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User Tutorial - Searching

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A Guide to Searching for profiles on Geni

See other User Tutorials

The best approach is

Search, Match, Link before building duplicate trees...

// not build, duplicate, merge, resulting in ...Tree conflicts and Data conflicts

Because this is a tutorial project please do not link profiles to it. Translations are welcome.

If you have any specific questions, comments or suggestions about the guidelines below, please contact June Barnes or Erica Howton who are Volunteer Curators. Do not hesitate to ask questions about anything that is not clear, or draw attention to things that I may have been missed!

Alternatively raise a discussion to embrace wider participation and input.

Please note that profiles used in the screen-shot illustrations have no significance and are merely used to illustrate scenarios - they have no relevance to the tutorials. The illustrations will not always match your own - this depends on how you have set your Name Preferences, and what your choices are when viewing the tree.

Occasionally I use a "vertical tree layout" in order to cover more ground.
How much of what is explained you can carry out depends on whether you have a Geni Basic or Pro subscription.


Getting Involved

Feel free to follow, request to collaborate

Contents Searching S1. Search using Google
S2. Quick Search
S3. Accessing the Search Window
S4. Using Search at MyHeritage (MyHeritage subscribers only)
S5. Searching projects


See Geni help

To search for a text string on any page (not confined to Geni pages) click CMD and the F key (MAC) or CTRL and the F key simultaneously - this will open a find window search box at the top right of the screen.


It is worth taking time to talk about how to avoid creating duplicates on the tree in the first place. When building a tree from scratch on Geni you will inevitably start with yourself. There is a project, Geni Start Here Basics, which will help you with the process of adding profiles to your tree, but there are some ground rules before you begin.

The first thing that you would want to do is to add your parents. Before you start building your tree you do need to first check to see if your ancestors are already present on Geni or not. If your parents are living searching for them would probably not be very productive as matching profiles would be private and not visible to you. It would therefore be better to search for the names of their parents instead. You can do this in 3 ways.

// Search using Google

This is the most efficient way to search Geni if you are not a PRO user, but is also a very useful tool if you are!
To search the site using Google, (or other search engine), enter "XXXX" in the search window. The result will encompass any page where the name(s), or any words you have entered, appear. You will perhaps need to consider or scroll through many results to make sure that you don't miss a hit! This is a useful way of finding, for instance, all people "drowned" - note that only those who have that word appearing in their notes or data fields will show up in the results, and would perhaps apply to someone else in the family if that is mentioned in the notes. The results will also include project pages. photo's, documents etc. Tip - you can use this tool to search "discussions" by adding " /discussions" after "", or refine the search to "profiles" by adding "/people".

// S1:1

// S2. Quick Search

At the top of the Geni screen you will see a search box. Figure S2:1. If you click on the options under the search magnifier you will see that there are option for quick search. In this instance choose People. Figure S2:2

// S2:1.// S2.2

Type the name of one of your grandparents into the search field and press return. After a short while you will be taken to the Search results where Geni profiles that resemble the name you entered are displayed. Figure S2:3.

// S2:3. Quick Search results

// S2:4.// You will see that there are other options to view (Connected to You and Managed by You), but these are not significant at this stage. If there aren't too many results (fewer than 20 as that is how many are visible on a page), look through them and see if there are any matches there. You can view the profiles of those that look as if they may be matches by clicking on the profile name if it is not a private profile. If there are many results then it is necessary to refine the search by using the options available down the left side of the screen. (Figure S2:4.)

The various fields available to fine tune your search are made visible by clicking on the box with a plus sign on it. Explore the options and add more information which would make the search results more accurate. (Date of Birth, Date of Death, the names of family members (father and mother most effective), Location etc. Once you have added some more criteria press search and see if there are any results that fit the bill.
If there are none you could try any variations in the spelling of the names. If the name of one grandparent is fruitless repeat the procedure with the names of the other three grandparents (if you know them).

What to do in the event of there being a match which seems to fit follows under Linking at Merge Guide.

If there are no results return to the tree view (click "Tree" in the options along the Geni logo at the top of the screen), and add your parents and grandparents to the tree. Add all information you have, especially dates and birth/death locations.

