05:00 AM

What’s New: FamilySearch Places


Anyone who has tried to uncover his or her family history knows that place is an integral part of every family’s story. The places our ancestors lived shaped their lives and experiences. They also determined what records were created about them. It makes sense, then, that to find our ancestors and understand their lives, we need to learn about the places they came from.

FamilySearch has a new tool called FamilySearch Places, which makes learning about places easier. Although the development of this tool is ongoing, some great features are already available, so you can start using it now.

When you open the FamilySearch Places page, you’ll see a large map, with the FamilySearch main tabs across the top and a small search box near the upper left corner. Getting started is as easy as typing a place-name in the box. The place can be a town, parish, county, state, or any other kind of place. If you aren’t sure of the spelling, use wildcards in the place-name, such as “Neubrandenb*rg,” or use a tilde (~) to search for similar spellings (the tilde is usually found just left of the 1 key on a keyboard). With this flexibility, a search for “Providance~, Utah,” would also find “Providence, Utah,” and any similar place-names worldwide. The search results show possible place-name matches and identify the types of places they are. You may notice that the places in this database are the same ones used in FamilySearch when “standardizing” place information (such as birthplace or marriage place) about your ancestors.

If any historical constraints exist for a place, those will be included in the search results. For example, a search for “Wisconsin” will list the current state of Wisconsin as well as Wisconsin Territory, which lasted from 1836 to 1848. Such information may help you understand how your ancestor’s home has changed through the years and how record-keeping may have changed for that location.