By Amanda Forson, World Vital Records, Inc.
Basic Search is good for fundamentally searching the site. For first-time users, for people just browsing, it is a good indicator of the content on the site. The largest search is just by last name. That will bring up the most hits. Because searches are as individual as the person being searched for, this should be the first step in looking for someone on WorldVitalRecords.com. After that, then looking over the results can aid in narrowing down possibilities. If there are multiple thousand results, and a person is sure of the first name (via other corroborated sources) then try putting in a first name. Some combinations of first names are more difficult to find exact matches than others, (John Smith), whereas others like Jared Quackenbush will only come up with one result.
Gaging a name or places is essential. The first steps to successful searching are having an idea of the name and misspellings of the name, the location (be it state, or county and state or district and province or township, county, and state, or other geo-political identifier) level. After trying Basic Search, the next step (if location is known) is to try putting in a state in the place search. This is more than initials for an abbreviation. This is typing out the full state name. There are some results in our databases, such as for Google Books that may not come up via the geographic search measures on the website, but will come up in an Advanced Search place (and name) search.
Date is best used with only a year indicated. Some users know a great deal already about an ancestor in question and want to know specific information. Try advanced search, but with more-broad search terms than an exact year of birth. What is often overlooked is that even though a user knows this information, not everyone does. Although genealogists and family historians, and others try to get their information right, everyone makes mistakes sometimes. Knowing that a few mistakes may be made in a document, or that a first name may be abbreviated (Geo* is a good search term for George or J* may bring up a John that is otherwise listed as Jn), is vital knowledge for any researcher. Excluding a source from a search because of having exacting knowledge about an ancestor leads to possible disastrous effects.
While all researchers hope and pray that others posting information online or those who made queries in the past were always correct, the inexactness may lead to great openings and dissolution of brick walls. A Solomon Mosher in a census who is listed as a female can turn into Salemma Mosher, a multi-times over great grandmother of the author. Minims may be misplaced, and other factors become involved in searching. Whether it was the creation of the document (when, how, what was necessary in obtaining the information from people at the time), or possibility that the information that a user has may be less-correct than desired, allowing for options helps users find solutions. Do not expect all contributors to be perfect! Are we?
Another easy hint for searching involves using the state and international lists on View All Databases. Once a user has access to the site, play with it. Report inaccuracies, or mistakes to customer service and they will be willing to field emails and phone calls. Click on the different tabs at the top of the screen. See what they do and where they lead. When you feel you are lost, click on the main logo at the top of the screen. It will always lead you back to the home page.
For personal inquiries concerning search results or better searching, first try the FAQ at the bottom of the page and then contact Customer Service if your question is not answered there. There are genealogists on staff who will be able to answer most of your questions. Please do not expect them to know everything about your family. They know sources, not your great Aunt Margaret.
Thank you for choosing WorldVitalRecords.com. Our site improves as we receive feedback and would like to hear how this article has helped you or other questions that you have that you would like to share with others. For more information on this article, or to response with feedback, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.