Find A Grave Search Beta Discussion

Thank you for helping us with our memorial search beta test!

Our first step is to create a version of search that looks the same but uses a different engine to perform the searching. We want to make sure this new engine can provide comparable or better results and reliability before we start updating features.

For this first version, we’ve kept most of the search fields the same, but there are a few differences:

  • Last name is no longer required.
  • We’ve added the option to include a spouse, sibling or parent in your search.
  • The date range options are a little different.
  • There is an option to make your name search fuzzy that may help with spelling errors, etc.
  • In the name fields, you can use the ? or * wild cards. ? replaces one letter. * represents 0 to many letters. E.g. Sorens?n or Wil*

There are also some differences that you won’t notice in the fields, but may notice in your results:

  • Today, when a search returns more than 10,000 matches we just show an error message. The new search will show you the first 10,000 matches and the sort options will work on the full result list.
  • If you’ve added a spouse, sibling or parent, their name and relationship will be included in the result.
  • We’ve made the search header stay at the top of the screen as you scroll. You can use it to refine your search, sort your results or change the page number to jump to later pages (up to page 500).

How to Test:
Visit this link and try using the new search. We’d love for you to try the same search on the new search and the regular search on the site and let us know how they compare.

How to Provide Leave Feedback:
We are going to try using comments on this post as the place for you to leave feedback and suggestions related to this beta search so that you can see each other’s comments and discuss things among yourselves and with us at the same time. For our part, we may reply to individual comments or we may add updates to this original post in response to some major or frequently mentioned issues.

What Comes Next?:
Once we’ve tested the new search to make sure that results are comparable, we’ll start working on updates to the fields and other improvements to the search. If you have suggestions for those kinds of changes, you can leave those in the comments here as well.

Thanks again for your help!

Thanks for all your feedback so far. One problem that a few of you have noticed is an issue when searching with spouses. Because of the way spouse linking works on the site, the search engine only caught the link in the direction the spouse was originally added, so in some instances searching for a husband with his wife’s name included might work, but searching for the wife with the husband’s name would not and the reverse might be true in other cases. We’ll get that fixed.


  1. This is amazing! Everything I’ve been asking for and so far it’s working great. I just did a search for my grandfather by searching his first and middle name only (not terribly uncommon), no last name, and then his wife’s first name, and it was the only result given. Pure perfection. I absolutely love the +/- options for the years, it was a specific request I made a long time ago and I’m so happy to see it make its way into the beta and I hope everyone loves it.

    I do think the removal of the before/after options for the birth and death dates wasn’t necessary and would like to see them come back. I think if you had options like the below, it’d be ideal.

    +/- 1 Year
    +/- 3 Years
    +/- 5 Years

    I really don’t think the 2 and 4 year options are that big an add from the others, and having 1, 3 and 5 would be more than enough to catch most things without casting too wide a net. Sometimes, especially with gaps in census records, you might only know that someone was on a 1900 census but then gone in 1930 with their spouse listed as a widow(er), so it’d still be nice to search by “died before 1931” for instance.

    As for the wildcards – so wonderful to have as an option at last. Job WELL done. Very very pleased with this update, will be using the beta search until it goes fully live with all these amazing new options for us. Keep up the innovation, this is so much appreciated.

    Find a Grave ID 47894738


  2. Your Date Search change is an Issue. If I find (ex) that John Smith’s (b: 1900) Father was Fred Smith, I can NOW Search find-a-grave for all Fred Smiths who were born BEFORE 1882 to try to find him (I don’t KNOW If Fred was 20 years old when John was born, or 45 years old (Or older). With your NEW Date Search (+- 1 to 5 years), I can’t do that. Hope you will Keep the Existing Date search (“Before” “After”), as ADD the +- 1 to 5 years, not REPLACE what you have already. Thanks!


  3. Good options, seems to work well for me with Norwegian-American names like Hanson/Hansen searching for HANS?N. Also fuzzy name search seems to work well for Knut/Knud/Knute/Knudt spelling variations.

