Tapping into the Family History Library
After you’ve identified your ancestor’s hometown and parish, you can start looking for his records. To do that stateside, look to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Family History Library (FHL). The Salt Lake City-based FHL is the world’s largest genealogy library, and its Web site, FamilySearch <www.familysearch.org>, has many resources that can facilitate your British research:
Research Outlines: Choose the Search tab, then click on Research Helps, then on the first letter of the country’s name for tips on researching various record types.
Family History Library catalog: Click on Search, then on Family History Library Catalog to find out what the FHL has to offer (try a place search on your ancestors’ country, town or parish). You can borrow most items on microfilm or microfiche through a branch Family History Center (FHC) in your community (see <www.familysearch.org/eng/library/fhc/frameset_fhc.asp> to find one near you).
International Genealogical Index (IGI): Select the Search tab to access this database, which contains the dates and places of millions of British Isles births and marriages. Although it doesn’t list everyone who ever lived in Great Britain, the IGI’s importance can’t be overstated. It can give you the specific parish and county where your ancestors lived, so you can follow up with research in church and probate records.
Thousands of volunteers extracted much of the IGI’s information from vital and church records; LDS members contributed the rest. You’ll often find multiple people with the same name, so the challenge is making sure you find your family. To do that, you’ll probably have to check original records, which is a good idea when using any online data.
If you have Scottish ancestors, try using Scots Origins’ <www.scotsorigins.com> special IGI interface. It lets you search records by parish, which you can’t do on FamilySearch.