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Break down a brick wall in the census

Discover how easy it is to track down an entire family using just their first names with TheGenealogist.co.uk

Searching for a person can yield thousands of results, making it difficult and time consuming to find your particular relative. In this article we'll show you how to drill down to the record you're looking for with a simple search on TheGenealogist.

As all those who are researching their family tree come to find out, the census collections are a very name-rich resource to discover ancestors within. What happens, however, when you can't find an ancestor in the census? Perhaps the name you're looking for is too popular like 'Smith', or perhaps it could be spelt a variety of ways. No need to be dismayed, there is a solution!

"The Family Search feature comes into its own when you're trying to find an ancestor with a common name, wittling down Smith to just a few results"

You can use the other members of the family to help narrow down your search. Let's take, for example George Mottershead, the founder of Chester Zoo who featured in BBC drama Our Zoo earlier this year. If we search the 1911 Census for "George Mottershead" there are over 40 results, but we can use the "Family Search" feature on TheGenealogist to specify that George's parents were Albert and Lucy(as we know from the BBC series), which limits the search down directly to the one family that we're after.

The power of the Family Search really comes into its own when you're trying to find an ancestor with a common name. For example, there are 29,775 John Smiths in the 1901 Census, but if we specify that his wife was Emma and their son was Mark, the Family Search refines right down to the one family we're after.

When all you've got is multiple first names then you need a powerful means of quickly and simply searching through the massive amount of data that's in the census. This can't be easily done on all of the websites that offer the census collections; but the good news is it's easy with TheGenealogist's Family Search feature.

Accurate: Whether you're searching for a common name like Smith, or a rare one like Mottershead, you can use a combination of the family's forenames to narrow down the result.