• Jan Mitchell-McDermott

Treasures in the Family History Library Catalog!


As I work the Genealogy Just Ask pages, one type of post always makes me smile. "I don't use Family Search, nothing on that site is accurate". "I have never found anything of value on FamilySearch". "I want records, not someone else's research".

First of all, all trees no matter what site you use are only a clue, only a hint, only a possibility. Everyone's work needs to be verified. I hope people verify my work. Every set of eyes see a different view. A good tree needs to be sourced, sourced and then sourced some more.

What needs to be understood is FamilySearch has many different tools. We have the Tree, FamilySearch Records, FamilySearch Research Wiki, the Learning Center, books and so much more.

This short blog is going to be about how to access records that are like a buried treasure in the Family History Library Catalog. Records that are available only in the catalog. Images that are not available in FamilySearch Records. Images that the Family History Library Film number is given on an index on Ancestry.com. You have to go to the catalog to access so many gems of research.

From the home page of FamilySearch, https://www.familysearch.org/, hover your mouse over the word search. Click on the word "Catalog". https://www.familysearch.org/catalog/search. In the search field begin typing in the place field. For instance Pennsylvania, Allegheny as you type a drop down menu will appear, click on the one that pertains to your search and click on search.

These are the record topics that FamilySearch has pertaining to this location.

Each topic collection is clickable. Probate Records has 17 collections under that topic. Click on Probate records.

These are the gems. Some collections are on FamilySearch Records, but many collections are being uploaded and only available by this method. Click on Will books, 1789-1917. Instantly you will want to click on the red click here .

By Clicking, this is what you will find.

Clicking on Browse through 3,200, 560 images will take you to here.

You are now where you have to pick your county. We have already done that at the beginning of our search on the catalog page Pennsylvania, Allegheny. Many times you want to make sure you don't click on the red click here but scan down to the records.

If there is a camera the film may be viewed at home.

If there is a camera with a key above it these collections have restrictions and the film must be viewed at a Family History Center near you.

If there is an old fashioned film reel, the collection has not been digitized and is not available outside of the Family History Center in Salt Lake.

There are many collections that are still only available in book form and must be viewed in Salt Lake. Those books that have been digitized and can be viewed online will state:

This is just a little blog leading you to the undiscovered gems of the Catalog. Try it! Search with full names of town. Try different locations around the world.

Another great tidbit is if you type slow when you are on the place field window, it brings a drop down menu with the name of places. Sometimes you can't find anything because you have the wrong spelling!

If you need help! Just ask!


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