2016 by Donald R. Snow

This page was last updated 2016-11-28.  Return to the Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group Home Page or Don's Class Listings Page .

Abstract: has a wealth of records available to search online for free and they add new records every day. To access these records go to > Search > Records.  When you are registered on FamilySearch, it gives hints of records for you to check for your own ancestors and fills in the search boxes automatically.  Two other ways to search these records are:  (1) input the individual's name and then filter the results to narrow down to exactly the person you want, and (2) filter for the record collection first and then input the name.  Method (1) frequently finds records you weren't aware of, so it is helpful to start this way. Method (2) allows more detailed entry forms for searching and hence eliminates many non-correct hits. We will discuss the types of records available on FamilySearch, how to search them, and how to use the data to verify and extend your family history information.  The notes for this class and related articles in Don's Freeware Corner are posted on .


  1. Instructor is Donald R. Snow ( ) of Provo and St. George, Utah.
  2. These notes with the active Internet links are posted on .
  3. Tips:  (1)  To have an icon on your desktop to open your browser and go directly to these notes drag the icon from in front of the address in your browser onto your desktop.  (2)  To open a link from here in another tab, but keep your place in these notes, hold down the Control key while clicking the link.
  4. Problem for today:  How to search for and use information on FamilySearch Historical Records, one of the largest collections of free family history records in the world 

  6. Website is -- Note the "s" after http which means "secure site", but if you type just http it will get you there
  7. For information, press releases, and statistics about FamilySearch see ; for statistics about temples and FHC's see ; for help go to Get Help (upper right corner) and see 
  8. FamilySearch website includes Family Tree, Memories (Photos, Documents, Audio, etc.), Wiki (help articles), FamilySearch Centers, Indexing, Records (Historical Records), Genealogies, FamilySearch Catalog, Books, and Help; at the bottom of the page are more links, e.g. Blog and Site Map which shows links to everything on the website 
  9. Types of records and numbers of collections in Historical Records -- to see the numbers of collections of each type click on Browse All Published Collections; at left side are the numbers of each type of record in Record Types, Geographical Areas, Dates, etc.; the numbers of names in each collection is shown after the name; total number of collections is at top right of page; here are the numbers of record collections in Mar 2013 => Jan 2014 => Jan 2015 ==> Nov 2015 ==> Nov 2016, so you can see how the numbers of collections have been growing each year
    1. Census and Lists  (121 => 152 => 174 => 182 => 190)
    2. Birth, Marriage, & Death  (896 => 1021 => 1111 => 1173 => 1256)
    3. Probate & Court  (126 => 157 => 196 => 207 => 211)
    4. Military  (105 => 119 => 126 => 143 => 156)
    5. Migration & Naturalization  (77 => 103 => 130 => 178 => 190)
    6. Other  (135 => 150 => 141 => 132 => 126)
    7. Miscellaneous  (     =>     => 22 => 27 => 35)
    8. Ethnicity (  =>    =>    => 1 => 8)
    9. Total collections  (1460 => 1702 => 1900 => 2043 => 2172)
    10. LDS members at home and everyone at FHCs have several additional "partnering" websites (Ancestry, FindMyPast, MyHeritage, and NEHGS) that they can search -- see details here
  10. Information about FamilySearch collections
    1. Includes records from FamilySearch Indexing, other extracted (indexed) records, and unindexed record images 
    2. To see complete list of all records go to FamilySearch > Search > Records > Browse All Collections
    3. Click on Title, Size, or Last Updated to sort in that order
    4. Click on name of collection to see more information about it and for still more info on it, click on Learn More which takes you to the Research Wiki
    5. Records are in the following forms: (1) index only, (2) images only (indicated by "Browse Images"), and (3) both index and images (indicated by camera)
    6. If collection is indexed, when you click on collection name you get a search box
    7. If collection has not been indexed yet, you get "waypoints" to help you narrow down to the date and place you need until these records are indexed -- see  Waypointing  in the Wiki
    8. Records Operation Centers (ROC) are doing the work to get these records online -- Example is the ROC just west of St. George Temple
  11. Searching
    1. When on a Person Card in Family Tree, there may be Record Hints to check there; click the Search Records button on the right to put the name and basic info into the search boxes automatically and bring up the results 
    2. To search manually on FamilySearch go to Search > Records -- Two approaches here
      1. Method (1) -- Search for name through all databases and then use filters on left to narrow down the collections
      2. Method (2) -- Narrow down the collections with the filters first and then search for the name
      3. Usually better to start searching broadly, i.e. Method (1), since including too many search terms will make it miss things indexed slightly differently; but second method has more detailed search forms to fill in since they are for specific types of records
    3. Can limit Types of Records to search by checking boxes for types at bottom of page
    4. Can refine your search by adding life events, relationships, or clicking on "Match all exactly" which shows just those records with those exact search terms -- "Match all exactly" usually eliminates some good hits since the words may be spelled or indexed slightly differently
    5. When you find something on the Results page, hold down the CTRL key when clicking so it opens in a new tab and you can get back to the same place in Results Pages easily
    6. When the record collection you want has not been indexed yet, use the Waypoints to narrow down your search by date, location, etc.
  12. Saving results
    1. If logged into your account on FamilySearch, can save to your Source Box by clicking on your Name (top right) > Source Box  > Save To My Source Box -- can edit it before saving and later in your Source Box before attaching it to a person in Family Tree; can also save the link in your home genealogy database or in a note program, e.g.  Evernote , where you can also save screenshots of the data
    2. If on a website other than FamilySearch, can use TreeConnect from  to save the link and data to your FamilySearch Source Box -- Even in FamilySearch the program TreeConnect helps in saving info since when you highlight text before clicking TreeConnect the text goes into the Comments field of the source-- very helpful to save things like the text of the indexed information so you don't have to reread the handwritten info
    3. Can link your source to anyone in Family Tree, so everyone can see where the information came from
  13. To return to the home page of FamilySearch from anywhere click on the FamilySearch logo (upper left corner)
  14. Helpful 2-min video tutorial -- Get Help (upper right corner) > Learning Center Video Courses > FamilySearch > Search > Quick Start to Searching Records

