Help:Advanced Searches in the Wiki

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Anyone may search for articles in the FamilySearch Research Wiki. Users do not need to be registered to do this. This article will provide details about advanced searching techniques that can be used in the Wiki.
Further information: Search Tips and Basic Searches

What is Boolean?

Boolean is a set of values that helps determine if something is true or false. In simpler terms, it allows users to use the words "AND," "OR," and "NOT" or a hyphen ( - ) to narrow down search results.

Boolean search.jpg

The following is list of Boolean expressions that may be used for advanced searching:


Type the word AND between two words. This will search for articles that contain both "word1" AND "word2" somewhere on the page. If you type a sequence of words, it is the same as if you had typed AND between each word. Examples:

  1. word1 AND word2
  2. word1 AND word2 AND word3
  3. word1 word2 word3


Type the word OR between two words that you want to search for. This will search for articles that contain either "word1" or "word2," but not both words together on the same page.. Examples:

  1. word1 OR word2 Example: Vital records OR Civil registration
  2. word3 OR word4 Example: Census OR Tax

Hyphen ( - ) is the same as NOT

Use the hyphen ( - ) (with a space on each side of it) between two words to search for articles that contain "word1" but excludes "word2." Another option is to use the word NOT in place of the hyphen.

  1. word1 -  word2 Example: England - London This would produce pages with "England" but would exclude pages with the word "London."
  2. word1 NOT word2 Example: England NOT London This will produce the same results as Example 1.


You can control the search with parenthetical expressions by using the parentheses. 

  1. (word1 AND (word2 OR word3)) Example: (England AND (Birth OR Death)) would produce results for pages with the words England Birth or England Death.

Wild Cards

The asterisk and the question mark can be used as wild cards in a search. Use the asterisk in place of one or more characters at the end of a word. Use the question mark to take the place of a single character in a word. Examples:

  1. birt*  This will return articles that contain the words that begin with "birt" such as birth, births or birthday...
  2. fa?e This will return articles that contain the words face, fame and fate...

Note that you can use more than one "?" in a word. Example: phr??e

Phrase Search

Text with double quotes implies a phrase search. Use this type of search when you need to find an article that includes the exact phrase you are looking for. Example:

  1. "New York City"
  2. "California birth records"
  3. "Family History Library"

Mixing Advanced Features

All the Boolean search features can be mixed together for added strength in searching for articles. Examples:

1. (word1 AND (word2 OR "phrase search")) Example: ((German AND (emigration OR "birth") This search will result in pages that contain content about German emigration or German births.

2. ((word1 AND word2) AND NOT word*) This search will return articles that contain word1 AND word2, but will NOTinclude articles that also contain words that start with "word" like "words," "wordy," or "worded." Note: If AND NOT does not work, replaced with the AND NOT with a hyphen ( - ), with a space on each side it.