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FamilySearch – Using the Search Facility

FamilySearch - Using the Search FacilityFamilySearch – Using the Search Facility

Happy New Year to You All – Let’s promise ourselves the best genealogy year ever with lots of great finds and plenty of upgrading of our family history skills. I am here to help you do just that ! As promised last week in my post “Getting Started With Family Search” here is the next post in the series. This one is about FamilySearch – using the search facility. This area of FamilySearch will be the part, I suspect, you will use the most. If you haven’t got an account with FamilySearch, read through this post which will take you through the process.

So assuming that you have an account, click onto this FamilySearch Home Page link.  Sign in, note – if you are using your home computer then you can click on the “stay signed in for 2 weeks” box, this is a mini time saver.  Then click on the “Search” tab at the top and click on the “Records” on the drop down menu.

FamilySearch - Using the Search Facility You now have a page which has three areas.

  1. Search Historic Records
  2. Research By Location
  3. Find a Collection


Let’s take these areas one by one.

FamilySearch – Using the Search Facility – Search Historic Records

This post contains affiliate links – see disclosure for more details

This area is basically a search form, you can type in a first and last name, you can enter information about that FamilySearch - Using the Search Facilitypersons birth, marriage, death, residence or a place where they lived. You can restrict your search to location, type, batch number or film number. A quick note here if you aren’t familiar with batch and films numbers – the LDS enters into agreements with archives around the world to digitise (they used to film, but don’t do this anymore) documents which will be of interest and help to genealogists. Each set of documents is given a film number and also a batch number. 

You have further restrictions of Birth Baptism & Christening, Marriage, Death, Census Residence Lists, 

FamilySearch - Using the Search FacilityHaving entered the details of the person you wish to find press “Search” and you will be taken to a page showing the results of the search. On the left hand side of the page is a form whereby you can enter further restrictions to narrow your search or you can broaden your search by removing some of the restrictions you enter in the previous page. Results can be shown in lists of 20, 50, 75, there are 3 tabs to click above the first name on the list. On the right hand side is a button which you can click to export to your computer the list of results. This can be helpful if you want to take the list to show someone who doesn’t have internet access.

Now onto the interesting bit !

You will see 4 columns

  • Names
  • Events
  • Relationship
  • View

In the name column you have the persons name and the title of the record that particular entry was found in. The event column will have the date of the events and the type of record from which this entry has been taken. The relationships column gives the names of other people mentioned in the record such as parents, spouse, child or other where the relationship isn’t given on the original record. The final column view will have at least one, and perhaps more, symbols in it.

The tree symbol is a box with two connecting boxes and clicking on this will take you to the online family tree section of the website FamilySearch - Using the Search Facilitywhich I wrote about in my previous blog post “Getting Started With Family Search” . Clicking on the page symbol will take you to a page where there is as much information as has been indexed on that particular record. There may be more information on the original record which hasn’t been included in the index. It also gives you the source citation which you can copy and paste onto your online family tree or into your genealogy computer programme. You will see on the right hand side that it gives the batch and film numbers for that record, this means you can go back to the search page enter those numbers and a last name and it will bring up a list of all the people with that last name in the record that has that batch or film number. This can be very useful when working on bringing all family members together on your family tree.

A camera symbol indicates that there is an image of the original record available. If the camera image has a box around it then this image is only available for viewing if you have a subscription to either Ancestry, FindMyPast or Fold3 or other subscription websites. LDS Family History Centre’s will possibly have access to both Ancestry and FindMyPast so you can view the original image if you visit a FHC. Your local library may have subscriptions to Ancestry and FindMyPast, they are called Library Subscriptions and don’t allow access to all the records a personal subscription does. If the camera symbol doesn’t have a box around it then this indicates that you can view the image immediately at home.

Depending on the record, clicking on the camera image may show you a list of names associated with your ancestor on the original record. This is the case when a record is a census, it will list everyone else in the same household. With census it will also give you a transcript of the entry on the census.

You may have noticed that at the top of the page there are two tabs – Records which are described above and other tab is collections. Clicking on the Collections tab bring up a list of the record collection that have been searched to find the names on your record list. You can click on a record and it will list all the entries for the name you are searching for within that collection.

