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Search Strategies: Parent Search

gg, what is a parent search

Using a ‘Parent Search’ is one of my favorite search strategies.  It sifts out a lot of unnecessary information in your search return and helps you focus on just the family you’re searching for.  It’s also really helpful if a family moved around and you’ve lost track of them.  Sometimes the parent search will pick up a record in a location you didn’t know to look in.  And then boom – you pick up the family trail and you’re back in business.

So how do you use this marvelous technique?  Go to your favorite website.  In the search fields leave everything blank except for the parent’s names and hit search.  The results will vary depending on the website you are using. is probably the best for a parent search.  I seem to get the best results on their website. is okay for a parent search but you have to play with the search parameters a little bit more by choosing some of the names and telling it you want that exact name.  If you know a location you can use a parent search in a specific record collection on either website and get great results.

As with any search technique, start your search and then adjust and adjust and adjust until you get the results you were looking for.  You may start with just the parent names and then add a birth year range or a place.  Or you might search by the father’s first and last name but only the mother’s first name.  You may try a few spelling variations.  As you alter your search parameters you will get different results.  When you find a sweet spot, stay there and harvest the information.

Try a parent search today!

Want to borrow some of my ancestor’s names to see what all the fuss is about?  Go to, click on the ‘Search’ tab in the top center.  Use the names Seth Maffit and Emma Esther Jerrain.  Look at the results for a minute then take out Emma’s last name and search again.  The results are pretty awesome – everything on the first page is about their kiddos, half on the second and third pages and then by the fourth page we’re done.  Lots of records on an entire family with one search.

Using parent search is a great way to find a bunch of records quickly.  Give it a try, let me know how it works for you.  Happy searching!

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