Friday, June 1, 2012

I Love FamilySearch

I thought everyone knew about the wonderful, free information available at until I was listening (if I recall correctly) to an episode of the Genealogy Gems podcast last summer. Lisa Louise Cooke met someone who had never heard of it. At least, that's what I remember hearing. I was so hung up on the fact that this person had never heard of the site that it took me several seconds before I realized that the conversation had continued.

So, for anyone out there who is unfamiliar with the free resources at let me just say that you are about to discover your new best friend. And did I mention that everything on the site is free? For those of you aware of the site, check back periodically because records are always being added or updated.

There are currently ten record collections specific for Michigan, though they fall into five categories: births, marriages, deaths, Detroit arrival manifests and the 1894 Michigan census (a transcription, but now you can look for the images at Seeking Michigan.  Click here for more information.). A few of the record sets have been updated in the last several months. If there is a camera icon to the left of the title it means an image of the actual record is available. All others are transcriptions.

Whenever I visit the site I usually go the bottom of the home page where it says “Browse by Location.” I click on “United States” so I can scan down the list of all record collections to see what is new or updated for the states where my people lived. Some of the newer collections added may not be searchable by surname so you will have to browse if you can't bear the wait until it has been indexed. If you really can't stand it you can become a volunteer indexer and select the collections you would like to assist with. The more of us who help, the faster the 1940 census will be indexed.

Even if your people didn't live in states toward the end of the alphabet, keep scrolling so you don't miss the United States collections. In addition to federal census records, there are many military records, mostly but not exclusively from the Civil War.

You never know what you might find next. One day I noticed there were death records from Pittsburgh, PA. I found one of my people unequivocally and I found three more records that I believe to be my people (all of the pieces fit). I did the happy dance. My husband rolled his eyes while the cat just rolled over.

As I mentioned, you too can become a Family Search indexer. While many of us are busily working on the 1940 US census, there are many other projects just waiting for indexers. Each batch shouldn't take too long to complete. In the case of the 1940 census, one page is one batch. All an indexer needs to do is key the information into the blank sheet provided. Each record is indexed twice with an arbitrator brought in to reconcile any differences. I know we are all busy, but if enough people index one or two batches per week we can make a difference. To sign up go to:

As of June 1, 2012, Michigan was 24% indexed. I did a couple of batches from Kalamazoo county last night!


  1. What would we do without FamilySearch? Whenever I meet someone new to genealogy, I always make sure they know about it.

  2. I would not have been able to do half of my research without it, especially since I live several states away from Michigan. Kudos to the LDS and to all of the indexers!