Keyword search page
FAMILY HISTORY LIBRARY CATALOG
Type a word or phrase that describes what you want to find.
Keywords can be from titles, places, authors, notes, series, and subjects.
Keyword search results (Keyword(s) = 'aarhus')
Keyword search results (Keyword(s) = 'copenhagen')
AS THE RECORDS SHOW:"KEYWORDS: REASONS TO CHEER, REASONS TO THINK," by Sherry Irvine, CGRS, FSA Scot
Do you use the online version of the Family History Library Catalog (FHLC)? For more than a year, the online version was without the keyword search option. It returned earlier this month--a reason for anyone doing British Isles research to cheer. Everyone else can cheer, too, and share in the advantages.
FHLC KEYWORD SEARCH
The keyword search option cuts across all types of searches, those by place, title, and subject, in particular; it looks at many data fields, including the notes describing individual rolls of film.
Suppose I have ancestors from Corsley in Wiltshire and want to know about records of the poor. I know they may be listed under the county or the parish and within two or three subjects such as church records or poorhouses.
Using a place search I need to examine any appropriate headings for the county and parish. Using a keyword search I type three words "wiltshire corsley poor" and read the results.
Details provide the subject or subjects under which any entry appears, and I can follow a link to other related items. Not only does keyword search shorten the work, it provides pointers to other likely sections of the FHLC.
Such flexibility is really valuable for British research because some classes of records fall within two or more levels of jurisdiction.
THINK BEFORE YOU SEARCH
Deciding on good keywords for any library computer catalog takes some thought. The words can be many things: a person's name, a place name, a record type, an occupation, or religion.
It can also be the agency responsible for creating a record, a record office name, or a society.
What keyword(s) you select depends on the object of the search and how much you know. Be prepared to try different tactics and different words or combinations. Success also depends on what options are offered by the computer catalog and the data fields the keyword search tool scans.
I regularly search the catalog of the University of Victoria, which offers two keyword searches,
--- keyword anywhere (using quotes for two or more words)
--- relevancy keyword (joining words with a plus (+) sign).
They behave differently and produce different results. There are, for example, at least two ways to express the topic of the famine in Ireland. I tried "Irish famine" as a keyword anywhere search and Ireland + famine as a keyword relevancy search.
Results of the first were very specific and fourteen in number. Results of the second ran the gamut of perspectives on the famine and numbered over 9000--too many to read. The relevancy type of search demands more specifics.
KEYWORD SEARCHES AREN'T JUST FOR CATALOGS
The idea for this article sprang from two things, a message from a friend about the FHLC keyword search being on again, and the "Ancestry Daily News" Quick Tip of January 3. (http://www.ancestry.com/rd/prodredir.asp?sourceid=831&key=A948602
It did not actually say so, but the suggestion for name searching
-- to combine a full name in quotes with the surname of a spouse --
is a type of keyword search.
The search was done using Google, and if you read their Basic and Advanced Searching advice you pick up useful advice.
A basic search assumes entered words are linked by "and."
It helps to think about names/words that are likely to appear on a Web page. Quotes mean the words must appear together and a + sign tells the engine to be sure and watch for a particular common word or character.
The Quick Tip example wanted Google to find two words together (first and last name) and another word (another surname) close by.
So I leave you with two things to consider: The value of the keyword search feature for the FHLC--be sure to use it--and the necessity of thinking carefully about the type of keyword options available.
Searching is more productive when you know your tools and appreciate the ways in which keyword searches may behave. Don't be afraid to experiment, and be sure to read tips and help columns.
Sherry Irvine, CGRS, FSA (Scot) is an author, teacher, and lecturer specializing in English and Scottish family history. She is the author of "Your English Ancestry" (2d ed, 1998) and "Your Scottish Ancestry" (1997), and she is a regular contributor to several journals including "Genealogical Computing." Since 1996, she has been a study tour leader, course coordinator, and instructor for the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research at Samford University. She teaches online for the family history program of Vermont College and has lectured at conferences in Canada, the United States, and Australia. She is past president of the Association of Professional Genealogists.
Copyright 2005, MyFamily.com.
PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION http://www.ancestry.com/rd/prodredir.asp?sourceid=831&key=A956701
Your Daily Dose of Genealogy for 20 January 2005**
You can view this issue of the "Ancestry Daily News" online ** http://www.ancestry.com/rd/prodredir.asp?sourceid=831&key=A956601