January 5, 2017

Finding Records on FamilySearch for Genealogical Research

The LDS, which owns www.familysearch.org, provides you with resources to genealogical records.  A simple search in their catalog, then ordering the film and visiting a local Family History Center (FHC) to view these films is very easy.

I recommend that you should add one more step to this process. Remember that there may have been someone before you that may have ordered the film you want to review and it may already be available at the local FHC. So the steps I recommend is as follows and I will explain how to use the search function on the familysearch website.

  1. Search for records. 
  2. Document the film numbers
  3. VISIT your local FHC to see if they are there
  4. If not available at the FHC, place order to request films
The staff at the FHC are very helpful and knowledgeable, I recommend that you speak to them if you feel you need further assistance.  To use the catalog is actually very easy

To begin, after arriving at the website, hover over the word "Search" and on the dropdown menu you should see "Catalog"; click on it.  You should arrive at the following image:

Notice that in the above image, it defaults to "Place" but you can also select, "Surnames", "Titles", "Author", "Subjects" and "Keywords".  For this example, I started typing Dominican Republic, a dropdown  appears to select a searchable option; you have to select it.  If you are searching in the Caribbean, the best option is to first try the island name only.  Review the results and also see if the page provides a breakdown.

You're given the option of selecting a FHC but I recommend that you don't use that option yet, as you'll soon see why.

So the above results show that there are quite a few records in their possession for Dominican Republic. Notice the hyperlink (indicated in blue) for "Places within Dominican Republic".  If you click on that hyperlink, it will expand out and provide you with many regions within the country which can include districts, municipalities, cities, towns, or even villages.  By visiting each option, you're given more results that are not displayed above.

So why did I say don't add the library? Well because it will eliminate microfilms from the catalog that a FHC location may not have in their possession and thereby limiting you from knowing that they exist.

Another reason I don't use it is because it just so happens that my local FHC isn't listed which happens to be in Brandon, Florida.  I know that I've ordered many films for the Caribbean but none are listed as being at that location.  I am also aware of others that I've met during my years of research that have also ordered films and paid to have the films remain at the FHC in Brandon.  From what I can tell, they haven't taken the steps yet to provide what they have in their possession online. The view below shows how the Brandon, Florida location is missing from the dropdown list. So until all libraries are listed, I suggest that you visit location with film numbers in hand versus using the filter.