Powerful Tips and Tricks for Searching Historical Documents in FamilySearch

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Syllabus for class taught by Bryce Roper, Product Manager from FamilySearch, presented at the FGS Conference 2010

FamilySearch continues to provide access to a growing number of historical records in the redesigned FamilySearch .org web site. These records include both indexed and un-indexed collections with access to a growing collection that currently includes over 1 billion names and will reach over 2 billion this year.


In the newly designed FamilySearch.org web site many of the tools for doing family history work that FamilySearch offered as standalone products have been brought together in one web site. This site is found at: Labs.FamilySearch.org Just click the FamilySearch Beta link to see what we have been working on. The Record Search Pilot project is now part of this new site and is found under the Historical Records tab on the FamilySearch Beta site.

There are now billions of historical records online—yet it still only represents less than 10% of the world’s records. Between the boom of new records created and the record pace at which other records are being lost, there is a race to work as an industry and community to preserve and provide access to these priceless collections.


  1. Gain a brief understanding of where the content for FamilySearch comes from
  2. Learn about the available sets of records on FamilySearch
  3. Use the interface in FamilySearch to more successfully find your ancestors


The presentation will include:

A brief overview of FamilySearch

Where the records come from

  • Records that are made available from the Granite Mountain Vault
  • Partners provide indexes that are featured in FamilySearch

How patrons can help with content for FamilySearch

  • FamilySearch Indexing as a tool to index records
  • Benefits to the industry and to people for their service

Discussion of the records that are currently available in FamilySearch

Which sets of records are currently available

  • Types
  • Time Span
  • Places

Overview of the types of content and partners

  • Indexed vs. Un-indexed
  • Local content vs. Partner Provided

How to use Record Search effectively

Introduction to the interface

  • Global Search vs. Individual Collections

Differences in the collection types of Indexed and Un-indexed collections

  • Indexed Collections Overview – search tools
  • Un-indexed Collections Overview - navigation

Tips on effectively searching finding your ancestors in FamilySearch

  • Search Strategies
  • Exact, Close and Partial compared
  • Narrow vs. Broad
  • Advanced Search Options
  • Filtering Results
  • Type of filters
  • Examples


There are many sites on the internet that offer access to different tools to find your ancestors; however, FamilySearch provides unprecedented free-access to a rapidly growing collection of over a billion names. Combined with other new and exciting tools from FamilySearch, genealogy has never been more engaging and rewarding.