Six Hidden Gems on FamilySearch.org

Six Hidden Gems on FamilySearch.org

Written by Guest Writer and Associate Editor, Andrew Koch When you’re researching a branch of your family tree, the first (and easiest) place to start looking for your ancestors is the US census, and thrifty genealogists know that the free FamilySearch.org has indexed every surviving, pre-1940 US census. But...

Written by Guest Writer and Associate Editor, Andrew Koch

When you’re researching a branch of your family tree, the first (and easiest) place to start looking for your ancestors is the US census, and thrifty genealogists know that the free FamilySearch.org has indexed every surviving, pre-1940 US census. But don’t think that censuses are all that the massive site has to offer. FamilySearch.org boasts thousands of niche collections that can contain treasures about your ancestors, plus records from more than 90 countries all around the world—Canada, South Africa, Korea, Uruguay and even Iran, to name a few.

While not all are indexed and keyword searchable, these resources can pull through for your research in ways that others can’t. Here are six collections that you might be missing:

  • China Collection of Genealogies, 1239–2014: If you have ancestors from the Middle Kingdom, be sure to browse this massive stockpile of family histories dating to medieval times. The collection is organized by family name, then by country in historic China (e.g. China, Korea, Mongolia).
  • Ireland Tithe Applotment Books, 1814–1855: A 1922 fire razed the Public Records Office in Dublin to the ground, taking with it centuries of your Irish ancestors’ records. You can take some comfort in this source, however, as it accounts for roughly 40 percent of Irish households.
  • Mexico Baptisms, 1560–1950: Most censuses taken by the Mexican government vary in their coverage, availability and usefulness to genealogists, but church records provide a thorough look at your ancestors’ lives throughout the centuries. FamilySearch.org also has indexed collections of marriage and death records.
  • Puerto Rico, Catholic Church Records, 1645–1969: Puerto Rico wasn’t included in a US census until 1910, but you can fill in research gaps with more than 600,000 records of baptism (bautismos), confirmation (confirmaciones), marriage (matrimonios) and death (defunciones).
  • United States Confederate Officers Card Index, 1861–1865: The Civil War is be a touchy subject for some families, and resource can be hard to come by. But this resource has images of more than 200,000 Civil War veterans and their ranks. You can’t search it by keyword, but the collection is organized by officers’ last names.
  • United States Public Records, 1970–2009: We (and our ancestors) leave behind plenty of records without even realizing it. This indexed collection culls together names, addresses and phone numbers from public documents that you may have never thought to check like phone books and property tax assessments.

You can read about more resources on FamilySearch.org, plus ways to become a FamilySearch power-user, in the Unofficial Guide to FamilySearch.org, which comes out on Tuesday. Order your copy here.

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  1. "When you’re researching a branch of your family tree, the first (and easiest) place to start looking for your ancestors is the US census,"

    Not so – this advice only spplies if your recent family originates in the USA. My English family has precisely zero presence in any USA Cansus. I wish Americans would remember that there is a world outside the USA.