  16. Censuses and Lists -- Examples
    1. England and Wales Census, 1881
    2. Canada Census, 1891
    3. United States Census, 1900
    4. New York, State Census, 1892
  17. Vital Records and Obituaries -- Examples
    1. Birth indexes and records -- Go to "Browse All Published Collections" > Type "birth" (without the quotes) -- you get 123 databases (Nov 2016) -- can narrow down the list by filtering on location or time period (left-hand side) -- Example  California, Birth Index, 1905-1995
    2. Death indexes and records -- Type "death" (without the quotes) --  you get 157 databases (Nov 2016)
      1. Utah Death Certificates, 1904-1964 -- images of death certificates, primary source for death, burial, and medical history; secondary source for birth and parent data
      2. United States, Social Security Death Index, 1875-2014
    3. Obituaries -- Type "obituaries" to get 22 collections (Nov 2016) -- Example  Idaho, Southeast Counties Obituaries, 1864-2007
  18. Other Databases -- Examples
    1. Oklahoma, Applications for Enrollment to the Five Civilized Tribes, 1898-1914
    2. Ohio, Summit County, Coroner Inquests, Hospital and Cemetery Records, 1882-1947 -- Note: this has death records, but "death" is not in the title
    3. International Genealogical Index (IGI) -- Two parts:  (1) Community Contributed, and (2) Community Indexed -- can search with a Batch Number for extractions, but can not search by ordinance dates since ordinances are not included
    4. Family Group Records Collection, Archives Section, 1942-1969


  19. Includes  Ancestral File and Pedigree Resource Files  (may get additional hits from Historical Records here), Guild Of One-Name Studies, Community Trees, Oral Genealogies, and International Genealogical Index
  20. Can upload a GEDCOM of your genealogy to preserve it here, but DO NOT INCLUDE LIVING PEOPLE, since it is public -- These are NOT combined with Family Tree, but are searchable and can be compared and used to correct Family Tree -- Everyone can see it, but you have control over it and can remove or upload a new version whenever you want.

  22. Good long-range goal is to find and post sources to verify and correct the data on FamilySearch Family Tree and in your home genealogy program (Ancestral Quest, Roots Magic, etc.)
  23. See my system of naming files and screenshots in other notes on my website to make them easy to find and alphabetize in chronological order for each person
  24. Finding sources for everyone on your lines will probably lead to additional family members and temple work needed; it also "turns your heart to your fathers" and makes your data "worthy of all acceptation" (D&C 128:24)

Return to the Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group Home Page or Don's Class Listings Page .