FamilySearch – Using the Search Facility – Research By Location

FamilySearch - Using the Search FacilityTo use area number two – Research By Location is very easy. You simply hover your mouse over the region that you wish to search and a box appears with a list of all the countries within that regions. For example if you hover over the UK the box will list England, Guernsey, Ireland, Isle of Man, Scotland and Wales. Hover your mouse over a country and the box will show how many record collections are available for searching, years covered, how many indexed records are available and the number of record images. Once you have decided which region and then which country you want to search you click on the “Start Researching In …..” button. This takes you to a new search page where you fill in the details of the person you wish to search for and then press “Search”. The results will be shown exactly the same as if you were searching using Historic Records.

However before you fill in the details and press search have a quick browse around this page as it has a wealth of information as to what FamilySearch has to offer. You can see listed which indexed collections are going to be searched when you do hit the search button. It lists all the collections that are available, but haven’t been indexed as yet. These are available for browsing, some you can look at at home and others you will need to attend an LDS Family History Centre. To the right is a Learning Centre Box (I will be covering the learning centre in greater detail in a future post), but suffice to say that this box lists all the courses and webinars that FamilySearch offers free of charge. There are also click throughs to the FamilySearch Catalogue and the FamilySearch Wiki. Future posts will look at both of these in-depth.

FamilySearch – Using the Search Facility – Find a Collection

The 3rd and last area of the Research section is Find A Collection. You have two options here, you can FamilySearch - Using the Search Facilityenter the name of a collection into the search box or click on the Browse All Published Collections button. If you click on the browse button you are taken to a page where there are a number of options which you can use to narrow down the search for the documents that you are looking for. They options are Place, Date, Collections plus you can tick a box if you only want to see collection which have images.

The title of each collection is given and there may be a camera symbol next to it. As mentioned above the camera symbol with a box indicates that the images are held on an external website and you most probably will have to pay for access to them. A camera without a box symbol means that the images are available free of charge, some can be viewed at home and others at an LDS Family History Centre.  Next to the title is the number of individual records within the collection, some run into millions of record. If the collection hasn’t been indexed and therefore it is unknown how many records are within the collection then it has a browse button. Then there is a date when the collection was last updated.

This area is invaluable when you want to search a particular collection and also when you want to methodically work through, one by one, each collection noting which records have been searched for a particular person. This is a habit that all genealogists should foster as you will remember which set of records you check for an ancestor tomorrow, you might remember what you looked at next week, but trying to remember what you searched in a years time or even ten years time is very unlikely unless you have made notes and attached them to the ancestors record.

FamilySearch – Using the Search Facility – Summary

There you have it – I have walked you through the most important part, in my opinion, of FamilySearch. FamilySearch - Using the Search FacilityFamilySearch – Using the Search Facility. I use FamilySearch especially when I have failed to find someone using Ancestry and FindMyPast. All the companies index their records separately so if an error has been made in say Ancestry’s indexing then it may not have been made in FamilySearch. And vice versa of course. Also it may be that FamilySearch has records that neither Ancestry and FindMyPast has on offer, which is another good reason to keep a note of what you have searched for each individual.

A final word about FamilySearch – Using the Search Facility is that the records available are indexes only, they aren’t a complete transcript so the original document may have further information. Plus the indexing is, as all indexing is, open to human error so where ever possible do view the original records. This is where I use FamilySearch and FindMyPast and Ancestry together. When entering FamilySearch records onto your family tree make sure that you record fully that the information is from FamilySearch and that it was only an index.

I hope you have enjoyed FamilySearch – Using the Search Facility. It is rather long, but there is so much more to FamilySearch than simply typing in a name and pressing search!

2 thoughts on “FamilySearch – Using the Search Facility

    1. Hi Sas, Thank you for your kind comment. I’m so pleased you found the FamilySearch post useful. It seems that FamilySearch has lots of things in store for us genealogist in 2018. Lots of great things to look forward to. Always lovely to hear from my readers. I shall be writing more about FamilySearch very soon. Kind regards, Linda

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