    The related person search is a good idea, but is a little confusing to me as just a single text box. It appears to respect wildcards like * and ?. But does fuzzy searching also apply to this if checked? It also appears to search for all of the search strings across all connected people: spouse, parents, children and siblings. I think it would be better to separate some of this out into different fields instead of assuming intent in one massive field. I do like that you can enter multiple names. For example, if I’m reading old obituaries I might know that John has spouse Sally and children James and David. I would like to specifically find John with spouse Sally and children James and David. Does this search box assume “and” for all the name pieces, i.e. it would only match John that also is related to Sally AND James AND David?

    I would also like the middle and first names to match initials or absence of initials if the option is selected. For example, I might know James Edward Jones is the full name. But some stones or cemeteries might have “J. E. Jones”, “James E. Jones”, “James Jones”, “J. Edward Jones”. It would be nice if it matched all of these, especially the “James Jones” memorials that have no middle name/initial given.

    Another change I would like to see is to be able to search in a particular set of cemeteries (maybe my favorites)? Or in more than one town/county. This is especially nice for towns that are near a border.


  4. So far it has found everyone I have searched for. I did some for my known family with immediate results and some where I have questions on names. And all were found.


  5. This is exciting and I’m looking forward to playing with it more. My first “Issue”, that perhaps isn’t an issue, is that I usually search with only a first initial rather than a first name because there can be various spellings of a name. In the old search, it brings up both initials and full names, in the new search you must use the * wild card after the initial to get full names. I can certainly adapt but a lot of people don’t know how to use wild cards so it would be nice if it worked both ways or for there to be an explanation of how to use wild cards on the page.


  6. was searching on Carl Clayton Keidel (35882504). all the searches worked except for the one on Helen (wife 145064318). I was used the *wild card with 2 letters in first name, 3 in last name, and death date of 2002.


  7. While it is too early to try all the permutations, the ability to search results by date of death and also date of birth is an excellent addition.




    • When you open the ‘More Search Options’ there is a nickname option. If you check that box you can then put the nickname in the ‘First Name’ field to search.


  8. I like the extra sort possibilities. It found a couple of relatives that I tested thru maiden name search. Wish you could recover the family story stuff from before this last revision.


  9. Searched for ‘Dayberry’ using the new fuzzy name option and was pleased with the newer results compared to my usual search results using just Dayberry. However the results did not include those with Dayberry as a surname, simply those that were similar.


  10. Loving the first look and testing of this new search. The removal of the 10k limit was a huge burden for popular names. I wonder if a reset button might be useful for the search.

    First glitch

    John Wilson born 1985 +/-# years. Tried died 2008 as well

    If you click the x to remove the birth/ death date from the search parameters (top of page) the date range does not reset. The search will ignore the birth or death date now but if you go refine search the +/- still will show and effect If another date is entered.


  11. I like it, but some of my searches yield no results when I had expected that they would. I mainly used the same memorial, and searched for it in different ways.


  12. I tried First Name only search with nothing entered in any other fields and got 816 hits using the first name Nino. Seemed to be a totally random sort? Sorting by Last Name alpha would seem better.

    I also started to notice duplicates as I scrolled down the list with the same memorial number. They weren’t next to each other either, rather many memorials apart. One example I noticed that showed up twice was:

    Nino Chiulli

    There were others that showed up twice with same memorial number, but not all did.


  13. I noticed doing a Last Name search using ‘Kiner’, that the ones who had the last name staring with a lower case letter sorted to the bottom of the list instead of where they should have fallen alphabetically. Example under the Kiner search was ‘Linda kiner’ being the last name to show.

    I also noticed hyphenated names showing up which is nice.


  14. I love the first name only search. That worked great. I did have a problem with the “add a family member” search though–I put in my grandmother’s first and last name, and for the family member name I put William, her husband (to whom she is linked). It showed her son and brother, who both have the MIDDLE name of William, but not her husband, whose first name is William.

    Then I tried my great-grandmother, with the add-on name of Joseph, her husband (to whom she is linked). It couldn’t find her at all (she had no other Josephs in her immediate family), although it found her fine when I used the name of a child or sibling as the add on name.

    If I work the opposite direction, put in the husband as the main name and the wife as the add-on, it works fine. So the problem is specifically with the wife as the main name and the husband as the add-on.

    At one point, I accidentally had a blank space in the middle name field. This kept it from finding any hits. When I removed that, it worked.

