Fold3 Search Tips (updated)

Fold3 Search Tips (updated)


Basic Searching

    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. Andersn = 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.

    Reviewing Your Results

      At the top left of the page you'll find the number of matches for your search with your current search terms in boxes next to it. You can remove a search term by clicking the "remove" link, an X, to the right of the term.

      On the search results page, you'll see several filters to help you narrow your search.

      At the top of the left-hand column, you'll find boxes representing the types or results that match your search, for example, Images, Memorial Pages, Member Comments, etc.  By default the search shows matches from all these types.  Click on one of the boxes to narrow your results to just matches of that type.

      Below these boxes you'll find a checkbox that allows you hide or show matches that come from documents read by computers using Optical Character Recognition (OCR).  These can be useful matches, but may not provide as precise a result as you might like.

      Below the checkbox you'll find a list of your results, including thumbnails of matching images and information to help you decide which results will be helpful to you.  The information that matches your search should be highlighted.

      If you need more information to evaluate an image, click the Quick Look link found under the image. This will open the Quick Look window which includes a larger thumbnail of the image and all the information about that image from our index. Index information is always free on Fold3, so anyone can view the Quick Look.

      To go straight to an image or story page, click the thumbnail or the "View Image" button.

      Under the information from the image you'll find links to add the image to Your Gallery, to add the image to a Footnote Page or to flag the image for errors or inappropriate content.

      Narrowing Your Search

        In the left hand column of the search results page you'll find a list of categories you can use to narrow your results and get to the information you really want.

        The real power of Fold3's search is that the left hand column reflects information that is in results matching your search. The Place category is not just a generic list of places, but a list of places found in items that match your initial search. As a result, you can see specific information that is available for narrowing your search.

        When your search results span several Titles or Collections, you'll see general categories that apply across all titles like, First Name, Last Name, Title or Collection, Year, Place, Result Type or Category, but as you narrow your results (especially if you choose a specific title) the available categories will become more specific. To see a good example of this, try searching for a last name, then select Vietnam Veterans Memorial from the Title or Collection category and notice the categories in the left column.

        Click on a category to open it and you'll see the top 100 keywords for that category listed with the number of results for each in parentheses. Type the keyword you'd like to add to your search in the box. As you type we'll start looking for matching terms. You can use the asterisk () wildcard to replace unknown characters in these category boxes (e.g. Andersn = Anderson, Andersen, Andersson, etc.).

        Once you find the term you'd like to add to your search, click it and you'll see it appear with your search terms at the top of the left column.  You can click on it there to edit that term or click "remove" to clear it from your search.

        You can add multiple keywords from various categories to get just the results you want.

        Advanced Search and Searching Within a Title or Part of a Title

          You can get to the Advanced Search page by clicking the down arrow on the right side of the search button and selecting "Advanced Search" from the list.

          Advanced Search allows you to enter search terms into specific fields and to search over a date range.

          Another way to start with a more focused search is to search within a specific title or part of a title. There are two places you can use search within:

          1. On the Original Documents page or on the search results page you will find a blue search box that includes a pull-down menu for selecting the title you would like to search within.
          2. On the Browse screen, browse to the title (or subsection of a title) you're interested in and then use the brown "Search within" box at the bottom of the page to search.

            Does not seem to pull up a set of names even in "

              I need a sign in code so I can access do I use anything else other than Also I need you to contact me since my free trial period is over so that I can join and pay the annual fee. Thank you. [email protected]

                problem with Lots of "garbage"/irrelevant materials being returned...especially with newspaper items. Do you have any suggestions as to how to avoid this frustration?

                  I just joined Footnote because of all the wonderful research material that you have on the Revolutionary War. I have found so much interesting historical information on so many aspects of the folks that I am researching. This is truly an amazing site, thank you! Eilene

                    I find your screens too small and unreadable in the instructions. I could not find out how to save the information I found in individual records.

                      This is a very frustrating site to use. I find myself wasting so much time trying to narrowing down searches and still can't find info (even though I know it is available -SOMEWHERE on the site). Too many newspaper returns that have nothing to do with my search request. I won't be keeping my membership.

                        With "s or with "and" I still get irrelevant results that contain only one name with I am searching for a both the given and surname together in city directories. LOTS of useless returns.

                          I know from that a 1920 census record exists for a family member, but when I try to search Footnote for that same family member in the same census, I get no matches. I would like to have found a match on Footnote so that I could see an image of the original census page, but no luck.

