Monday, July 24, 2017

"Secret" Hidden Collections on FamilySearch

So, FamilySearch are discontinuing their microfilm service soon. Everything will be digitized by the end of 2020, which is a bummer we have to wait so long for some films, but here's the good news: there are already a number of collections digitized but not yet indexed. That means they won't show up in the search engine when you're searching by someone's name. You have to find the collection in their list of collections and then manually browse the images. It's tedious, but if you're anxious to find something and don't want to wait for it to be indexed, it can be worth it. Additionally, there's some collections already digitized but not even found in their online collections list yet! The way to find them is to search for microfilm from the catalog and if the film has a camera icon on the right, you can click on it and be taken to the digital images. Of course, first check to make sure the collection hasn't been indexed, so you're not wasting time manually searching the images when you don't need to.

Above is an example of one such collection. The Montgomery County, PA Deed, 1784-1866 is not found in the online collection list (at least, not as I post this - it could get added any time), you can go to the list and narrow it down to Pennsylvania and see there is no mention of any records of deeds. Yet if you search for it in the microfilm catalog, you'll see the camera icons (circled in red in the screenshot above) you can click to view the digitized images.

What this means is that there may already be collections you need that have been digitized, you just need to do a little more digging to find them. So there may be more available now than you realize. Of course, if you'd rather wait till everything is indexed, you're welcome to do so. But the end of 2020 date is just for scanning everything, that doesn't even include indexing. You could be waiting much longer than 2020 if you wait for everything to be indexed. So I would advise regularly checked the catalog to see if there's any collections that have been scanned but not yet added to the collections list or indexed.

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