When searching a database as big as FamilySearch (2 billion records and growing), you may need more than one approach to doing a search. The Basic search (the one you see when you first go to FamilySearch) works well for a general search across all record collections. But the Basic search limits you to searching for the name of a person, an event place, and a range of years.
You can make your search more powerful when you provide more search information or when you use other search capabilities such as wildcards and Boolean logic. These options are available in the Advanced search.
Using the Advanced Search
To activate the Advanced Search, click the Advanced search link located next to the Search button. In addition to all the fields included in the Basic search, several new search fields are displayed. The new fields include:
• Batch Number
• Match all terms exactly
Use the Event field to focus your search on specific events such as birth, marriage, residence, death, all events, or other events.
Use the Relationship field to search for records that have specific relationships. For example, you can search for the marriage record where your grandfather appears as the groom. Or you can search and see if your grandfather appears in a census record as a child. In this way, you can see who your grandfather’s parents are.
The Batch Number field allows you to carry out a search using a specific batch number. Batch numbers are used with some of the records found in earlier versions of FamilySearch. Batch numbers often lead you to sources of additional information. To learn more about Batch Numbers and how to use them to find additional information, see IGI Batch Number Search.
The Match all terms exactly field will return only those records that match the search terms you use in the first name, last name and place fields, exactly has you put them in.
If you are not sure how a person’s name is spelled or if you want to return a variety of spellings for a given name, use a wildcard.
A wild card improves your search results when you know only some of the characters in a name or place. Wildcards can be used to broaden your search to account for misspelled or illegible words that appear on records. For example, you may be looking for Jesse Wilder, but you find that in some places his name is spelled Jessie, Jessee, or Jessey. To find all variations of the name Jesse, type Jess* in the given name field.
You can use the following wildcards in FamilySearch:
• ?. Use this wildcard to represent any one character.
• *. Use this wildcard to represent zero or more characters. You can use one or both wildcards in the same search. You can use wildcards
in date and place fields as well. To use a wildcard, the word must have at least three other letters:
• Works: Joh*
• Does not work: Jo* . When used in a place field, a wildcard must be in the first level.
• Works: San*, Mexico
• Does not work: San*, Me?ico
Using Boolean Logic in Searches
Boolean is a set of values that helps determine if something is true or false. In simpler terms, it allows users to narrow search results by using “AND,” “OR,” and a hyphen ( – ), which excludes a word. For example, to find articles about Ireland and birth records, you could search for “Ireland” AND “birth”
When other searches have failed, using Boolean logic in a search can be a powerful way of improving the chances of finding the person you are looking for. To learn more about doing a Boolean search in the FamilySearch database and in the FamilySearch Wiki, see Boolean Search.