FamilySearch genealogy resources, as you probably know, are free, funded by the LDS church and its members. For several years, the site has been undergoing an upgrade. Updates will include online family trees (a feature termed “New FamilySearch” that’s being rolled out gradually, first to LDS members), an integrated record search, and an FHL catalog withentries you can comment on. Because FamilySearch is always growing, you’ll want to keep track of where to find what. Here’s a navigation guide:
- Search records: Go here to access FamilySearch genealogy databases, described in the next section.
- Index Records: This link takes you to the website for FamilySearch Indexing, a program in which volunteers all over the world are indexing digitized records from the LDS Church’s Granite Mountain Records Vault and partner repositories. Visit the site for details on volunteering.
- Share: You don’t have to register to use FamilySearch, but you can opt to do so here. Then you can follow the directions under “how do I submit my genealogy?” to upload a GEDCOM file (this doesn’t work in the Firefox browser), which will be preserved in the Pedigree Resource File database. “New FamilySearch,” the forthcoming online family tree tracker, will have much-improved sharing features.
- Research Helps: Here, you’ll find hundreds of research outlines, letter-writing guides and other resources.
- Library: Search the FHL catalog and find your nearest branch Family History Center from this tab.
- Help: The Help tab provides support for FamilySearch’s free Personal Ancestral File software.
Ancestral File: Users contributed these names and vital statistics for millions of people, organized into family group sheets and pedigree charts. Enter at least your ancestor’s last name; you also can specify parents, spouse, event, date range and locale. It’s a valuable tool for tracking down siblings of your ancestor. Click an ancestor’s name in the search results to display the individual’s record. Parents’ names, if known, are shown on this page with a “Family” icon on the right side of the screen. If you click the icon, you’ll see a family group sheet, with each child linked to his own page. You can download all these records to your computer. Note that the Ancestral File data aren’t
independently verified, so you’ll want to double-check everything you find.
Getting research assistance
Whether you’re researching a state that’s new to you or you just found an ancestor’s country of origin, you’ll need to know what records are available for that locale. Fortunately, FamilySearch has plenty of research guidance.
Visiting the library (virtually)
Owner: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Family History Library, 35 N. West Temple St., Room 344, Salt Lake City, UT 84150, (801) 240-2584 or (866) 406-1830
- Hits since launch: 15 billion
- Visitors since launch: 150 million
- Average hits per day: 10 million
- Average visitors per day: 50,000
- Pages viewed per day: 1 million
More than 1 billion names in searchable databases
- 1850 through 1880, 1900 and 1920 US census records or indexes
- 1851, 1871, 1891 Canadian census indexes; 1881 census records
- 1881 British Isles census
- Mexico 1930 census, marriages and church records
- 25,000-plus digitized publications
- Rio de Janeiro civil registrations
- Social Security Death Index
1999 | Visitors overwhelm and crash newly launched FamilySearch site
2003 | Work begins on “New FamilySearch”
2007 | New FamilySearch begins rolling out to LDS members
2007 | FamilySearch announces FamilySearch Indexing
2007 | FamilySearch launches Record Search Pilot Site
2008 | FamilySearch Wiki launches