Why Searches Don’t Cover All the Site’s Records & How to Find Collections You Need

By Diane Haddad

When you search the free genealogy records on, what you might not know is that your search doesn’t cover all the digitized records on the site.

That’s because FamilySearch starts adding collections to the site even before they’re fully indexed and searchable, in the interest of letting researchers access those records right away. And in one of the 16 video classes in our Winter 2014 Virtual Genealogy Conference (Feb. 28-March 2), Rick Crume will show you tricks for finding what you need faster in these unindexed and partially indexed record sets.

How do you find those browse-only databases in the first place? Follow these steps:

1. Go to FamilySearch’s Browse All Published Collections page. It looks like this, with all 1,709 collections displayed alphabetically in the middle, and filtering options on the left:

2. From the Place filters on the left, select a region, country, state or other geographic division. Subfilters may then let you drill down to a state, province or country. The collections list will change to show only titles associated with the place specified. 

3. Additional filters let you view collections from a specific time period or of a specific type (military, probate and court, etc.).

If you regularly check here for new titles (like I do), click the Last Updated column heading at the top right to see the most recently updated collections listed first.

(You also could use the Filter by Collection Name field at the top left to search for words in collection titles, but this might miss collections not titled as you’d expect.)

A camera icon next to the database title means results are linked to digitized record images. A Browse Images link in the Records column means the collection isn’t indexed at all. Some databases are partially indexed, so you still may need to browse to find a record.

Click on a collection name for a brief description of it, a link to details about the records in the collection, a link to search the records (if they’re at least partially indexed), and a link to browse through the collection.

Click here to see a list of all the video presentations and online chats you get with our Winter 2014 Virtual Genealogy Conference.