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Searching the FamilySearch Digital Library

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What is the FamilySearch Digital Library[edit | edit source]

The FamilySearch Digital Library is a large online library of genealogical resources. Visitors can read hundreds of thousands of online books, periodicals, and associated resources from all over the world.

Basic Search[edit | edit source]

For basic instructions on using the Digital Library, click here.

Advanced Search[edit | edit source]

The FamilySearch Digital Library normally finds items (books and periodicals) that contain all specified words. The words are not necessarily close to one another. Use operators, wildcards, and field names for better control.

Operators provide greater flexibility. Search words can be upper- or lowercase, but operators must be uppercase.

Operator Meaning Example Results[1]
AND Both words must be present. The default operator for multiple words is AND. drusilla AND hendricks 9,968
OR Either word must be present. Books with both words are listed first. drusilla OR hendricks 84,054
NOT The word following NOT must not be present. drusilla NOT hendricks 9,558
"quote" Words inside the quote marks must appear together. "drusilla hendricks" 79
Wildcard characters specify patterns. If a word in a book matches the pattern, the book is included in the results. Compare the number of results for the following two examples with this one containing no wildcards. drusilla 19,526
* Asterisk is a wildcard that matches 0 or more characters. “drusi*a” matches different forms of Drusilla (like Drusila, Drusillia, and Drusilia), OCR errors (like Drusi11a and Drusiila), and other names that match the pattern (like Drusina and Drusiana). drusi*a 20,369
? The question mark is a wildcard that matches any one character. “dr?silla” matches Drusilla with any other character in place of the U (like Drisilla, Drosilla, and Drysilla) and OCR errors (like Drjsilla and Drnsilla). dr?silla 19,678
() Parentheses are used when combining multiple operators. drusilla AND (dorris OR hendricks) 10,922

Digital Library normally searches all the text of all books. Field operators restrict searching to matching titles, authors, subjects or other metadata fields. Specify the name of the field with a leading capital letter, a colon, and the word to search for.

Field Name Meaning Example
Title: Search books containing the specified word in the title. Title:descendants Title:hendricks
Creator.title Search books from specified authors. Creator.title:allen Title:hendricks
Subject: Search books pertaining to the specified subject. The example matches books about both the Hendricks and Dorris families. Subject:hendricks Subject:dorris
Access\ Level: Search books that are Public, Protected, Full, Limited, etc. Spaces in field names require a backslash before the space. Access\ Level:public
Extent: Extent specifies the number of pages, but sometimes item type, such as atlas, map, microfilm, pages, or photocopy. Extent:map
Language: Search books of the specified language. Language:french
Owning\ Institution: Search names of institutions who provided the book for digitization. Owning\ Institution:midwest

In addition to the other operators, the minus sign can be used with a field to return all books that do not have the word specified.

Operator Meaning Example
Field:(-word) Search fields without a specific word Title:(-hendricks) "cleve al raymond"
(-*) Search fields with an empty or missing field. Language:(-*)

Complex combinations of operators allow powerful searches.

Find books that mention Drusilla Dorris Hendricks, that are not about the Hendricks family in particular, and are available online. ("drusilla dorris hendricks" OR "drusilla hendricks") AND Subject:(-Hendricks) AND (Access\ Level:(Public) OR Access\ Level:Full)
Find books about Smithfield, Utah that mention Raymond. Raymond AND Subject:Smithfield AND Subject:Utah
Find books that mention husband and wife, James Davenport and Almira Phelps, but not the Almira Phelps who married Joseph Holman. "James Davenport" AND "Almira Phelps" NOT "Joseph Holman"
Find published Utah censuses mentioning Hendricks. Title:census AND Subject:Utah AND Hendricks
Find books mentioning some form of the name Hendricks, that are about the Mayflower, authored by the Society of Mayflower Descendants, with New York in the title. Hendri* Subject:Mayflower Creator.title:Society Title:York Title:New

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Number of results as of 4 March 2020.