New and current search features in FamilySearch’s search engine makes it one of the most powerful on the Worldwide Web. From my genealogical experiences in searching on the Web, few other search engines allow such easy search parameters and criteria to be set by users. Kudos to engineers and programmers for these enhancements!
The FamilySearch search engine now offers the following nine important search features for users:
- Search given-names only, based on a very localized area or narrowed time-frame: This is crucial for effective searches in all patronymic countries, such as in Scandinavia, Iceland, and Wales, and sometimes in southern U.S Research.
- Search just the surname, with a localized town or parish: For marriage searches when the first given name isn’t exactly known and in patronymic research.
- Search on just a year of birth and a small place-name only (such as a town, parish, a chapel–for example: 1833 Brierley Hill, Staffordshire, England) without typing in ANY names!
- Search with one wildcard (*) in just the surname, using a place-name, such as: “Sm*th” and “St Gregory by St Paul, London.”
- Search by using two or more wildcards (*) in a surname. For example: Th*b* or, T*b*u* (for Thibadeau, Theobald, Thibault, etc.) Difficult-to-find variant-spelled surnames now are much less of a problem to locate in the system. Note: The search “results” or “hits” may not yet be alpha-arranged, nor ranked by country.
- Search for “Smyth” ONLY returns “Smyth” or “Smythe” results! No more Smyth mingled with Smith!
- Search using only the father’s name or both father and mother’s name. Just click on “Advanced Search”, and then click “Relationship”–“Parents.” Type just the father or name of both parents, with no given name[s] of child at all: For running “Parent” searches to find most/all children born to an ancestor.
- Search to determine any number of illegitimate children born to a person: Search on just the mother’s name–her given name and/or maiden surname–and then click “parent” under the Relationship box.
- Search when you don’t know or are unsure of the spelling of the prefix or a large portion of the beginning of a surname, no problem—just use the wildcard (*) in front of the surname and spell the last part of the surname as you know it. For example, as in the surname of Thibou, you could search on just *bou. Question-marks (“?”) may now be used as single-letter wildcards as well.
These search features in the FamilySearch search engine now prove to be a tremendous boon to users and researchers worldwide. Moreover, these new search standards establish FamilySearch as the trendsetter and perhaps a benchmark for other websites to follow—including those of archives, libraries, repositories, societies, and universities!
Now, if only the “results” listings resulting from these search features can be tweaked just a bit more by FamilySearch programming engineers in order to become more relevant and efficient by being better ranked, more alpha-arranged with better geographical arrangement, i.e. by country (then by state or province, then by county and/or town), more users will be thrilled, and will expect such “search” standards to become “the standard!”