Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Quickly Searching for FamilySearch Beta Historical Record Collections

I always want to find shortcuts - ways to quickly get to a specific historical collection on a website, and then shortcuts to find specific records.  After all, time is money... well, for retired guys like me, time is precious too.

The FamilySearch Beta site has a fantastic shortcut to get to a specific historical record collection on the site.  If you click on the "All Record Collections" link at the bottom of the home page, then you see this screen listing all Historical Record Collections:

I used to scroll down to find a specific collection in this very long list of 475 (today) collections to find the one I wanted.  Now, FamilySearch has created a shortcut to specific collections or groups of collections.

See the Search Field in the upper left-hand corner that says "Collection Name?"  Put your cursor in the field.  If you know the words or numbers in the collection name, or the state or country that you are searching, then you can start to type in the field and when you pause, the collections with that search string in their title will appear.

In the example below, I typed in "ca" and saw this list after a second or two:

It listed collections with "ca" in the title - like "California," "Canada," "Catholic," "Genealogical," "America" and several more - they all have "ca" in the collection title.

I really wanted Canada, so I continued typing in "na" to make it "cana" in the search field, and saw all of the collections with "cana" in the collection title:

Isn't that cool?  It saves me a lot of scrolling time (especially when I'm looking for the U.S. Census, which is like over 450 lines down the page of all collections).  If I want the 1870 U.S. census, I can enter "1870" in the search field and the link appears quickly.  If I want all U.S. Census records, I can type in "united" and see all of the U.S. collections, including the U.S. census collections.  Note that this quick search works with only one word in the title of the collection.  If I had used "census" I would have received all census collections - foreign, federal and state collection.  If I had specified "brunswick" I would have received New Brunswick collections, but not the Canada census records.

If you want to see all of the collections for a specific country, or a specific record type (e.g., Census and Lists; Birth, Marriage and Death;  Probate and Court; etc.), or a specific date range, there are dynamic links on the left sidebar that you can click on to see records for your selected country, category or date range.  For instance, I clicked on the "Canada, USA and Mexico" link and the list of collections came up on the right, and the country list on the left changed to show the three separate countries.  Canada has 33 collections at this time, including the federal collections and all of the provincial collections identified with Canada.

This "quick search" feature cannot be used to search for persons - you have to use the Search fields on the FamilySearch Beta home page, or go to this Historical Record Collections page and select a specific record collection (using either the long list, or using this "quick search" method to find a specific collection).

Since the list of Record Collections is changing rapidly, users of the FamilySearch Beta site should get familiar with searching for specific record collections using this quick search feature.  You just have to remember the limitations of the search method.

Thank you to Robert Kehrer of FamilySearch for demonstrating this feature to me at the FamilySearch Bloggers Day last week!

1 comment:

SavingStories said...

This is an absolutely great introduction and explanation of using the beta version of Great screnshots too! Thank you!