Introduction to the FamilySearch CatalogEdit This Page

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What Is the FamilySearch Catalog?

Contents

The FamilySearch Catalog (formerly Family History Library Catalog) describes the genealogical resources held by FamilySearch.org, the Family History Library, selected FamilySearch Centers, and selected partner libraries.

The Catalog is a guide to family histories; birth, marriage, and death records; census records; church registers; books, periodicals and many other records that may contain genealogical information. These records may be in a book, on microfiche or microfilm, searchable online or in a computer file.

Most microfilm and microfiche records can be sent to your nearest FamilySearch Center. If a particular item is available at another FamilySearch Center besides the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, then a pull-down menu will indicate the locations where the item is available.

Where Is It Found?

The FamilySearch Catalog is available on the Internet at the FamilySearch.org splash page under the Search tab. Previous versions of the catalog were released on compact disc and on microfiche, but those versions are significantly outdated, and do not list films acquired after the publication date on the disc or microfiche.

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Also, the FamilySearch Catalog has been made available via OCLC WorldCat[1] since 2014. OCLC WorldCat is an online union catalog of over 2 billion titles at 72,000 libraries[2] in 172 countries and territories. Although it is the world’s largest bibliographic database for materials held around the world, OCLC WorldCat does not list sources housed in repositories outside their consortium.

Preparation

Before you use the FamilySearch Catalog, it helps to choose a person about whom you want to find more information, and decide what you want to learn about him or her. For example, you may want to find your great-grandmother's death date and place. To do this, you need to decide what types of records are likely to contain that information.

Which Catalog Search Should I Try?

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The type of search you should do is determined by the kind of catalog entries or records you want to find. There are eight kinds of possible FamilySearch Catalog searches. In the catalog clicking on the name of the search will open or close that search.

The table below briefly describes each of the eight types of searches. For further details about each type of search, click on name of the search in the table.

Do This Type of Search:

To Find the Following Types of Catalog Entries:

Places Search

Look for a record by the name of a place (locality) where an ancestor lived.

Surnames Search

Find family histories (and more) by a particular family name.

Titles Search

Find a record by its title.

Authors Search

To find the works of an author by his name (individual or corporate).

Subjects Search

To discover works based on the topics they cover.

Keywords Search

Get a record using any words or phrases in significant parts of its catalog entry. 

Call Number Search

See catalog entries by finding their book, compact disc, or pedigree call number.

Film/Fiche Number Search

See catalog details by finding the Library's microfilm or microfiche number. 

When you want to change to a new kind of search it helps to close the old search first. Close the old search by clicking the "X" in the upper right corner of the area around the search box. Then click on the new search type to open that kind of search.

Another way to close an old search is to click on the name of that type of search, for example, Places.

Combined Searches

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You can also combine two or more FamilySearch Catalog searches if a single search alone yields too many results to be practical. For example, you could combine a Surnames Search and a Keywords Search. First close all the other search types. Then click the Surnames  and the Keywords  searches. A search for "Smith" in the Surnames Search  yields over 4,000 results. But combined with the Keywords Search  for the phrase "Philadelphia cave" this combination returns only one result.

Combining Surnames  and Keywords  searches for a family name and a state where they lived is often a successful strategy. "Smith" in the Surnames  field and combined with "Hawaii" in the Keywords  field will yield a manageable 52 results.

When It's Not in the Catalog

Before concluding it is not in the FamilySearch Catalog try the following strategies:

  • Look again in Surnames Search for variations of the family name.
  • Change the jurisdiction in a Places Search. For example, if it is not at the county level, try again under the town, state, or national levels, or in neighboring counties and towns.
  • Try a variety of searches. Use a Keywords Search, Subjects Search, Authors Search, or Titles Search.
  • Try again later. FamilySearch is constantly acquiring new materials.

Try other repositories. Many other libraries and archives have information about ancestors. Try their online catalogs to see if they have what you need. For example, try catalogs like the WorldCat (world's largest network of online content and services), or the Daughters of the American Revolution Online Library Catalog.

If a repository's catalog is not online, try contacting them by phone or mail to learn if they have records about an ancestor. For a directory of U.S. historical genealogical societies see http://www.obitlinkspage.com/hs/index.html  For a list of various kinds of libraries and archives try dir.yahoo.com/Reference/Libraries/

Search the Internet. Many records are being digitized and put on the Internet. In FamilySearch's Historical Records Collections you will find billions of names across hundreds of Family History Library collections including birth, marriage, death, probate, land, military, Ancestral File, and the International Genealogical Index. Also, search engines like Google, or Yahoo can help locate many other historical sources available on the Internet.

Related Content

References

  1. Official website of OCLC WorldCat.
  2. For list of the small portion of those libraries which have a descriptive page in this Wiki, see the Category:WorldCat libraries.




 

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  • This page was last modified on 13 November 2014, at 18:20.
  • This page has been accessed 207,548 times.