Lesson 3

Workshop 3 - FamilySearch



Last Week

For the past couple of weeks we’ve talked about getting started on your family history and using programs like RootsMagic and Family Tree.

●      Thinking back to last week’s lab and what you’ve learned in your classes, why do we have programs like Family Tree and RootsMagic?


What is FamilySearch?

What do you know about the FamilySearch website? Have any of you used it before?

FamilySearch is the family history website sponsored by the church. Using it, you can search historical records, peruse the FamilySearch library catalog, learn how to research, start indexing, and more.


Powerpoint: The scripture is on a slide so that you can have a student read through it.

How do you think these scriptures apply to FamilySearch.org?

In 1 Nephi 5:10, 14–17 it says, “My father, Lehi, took the records which were engraven upon the plates of brass, and he did search them from the beginning. . . . And it came to pass that my father, Lehi, also found upon the plates of brass a genealogy of his fathers; wherefore he knew that he was a descendant of Joseph; yea, even that Joseph who was the son of Jacob, who was sold into Egypt, and who was preserved by the hand of the Lord, that he might preserve his father, Jacob, and all his household from perishing with famine. . . . And thus my father, Lehi, did discover the genealogy of his fathers. . . . And now when my father saw all these things, he was filled with the Spirit.”


5 Step Research Process

Where would the FamilySearch website fall in the five step research process? Which steps could you complete using the FamilySearch site?

- Since we’ve already covered Family Tree (steps 1 and 2), today we’re going to focus on the website’s research resources. These fall under steps 3 and 4: Select Records to Search and Obtain and Search the Records.

Step 3: Select Records to Search

●      Looking for a birth date? Try a birth record, christening record, or newspaper announcement. Need a death date? Try looking at headstones, death records, obituaries, or cemetery records.

●      Trying to document a relationship? Try a marriage, census, birth or death record.

Step 4: Obtain and Search the Records

●      Historical Records—original records indexed by volunteers and searchable through the indexes in the Records section on FamilySearch.org

●      FamilySearch Library Catalog—a listing of all the records available in the Family History Library in Salt Lake.

●      FamilySearch Wiki—lists resources and information by location; may contain links, film numbers, or websites that have specific types of records for that locality


To get to records, first go to familysearch.org. There are two ways to get there from here. First you can just click the button at the top of the screen that says ‘search’. Another option is clicking the button that says ‘search’ below the large picture on the screen. The picture will change and you can click the green button that says ‘Start Searching’.


When you get to the next page, please note the five categories listed under the FamilySearch logo at the top-left of the screen. They say Records, Genealogies, Catalog, Books and Wiki. These will be the five categories we go over in this class.



Name Search

A name search can be a valuable tool if you’re not sure what you’re looking for or if you want to make sure you catch a broad summary of the website’s content on your ancestor.

●      Type information into the fields on the records page of familysearch.org

o      You can click on the different category links (such as “Birth”, “Marriage”, or “Parents”) to add further search restrictions.

o      Keep in mind that if you start by searching with all of the information you have, you might want to take some out piece-by-piece if you don’t find what you’re looking for. And, if you start really general—with just a name for example—you might want to add more information piece-by-piece to narrow your results

●      If your search returns too many results or if none of the results are relevant, you can alter your search on the left sidebar using various filters.


What if you don’t find your ancestor? Why do you think that might happen? A misspelling? Your ancestor wasn’t recorded? The website doesn’t have the records you were expecting?

-          A name search goes through all the indexed  records on the entire website. Yes, we can narrow the results with filters on the side, but if we already know exactly what kind of record we want to find, there is a better way to find out whether FamilySearch.org has the record we are looking for.


Collection Search

A collection search can verify that FamilySearch.org has the record collection you need and will help narrow your results right off the bat by eliminating any records that are from other collections.

Powerpoint: Slide with a screen shot of a Family Tree individual and the information we want to know circled. (It’s on the TA flash drive in the “Lessons” folder.)

If this is the information we want to verify, what records would give us that information?

