FamilySearch Catalog Places Search

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Introduction to the FamilySearch Catalog Gotoarrow.png Places Search

Do a Places Search when you want to find records in the collection of the Family History Library by the name of a place (locality) where an ancestor lived. Microfilms located through this search can then be ordered over the Internet.
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Steps to Search by Places

The following steps will help you find records for a specific locality in the FamilySearch Catalog.

  1. Go to the FamilySearch Catalog.
  2. ("Places" is the default search option. If it does not appear, select it from the menu.)
  3. Type the locality. The catalog organizes places from the largest jurisdiction in a place-name to the smallest. Generally, the pattern is country, state or province, county (where applicable), city or town.
    As you slowly type a phrase into the Places search box, possible matches will appear in a drop-down list below it. Click on the match that best matches the locality you seek. Names of places in the Catalog are cited from largest to smallest jurisdiction, for example, United States, Utah, Salt Lake, Salt Lake City. Keep that in mind when viewing search options. Many provinces, counties, and cities share the same name.Click Search (even if the locality was selected from the drop-down menu).
  4. Click a topic, such as Church records. (See also Locality Subject Subdivisions.)
  5. Click a title to see more details.
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Strategies for Using a Places Search

The names of countries are in English. The names of states, provinces, regions, cities, and other jurisdictions are in the language of the country. If you search for the name of a country, written in the language of the country, the catalog will indicate on the results page No results found and to "See" the country in English.

Consider that records are kept at different jurisdictional levels. Search for the town or city if you are looking for records specific to that jurisdiction (cemetery, church, directories, town histories, etc.). Search for the county for records that would cover more than one town or that might be kept by the county government (vital records, court records, land and property records, county histories, etc.). Many important records might be located at the state or provincial level (census, military, state histories, etc.), or even at the country level (census, federal land, citizenship, etc.).

To search for a county, do not type the word "County" as a part of the search term. For example, to find Fairfax county, Virginia, type Fairfax Virginia or Virginia Fairfax in the search field. To find more records try a search by putting a comma after Fairfax, in the place name, a drop down list of each township or locality will appear. Click on the township or locality for links to more records.

If you do not know how to spell the place-name, truncate (shorten) the name or use a wild card character to replace letters you are not sure of.

If a place-name has more than one word, you do not need to type all of the words. Nor do you have to type them in exact order. The computer automatically finds all places with the word or words that you type, no matter where in the place-name they appear. For example, if you type Barton, the computer would find Barton Mills, Barton-on-Irwell, Great Barton, and so forth.

What If I Do Not Find the Place I Want?

If you type a name in the Places search box but no pull-down list appears, that means there are no places with that spelling found in the Catalog. Before you conclude that the catalog does not have records for that place, try the following strategies:

  • Be sure you typed the place-name correctly.
  • Search for records using a different jurisdictional level. For example, if you cannot find records for a town, search for county records.

How Do I Find Related Places?

  • The Places within feature allows you to see what other areas are covered by the same jurisdiction. Click on it to see a list of smaller jurisdictions within that larger jurisdiction. You can also use the Places within feature to display all the localities for a particular jurisdiction such as: country, province, state, or county. To use the Places within feature, click on the link that says "Places within [followed by the name of the place].
  • The Part of feature lists the larger jurisdiction which a locality is part of. For example, this could be the name of a county for a city, or the name of a state or province for a county.

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See also

Ordering Microfilm or Microfiche to your local Family History Center

Locality Subject Subdivisions