Genealogy Search Tip: Are Your Queries Returning Too Many Records?

GenealogyBank has grown from 160 million records since its inception to over 1.3 billion records today. That is a lot of articles to search through to find information about your family history. Genealogists often approach GenealogyBank with a direct search—using a surname—searching across the entire database to make sure we don’t miss any genealogy records about the family.

Sometimes, though, the simplest search query returns too many records for you to reasonably examine them all. When that happens, GenealogyBank has created over a dozen targeted search pages to help you narrow down the number of results you get back. Here’s a quick list of these helpful targeted search pages to get you started:

You can also perform targeted ethnic family searches with our African American, Hispanic and Irish American search pages.

Use these special search pages to narrow down your search to a particular type of newspaper article, as the following example shows.

Let’s say you’re searching for all the arrivals and departures of the ship Hector. If you search GenealogyBank just using the word “Hector,” you’ll get 400,000 hits. But, if you search the word “Hector” using the handy Passenger Lists link on our home page or in the left navigation pane of the Newspaper Archives category, you can narrow those search results to 14,000 passenger and ship records that specifically mention the ship Hector.

GenealogyBank Passenger List search for "Hector"

GenealogyBank Passenger List search for “Hector”

Even 14,000 records are a lot to examine. Limit the search again by a range of years when your relatives likely arrived on the ship Hector and you’ll have a manageable number of articles to sift through. Let’s say you are reasonably sure your ancestors arrived in America on the ship Hector sometime between 1820 and 1825—go ahead and use that date range in your search query.

GenealogyBank search results page for Passenger List search on "Hector" from 1820-1825

GenealogyBank search results page for Passenger List search on “Hector” from 1820-1825

Save time and zero in on the articles you need. GenealogyBank has more than a dozen targeted search pages: use them to focus your searches for the type of newspaper article you are looking for.

GenealogyBank targeted search pages

GenealogyBank targeted search pages

Find Old Photos & Illustrations in GenealogyBank

Finding an old photograph or illustration of your ancestors, their house, or something else associated with their lives and times can be a highlight of your genealogy research. It is exciting to see the faces and places that are a part of your family’s history.

Have you noticed that many historical newspaper articles are illustrated with photographs, etchings and other graphics?

collage of newspapers showing various illustrations

Collage of newspapers showing various illustrations

There is a handy way to search for these old photographs and illustrations in GenealogyBank’s online newspaper archives: click on this link to Search Newspaper Photos and Illustrations in GenealogyBank to search by family surname, first name, date and more.

Notice that these newspaper photos and illustrations can include images of the family homestead, either with photographs or etchings.

GenealogyBank search form for photos & illustrations

GenealogyBank search form for photos & illustrations

By using the Photos and Illustrations search, you can find newspaper articles about your ancestor that include a photo or sketch so that you can see what they looked like.

Give it a try now: Search Newspaper Photos and Illustrations