38 FamilySearch Search Tips Free eBook

By Family Tree Editors
An iPad laying on top of an open book, showing the FamilySearch Search Tips ebook. may be the biggest and most well-known genealogy website, but is close behind and growing constantly., the free genealogy website from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, known as the Mormons, was launched on May 24, 1999. One of the top online resources for family historians, it now has more than 3.5 billion names in searchable databases, over 1.2 billion names in family trees and a vast learning center.

8 Hints for Searching

  1. You can use wildcards when searching Historical Records and Family Trees. An asterisk stands for any number of letters and a question mark stands for one letter.
  2. The old version of FamilySearch let you narrow your search to a country, US state or a region of a foreign country. The new version of the website lets you search on any word in a place name, including counties, cities, towns, townships and parishes.
  3. Historical Records matches automatically include similar name spellings. Click Advanced Search to search on exact name spellings, to search on a specific event (birth, marriage, residence, death) and to add a spouse’s name or parents’ names to your target person.
  4. Use the filters (located on the left side of your screen) to narrow your Historical Records search results by category, such as Census & Lists, place or date.
  5. If a book or record collection is online, the library catalog now has links to the digital materials.
  6. Because FamilySearch catalogs records by the locality that kept them, your best bet for finding relevant microfilmed records is often a place search (select “place-names” from the drop-down menu). Type in your ancestor’s county and state or parish and country to see what’s available.
  7. An author search turns up records created by a particular government agency as well as books by a specific person. Enter immigration naturalization service into the Last or Corporate Name field to see the FHL’s holdings of US passenger list microfilm.
  8. Use the keyword search as a catch-all option, especially when other searches strike out. This type of search finds a term anywhere in the catalog listing, not just the author, title or other specific field. likely holds answers to at least some of your family tree questions. The trick to finding those answers is learning how to dig through the incredible amount of ancestor information on the free genealogy website. Whether you want advanced search strategies to narrow your results, power tips for finding your family in unindexed records or on microfilm, or want to enhance your online family tree with add-ons, our free ebook 38 FamilySearch Search Tips: Find Free Genealogy Records Online will help you.

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What’s inside the 38 FamilySearch Search Tips ebook?

Guide #1: Quick Guide

FamilySearch Web Guide

A free website by a nonprofit arm of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormon church), has a large, growing collection of records, books, photos and family trees. These include more than 1,500 historical record collections from around the world, and more than 177,000 digitized books. You can search many of these records by name and other details, thanks to FamilySearch’s volunteer indexing program; but some are still awaiting indexing and must be browsed. This genealogical bounty is accessible from tabs at the top of

Guide #2: Finding Relatives in’s Unindexed Records

FamilySearch Unindexed Records has millions of digitized birth, marriage, death, census and probate records from around the world. Largely thanks to FamilySearch Indexing volunteers, billions of names in those records are searchable. But if you only search the indexed collections on, you’ll miss out on valuable genealogy information. In order to make digitized records available as soon as possible, FamilySearch puts unindexed record collections online for browsing. You could wait until those collections are indexed to find your ancestors’ records in them—or follow these steps to find your ancestors’ records now.

Guide #3: Ordering FamilySearch Microfilms Online

FamilySearch Microfilms

Instead of writing to courthouses and driving to libraries with large genealogy collections, there’s an easier, cheaper way to access many genealogical records and books. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ (LDS) genealogy arm, FamilySearch, has microfilmed millions of records and books from all over the globe. You can view the microfilms at LDS’ Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City. Follow these steps to place a microfilm rental order from home.

Guide #4: Add-Ons For Your FamilySearch Family Tree

FamilySearch Family Tree Add-Ons

The free FamilySearch Family Tree sets itself apart from other online family tree collections in a couple of ways: First, it maintains a single record for each person, avoiding the massive duplication in most other family tree databases. Second, a growing list of third-party add-ons expands Family Tree’s functionality. This overview describes add-ons ranging from research tools to shortcuts for sharing family history.

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