By Leslie Albrecht Huber of FamilySearch
FamilySearch is bursting at the seams with great records—some of which almost certainly have new information about your family. Their digitized collections from across the world include church, vital, census, land, probate, military, and immigration records as well as many other types of records and histories that can help you uncover your family tree.
How do you unlock the door to find them? All you need is a good search. You can access FamilySearch’s main search screen at https://familysearch.org/search/, or from the bar at the top of the screen, select Search and then Records. From here you can see that there are a few different ways to search. It’s not rocket science—anyone can manage it. But a little extra background knowledge and a few insider tips can streamline your effort and get you on the fast track to success. So that’s exactly what we’ve provided here!
Looking for a specific person in FamilySearch’s vast collections is the staple of most people’s searching. To search this way, focus on the Search Historical Records box on the left of the main search screen, and follow these simple steps:
- Fill in information about your ancestor. It’s easy to assume that the more detailed information you put in about your ancestor, the better. Actually, the opposite is generally true. Here are two secrets to searching success:
- Put in as little information as possible that brings up a reasonable amount of results.
- Experiment with your search criteria. This is important even if you are convinced you have the details exactly right. Errors in the records or indexing might mean your ancestor doesn’t appear exactly as you think he or she she should. And sometimes what you know to be the absolute truth about your ancestor turns out to not be so true after all! Try different spellings of names, widen the date ranges, or delete some search criteria. Also, avoid checking the box that says “Match all terms exactly.”
- Push search to get a list of results. In the example here, we entered information for Charles Mulford. Results look like this (only the top match is shown here):
Keep in mind that only collections that are indexed are searchable. FamilySearch has many online records that aren’t yet accessible by searching this way.