After you have added these names it is possible that some matches may be thrown up despite your searches. This will be indicated by a small blue circle appearing at the top left corner of the profile node in the tree. See (Figure S2:5.)

// S2:5.

See Merging

... for further guidance on what to do next.

After accepting the merge you need to follow through by going to the profile, firstly to deal with the data conflicts, and secondly to deal with the tree-conflicts that have resulted from the merge. You will notice on the profile page, (using Isabella Potgieter to illustrate this Figure. B2:3 below), that she has two husbands of the same name, a clear indication that there is a tree conflict to be dealt with.

Guidelines for dealing with this situation are continued at Tree Conflicts

// Accessing the Search window

...from any Geni page

// S3:1
There is a Menu at the top of any Geni page screen. (Figure S3.1).

// S3:2.

Clicking on the Research link opens up the menu as in Figure S3:2 right.

Click on Search to access the Search window. (Figure S3:3.) below

You will see that there a number of menus to open and use to add details which would help to narrow down your search It is worth considering variations in the spelling of names, including first names.

After you press "search" you will be taken to a list of results, (or no results), as the case may be. From here you will need to proceed as explained in A2. Quick Search above, fine tuning your search as necessary.

// S3:3.

// Using Search at MyHeritage

(MyHeritage subscribers only)

If you have a MyHeritage subscription there is a page where you can search the "Geni World Family Tree" at Search Collections - Geni World Family Tree

The simple search page (Figure S4:1) covers the usual basic criteria.

// S4:1

The advanced search options (Figure S4:2) are more extensive.

// S4:2

Using the basic search window I carried out a search for Peter Brown, born in 1850 in England - (Figure S4:3)

// S4:3
This resulted in 507,339 results, (Figure S4:4), many of which are very wide reaching, but you do have the option to refine the search.

// S4:4

Clicking on the name - in this instance the first on the list - expands the details giving the names of relatives etc. (Figure S4:5).

// S4:5

Clicking "View full record on Geni website" takes you to the Geni profile page for that person, (Figure S4:6), where you can explore further to see if it is the person you are looking for.

// S4:6

One of the projects I work on is WW1 participants from the United Kingdom. Using the advanced search window, (see Figure S4:2 above), I filled in some fairly broad details - (Figure S4:7) - looking for people of the surname "Brown" born in England between 1885-1895, who died in France between 1914 to 1918. I also added WW1 in the keywords field.

// S4:7

This resulted in 232 matches (Figure S4:8) which was fairly broad. If I refined the search to exactly "BROWN" as a Last name, and "Male" as a gender choice, (Figure S4:8a), there were 175 results.

// S4:8

// S4:8a

I opened the "Robert Brain" record, (Figure S4:9), which showed that this was probably someone who was killed in WW1, and followed through to the profile on Geni, where I was able to process the profile and add him to the project I was working on.

// S4:9

Experimenting with the various options in the search window can certainly help locate a profile on Geni if it exists; the more details you have will make the results more accurate. The two examples above were fairly vague.

// this Person

This convenient link will automatically take you to MyHeritage’s SuperSearch™ results for that profile. There’s no need to type in information about your relative to start your search; Research this person takes the information on the profile, including the full name, gender, birth date, and death date, and automatically searches for matching records from MyHeritage’s collection of 4 billion historical records and millions of newspaper articles. This link provides a simple and easy way for you to discover more about the lives of your family members.

BLOG Introducing a Faster Way to Research Your Ancestry

// Searching projects
// can see a list of existing projects by opening "projects" in the drop down research menu at the top of the screen on all Geni pages. To search for a project, or the contents of a project, type a key word into the "search projects" window and press the magnifying glass. Geni will generate a list of projects where what you typed appears either in the project name or in the contents of the project. You can try changing the keyword slightly if there are no results.

 There are two options on the projects page. You can see either "My Projects" ('''Figure S5:1'''), or "All Projects" ('''S5:2''').  "My Projects includes those projects which you either collaborate on or which you follow. "All Projects"  lists all projects that have been set up on Geni whether you collaborate, follow or not. When viewing the list of "Your Projects" you will see that the projects which have most recently shown activity are at the top of the list, and that activity is reflected in the panel down the right hand side. 

// - My Projects

// - All Projects

See also Working with Projects