Notes on “Getting the Most Out of Historical Records at FamilySearch.org”

Given at the AGS Conference in Edmonton on 22 April 2017 – sorry numbering is messed up – it was not like this on the original!  – wanted to get this out quickly – there is a print button at the bottom of the posting.  We hope this is helpful.

  1. What is under the Search menu at FamilySearch.org? 6 items: 
    1.  Records – meaning Historical Records – and this was the topic of this presentation
    2.   Family Tree – building one tree for all humankind
    3.  Genealogies – including the Guild of One Name Studies and some well sources Community Trees – worth checking out
    4.  Catalog – the catalog of the FH Library in Salt Lake City
    5.   Books – a collection of over 325,000 digital books – try searching for one of your families
    6.  Wiki – the Familysearch Research Wiki
  2. Other sections not to be ignored:
    1.  Memories – a collection of photos and stories – worth searching!
    2.  Indexing – give something back – help to make records searchable
  1. FamilySearch has 7.8 million registered users – and many more people who use the site without registering – and 1.1 million indexing volunteers – but looking for more.
  2. The Historical Records collection includes 5.66 billion searchable records and 1.23 billion images – and growing
  3. Four ways to access Historical Records – FamilySearch has very flexible search tools with many features:
    1. Search form
    2. . Interactive Map – just click on a country say Canada – then click on a province – say British Columbia – make sure you scroll down to see Collections you can only Browse as they aren’t indexed yet
    3.   Find collection – search by name if you know it – or click on the name of a single collection to search in just that collection
    4.  Browse all published collections – see a list of all the collections – currently totally 2214 – see which collections have Images (camera icon)
  1.   Note there there are 2 types of camera icons on the Browse collections page – one for images on the site and one telling you that the images are on another site – this camera has a page behind it
  2. Click any column heading in Browse Collections view to sort on that column heading.
  3. Sort on Last Updated heading (just click on title) to see recently added or updated collections  sorts list into chronological order— millions of records being added almost weekly
  4. Note there are filters on the left in browse collections
  5. Look for hidden search options:
    1. .Search by Life Event – Default is birth – but can search Marriage or Residence or Death or Any event – you can add and remove options (check box in field for that option removes it) – you can search by any event singularly or combine options
    2. .  You can search with a relationship – Spouse, Parents, or Other Person
    3.   You can restrict records by Location – very powerful, Type, Batch Number or Film Number
  1. Be cautious about checking boxes at the end of each field or at the bottom of the form that restrict to Exact only.
  2. Ten Search Strategies
  3. #1.  Put in just a name and then search
  4. Example used was Joseph Smith ancestor who lived in Nottinghamshire in England
  5. First Search = 4.9 million results
  6. You can restrict Location to England
  7. Then use the Filters below the search boxes on the left
  8. Narrow by using filter Birthplace – keep returning to same filter – first to UK, then England, then Nottinghamshire (scroll down in list of counties) – should have about 4000 results now
  9. Finally filter by Birth Year – first select century – then decade if you know it
  10. Reduced results from 4.9 million to 6 records in a few clicks
  11. #2.  Search by first name
  12. We used Almida – a family connection –  huge number of results so filtered by place of birth which was Sweden – but if you add Restrict by Location then all the preciously used filters are removed – add filters again – at end Almida Marriage in BC is #5 on the screen – can see the certificate
  13. #3. Find the children – do a parent search
    1. .Put in first and last name of Father and first name of mother
    2. .Restricted location to England and Nottinghamshire
  1. #4.  Search in a specific collection – if you know the name of colledrion search for it or click on Canada on the map and then a province and select a collection
  2. In the collection window click on Learn More to get a Wiki article about the collection
  3. Then search just within that one collection
  4. #5.  Use Batch Searches
  5. Which parishes have been extracted?
    1. .Before Indexing there was extraction – the systematic transcribing of information from films of original records – there are millions of these records – unfortunately without images
    2. . Have batches of records been extracted from my parish?  For which years
    3. .Used to suggest doing a Google search “ wallis IGI”
    4.  Hugh Wallis created a  very good database by country, county and parish – it was good but . . .
    5.  Now google search for Archer Software IGI – http://www.archersoftware.co.uk/igi/ – more uptodate – we compared one parish in the 2 systems and there were more batches at Archer
    6. . Copy batch numbers from Archer and paste into Batch Number field and add Surname
  1. #6.  Use the Source Film Number
    1.   Helping a friend with ancestry from Kincardine in Scotland
    2.  Went to the Catalog at FamilySearch and did a search – found the film number for parish registers
    3.  Put film number in Film Number field added parents to find children or just surname – and search
  1. #7.  Use Wild Cards – Two Wildcards
    1. * indicates you don’t know one or more of the letters 
    2. .at FamilySearch can be used after only one letter is known 
    3. .so use H* if all you know is it begins with an H
    4. . e,g, *hausen
    5. .? takes the place of any letter
    6. .so use Jam?son to find Jamison or Jameson
  1. #8. Sign in to see more images – Do you see all the same images?
    1. .No matter where you use FamilySearch? no – see more in FH Centre
    2. .Whether you sign in or not? Sign in and may show more images
  1. #9.  Use partner sites to see images – don’t be afraid to follow links to other sites, e,g,
    1. .ancestry.ca
    2. .findmypast.co.uk
    3. .What if you don’t have a subscription? Go to a Family History Centre
  1. #10.  Browse images – Using Waypoints to help you navigate
    1. .  There are great number of collections yet to be indexed – but the images have been digitized
    2. .  Used Durham Bishop’s Transcripts as an example
  2. Final challenge – Give something back
    1. .Take Part in FamilySearch Indexing
    2. .https://familysearch.org/indexing/
    3. .Watch for the new Web Indexing – coming soon and worth waiting for – I will post a notice on this blog when it is available
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