                            I am frustrated with the emails and links. Sometimes I can't find what I'm looking for when I click a link. Shouldn't it take me directly to what the link is about?

                              I found the old search method much easier to use. I liked the various tag options that could be added or removed from a search. Example: I could enter the date of birth for an individual w/o limiting the results to just that date. Narrowing the results was much faster. If there wasn't anything to be found, you got that answer much quicker.

                                this site is a pain. I get tired of scrolling through pages of a name only to find results scattered and not together. I search for a particular name and it pulls up every name. If I wanted every name, I would put just the last name. I will not continue membership. Sure there are census records, but even ancestry has those and heritagequest. no need to pay for them here. I knowere there are Revolutionary papers on my ancestors, I have copies of them, but they are not here....why? i have copies of naturalization papers from NY, they are not here why?

                                  This site is very tiresome to look at. I cannot find what I want about a person. I have gone to the Thompskin Library in South Carolina where my family lives. Gone to the grave sites and taken pictures. Have spoken with to genologist and have lots of information. Now I am looking for information on civil war but find it very hard to use your system. I will cancel this membership when my trial is over in three days.

                                    Footnote is very difficult to use. It's not at all "user friendly." I won't be renewing my membership either.

                                      When I type in a name and further information as date of death and obit, I get nothings except the pop-up information screne. Why can't I access a name, date of death, place of burial, wife's name using key words?

                                        I have searched and searched for a record of death on my grandparents. I cannot find it. I know it is on this site b'cause I know of someone else that has a copy of it. I just joined footnote today and am already wanting to cancel my membership. No wonder it only cose $39.95.

                                          I find searching a pain also. NOT user friendly...unless it starts to make sense, I won't be renewing either...

                                            The search mechanism is very, very poor. Even when you enter names that are already in a known census record it doesn't always find them, and the system lacks an ability to specify a range of years. There's a lot of nice data here, but without a useful search mechanism I won't be renewing either.

                                              The search in newspapers is absurd. Of course it is going to find thousands of hits for Michael in a paper in Cleveland -- but if I don't know my ancestor's middle initial, I'd like to be able to put in a wildcard and see matches with his first name and last name in close proximity.

                                                I think this site is amazing! I am especially impressed with the ability to find specific names within documents, like the revolutionary war pension records. I like the ability to narrow the search, and will continue to use it. I don't understand all the negative comments below -- maybe they are not used to the difficult task of finding genealogical information. This site makes it easier, and faster.

                                                  I have been perusing this site for several days, as a free member, and am excited by all the information provided herein. The records, photos and specific data contained here is commendable. Clearly, much work has been required to assemble all of these facts. Kudos to the Footnote Team!!

                                                    So far, so bad. I keep searching for particular topics that have to have, like WW II, and I can't find much unless I wanted to know more about Pearl Harbor. I went to the HELP page and decided I didn't want to spend the rest of the night reading. I think breaking down records into specific categories would be very helpful. I see Vital Records, but would like to see birth and death records by state. I'm disappointed but wiil try again. I suspect my seven day trial will be enough.

                                                      Chalk this up to another lesson learned. So far I have found nothing new...and in most cases, have found nothing, even when I know it exists because I have found the records on other sites. My message to customer support was answered...without addressing my concern - just a generic response. I am very disappointed.

                                                        I have found Civil War and Revolutionary War documents on ancestors which I haven`t ran accross before. So for me so far so good.

                                                          While there is a lot of very good data, and very useful documents in the database, Footnote is very difficult to use. It's not "user friendly." I won't be renewing my membership either.

                                                            I find it very unfriendly to use also. It has some good material but it displays in an odd format. Searches are far more complicated than they need to be. Maybe your design team needs to look around at what already works -- new or novel isn't always better. I hope I can find a bit more material for the 12 month membership fee I paid.

                                                              I agree with the unfriendly and hard to use part. I've been trying to find info on the Rev. War and and warrents. I don't know how it can be so hard to get what I'm looking for. I don't have any trouble with other sites, I did renew a couple months ago, I thought maybe it was just me, after reading other comments, I know it's not.

                                                                I must agree with the majority on how disappointed I am with Footnote. I am currently using my free trial period and will not be extending my membership beyond that. Not user friendly at all and I have not found any new or additional information on any of my family searches. I think Footnote needs a complete OVERHAUL.

                                                                  If you find it and can't move it, or print it, or film strip it, what good is it!! I am totally turned off!!

