Monday, May 27, 2013

Mailbox Monday: FamilySearch Irrelevant Results

The Ancestry Insider's Monday MailboxI got lots of great responses to the question, “Do you have a fix that you’d like to see on or” (See all the responses at “The Future of Family History—According to You!”) There were several threads of common thought. Here was one of them:

Dear Ancestry Insider

I would really like FamilySearch to stop giving totally irrelevant results, like other countries when I've specified one UK county, census when I've specified christenings. If I wanted these I'd leave that field blank.


Dear Ancestry Insider,

I agree with Unknown. My comment is in response to your second bullet point, “Return search results in the same century specified.” It should also include “same country and year range specified.”

Marianne in MD

Dear Ancestry Insider,

It urks me when I ask specifically to search a certain year, place, and name, and 1,000 different years, places, and names turn up. You can do better than that, FamilySearch!

Brownie’s Points

Dear Unknown, Marianne, and Brownie,

I understand your consternation. If I search for the birth record of my cousin, Lucy Sider (or Side), who was born in London, England between 1891 and 1893, I get matches in U.S. Censuses and in Ohio marriage records.

I think you’ll be happy to hear about FamilySearch’s “Restrict records by” feature. You can find it (currently) underneath the first and last names boxes:

Options to restrict records by location, type, and batch numbers on FamilySearch

There are three options: “Location | Type | Batch Number.” If the country box is not visible, click “Location.” If the record type options are not visible, click “Type.”

Enter “England” in the country box and you will receive matches restricted to records created in England or created about primary events in England. (If a birth record documents a birth in England, it doesn’t matter where the record was created.) In the case of my cousin Lucy, restricting the country to England cuts the matches down to four English census records.

For the United States, England, Canada, and Australia, you can restrict the location further. When you enter the country, FamilySearch provides a dropdown list from which you can select state, province, or English county. In the case of Lucy, restricting the location to London, England restricts the matches down to two census records.

The second restrict by option is record type. Where I was looking for Lucy’s birth record, I might have restricted the record type to “Birth, Baptism, and Christenings” and quickly learned that FamilySearch had no matching birth records.

As to restricting to a particular date range, I don’t know of any way to do that. Matching terms exactly does not work. However, does list the matching records first.

If anyone knows how to restrict to a particular date range, chime in.

The Ancestry Insider


  1. It appears that the use of FamilySearch "search filters" is not understood. This is the most powerful way to search within FamilySearch. Much more powerful then searching by collection because using filters will search all collections and allow you to drill down to specific dates, states, counties, etc.

    When using filters and continuing to drill down clicking the small "triangles" (very small but powerful - activates the filters) many surprises. Just keep your eye peeled to the left looking for the "triangle". Click and open for the next surprise.

    Path example - Global Search from Main Page: Surname > Search > Click Triangle next to Refine Your search > Collections > Birth, Marriage, Death > Click Triangle. Using these filters in combination with one another is powerful.

    Robert Kehrer, Senior Manager of Search Technologies has two great videos available that explain how to use several features. They are long but worth the time to view and become acquainted with his vision of how the search engines work. Part 1 deals with the filters and Part 2 with searching the card catalog, IGI, Source box and more.

  2. Record type and location filters are great improvements in the development of the current search interface. However, the option to filter on the individual's role on a record (that was available on the old pilot site), is still missing. For example, even when I use a marriage or birth date, the search results often include a parent with the name I am searching (but not match the primary individual of the record). There doesn't seem to be any way around this, especially if I have to leave the parent fields blank in my query. Similar difficulties with other roles. (Tedious but not crippling).

  3. Refining filters also seems to refresh my page so I must scroll down again to refine on the next level.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.