Finding Online Records
February 03, 2023
Most likely, you have heard of and/or used the FamilySearch Research Wiki. There's a lot to love about the wiki, with its over 105,000 articles about locations, records, and genealogy methodology. But there's one wiki page you should be looking at each and every time you start researching a specific location.
That Blue Button
When you search the FamilySearch Research Wiki by location, such as a country or a state/province, you will have access to information that can help you further your knowledge of that area and the existing records. But there's a shortcut to help you understand what records are online to help you start your research.
This blue button is labeled [Location] Online Genealogy Records. Click on it to find a list of links for online genealogy records. These links are for records found within FamilySearch and other websites, including subscription websites.
These online records links are grouped according to category. These subject categories will be familiar to those who use the FamilySearch Catalog. These categories include the following, as well as additional categories that are specific to that country or region:
- Vital Records (subcategories: Birth, Marriage, Death, and Divorce)
- Bible Records
- Business Records
- Cemetery Records
- Church Records
- Compiled Genealogies
- Court and Criminal Records
- Cultural Groups
- Immigration Records
- Land Records
- Probate Records
- Religious Records
- School Records
- Voter Lists
The list will indicate the title of the collection, the entity that hosts the collection (such as FamilySearch), if the collection includes indexes and/or images, and if there is a cost (indicated by a "$"). You should start with the country, then go to the state/province page, and then you can search a county page, but those pages will only contain links for a larger region (depending on what is available).
Keep in mind that for a country or state/province page it will not show links for records "lower jurisdictions." A country list will not include links for a state or province, and a state/province page won't show links to a county or parish.
Why Click the Blue Button?
There's no doubt that exhausting what's online is an excellent first step to researching an ancestor. Once you exhaust online sources, you can move on to identifying what you need from a library, archive, or government office. These lists of online records are incredibly helpful as you scan them but keep in mind that they might not include everything. The FamilySearch Wiki is a wiki, and because it relies on a community to update it, it may not include everything it should. However, the blue button is a great first step to understanding what is available online.
Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.
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