We can find out if FamilySearch.org has this collection by selecting the country or geographic area where the record would be located. In this case, ________.

●      Clicking there will bring up a box with all the data for record collections FamilySearch currently has digitized for that area.

●      Click on Start Researching in _________ to see a list of all the collections available .

o      You’ll notice some record collections have a little camera next to them.

▪       What do you think the camera symbol might mean?

▪       Why do you think it matters if you can see the original image of the record? Why would we want to look at the original record as opposed to the index which is often easier to read?

o      Also, some collections have a number in the “Records” column and some collections say “Browse Images.”

▪       The number means the collection has been indexed.

▪       Since we don’t index records fast enough, other collections have been uploaded so that you can search them even if they aren’t indexed. These collections will be easiest to search if you know a specific place or date for your ancestor that is applicable to the record collection.

●      The left-hand column has more options that will let you narrow by individual country or state to see what record collections are there.

●      Clicking on the name of a record collection, will bring up a description page of the collection. This is also where you would search for your ancestor and see the original image if it is available.

●      After searching, when you find a result that you are confident is your ancestor (check the original image first), then click on ‘attach to family tree’. It will bring up a side by side view of the record’s family and your family tree family. There is a history list and a place to type in your ancestor’s unique identifying number.

o      Compare the information side-by-side. Choose which information to add to your family tree, give a reason to attach the source, and click attach. This will add it straight as a source to those ancestors and tag relevant events into it.

o      You can detach from this page if it was an error. You can also change the family member if you linked the wrong family.


Why do you think we should look at the original image (if possible), not just the indexed data?


The Genealogies tab is a resource of compiled information from various sources. They include the Pedigree Resource File and Ancestral File databases. If you want to see what information others have submitted about your family, you can check here. We aren’t going to spend a lot of time in this section but feel free to browse around.

What is the difference between a compiled source, like the information found under the Genealogies tab, and original sources like images found under the Records tab?


Search in Catalog

●      Explain why we search the catalog (not very many records actually exist online, FHL has much more available. The catalog search is searching what is available offline.)

●      Types of searches (why its good to look at place-name search-the records in the Family History Library are sorted by location)

●      What is microfilm and microfiche and why we would want to look for them

            How to search for microfilm and microfiche:

o      Go to lib.byu.edu and show them the family history lib page (microfilm/fiche search from  there)

o      How to order a microfilm (HBLL, 2nd floor in family history area)

Why would we want to take the time to search through the catalog? What can it offer us?


The books tab links to books that have been digitized and are available to anyone through familysearch. The books include selections from the Allen County Public Library, BYU, BYU-H and the FHL among others. The neat thing about this feature is that the scanning technology uses character recognition -- in other words, the scanners scan a book and can recognize the letters so you can search through the book using keywords.

●      This is useful to us as family historians because many family histories and published transcriptions have been scanned.

Research Wiki

o      Cannot search ancestor’s names here, rather, you search categories/locations/etc in order to find useful information that will help in the research process.

o      This resource helps you find records, it isn’t actually a record itself.

Research Courses (just mention what they are and why they’re useful)

Note: Forums are being discontinued, so don’t address them unless someone asks.

Research Help

Now go back to your homepage by clicking on the FamilySearch logo. From here click on the button on the far right, Get Help’. This is where you can receive all kinds of research on your family history through live chats and even helpful videos.

On the lower left corner of the box that pops up, there are five new categories. Feel free to explore these on your own, but the one we’re going to focus on in the very last one: Learning Center.

●      Click on Learning Center. This should take you to a new page with lots of links. This is where Familysearch stores their help videos.

o      Because research varies from place to place, you can find out how to begin research in a certain area through these tutorials.

o      Handwriting tutorials are also available under the country you’re researching in.

o      Once you click on a country (on the side of the screen) you will notice that you can find a video that interests you or you can narrow it down by skill level (beginning, intermediate, advanced) on the side. Along with this, you can also sort by subject, format or language.