Record Searches Easier with New Tool!—Now You Can See Similar Historical Records

June 28, 2019  - by 
Family looking at similar historical records on FamilySearch

Learning more about your ancestors’ lives often requires searching for their names in historical records. This is where you might find where and when they were born, marriage and death information, and even their relatives’ names.

You can search instantly among more than 7 billion names in old records with FamilySearch’s powerful Historical Records search—and now there’s an easier way to find similar historical records within your search.

FamilySearch Similar Historical Records Tool Simplifies Searching

A new FamilySearch tool streamlines the record searching process. It’s called Similar Historical Records, and its purpose is to help you find additional records that may belong to the same person.

Screenshot of similar historical records box.

Here’s how it works. Let’s say I’m searching for historical records about James Ottie Riser. From his page, I click the option to search records on FamilySearch (found in the right side bar). My search results look like this:

Screenshot of search results from FamilySearch.

The fourth result I found is a census record. I click on the name or the page icon to see the record details:

Screenshot of record details from FamilySearch.

I check the record information to see if it matches what I know about James. It does! Now I take a look at the Similar Historical Records suggestions in the bottom right corner.

The new  tool has found other records that appear to belong to the same person mentioned in this record. (It’s as if the Similar Historical Records tool is saying, “If you like this record, you may also like these other records.”) This helps me find out more about my ancestor with a lot less searching.

As it turns out, both of the Similar Historical Records suggested do pertain to James Ottie Riser. Here’s what I saw when I clicked on the birth record:

Screenshot of record details with numbers showing different areas.
  1. A summary of James’s tree information, for my reference.
  2. A transcript of key information from the birth record.
  3. The option to view the digitized record image. (Always do this, if you can. In this case, the image had James’s exact birth date and his parents’ names and occupations. This is more than the transcript shows!)
  4. The option to attach this record to James’s person page. I did this after confirming it belonged to him.
  5. Another set of Similar Historical Records! I repeated the process of reviewing each one carefully and attaching relevant records to James’s person page.

The Similar Historical Records tool simplifies the process of searching for ancestors’ names in historical records. I found 3 new records for James without having to go back to the search results.

Important Note: The Similar Historical Records tool does not replace the need for careful review to confirm whether each suggested record pertains to your ancestor. That’s still your job!

Try It Yourself

New records are being added all the time on FamilySearch! First, log in with your free user account at FamilySearch. Next, search for records about your ancestor, and view the search results. See whether any Similar Historical Records appear in the bottom right corner of the screen. Not every search result will suggest Similar Historical Records, but many do.

Sunny Morton

Sunny Morton teaches personal and family history to worldwide audiences. She's a Contributing Editor at Family Tree Magazine, past Contributing Editor at Lisa Louise Cooke's Genealogy Gems, and the author of How to Find Your Family History in U.S. Church Records (co-authored with Harold Henderson, CG); Story of My Life: A Workbook for Preserving Your Legacy; "Genealogy Giants: Comparing the 4 Major Websites," and hundreds of articles. She has degrees in history and humanities from Brigham Young University. Read her work at

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  1. Great tool how do I use it in Family Tree Maker with the blue box with the center dark blue? Will the information and the media transfer to my FTM?