Search Gets Major Feature Enhancements

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As part of our continual effort to provide the most powerful genealogical research system we can, FamilySearch is pleased to announce a number of feature enhancements to the search function on the website. These great new features will make finding and documenting your ancestors’ lives more efficient and productive.

Attach a Source Person to a Family Tree Person

FamilySearch has a goal of properly linking each of the persons found in the world’s historical records to the Family Tree. To help facilitate accurate person-to-person linking, an “Attach to Family Tree” button is now available on each person’s details page in historical records.

When you click the button, you will see a list of persons in the Family Tree that match the person on the record. You may also choose a name from your history list, showing the people you most recently viewed in the Family Tree, or you can initiate a search of the Family Tree. Once you have identified the correct person in the Family Tree, click Attach to create a link to the source on the person’s page in the Family Tree, add the source link to the sourcebox, and provide a reason for making the connection.

View HR Person in Family Tree

When viewing a person’s details page in historical records, you may want to know if the person has already been linked to someone in the Family Tree. If you find the record of a person who is already linked to someone in the Family Tree, you will see a “View in Family Tree” button. Clicking that button will open a person card, which gives a summary of the data from Family Tree and links to the person’s pedigree in the Family Tree. If the record has been linked to duplicates of the person in Family Tree, all the linked duplicates will be shown, and you can switch between these duplicates within the pop-up person card.

Display Results by Collection

To help you make better sense of and explore search results, FamilySearch now allows you to view results grouped by collection. When you initiate a search, you will see a new tabbed interface above the search results. The Records tab is the default and gives the actual results of the search, and the Collections tab presents a collection-by-collection summary.

The ability to see the results of a search grouped by collection helps you see what collections are available. It also guides you to collections with the most matches in a record type and keeps a single collection from being overrepresented in the top hits.

If you click the Collections tab, you will see the collections present in the set of search results, grouped by record type with the five collections with the most hits shown for each type. You can sort the collection lists alphabetically by title or by hit count. If you desire to see all the collections of a specific record type, click Show All in the header for that type.

Clicking a collection name will take you to the Records tab, with the results on that tab filtered by the selected collection. The Collection filter below the Refine your search form will still show, but it will now display the Collections tab, which replaces its previous fly-out functionality.

Export Search Results

A new tool visible above the search results for logged in users allows the export of a page of results to a spreadsheet file. This file can be opened in most common spreadsheet applications. The exported file contains the search parameters used for the search and a date and time stamp for reference. The search results are presented in rows, and each column represents a unique piece of indexed data for the results.

Opening the results in a spreadsheet enables many analysis, annotation, and sorting option that are not available on the website. For example, you may want to run the same search each month and compare the results, looking for new hits. You may want to sort the results across multiple indexed fields, or you may want to flag each result with a Yes, No, or Maybe to help organize the results for further search efforts.

The Export Results button will export the current page of results and is only available when you are logged into

Display Role in Record

The FamilySearch search system will identify and return all instances of a person from the databases, even if the person is not the primary person on a record. A result with no events indicated for the matched person is a good indication that the record may be about someone else. It is good to locate your great-grandfather on a marriage record, even if the record is for the marriage of his daughter, but it helps to know quickly his role in the record.

FamilySearch now displays the role of each matched person, even if the record is not about the person. If the information is available on census records, FamilySearch also displays the relationship to the head of the house.

Restrict Record Results to Country and Sub-country

Sometimes you may be looking for all evidence of an ancestor and will use the Search with a Life Event or Search with a Relationship fields to find all records for that ancestor. At other times, you may have a very focused research goal of finding that specific birth record from a particular county in a specific state to document a conclusion about an ancestor’s birth.

To facilitate very precise record searching, FamilySearch allows you to designate the country and next level state, province, or county as the required origin for all records. The search results will show records that were created by a record-keeping authority or they will have a primary event on the records that occurs within the specified jurisdiction.

Enhanced Copy Function on Record Details

A common thing to do after finding an ancestor in the historical records is to copy all the data on the record to research notes. Researchers have requested that we enhance the copy function so that all the related people on the record and citation are included in the copy. When it is available, the related people and citation information is now included in the copy after the standard person data.

Filter the FamilySearch Catalog Titles by Center or Library

Several years ago the old Family History Library catalog was renamed the FamilySearch Catalog to indicate that its resources extend beyond those held in the Salt Lake Family History Library. The old catalog allowed users to filter search results to the holdings in a specific location. We have now enabled similar functionality on the new catalog. Users can directly search for resources held at a number of family history centers and regional libraries using a dropdown location selector on the main search form.

If you view a title that has films or copies held in multiple locations, you will see a dropdown location selector that will filter the holdings to those at your chosen center or library.

We hope you find these enhancements to search beneficial to your research. Let us know what you think!


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