FamilySearch Catalog Surnames Search

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Introduction to the FamilySearch Catalog Gotoarrow.png Surnames Search (Last Names)

How to search the FamilySearch Catalog by Surnames.[edit | edit source]

Use a Surnames Search to find a work about a specific family or person, such as a:

However, the Author Search is better for finding an author by his or her surname.

FSC Surnames Search.png

Steps to Search by Surnames[edit | edit source]

  1. Go to the FamilySearch Catalog.
  2. Click Places to close the Places Search.
  3. Click Surnames to open it.
  4. Type a surname.
  5. Click Search.
  6. Click a title to see more details. The record may be a book, a microfilm, or digitized on the Internet.

How Do I Understand the Results of a Surnames Search?[edit | edit source]

FSC Surnames Results.png

A Surnames Search results in a list of titles of catalog entries tied to the surname of your search. Click the title to see the cataloging details. A book, compact disc, or pedigree call number of the source will appear on this details screen. This call number is needed to locate the item in the Family History Library. Scroll down the screen to see if the item has been filmed.

If the name you search is relatively common, the results list may be so long (over 100) that you will have to click [Next results] at the bottom of the page one or more times to see the complete results list. For long results lists there is also an option to jump to a record (title) number you specify.

Strategies for Using a Surnames Search[edit | edit source]

Look for family histories. This search mainly finds family histories.

More than one surname per family history. Library catalogers usually add to the Surnames Search about four surnames from families that marry into the main family for a typical family history. For example,

Blackburns Today and Yesterday is also listed under the following names: BARRON, BRIDGES, DAVIS, and FRAZIER. For longer family histories even more names would usually be listed. So it is normal to find a book via the Surnames Search which is primarily about another family and only briefly mentions the surname you searched.

If the results list has too few matches. The more of a surname you type as a search term, the smaller the results list will be. Since many surnames have spelling variations, you may want to broaden your search. To do this, you can type only part of the surname. (This is called truncating your search.) For example, if you type Newcombe as your search term, the computer will find only that spelling of the name. However, if you type Newcom as your search term, the computer will find any surname that begins with those letters, including Newcom, Newcomb, Newcome, Newcombe, and so forth.

Switch to the Keywords Search to find a family in a specific place. If the results list has too many matches, it may help to switch to the FamilySearch Catalog Keywords Search  and add a place (state or province) to the surname. For example, a Surnames Search for Frazier results in 177 matches, but a Keywords Search for Frazier Colorado results in only 21 matches. This strategy finds works that are cataloged under the surname Frazier and the place Colorado in the same cataloging entry, usually but not necessarily in connection with each other. States and provinces work best for this strategy. Towns and counties work poorly for this strategy.