It is also possible to find these surnames by searching for “Belleli”, because the Greek letter beta is pronounced like the English letter V, but in some countries this distinction has been lost and Greek surnames are sometimes pronounced with the letter B, the way they are written in modern English. MyHeritage’s Global Name Translation Technology further ensures that when searching on MyHeritage in other languages, such as Hebrew and Russian, the results will also include names in the new Greek collections. No other major genealogy company has these Greek record collections, nor such sophisticated algorithms customized for Greek genealogy research.

The Greece Electoral Rolls (1863–1924) consist of 1,006,594 records and provide nationwide coverage of males ages 21 and up who were eligible to vote. They list the voter’s given name, surname, father’s name, age, and occupation. Each record includes the individual’s name in Greek, and a Latinized transliteration of the name that follows the standard adopted by the Greek government. MyHeritage translated many of the occupations from Greek to English and expanded many given names, which are often abbreviated in the original records. This new collection includes scans of the original documents and is the most extensive index of Greek electoral rolls currently available anywhere.  

The Corfu Vital Records (1841–1932) consist of 646,807 birth, marriage, and death records. The records were collected by the civil authorities in Corfu and document the life events of all residents of the island regardless of their ethnicity or religion. Birth records from this collection may contain the child’s given name and surname, birthdate and place of birth, name and age of both parents, and the given names of the child’s grandfathers. A marriage record from this collection may include the date of marriage, groom’s given name and surname, age, place of birth, residence, and his father’s name. Similar information is recorded about the bride and her father. Death records in this collection may include the name of the deceased, date of death, age at death, place of birth, residence, and parents’ names. The indexed collection of Corfu Vital Records includes scans of the original documents and is available exclusively on MyHeritage.

The Sparta Marriages collection (1835–1935) consists of 179,411 records which include images of the couple’s marriage license and their listing in the marriage register. The records in this collection list the full names of the bride and groom, the date of marriage, their fathers’ names, the birthplace of the bride and groom, and occasionally the names of witnesses to the marriage. The images in this collection were photographed, digitized, and indexed by MyHeritage from the original paper documents, in cooperation with the Metropolis of Monemvasia and Sparta.

The new collections are available on SuperSearch™, MyHeritage’s search engine. Searching the Greek record collections is free. A subscription is required to view the full records and to access Record Matches.  Click here to start a 14-day free trial at MyHeritage.

 

Ancestry

Alabama 

Alabama, Episcopal Diocese of Alabama, Church Records, 1837-1970
From Ancestry: “This collection includes baptism, marriage, and burial records from the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama between the years of 1837 and 1970. Established in 1830, the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama is comprised of 92 congregations and covers all of Alabama, with the exception of the very southern portion of the state.”
Click here to search this collection.

Oregon

Oregon, State Marriages, 1906-1966
The original data comes from the Oregon State Archives. Oregon, Marriage Records, 1906-1910, 1946-1966. Salem, Oregon.
Click here to search this collection

Oregon, State Births, 1842-1917
These birth certificates will typically include the following information:

  • Name of child
  • Gender and race of child
  • Date and place of birth
  • Father’s name
  • Father’s birth place and age
  • Mother’s name
  • Mother’s birth place and age

Click here to search this collection

Pennsylvania

U.S., Pennsylvania, Grand Army of the Republic Membership Records, 1865-1936
These records are made available through a partnership with FamilySearch. The describe the collection as follows: “Index and images of membership records of the Pennsylvania Department Grand Army of the Republic that cover from the years 1865-1936. An organization of Union army and navy veterans of the Civil War. The collection consists of registers, lists, minute, account and descriptive books of local post (chapters) The descriptive books include town of residence, military unit, date of enlistment,date of discharge, age and birthplace. The collection was acquired from the Pennsylvania State Archives.”
Click here to search the collection. 

Washington

WEB: Washington, Various County Census Records, 1850-1914
The original data for this collection comes from the Washington State Archives – Digital Archives. Census Records. Cheney, Washington, United States: Washington State Archives – Digital Archives. 
Click here to search the collection.

Finland

Finland, WWII Military Casualties, 1939-1945
In this collection you will find details on Finnish soldiers killed during World War II. From Ancestry: “From the start of the war until 1944, Finland was involved in battles with the Soviet Union and from 1944-1945, Nazi Germany. Altogether, nearly 95,000 Finnish soldiers were killed or declared missing in action.”  The National Archives of Finland created these indexes. They are in Finnish, reflecting the original source material.
Click here to search this collection

Germany

Germany, Military Killed in Action, 1939-1948
Notes about this collection from Ancestry: “This collection is searchable using the search form, which among other things allows you to search by Last Name, First Name, Birth Date, Birthplace, Date of Death and Place of Death. Under “Browse this collection,” you can select the Box Number Range and Box Number of the cards desired.”
Click here to search the collection.

German Concentration Camp Records, 1946-1958
These records include copies of German records including camp records, transport lists, and medical data cards. The camp records include inmate cards, death lists, and strength reports.
Click here to search this collection

Updated Records at Ancestry:

New York

New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957
Click here to search this collection

New York, Executive Orders for Commutations, Pardons, Restorations, Clemency and Respites, 1845-1931
39,246 new records have been added to this collection of executive clemency application ledgers and correspondence.
According to Ancestry: “Each record includes the felon’s name, crime, date and county of conviction, sentence, and prison. Signatures on the records can include the governor, secretary of state, and/or deputy secretary of state.”
Click here to search the collection. 

North Dakota

North Dakota, Select County Marriage Records, 1872-2017
30,266 new records were added for the following counties in Washington State: Adams, Cavalier, Hettinger, McIntosh, Nelson, and Pierce.

Search Tips from Ancestry:

  • This collection includes images of indexes as well as the actual marriage records. If you’re having trouble finding your ancestor through the search, try browsing the index for the county in which they lived and use that information to locate them in the actual records.
  • Don’t overlook the possibility that your ancestor may have been married in a nearby county that was more convenient to them, or where other family members lived.

Click here to search this collection

Tennessee

Tennessee, Death Records, 1908-1965
This is a significant update with 1,019,533 new records added covering 1959-1965. Be aware that, according to Ancestry, the forms used for reporting deaths 1908-1912 contain far less information than those used from 1914 forward. “No death records were recorded by the State of Tennessee in 1913 due to a change in the state law requiring vital records registration.”

Click here to search this updated collection.

More Genealogy for You

Join me for Elevenses with Lisa, the online video series where we take a break, visit and learn. In the episode below I share viewers’ family history displays, answer your questions about my genealogy organization method, and show you how I file my genealogy digital files. Click here for the episode show notes. 

 

Pin It on Pinterest

MENU