Saturday, September 29, 2007 Starts to Improve its Search

Search Military Records - Fold3

Fold3 (formerly has been digitizing records ( Naturalization Records, Civil War Pension Index, Revolutionary War pensions, Vital records, and much more) from the National Archives and the Allen County Public Library at the rate of 2 million records a month. Footnote has a sleek Web 2.0 interface which you can see on the new Footnote tour.

The one thing that has kept Footnote from being a really outstanding site is its search engine. The company has already announced that major changes to the search mechanism will be available before long.

Meanwhile, Footnote has made a few small search engine improvements which probably won't even be noticed by most users, but will definitely give more satisfactory search results. It has changed the search default to AND rather than OR for all words in a query. This means better results since the results will now match all terms in the search string.

Meanwhile, until Footnote introduces its new search engine, here are some techniques for better searching at the Footnote site:

  • Name Search with Location - Add a location such as a state name to the search query.
  • County Search - If you know the county, add the county name to the name and state in your query, but be sure to put the county name in quotes.
    • "Thomas County"
  • Single Letter Wild Card - Use one or more question marks ? in place of one letter to search for surname variations.
    • Sorens?n, Sorenson, Sorensen
    • John??n = Johnson, Johnsen, Johnosn
  • Search Within a Specific Title - Limit your search to a specific database:
    • Use the pull-down menu for selecting the database title to search within or
    • Use the brown "Search within" box at the bottom of the page to search. You can also use the advanced search controls described above when searching within a title or part of a title.
Even if you are not a subscriber, you might want to take a look at Footnote. Search results show a thumbnail size of the image for free and in many cases, this is quite readable. The free search results also provide image information such as name and year.

Footnote also has free databases such as the Pennsylvania Archives. If you find something you want to investigate further, you can use the Footnote Free Trial.

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