Beginning your Search
There are many ways to search for your ancestors on FamilyLink. Through our search engine you have the ability to browse our databases by Record Type, Place and by Database Title. Each individual database can also be searched by going to the specific database and using the search engine found on the database's homepage. We also provide ways to search on your ancestor's name by their exact name, soundex and double metaphone.
Start your search on FamilyLink by conducting a search for your ancestor and then continue your research by narrowing your search down.
Begin your search by using the search box located on the left hand side of FamilyLink under the heading Start Searching for your Ancestors. Once you have typed in your ancestor's given name and surname, click on the green button that says Search Now.
When you conduct a basic search you are providing the search engine with just a given name and surname. Limiting your search to a name, will provide more "hits" then by combining a name with other information.
Once you have looked over these results, or in the case when the results are too numerous to be useful, you will want to narrow your search by Place, Record Type, Year or Keyword.
Search Tip: A search using just an ancestor's name is best used when you are not researching a common surname.
Search Tip: Remember that you need to try more than one way to search on your ancestor's name. Your ancestor may be listed in some records with initials instead of a first name. Also, spelling was not always standardized so remember to try your ancestor's name spelled phonetically.
FamilyLink Search Engine
The Search Engine can be found on the homepage of FamilyLink and under the Search link on the top blue toolbar.
The Search Engine allows you to search on more than just a name. You can specify a year (for example, this could be a birth, marriage or death year). You can also specify a location. One of the unique aspects of the search is the ability to add a keyword to your search. So for example you could specify a record like newspaper or an occupation, religion or a spouse's name.
As you use the Search Engine and see what results you receive, remember the more information you provide to the search engine the fewer results you will receive.
Search Tip: You may not get a "hit" when you search for an ancestor even though they may be in a database. One reason could be that the name is spelled differently, or initials were used for the first name.
The Advanced Search allows you to include the following information.
- Given Name is the first name of the individual you are searching for.
- Family Name is the surname or last name of the individual you are searching for.
- Lived In allows you to search for a county, city, state or country. You can only search for one place type at a time (example: Provo or Utah, not Provo, Utah). Use this feature in conjunction with the Narrow to option to specify a place. So for example, in Lived In type in a city or county. In Narrow to type in a state or country.
- Keyword allows you to narrow your search by typing in specific document types, alternate names or counties. For example, you may use terms such as: census, newspapers, Billy, Ada County, etc. In looking for vital records you could use it to add the name of a spouse. You can also use the Keyword search for finding all of one type of records. In this example, do not type in a name, instead just type in a word like "parish" in the Keyword search. This will bring up the parish records that are on FamilyLink.
- You can specify a Year for the person you are researching. You can even add or delete from the year you type in by indicating "+ or –" that year by 0, 2, 5 or 10 years. This is where you can add your ancestor's birth, death or marriage date. You could also use a year that you know your ancestor lived in a certain area.
- Narrow to allows you to specify a place that your ancestor lived. You can limit your search by a state in the United States or by specifying U.S. Only Databases or International Databases.
What is a Match Type?
FamilyLink is unique in that it provides three different ways to search its databases. The "Match Type" option lets you select what type of search you would like to do. The three options are Exact, Soundex and Double Metaphone.
Exact searches will return results that match the exact spelling that you entered into the Family Name box. If you type the surname "Smith" you will only get results that match "Smith." The results will not include spelling variations or misspellings.
Soundex searches will return search results that match the Soundex variations for the name that you entered into the Family Name box. Soundex is a phonetic algorithm that identifies words that sound alike but are spelled differently such as "Smyth" and "Smith" or "Brown" and "Braun." Soundex was developed and patented in the early 1900's by Robert Russell and Margaret Odell.
Double Metaphone searches will return search results that match the Double Metaphone spellings for the name that you entered into the Family Name box. Double Metaphone was developed in 2000 by Lawrence Philips and is the second generation of the Metaphone phonetic algorithm. Double Metaphone is superior to Soundex because it understands the basic rules of spelling for English, Slavic, Germanic, Celtic, Greek, French, Italian, Spanish, and Chinese. Double Metaphone tends to return more accurate and slightly fewer name variation search results.
Search Tip: You can use a wildcard to increase your results. A wildcard can be used by typing the first three letters of an ancestor's first name or surname and adding an asterisk (*). So for example for John Smith you could type in Joh* Smi*.
Searching living people
FamilyLink is a service for finding information on your ancestors. To connect with living relatives, try our social network service for families, FamilyLink at http://www.familylink.com/.
Have suggestions about content that should be added to FamilyLink? You can make suggestions by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recently Added Databases
FamilyLink add new databases frequently and these titles and links can be found by clicking on Search on the blue toolbar and then clicking on the Recently Added Databases link.
No records found
You may search for an ancestor only to find that the search engine has found no records for your ancestor. This can be for a number of reasons. The search engine is going to look for records with the exact words that you type in (except in cases where you use the soundex or double metaphone search). Your ancestor may be in a record with their name listed in any number of combinations, including initials for their first name, spelling the first or surname differently, or the addition of a middle name or initial.
In cases where you are unable to find records, try searching for your ancestor in different ways such as just searching on the last name or typing in a first initial and last name. Start your search by providing the least amount of information first, since that will give you the most hits.
Don't forget that you can browse our databases by locality, title, and record type and conduct a search from each individual database's search engine.
Where do the databases on your site come from?
FamilyLink partners with content providers to bring our members unique databases in one place. To find out more about partnering with us and sharing your data, see our website at http://www.familylink.com/partner/default.aspx.
Browse a list of all the databases
You can see a list of all of our databases by clicking on View All Databases on our homepage.
Searching a specific Region or Country
You can search for our databases for a particular locality by clicking on Places on the top blue toolbar on FamilyLink. You can then select the country or state that you are interested in.
Browse by Featured Collections
To browse our databases in our Featured Collections, just click on Featured Collections on the left hand side of the FamilyLink homepage.
Search by Database Title
To browse by Database Title, just click on Search on the top blue toolbar and the click on the link Search by Database Title.