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

June 28, 2019  - by 

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. You can hear her on Lisa Louise Cooke's Genealogy Gems Podcast, read her work in Family Tree Magazine and find her speaking at events around the United States. She is the author of Story of My Life: A Workbook for Preserving Your Legacy (Family Tree Books); Genealogy Giants: Comparing the 4 Major Websites (Genealogy Gems Publishing) and a forthcoming book on finding your family in U.S. church records (Genealogical Publishing). She has degrees in history and humanities from Brigham Young University.

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  1. Es una nueva y valiosa herramienta para nuestras búsquedas, sobre todo cuando uno se encuentra ante una pared, que no nos permite encontrar algún registro. Gracias.

  2. Whoohoo! Thanks so much! You guys are doing so much to help us find records and ancestors, easier! I volunteer at the Family History Library in SLC and I will love showing this to people.

  3. Do not have a clue how to add a 24 page book of the kerr vreeland(1).pdf to gallery. I, also, have it printed out.
    No one in my Ward can instruct me.

  4. BENNETT Joseph and wife Elizabeth Wright b. Ca 1825 in London? were parents of my great grandfather Joseph Josh Jos Bennett b London 1838. shown as Horsetrainer, Farrier, and Guard East India Regiment. He died in Allahabad India in 1872. he married Jane Alexander in Melbourne, Australia in 1862, selected Walers horses for India, and they sailed to India app 1863. Information re his parents is shown on his marriage certificate, and his death certificate. They had two children bin Allahabad, my ggf survived, but William Gilbert Bennett died there as an infant. Widow Jane and Young Joseph sailed back to Australia in 1873 on Ship Astracan. I can find no references in London to his birth or parents, after thirty years searching. I would be so grateful if you can help

  5. I am afraid I might be leaving duplicate information as I am not certain how to do this. I am trying to find ancestral information on my maternal great grandfather Joseph Dooley. 1846 Derryduff, County Laois, Ireland and his wife Johanna Byrne, 1865, Kilkenny, Ireland. My Grandmother was Bridget Margaret Dooley born December 4, 1894 in Derryduff, County Laois, Ireland. I have all of her siblings but cannot go any further back than her parents. Thank you.

    1. It’s always important to be careful, but don’t worry too much about accidentally leaving duplicate information. You can always merge duplicates and FamilySearch will generally notify you if there is duplicate information out there. Hope this helps!

      1. I really do not understand this. Please give larger instructions in steps. I find all this information by going to Does this mean I no longer need Please clarify.

  6. Very nice. It works just as indicated. I’m glad it tells me if the record has already been attached to the person.

  7. Thank you. This has already helped. I had birth information for a child and I thought I had found death information for him. I thought, Oh, this sad, he died as a baby.Then glanced down at the similar records and saw that he was in a census many years later. When I looked more carefully, I realized there were 2 little boys with the same name born online few years apart. I dont think I would have realized there were two without the similar records catching my attention.