An introduction to Findmypast's search tools

Findmypast’s new search tool provides a flexible way to search across multiple record sets. You can search our entire collection using any field, and then narrow your search down to pinpoint the person you’re looking for.

To get a feel for our record sets, try searching with no criteria at all. You’ll see a full list of every record in our collection. This is a good way to understand what records are online and gives a feel for your chance of discovering an ancestor. You can search using as many or as few fields as you like, and we always recommend starting broad then narrowing your search down.

Once you’ve started searching, you can always click the “edit your search” button to return to the previous search page with your information pre-filled, so you can adjust your search quickly and easily.

Our broader categories can be searched by general fields common to every record set in that category (first and last names for example). If you then look at more specific search pages you will find more fields that relate to that particular record set.

There are three main ways to search our records. The first is to search all records. This is a very broad search, and will find everyone in all of our records who fulfill the criteria you’ve entered. Click here to read more.

Alternatively, if you have an idea of what sort of records you want to search, you can start your search within a record category. This could be census, land and surveys; birth, marriage, death & parish records; travel and migration records, etc. To learn more about searching record types, click here.

If you know the exact record set you want to search, you can head straight there. For example, if you want to search for an ancestor in the 1911 census, or you are looking for a soldier in the British Royal Air Force, Officers' Service Records 1912-1920, you can search for that exact record set in our A-Z of record sets. Click here for more information.