Handing Over the Key

By Diane Haddad Premium

If you’ve always wondered about that disabled keyword-search button in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Family History Library (FHL) catalog online, ponder no more. The FHL activated the Keyword search button earlier this year, allowing you to find words from the Title, Author, Subject and Notes fields in the catalog descriptions for the FHL’s books, microfilms and other holdings. To access the FHL catalog, go to <> and click the Library tab.

A keyword search might locate more matching records than a surname search, which finds words listed in the Title and Subjects fields. For example, our keyword search on the surname Seeger got 38 results, including The Griesmers: A Century in Cleveland, Ohio, 1882-1982. The Notes field in this book’s catalog listing says Johannes Griesmer married Katharina Seeger in 1862 (see step-by-step, below). Compare that to a surname search on Seeger: It returned 14 matches, and the Griesmer book wasn’t among them. Without the keyword search, we would’ve missed the mention of Katharina’s maiden name.

A keyword search probably will get you more results than a subject search, too, which is based on the Library of Congress subject headings listed in each catalog description’s Subject field. A keyword search on Oregon trail, for instance, yielded 174 matches; a subject search returned 89.

Another advantage: Instead of doing a place search on, say, Hamilton (the county in Ohio) then scrolling through topics until you find an entry for vital records on microfilm, you can keyword search on Hamilton Ohio vital records and get right to the matching catalog listings. But genealogical experts agree you’ll get the best results by trying different searches and search terms, so experiment while you’re surfing the FHL catalog.

Get the Word

1. Access the Family History Library (FHL) catalog online by logging on to <>. Click the Library tab, then Family History Library Catalog, then the type of search you want. For a Keyword search, type a word or phrase — a surname, place, subject or author’s name — into the field. Click Search.

2. The search will return FHL holdings that contain your search term in the catalog description’s Title, Author, Subject or Notes fields. Click on a title to see more details. The catalog entry for The Griesmers: A Century in Cleveland, Ohio, 1882-1982 included our search term under Notes.

3. You can borrow most FHL microfilm via branch Family History Centers. To search for one near you, click the Library tab, then Family History Centers. FHL books don’t circulate — search for those titles in online library catalogs and ask your local library about borrowing them through interlibrary loan.
From the June 2005 Family Tree Magazine