Three Places to Look for Digitized Records on

I was just listening to Lisa Cooke’s Genealogy Gems podcast this morning and learned something very useful. Did you know that there are THREE places to find digitized records on FamilySearch?

  1. The easiest way is to search by a person’s name under the Search Records tab.  These are the records that have been both digitized and indexed.  These are also the records that show up as hints if you have a tree on FamilySearch.  Unfortunately, indexing is veeeeeery slow, so this is the smallest set of digitized records on the site.
  2. The next easiest way is to browse records by location using the little map on the right side of the Search Records page.  These records have been digitized, but not indexed, so you have to work by place.  These records are straight from the microfilm, but someone has set up a few waypoints, so you can start from, say, Kansas Marriages, then get a list of counties, then get a list of records available for a specific county.
  3. The hardest way to find records, but the only way to see ALL the digitized records, is to use the Search Catalog tab.  Here, when you search by location, you get the complete list of all resources held by the Family History Library.  As you browse through the categories (census, vital records, probate, etc), you can click through to see each resource, and whether it’s a book, microfilm, etc.  If it’s been digitized, there will be a little camera icon toward the bottom of the page.  Click on that to be taken to the images digitized from that roll of microfilm.  Many of these images are NOT available any other way yet.

Why so many options?  It seems that the team digitizing the microfilm can work much faster (more than 1,000 rolls per day) than the volunteers indexing the records or the teams creating the waypoints.  The images available from the catalog are the least processed records, straight from the microfilm, so they are the most numerous but most difficult to use.  (Of course, if you’ve used microfilm, you can use these, since these are just digital pictures of the microfilm pages.)