    The truncated search and the wildcard search both worked great. The fuzzy search brought back enough names on the uncommon named I searched for that it would be hard to search through them all–I can’t imagine how many there would be with a common name. That said, I love the idea of the improvements, and if you can fix the wife-to-husband link and the space in the name problem, it should be a great improvement!


  15. Quite awesome, I put down the first name of the deceased and then the 1st and 2nd name of his father with no last name and it brought it right up. I like it.


  16. Finally two different surname spellings can be searched regardless of the order of the surname is listed

    An example is Dr. George Ambrose Swain or Schwein

    Present search can not find him at all due to double entry of surname. Equally good for those of French-Quebec with their multiple surnames as well as the Hispanic entries with father and mother surnames.


  17. I used my Grandmother’s first name Daisy and *S for last name with birth year 1920 and husbands name William but that didn’t show her at all. I used the birth year as when it didn’t have one there were way too many Daisys’ to filter through. I did notice it brought up Daisy’s with a maiden name that started with an S. I tried using my Grandfather’s name William Frederick with his mother’s first and maiden last name and he came up.
    The only thing I didn’t like is I removed my personal photos years ago from memorial pages but they all came up with the photos. Is there anyway to fix that as I tried other family memorials and they too have the old photos that were posted years ago but are no longer on the memorial.
    I used the site with various methods on other family and they worked great. I am liking this new search.


    • Thanks for your feedback.
      The search changes should not have impacted which images show. If they are images you added, you should be able to delete them. Go to the memorial, click on an image and you should see a “Delete” option with a trash can at the left of the page below the photo. If someone else has uploaded your photos, please send an email to with the details.


      • I deleted all personal photos from memorials a few years ago. None of my photos are on the memorials but when I search for family members on the new search they come up with my photos as if they have photos they aren’t on the memorial when you open the memorial. It must be the search as I have tried different memorials and it brings up the photos that had been taken off a few years ago. Here is an example of one you can search for and see my photo come up with the memorial. Alvertis Williams–wife Minnie Rose Watson Williams


  18. Okay new search I used first name middle name birth year and spouse and it gave me the result I was looking for
    Old way I used first name middle name and blank last year of birth and it refused to search saying I needed a last name.
    So I would say this is a vast improvement. Like searching on familysearch . org.


  19. Everything I tried out worked very well with the exception of the flowers option. It really didn’t seem to matter if that is checked or unchecked when you search because ones with flowers come up either way.

    Using the same search name as below, no grave photo option seems to let some slide by. I looked at a couple and they weren’t just recently added so not sure why it does that and they only had one photo on the memorial.. When you select Grave photo that seems to work just fine.

    Search for memorial ID worked perfectly. I do agree with others on the Before and After on the birth and death dates needing to stay. When you are searching a very common name that can help to eliminate a lot of people.

    The fuzzy name search worked a little strangely.. I searched the surname Ihrig and In the 3rd, 4th, and 5th results the actual name came up but the rest of them were way down the list on page 29 in alphabetical order. I got the same result in sort by Relevance and by name. It did however revert to just name search correctly when all I did was click the x on the fuzzy search option.

    Otherwise I love the new search options and can’t wait until they are implemented for everyone.


  20. Terrific improvements in the search. I REALLY like that you are now able to search for someone by entering the name of a parent/spouse/sibling/child. I was able to pull up 3 generations for my grandfather. Also tried finding my M-I-L by middle name and common last name. There were only 116 records, including hers. Wildcard search works well.


  21. LOVE the new search features!!
    I used a couple of family names that have evolved over the years – Queen (aka McQueen, MacQueen, Quinn, etc.) and McNutt (aka McNaught, MacNaught, MacNutt, McNitt, etc.) The * and ? really helped gather all of these options into a single search! This is a huge WIN; major time saver!!
    The issues I found during the search is that I still needed to use the wildcard symbols when attempting to search by the first letter of the first name. For example, Andrew Jackson McNutt often went by AJ. On the current platform, I used A in the first name, and J in the middle name. This yielded about 12 results; three of them being the ancestors I was hoping to find. However, doing this same thing on the Beta site yielded only one result for the literal A (first name) and J (middle name). It would be great if this could be the “starts with” search, where the wildcards only came into play between letters listed.
    The fuzzy name option is also FANTASTIC! I used the name Andy, hoping to get all of the Andrews under the last name that I doctored with wildcards, and it didn’t disappoint! Great feature!
    I did have some scrolling issues after attempting to refine my search. This may very well be on my end, but I felt it was worth mentioning as I tend to use the full site option from my phone.
    Many comments have already been posted about bringing back the “Before” date option, which I whole-heartedly agree with!
    I also tried the option to search with a linked family member, which worked well. I know this will be very valuable to me down the road!

