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How to search findmypast

11 April 2014

The new findmypast search means that you can search across more record sets in a much more flexible way. Here, we provide some guidance to using the new search for broad searches or specific enquiries.

If you have any suggestions or queries, please do get in touch via the Feedback Forum. We welcome all your feedback.

The new search is designed to be start broad, and looks for results across all the record sets in a category. Therefore, by searching the category pages (e.g. Census, land & surveys, Birth, Marriage, Death & Parish records) you can search many different records at once.

If you know which record set you want to search, go straight to our ‘A-Z of record sets’ which contains links to all the individual search pages and select the one you want. These pages are specific to their relevant record set, so they are optimised and contain the most useful search fields that are not always found on the broader category pages.

You can also reach these pages by using the ‘all collections’ drop down menu at the top of the category page. For example, clicking on the drop down menu at the top of the ‘births, marriages, deaths & parish records’ page will present a list all the search pages for each of the collections in the categories (e.g. Births & Baptisms, Marriages & Divorces).

If you find that searching for an address in the ‘Census, land & Surveys’ produces too many results, try narrowing the search to ensure you are only searching specific census records.

To search for an address in an individual census page, choose the ‘A-Z of record sets’ drop down from the ‘Search records’ menu. You can enter the name of the census in the search bar to find the individual census pages (e.g 1881, 1891 etc.). You can then search for the address in that census.

If you want to search all census records (but not land surveys etc), you can choose ‘Census land & Surveys’ from the ‘Search records’ drop down, then narrow that search by choosing ‘Census’ from the third dropdown menu.

To search by occupation in a census, add it as a keyword in the ‘Census, land & surveys’  page, or go to the specific census search page (which you can choose from the A-Z record sets) and enter it into the occupation field.

Some search pages do include a mother’s maiden name or spouse’s name field. If the search page you’re using doesn’t have this field, you can still search using a mother’s maiden name, or spouse’s name by simply adding it as an optional keyword.

The Parish records now sit within the Birth, Marriages & Deaths category and no longer have their own page. To search for only parish baptisms, marriages and burials, start broad and then filter your results.

For example, if you are looking for a Westminster parish baptism, first go to the Birth, Marriage, Death & Parish records page and use the ‘All collections’ drop down menu to select ‘Births & Baptisms’.  On each of the BMD collection pages there is a ‘record set’ filter that lists all the parish & non-parish record sets in that collection. Use this to select Westminster Baptisms.

As above, using the drop down menus on the search page will help you find the record set you’re looking for. You can start with the Birth, Marriage, Death & Parish records page and use the ‘All collections’ drop down menu to select ‘Marriages & Divorces’ from the ‘All collections’ drop down menu.

The new site is designed to allow you to search across all record sets at once, but of course if you already have a good idea of what you are hoping to find you can start with a narrower search.

So if you do know what you’re looking for, be as specific as possible. If you are searching specifically for a marriage, only search marriages & divorces rather than all Birth, Marriage and Death & Parish records (see above). Narrow down date ranges, use the search filters and add optional keywords to include as much information in your search as possible.

We hope these tips help you navigate the new search tool to continue to discover the stories of your ancestors.