Using Family Search


Last month I reported on the new group from the Fenton History Center, The Fenton Travelers and our trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. The Family History Library hosts the very popular and useful Website, Family Search. This is an enormous collection of on-line resources, microfilm, microfiche, books, documents, etc. Learning to navigate this collection can greatly enhance your research.

The first thing that you will want to do is go to On the Home page, you will see four choices listed on the main banner. Go to Search where you will find a drop down menu listing: records, genealogies, catalog, books, and wiki. All are helpful in your search. I recommend starting with catalog.

Click on catalog and the page will offer places, surnames, title, author, subject and keywords. I have used all the headings in my research. Let’s start with places and type in Chautauqua. Underneath this you will see additional offerings. I selected United States, New York, Chautauqua. This brings up a long list of documents etc. that are located in the catalog. Select any one that you are interested in and click on it. I selected cemeteries. When I clicked on it, it opened to reveal a specific list of cemetery records that are available to you in the website. I clicked on the very last one in the list (Some Gravestone Inscriptions of Chautauqua). When this opens, there is a book listed with the call numbers. Also below that, in red, it states, “To view a digital version of this item click here”. Doing so will allow you to read the record on-line at your convenience.

Many of the items that you open will list a book title and the call numbers. Under this there will be a statement “view this catalog in WorldCat for other possible copy locations”. Clicking on this will list other libraries that have the specific book that you may wish to view. To see a good example of this click on United States, New York, Chautauqua – Military History, then click Brothers one and all: esprit de corps in a Civil War regiment. Scrolling down on this page will bring you a list of libraries and the distance from Jamestown. In this instance you will see: St. Bonaventure University, Cattaraugus Allegheny BOCES School Library, Allegheny College, Houghton College Library, Buffalo State – SUNY College at Buffalo and Clarion University Libraries. It even has a little box labeled Map It that will bring up a map from here to there.

To view the possibility of ordering microfiche and microfilm, click on History Indexes and then on Index to the Centennial History of Chautauqua County. At the bottom of the page it will list a film number. Clicking on that will take you to a page that allows you to order the film to be sent to the local Family History Center on Forest Ave. You will then be able to make an appointment to go and use their Microfilm reader to review this film.

Hopefully this will help you to get a bit more out of Family Search. Next month, I will highlight the use of their WIKI feature.