LESS is MORE - when using a genealogical search query
LESS is MORE - when using a genealogical search query (such as the search engines here in FamilySearch) for running queries against databases such as FamilySearch Family Tree or most especially the "Historical Records" database
LESS is MORE - - or better stated - using LESS input parameters on a search query is usually BETTER for finding the specific records you are looking for - and adding more search parameters - will NOT normally return more records - but rather less.
a more detailed discussion with examples:
When Using the SEARCH option for FamilySearch Historical Records to locate primary source documents for a given person of interest one may incorrectly assume that filling in more information among the search parameters would result in more accurate results.
One will note that in the search query - one can include, in addition to the person's first and last name - - birth and death date ranges and places, and names of spouse, mother or father.
Generally speaking, however, when using this search query - one should use the idea of "LESS IS MORE". Let's explain: First of all the historical documents will only be indexed by only the names and information that are on such documents.
For example a birth record, would have the maiden name of a woman and would not contain the name of her spouse, obviously. So when searching for a birth record - consider just entering maiden/birth name, a 2-4 year range, and the name of her father and/or mother. If you were to enter things like a spouse name or a death date - such extra information on the search query - simply confuses the search engine and you might possibly be filtering out a record you actually expect to see - because the record doesn't have this extra info you entered in the search.
Example - click here.
If you are looking for a marriage record - consider entering the first and last name and the last name of the spouse a wide range of years - and the state (only) if you know which state the marriage occurred in. Realize that it is possible - even if you have an exact date - that either the date you entered may be wrong, or with marriage records the date on the historical may be the date of a marriage bond, license, marriage return etc and not the actual marriage date and thus not match on an exact date entered. Again adding more info than you suspect is on the historical record - may simply confuse the search engine and filter out records you actually want to see. For example adding parents names - which may not be on the marriage record - may not help but hinder. Also consider the possibility that the first name on the marriage record of either bride or groom may not even be what you are expecting.
Example: click here
If you are looking for a census record of a married adult - consider entering in the married name, a wide date range for birth year, and the census year in the residence date ranges, and maybe the first name of the spouse. Using a maiden name for a census record where the woman was married on the census - will probably result in you not getting the record you are looking for.
Example: click here.
If you are looking for a death record - enter the married name and a wide year range for death and if known the state they died in.
Example - click here.
In all the examples - start with only the very few key facts - that would most likely be on the historical record in question - and ONLY ADD more if there is a need to filter down the results because you are getting too many returns.
Remember - adding more search parameters (adding exact dates, adding more names of relations) - does NOT MEAN you will get more results. Rather - it means you will get LESS results because the search will try to match on all items entered into the query. If you dont get your desired entry with only a few search parameters - it is highly unlikely you will ever find your desired record - by adding MORE search parameters. Or for example if you enter a wide date range on a given search and nothing comes up - then dont expect that if there was an option to type in an exact date - that somehow that would work better - it wouldn't.
Also be careful of using both first and middle names - try one or the other - since people sometimes went by a middle name only - but on many records even if a person had a first and middle name - maybe on the record there is only one name - and again - giving more info (multiple names) - often simply confuses the search engine.
also - only use "exact match" parameters - if you find you are getting too many entries of names spelled differently.
Here is another article on the same subject of possible interest:
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