FamilySearch Catalog Surnames Search

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How to search the Family History Library Catalog by Surname.

Use a Surname 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 surname.

Steps to Search by Surname

  1. Go to
  2. Click the Family History Library Catalog link under the heading Search Genealogy Records & Library.
  3. Click Surname Search.
  4. Type a surname.
  5. Click Search.
  6. Click the surname that matches the one you want.
  7. Click a title to see more details. The record may be in a book or on a film.
  8. Click View Film Notes (if any) to see a film number.

Strategies for Using a Surname Search

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

More than one surname per family history. Library catalogers usually add to the Surname 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 Surname 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 Keyword Search to find a family in a specific place. If the results list has too many matches, it may help to  switch to the Family History Library Catalog Keyword Search and add a place (state or province) to the surname. For example, a Surname Search for FRAZIER results in 177 matches, but a Keyword Search for FRAZIER COLORADO results in only 21 matches.

How Do I Understand the Results of a Surname Search?

A Surname Search results in a list of:

  • Titles of catalog entries tied to surnames that match your search.
  • Surnames that match your search.