    All in all, great updates! Thank you for the hard work put into making our suggestions a reality!

    BCook – 48034750


  22. I like the new features, but the fuzzy search I am not so sure about. It did help find someone that the contributor didn’t know how to spell the surname so the surname slot contained two different spellings as ___or___.


  23. One thing I would add after testing last night is that one of the things I know has been asked for previously that still hasn’t made its way in here is the ability to simultaneously search last name AND maiden name. It’s always been one or the other, but there are so many times when I know someone’s maiden name and their married name and it’d help narrow it down a lot more to be able to search by both instead of one or the other.

    If someone’s maiden name is Sue Smith and her married name is Sue Johnson, searching one or the other is still going to give a lot of results, but pairing them both would potentially narrow it down quite a bit. With Last Name no longer required, it’d be nice if checking off “maiden name” didn’t change how the Last Name field searches, but instead displays a Maiden Name field specifically so they can be used simultaneously.


  24. We noticed in the drop down Prefix tab there is a Misc entry which does not seem to have a function as yet. We and others have been asking for some time to be able to have the facility to add a prefix such as existed on the old site where the abbreviations or full titles of UK soldiers could be added as most differ from the US versions and those from elsewhere. The ability of enter the correct prefix or title would be a great help and be a fitting commemoration for our service men and women rather than having to not use a prefix or worse use one that is inappropriate. Lots of the new search options seem to work pretty well.




  25. I REALLY like the new search. With the old search, even when I had all the necessary information, the odds were that nothing would come up and I would end up have to do a slow name by name search of the cemetery itself. I tried the new search with several of the searches I have tried before and had nothing show up.
    Using the new search, everyone was found. With all the necessary information. I had almost stopped doing searches on I will be happy to go back to using the search engine once again, as all the new features helped find the missing information on several ancestors.


  26. So far it works great. I love the new features, especially the last name feature. I have so many people with the same last name just spelled different. This helps me so I don’t have to do each last name separate. Had a little trouble with the family add-on. If I added a spouse nothing came up but if I removed the spouse it came up. But I love the other features.


  27. ISSUE: Using spouse, parent, child and sibling field only showed one result rather than at least two known that qualified.

    Searching for third great grandfather, William McKinney (ID #90247289), whose wife was Susanah (ID #90247454).

    I entered William’s first and last names in the appropriate fields and entered her name (Susanah) in the “Spouse, Parent, Child, Sibling” field.

    I expected to see both her husband, William (ID #90247289), and her son, William F. (ID # 21359522).

    I only saw William F. who is linked to his mother, Susanah, in the results.

    Susanah’s husband, William, did not appear in the results.

    Susanah is linked to both of them and both should have shown up in the results.

    I then started over and entered Susanah’s names in the first and last name fields and entered William in the spouse, parent, child, sibling field.

    That worked returning the following:

    Susanah McKinney 27 May 1792 – 27 Apr 1863
    Children: William F McKinney Spouses: William McKinney Sr

    Adams County, Illinois, USA


    which is correct.

    Question: why didn’t the first approach work of putting in William’s name? William does have a suffix of Sr. Does that have an impact on the search?




  28. I tested using my father, who has the uncommon first name Standish. I tried first name only, and first name plus year of death. Both searches found him. But when I tried his first name and added my mother Juanita as a spouse, the search yielded no results.


  29. i need to play with it more but so far it is easier to use. I looked for known ancestors by first name with the linked spouse. I searched by last name for a state and then the country. I tried some without the death year but with the cemetery location and the correct people pulled up.


  30. Thank you for working on improvements
    birth and death dates
    Like ability to vary search

    “Before” “After” … would like this to be an option.

