Friday, January 25, 2013

Tech Tip: Not-So-Hidden Treasures on FamilySearch

Have you used the FamilySearch website lately? Even if you have, you may not be aware of the full spectrum of resources available on this site, available for free. Last night I listened to a webinar by Rootsonomy and learned some good tips about the site. (For a calendar of other free genealogy webinars, visit GeneaWebinars.)

What you probably already know:

  • You can search millions of indexed online records by your ancestor's name and location, or other criteria. You can search easily right from the home page of the site. 

The treasures:

  • Books: You can search the collection of over 40,000 digitized books. Try searching by a surname, location, or keyword (such as Civil War). If you are looking for a specific book you can also search by the book title and/or author. Click the "Books" link on the home page.
  • Browse: You can browse FamilySearch record collections by location and/or record type (census, marriage, church records). Scroll down on the home page to the "All Record Collections" link. Then you can filter by location, dates, or record types. Some record collections include digitized images of the actual records, while others are indexes only. For example, take a look all of the Maine collections. You can tell which ones have images by the camera icon next to the collection name. The collections that say "Browse images" rather than a number in the "Records" column have not been indexed yet, but you can still look through the images. You may find your ancestor this way in a collection that would not show up in regular search results.
  • Learn: Improve your research skills with free online courses. Want to know more about courthouse research or beginning research in France? Visit the Learning Center. There are hundreds of courses from beginner to advanced. You can view the most popular and the newest courses right from the main Learning Center page, or select a category to see what courses are available.
  • Read and Share: The wiki allows site users to learn and to share their expertise by reading and contributing to articles on various topics. For example, you can find out what records exist for a certain location and dates and where to find them, or learn about computer software and how to organize your information.


  1. My best finds come from browsing their records that are not indexed. In fact, I was flipping through some Ohio birth records this morning! The wiki is also awesome.

  2. I just found your blog today from a mention in GeneaBloggers. Enjoyed looking around your site, and especially appreciate your section on blogs dealing with Maine history and research. On one of my lines, I'll shortly be jumping from pre-1850 California straight back to Maine. Last time I tried (years ago), it became my brick wall. With all the added resources now, I'm hoping for a better outcome.

    I'll second your comment about browsing the not-yet-indexed files at I've had good results, with a little patience and persistence.

    Welcome to GeneaBloggers, and best wishes on your continued blogging.

  3. It is great to choose collections. I agree with Heather, I have made great finds just browsing images. You never know when the terms of use by the owners of the information may take them away and leave us with just the index.
    Nice blog. Welcome to Geneabloggers.

  4. Welcome to Geneabloggers. I have some ancestors who were in Maine for a few generations. I look forward to reading your blog.

  5. I attended that webinar also and found it very helpful and picked up quite a few hints for more effective searching on

  6. Welcome to Geneabloggers! I've been a member for about four months. This is a great blogging community.

    Regards, Grant

  7. Welcome to Geneabloggers! Nice article on using FamilySearch. By changing the name of the state, this information could be used by researchers in any state.

  8. I have been lucky using the browse feature. We have spoiled with indexing and instant results. Browsing can be tedius but it sometimes pays off!
    Theresa (Tangled Trees)