                                                                    I am having way too much trouble with this site. I cannot find people that I found on using the same records. How does that happen? Please terminate my free trial. You have not given me anything to add to my family tree.

                                                                      I just had to cancel my free trial because after an hour + of trying to pull up simple "Military records" for a friend who is still alive and well!! Even after having very specific personal information to help the search along, I got absolutely nothing but a new onset of what I believe is a full blown Migraine!! This was a total waste of my time!! You need to clarify that this is mostly a military "Memorial" and/or "History" web/search site!!! You obviously cant just look up a soldier who served a term or two, may or may not have been in combat or War etc... UGH!

                                                                        Until I read these comments, I thought I was the only one who found Fold3 to be singularly difficult, time consuming, and worthless. After attending a webinar with a believable Fold3 senior employee touting the virtues of Fold3, I gave it a try and came away frustrated and angry with the pitiful results I received. I requested some instructions and have actually received some to try one more time before moving on to more productive sources.

                                                                          I use the right dates, names, and places and you take me to Indiana?? What part of Texas do you not understand. I won't be renewing this. It is too difficult and does not have the information I want or need.

                                                                            I am having a hard time with this site as well. My uncle was a prisoner of war in the 1940's. He was given a purple heart at some point. Why is it that when I type his name in I get NOTHING???? Seriously? After five minutes I want to cancel my free trial. I might try one more time but this is ridiculous.

                                                                              I just start a free trial and of course, You never get anything for free! all the names and information I typed did bring results but I could not view full size or print. This site is a scam and I will just use the national archives. On both sites I have to pay for copies so why would I pay for a membership too! Its a shame that so many people are profiting from my ancestors loyality to their country.

                                                                                This is a very poorly designed site. The searching function is very cumbersome, and most of the time when I try to download something it doesn't work. it's too bad because there is some very useful material on the site -- it's just very hard to access.

                                                                                  Thank You! I am enjoying the site. I would like to be able to send the links to my files. Is this possible? So far, I can send them my email. Then save them to a file. And finally connect them to my ancestry pages. I find this site easy to use. It is "Mom" friendly and I do not have to have a degree to use it! Thank you!

                                                                                    I find that every time you change the way the site works it is so much more difficult to find anything worth while!! In the earlier incarnations, I could find useful data--now it's just these Memorial pages--really quite useless.

                                                                                      I am having a very hard time searching this site. I want to click on a record type and search that data not try to guess how to get there. I probably will not renew this subscription.

                                                                                        This is more complicated than I thought it would be, will not renew my membership.

                                                                                          No permission to use my credit card. Can cel.Tina noone

                                                                                            The download function isn't working. It offers the options to download entire image or select portion of image. After you make your selection it sort of blinks and nothing happens. No document is found on my computer.

                                                                                              I have used this site for a few years to find WW2 Missing aircrew reports. Since it has changed to Fold3 and the format and structure of the site has changed, it has become very user Unfriendly and searches that used to be simple and fast are now over complicated and sometimes impossible to use. How is this an improvement. I see from the comments below that it seems to be a common opinion amongst subscribers and EX-subscribers. Fold3, you really should have tested this properly with the people who use this site. Things need to change or I too, will not be renewing.

                                                                                                I made a recent request for help in finding a record on fold3, when I already had the title of the data base, the series number, the volume number and the page number. You sent me a full page of endless instructions. Ridiculous! Instead, I went to, did a search with the info I already had, and was taken right to the page number. You have never conquered the creation of a search system for getting from A to B without going through the rest of the alphabet. I keep coming back every few years and giving you a try in the hopes that finally I can FIND something, but this is the END of trying fold3 for me.

                                                                                                  I regret to say that I think your searching mechanism (one can't really call it a search engine) is one of the worst I've ever encountered. I emailed a request on how best to search in Pennsylvania Archives and got a general response which didn't begin to answer my question. Sending the request for assistance was pointless--as posting this probably is. You have the clearest images available online. They are fantastic. But you really, really need to develop a better mechanism for searching. I have successfully used LexisNexis, Westlaw and other databases. I have never seen anything even remotely like your interface. Please, please do something to make searching simpler. Andy maybe actually read the request for help instead of sending a generic "how to use" response.

                                                                                                    Wasting my time. I have tried Chrome, Safari and Foxfire. Foxfire was the only one that worked. Now I can't use it either. I use a mac and the results column won't load. Don't know why I'm typing this, I have contacted customer service twice and no response. Glad I didn't waste my money by paying for a subscription