24 October 2012

Catch and release fiching

An emailed comment from Mark Jacobson regarding yesterday's post on Family History Library microfilm and document acquisition made me realize that I'd left out a pretty important bit of advice: before one orders a film or a record: 
  • check to see if the desired records have been already posted online at FamilySearch.org, and
  • check with your local Family History Center to see if they already own the selected film.

Is the film already online?


Direct method

Go to the FamilySearch website and query the collection in the online records. Select "Records" from the tab on the upper left. If the collection of interest has been indexed, one may only need to type a name in the search boxes provided. If one wishes to search on the exact name, click the little box to the immediate right of the box or click on the small box immediately to the left of "Match All Exactly," then search. The results will provide all the records that FamilySearch has online for that name in all collections.

If one would rather look for a particular collection, then do not search on names. Go to the bottom of the page and browse by location. To see the records collections from the United States, for example, click on United States.

All 636 (more coming soon) online collections will be listed alphabetically. One may sort by latest update by clicking "Last Updated" in blue on the upper right. Or, scroll through the state list in the left column and select the location of interest. I selected New York.

One may ford through the collection from New York, or sort them by date, record type or data type (records with or without online images) using the topics in the left column. Those collections with small cameras to the left of the name have images. Those that indicate "Browse Images," have not yet been indexed by name. You may find, however, that they may have been presorted by county. 


Search the Microfilm 

This takes us back to where we were in my previous post. Start at the FamilySearch home page, select catalog and, for this example, type in New York, New York. The results will include all collections on film for New York County. If one selects "Census - 1905," note that last segment of the description for that collection includes "availability: Online." This is the first indication that one may view the documents from the comfort of ones own computer.

Click on "New York state census records for Manhattan Borough and Bronx, 1905." The resulting page will provide the expected list of available microfilm. But also, the red text provides definitive information about and a link to the online records for these films.

If one goes through this exercise and there is no red text on the results page (as in yesterday's post), then be assured that there are no current online images for the queried collection on FamilySearch.org. Go fiche!

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