Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Use the Family History Library Catalog

Well, you are saying, just look up stuff in the Catalog, how simple could that be? It turns out that it is not at all that simple, the Family History Library Catalog itself is a tool for all sorts of things besides simply looking things up. Here is an idea for alternative uses for the catalog.

My very frequent use for the family history catalog involves looking up places to see what kinds of records are available. For example, if I look for Texas in the pull-down menu for Searching Place-names, I get the following list:

The list extends down much further than the screen shot shows. Now, what does this list tell me? It tells me that there are hundreds of items dealing with genealogically useful records at the State level in Texas. Remember that there are some records kept only at the national level (such as military records), other records at only the state level (such as birth and death records currently), still more records at the county level (such as marriage record currently) and yet even more records at the local or municipal level (including all sorts of very local records). So, while I am searching, if I go directly to the place I am interested in, I will automatically miss all the other levels of records available.

Let's suppose I was looking for a birth record. I would scroll down the long list to Vital Records and find the following:

If you click on the screen shot, you will see that there are five categories of Vital Records. Hmm. Maybe I had no idea this could be so complicated. Now, by looking at the catalog, I can see all of the items in the Family History Library that might be of interest. I can click on any one (or all) of the categories and see the individual record sets available. When I click on one of them, Vital records-Indexes, I see 15 items, including several that are "online." This means that the documents in question are in the Historical Record Collections in digitized format for free viewing. If I click on the entry, I will find that the record is readily available. Unfortunately, birth records aren't one of the category of records available. YET. I say yet, because all of the microfilmed records are being digitized. So I will have to look from time to time to see if the records are now available.

If I do not want to wait for the records. I can click on the entries, go to the description of the records and order the microfilm online for shipment to a FamilySearch Center near me.

But, I am not through, since I am looking for birth records, I may wish to check the FamilySearch Research Wiki, for information about finding birth records. When I search for "birth United States" in the Wiki, I find an article entitled "How to Find Birth Information in the United States." I find out that there are a number of places, besides Vital Records, to look for birth information, including family records, probate records, land records, immigration and emigration records, military records, cemetery records, census records, newspapers, church records and others. Obviously, my search for birth information is not over with the Catalog entries I have found already.

Now, I repeat this operation for the county and town, looking at all of the categories that might contain pertinent records. You can see that you have already learned a great deal from the catalog and you have dozens of records to search.You now know several types of records that may contain birth information and you know a lot of places in your target geographical area where the records can be found. As a bonus, some of the records may already have been digitized and be online for free.

1 comment:

  1. this is all new to me need to find a couple of family members history