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Genealogy search help tips


For an overview of the resources available in the Family History database, please consult the Family History/Genealogy intro page. For information on how to use the database, see below.

Basic searching

  1. Enter your search term into one of the search boxes, or Browse the A-Z Index for Names or Places to link to specific fields from which to select, and then click the Submit button. The first search box will search all the indexed fields - you can refine your search by using the other boxes instead.
  2. Records that meet your criteria are displayed as a report.
  3. Clicking on the displayed search results leads to more detailed information about these names.

Searching with names or other words

  • Type the name, place, keyword or phrase you want to find. The Name search will automatically truncate names by adding an asterisk to them, so that a search for Rubin will return records with the names Rubinof, Rubinoff, Rubinov and Rubinovitch.
  • Use the symbols & / ! between words or phrases to represent Boolean AND, OR, NOT. Include a space before and after the symbol.

Searching for an exact name or phrase

  • To search for an exact name, enclose it in quote marks. (Example: "Rubin")
  • To search for a phrase that is alone in its field, precede it with an equal sign (=). For example, =Somme, France finds only that complete term; it does not find just "Somme" or just "France" or that phrase embedded in other text).

Emailing, saving, printing or requesting items from a list

Once you have successfully found relevant records, you can perform several actions to work with those records:

  • Use your browser controls for standard computer functions like printing, etc.
  • Use the Share button and its options to share the record(s) or images in your e-mail or on social networking sites.
  • Click the Select button on as many records as you wish.  Once the records are selected, you can view those selections by clicking on View Genealogy Selections at the top of the search results screen or in the sidebar under Family History/ Genealogy.
  • From the Selection list, you can choose to view the full or brief report of your records in order to save it to a location of your choice, e-mail or print the reports, or submit a request for more information* about these records.
    * Please note that, with the exception of the JIAS case records, all the information available about the people listed in these family history records is shown here. However, because the JIAS records are restricted, you must contact CJCCCNA to request permission to access further information about these names.

Fee structure for copying requests

Please see our pricing information page for details

Troubleshooting and FAQ

If you are having trouble with a search, some of the most common problems and potential solutions are listed below.

I got the message "Unable to recognize as a correctly formed query."

The program cannot understand the search criteria. Possible problems include:

  • Typographical errors
  • Mismatched quotes or parentheses (e.g. typing Israel" instead of "Israel")
  • Extra Boolean search symbols (e.g. typing labour / maternity / instead of labour / maternity )
  • Missing quotation marks around symbols that can be misinterpreted. For example, search for "http://www.inmagic.com".

If none of these apply, try a simple one-word search. To remedy difficulties you may also consider using one of the A-Z Browse Indexes. If this does not work either, please contact us.

I found too many records.

Click the Revise Search link to return to the search screen with your search terms visible, and then try one of the following changes to find fewer results.

  • If you used an asterisk, omit it and try an exact term or phrase search instead. For example, search for =internee camp instead of intern*. (Note that in many fields the stemming of search terms with the asterisk is automatic.)
  • Try using a Boolean symbol (& / !) between words to construct more precise queries. For example, to find articles about musicians, not theatre, search for fiddler ! roof.
  • If you are searching for a date, do not use a forward slash between date components (for example, search for 12-12-98) or surround the date with quotation marks ("12/12/98").

I did not find any records.

Click the Revise Search link to return to the search screen with your search terms visible, then try one of the following changes.

  • Examine the contents of the search form (especially if it is longer than the screen) to verify that you do not have query criteria left over from a previous search.
  • If you are not sure of the spelling, use an asterisk after the first few characters (for example, labo*) or separate several possible spellings with a forward slash (for example, search for labor / labour). (Note that many fields have the asterisk automatically appended to all search terms already).
  • If you did a complex search, try simplifying it to eliminate confusion. If the search form has Browse Index links, use them to view and paste items to search for.
  • If you are searching for a URL, try typing it all in lower case.
  • If you are trying to find records that contain multiple words anywhere in the record, separate the words with Boolean symbols (& / !). Otherwise, you are doing a phrase search, which finds these words in that order.
  • If your search includes Boolean symbols (/ & !) or range searches (:), put spaces around the symbols.
  • Do not use words (and, or, not) for Boolean operators. You must use the Boolean symbols (& / !).
  • Try using / instead of & between words. Using / means either word can be present (henry / hirsch finds Henry or Hirsch). Using & means both words must be present (henry & hirsch will not find just "Henry" or just "Hirsch").

When I try to display records or change forms, I get the message, "Your current query has expired. Perform the search again."

The query set file that stored your search results has expired, so you will have to do your search again. If this message occurs frequently, please contact us.

What is a fonds? A series? A subseries?

  • A "fonds" is an archival term that refers to a collection of material created by a person or institution.  A "collection" is literally a collection of material not necessarily brought together by a single person or institution.  Both terms are used in Canadian archives.
  • Series and/or subseries help to organize archival fonds or collections in a meaningful way so that specific subject matter or types of material (e.g. photographs) can be found easily.  A single fonds or collection can be made up of several series and subseries.

Can I download digital copies of the records I found?

Most of the records associated with the genealogy database include all the information we have on this subject, either provided as a printable digital image, or written out as text. You can print the images from the Full Record view by following the "view full size image for printing" link.

In the case of the Jewish Immigrant Aid Services (JIAS) records, for privacy protection reasons only the names and a few other details appear online. For these records you will have to contact the CJCCCNA directly to discuss how we can help you access this material.

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