Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Kehrer Webinar: Wildcards and Exact Search

I’m sharing some of my notes from the 21 June 2012 webinar by Robert Kehrer, senior product manager, search technologies. The webinar was titled “FamilySearch Historical Records and Library Catalog.”

Robert Kehrer started his search demonstration by searching for his great grandfather, Franklin Bernard Allor. In the live presentation he demonstrated use of a wildcard. For the first name he typed in “Frank*”. Notice the asterisk on the end. This will match Frank, Franklin, Frankie, and so forth.

FamilySearch’s search system also employs a name matching system, matching Allor equivalent names like Euellar, Ellare, Ehelhar, and so forth.

Kehrer demonstrated how to turn this matching off. The box next to the name turn on “exact matching.” WIth the box checked, “Allor” is the only name that will match. Searching the 1910 census for “Franklin Bernard Allor,” without the box checked, returns 46 results. With the exact match box checked, searching returns four results and the top result is Kehrer’s ancestor.

The box next to a name turns on Exact Search

Stay tuned…


  1. So why does the search form not mention wild-cards and not label what the little squares are for? For such simple tips the user should not have to go to a hidden video or webinar (which many cannot view anyway) that are not labeled by content-outlines or searchable.

  2. I agree with Geolover. I've used the exact search boxes but nowhere does it tell you that wild cards are allowed nor what they are.

    1. In all search web sites I always try wildcards anyway.
      and read the help
      In Ancestry.co* I use wildcards continually and minimise the amount of letters.
      In all areas of search - places - names
      Ancestry does have powerful wildcards unlike some competitors.
      Example my gran's surname Robbins aka Robins and variations could be Robens etc
      well I search for something like r*b*ns

    2. Ron, this post is about searching at www.familysearch.org, not Ancestry. You may know what sort of characters are used as wild cards, but many do not. I have used familysearch sites for years, and did not know wild cards could be used until a blogger mentioned it in passing. The "help" link at www.familysearch.org lists nothing that would obviously be a quick outline about how to use the search page. Clicking on the initial help page's link to FamilySearch takes one to a corporate mission statement, together with a link offer to search the "former site" -- which has been deleted except as host to the old Library Catalog. I used the search box on the main "Help" page to search for the term "searching historical records." This produced as its fourth result an extremely helpful article, dated June 20, 2012, including information on available wild cards and what they do; its title is "Options and Tips for Searching Historical Records," but where exactly it ~is~ on the site is not indicated, and there is no indication as to how to find it if one does not search for that exact phrase ("searching historical records"). Like most of the other helpful information on the site, it is extremely well hidden.

  3. Why not search for FRAN* that way you get Frank and Francis and also Frances as the names get confused twixt the genders.
    Maybe if you want females even F*AN* which I think will include FRANCES and FANNY


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