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  • Search Tips

  • Search Tips 100Welcome to the new online home of NEHGS. Here are a few quick tips to improve your search experience. 

    A keyword search in which you enter a first name and last name - John Smith -  is the most comprehensive search of all databases. Any companying information, such as a year and or a place name will narrow your search to more precise results. For example:  Mary Jones 1726 Boston.

    Advanced Search offers 12 new searchable fields; in addition to entering names, dates, locations, and keywords, you can also search by category, specific database, or by record type. 

    Each search field executes an exact search unless a user employs a wildcard or engages Soundex. Exact searches are designed to cut down on unwanted results and, to the extent possible, eliminate false positive hits. 

    • To search by category, you can choose one of 11 categories of databases, with the ability to search the whole category or you can choose a specific database within the category.


    • When you choose a specific database, please be sure to look for the "Search Tips" that appears just below the main search fields. These tips point out important actions, such as when a database should be searched by keyword only, or when the databases/index contains last names only. When a database contains last names only, the first name should be entered in the keyword box.

    • To search by record type, you can choose one of 33 record types, performing a search across all databases with that type of record, or you can choose a specific database that contains records of that type. 

    • When searching a database that is town or city specific, Boston Births for example, it is not necessary to fill-in any location drop-downs. When searching a database that is state specific, it is not necessary to fill-in country or state drop-downs. Typing in a town or city will narrow your results to the location you entered.

    • The keyword field is a powerful tool that searches record text, as well as all other search fields and NEHGS web pages. If you find a search tip on a database that recommends searching that database by keyword, you should only use the keyword field, leaving all other fields blank.

    The keyword field and all other free text search boxes support the following wildcards:

    • ? matches any single character
      • Eli?abeth = Elizabeth and Elisabeth
    • *matches any number of characters
      • Sam* = Sam, Samuel, Sam’l
    • + requires connected words to appear together
    • ~~ searches year range 
      • 1700~~1760
    • Do not use quotations marks. only requires one character before using a wildcard.

    To return to the search screen with all of your prior criteria persisting, click the "Refine Search" button

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