23 November 2013

Tips on Using FindMyPast for Genealogy

Yesterday, in FindMyPast or a Coffee?, I pointed out that some FindMyPast subscriptions only cost about $5 per month (not much more than a takeaway coffee).

Kylie commented, 'I got a world subscription through FindMyPast.com, the USA site, because it was cheaper at the time than the Australian and the UK sites. I don't seem to get the same search results as if I searched from their Australian site or their UK site.'

I am not an expert, and FindMyPast may change in the future, but here are my thoughts.

* Some of the United Kingdom data may not yet be fully integrated into the World Collection. In that case the UK data would be best searched through the UK site or the Aus/NZ site. Work systematically through the UK record categories rather than trying to search everything at once (a tip I learnt from Rosemary Kopittke.)

* I have sometimes found a particular entry with a search on one site (eg, Aus/NZ) but not another (eg, UK). When I noted the country, collection and record set, then went to that country's site and that record set, I always found the entry even though it didn't appear in the initial search results.

Searching UK records from FindMyPast's Australian site gives a result like this
(a Richard GIBLETT - but not this one - was my ancestor)

* On each FindMyPast site, look for links to 'search tips', 'video tutorials', 'help/advice' etc.

* Different search strategies are required with fully indexed records (where you use name fields to search) and digitised records that have been processed with Optical Character Recognition software (where the keyword field is important). This applies particularly to the Aus/NZ site. There is a good explanation in the book The New Findmypast.com.au: Gateway to the World Collection, by Rosemary Kopittke.

* Tips on how to best use FindMyPast.com.au:

Part 1 (Basic Searching)
Part 2 (Filtering)

* At Rosemary Kopittke's talks about FindMyPast (eg, at Unlock The Past events), you often get an excellent handout explaining search strategies for each site (not just the Aus/NZ one).

If you have any helpful hints about using FindMyPast, please add a comment below.

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