Posted by on 18 August 2010 in Site Features


Over the next few weeks, we’ll be making a number of changes to the new search forms. We hope to make searches more flexible, and in response to your feedback we have improved some searches that were hard to do. You can get a sneak preview of some of these at the search update guided tour which you can find at Tour of Upcoming Changes.

Last week, we’ve launched the first of these changes to the forms, which provides some new ways to enter details of family members into your search.

There are two main differences:

  1. We’ve split the names from just one name box into two, supporting first name and last name.  This can be really important if you’re searching for a marriage record and don’t know the maiden name of the spouse.
  2. We’ve added in the ability to simply add more relationships based on what you know, for example if you know multiple siblings – this helps to quickly create a really powerful search query.

One more thing. If you are using advanced search we’ll also allow you to select exact for either the first or last name of a mother or a father.

To find this, you need to click the “Tell us more to get better results” link at the bottom of the search form:

If you click on that link, you will see under “Lived In (Residence)” and “Marriage Info”, the “Family Member” section:

You will see that you can choose from Father, Mother, Spouse, Child or Sibling. To add more than one, click the “Add Row” box.

If you are in advanced search, you also can choose Exact Only on Father or Mother. Remember if you choose exact only, the record must have that value — so if a record doesn’t have a Father in it and you choose it as exact, then we won’t return it.

You will also find this update on all family member areas on category and data collection forms.

Birth, Marriage & Death Records

BMD Records often have wonderful relationship data in them — specifying family members in your search query will help us narrow down the results we give you.

Lets say you have one of those common ancestor names, William Smith, and you are trying to find out who he married. You start at the Birth, Marriage and Death form and you are in the advanced form, because you like to take advantage of our name filters.

You enter William as a first name, and set the filters to “exact, phonetic, similiar and initials” because you know William has a lot of variations.

You enter Smith as a last name, and set the filters to “exact, phonetic, and similiar”.


You also know that Williams father was named John and his mother’s name was Mary. So you scroll down to where you enter Family Members and enter that information. I recommend that you do not start with exact, you never know which pieces of information are recorded or indexed for family members and it’s a good idea to start with using this information as a way for us to rank records instead of excluding records.

Press “Search” and you’ll see records from everywhere, and over 400,000!

It’s a good time to refine your search and take advantage of our location filter. Press “r” on your keyboard for “refine search”, and let’s say you know William was probably married in Manchester… use the type ahead and start typing Manchester:

Select “Manchester, Lancashire, England”, then click on “Use default settings” and choose one of the filters, say “Restrict to this place exactly” and perform your search.

One important caveat here

When we used to search family members, we didn’t search last names, just first and middle names. So we are in the process of indexing all the family member last names on the site. We have over 4 billion records, so it may take us a while to get caught up. So if you type in a last name and choose exact and get no results, it means we haven’t indexed family member last names on that collection yet. I’ll let you know when we are caught up.

Happy Searching

1 Comment

Tess Heales 

I used this new feature earlier today and thought it was absolutely BRILLIANT! Found the people I wanted straight away. I can’t wait to see the other changes you will be bringing in. Thank you, and keep up the fantastic work.

19 August 2010 at 3:22 pm