    Name Test
    Name… fuzzy name option is a great option!
    Searches are for fuzzy name option, USA
    1st Search: This did not pull results I thought would, searched Thomas McIlhaney, 1803 +_, and nothing found.
    Then removed Thomas and had many results.
    2nd search, goal Thomas Corbet/bett/bit/bitt
    2nd Search: Thomas, last name with abbreviation “Corb”, brough up Cory, Cobb
    3rd Search: Thomas, last name Corbit, results are 11 pages.
    … Corbin, Corbitt, Corbet,

    Name… Partial last name search:
    Thomas, last name Corbit,
    ERROR: The screen had an overlap, showing on 2 lines of names at a time.

    Name… Tried some that do not have a known memorial.
    Result: No matches found

    Last search, Thomas H Corbett, Find A Grave Memorial 81280363
    Search included Thomas MI: H; LN: Corbit, in United States
    Not found
    Fuzzy name search, Not found
    Removed MI: H, not found
    Changed LN: Corbett, found him and more

    Could not reset search, had to delete link and click new link


  31. Partial Last Name stuck as TRUE

    Old search looking for my surname you have 615 hits with maiden enabled.

    new search gives 621. This is due to Partial Last Name which is not selected.. so its quite possible the boolean is stuck on true with the new search.


  32. **Bug In Search**

    I did the below search and got no results:

    The same search but without the linked name of “Maggie” returns 18 results, including the one I was hoping to find. The strange part is that when viewing that memorial from the 18 results (linked below), his spouse Maggie is actually linked to him. So why did the first search return no results?

    This would’ve been a perfect example of how the linked person qualifier could’ve turned those 18 results into 1, and instead it returned none even when there was a valid memorial that met all the criteria.


  33. Definitely a asset to us who do not know all the details. I would be nice to see some variables accepted for middle names also. If you put a middle name it and the memorial does not it will NOT find it. If you use a middle name in the search the search will NOT look at any other variation.


  34. I have only used a few times as of now, but so far so good. Really like not having to use last name as sometimes your not sure if a lady has married. Look forward to me options and use in the future.


  35. Have enjoyed using the Beta FindAGrave. I love the new search for the birth and death dates, however, sometimes the old Before and After option would also be nice. Love that I can include a name connected to someone I’m looking for to help trim some of the results. Of course, that only works as long as the person was linked to someone else but it’s still a great way to look for someone. Also love having a fuzzy search. Many times in the past I’ve just had to give up if my search wasn’t exact to the memorial spelling.

    Great work so far.


  36. I was searching by first initial and last name only and received ZERO results. When doing the same search on the original platform, I received at least 18, one of which was the person I am looking for. I didn’t read everyone’s post above, the someone did mention the option of initials only. This is highly recommended since a lot of crypt plaque, and headstones in general, use initials and then family members or suggest an edits fill in the blank. I always do a search with last name and death year and then fill in the blanks. This tends to weed out the ones without cemetery listings and catches numerous duplicates. I love the family link search and so far haven’t had any issues with it Keep up the great work!

    Candice (Texas, USA)


    • With the new search you have to use a wildcard – * with the first initial if you want it to search for more than just a single letter. With the old search it automatically did a wildcard search when entering just one letter. You should get the same results as the old search if you put an asterisk after the first initial.


  37. I am curious does your system put memorials I have created at the top of my search when they fit the criteria? I am wondering if I should be testing with names where I did not create or do not manage the memorial. I love the wildcard option for those names that are spelled differently on every other record. I am not sure how to duplicate this on the old search.


  38. Worked well for me. I agree with the comments re intials. One issue I did have is that the person I searched for was buried with his forenames in a different order than when he was born. I come across this a lot. It would be useful if the search could also include an option to swtich names. Ex: John William Smith is buried as William John Smith.


  39. Good points have already been brought up in previous comments. In general I believe these changes will help with searches! I tried many searches and received quite good results. I do agree about the option to search for memorial with dates before and/or after a given date. I will keep using the search.


  40. I did a fuzzy search using: first name: William middle name: F and last name: McKinly

    It found McKinley (4), McKinlay (1), McGinty (3), McGinley (1), McKelly (1)

    It did not find any: McKinney, McKenney, McKinny

    Next I did a fuzzy search using: first name: William middle name: F and last name: McKinney

    The search returned 25 results: McKinney (16), McKenney (5), McKinley (4).

    It seems odd that searching for: McKinney returns McKinley, but searching for: McKinly does not return
    any McKinney

    Is the the expected behavior for the Fuzzy Search?


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