In general it is best to start with a simple search and then narrow the results using the categories, titles, and filters on the search results page.
By default, a search will look for results that match all your terms (except common words like an, and, of, etc.). The first results will be those where the terms you entered appear in the same field, for example a first and last name together in one annotation. After that, you'll see results that include matches from anywhere on the page.
A basic search will include some simple variations on words you include (e.g. president to presidents). To exclude the variations, place quotation marks around the words you would like to search exactly (e.g. "William" to exclude Williams from your results).
It's generally best to avoid putting quotation marks around a first and last name together ("Lawrence Williams"). This may exclude some matching results. If a middle name or initial was in a document - "Lawrence E. Williams" - as an example, would not show up among your results. When in doubt, try your search with and without quotes.
Matching terms may come from information we have indexed for the image or from Annotations, Spotlights, Comments, or other information added by other Members.
If you don't get any results, try broadening your search by removing some of the terms. It's easy to narrow your results later using the filters on the results page.
It's always a good idea to try your search with variant spellings to make sure you catch any errors in the records or in the index. You can use the asterisk (*) wildcard to replace any number of characters (e.g. Anders*n = Anderson, Andersen, Andersson, etc.).
There is also a "sounds like" option for first and last names in Advanced Search. This will include names like Groham, Grayham, and Crahom for Graham.