With over 10 billion records on the site, utilizing our search options can help you find your ancestors quickly and easily.
When you use the default settings in our search form (like the one shown below), we look through every name we have recorded in our more than 29,000 data collections, and pull out any record where the name is:
- Exactly what you typed
- A phonetic match of what you typed
- A name which has a similar meaning or spelling as the one you typed
- An initial that matches the name you typed
- We may also return records that do not match the name you typed in as described in this list, but strongly match other criteria
These records are also evaluated against the other criteria that you have given us, and are ordered based on how well all the elements in that record match your search.
You can restrict the search results to exact matches or exact matches and phonetic matches, names with similar meanings or setting or records where only initials are recorded. Simply click on “Use default settings” and choose “Restrict to exact matches and” along with your preferred option.
- Exact Matches: Records that contain a name that is exactly what you typed in will appear in your results.
- Phonetic Variations: There are other name matching algorithms that we can use to help identify records to consider for your results. If you choose phonetic, we will identify appropriate algorithms that apply to specific data collections and if a record has one of those names, we will use it as a possible record for your results set.
- Similar Variations: There are alternates and spelling variations that are commonly used, such as Will for William. If you choose this option we will look for records with these alternates and consider them as possible results for you to look at.
- Initial Variations: Sometimes in records our ancestors were identified with just their first initials, or the initials of their given and middle names. By including this option, you allow us to examine and possibly include records that just have initials in the first name. So if you enter Mary, we will look at records that have M as the first name.
Good luck with your search.