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Fine Tuning My Search!

Many times people post "what is your favorite genealogy site"? "Do you like one site better than another"? Another discussion is about how much they "hate" a site or a "change" on a site. Every time I read a post like that the first thing that comes to my mind is, "I love them all". Each site has its own differences and many time each site has a lot of similarity.

When a site makes changes we all become "haters". Why because in honesty, we hate change. We finally get to understand, finally start figuring out a few things, get comfortable and boom, change.

When a site changes, instead of being a "hater" I go work the site, use the site, see what happens when I click here or there. I do this until I'm comfortable and understand the way the sites works.....again!

The key to each site is learning how to use it. I mean really learn how to use it. If you want to be a good at anything you gain knowledge and you practice.

Today's little "tidbit" is Basic understanding of FamilySearch Records.

From the home page of, hover your mouse over the word Search

A drop down menu will appear. click on records.

Most people just begin filling in the windows, but I like to fine tune my search.

The map is clickable.

Click on the United States, this will bring a drop down menu of every state in the United States. Select your State. Let's pick Iowa. We now have access to collections pertaining to Iowa. Now remember many collections with images in the Family History Library Catalog are NOT on FamilySearch Records. Many times you will find an index, always go check the catalog to make sure the image is not available there.

Another way I like to locate specific collections is by clicking on browse all published collections.

This will take you to the list of collections. They are alphabetical. I like to pay attention to two fields. How many collections are available and the search window.

As of 22 April 2018 we have access through FamilySearch Records 2313 collections, doesn't really sound like a lot but lets click on the blue clickable word Records.

This is 13 of the biggest collections, now 2313 collections sound a bit bigger! There are 134, 867, 560 in the 1940 United States Census!

Ever curious as to what has been added and updated? Click on the blue clickable words Last Updated.

These are the collections that have been updated or added since 18 April 2018.

Let's talk a little about some of the icons that are used.

When you are on FamilySearch Records and see a camera with a box around it, it means the collection has images, but they are not on FamilySearch. It might lead you to a pay for site like Ancestry, or a collection on a non pay site like West Virginia Vital Records. It is telling us we have the index but someone else has the images. If you are in a Family History Center you can view the images rather its a pay for site or free site.

When you see the camera icon, it means the image is available. It does not always mean it will be available at home. There may be a collection agreement between FamilySearch and the Collection owner that the image must be viewed at a FamilyHistory Center.

When there is not an icon near a collection it means it is index only. It however does not mean a collection with images is not available to view in the Family History Library Catalog. You see by the collection Alabama County Marriages, 1818-1936 there is no icon, which means index only, yet if we go to the Family History Library Catalog and go to Calhoun County Alabama, the marriage image collections are available.

Don't assume images are not available just because they are not on an index only FamilySearch Records Collection.

The last little tip for the day is learning to filter by collection.

So many times we don't find what we want because there is just to much available. I don't know a lot of people that will look through 1000's of collections. There are a few of us, but for the most part it is just to much. So I like to filter. Maybe I want the World War II Old Man Draft Registration. In the collection name window type in World War II. We have just gone from 2313 collections to 7. Select the collection

You now have access to 11, 114, 467 records of men who were born on or after 28 April 1877 and on or before 16 February 1897. The men had to register if they fit this time period in 1942. If you search and find nothing make sure you read the Learn More. Each collection has a Learn More article on FamilySearch Research Wiki that explains what each collection is about and what will be in the collection.

No sense trying to find something that doesn't exist. These states were destroyed. Knowledge is power. Learn and apply.

Back to the filter collection. This search window allows you to search for any word that would be in a collection. Maybe you are looking for the 1900 United States Census, keywords are 1900 United.

It's quick to use the search window. Try different keywords Are you searching for Catholic Records? Type in Catholic. Search for Civil War records? Type in Civil War. Try different keywords to see what collections are available! Keyword search is an art. Do not type in a full sentence. Just a key word, like newspaper, Italy, prisoner, marriage, church, burial. One or two words!

The more we learn, the more records we locate!

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