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How to Browse Records on FamilySearch

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How to Browse Record Collections that Include Images[edit | edit source]

Many of the record collections on FamilySearch include images. Many of the collections with images have not yet been indexed. You can browse through the images in these collections page by page. This can be helpful in the following situations:

  • The collection does not have an index.
  • The collection is only partially indexed and your ancestor does not appear.
  • The collection is indexed and you know your ancestor should appear in the collection but doesn't (this may happen due to recording, transcription, or indexing errors).

Step-by-Step Instructions:[edit | edit source]

  1. Search at the top. FamilySearch navigates to the main search page.
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click Browse All Published Collections. FamilySearch navigates to a list of all Historical Record Collections. (Also available at
  3. Choose a collection to browse. Use the filters on the left to narrow your results by location, time period, or search by name. [Note: Only collections showing a camera icon to the left of the name has images that can be browsed.] Click on the collection name. FamilySearch will take you to the collection summary page that allows you to search or browse the collection. Review the collection description and click learn more for additional details about the record collection.
  4. Click browse through [----] images to access the images. [Note: The number listed represents the total number of images in the collection. You will not have to browse through all of these images. Before you navigate to the image, you will be able to narrow to a specific set of record images based on location (county, town, parish), time period, or even volume of the original record set.]
  5. Choose the location, time period, and record type that you want to browse. FamilySearch returns the first image in the image set.
  6. Use the navigation arrows and image number located above the image to navigate through the images. Navigate four or five images into the set to move past the test and title pages. 
  7. Use the image number to quickly navigate through the image set. If the image set was captured alphabetically or you know the page number you are looking for. For example, in a volume organized alphabetically with 1,056 images, type in the number 600 to quickly jump to the surnames beginning with the letter M.

Using Internal Indexes:[edit | edit source]

  • Some collections include handwritten (or typed) indexes that were filmed with the original records. These indexes are usually included as separate volumes or can be found at either the beginning or end of each volume. Check both the first twenty images and the last twenty images of each volume to determine if an index exists.
  • Many handwritten indexes are listed semi-alphabetically, meaning that all of the surnames beginning with the same letter are grouped together but are not listed in alphabetical order. For example, if your ancestor's last name is Stevens, read through the entire section of the index listing S surnames.
  • Some indexes may use unfamiliar terms. Use a genealogical dictionary or on-line search to learn what the words mean within this context. (For example, in U.S. land records, indexes may be called grantor/direct indexes, which are organized by the seller of the land, or grantee/reverse/indirect indexes, which are organized by the buyer of the land.)

Additional Suggestions:[edit | edit source]

  • If a single image set includes two volumes, navigate to the indexes and records for both volumes.
  • Some collections were already in alphabetical order when they were digitized by FamilySearch. These collections can easily be used without an index.

Advanced Tips:[edit | edit source]

  • Learn how and why the record collection was created. FamilySearch digitizes record sets in the order they were kept by the archive or repository that holds them, an order which was usually established as the original records were created. To efficiently use the records to find the people you are searching for, learn how and why the records were created.
  • Many of the collections that have an index are actually only partially indexed. If a search for your ancestor fails, use the browse feature to navigate to the records associated with the location and time period your ancestor should appear.