The Hugh Wallis web site has been a popular and effective online utility tool for researchers to find relevant data on all ancestral connections found in FamilySearch extraction batches of vital and parish records of birth/christenings and marriages. Due to changes in the FamilySearch.org system, the web site became disabled and out of service until recently. Now, some batches do not appear in Batch Number searches.

In the meantime, while this is being addressed by FamilySearch, here's a great alternative solution which may prove to be as or even more helpful when searching historical records for a single place or parish.

Using FamilySearch.org ‘Filter’ Features to Find Specific Data
FamilySearch has been using constructive feedback from users worldwide. Earlier this year, the system was revised to allow users to customize their own searches. Customizing searches is simple and dramatically changes the data results to relevant and specific.

To see how it works, follow these steps to search for English records. Then, apply them when you search your geographic areas of interest:

  • Click “All Records Collections”
  • Scroll down and select “England Births and Christenings 1538-1975”
  • Click “Advanced Search”
  • Leave the Given Name and Surname fields blank (unless you are absolutely certain of the spellings!)
  • Under “Event”, select “Birth” or “Marriage”
  • Type the place name in the Place field. For this example, type “Brierley Hill, Staffordshire”
  • Click the little “Exact” match only box (on the right hand side of the “Place” field)
  • Select the years you wish the system to display data for you (keep the range of years small--if a large parish or township!)
  • Click “Search”

Searching with Surnames
Typing in the surname and/or given name(s) will help you drill right down to the precise family or individual(s) in almost every case. Note: 1) Do not use the “Exact” matches box in the “Surname” field due to the various spellings of surnames! 2) Remember: ‘Less is more’—or in other words, don’t type too much data in the search engine fields, such as maiden surnames, or else you'll return negative results.

All data that will be displayed on pages in the above search scenario will relate to all town vital records or church registers existing in a given place, in this sample case, Brierley Hill. Note: scroll down until you see the entry for “Susan Horton” down towards the bottom. What do you see that’s pertinent to her and the Brierley Hill Township—yet that's quite different from all the other names appearing on that page?

In Summary
While you cannot drill down to the single batch, you can now, however, narrow down your search in FamilySearch to a given township/parish. This is a way to get the system to display your names—or all data from all vital records/churches covering a single township.

A great work-around solution!

Comments (18)

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  1. I too am disappointed with the new look website, the old version was much easier to work with the batch numbers especially when trying to establish if parents had had any more children in the same area and used this successfully for years, with the new version it takes me ages to go through the list.

    Julie Clark 08 January 2012
    11:58 am
  2. Please, please, please bring back the prototype project. Also restore the old IGI to what it was previously. This format is useless.

    Maxine 03 January 2012
    8:08 pm
  3. The new format is almost practically useless. The old format I found much more useful. Was able to find information quickly. I am very disappointed, on this new system. I have not been able to find any information, on the old one I found what I was looking for, plus much more. Why was a good and easy system changed to a system that is very difficult and confusing.

    Cec Grandowicz 13 December 2011
    9:43 am
  4. Now come on Discover Your Family History site can now give you more information with its filtering system right down to the parish level if thats what you want, once you get used to it, its great, well done the familysearch team.

    Lauri-1 09 December 2011
    3:47 pm
  5. The new format is practically unusable to me. By the old format I found more useful information in a few weeks than in many years of going to archives. I am very disappointed that because of the new approach I will probably rarely use Family Search hereafter. It is strange to me you changed something that was advantageous to something very difficult and awkward.

    bfw 28 November 2011
    10:28 pm
  6. I find your recent update extremely difficult to find detals of a person ie birth info, if I input in first name surname year of birth and parents up comes a host of names other than the one i typed in ,the right hand column shows a list of spouse and child with no relevance to the info requested and no dates or places, to go wading through this irrelevant info is very time consuming and tedious. The initial info requested is unambigous , in askig for a birthirrelevant info materialises. Iam partially sighted ,searching for genealogical info is one of the few interests i can persue and it has now been compromised (there must be many more in my situation,

    dorothy lamb 26 November 2011
    8:04 am
  7. Much preferred the previous system. This is really difficult, particularly in searching for specific data in specific places. No idea how I am supposed to find someone in Grafton, New Hampshire, for instance, by name.

    CKS 26 November 2011
    6:48 am
  8. not real fond of this new search page.Honestly it is a pain

    Dee 23 November 2011
    10:04 am
  9. I prefer the search the way it was. entering the information bit by bit is tedious

    w.bullock 23 November 2011
    7:30 am
  10. In answer to Peg Yes, that works very well--in most cases. However, and unfortunately, there are some exceptions The very reason for writing this article is that while the FamilySearch system will work for most batch numbers -- when performing a Batch Number search, there are a few of them (batch numbers) which, when you type it in, the data WILL NOT APPEAR at all. My work-around article addresses those cases where batch data DOES NOT APPEAR when you type it in the search engine. This is, I believe, being worked and should be corrected sometime in the near future. PBD

    18 November 2011
    1:43 pm
  11. To answer Pegs question Yes, that is case. Now, the current problem/gliche in our FamilySearch system is that not all Batch numbers work. There are some bwhich, when you type in the batch number to do a Batch Number search, whose data does NOT appear. The system just will not acknowledge the batch number by pulling up all or any of its data. I believe were working to correct this problem. Hence the purpose for writing this article is to help those who need a work-around solution.

    18 November 2011
    1:35 pm
  12. Another free website is http//www.cyndislist.com/

    Amilee Stutzman 16 November 2011
    8:42 pm
  13. Recent checks of the new facility indicate that the search process for finding similar names is different to the old one. Previously the database seemed to use the Soundex feature to match different spellings of similar surnames, often giving far more than wanted. The new system appears to be more restrictive than the old, for example when I search a batch for Steel I find many entries, searching the same batch on Steal gives a similar number of entries, but searching on Stele gives non. Yet all these three versions have the same Soundex equivalent of S340. It would therefore seem that the new facility is not using Soundex but some other form of surname matching. If you are looking therefore, try out several spellings and see if you get any other results.

    John Steel 13 November 2011
    10:51 am
  14. As a quick work-around I simply put in the surname Im looking for and the place, as you suggest. However, once Ive found one, the batch indexing number is available in the pull-down detail list. I copy that, refine search, eliminate the place, leaving the name, and copy the number into batch number. I now have a complete listing of everyone with that name in that batch. Or so I have thought. Am I wrong here?

    Peg 09 November 2011
    9:27 am
  15. Thanky you DunnPB.Using your method I am now finding all the records I have been searching for. )

    Catherine Westie 08 November 2011
    11:43 am
  16. A wonderful job. Super hpelful information.

    Augustina 06 November 2011
    8:14 pm
  17. Iv been trying to find a greatgrand mother. That I just needed a little Moe information. But I cant even find myself. I have 17 four inch books full of ancestors. I even go fare past the darkages, but Iv not been able to find not one person. I have all their history even all the LDS history that doesnt even come up. I have spent hundreds of hours at the LSD libarys, I thought I could find something on the internet. I know what I. doing, so is any information free, or is that just to get a person upset so they pay. Im know disabled and dont have money to spend to getto a Li ary. So this must be the end. For me, and I got thousands names to submit.

    05 November 2011
    5:17 pm
  18. For reference, see the article, "Ten Powerful "Search" Features in the FamilySearch.org Search Engine" at: http://britishheritage4um.blogspot.com

    DunnPB 01 November 2011
    11:08 am

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