Saturday, August 30, 2014

Getting the most out of FamilySearch–The Search menu (Catalog)

Screenshot taken from the FamilySearch website


The next section we are going to look at on the Search menu is the Catalog section.  I skipped the Genealogies section for now but we will be coming back to it.

The Catalog section is the card catalog for the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.  It is a normal library card catalog system.  Most of what you will find here will be microfilm listings.  There will also be some books listed that haven’t been microfilmed.  I am not going to show you how to do a search in the catalog since it is pretty self-explanatory but I do want to give you a couple of tips.

  • If you have problems finding something specific try going back to the old version of the online catalog.  You will see a link on the search page in the upper right that says “Visit the previous version.”  Sometimes using the old search works better.
  • Once you find the microfilm you need, it is a snap to order it.  Just click on the film number and fill in the blanks.  The film will be sent to your local FHC for you to view.  You will have to pay shipping to and from the FHL.
  • The FHL will do lookups for you but there are very strict guidelines.  Everything you need to know about that is HERE.  You can do this in a two step process which will still be quicker and cheaper than ordering the film.  Have the FHL look up your person of interest on the index film and then take that information to do a second request for the actual document.
  • One really nice thing is if you pick a microfilm where the images have already been digitized you will see a link to the image set.  It is easy to overlook image sets on FS, especially since they are adding new records practically every day, but it is pretty hard to accidentally order a microfilm that you don’t need.
  • Microfilm is a much underused resource.  Don’t think that everything is online because it isn’t.  Even relying on microfilm is risky.  Courthouses have records in their vaults that have not been microfilmed.  I have found several instances of loose papers being sent to the state archives that were sent before the microfilm crews came round.  Most churches have not had their collections microfilmed. I call courthouses and repositories all the time to see if maybe they have something that I need that isn’t on microfilm.

Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

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