Thursday, June 9, 2011

Navigating - Post 5: Using the Card Catalog

The posts in this series to date are:

Navigating - Post 1: New Search, Advanced Form
*  Navigating - Post 2: New Search, Basic Form
Navigating - Post 3: Old Search, Basic Form
Navigating - Post 4: Old Search, Advanced Form users should know that there are some record databases that are not indexed. The user has to find them using the Card Catalog and then browse the specific database. 

In this post, we're going to visit the Card Catalog of the 30,151 databases that has available today.  The Card Catalog URL is

1)  The user can customize his home page, and my home page looks like this:

I've customized my home page so that the "Record Collections" box on the right-hand side of the screen is at the top of my page, right next to the Search box (on the left). 

Note that the "Record Collections" box has links to the U.S. Census records, some links to major collections, and the Card Catalog.

2)  After clicking the Card Catalog, the page looks like this:

The user can choose six different lists from the dropdown menu for "sort By" in the green background line - "Popularity," "Database Title," "Date Updated," "Date Added" and "Record Count," as shown in the screen above.

3)  I chose the "Record Count."   On the left side is the "Search Titles" box with fields for "Title" and "Keyword."  Further down the left-hand side is the "Filter Titles" where the user can choose one Record Group (e.g., "Census and Voter Lists").

I entered "California" in the "Title" field,  clicked on "Search" and saw:

There were 341 databases with "California" in the title of the database.

4)  I deleted "California" from the "Title" field and put "California" in the "Keyword" field.  The screen showed:

There are 8,648 Ancestry databases associated with "California," including nationwide databases like the Social Security Death Index, the Federal census databases, many newspapers, and much more.

5)  A user could narrow their search for a specific record type by adding another Keyword.  I searched for keywords of "California" and "marriages" and saw:

There were 38 databases associated with "california" and "marriages." 

However, if I search for Keywords of "california" and "marriage," I get 761 databases associated with those keywords (including the Social Security Death Index).  When I put "california marriage" in the Title field, I get three databases, and when I put "california marriages" in the Title field, I get three different databases.

The key here is to use a number of word combinations so that you find what you're looking for.

6)  The "Filter Titles" links take you to specific record collections - including:

*  Census and Voter Lists (505)
*  Birth, Marriage and Death (3,046)
*  Military (1,059)
*  Immigration and Travel (321)
*  Newspapers and Publications (1,389)
*  Pictures (33)
*  Stories, Memories and History (22,973)
*  Maps, Atlases and Gazetteers (163)
*  Schools, Directories and Church Histories (4,422)
*  Tax, Criminal, Land and Wills (1,000)
*  Reference, Dictionaries and Almanacs (1,327)
*  Family Trees (10)

The user can also filter by Locations, Dates, and Languages (further down on the left-hand side).

When I clicked on the "Census and Voter List" link, I saw:

7)  From this filtered title list, I can search for a specific place within that category.  I put "new york" in the Keyword field and saw:

The "Title" and "Keyword" fields can be used to find specific databases in the Filter Title searches.  If a user puts entries in both the "Title" and "Keyword" fields, the system will find only the "Title" field entries. 

In most of the Record Type category lists, the additional filters include "Collections," "Location," "Date" and "Language."

The Card Catalog search is very useful if you are looking for a specific database or record type.  There is a lot of flexibility on searching by Title or Keyword, by choosing a Record Type and searching within that type, and listing databases by different criteria.

The URL for this post is

(c) 2011. Randall J. Seaver. All Rights Reserved. If you wish to re-publish my content, please contact me for permission, which I will usually grant. If you are reading this on any other genealogy website, then they have stolen my work.

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