Help:Advanced Searches in the Wiki

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Wiki Help Gotoarrow.png Browsing the Wiki Gotoarrow.png Advanced searches in the wiki

This article will provide details about advanced searching techniques that you may use to search the FamilySearch Wiki.

Further information: Search Tips and Basic Searches

What is Boolean?

Boolean is a set of values that helps determine if something is true or false. In simpler terms, it allows users to use the words "AND", "OR", and NOT which excludes the keyword to narrow down search results. This is an example of using AND while searching for articles containing the words "Ireland" AND "birth".

Boolean search.jpg

The following is list of Boolean terms that may be used for advanced searching:


Type the word AND between two words. This will search for articles that contain both "word1" AND "word2" on the same page. As shown in the above example, the results will contain pages with both "Ireland" and "Birth". If you type a sequence of words, it is the same as if you had typed AND between each word. Examples:

  1. word1 AND word2= Ireland AND Birth
  2. word1 AND word2 AND word3 = Ireland AND Birth AND Parish
  3. word1 word2 word3 = Ireland Birth Parish


Type the word OR between two words that you want to search for. This will search for articles that contain either "word1" or "word2," but not necessarily both.

  1. word1 OR word2 Example: Vital records OR Civil registration
  2. word3 OR word4 Example: Census OR Tax


Type the operator NOT for excluding words from your search. Place NOT between two words to search for articles that contain "word1" but do not contain "word2".

  1. word1 NOT word2 Example: London NOT England

These will return pages that contain the word "London" but do not contain the word "England".


You can control the search with parenthetical expressions by using the parenthesis.

  1. (word1 AND (word2 OR word3)) Example: '(German AND (Emigration OR Immigration))' This would produce results for pages with content that includes German Emigration and German Immigration.
  2. Other combinations may useful to exclude a duplicate name of a location like ((Paris AND France) NOT Idaho).

Wild Cards

The asterisk and the question mark can be used as wild cards in a search. Use the asterisk ( * ) in place of one or more characters at the end of a word. Use the question mark ( ? ) to take the place of a single character in a word. Examples:

  1. birt* This will return articles that contain the words that begin with "birt" such as birth, births or birthday...
  2. Note: The "?" wildcard does not work on this site.

Phrase Search

Text with double quotes implies a phrase search. Use this type of search when you need to find an article that includes the exact phrase you are looking for. Example:

  1. "New York City"
  2. "California birth records"
  3. "Family History Library"

Mixing Advanced Features

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All the Boolean search features can be mixed together for added strength in searching for articles. Examples:

1. (word1 AND (word2 OR "phrase search")) Example: (German AND (emigration OR "birth")) This search will result in pages that contain content about German emigration or German births.

2. ((word1 AND word2*) AND word) ) Example: ((German AND birt*) AND death) This search will return articles that contain German AND birth, births, etc., but will NOT include articles that also contain the word death.