Help:Advanced Searches in the Wiki

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Anyone may search for articles in the FamilySearch Research Wiki. You only need to be registered to edit or improve an article. This article will provide details about advanced searching techniques that you may use to search the FamilySearch 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 the hyphen ( - ) which excludes the keyword to narrow down search results. This is an example of using AND while searching for articles containing the words "Ireland" AND "birth".

Boolean search.jpg

The following is list of Boolean terms 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" on the same page. As shown in the above example, the results will contain pages with both "Ireland" and "Birth".  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 = Ireland AND Birth
  2. word1 AND word2 AND word3  = Ireland AND Birth And Parish
  3. word1 word2 word3  = Ireland Birth Parish


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.

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

Hyphen ( - ) is used in place of NOT

The search function uses the hyphen ( - ) in place of the operator NOT for excluding words from your search. Use the hyphen with a space preceding it ( -) between two words to search for articles that contain "word1" but do not contain "word2".  You can also use a space before and after the hyphen ( - ) between "word1" and "word2".

  1. word1 -word2 Example: England -London
  2. word1 - word2 Example: England - London

These will return pages that contain "England" but do not contain "London".


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

  1. (word1 AND (word2 OR word3)) Example: (German AND (Emigration OR Immigration)) This would produce results for pages with content that includes German Emigration and German Immigration.
  2. Other combinations may useful to exclude a duplicate name of a location like (Paris AND France) NOT Idaho))

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 -word*) Example: ((German AND birt*) AND -death) This search will return articles that contain German AND birth, births, etc., but will NOT include articles that also contain the word death.