Family Search provides a constantly updated genealogical database for free. The site provides four different ways of conducting searches which include records, trees, catalog and books. All of them prove to be valuable tools in conducting our genealogical search.
When accessing the Family Search page you will see the option of entering a name to conduct a search in the records. If this is your first time visiting the site it is important to become a registered user. The icon to click is in the upper right corner. You will need to select a users name and password. An email will then be sent to you that you will need to confirm your information. By registering you will be allowed access to the scanned records like census page and vital records. There is a big advantage to see the original source for the transcription.
Once you have become registered you will need to go back to the starting page. You are given several options on this first page. You have the four selections of records, trees, catalog and books. Included on this page you can search by location or also look at the many databases that are available.
The records search allows you to access many of the databases. They are all location specific. Providing as much information for the historical search is important so you are able to look at a smaller group of choices. Records here are census, vital, migration, military, probate and other. The more specific that you are with the details the smaller your group of people will be, but you can vary your search parameters. One that I like to do is searching for a surname in a specific location like Wayne County, Michigan. This gives you a list of people that go by the same last name in a specific location during certain time periods. I have found this good when looking to search collateral lines. Information when searching this way helps you in connecting families and to find more things that you would not be able to find in a very specific search. When you are not certain of the specific location, but know a state for instance you can get a much larger group. This does not work as well for popular names. I will talk about various search methods in upcoming articles.
A note on the records search options is that not all the databases are available in the search option. Example of this would be the Archdiocese records for cemeteries and parishes in the Toledo, OH area. This source can be accessed by clicking on the “All records Collection” that is located just below the search function on the first page. All records are listed by location. Here you would have to move down to
Ohio in the listing and
look for the Toledo Archdiocese records.
Descriptions of the databases are included on the databases first
page. This section is by far the most
updated and you should look at it regularly.
As I mentioned many records are not included in the Records search database,
but are located on the site.
Now go back to the records search and look at what we got with our name search. The returns for your search will cover all the databases included in the search. For the sake of discussion we will be looking for a death record in Lenawee County Michigan. We are given the option to look specifically for the death date. Once you reach the second page which is the results of your search you need to look at the options of the databases searched. If you conduct a narrow search for the name in the location and the way you have the name spelled the results will be very narrow. If there is a chance the name could be spelled several different ways in a specific location narrow the search by making it location specific.
To see what databases have been searched click on the word “Collections” in the filter section along the left side of the page. Here you will see all the databases that were searched and how many were found. You should come up with three different databases specific to
Michigan which is divided by time period and the
SSDI index. By clicking on one of the
four it will narrow the amount of names.
Search each database. Information
can vary. Once you get to a record that
you feel applies click on the name. Here
it will have a transcription if available of the actual record. You can not look at the scan if you are not
registered. Much more information is
included on the actual scan of the document.
The key here is to have a plan for what you are searching for and trying to learn. Narrow the search by location. Don’t be afraid to try different methods for searching the databases.