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PhpGedView has an extensive search facility, which can be found in the main Search menu with General search, Soundex search and Search and replace items. In addition to the Search Menu and a quick search box on the top of the page, many data entry forms access search screens to locate a specific person, family, source, etc. The search results also depend on language, and the use of non-English languages in the Gedcom data poses its own challenges.

General search

General Search will search the selected records for any search term or phrase you enter.

Search options

Enter Search terms
Enter your search criteria here. You can search not only for names, places, dates, but for any word or phrase likely to be found in the record. You can even search for the Gedcom tags (for example to find all records where number of children is recorded as an event, enter NCHI in this field). The search is case in-sensitive, you can enter search terms in upper, lower or mixed case. The wildcards are assumed before and after the search term, i.e. the search is not limited to whole words. For example search for Pete will return records of Pete Smith, Will Peterson and Dmitri Shostakovich born in St. Petersburg. See Dates below for special consideration of date searches.
Search for
This option really means Search In and the options are:
  • Individual records
  • Family records and
  • Sources
You cannot search in the Repositories nor in Media Objects using this form, but you can find Media using a filter (only for tiles and file names) in the Media List.
The default is Individual - by default you search for a phrase in the Individual records. All names and individual events are to be found there. If you are looking for an event specific to couples (like the marriage event and its details), you should check the Family box. Some events, for example Residence, Census etc. can occur both in family and indvidual records. If you don't check both boxes, you are likely to miss some results. When you check Sources you will (also if others are checked) search in the Source records.
Exclude Filter
The following "non-genealogical" tags and their content are excluded by default: File Name (FILE), File Format (FORM), Type (TYPE), Change Record (CHAN) and User _PGVU, Submitter (SUBM) and Reference (REFN). You can remove this exclusion (for example if you are looking for Marriages, which Type is marked as Religous) by checking the "off" option.
In addition to these optionally excluded tags, the User ID (_UID) and Restriction (RESN) are always excluded, except for the administrator.
The "Associates" option makes PGV show all individuals or families to which the "hit" person has an "Association" relationship, as indicated by the existence of ASSO tags in that person's database record. For example, if person "A" is godparent to person "B" and this was indicated through an ASSO tag in person "A"'s database record, whenever person "A" is listed in the search results, person "B" will be listed too. (Needs verification - MarekZ 23:57, 25 April 2008 (EST))
Databases to search in
You can select, in which Gedcom to perfom the search - useful if the installation has more than one Family Tree.


The dates are recorded in Gedcom as DD MMM YYYY, for example 15 JAN 1845, and the search termas should be used the same way. You can enter year, or month year, or day month year (1845 or JAN 1845 or 15 JAN 1845) to locate people with events that occured on those dates. You must write the date in this order and use the english abbreviation for the month name. (See the article on Dates for more details on date formats).

As an alternative to using the Search facility, you can use the Anniversary Calendar to obtain the same results. The calendar has the advantage of working in your language (in multi-lingual pages) and gives you a visual confirmation of your searches. You can additionally limit your searches in year ranges: you can search all events older than selected year, or filter for events that occured in the past 100 years.

Dates that are approximate will generally be found, if the approximation is a modifier of the date: about (ABT), estimated (EST), calculated (CAL) or interpreted (INT). Only the limits of approximate dates (BET ... AND) and the of date periods (FROM ... TO) will be located using either method. For eaxmple if the event occured between March 1801 and September 1801 searching for March 1801 will find the event, searching for April 1801 will not.

Regular expressions

You can use regular expressions in your search if you are familiar with them. For example, if you wanted to find all of the people who have dates in the 20th century, you could enter the search 19[0-9][0-9] and you would get all of the people with dates from 1900-1999. (Needs verification - MarekZ 06:00, 26 April 2008 (EST)

Soundex search

Soundex is a method of coding words according to their pronunciation. This allows you to search the database for names and places when you don't know precisely how they are written. PhpGedView supports two different Soundex algorithms that produce vastly different results.

This method was patented in 1918 by Russell
This method, developed in 1985 by genealogist Gary Mokotoff and later improved by genealogist Randy Daitch is more complex than the Basic method and produces much more accurate results, especially if used for names of people and places.

Because the Basic method retains the first letter of the name as part of the resultant code, it is not very helpful when you are unsure of that first letter. The Basic algorithm is not well suited to names that were originally in languages other than English, and even with English names the results are very surprising. For example, a Basic Soundex search for Smith will return not only Smith, Smid, Smit, Schmidt, Smyth, Smithe, Smithee, Schmitt, all of which are clearly variations of Smith, but also Smead, Sneed, Smoote, Sammett, Shand, and Snoddy.

A Soundex search using this method produces much more accurate results. It is also the preferred method in searching for any name with diacriticals (see Non-English searches below)

Search and replace

This option is available to Administrators.

Before you start, make sure that the option Automatically accept changes made by this user is unchecked for you as the user. Search and Replace does not have its own review mechanism and relies on the built-in PhpGedView review system.

You can use this feature to correct misspelling or other inaccurate information, and change almost any data in Gedcom, including tags.

Enter Search terms
All three types of records (Individual, Family and Sources) are searched for the string you type in this field.
Replace with
All instances of the search term that are found are replaced by the replacement term you typed here. If you leave this field blank, the instances of the search term will be deleted.
Search for
Here you can limit the scope of the search. By default, you can search everything (Entire record), in which case other options are disabled. If you uncheck this option, you can limit the search to:
  • Individual Names - search only in individual names fields. This means First and Last name is affected as well as the name prefixes and suffixes, but Married name is not.
  • Place - search in place names only.
  • Whole words - the search string you entered must be a whole word (and not part of another word).

Note:. If only one instance of the search result is found, the replacement operation is not executed, and you are brought to the record where the term was found. You can do the replacement manually.

After you click the "Search" button (this is the scary part) all the replacement are completed, and you are presented with the lists of the three record types: Individuals, Families and Sources, in which the search term was replaced. At this point you can review the changes (see "Before you start" at the top of this section). Click the Accept / Reject Changes option at the bottom of the page, which will bring you a reviewer's screen, listing all the changes. You can view the difference in each case and approve the changes one-by-one. If you are satisfied you can approve them all, if not, you can undo all changes with one click and start again. If you skip some approvals, they will wait for your action in the 'suspended' state until you return to the Accept / Reject Changes screen.

Quick Search

There is a search box for a quick search on each page - you enter the search term and press the arrow icon to perform a search. It uses the same search meachnism as General Search, with all three Search In items checked (Individual, Family and Sources) and with all databases selected.

Non-English searches

If your database has mostly English names, the General seach works well enough. For non-English families, there are language and culture based issues.Some examples are:

Letters with diacriticals
The General search is exact, i.e. it will not return a result if you substitute Muller or Mueller for Müller, or Lodz for Łódź. Spelling of names change when the people emigrate, especially in the USA, where the diacriticals are very often ignored. The dataase may have variants of the name with and without diacritical signs.
In many languges names undergo declension depending on gender, (e.g. the daughter of Kowalski is Kowalska: looking for Kowalski misses all his daughters, looking for Kowalska may find his wife only if the Married name is added, but will miss her sons).

All such issues cause incomplete search results. Currently the best remedy is to use the Soundex Search with Daitch-Mokotoff type, as described above.

Known Problems/Bugs

This section needs to be reviewed / corrected by knowledgeable developers.

Version 4.1.4

The General search fails for characters with diacriticals and mixed-case searches. See the tracker ticket related to this issue. When looking for strings with diacriticals, always use the Soundex (Daitch-Mokotoff) search.