FamilySearch Places

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Several options exist for searching the FamilySearch Places collection. Users may search by name, by id, by location, by parental jurisdiction, or with filters.

Search by Place Name[edit | edit source]

Simply entering the name of a place in the search field initiates a “type-ahead” search. Potential results appear after a few characters have been typed. A user may continue typing to refine this set of potential places. At any time, the user may click one of the suggested places to examine its details page.

Places 1.png

Clicking Enter on the keyboard or selecting Show More Results completes a search using the entered text. Search results appear both in a list on the left side of the screen, ordered by their calculated relevance to the search terms, and as points on the map.

Commas are used to separate levels of description; for example: village, county, state, country.

Special Characters[edit | edit source]

Wildcard characters can be used to adjust search terms.

? - replaces any single letter/character in a place name, allowing any possible letter to appear in its place. For example, entering “Sm?rna” will display both Smyrna and Smirna among the valid results.
* - used at the end of a string of letters to allow for various endings of any length. For example, to search for any place names that begin with “Rock” in Illinois, enter “Rock*, Illinois.”


In addition to these wildcard functions, FamilySearch Places supports a fuzzy search. Users may request a fuzzy search by placing ~ immediately after the desired fuzzy search term. For example: “Cincinati~, Ohio” returns Cincinnati, Ohio, while “Cincinati, Ohio” fails.

Search by ID[edit | edit source]

If a user happens to know the unique identifier (id) of a place in FamilySearch Places, that id may be entered in the search field, hit enter and go right to the corresponding details page. For example, if I knew the id for Ohio County, Virginia I could enter it (“393653”) into the Search field. (Note: It may be easier to simply enter “Ohio, VA”).
This same result can be accomplished by adding “?focusedId=393653” to the end of the base URL for FamilySearch Places. For example, entering https://www.familysearch.org/research/places/?focusedId=393653 into a browser’s address bar also returns Ohio County, Virginia.

Search by Location[edit | edit source]

It is possible to initiate a search by clicking a spot on the map. Once a location has been clicked, a window pops up requesting a distance from the specified point over which to conduct the search.
The distance may be entered in miles or kilometers.

Places 2.png

Coordinates may also be entered directly into the Search field. They should be entered as decimal degrees, latitude first and then longitude, with positive numbers representing north and east of the Equator or Prime Meridian and negative numbers representing south and west. After coordinates have been entered in the Search field, the same pop-up dialogue appears on the map requesting a distance (circle radius) for the search.
Once a distance has been set, the resulting circle appears on the map. The size of the circle can be adjusted dynamically (with a mouse or touch-screen device) by “grabbing” any of the four white dots and expanding or shrinking the circle to the desired size.

Search Using “Places WIthin…”[edit | edit source]

Any results of an initial search query that have additional places described within them (i.e. a cemetery described within a town) will include a box that has a syymblow that looks like a target. Clicking on this symbol will change the results list to show only places described within the place in question.

Fs places places in this....PNG

Search with Filters[edit | edit source]

After a set of places has been identified, either by clicking “Places in this …” or by conducting a location search, a user can add filters to further narrow the result set.

Places 4.png

Available filters include Place Type, Exact Year or Start Year/End Year, Confidence Level (certified, accepted or provisional) and Direct Children Only (places described directly under a place, excluding entities described at even lower levels).